Shape and Substance

meditations on faith and church

Month: January, 2017


Dies as though it were a way of living;
chooses not to live but not to die,
as though to live or die were things one chooses.

Curses as though it were a way of blessing;
cherishes the grifter and the con man
as though it were more blest to take than give.

Raves as though it were a way of thinking;
conjures up phantoms and chimeras
as though the truth were of her own creation.

Forgets as though it were remembering;
demands quick answer to her question
as though she can recall what she has asked.

Sh shivers in the tattered shawl of purity,
her costume in this mummery of rectitude.
She improvises on her battle hymn

while the better angels of her nature
strike no more the mystic chords of memory,
sit silent and abandoned on the roadside

and weep. And weep. And weep.

What He Believed

He was a quiet man and simple,
given mainly to routine and order—
always order—his watch and keys
kept in the wooden tray atop the dresser.
On Saturday he polished shoes,
every pair in the house, black and brown,
snapped the brush and buffing cloth, until
scuff at last gave way to shine. He combed
his hair with Wildroot Cream Oil ’til
he could no longer find it at the store.

When he preached, he spoke of love
as though it were an experiment
with outcome still uncertain, using mostly
other people’s words, the fonts from which
he drew what confidence he could muster.
Even his robe—black, unadorned with stoles
to mark the seasons of liturgic fashion—
seemed less Geneva gown than blackout curtain
that cloaked a darkling chaos. He saw it once
and ever after could not look away.