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The Wicker Chronicles: Essays, Poetry, Short Fiction
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Taking the quiz again, almost 4 years later

Well, this confirms my "black sheep" status! Or is that pink sheep staus?  

You Scored as Modern Liberal

You are a Modern Liberal. Science and historical study have shown so much of the Bible to be unreliable and that conservative faith has made Jesus out to be a much bigger deal than he actually was. Discipleship involves continuing to preach and practice Jesus' measure of love and acceptance, and dogma is not important in today's world. You are influenced by thinkers like Bultmann and Bishop Spong.

Modern Liberal100% 
Emergent/Postmodern79% 
Roman Catholic50% 
Classical Liberal50% 
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan36% 
Neo orthodox29% 
Charismatic/Pentecostal14% 
Reformed Evangelical0% 
Fundamentalist0% 

Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 10:50 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 1 April 2009 10:56 AM CDT
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Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Moments before endings (2004 - 2007)

1. You touched my sleeve and grinned, leaned close. The Smiths were playing on the speakers, the bartender girl cleaned the bar with wide sweeps of a white rag, pale snow fell outside the fogged-up windows and it was night on the street, sirens in the distance, pale streetlamps flickering, your smile the only light in the dim room.

2. We laughed in the sun, sat at the cafe table and watched all the people stream by on the sidewalk; we drank and laughed with lemon and coronas, bloody marys with jalapenos, your skin the color of warm caramel, coffee, worn and smooth.

3. When we sat on the couch and gorged ourselves on deep-dish pizza, gooey cheese and yum, watching a movie, warm under a shared blanket, I didn't know that you were dating half of Chicago.

4. Walking at night along my street, summer, fireflies, the cool perfume of night flowers heavy from the gardens, no breeze, only us holding hands in the darkness, the ghost of love drifting along behind us in the shadows.

5. Sleeping, slow breaths, steady, with my open palm flat against your back I can feel your heart, smell your skin, all the silent vibrations, warm shudderings, trembles and movements, all of the world could be inside you and I'll never know.

6. The tattoo on his back is of an angel, I think, but you can't see the face. We watch Charlie Brown's Christmas Special, and we laugh when the adults "speak": Waah Waaah Wawh Woooh? Waah wahh wah. No matter how old you are, the adults still sound like that. The muscles in his back knot and unknot; the angel is pensive, shifting wings and shadowed face.

7. He walks directly out into oncoming traffic, and never gets hit. Ever. He just knows the pattern. If I were to follow him blindly across the street, I would die in seconds. I was not born knowing his urban rhythm. I can't trace the city lines on my palm. All signs point to stop, red light, dead end.

8. We drove all afternoon until we reached the old cemetery on the outskirts of a faded prairie town. Summer gold and green around us, we lingered by crumbling headstones, tracing names and numbers with our rough fingers. Life is so fleeting, pouring swiftly away from us, the chill of autumn falling with every quiet sentence.


Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 2:30 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2008 2:47 PM CDT
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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

 1. 

 You can only dig into the past so much; the vein of rich ore dwindles and

 then you're picking through mine tailings, sifting for flecks and grains that

 might have been missed.  You have to wait for younger jewels to settle into

 the muck, buried, changed to stone and maturity by time.  If the now is

 fallow, you have to be generous; you have to wait for the field to rot,

 compost, nourished by worm shit, catastrophic flooding, ex-boyfriends,

 tides of life and circumstance.

 

 2. 

 There seem to be an overabundance of books about terrible fathers and how

 they fucked up your childhood.  Terrible parents.  Daddy dearest, mommy

 meanest.  It's easy to blame the parents between the pages.  When you're

 a child, they're the vast ocean you're stuck in, floating on a raft of fly paper.

 All you have is some stale Saltine crackers and some rainwater you've

 collected and half an oiled tarp to keep the worst of the sun off.  If the

 sharks choose to come or not to come, what can you do about it?  You

 make do.  Sometimes you lose a leg or an arm, but that's why you have

 two.  You make do with what you have; you muddle through the years until

 you can find solid ground: the fabled father land, the missing mother country.

