Lent Word #42: Do

  • Music Video: I Do by Musiq Soulchild
  • Music Video: I Do by Jessie James Decker
  • Poem: Do Not! By Stevie Smith 
    Do not despair of man, and do not scold him,
    Who are you that you should so lightly hold him?
    Are you not also a man, and in your heart
    Are there not warlike thoughts and fear and smart?
    Are you not also afraid and in fear cruel,
    Do you not think of yourself as usual,
    Faint for ambition, desire to be loved,
    Prick at a virtuous thought by beauty moved?
    You love your wife, you hold your children dear,
    Then say not that Man is vile, but say they are.
    But they are not. So is your judgement shown
    Presumptuous, false, quite vain, merely your own
    Sadness for failed ambition set outside,
    Made a philosophy of, prinked, beautified
    In noble dress and into the world sent out
    To run with the ill it most pretends to rout.
    Oh know your own heart, that heart’s not wholly evil,
    And from the particular judge the general,
    If judge you must, but with compassion see life,
    Or else, of yourself despairing, flee strife.

Lent Word #41: Bread

  • Poem: Bread By W. S. Merwin
    for Wendell Berry
    Each face in the street is a slice of bread
    wandering on
    somewhere in the light the true hunger
    appears to be passing them by
    they clutch
    have they forgotten the pale caves
    they dreamed of hiding in
    their own caves
    full of the waiting of their footprints
    hung with the hollow marks of their groping
    full of their sleep and their hiding
    have they forgotten the ragged tunnels
    they dreamed of following in out of the light
    to hear step after step
    the heart of bread
    to be sustained by its dark breath
    and emerge
    to find themselves alone
    before a wheat field
    raising its radiance to the moon

Lent Word #39: Gather

  • Poem: [Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way] By Juan Felipe Herrera
    Let us gather in a flourishing way

    with sunluz grains abriendo los cantos
    que cargamos cada día
    en el young pasto nuestro cuerpo
    para regalar y dar feliz perlas pearls
    of corn flowing árboles de vida en las cuatro esquinas
    let us gather in a flourishing way
    contentos llenos de fuerza to vida
    giving nacimientos to fragrant ríos
    dulces frescos verdes turquoise strong
    carne de nuestros hijos rainbows
    let us gather in a flourishing way
    en la luz y en la carne of our heart to toil
    tranquilos in fields of blossoms
    juntos to stretch los brazos
    tranquilos with the rain en la mañana
    temprana estrella on our forehead
    cielo de calor and wisdom to meet us
    where we toil siempre
    in the garden of our struggle and joy
    let us offer our hearts a saludar our águila rising
    a celebrar woven brazos branches ramas
    piedras nopales plumas piercing bursting
    figs and aguacates
    ripe mariposa fields and mares claros
    of our face
    to breathe todos en el camino blessing
    seeds to give to grow maiztlán
    en las manos de nuestro amor

Lent Word #38: Process

  • Poem: I Sing the Body Electric 6. by Walt Whitman
    The male is not less the soul nor more, he too is in his place,
    He too is all qualities, he is action and power,
    The flush of the known universe is in him,
    Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance become him well,
    The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sorrow that is utmost become him well, pride is for him,
    The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent to the soul,
    Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he brings every thing to the test of himself,
    Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail he strikes soundings at last only here,
    (Where else does he strike soundings except here?)
    The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred,
    No matter who it is, it is sacred—is it the meanest one in the laborers’ gang?
    Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants just landed on the wharf?
    Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as much as you,
    Each has his or her place in the procession.
    (All is a procession,
    The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)
    Do you know so much yourself that you call the meanest ignorant?
    Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and he or she has no right to a sight?
    Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts,
    For you only, and not for him and her?

Lenten Word #34: Enter

  • Music Video: As We Enter by Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
  • Poem: Enter the Void By Juan Felipe Herrera
    I enter the void,
    it has the shape of a viola:
    Israel, Jenin, West Bank, Nablus—a rubble boy
    shifts his scapula as if it was his continent, underground
    Gazaground, I want to say—his only bone,
    the rubble boy is a girl, I think,
    her hair tossed, knotted and torn under
    the green shank of fibers, tubes and shells.
    She digs for her rubble father, I say rubble
    because it is indistinguishable from ice, fire, dust,
    clay, flesh, tears, concrete, bread, lungs, pubis, god,
    say rubble, say water—
    the rubble girl digs for her rubble mother,
    occupation—disinheritance—once again,
    I had written this somewhere, in a workshop, I think,
    yes, it was an afternoon of dark poets with leaves, coffee
    and music in the liquor light room.
    A rock, perhaps it’s a rock, juts out, two rocks
    embrace each other, the shapes come to me easily,
    an old poetic reflex—memoria, a nation underground,
    that is it, the nation under-ground,
    that is why the rocks cover it.
    I forget to mention the blasts, so many things flying,
    light, existence, the house in tins, a mother in rags.
    It is too cold to expose her tiny legs,
    the fish-shaped back—you must take these notes for me.
    Before you go. See this
    the pools of blood.
    I ride the night, past the Yukon, past
    South Laredo, past Odessa, past the Ukraine,
    old Jaffa, Haifa and Istanbul, across clouds,
    hesitant and porous, listen—
    they are porous so we can glide
    into them, this underbelly, this underground:
    wound-mothers and sobbing fathers, they
    leave, in their ribboned flesh, shores lisp
    against nothingness, open—toward you,
    they dissolve again into my shoes—
    Hear the dust gong:
    gendarme passports,
    cloned maize men in C-130’s, with tears
    bubbling on their hands, pebbles
    en route—we are all en route
    to the rubblelands.
    I want to chant a bliss mantra—
    can you hear me?
    I want to call for the dragon-slayer omchild.
    I am on my knees again.
    On the West Bank count
    the waves of skull debris—a Hebrew letter
    for “love” refuses me,
    an Arabic letter for “boundary”
    acknowledges me.
    Sit on an embankment,
    a dust fleece, there is a tidal wave ahead of me.
    It will never reach me. I live underground, under the Dead Sea,
    under the benevolent rocks and forearms and
    mortar shells and slender naked red green
    torsos, black,
    so much black.
    En route:
    this could be a train, listen:
    it derails into a cloud.

