If I Were To Do It All Again

I know that everybody nods with admiration, when those who go through hard times say:
“If I were to do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Because this speaks to their wisdom, maturity, and power to overcome adversity.

“Isn’t it true,” the nodders rhetorically nod, “that all their strengths, virtues, and positive characteristics, were developed in the tumult, heartache, pain, and sorrow of those times?”
“Are they not the truly wonderful people that they are, precisely because they experienced and overcame those things?”
“Who knows,” the nodders ponder, “perhaps they would have been quite awful, boring, mundane, selfish people, if they had not been burned and transformed into agents of love.”

But me,
I would trade my wonderfulness, my strength, and wisdom, and my ability to overcome,
To go back into a childhood
Where I was never fucked by my dad.

I’d be willing to take the chance and believe that
Having learned to love despite being fucked,
I would still learn to love
Without being fucked.

Because if I am wonderful now,
I think I could have been that much more wonderful,
If I hadn’t spent every day of my childhood afraid,
If I hadn’t been taught to blame myself,
If I hadn’t been left for dead.

If I were to do it all again, I’d go back to a childhood where I was safe.  And my father would love me, the way I love my children; and my father would teach me, the things I teach my children; and my father wouldn’t touch me, the way I never touch my children; and my father would be gentle, kind, and comforting with me, the way I am gentle, kind, and comforting with my children.  And perhaps, one day, my children will speak of the things that they would go back and change.  But I will not be one of them.

What the Elephants Remember: A Fable

Elephant Crying

Some cold and flu germs only live for a few minutes.

The mayfly has a life expectancy ranging from half an hour up until a maximum of twenty-four hours.

Our skin cells live, on average, two to four weeks.

Some octopuses live six months.  Others, up to five years.

In 2010, the worldwide average life expectancy for homo sapiens was 67.2 years, although, currently, where I live, it is closer to 80 years.

Some species of turtle can live between 150-250 years.

Some pine trees can live over 5000 years.  Some sponges are thought to be more than 10,000 years old.

Tirritopsis nutricula is a species of jellyfish that is immortal — it will live as long as the ocean will sustain it.

Our sun is estimated to be 5 billion years old and is expected to live another 5 billion years before it dies.

The universe, although harder to calculate, may be somewhere around 13.75 +/- 0.1 gigayears old.  I’m not sure how much older it’s supposed to live before it doesn’t anymore.

How can all these “things” co-exist?  How can we inhabit a space together?  Isn’t that amazing?


What is the measure of a life?  The mayfly is born, reproduces, and dies in a day or less.  Does it experience angst?  Does the pine tree?  Do we want them to?

Does the sun feel the same about us as we feel about our skin cells?

Does a cold germ feel about itself the same as we feel about ourselves?

Does a 10,000 year old sponge look at the brevity of our lives and wonder if, between being born, reproducing, and dying, we ever find time to ask bigger questions about meaning and beauty and truth?


Does the length of time that one lives determine the kind of meaning one finds in life?

Elephants have the same lifespan as we do.  Do elephants think the same as we do?  They, too, bury their dead.  They mourn the loss of loved ones with tears streaming down their faces.  Their children play.  They like to shower.

Why are they not like us?  Why have they not developed civilizations and cities and guns?  We do they let us slaughter them?

Is it because they were wise enough to not put the men in charge? 

Or is it because they’ve decided that they do not want to be like us?  Is it because they remember that if we forget that we are animals we become brutes?  Perhaps they would rather die with the earth instead of becoming like those who got civilized and killed the earth?

Instead, they roam their ranges, follow the water, and forage for food.  Perhaps their lives look hard to us.  But that, too, may be a sign of all that we have forgotten.  And all that they have not.


The Big Fix

And when the night is clear, and the advisory is lowered, we’ll force the door at the top of the stairwell and for a moment — with the alarms ringing in our ears — we’ll see the satellites.  We’ll put our children on our shoulders, we’ll point off into the night sky and say, “Look: the stars were like that.”
(The stars we watched from hillsides, where we held hands and kissed and laughed and spun.)
Our children will smile politely and take pictures with their augmented reality HMDs.  They’ll update their Instagram feeds.
(Their avatars will hold hands with other avatars and kiss and laugh and spin.)
Before the Environmental Health Police arrive to close the door and give us a citation, we’ll hide our disappointment.  You’ll put your head on my shoulder and I’ll make a remark about “kids these days.”  We’ll try to remember what it was like to play in the rain.  How it felt to kiss, sheltered in a doorway, our shirts pressed against our bodies, our bodies pressed against one another, water dripping off the ends of our noses.
We’ll try to imagine what it is like to be a child and never jump in a puddle.
Our children will try to imagine how anybody got by before augmented reality and will desperately hope that we don’t want to play another video of sparrows, or polar bears, or dolphins, or trees, or any other dead thing, when we go back home.

