Posts Tagged ‘spoken word’

I.

When you receive a broken gift
Do not ask for the receipt
Do not look for the warranty
Or the exchange policy
And whatever you do,
Do not try to fix it.

For our first anniversary
You gave me an antique pocket watch
The face was cracked
And the hands didn’t move
They just kind of shook

It was embroidered with a silver lining
And when I opened it up,
It was engraved with the words, “Until the end of time.”

You said you were sorry
The engraver took longer than expected
And there just wasn’t enough time to fix it

I wanted to say that even a broken watch
Is right twice a day
I wanted to say that it will remind me
Of our moments together when time stands still
All I said was, “I love it.”

I still carry it with me
And I still forget the time’s not set
So about once a week,
I’m either very early or extremely late for something

II.

When you first told me you were broken
Your face was cracked
And tears formed out of the canyons of your eyes
Said, “Body don’t work like it should.”
Said, “Body be enemy.
Body be sick.”

You said you were sorry
Time won’t look
Like the dreams we passed to each other in letters
Like the future postcards we forgot to send

I wanted to tell you
You were the only dream
That’s ever kept me awake at night
I wanted to tell you
All I ever wanted out of time was you
All I said was, “I love you.”

You were never broken.
It was time that broke.

So when we said our vows,
We knew what they meant.
In sickness and in health
Wrapped around our ring fingers

And when we said our vows,
We knew there would be nights like these
Sleepless nights
Tracing paths around the parking lot
Until the pain passes
Lying on bathroom floors
Your hands didn’t move
They just kind of shook

You were brave
I was scared
So I held you
Wiped the hair from your face
And I called you a “badass”

We laughed because the only other option was crying

We rode clouds laced with silver lining
Tattooed engravings of forever on our souls
Slid down hourglass sands and called it “the beach”
We received time like a borrowed, broken present
Because, at any moment, time was all we had
Time and each other

So we take time
And grasp it in our hands each day
Then, careful not to stare at it too long
We place it back in our pockets
Reach out for each other’s hands
And walk

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This is a poem I started working on the other day as a result from a discussion that arose in my Agrarian theology class.  In this class, we talked about the role of grief when it comes to prophetic speech. It is grief that allows those on the margins to rise up and speak prophetically.  However, if it is the land that is being marginalized, abused, and manipulated, who will rise up and speak prophetically against it?

In this poem, I hope to explain that the ways in which we are currently cultivating our land (through the use of invasive farming techniques, dangerous amounts of chemicals and pesticides, monoculture with lack of crop rotation, etc.) are simply not sustainable. As healthy topsoil in America is rapidly disappearing, we must discern ways to creatively respond and engage.  The imagery I’ve used is intentionally graphic, for, as Wendell Berry points out, we have been “prostituting” the land. Thanks for reading.

“What She Won’t Tell You”

The land won’t tell you how the rape feels
As the plows of steel
Grinding blades to steal
Her virginity
Serenity has all but been lost
Because we’re counting up the cash
But we’re not counting up the cost
Cuz we forgot she’s not eternal
Like a pen onto a journal
Scratching marks like with a knife
She’s as fragile as your life
And the soil is her skin
But scars don’t make it thicker
They’re just wearing it so thin
And her flame becomes a flicker

No, the land can’t tell you how the shame feels
She just buries it deep til the sickness reveals
That the wheels of the times
Are the worst of all crimes
Cuz the higher we’ll fall
When the higher we’ll climb
And we just can’t rewind and undo all we’ve done
Cuz the story’s been spun
And the battle’s been won
With the spray of a gun
Pesticide Suicide
With no conscience to guide
It’s not that it’s not easy
It’s just we haven’t tried

And the land can’t tell you how the pain feels
As we’re ripping her flesh, hoping one day it heals
So we just turn our backs and relax our ideals
Thinking someday, someone will have greener appeals
Until then, we can spend like the end’s not in sight
It’s my God-given right to bring famine and blight
And creation’s a playground to show off my might

