Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #130: Wedding


Raven-haired, seven-acre Sacajawea filled the capacious bed of Flat Top Jimmy’s red pick up truck. Five o’clock Friday rush hour traffic in Tres Leches, the communion stakes are on, evening masses be damned. Calvin, annunciated via the commodious blessings of Air Quality Action Day #7 and three Tecates since the 410 ramp, throws the question Indian Maiden-way, without singeing his eyebrows and reckons that sign a good ‘un.

Sac, not yet sure she wants to have heard what flamed her way: “If honeydew’ll get it, honey,” she says, “That’ll do. You ain’t misbehavin’, is you?”

“I’ll have the bulldog now,” says driving Jimmy, and yes, up from the coronation bed rises a big fat bully, all white knuckle-fur and slurry speech—Churchill on a slaphappy drool. Jimmy’s lard-happy himself in jowly bliss, thinking, indeed, two can be as one.

What you’re missing, dear reader, because he hasn’t yet told you, is that that Texas Ag-exemption’s worth of raven-tressed subdivided ranch land in the back of the matrimonial Dodge Ram appears to be, albeit without full documentary proof, indubitably buck naked. This sits amusingly in a fuzzy head that for the past week, between recurring bouts of inconsequential musing and pre- and post-consequential bouts of influenza, has seen and felt very little to amuse its fuzzyheadedness, short of the life and times of Fats Waller in Passaic.

I’m sorry: I know you want more. I can give you the coordinates of Fredericksburg Road and the 410 access, all the Humpty Dumpty flair of rose-petaled highway carousel, the blonde woman at roadside who could not have worked for food had the invitation been offered, the dingbat gerrymandering mouth of Sean Hannity caught in a nano-second of unscripted tomfoolery, this on my way down the dial to David Gates’ wanting to make it with you, when out of the clear blues of the clear blue there sits Sacajawea in a suit worthy of this her birthday, even if it isn’t.

You see, the truth of the matter is, I lost her. Missed the promenade down San Pedro, Homecoming Dance mums tossed at the Park and Ride, $3.55 gas bought at the corner of Basse, hot glazed donuts lamented in the ruins of the old A-frame just down from the equally dead and gone Olmos Theater. Did the 5:25 Amtrak cruise over as they passed under, did America’s stepdad verify the skyclad nuptials in our midst, and was “I do” sufficient unto the day for a woman who’d come back from the Snake to tell the tale, who’d survived the insufferable pedantry and piss-poor table manners of Toussaint Charbonneau, all to the tune of several more lines of entry?

Brothers and sisters, let us so pray.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Sunday Scribbling #129: Invitation

vestiges ushering

meaning was granulated,

coffee dark, glossolalia

of roots deep

in the dark earth.

what to make of the hut

tiffany glass

in the middle of silence,

a calling—a yearning—

full of the body’s

capacity for blown


aching desire

and yet trundled out

into a realm not of lust

but assonance of the darkest sweat,

triangulated midst

ache and god

sense and dislocation

travel and static bliss.

what of the blue mask

over pregnant memory,

centrifugal cacophony,

sexual drowning,

calm at jungle floor—

crone in the vestiges

ushering needle

through the long lanes

of desire to have,

desire to be,

desire to know

the last ridge of the heart’s

liquid rest.

She sings from where

She sings for what

She sings to whom—

Nation of crowded isolation,

a hand that reaches

the temptation of return,

to kiss rampant,

to burn remiss

the exegesis of

incendiary invitation.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Sunday Scribbling #128: Coffee

