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
wasn’t 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 84: dreams of homecoming

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through lit windows i see them.
i can even experience
however vicariously,
their soft contentment as they move
back and forth
through the glowing warmth of their homes.

like sparrows burrowing their nests
they seem to find refuge in you
no matter how long the day or
dark the night.

turning my eyes back to the road
i look down into the valley
and realize for the first
that an early spring rain
has covered it with blessing.

i spend the night in an open field.
a canopy of stars spreads
over my head and
dreams of homecoming wash
through my soul.
in the morning i rise
and continue on with nothing
but my own yearning to guide my steps

soon enough i will come to know:
i am better off just one day
in this timeless moment
than an eternity anywhere else.

it is on this very threshold of return
that i have come home.


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 arrogant 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.


psalm 80: the strangled vine

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how long will
this people be wrathful,
this nation that feasts
on the tears of its own trauma
so that it might strike out
again and again
against enemies real and imagined?

this nation repeatedly plucked
from its vine until
it cleared and filled the land,
planting its weapons deep
lifting up higher and higher walls,
spreading dread like an iron dome,
hermetically sealed from
all it ever was
or ever dreamed of being?

can you look beyond
this airtight prison of your own making,
beyond your illusion of shelter,
are you even able to see
the carnage your own fear
has unleashed?

look even further
and you will see
that once glorious vine
now withered and strangling
in the dust,
yet patiently waiting
as the uprooted inevitably do,
to be returned to
its source.


psalm 79: pour out your love

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can you pour out your love
upon the ones you do not know,
the ones who mutter their strange
and fearful prayers, who
refuse to call upon god
by your comfortable, familiar names?

can you tear open your robe and
let your compassion bleed out,
swaddling and comforting
those you have been taught to fear
with an indignation that burns
like a devouring fire?

are you ready to mourn
the dead of another family
whose blood is your blood,
the one who looks like a stranger
but is in truth,
your own flesh and kin?

throw open the doors,
and if the holy temple is to be defiled
let it be defiled
with unconditional love and grace,
profaned with the unbearably gorgeous
symphony of kaddishes
known and unknown.