it’s not that easy to detect,
the first symptom: a kind of quiet,
creeping elation, followed by
the sensation of invulnerability,
a fearlessness that somehow lifts you
above the petty travails
of common humanity.
there’s no pain, no fear,
not even of death itself.
only the illusion that your heart
is healthy and whole, when in reality
all those arteries and veins
are collapsing inward, slowly
blocking the connection to
your very source.
please don’t let the numbness overtake me,
show me how to feel, no better yet,
help me discover the path of true empathy:
strengthen me with the knowledge
that this pain is irrevocably
inseparable from the pain
of all that lives.
let the oppressed, buried deep
within the earth smolder and
shape like pressurized carbon
gliding inevitably upwards
only to emerge like diamonds
in the morning sun.
let the justice that trickled first
from shallow creeks now
roar through the valley and saturate
the dry parched earth, let it flow
relentlessly throughout the land
where life once grew
and will grow again.
let those who cry out in pain
feel your presence growing within
their broken souls like green
stems shooting through cracked pavement,
let them live to see new life spreading
through abandoned streets and
neighborhoods and cities and nations.
let the promise of your transformation beckon
still that we might finally take the first
tentative step into this new day, yes
let it be so.
when i hear that voice whispering
in my ear again, hissing and
humming through my bones like
an insistent night wind,
just disregard the inevitable pleas
for rescue: no sheltering rock
will be required.
yes, i know it’s your nature but
just wait and you’ll see:
my song of praise to you
will be so much sweeter
if you want to be my savior then
just walk away.
if you really want to rescue me
let me face my fears alone
and don’t let yourself be seduced
when you hear me
cry for you.
in times like these i know
your greatest gift is
don’t you think my song to you
sounds all the more joyous
when you can hear the notes
echo and shimmer across the
open empty void?
at times it feels as if
my zeal for you has been my downfall
i glimpse your face and turn to
pursue you with ever-increasing desperation,
only to look back and discover
i am completely and utterly alone.
so i’ve decided to end the chase and
send out this simple prayer instead:
don’t hide from me.
don’t let me sink down.
don’t let the floodwaters wash me away.
i have a suspicion these words will
succeed where i have failed.
while you duck and evade
my every move, i know
you secretly love these kinds of songs,
particularly when they come from the depths
of a crushed and broken spirit.
in the meantime i’ll just sit here
on the side of the road and
await your reply,
please don’t be insulted i just
need to rest from this mad pursuit,
you know i’ve just grown
so tired, i’m just
so very, very
sing your praises to the one
who stands by the orphan and the widow,
who champions the cause of
the imprisoned and the refugee
and demands that we do the same.
sing out wherever the powerful plot
their conquest, let your notes soar,
like doves impossibly sheathed in
silver and gold, sparks setting darkness
ablaze, clouds writhing in
above jagged mountain peaks.
blessed are the ones
who sing this song unafraid, this
glorious hymn roaring from
the hearts and guts of those who
recognize oppression when they see it
and are prepared to call it by its name.
and blessed are the ones
who step forward undaunted,
to smash the idols of fear and
misgiving so that the true source
of our power might somehow
burst free at last.
will you show us the way to
true liberation? dare we imagine
that it might be made available
to all peoples, no exceptions?
can you keep us all –
powerful or powerless alike –
from complacent assumptions, from
concluding repeatedly and all to easily
that security will only be achieved
can you show us how to overcome this
crippling, toxic fear, how to loosen our
grip, that we might find true strength
through the power and promise
of hands outstretched?