The land won’t tell you how the hate feels
As you’re pimping her soul just to get a few meals
And you break up her heart just to get a good deal
Cuz the cheaper you pay, well, the cheaper she feels
Prostituting the goods being picked from her fields
Bottom line is the yields modified by genetics
Synthetically real, but it’s really pathetic
Or just apathetic
And she’s not rising up from the margins prophetic

No, she stays silent in pain
As we’re playing the game
Systemically shackled by nature’s food chain
Til she gives her last grain
To the will of our gut
Subjected to glut
As we play her the slut

But she cannot grieve
She cannot cry.
She only receives
The tears from the sky

And it’s these tears that nourish
Give life, make it flourish
Wash her clean from our sins
Cover her like a flood
Cover us with her mud
It’s the one thing that’s left
To cry out for her blood

Because we are the dirty
The guilty accused
And our days as abusers
Will one day abuse
Cuz the land will refuse

She won’t tell you it’s coming
But apocalyptic beats have been drumming
Creation is humming and strumming the tune
Of our actions impugned
And no one’s immune
While our reckoning is coming soon
No, she won’t speak up
But she’s asking, will you?

This is a little poem I wrote about being short.  For those of you who have experienced the majority of your lives looking up to people, you’ll understand.

But this poem isn’t just about being physically short… this is about how God shows favor for the oppressed, the weak, and the humbled and how He uses them as the agents of greatness in His Kingdom.  Here it goes!

“On the Shoulders of Those Before Us”

My miniature disposition
has been a rather inefficient
way to be heard

Because you’ve got to sit tight
while I lower the mic
before I even say my first word

And even then, I’m tip-toeing
Because I’m not exactly growing
to be so self-assured

Because I’ll never be picked first for basketball
And I can’t see a thing walking through a crowded hall
And sometimes, I’ll admit, I have to use the kid-sized urinal stall

And though I may never reach my top kitchen shelf
and I might be called names like midget and elf
I’m starting to like my sense of self

And though I may never jam
and lift my hands
up over where the basket is
As my mom always told me,
“Dynamite comes in small packages”

But, truth be told, the real fact is
That I believe
the meek will inherit the earth
and the weak will shame the strong
and that I am a mustard seed, baby
And I’m moving mountains all day long

Yes, I will be David in the face of a giant
And I will be Daniel in the den of the lions
Feeble, yet firm, in a fearless defiance

So this one is for the little guy
Who’s got more bark than he’s got bite
Yet he will stand and fight the fight

And this one is for the little guy
who is always picked last
Cuz the last is surpassed
when the last won’t be least
and the best become beasts
and the pests become priests
and all those fasts will turn into feasts

And this one is for all those kids at theme parks that have to hear,
“Well, maybe you’ll be tall enough to ride this ride… next year”

And this one is for the guy
who had to severely limit his options
of girls he could take to a school dance
based primarily on his height

Otherwise, she’d complain she couldn’t wear heels that night

So in sight of these trite tribulations
and despite debilitations
inciting indignation
inside of this tried creation,
I make no hesitation
to reclaim restoration
and a little liberation
for the underdog’s salvation

So if you’re tall and you’re proud,
stand up with me right now
Cuz you can’t block anyone’s view here anyhow

And let’s rise
above our size
to meet the eyes
of those who push us down

For we were made to humble the proud
And we’ll step up on stage and silence the crowd

And then they’ll adjust the mic
from our height,
wishing they had such a crutch
For we were trusted in being little
so we were trusted in being much

Life, I’ve heard it said, is but a dream
It’s a many splendid thing
It’s like a box of chocolates
So much sweeter in the inner creams
And yet it seems

So dark in this heart-shaped cardboard shell
As if we’re only destined to melt
And yet I have felt
The reason to believe
I’ve perceived
So much more can be achieved
Than the average has conceived

Cuz you can manifest your destiny
Into a reality
Make it real, and not a fallacy
To be all that you can be