While You're Talking About Revolution, I'll Be Over Here Having a Bud

[This post is a self-critical response to a poem posted over at “Jesus Radicals” entitled: “The Revolution Will Not Serve Budweiser“.  I wrote it before I read their latest posting, another poem, entitlted: “Revolutionaries” but I imagine the line of thought is just as applicable to that post as to the previous poem.]

While You’re Talking About Revolution, I’ll be Over Here Having a Bud

Give strong drink to one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more. ~Proverbs 31.6-7

  • The eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets are talking about revolutions.
  • They’re talking to us about opting out of drinking on posts available courtesy of Apple and PC and transnational telecommunications companies.
    • Hardware made by child slaves who live in dorms with mesh over the windows in order to create lower suicide rates.
    • Companies that take revenue gained from North American Christian anarchists in order to murder anyone who actually engages in genuine revolutionary activities elsewhere in the world.
      • (Has nobody read Les Justes? “Il dit que la poésie est révolutionnaire.” “La bombe seule est révolutionnaire.” Can I get an Amen?)
      • (Or the lament Psalms?  “How can we sing the LORD’s song in this land?”)
      • (Or Adorno? “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben ist barbarisch.”  If that is the case, what of poetry written during Auschwitz… written not by the inmates but by the guards and the surrounding civilian population?  Because, really, whose side do you think we’re on?)
  • And they pile burden upon burden upon the backs of others, while never once coming close to following their own standards
    • But they look righteous.
    • And they sound righteous.
    • And I think I saw a picture of them all at a protest.
    • Or an Occupy assembly.
    • Maybe even on an Ignatian retreat.
    • Or on a sustainable farm.
      • (All photos taken from their iPhones.)
    • And they include Romero
    • And the Berrigans
    • And Kropotkin
    • And Malatesta
      • Amongst their interests on Facebook.
    • And their blog even has a banner that says “I Support the Occupy Movement”.
      • (Does anybody remember half a dozen years ago when everybody was putting a “Make Poverty History” banner on their blogs? How did that turn out?)
  • In doing so, they also pile burden upon burden upon the back of people who are poor.
    • People who are oppressed.
    • People who don’t have the money for eco-farming.
    • People who don’t have the money to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart in order to try and make their kids feel happy at Christmas time when all the other kids in their class are coming to school with shiny new presents.
      • (And with shiny happy pictures taken on the iPhones they got from their parents.)
    • People who don’t get invited on Ignatian retreats because they don’t sit still.
      • And they talk too much.
      • And they’ve been disagnosed with a personality disorder.
      • And they just make you feel awkward.
      • And bored.
      • And drained.
      • And pretty soon you just want to avoid them.
      • Because despite your valiant six hours of investment they aren’t getting any easier to “deal with.”
      • Plus they stink.
      • And they might be contagious.
      • Or have bedbugs in their clothes.
      • And you don’t want them to steal your laptop or smartphone.
  • And, shoot, this also piles burdens onto the back of people who drink.
    • And bang herion.
    • And smoke crack.
    • And sell themselves on the street.
      • Or in hotels.
      • Or online.
      • Or in alleyways
    • Or sell other people.
  • So, listen, man, I’ll tell you why we drink.
    • Mike drinks because his wife committed suicide.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian anarchist-poets? Checking their Twitter feeds?
    • Molly drinks because her kids were killed in a car accident.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Seeing if anybody commented on their latest blog post?
    • Taylor drinks because she was roofied and raped at a party.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? In the other room telling some poor overly polite sucker trapped as a captive audience why they don’t drink?
    • Dale drinks because he can’t get opiates for his chronic pain because the doctors think he’s an addict.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Off building the Christian Anarchists World of Tomorrow Today Theme Park?
    • Pat drinks because his parents kicked him out when he came out to them.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian anarchist-poets? Working on signs for a march?
    • Sarah drinks because her uncle got her pregnant and she had to give birth to a dead child in the backroom of the family home so that nobody would know what had happened.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Discussing the latest from Naomi Klein in their reading group?
    • Dave drinks because he was torn away from his parents, placed in a residential school, abused by the priests, and taught that he was, oddly enough, extinct yet still alive.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Sorting their recycling into the proper bins?
