Poem: Uncomfortable in Pulpits

About this poem

This poem chased me around all day. I had to get it out and on paper just so it would leave me alone. Despite how it begins, I was spitting it out like a rap song.

Tom

2

Uncomfortable in Pulpits

Old
white men like me
don’t rap.

It is not in our D.N.A.
We have been worn down to a politeness
that is more effective
than rants.

Old
white men like me
should not become preachers in their old age.

You see, I am uncomfortable with pulpits.
I am no more a man of God than you.
No less either.
My journey has left me with scars and broken pieces
and left over bits no one can heal
and no one cares to claim.

I am uncomfortable with pulpits.
Oh yes, I put in the study.
Five long years Mixed with work,
children,
a wife, all that churchy stuff we do and pretend is God’s work.
I studied Greek,
and Aramaic first, sure I would fail,
sure my singular lack of language capability would render me
useless, ready to fail early and fast to put to rest the idea that God could use me.
But somehow, I survived. I have the stacks of books
and one thin transcript to prove it.

You see, I am uncomfortable with pulpits.
I am a broken creature.
Broken by trauma of the young,
broken by trauma of divorce and depression
and the false dogma
that my job as a man
was to survive it all alone,

I am not sure if this is a poem,
or a sermon,
or a rant.

But I do know this. I am tired of being polite.
As SWM, that’s southern white male for the rest of you,
I was indoctrinated in the cult of polite
steeped in it, like a two-week-old teabag,
dark and sour and the perfect shade of brown.

I was made for scandal.
I was made to be Oscar Wilde.
Johnny Depp.
The Great Gatsby with a Coca Cola budget,
to love scandalously,
the improper people,
too poor, too loud, to different,
THOSE people,
those ever-loving broken people with all their roughness and imperfection
so like mine they could be a mirror.
THOSE people,
to dark, too dumb, too passionate, too un like ourselves,
in the end broken, only un like ourselves.
leaving to forget what we were told since we were born,
that God Is love.
Love is love.
Kindness works,
and nothing else does.

No, we would rather rant,
Place angels on pinheads,
argue the law and the details,
pick the scabs one by one until we have a sea of blood,
shoot our wounded,
or wound them worse, making sure they can never stand
so we can blame them for their messy, messy sea of blood
and shoot again.
Only flesh wounds.
Never to kill.
Only it does.

Do not kid yourself, no one sets out to fail, to break, to fall.
We do it in our ignorance.
In our belief, spawned by books, movies, the internet,
by the bullies that surround us,
the ones wielding the sticks,
sure somehow we are enough
when we were never made to be enough.
Let me repeat that for the hard of hearing.
We were never made to be enough.

That’s what my theology tells me.
The books and the concrete streets I have walked,
the beggars I have taken to McDonalds and Starbucks,
the people living in sin and love at the same time,
the lost boys. The girls with cuts on their arms.
The rich ones too, rudderless and empty.
No one is exempt
from needing.

Least of all me.
God is love.
Love is love.
kindness works.
Nothing else does.

How did we forget?
What made us believe when our savior proclaimed
all this, ALL THIS, he said,
the scripture, the law, all this stuff you argue over,
fight over,
luster and threaten over,
all this is summed up in one four letter word
that our world seems determined to ignore,
or pretend does not exist.
Love, a thing defined by the very book we use to club it into submission with,
defined by a lawyer who learned better,
what love is and is not.

  Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy or boast.
It is not proud or haughty.
It does not dis others.
it is NOT self-seeking.
It is not easily angered, it keeps no, write that down, NO record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
IT is the stuff of always.
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails

You got that?
Why aren’t we screaming that from the rooftops?
Why are we tellin’ all those who make up their own definitions of love
to get back.
It’s already done,
and done better than we can do it.

I am tired of polite.
I want to stick my face in theirs,
even in ours,
And scream it.

God is Love you idiot.
Love is love.
Kindness works
and nothing else does.

I am uncomfortable with pulpits.
And that is the truth.
A simple soapbox will do.
Passion should be spat out
with power and purpose.
More Langston Hughes, less Robert Frost
Voodoo music in the choir loft.
Seductive joy should ooze out of us.
Mata Hari at midnight.
Where is the joy?
Where is the zeal?
Pick up the beat.
Pound it.
Don’t let the theologian dress it up like Beethoven.
It’s not so complicated.
It’s not that all those years of study were wasted
as much as they helped me understand no matt how complicated,
no matter the history and context and rigged interpretation,
nothing else matters.

Nothing!
Do you hear me?
It’s all fluff, waiting for the next big wind,
fog waiting for the morning sun,
manna, waiting for the worms.
Because in the end,
repeat after me,
God is love.
Love is love.
Kindness works.
And nothing else does.

I am near about sixty four years old.
If I were the type who cussed, I would put a few descriptors on that age.
I am not proud of those years,
They simply are.
and some of those years were squandered.
The years of behaving badly.
Of being wrong.
oh, so, so, wrong.

That’s what pain does.
It screams.
It screams back.
A defensive bitch, pain.
What makes us think more pain is going to heal?
That only works for methiolate.

We are dumb.
We stupid.
We were given the answers.
We were made to ace the test.
and we blew it.
I did. Most of us did.

And given grace, what did we do?
Sharpen it like a weapon.

I am done. I am mad. I am tired of being quiet.
I want to love so loudly the neighbors find my obnoxious,
my town finds me obnoxious,
even my denomination finds me a little dubious.
A shady character
full of deft quotes, not caring what the neighbors think.

Build your pile of names.
I claim them all.
I am done with polite.
All it has gotten me is old.

Listen.
Shut up and listen.
God is love.
love is love. It has no race, creed, nationality or gender.
Kindness works
and nothing else does.

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