Tag Archives: Secular

First Encounter Under the Tree of Knowledge

Adam must have wondered
what was happening to him—
must have felt a great emptiness
inside his whole and perfect body
when he woke from the unpleasant
and unexpected duplication
of his flesh and bone.
Imagine his shock
to see Eve naked beside him—
neither of them aware that her body
was built to receive his,
or to create the cause
of every single human heart
that would beat and love and die
and beat and love and die—
and Adam must have wondered
how Eve’s soft and delicate body
would smell and taste and feel
against his,
and you can imagine her curiosity—
equal, and willing to explore—
and we can believe with all our hearts
that after they discovered how
the puzzle of their bodies fit together
Adam would have sacrificed his rib
all over again
and Eve would agree to give birth
to a hundred billion children
who would blame and punish her
for wanting to know more
about all this beauty—
where it came from, and why.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
11-19-18

Perspective

A man swings alone
in the park beside the library.
I wonder why he’s there.
The parking lot is empty.

The library doesn’t open for another hour.

I put Malcolm Gladwell in the drop box.
He’s been helping me understand the misunderstood.
He’s given me 6 hours of perspective
on how we see things incorrectly.
How we misconstrue the facts.

I want to ask the man
why he is swinging in the park alone.
I wonder if there’s a woman
he wishes he hadn’t lost.
I want to ask him what he did wrong.
Why she left.
I want to find out what his plans are
to get her back.

From my air-conditioned car
I watch him lower his hands and his head
as if he wouldn’t care if his body flopped over
onto the ground like a rag doll.

I diagnose him with a broken heart.

The man’s posture stiffens
and he drags his feet to force a stop.
He stands, turns, and suddenly becomes a teenager
who walks into the arms of a beautiful girl
who just walked into the scene
from god knows where.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
6-15-18

 

Fairy Tale

The atheist pretends
for a moment
that he has a soul
shaped like a heart
given to him before birth
by Yahweh or Zeus or Baal—
it doesn’t matter
who is responsible
for this flat Valentine—
it’s his to keep
or give away
or cut into pieces like confetti
falling from grace,
which seems to him to be
the best way to celebrate this life
which has no one to thank for it
but the two people
who believed his birth
was a blessing
from their favorite god.

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-27-18

 

 

Out Loud

Hearing myself speak
to a dear old friend
at the grocery store
about the one I loved
was a revelation—
and pulled out of me a few facts
I’d never heard out loud—
facts like:
I loved him because…
But this…
But that…
We didn’t…
We couldn’t…
and I watched pity
twist her face into a grimace
filled with an empathy
reserved for those
who should know better
than to put all one’s eggs
into one basket—
and because I had a dozen
in my cart as well as
frozen meatballs
and frozen fish,
I thought it best to part
before I let the truth
finish another sentence.
I said, He didn’t want me
to put my life on hold…
but the truth
was finished when the words
he didn’t want me
landed in my ears
and put a fresh sting
into my long dry eyes.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-1-18

“Two Women on the Hillside” by Franz Marc, 1906

 

God Talk

Of all places, a bar
the week after Easter
six women, six men
talking God, talking Jesus
recapping the resurrection
one of the men, of course,
doing most of the talking
and I was so close
I could reach out
and touch his clothes
if I wanted to,
if I wanted to
challenge that faith of his
if I wanted to
ask a few questions
about the mission
god had chosen for him
which was to spread
the Good News like butter
onto this bread of mine
to make sure every unbeliever
knew that an afterlife
was an option
in exchange for reason
in exchange for the kind of
common sense that says
you need to seek forgiveness
from whoever it was
you hurt, injured, or wronged
instead of from a man
who lived and died
fourteen hundred years
before the invention
of the printing press.
So instead of begging
for anyone’s pardon
I head for the door
that leads to a light so bright
it took ten million years more
than just one day to be created
and no one in the world
has ever existed
who I’d ask to pick up
and carry all my burdens
and while they’re at it
pay for my tab.

 

 

 

DeMaris
4-10-18

Scaffolding

I was 12 years old
when Ryan Akers
approached me in the arcade
while I played Centipede.
I tried not to pay attention,
tried to act like I didn’t feel
anything unusual—
as if the new and unfamiliar wish
for him to touch me
was as benign
as anyone’s desire to hold a puppy.
And I don’t remember
a single word he and I exchanged
but I remember the shock
of seeing Lance kiss Amy
in the dark corridor
before we got picked up—
and the next morning in Sunday school
I watched Amy open a Dum-Dum
which she licked with a kind of pleasure
that made me certain
she wasn’t focused on the Book of Joshua
or its heroine, Rahab, the prostitute
who got exactly what she wanted.
Amy’s mind
was on the tip of Lance’s tongue—
and on the tip of mine
were words like sensual and erotic—
words that weren’t yet in my lexicon,
but their meaning was beginning
to take hold
on the scaffolding of my experience,
which wouldn’t include a kiss
from Ryan Akers—
but it was his anatomy
that first led my imagination
to cling to all the possible and varied
expressions of what I can now
identify as love.

 

 

 

DeMaris
3-18-18

Cropped area of “The Love Song” Norman Rockwell, 1926

Experiment

You,
my pretty love,
are an experiment—
you are a pillar
starting out perfect
and I am going
to carve you
with an honesty
so sharp
only diaries and priests
are accustomed
to such
clean cuts
such
unadulterated truths
and I can’t wait
to see if you’re
still standing
after you know
everything
I’ve ever needed
known
and if you might
become something
like a sculpture—
even more beautiful
when parts of you
are whittled
almost to the core—
polished by facts
that no one
is expected to share.

 

 

 

DeMaris
12-4-17