    • Laurie drinks because it’s the only thing that enables her to fall asleep at night, after everything she has seen and done.
      • Where were the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets? Heatedly debating if organic, gluten-free, microbrews could be accepted as donations to the community?
  • I’ll tell you something else. I’ll tell you why I drink.
    • I drink because I’m friends with Mike and Molly and Taylor and Dale and Pat and Sarah and Dave and Laurie and a multitude of others.
  • But most of all, more than anything else, you want to know why I drink?
    • I drink because of you.
      • I drink because you talk and you read and you analyze and you blog… “Revolution! Ya Basta! Enough is enough!”… and you talk and you read and you analyze… and you talk and you read… and you talk… and you talk… and you talk.
  • But I don’t see no revolution. And I don’t see you doing anything revolutionary either. Nothing close to it. You and all the eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets.
    • (Debord taught us about the society of the spectacle and, look, at lot of what you say looks and sounds pretty spectacular.)
      • (Beyond Debord, Baudrillard argued that even the spectacle has now faded and been replaced with the simulacrum and, I gotta say, a lot of the revolution you talk about sure looks and sounds like a copy without an original.)
  • It makes a person wonder sometimes:
    • Maybe this isn’t really about revolution.
    • Maybe it’s about trying to create a pretty little guilt-free space for you and your friends.
    • Maybe it’s about having your cake and eating it, too.
      • Gaining all the benefits of middle-class, white, male, Western, Christian, privilege
        • (I’ve mentioned smartphones already, right?)
      • Without paying any price.
        • (Apart from conference and retreat fees which a lot of us cannot afford.)
      • Without making any real sacrifices.
  • But maybe you’re not succeeding.
    • Maybe you’re still filled with guilt.
      • So maybe you go to parties and talk to girls about why you don’t drink beer.
        • Maybe that makes them feel like shit for drinking beer.
        • Maybe that makes you feel righteous.
        • Maybe you transfer some of your guilt onto them.
        • Or maybe that just gets them to make-out with you and you can forget about things for awhile.
          • Because, boy, for a middle-class White Christian male, you sure sound like an enlightened postcolonial feminist radical and that’s kinda hot!
            • (Lord knows, we’ve seen enough men playing that card in activist circles.)
  • Maybe you know you’re not making a difference.
  • Maybe you know the revolution you speak of and dream of ain’t gonna happen.
    • At least not on your watch.
      • (At least not if you can help it?)
  • Because maybe you don’t want it to happen.
    • Maybe you like your smartphone too much.
    • Maybe you like living life out of prison without a criminal record.
      • Still haven’t gotten around to the eco-friendly backpacking tour in Costa Rica and a criminal record could really intefere with that, ya know?
      • And how am I going to get to that “Religion and Radicalism” conference in Germany next year?
      • Plus, the job market is hard enough these days, forget about it if you’re an ex-con.
  • Because, hey, how many eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist-poets are being tortured in Bagram?
    • How many have been picked-up by the Department of Homeland Security?
    • How many are on a watch list as potential terrorist threats?
  • Because I’ll tell you something else:
    • Jesus died as a State-executed terrorist.
    • So did Paul.
    • So did a host of other early members of that movement.
    • And other members who identified with that movement throughout history.
  • When you all start going to prison, when you all start getting disappeared, when you all start surfacing in torture centres, well, then I’ll know you are serious.
    • When that happens, I’ll sober up.
    • I wouldn’t even be interested in drinking then.
  • Until then, however, I’ll make you a deal. I won’t begrudge you your eco-conscious-anti-capitalist-postcolonial-intentionally-communal-Christian-anarchist poems, communities, conferences, and blog posts, if you won’t begrudge me my booze.
  • We’re all getting by one way or another. And it’s hard to tell if your addiction is more helpful or harmful than mine.
  • But look, man, I know it’s hard getting by. It ain’t fucking easy (if you’ll pardon a little more French in this post). So, do your thing, and I’ll do mine and we’ll all live and die and help and harm and often not know when were doing one or the other until we are all enfolded in the embrace of God.
  • I’ll drink to that.
    • And the next time I’m in the park with the fellas and the gals who gather there to drink Listerine or Colt 45 or whatever else people have gathered together, I’ll try to remember to pour a little out for you and the revolution you loved and lost.
      • Cheers.