 

 3. 

 Everyone’s compass blood misses the sea; wavering, needle-sharp

 yearning for the salt in the air like the salt in sweat.  The blue distance that

 pulls the eyes to the horizon.  Everyone has a sea that the flesh wordlessly

 remembers, an ocean that lives on only in our cells.  Water that's warm and

 taut, the skin of the drum I stretch across the world; water that holds me up

 when I walk across it.


Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 8:48 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 September 2008 9:05 PM CDT
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Monday, 5 May 2008
Summer*

Across the parking lot there's an overgrown field, a vacant lot... but it is anything but empty. Each morning as I get out of my car, I can hear the insects whirring and clicking, the rustle of leaves and thrum of woody limbs vibrating in the wind.  Each evening as dusk comes, birds call and busy themselves before dark, the field purrs and stretches languidly in the wind. It says, "Come."

I'm wearing my work clothes, button-down shirt and silk tie, dress shoes, pressed khaki pants. Dry-cleaning is expensive, and grass stains? I can see the look of horror on the elderly cleaning lady's face as I drop off my clothes, burrs and mud and green tendrils everywhere. “What have you been doing?” her look says, speaking volumes about what is acceptable, appropriate, proper.  My co-workers think I have gone mad. Tittering behind their gray cubicle walls, they exchange glances as I walk by, eyeing an errant leaf stuck to my sleeve, a feather in my hair...

They don’t suspect that
I have become a Creature of the Field

I grip the thick muscle of Summer
as it heaves and wakes from slumber

I hear the streets crackle
with vines of green fire as Nature feasts

apple blossoms boom like cannons
sweetpea pods burst seams
mercenary oakroots march

I am watered and alive again
satiated
full of sap and light

*this is an updated version of a poem I wrote in 2001.


Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 11:28 AM CDT
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Monday, 28 April 2008
Relevant

As our society and culture move ever faster, the rate at which "buzz words" and "memes" become old and tired also increases exponentially. The "emerging" church? That's so ten years ago. If it hasn't emerged already, like a wildly-colored, tatooed caterpillar from its coccoon, then it deserves to be eaten by the next sharp-eyed robin that comes along. Gobble that thing up, and don't let the piercings scratch your throat on the way down. If a new Church can't run around on its own five minutes after it's born, then it's going to be taken down by a hungry cheetah. I've seen the YouTube clips uploaded from the Discovery Channel. Haven't you? 
  
And stop insisting that you're "relevant." Please stop. If you are, in fact, relevant, we'll pick up on it. I don't need to see the name tag on the greeter at the front door of the alternative space you're meeting in, "Hello, My Name Is Relevant." I don't need to hear it namedropped in the sermon, or the message, or whatever chunk of text you're downloading to your audience. I get it. I'm really familiar with the freeware template; everyone's been using a version of it for millennia. This Church Template is a Thomas Edison wax cylinder that you keep trying to stuff into your Blu-Ray Disc player. And five minutes from now, people will be saying, "Blu-Ray? Are you kidding me? That's such a tired technological reference." I should have just said Betamax or LaserDisc. That's how quickly the formats of our perception shift.  

You can't keep up with the rate of change, Mister Church. We can't even keep up with the rate of change. Everything is blurring, speeding, melting from the friction of change. We're burning out on New. They don't even repair us any more, they just throw us away and replace us. We're all made overseas by multi-national corporations. We don't know where our food is grown, we don't know if our food is grown, we don't what the difference between food and non-food is. We're all hungry and we're starving because the food goes out of warranty before it reaches our mouths. And the Church is claiming to be relevant and new? The Church actually *wants* to be relevant and new? Are you off your nut?  
  
I don't want the Church to be relevant and new and fresh and trendy and Olsen Twins and sparkle motion. 
  
I want you to stop publishing the mountains of inspirational books that I see spilling from the shelves at every big box bookstore.

I want you to stop competing on the same level as shopping malls and movie theaters and the Internet.

