Thursday, March 31, 2011

Earth Shattering Selves



aggravated we are underwhelming
we cannot, we will not
we must find someone to blame
for there is some wild animal
clawing, lurking
buried in the sheets of my unveiling
there is some alternative likeness
that carries the weight
all 200 pounds of it
and calls himself "shakes"
after playwrights we despise
he knows
why we shouldn't care
about morning
he's felt
what it is to surrender to lesser things
and he sings, songs so sweet
about those better gods
and asks with great persuasion
why I pretend to chase nobility,
love that has taken me.
he knows the passwords
the pieces I associate
the secrets that I fear
and from the inside, he scratches away
at the sinew
the bone and the brick.
now, victory is ours
but for some reason,
we leave it in our other pants
we forget it on our grocery list.
so defeat sneaks up behind us
and whispers, "it is finished."
and we cannot help
but believe it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mountains



I'll take my ramen to go this time
there are mountains awaiting
out in the briny deep. they sit,
hovering in space painted white
with snow. and somewhere along
the way, they learned my name,
maybe God taught it to them. For
they whisper it from 3000 miles
away, across oceans. Now, here
I am to answer them. Here I am
to walk along their mighty faces,
to hold them by their apex, to
swing them around my shoulder.
Here I am to rest at their feet and
listen to them tell ghost stories as
the fire in the fireplace crackles.
tales of Chinese immigrants, and
gold rushes. tales of faceless
multitudes, all individually elite.
tales of the places I have been,
the people I have loved, the foot
prints where I've walked. And
then, to whisper in great climax
some new and unflinching truth;
maybe there is something great.
maybe there is something greater
than me. maybe I should just be
still and listen to the ghost stories.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Crossroads. Wait, "Crossroads?" No. "Bleeding Hearts and the Neighborhoods they Walk Through."



Put the poetry on hold for now. Candler Park is awash with the blue of the morning. This weather is heavenly, this hot chocolate I'm drinking is just as good. I've been without coffee since Ash Wednesday, in an overtly religious attempt to give myself to sacrifice and consecration. It's funny, some of the conversations I have about lent. Catholics are fun people, especially the nominal ones. There aren't nearly as many Catholic folks down here as there were in St. Louis, so it's a treat when I come across one. Fun conversations.
This should serve as an update of sorts, as the cryptic and abstract nature of most of my posting doesn't allow too much concrete information sharing. So, as a thesis, life is going well down here, in all of its infinite ups and downs. We had a St. Patrick's Day Young Life club last night, which was a lot of fun. I like these people that I'm walking alongside. I need to push deeper into them and into their lives, to cultivate some deeply rooted community, and see it develop the way that it's "supposed" to. It's a bit daunting, what with my next nine months of plans taking me far away from Atlanta, only to return in jilted uncertainty. Colorado begins in May, and once that is completed, it's on to Spain for the winter. I won't be back to A-town until January of 2012. That's a long time to be away. So, these relationships that I'm fighting for have almost a ticking-clock kind of pretense. But, maybe not. Maybe I should just give of myself and hold all of these relationships loosely and trust God to use me for his beautiful purposes. Maybe I'm only supposed to be a part of this city for a time, and then to move forward and chase Jesus somewhere else. I'll have ample opportunity to find out, I think. I do love Atlanta, and with every conversation that I have, with every life I invest in, every secret part of myself I give away, I grow more and more fond of this place. But, surrendering control to Jesus is something that I want to be good at. So, I'm going to fight for that.
I'm off this weekend to Nashville for a bachelor party for my buddy Ryan Bates with 10 other guys. We'll see how that goes. I don't ever get crazy, so hanging out with crazy guys for an entire weekend should yield mixed results. Should be interesting. Off to it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

When These Clouds Roll In.



When these clouds roll in,
Atlanta is only 15 stories tall
sixteen at the most.
And phosphorescent signs
shout at snail-paced commuters
irate within seconds, running out
of blissful silent solitude:
their only quiet moments.

In this overcrowded bus
I stand next to the driver
in a commonplace cockpit
and see the streets firsthand
riding shotgun on the shoulders
and from this perch I see
an inching forward, a subtle shift
within my own matter

I am splitting infinitives:
I am dichotomized distance
between the "is" and the "ought."
I am ever floating between the
shores. yet somehow,
held.
tightly in place by a voice

a voice that stays steady,
with a wide array of facial
expressions along. It is not
changing. yet it is somehow
changing me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just One More Hour of Daylight.



today, time has stopped,
and taken on new rhythm.
Now I sit amidst an ocean
face to face with things.
was I made to play a part
or was i made to sit on

never ending front lawns,
in a sea of sun kissed grass,
surrounded on every side
by a rushing river of humanity.
was I made to feel the touch
of a God that keeps growing

more and more clear, with a
smile that is shaped like a
latin-american family kicking
a soccer ball in a circle. with
eyes like the wind in a kite,
being pulled by a child doused

in the loving adoration of his
father, with the voice of a drum
circle, all righteous and rhythmic
beating my sanity into sight, for
hours upon hours. I think that
this God has a face like humanity

with thousands of expressions,
unique in every way. I think that
I was made to sit here, covered
up in sunlight, soaking in the
scenery of a perfect spring sunday,
alive in love, and living.

The Hard Way

drifting into indifference
please don't fall,
please don't fall.
fading from the foreground
into background
into carnival rides
and wine tastings
fresh is my salvation
broken, all the failed attempts
at finding it.
and learn we,
the hard way.