Lent Word #33: Restore

  • News Blog: Pakistani Pashtun Poets Restore Their Craft Amidst Massive Migration By Harriet Staff
  • Poem: Consolation By Robert Louis Stevenson
    Though he, that ever kind and true,
    Kept stoutly step by step with you,
    Your whole long, gusty lifetime through,
    Be gone a while before,
    Be now a moment gone before,
    Yet, doubt not, soon the seasons shall restore
    Your friend to you.
    He has but turned the corner — still
    He pushes on with right good will,
    Through mire and marsh, by heugh and hill,
    That self-same arduous way —
    That self-same upland, hopeful way,
    That you and he through many a doubtful day
    Attempted still.
    He is not dead, this friend — not dead,
    But in the path we mortals tread
    Got some few, trifling steps ahead
    And nearer to the end;
    So that you too, once past the bend,
    Shall meet again, as face to face, this friend
    You fancy dead.
    Push gaily on, strong heart! The while
    You travel forward mile by mile,
    He loiters with a backward smile
    Till you can overtake,
    And strains his eyes to search his wake,
    Or whistling, as he sees you through the brake,
    Waits on a stile.

Lent Word #32: Revive

  • Music Video: Revive’s Blink
  • We have cried often when we have given them the little victualling we
    had to give them; we had to shake them, and they have fallen to sleep
    with the victuals in their mouths many a time.
    (parent of children working at a textile mill, to an
    1832 Parliamentary inquiry into child employment)
    They cry for children too tired to cry for themselves,
    daughters twelve, eleven, eight—eyes
    shutting down as a grate’s banked coals shut down
    at midnight, in the rising damp called ‘home.’
    Too tired to eat after eighteen hours feeding
    looms whose steel teeth grind insatiably,
    the girls will be offered up again at dawn.
    Yet they are the lucky ones, to work where skylights
    hold swatches of the unaffordable blue.
    Imagine these girls’ mine-trapped cousins, hauling
    black rocks on sledges up tunnels of black air:
    half-undressed, belted, harnessed, saturated
    with the oil-blackened water they crawl through
    pumping ‘the lifeblood of British industry.’
    Flogged for talking, Margaret Comeley, aged
    nine, can sometimes close her mouth around
    a piece of muffin—if she manages
    to keep it from the rats, ‘so ravenous
    they eat the corks out of our oil-flasks.’
    Sarah Gooder fills her mouth with song
    ‘when I’ve light, but not in the dark; I dare not then.’
    Here is a working girl so filled with light
    she is pure song: her sun-bright bodice shines
    in counterpoint with her blue overskirt,
    and, from her forehead’s crescent of white linen,
    tapering light blazes a white path
    down arms and wrists to folds of spread blue cloth,
    like moonlight piloting the tide’s refrains.
    A Dutch milkmaid, Tanneke Everpoel,
    lucky enough to live in the Delft house
    where Vermeer’s eye and brush could catch the spill
    of morning light as her brief peacefulness
    brimmed over, serves here as a celebrant—
    bread heaped up on the altar-like table,
    wine transubstantiated into milk
    whose brilliance seems the source of the room’s light
    she pours forever from the earthenware’s
    black core. His pose; yet—all hers—underneath it
    (and signalled in her fixed eyes’ unconcern
    for the beholder) such complete immersion
    in what she does, that she is all she does
    and it is she, this offering-up of day.
    And he? When he was forty, the Sun King
    invaded Holland. No one wanted art.
    In debt to his baker for three years’ worth of bread,
    Vermeer, according to his widow, falling
    ‘into a frenzy,’ passed ‘from being healthy’
    in ‘a day or a day and a half … to being dead,’
    ‘the very great burden of his children … so taken to heart.’
    Knowing the earth is closer to the sun
    in winter won’t revive the street person
    sleeping towards cold death in a bus shelter.
    Bread in a painting won’t cure stomach ache.
    So Margaret dragged her great burden of coal
    while Sarah sat terrified in the dark,
    and neither knew Vermeer’s poised working girl,
    broke bread with her, shared her breaking light.
    The painting stood by, helpless to save them
    or him, and looking at it now cannot
    help anyone. Yet, it can cry for them,
    as parents take their children’s grief to heart:
    the beads of salt, shimmering on the bread
    like diamonds, can be tears the two girls shed
    down where no light sang their preciousness.
    The cradled pitcher’s brim can be their hearth,
    since it (and not the sky’s cold mine of stars)
    pours out what cannot shelter us, but feeds
    a hunger no daily bread can fill: for light—
    light that, like coal, comes from our earth; hunger
    that, unlike grief, is inexhaustible.

Lent Word #31: Resist

  • Music Video: Skillet – The Resistance // Suicide Squad // Music Video
  • Poem: Comings and Goings By Glenna Luschei
    In Tucson
    when a university student
    goes home
    she might leave her desk
    and a chair, a bookcase outside her cave
    with a sign, “Take me.”
    And who could resist
    heat radiating over furniture
    like a mirage? You hoist
    an old Victrola into your pickup
    and ratchet up a new song.
    You start that life in the West,
    invent a past, and when that tune
    winds down, it’s okay to put out,
    “Take me.”
    What do we have in life
    but comings and goings?