I want you to stop producing knock-offs and substitutes and copies of mainstream culture.

I want you to stop the "sneaky deep" marketing to my demographic.

 I want you to get your hands out of my emotional assets.

I want you to stop trying to get us to come to your crib, where all the magic happens. 

Really.

I want you to give everyone a free ticket for inviolable, respectful space. 
  
I want you to be still, but not mute. 
  
I want you to be fluent in the language of listening. 
  
I want you to be ageless and agefull. 
  
I want you to be as biorhythmic as breath, as autonomic as my heart beat. 
  
I want you to be as forgettable as air before the urgent moment of drowning.

I want you to be as thin as the membrane between grief and joy. 
  
I want you to glimmer silently, supersaturated with God. 
  
I want so much that's promised, and not deliverable.


Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 4:05 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 28 April 2008 4:32 PM CDT
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Friday, 25 April 2008
I Have A Plan

 

I am tired of the word "agenda"...

Particularly when I read it in the context of "gay agenda" or "homosexual agenda", when certain Christians in the media sound the alarm about "The Gay Agenda."

To make a geeky new Battlestar Galactica reference, it's like they think that gays and lesbians are Cylons, Who Have A Plan, An Agenda, who may look like people, but you know what? They're Not Really Human. And these Gaylons are going to come get your children and turn them gay after they destroy the rest of human (Christian) society. That's really how all the hysterical rhetoric sounds. And these Christians wonder why we have Pride parades? How about to keep our sanity and reaffirm our collective sense of humanity?

When I weigh my experiences in the different worlds through which I've moved, and the people I have met and known there, it's the Christians who have been the ones with the Agenda, Who Have A Plan. I, who am a Christ Follower, however imperfect a one, am appalled by the cloak and dagger evangelical espionage techniques I have witnessed. Witnessed, and taken part in when I was younger.

Part of becoming honest is to question your own motives. Why do you do the things you do? What is the spark that propels you to act? What is before the spark, in the darkness, the dry fuel that catches flame? Why do Christians always want to be on fire? On fire for Jesus. Fire is singleminded. It doesn't multitask. It doesn't ask questions. It doesn't consider its actions. It just burns. It consumes. It eats and eats until there's nothing left and then it dies, utterly spent. It leaves nothing but ash, indecipherable and barren. Dead. Martyred. Cleansed in the fire. Holy fire. Tongues of flame.

But consider (unlike fire) this: the Burning Bush. Not exactly fire-like. The Pentecost. Didn't burn people's heads off.

Why do the Christians I hear the most about (scream the loudest?) want to be the Nuclear Fire of Devastation? They never seem to want to be the Considering Flame, the one that burns but is not consumed, that sheds light, that enlightens but does not destroy. I don't have an answer to that. I don't understand it.

However, when I start wearing my geeky new "Gay Cylons for Jesus" t-shirt, I intend to find out. Or at least, I Have A Plan. 


Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 4:46 PM CDT
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Thursday, 24 January 2008
Flying By

Life is speeding up. Flying by. I feel motionless, molasses slow, as it spins around me. I want to get it all out, get it all down, carve it into stone, preserve my words, make my mark before I slump into dust, so many nameless motes and bits.

It's cold and mean outside. Inside, too. I have to fight to care about my own voice. I have to push and punch and grind my teeth. I have to growl to keep the stray dogs away from my morsel of voice. I carry it, warm and vulnerable, in the back of my mouth, beneath my tongue. If I speak it might dart away, may fly, lace wing, stick bug lost in the hurricane.

I let it out to hen scratch on paper, peck at the keyboard, lay eggs beneath the back porch. It clucks and furtively struts, it's chicken and likes to hide in the coop. In its voice nest it dreams, weaves feathers, preens and gobbles shiny pebbles for its gizzard.

Beware the fox. Beware the knife. Beware the sniffing hounds and beware the farmer's wife.

