Daily Archives: February 26, 2010

No Drumbeat, No Jesus; Know Drumbeat, Know Jesus

My still-shrinking remnant
of leftover Christian influence is
an irritant
I’d like to banish.

It beats on me
like the memory
of a tiny, annoying drum
lingering from childhood:

no rhythm,
no insistence to it,
it’s not catchy or appealing,
but there anyway,

like a car alarm
in the distance
that signals
nothing at all.

I’m neither formal Pagan
nor informal Buddhist, no armchair Taoist,
not even a smug atheist
reveling in his intelligent

and narrow solitude;
I’m certain of something greater than I
and honor its presence,
even as it serenely disdains

to identify itself with my
desires and needs — perhaps
that is the point; its ignorance
of my fate and existence

keeps me humble but sure
of some order I stumble through
daily, and it needs no ritual attendance
of mine to hold it safe; I am

assuredly unimportant, and it
comforts me as I fear my own
decisions and missteps, marvel
at its certainty, its perfection forged

from the sum of all flaws and fanfares.
But to imagine it as personal, as concerned
with me as it is with the spin of galaxies,
cheapens it.  I am no special angel,

no spectral devil, no potential
prophet or seer — no.  I live and sweat
as all do, and my sins or triumphs
amount to nothing in the dark matter

between suns.  Like a drum, the Christ
seems to me to keep a human beat, not a divine one,
and lovely though it is at times, it’s still
bounded and tied to human song

of want and fear and love and joy
as defined by humans for humans.  It’s
a powerful tattoo that plays on my ego’s craving
for surcease and assurance that yes, it is

immortal and salvageable.
But what is there
to salvage here
that is not endlessly replaceable,

totally unoriginal, totally
interchangeable with the all the rest
of the works and days of those who
have ever lived or breathed?  I’m

a mote, a happy one, but still a mote,
and relieved to be one.  I need no Savior
to save this.  There’s nothing unique
in this small annoyed atom.

So I strive to cancel, little by little,
the insistent relic message that I matter enough
or that this spacious world cares
to save me for something greater.  I am greater

without the limits of myself,
someday to be part of the giant Whole
of Everything That Is.
That’s plenty grand enough

for me, and it’s mine without the need
to cling onto someone’s robe
and bow to someone’s specific crown.
I’m learning to let go, dance, be free, and stop being Me.

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Scraps Of Marley

of Marley in my ears,
not enough to change me
or the way I play, but present

I don’t want ganja
right now, or even justice
for the oppressed;
right now, it would be enough
to fall into the easy rhythm
of this, something my fingers
are resisting.

If even my nailbeds
can’t understand this,
what chance is there for this Western heart
to feel good with it — to move
beyond the bounce of it, the jaunty
erotic pulse of it?  I struggle
with the punching bag
beat; keep wanting to syncopate
and make it more complex
than it already is.

Bob smiles from the CD cover.
He’s not even looking at me —
past me perhaps, into homes
I don’t know and never will
where the rocksteady works wonders
to keep the people sane, hopeful
in the middle of the grind.  I’m
a tourist here, the guitar
no better than a simple camera
looking for snapshots on vacation.

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