[And besides], sleek black misses the whole point, doesn’t it? Conveys/signifies a noire when in fact that’s entirely beside the point. There was no bête certainly, well, at least not yet surely, and decidedly no noire. There are angelitas 3 Marys, say, praline, say, brown sugar, not Mick’s but brown brown sugar and then there is sleek black. But s/b was only in s/b - encased, sheathed, muscled, gloved, hand in gloved, okay, yes, the hair but – you see how I resist the naming. And that’s it. Angelita that resists further demarcation, praline that resists, coffee that resists, café au lait you offer, but that sets us again, and erroneously again, off the bête, when what’s called for is the slow titration of one cup coffee, dark (okay, yes, at root, aren’t we all, this conceded), sugar added, but then what is it – milliliters?, dollops?, no, you’ll lose your way in, dollops will take you past the point of no return either starting again or a larger – you wouldn’t call it a mug, now would you? Where would that get you, pray tell? Mug? Ceramic bowl? Cup minimizes the whole thing, where’s the poem in that? Cup. Mug. What would hold this x, and even mathematics, save perhaps calculus, no, even calculus misses the mark, you see what she was/is has a sound for the eye. A sound for the eye. Breathe. Say it again: relax: breathe: a sound for the eye. The way green collides with/diffuses blue your feet in one or both, sitting on a rock (stone) you’ve set in midstream and your son puts his wet naked back up against you and the very thing you were saving yourself from is upon you anyway. That color. Forget the color, forget breathing, forget tiptoeing on the ice. It’s right there, right there under your nose. The point of contact saturates pants, shirt, and anything else you might or might not have on. Might or might not be carrying. You might even say, if you recall the light brown bug on his light brown back that it’s one or both of, because now proximity lays waste the need – need? – desire to rhapsodize, extemporize, all the lab equipment broken glass on green lawn, because the color is nothing if not contact, saturant. Saturn, only the way he sez it: saturan. Saturan. Stretch it out. And as you do, stretch out beside him, shelter, Jupiter’s storms are never wary. Vary even less, and what was sleek black dissipates into an odorless rainbow of what not that answers to no one, no place.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sunday Scribbling #127: Miracle: The Constant Burglar

(A piece I submitted for our church newsletter this month.)

She’s a burglar

She broke into my mind

She’s a burglar

She took everything she could find—

(Freddie King, singing Jerry Ragovoy’s She’s a Burglar)

One of my favorite of Robert’s recurring metaphors is the “scandal of the incarnation,” which he extends into the notion of the Holy Spirit, like a burglar, breaking and entering into our lives. Writer Annie Lamott builds on this sacred impropriety with her story of Jesus as a nagging, cat-like presence that stalked her on a walk home one day: she is in a foul mood, full of despair and irritation at the tenacity of her stalker. When she reaches her front door, she turns in exasperation and essentially says to Jesus, “Oh, what the hell. Just come on in.” As I recall, her “invitation” is even cruder than that, but I will spare the tender ears of our readership.

I don’t think Jerry Ragovoy had the Holy Spirit in mind when he penned his wonderful blues classic, but ever since I first heard Robert invoke the notion of scandal, it has replayed in my mind to the soundtrack of Freddie King’s rough growl and stinging guitar licks.

Why scandal and why burglary? Many reasons, I’m sure, but one of them is because we get comfortable in our lives, comfortable at times even in our miseries, comfortable because even as miseries they are known, old friends. As Matt reminded us in an early sermon of his, we need never pray for God to show up in our lives; our prayer is that we will show up, offering our hearts up to be cracked by the Master Safecrackers.

In my many years of exile from a church community, I found myself still lured in by the spirit of Christmas, my soul quietly hungry for and waiting for the season’s in-breaking of the light lurking for all of us, whether in or outside a sacred haven. Invariably, there was always some small miracle of love that turned the dial on my heart’s lock into place, and voila!—light without pouring in, as light from within poured out.

I now look for burglary on a weekly basis, during what Art Ramseur lovingly calls the “performance art” of our Sunday liturgy. I come some Sundays stoked and ready for the cat burglars; other Sundays, it’s a growling Freddie King spirit that I bring through the doors. It doesn’t matter. It’s not about me. The cat burglars will have their way with us, whatever the offering, be it in the readings, the songs, the wisdom of the urchins at Robert’s feet during the children’s sermon, during the “adult” sermon, the passing of the peace, Stewart’s stewardship of us all, standing in to receive the blessings for all those who cannot come to the rail, or the light breaking in through the windows of our glorious sanctuary. God’s light, our light, is always lurking.

And just like that

My heart was gone

She put it in her pocket—

Welcome to the Burglar’s House.

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