On Nights Like These


the pages of my downfall,
they linger in the air
like burning incense.
the wishful waste of time
where i watch from great
distances, the shifting
details of your normalcy.

i remember the touch of
your hand on my face. I
remember the light in your
eyes. I remember most that
penetrating smile, made up
of peppermint and pretense.
on nights like these, we would

wander over each other,
exploring subtle delicacies
we would violate the very
beings of ourselves, for
just a taste of nectar. we
would cross our fingers, and
wait to be delivered. but

deliverance would not come.
yes, on nights like these
when the cold would creep
silently through holes in the
heating ducts, when the air
would start to circulate through
our nostrils, into the depths of

our desperation. we would
hold each other tightly, and
yet with unequaled delicacy.
for the darkness was not a
thing to trust, we would only
trust one another. on nights
like these. now, nights grow

long and stagnant, as I lie
on my face and suffer a new
type of water boarding, wherein
demons paint pictures of your
face, elegant and smiling,
on the roof and the walls. Satan
himself whispers into my ear

in a voice slightly reminiscent
of your voice. I feel the scars
of my love for you, I waste
away hoping at some small
deliverance; some silent
reconciling sense that all
is well, that everything will

be alright. but, in the in
between, I am scratching
at the caverns of my psyche
trying like Captain Ahab to
pull you from its depths. I am
tearing down posters plastered
to walls and palpitations. I am
fighting, fighting for deliverance.

But worry not, dearest
maiden. I am fully submersed
in my quest. For only two
outcomes stand possible:
either I will completely
eradicate you from me,
or I will die trying.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oh Great Free Thinking, Deliver Us


I open up a text book
and sit.

Confronted by my ignorance
to simplistic statements, now
spelling simple solutions to
mysteries, ancient as the
euphrates, where minds would
gather and break bread over
questions unsolvable.

Then, there were no words,
there were gods to sift through
the painful pangs and persistence,
when we could rest aloof to words
content in deistic scapegoats.

Now, there are no gods.
but, who needs gods?

let us pray to mighty medulla
let us worship awful thalamus
and tear our clothes before great ganglia
or cover our head with black ash
in the name of dentate gyrus
who needs gods?

so, let us come and celebrate!
for everything makes sense:
press here to feel happy
scratch this to feel sad

we are free from dreaded mystery!
come and raise your glass
celebrate our freedom
dance on the grave of wonder
shout atop lungs, for the war has ended
oh, we will dance and dance and dance

then, perhaps we will fall down drunk
collapse into empty beds and waste
away with some uncontrollable
understanding of being

alone.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Watch the Cars Go by, the Frontier on my Heart.


We are two distinct priorities,
distinguished by the terms. we
can touch a solidarity, unique
only in the applications. There
is fiery desire, there is old and

ancient tenderness. there is sun
and rain and fire and ice. But,
then there is a silence; little
discrepancies popping up like
flowers in fields of fading grass.

there are questions flowing forth
from wells of insecurity, and a
voice, all strangely accented that
tells us of our failure as loudly
as the call to succeed. We are

parallel lines, moving in opposite
directions. down is simple, given
gravity and the eternal weight of
our laziness. but upwards, we
travel encumbered, heavy with

ourselves, all fallen and filtered,
fighting against currents of years
and youthful euphoria. we swim
like migrating salmon towards a
light we do not recognize with our

eyes. our soul feels it entirely. we
know it in its details and we thirst
with drying tongues to taste just a
drop of its torrential, down pouring
rain. then, in cataclysmic surrender,

we find rest; rest we were created for.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Adventures that Shouldn't be Called "Adventures," but "Life"



A bit of background: I took a job this summer as a backpacking guide at Sky Ranch at Ute Trail outside of Lake City, CO. I know what you're thinking: "Mondo, you don't know how to be a backpacking guide." True as that may be, I'm diving in head first. And, on that point, the folks that hired me are the villains if it all goes south and some unsuspecting high school kid doesn't make it back with all of his fingers. Here's to that not happening.
But, last weekend, I traveled out to mighty Frontier Ranch to take part in a two day training session in what they call "soft skills:" the leadership/relational part of what we will be doing on trail. I went into last weekend without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I like mountain people. I like the understanding and appreciation for life and creation and beauty that many of them seem to carry around with them. Christian mountain people seem all the more exciting to me; combining a love of creation with a desire and pension for community. The latter is a thing that I have been confronted with of late, realizing that my survival in this Atlanta/life experiment depends largely on my ability to participate in Christian community. I've felt the pull to go out and actively seek out this community; to develop and sustain deep-rooted and genuine relationships with other people. I spent last weekend getting to know my community for the summer. There are five other guides, three of which are on their second year. I loved it. In the three days that we knew each other, we all shared detailed insight into who we are. We talked about life and love and pain and Jesus and truth. We walked through things over the course of just one weekend. It was refreshing and beautiful. I am so excited to be a part of this thing that God is doing in the mountains of Colorado. I am so excited to be doing it all alongside solid folks that love Jesus and are fighting to bring about the Kingdom in their lives. I am so excited to be walking with such beautiful people, and to be part of something huge: Jesus' unfinished work among his children on the trails of the San Juan mountains. And helping trail-bound kids to keep all of their fingers.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Bittersweet Weight of Tomorrow (the Ides of the Ides of March)



is love such a mystery novel?
are curtains waiting to be drawn?
yes, I know I'm alone with my shovel
seeing visions and shouting at God

if the first step of creating beauty
is to seek out a muse for my pen
there's an innocence echoing through me
that I can't seem to capture again

every breath that I take is a blessing
but it carries a death in its wake
now the radio has me undressing
with much more than the airwaves at stake

I can wander aloof to my failure
I can walk in the light of a smile
but when faced with the weight of the days here
I'm aware that it might take a while

Tell me simple solutions to follow
walk me into the house where awaits
all the detailed hope of tomorrow
and the answer I can't seem to trace

she is only a blip on the radar
but it's louder than anything else
now I flee this disease to Decatur
the sickness is myself