Now I’m not talking about that American war rhetoric
Spawned and dawned by heretics
Claiming killing is fulfilling
And casualties are just casual

I’m talking about be true to you
So quit playing the fool
Because the jester will just fester
When he’s starting to rule

And if you try
With all of your heart
With all of your soul
With all of your might
Then you just might
Mend these broken wings
And take a flight

But your life can’t be full
When you’re in control
So let go and be
Just be
Free

From the stereotypes
From the media hypes
They’re controlling your mind
They’re seducing and lying
And note, although they gloat attaining control
They’ll never be possessing your soul

Because you can’t lose what’s not yours
And you can’t pay for what you can’t afford
So how can you claim what’s really the LORD’s?

Cuz although I know it may not always seem like it
But when I’m down in the pit
And I just wanna quit
He is the captain of this broken down ship
And he is steering, clearing a path for me

And though the path ain’t that wide
And I’m stumbling, veering from side to side
He will be my guide
And my refuge to hide
And in darkness my light
And my dagger to fight
And the breath of my life

Because to live, I’ve heard it said, is Christ
And to die is even gain

In the beginning
Before the world was round and spinning
Before the pain
Before the sinning
Back in the day when love was winning
It was just me
And my one-in-three
Trinity
of community

And the world was formless
Pregnant and yet empty
and we
Like expectant parents on the day of a child’s birth
Were giddy with joy to give life worth
And to fulfill the fullness from out of the dearth
by creating the heavens and the earth

So I spoke the words
Like lyrics to a song
Gave right to the wrongs
Gave light to the dawn
And it shined so bright
That darkness could not hide
And I was satisfied
Of that brilliant array
On that very first day

And it was good

And on day number two
Right out of the blue
Like the sky and the seas
That were breaking through
Well they came into view
And I’m telling you

That it was good

Then on the day of the third
With the breath of a word
Whispered so soft and sweet
only by plants was it heard
Rising up out of the land
From the jungles to the sand
Completely changing the scene
Now God was going green
And it was good

Now the fourth day was hard
With the sun, moon, and stars
Spanning out so far
You still don’t know where they are
And you couldn’t even count
The vast amount
It would surely surmount
The wildest dreams you have as you lie under them
And yet all the same
I know their names
And their flames I’ve withstood
For they are good

Then the fifth day for me
Filled the skies and the seas
From the lakes to the trees
All the birds and the bees
And the fish were released
From the tip of the fin
To the tip of the wing
They were swimming, flying free
So now I know why the caged bird sings
For the caged bird sings for freedom
And her song is good

As the sixth day increased
I authored the beast
But the last is not least
So I created my masterpiece

And I paused with man
As I knelt in the sand
And I deftly dipped dust
Into my hand

And I breathe
Like a mother over a child’s wound
And I breathe
Like the quiet whisper of lovers
And I breathe
Til in every part of you, there’s part of me

So Adam, arise
The day is new
I’m ready to share
This life with you
My child, wake up

Who are you???

You must be confused
So let me make this picture straighter
I am not here like some forceful dictator
Demanding the faithful and killing the traitors
And I am not here to be your waiter
And to every whim, I’m not going to cater
And it’s not in my nature to be a debater
Because proving your point never stifled the haters
But I am who I am and my love there’s no greater
For you gave me my name… Creator

So you are the one who created all this?
I will call you beauty, I will call you bliss
But if you are creator, why to I exist?

Adam, I have a love made to overflow
And go where no one else has gone
Where the weak are wronged
Where there are no songs
And there, sing and bring a song that rings of something good
So you were not meant just to do as you should
Keep a list of your wrongs to be paid for in blood
Because that has no faith, and that holds no love
But you were created with a spark of the divine
So I could be yours, and so you could be mine

But as the finale unfolds
A new story is told
So here is your test
You create, while I rest
Though this task was my last
It will be your first
In this world where everything is reversed

So just follow my lead
And breathe, breathe, breathe
This is only the beginning

Well, I’ve been inspired a lot lately with some spoken word, so here’s my new one that I wrote just a week ago. It’s based off of this story that Jesus tells about these 2 men who built a house, one on sand and one on the firm foundation of a rock. This is about the man on the sand. It’s called “American Dream”.

