Respecting the awesome power of words!

anger

Sutherland Springs

sutherlandPhoto by Owen Jenkins

 

“Thoughts and prayers” screech
in my ears like fingernails
across a chalkboard,
regurgitate into my throat
like the most heinous of tastes
come back to haunt me,
a platitudinous chaff
of phraseology.

   In the motionless void
   that follows, my eardrums
   are pierced by the echo
   of gunfire;

      another mass shooting,
      further propelling
      the land of the free
      to an insurmountable lead
      in the gold medal chase
      for death by firearms.

   We cry “terror!”
   when we see difference,
   and “mental illness!”
   or “lone wolf”
   when familiarity surfaces,
   all the while
   doubling down on weaponization,
   as if terminal violence
   were the antidote to rage.

Is there a tipping point
where the right to die
of some other cause
rises to the level
of the right to bear arms?

   Or should we bury hope
   next to the latest
   bullet-riddled victims,
   shrugging our shoulders
   in surrender
   as the second amendment
   rises to the throne
   of supreme deity?

Lord, have mercy,
because we have
completely lost the capacity
to birth it ourselves!

   © 2017 Todd Jenkins
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Respite

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Hate rallies beneath its banners
of battles lost to hope and humanity,
frantically waving its flags,
furiously stoking fires of division,
refusing to let go,
doggedly extending the war,
unable to surrender to grace.

Together, we must all
keep marching toward
a narrative that brings us
to a place of peace
that passes understanding.

Until we arrive at such
a sacred respite,
the fighting will be interminable.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Table Talk

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Those who prey upon our angst,
peddling patriotism and nationalism
beneath a thick veneer of anxiety,
glossed-over with a heavy coat
of exceptionalism, do not want us
to pray in the name of the Nazareth one;

at least not to pray
with the honesty and
depth he did.

They do not want us to read
the gospels with open eyes;

at least not to read
them with hearts peeled wide,
so that the ones he welcomed,
the ones he celebrated,
the ones he dined with,
the ones he fed, healed,
and lifted up will be given
a seat at the table.

Fear, and his cousin, Scarcity,
have constructed a tiny world
whose table has a limited,
manageable number of chairs.

These two cannot imagine
the magnanimity
of Abundance's story.

Their notion of Grace
is tightly throttled,
so it applies only
to a chosen few who
deserve and/or have earned it;
which, if you consider the meaning,
has nothing to do with Grace at all.

We must not be deceived,
however, into patting ourselves
on the back for recognizing
her face in a few other places,
for that is but another form
of competition and comparison.

She shows up every day,
not so much incognito,
as just plain unrecognized,
because we all have scars
on the retina of our narratives
blinding us to her presence.

When we pour our hopes and
dreams into the same story,
we will begin, together,
to help one another
more clearly see out of
and into our shadowed lives.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Innocents

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Far beyond a failure
to protect them,
intentional massacre
is heinousness
in the highest degree.

How frightened do you have
to be to declare all babies
two years-old and younger
acceptable collateral damage
for your political aspirations
and narcissistic ego?

It's easy to condemn
Herod for his atrocity.

What's more difficult
is admitting our own
complicity in failing
to leverage our privilege
and power to provide
basic dignity for today's children;

for lumping innocents
with those who've hijacked religion
for violent political purposes
so we can justify keeping them,
not just at manger's-length,
but exiled to places worse
than Pharaoh's Egypt.

Lord, have mercy,
not just on our souls,
but on our hearts and
the lives of children everywhere.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Anger

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It’s a double helical deceiver,
at once hiding, minor-grooved,
beneath the surface,
waiting to attack any threat;

at the same time, shading duplicity
in a major-grooved attempt
to distract all involved, including self,
with irrelevant rage rockets,
pyrotechnics of shock and awe.

Unquestioned, facade of indignation
maintains self and others securely
beyond the realm of examination;
stealthily slinking beneath the surface
in preparation for next attack.

Pray for the day when,
by surprise or exhausted surrender,
fear-generated angst is laid bare
before Love’s salvific security.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins