Below please find a sampling of my poems,
which first appeared in the following journals.
Poseidon Shares with Me What He Knows of Love So Far
You’re watching the water rise, but wait
Soon you’ll see like Noah
No grass blade, no stone, no pothole,
never a shoe, never a house
Why Jesus Changed Water to Wine
At the wedding, the groom’s brother
sat beside me on the stone wall
bordering the garden where everyone
danced and drank
The music held us apart from them like a soft net
He was drunk and moving his body close to mine
His knee touched mine
He moved the insides of his eyes
closer to the insides of my eyes
He said, The wine is nearly out
One more sip pooled in his glass
His eyes mouthed
I got up, found the barrels, and turned water to wine
not for the bride and groom
but for the changes wine works in a man
to ache so tenderly, so openly
for a kiss in a garden
The Podcast Host Asks Jesus to Explain Again Because Listeners Want to Understand
I can use a wrench
and fix doors just fine
But the tools that come naturally
to me are introspection
and patience with discomfort
I noticed cracked souls
more than creaking doors
I was ashamed of that skill for a long time
because I didn’t think it was one
I looked so deeply into everyone
I fixated on their fundamental innocence
I knew I was supposed to be mad at injustices like everybody else
but I wasn’t, because everyone—violated and violator—was innocent
We are The Same from eternity’s perspective
Eternity is the Great Equalizer
So I decided to function at the level of eternity
When you see everyone as God underneath fear’s gunk
you can’t take sides. Eternity has no left and right
When they come to kill you, as they did for me,
you see eternity, not men with weapons
I could not fear eternity
coming for eternity
It would’ve been like fish
fearful of water
Mary’s Biographer Reflects on Three Ceramic Shoes
In Mary’s home, beside her bed,
three little ceramic, decorative shoes line her windowsill
I was not going to ask her about them,
assuming they represent her three children: Jesus, James, and Esther
But they don’t
She said they stand for her siblings:
Rose, herself, and Noah, who died as an infant
When Mary rises every morning, the first thing she sees
is this trio, with one member always missing
But no, she corrected me, missing is wrong too
We all lead full lives
Jesus’s Parable of the Windy Day
The street artist watched the wind take his drawing
It flapped across the ground and past street vendors
The artist did not yell to passersby to catch it
Nonetheless, a couple of men tried, even climbing up a fire escape to follow it
blowing upward past the second floor
That is the self blowing away, Jesus said
People tried to rescue mine by writing the Gospels
Luke and John climbed that fire escape
They think I lost something precious
I was the artist who stood there and watched it blow away
The Canaanite Woman Heals Jesus
A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Jesus, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” —Matthew 15:22
The story is that I, Jesus, healed her child.
But I didn’t. The Canaanite woman healed me.
She showed me how far away from God I was.
I thought I lived in God’s palace. But I hadn’t
yet even reached His front door.
I would only touch the afflicted, then leave.
I wouldn’t live with them.
I didn’t make them breakfast.
I didn’t place pencils back into their hands,
teaching them to write after they stabbed me with them.
I didn’t clean up shattered glass
of the painting I had devoted months to making,
which took only one second for the afflicted to knock
to the floor and slash with a knife.
I didn’t cook them dinner an hour later.
I didn’t sit with the afflicted overnight in the hospital
after they yelled “Fuck you!” to me while tearing the seven books
I had written. I didn’t meet with endless series of doctors through
endless emergency-room nights, then drive to different pharmacies
for the afflicted’s medication while they slept.
I never secured the afflicted’s seat belt, drove them home,
and tucked them into bed.
I never signed them up for swimming lessons.
I asked the Canaanite woman to join my ministry
and teach with me, because she knew
The Mystery, the space beyond
the brick limits of love.
She said no.
She had to raise her daughter,
rewrite her books, and write new ones.
I decided to rise above the deluge,
the maelstrom of Right, the rip tide of Wrong
and work on living in Oneness,
one big arc of God
I loaded my dualistic thinking—
man and woman, lamb and lion, shame and fame—
into one spot where I could look at it long and hard—
40 days and 40 nights
The animals on board were my self
My vocation: to tame that yapping and howling
so it wasn’t pushing and pulling
me around all day
The moment I quieted the self’s snarls and bites
the rain stopped
A rainbow appeared
I felt a little bump
I barely noticed I had reached a mountain top
Poseidon Watches Jonah Panic
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord . . . From the depths of the grave I called for help.” — Jonah 2:1-2
You all wait until you’ve abandoned God
to come to my onyx kingdom
You’re shocked by darkness,
the warmth underneath the cold,
the pressure you fear will crush you
but in fact buoys you like an octopus
Your arms become strange
You look at them
It’s called hitting rock bottom
I’m rock bottom all the time
And I never hit
Not once have I ever hit
I float, waft, splash
so I give you a whale,
a whole room to yourself down here
to indulge your need for great walls
to keep the deep out even in the deep
You’ll leave my ebony ballrooms
when you think you know immensity
But you’ll be back
You’ll forget again
that God isn’t
all about light and air
You’ll be shocked
that heaven is dark
Your eyes adjust more quickly this time
and see me reclining
with my feet up or dancing all night
under the disco ball
of bioluminous fins
Welcome back. Come and dance
for one song
before you climb into your whale
Yeshua Explains How Getting PrEP as a Young Adult Influenced His Ministry
I had run out of my medication
Apothecaries in Nazareth didn’t carry the taboo pills
My supplier wouldn’t have more for another month
until he went to Jerusalem
A quiet woman at temple
pulled me aside after service,
told me to visit a Sister Susan
who would be expecting me
at 10:45 p.m. in the old temple’s basement
The woman’s eyes sparkled. Then
she left to serve cookies in the lobby
I arrived at the old temple,
walked down a dank staircase, passed
men with crutches who hadn’t changed shirts
in a lifetime. I asked a woman bandaging a man’s foot
I wouldn’t look at
if she knew where I could find Sister Susan
She pointed with her chin. Last door on the left
I paused in the open doorframe
Sister Susan turned around,
put the bottle on the desk
and said, I’m just going to leave this here
She continued her conversation
with a woman holding a clipboard and taking notes
I took the bottle
A thin man whose eyes were dead
or on eternity watched me
or nothing as I climbed the stairs
It dawned on me that the woman serving cookies
was Sister Susan’s disciple
Or Sister Susan was hers
And the woman with the clipboard
was writing their gospel
Jesus Gives the Keynote Address at the National Speech & Debate Tournament
Growing up, boys had to speak up to win God.
Fathers wanted sons in Debate League.
I joined and practiced announcing
loopholes in other’s Talmud arguments.
Gotcha for God.
But I was not selected for the Young Debaters.
I was more listener.
I stood back
a whisper of suffering
in the farthest corners of the winning arguments.
Only later did I recognize that listening is
not disappearance but emergence.
Pausing to listen loosens a mist
that obscures golden domes from ramshackle roofs.
Now everyone can come out
about cracks and water damage.
People remember me as a healer of leprosy, demons, and even death.
Really I just listened,
patient with the odor of unwashed hair
and with eyes watering from Hell’s heat.
This was the miracle:
that leprosy, demons, and death were worth listening to
and not defeating.
Jesus Takes Mental Notes While Listening to a Storyteller Recite The Epic of Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh follows every emotion
to its limit
He reaches the edge of the world
and made his way back
His hands drop swords
and rebuild Eanna Temple
Resurrection is to decide
to think like God
What was ruined
Jesus Wonders if He’d Consider Gilgamesh a Messiah
The Messiah could be anyone willing
to make their life’s work
a change of perspective,
the decision to climb stairs
to the temple of the mind
and separate—as a livelihood—
The Storyteller Concludes. Jesus Contemplates
Gilgamesh at last arrived where he began
He returns to his city,
walks its markets and courtyards
His suffering—mountain trek
and ocean storm; love leashed, then not
The story is not to have a story
Beginning and ending
the same place
After the Story, Jesus Walks Through the City Gardens
Gilgamesh falls in love like God does,
Questions of preference
play no part in loving
Gilgamesh restores plazas and groves
for those whom he will never know,
criminals and victims alike
He rebuilds Eanna Temple
as a resurrection of innocence upon the highest hill
Each time we see another’s innocence
we add weight to the grooved stone steps
to the temple
*This poem series dialogues with Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Gilgamesh (Simon & Schuster, 2004). Italicized language, for instance, comes from Stephen’s translation.