Monday, December 24, 2012

Noel: music and images for Christmas


Whom we call Mary, will we ever know?
We have turned the girl bearing down in a freezing barn
hiding her bastard child in terror of death
to someone carved of soap, made cloud or heaven.
Poor Mary. We have robbed you of you.

This edifice, this war! This junkyard of faith!
Like molten lead in water
this phosphorescent upflash
of livid flame
We have this idea we're married to
that men came,
three, though we don't know that,
that they had money and power, though we don't know that,
That they knelt and adored
but we don't know that either
the story has hung itself around us
like crepe paper
This is Jesus, though hidden.
Jesu ben Yusef
circumcized, a Jew.
We cannot look at him, do not look upon him,
You will burn your eyes.
We know no good has ever come from Nazareth.
This is what we find on the sidewalk
Don't go there   don't go outside
Go inside the church and stay there
Portal: walk along the street
where Jesus was, where Jesus was.
Who was Jesus, what, an idea?
A reigning prince, a pretender?
I think he was a dream
a wish, a desire, a scramble for meaning
in the small square hole of our lives.
For all that, there lives a desperate sort of grace
and we must reach for it
or not go on.
Stay out of our church, go in this one,
be run out of that one,
find the True Church, the one true religion
 inside your own brain.
For all that, there is this repeating, not endless, just seeming so,
for surely it will end
before we know it.
Will the end be the same,
faith or unfaith,
knowing or not knowing?
Why must hope be born again
at the very desolation of the year
and customs dragged out
dusted off
as if they make a difference to the world?

Like chess-pieces, we hold and handle
the smooth turquoise, the cracked cool finish
in a need to comprehend the vast mystery
the dailiness and boredom
the ascendance
the rhapsody of light
the scent of winter trees
sounds of owls
we live for this, die for it
this stubborn insistence of wonder
this god with a human heart

This one's for Matt: a Merry Very Crispness

For my friend Matt Paust, the Hemingway of the Henhouse (his name inspired by this rare photo of Ernest H. at the DayGlo Hotel in Ketchup, Idaho: I don't know how he kept all those cats away).