there are times when
i think the very beginning
must have been a labor of love,
every element rapturously built
upon the last, yet somehow
far beyond the sum of its parts,
a world created and re-created
in exquisite equilibrium.
and there are times
when the universe seems
forever straining at the seams,
primordial waters leaking
through the cracks,
and you’re valiantly battling on,
still trying your best to
drive back the forces of chaos.
so tell me, when i look
deep into your darkness,
what will i find?
will i be greeted by
the stillness of the night
that must surely follow day, or
the mad raging of sea monsters
as yet unvanquished?
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
As I’ve long since confessed my love for Christmas songs, I’ll give a plug for my favorite new Christmas album of the year: “Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family,” by the great Nick Lowe. I’m digging his take on some old faves, lesser-known gems as well as some great new originals. I’m guessing his new song “Christmas at the Airport” is destined to be a seasonal classic – a fabulous bossa nova ballad that transfers the aching Christmas longing from “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” to a lonely commuter socked in at airport terminal:
It looks like Christmas, Christmas at the airport/I should be at the table/with all my kith and kin/It looks like Christmas, Christmas at the airport this year/Don’t save me any turkey/I found a burger in a bin.
Great stuff! And while I’m at it, I’ll offer up another chestnut from Bob Dylan’s inscrutably wonderful 2009 album “Christmas in the Heart” (described by Pitchfork Magazine as a collection of “mostly traditional renderings” delivered with a “craggy, get-off-my-lawn snarl.”) Click below for his wacked out video of “Must Be Santa Claus” (which seems to be set at a Christmas party in an egg-nog soaked halfway house.)
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