It’s not easy being a middle class white
Suburbanite male
Life can get pretty stale
Never having to fail
Never going to jail
Never worrying ‘bout hail
Cuz you have insurance

And you’ve got the endurance
Of assurance
of a history
perpetually proportioned
towards the distortion
Of a kaleidoscope
Spinning in one color

It can start to feel like your oppressed
When your NFL team didn’t do their best
Or your American Idol could not impress
Or the stocks went south which you invest
Yet your sickest sins are unconfessed

Because your biggest transgression
Is not your oppression, aggression, or depression
But it’s your digression from a life lived true
A life with roots wrapped around the rock of something real

So you pop the pills
To stop the stress
And numb the pain
Of nothingness

And you hide the pride
Of your success
Inside the walls
Of a white-washed fence
Designed to keep them out…
Or to keep you in??

So is this really life??
Have some kids and a wife
You wake up, work
Retire and die
And over your casket
Your loved ones will cry
And your loved ones will lie
And say, “He was a good man.”

Because he loved his kids
With his bank account
And he loved his wife
Till her looks ran out
And we’ll see him in heaven
But we have our doubts

Cuz when the rains came
Like a hurricane
Crashing choruses
Cracking window panes
When the pains became swept up
Cuz it just wouldn’t let up
And yeah he did his best, But

When the foundation’s faulty
And it’s sitting on sand
Your house gets snatched up like a seashell
Cuz it could not withstand

And you never planned
That life would be this way
It’s like you’re looking at your father’s life in replay
You swore you wouldn’t
But you couldn’t stray

Cuz you feel the void of a dad deserting
He’d give you his love if he finished working
So it left you hurting

“But, son, I’m doing this for you.
Look at all we’ve accrued!
Don’t you want a nice house and some food
And maybe a little extra too?

No, daddy, I just wanted you.
I just wanted you
But you got caught up in the sterilized schemes
Of American dreams
Thinking all the nice things

Would give you the wings to fly
So high, way up into the sky
Out of this tide
But you’d just lie awake at night
Wondering why, why?
And is this really life?

Or maybe there’s more

This is another spoken word poem I finished a couple weeks ago. It’s based on Luke 4 when Jesus goes into the synagogue at Nazareth to proclaim what his ministry will truly look like by quoting a passage from Isaiah. He was then rejected and forced out of town by an angry mob. His message is still being rejected by religious people today.

“Jubilee”

Remember the plights
Remember the pains
From the overworked oppression
For our selfish gains

We’ve been locking up chains
In this land of freedom
Controlled by demons
And the shadows of frames
Of the things we once believed in

Not bleeding, but killing
We must be willing
But our mouths our filling
And we’re just chillin’

Waiting…

For our salvation to come

But our hope is not found
In reform or revision
On television
In indecision or strong convictions

Our hope is not found
In the pursuit of the mind
It’s just a matter of time
Before the blind lead the blind

Our hope is not found
In new inventions
Or ceased contentions
They’re just honorable mentions
In the plan of redemption

Our hope is not found in government taxes
Or battle axes

Our hope is not found
In power or pride
They only hide
The void inside
Of a soul that’s tried
The truths that lied
And withered and died
Dissatisfied

But our hope is in Christ
And his glorious bride
For the world it will fall
But the Church, she will rise

With her eyes on the prize
Of a God in the flesh
Put to death, crucified

He is the light
Making everything bright

He’s the luminescent contestant
Against the incessant
Ills and wills of a sin-sick world

And it’s His justice that will spark
The fire that starts
To unlock the chains
Of imprisoned hearts

Give sight to the blind
Give words to the lame
And the poor they will find
A new kingdom proclaimed
Named the kingdom of God
Which forever will reign

In this world of oppression
Where the least of these scream
Remember, remember
Remember me