psalm 88: one of these nights

just like they say:
it’s always worse at night.
the shadows lengthen
and once again the dread slowly starts
its nighttime creep.

it’s really quite the routine,
this nocturnal dance of mine
go ahead, enjoy the show –
i’m sure it must amuse you
the way I thrash through the night,
sheets coiling tighter and tighter
around my throat like
some demented night serpent
faithfully returning every night
to feed on my fears.

one of these nights though
when you least expect it,
the joke will be on you
that’s right i know you’re there
do you really think i can’t see you
lurking offstage in the shadows,
enjoying the nightly entertainment?

oh yes, my latest act
is opening soon and
i just can’t wait to see
the startled confusion on your face
when i finally stop struggling,
spread open my hands,
and sing psalms of praise to you:

the one who hides
in the darkness.


psalm 87: the spaces above

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lifting my eyes skyward,
squinting into the sun,
i almost catch a glimpse of you
dancing across the mountains peaks,
gliding like a flock of birds
winging impossibly high
above the valley.

now i lower my gaze
and the air around me grows leaden;
the sky darkens,
i can almost feel you crashing
back down to earth.

that’s the thing about these
so-called sacred mountains:
they have this way
of drawing our souls
down to the ground
even as they secretly yearn
to soar.

can you show me
how to see beyond?
can you help me to loosen my
idolatrous grip upon your land
that i make truly see
your dwelling place?

can you teach me once and for all
that these peaks point upward
so I might somehow be guided
into the spaces above?


psalm 86: heart of my longing

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i’m not calling out to you any more.
no more simplistic, needy prayers.
no more pleading to you for rescue
on my day of trouble.

they say there’s none like you
but i’m starting to realize
that you’re all created
more or less the same:
jealous, imperious, possessive
and come to think of it,
pretty needy in your own right.

for so long i’ve sent out my yearning,
for too long i’ve fixated on you
and your boundless largesse,
never stopping to consider
you might really just be
a reflection of my own
inner impoverishment.

so as of now you’re off the hook.
i’m going over your head.
i’m daring to imagine
a boundless source of beneficence
yes, even beyond your own.

no expectations, no desire to fill
this bottomless well of need.
i’m sending my prayer straight into
the heart of my longing,
beyond hope, beyond desire,
for isn’t this the place
where all prayers are truly
and finally answered?


psalm 85: land lord

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we used to believe all the sorrows
visited for so long upon this land
were just a sign of your
angry, vengeful nature –
that you were visiting
your fierce disappointment
upon generation after generation
of unruly, ungrateful children.

maybe that’s been our problem
all along;
that we’ve been making
this all about you:

projecting our deepest fear and loathing,
onto some petulant, omnipotent
land lord
that we might somehow avoid the truth
of our own dark wrath.

how could we have known
that the terrifying voice
we heard roaring down
from the mountain
was not even yours at all?

how could we have possibly missed
that one fleeting moment
when truth and justice kissed,
then vanished into the
cold night air?


psalm 83: fight or flight

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will you help me
do away with my foes?
or more to the point,
can you help me see how
how my need for enemies
is starting to eat away
at my soul?

oh, how i envy your cool
and aloof demeanor,
the way you look on
with such detachment
even amusement
while we growl and rage
at shadows above and below.

what must your think of us,
forever preparing for
fight or flight, knowing
with such certainty
that any day now all we’ve
ever known or loved
will soon be swept away?

i realize it’s too much
to ask of you to take away
my fears completely –
but i’m thinking maybe
you might just show me
how to live as you do:

not with the quiet that comes
after the fire has raged
and there are no more
adversaries left to destroy,

but rather the calm
that comes from the knowledge
that i don’t need
to create enemies
to finally live in peace.


psalm 82: the man in the cubicle

while the refugee collects
scrap metal and copper wire,
the man in the cubicle counts down the seconds
then watches the camp disappear
in a tiny puff of black and white dust.

that’s all you are, you know, just
a bureaucrat in a cubicle
moving your joystick to the right and left
looking down at the worlds
you create and destroy.

how long will you stagger
in this state of willful darkness,
blindly defending the indefensible and
rationalizing away the unthinkable?

how long will the judge of all the earth
behave so unjustly?

the refugee farmer spits on the ground,
looks up and squints into the sun.
smiling for a camera he cannot see
he says,

those who dwell on high
will die like mere mortals,
they will sputter and fall like
every other ruler before them.

though this injustice is too much for me
to bear, i will not break.
even as your hellfire missiles rain down
i patiently await the final verdict.


psalm 81: listen to the music

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when will you realize
you have nothing to fear
from the foreign gods
that dwell among you?
when will you open wide and
let those strange sweet voices
wash away the dread
that has been hardening inside your heart
for far too long?

maybe your problem is that
you like the sound of my voice,
a bit too much,
fixating on my every word
so that you only hear
one melody line in this vast and
radiant chorus.

why not let go
of your phobic mind
and listen to the music,
truly listen,
for the very first time?

don’t be afraid,
once you hear this harmony
you’ll see how it soars
higher than any song
I could possibly sing
on my own.


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