Simple (a reminder for myself)

In the end, it is all very simple.
Love God. Love neighbour. (In this way you will learn to focus on others more than on yourself.)
Care especially for the vulnerable and the abandoned. (In this way you will discover that these people are the agents of your salvation.)
Do good in secret, and be especially tender with those who refuse to do good to you. (In this way you will learn that good overcomes evil — both in yourself and in the world.)
Share. Give generously. Rejoice. (This is what love requires.)
Tremble. Mourn. Be silent. (This is also required by love.)
Smile when you cry, and cry when you smile. Dance when you hurt, and hurt when you dance. Laugh when you fail, and fail when you laugh. Hope.
Eat. Sleep. Live. Die.
Be made new.

Out-geeking the Geek (R.I.P. ODB)

My oldest brother is a self-professed boardgame geek. In fact, he is such a game geek that, for Valentine’s Day, he wrote a a series of twenty-one poems for his wife… based on boardgames they played together. Not only that, but he posted those poems online (if you enjoy boardgames, you may want to check them out; cf. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/29054).
Now, when we were much younger, my oldest brother and I used to send each other ‘hate poetry’, you know, he would write me a poem about ‘the crazies’ that I attracted, and I would respond with a poem about how he would die when his bowels exploded (he has Crohn’s).
Anyway, after reading my brother’s recent poems, I was inspired to write a poem roughly based upon some of my research, and (even more roughly) modeled after Triumph by the Wu-Tang Clan. This is my effort to ‘out-geek’ the geek. I’m turning this into a rap battle, baby!
[Parental/Evangelical Advisory: The Following Contains Explicit Lyrics.]
Triumph: Take II
The Wu-Tang Clan may have bombed atomically,
But I’m sittin here, and I’m droppin eschatology;
We’re not talkin mystery, we’re talkin historicity,
Rediscovering the Church, as political community.
Aight? Let me break it down for you. It goes like this:
Evangelicals have mapped out premillenial chronologies,
They’re waiting for the rapture, and damning all modernities
Waiting for the day, when the clouds are furled,
When Jesus Christ descends, they’ll yell ‘fuck the world!’
Cuz It’s all about the soul, in their Platonist cosmology,
But we’re still a far cry from any Pauline eschatology.
The Liberals be hatin’ on the Evangelical
They’ve got an education, and gone amillenial
Forget the tribulation, they don’t need a timetable
They focus more on action, and not some end-time fable.
So they’re chasing after causes (which are rather fine)
But all this eschatology is too faux Johannine.
Each in their own way are backing a lame horse
And failin to note the dominant discourse
Cuz it’s all economics ruling the globe
And we’re all renting space in cap’talism’s abode.
So in a world full of petit récits,
We must recourse to Pauline history
(which, of course, is eschatology).
Cuz Paul never thought about the world’s end,
He talked about the Spirit as God’s given dividend.
So while Neocons tell us, our lives are now consummated,
Paul knew, and we know, of a kingdom inaugurated;
Our Age is now perforated, and we won’t be sedated.
Cuz we are a people with memory and hope,
We don’t live in the moment, the man sells us like dope.
So we don’t buy the lie, he be tryin to sell us
About history arriving at its Hegelian telos.
About how this is all as good as it get,
We be followin’ Jesus, and fuckin that shit.
Like a virus we’re spreadin through Babylon
Proleptically anticipating the eschaton
And countering forces of globalisation
With the Spirit and power of God’s new creation.
So seize the day, seize the past, seize the future as well,
Or we’re all bound to freeze in a cap’talist hell.

Intimacy in Forsakenness II

she’s not quite as empty
when he moves inside her
puts cash in her pocket
and a point in her arm
he’s not quite so helpless
when he is on top
and she does what he says
to get what he has
and we’re not really thinking
we’re just barely surviving
my friends and my lovers
are all motherfuckers
and who has time to give a damn
yeah who has the time
and why should it matter
to me
it’s fullness and power
it’s a happy disease
it’s a picture of us
unsure if we’re dreaming
it’s the lie that they tell us
that each life is worth living
that each action has meaning
but not these no not these
and we’re not really thinking
we’re just barely surviving
my friends and my lovers
are all motherfuckers
and who has time to give a damn
yeah who has the time
and why should it matter
to me
whether a light that’s too bright
or a darkness too deep
i will place myself here
and not look away
no don’t look away
although it might blind you
don’t look away
though there’s nothing to see
don’t look away


We cannot foresee the future, but we should never give in to the defeatist temptation of being the vanguard of a nation which yearns for freedom, but abhors the struggle it entails.
The whole time I was watching, watching and listening and thinking: we know what they did to him. They killed him. Him. They killed him.
The solidarity of all progressive forces in the world towards the people of Vietnam today is similar to the bitter irony of the plebeians coaxing on the gladiators in the Roman arena. It is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory.
And that is what he did. And this is the world we live in. A world that kills those who dare to look with compassion upon the oppressed. A world that kills those who speak honestly, those who swim the river at night so that they can be with the untouchables. A world that kills those who refuse to put on gloves to touch and hold the sick and segregated.
A world that takes a man who has loved not too little but too much and forces him to say,
Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyhond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy.
After he was killed (and his body displayed before being dumped into a mass grave) they say he looked like Christ.


I know I’ll see you standing,
still that statue that I molded in my mind to kiss,
so beautiful you’ll never move again.

– The Weakerthans
It was walking on an overpass at night, watching lonely trucks on the highway below. I went back – but only in part.
Then it was sitting on a picnic table in the rain, being glad I wore that t-shirt. I was trying not to tremble – or smile too nervously.
And now it’s standing on a rooftop while the sun rises. I know this feeling now – but the answers are still missing.