 


Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 11:26 AM CST
Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008 2:25 PM CST
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Monday, 5 November 2007
Homecoming

Do you remember your homecoming, your prom, your turnabout? Was it exciting, awkward, humiliating, tender? It's probably a mixed bag. Adolescence is a mixed bag. A grab bag. Can I just wear a bag over my head? Stepping on toes, shuffling from side to side, where do I put my hands? Where do I put my heart? Can I hide in the shadows? Can I hide in plain sight?

I went to a faux Homecoming Dance this past weekend, a do-over Homecoming Dance, for all ages. There were young twenty-something couples, elderly couples who REALLY knew how to dance (no shuffling), and everything in between. There were shy wallflowers and brash sunflowers, twilight and limelight. There was a live band that knew how to boogie and knew how to croon, played it fast and strummed it slow. There was the sound of high heels clicking on polished hardwood, petals dropping from crushed corsages, rustle of satin and velvet. You could see that this would be a night to remember. A night when things began or began to end.

I also keenly noticed that there were straight couples, and a few lesbian couples, but no gay male couples. Sure, there were quite a few gay men there who danced, but not with each other. Solo or with an acceptable girl, isn't that appropriate? Acceptable. Careful and civil and proper and straight. In that way, it felt like high school all over again. I felt a shiver of cold, of old loss; I could trace the fleeting shape of it like frost on window glass.

We are trained with wires of convention, bent and styled like bonsai trees, pruned of our upstarts, our quirks, our naughty bits. Snip out, splice in, graft some straight fruit to that queer branch. Oh to be Golden, to be Red, to be Delicious, the apple of everyone's eye, the beau of the ball. Instead, I am quince, I am star fruit, I am horned melon. I am variegated and hybrid, I am other, I am heirloom and throwback. I am not round, I do not roll; I weeble as I wobble and sometimes I fall.

Sometimes I fail. The words fail me and I fail the words. I fear. When I kiss him, I wonder who's watching. I want to hold hands walking down the street, but I don't. I wonder who has a brick, or who has a metal bat. I know what cold sweat feels like between my shoulder blades, the rush of blood and the ringing in my ears when I hear: FAGGOT... HOMO... QUEER... They are bold and capital and blunt, they are hammer and mallet, they sledge and slam. So I want to slam and mosh, punch and shove, dance and dance and then hold you close, I want this to be the night when it began, not when it began to end.

When fear sets up shop, it nests. It infests. It mites and bites and fleas and tease. If you listen, you'll never leave the house. You'll cower under the dark covers of your skull. Fear is syrup and opiate, just a spoonful of shiver makes you sleep, comforts and conforms, keeps you compliant in public.

Lower your voice. Look straight ahead. Pay attention. Use pencil, not pen. No outside food or drink. Follow the signs. BYOB. Merge. Hands behind your back. Please use other entrance. School Zone. Chin up. Stay calm. No shouting. Emergency exit. Safety first. No parking. Stop, drop and roll. Stay in your lane. Enunciate clearly. No smoking allowed. No shirt, no shoes, no service. Walk slowly. Sit still. No dancing. Don't be a fucking faggot.

 


Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 11:45 AM CST
Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007 3:16 PM CST
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Monday, 22 October 2007
Outrage Fatigue

I read this quote last October (2006) over at Susan's Visual Voice blog, and it's still timely:

The effort to say nothing that will offend anyone is to say nothing that will benefit anyone. Likewise, a culture that values above all else not offending anyone is a culture whose sole purpose is to maintain superficiality and polite dishonesty among its citizens. It may be the same for the Church.~ Roy Howard

Polite dishonesty. I spend so much time being politely dishonest, embroidering my life and interactions with so many little rules, so many little reminder notes, that I start to lose myself. I don't even know that I'm gone. I turn the other cheek so often that my head spins around in lazy circles like a rotating dessert case down at the corner diner. I'm sweet as pie; would you like me warmed up, sugar? Dollop of whipped cream? Cherry on top?

And in this pre-election season, with the Candidate-critters scurrying around like earnest squirrels, collecting nuts and garnering votes for 2008, there's enough polite dishonesty in the air to set off every bullshit detector in America. My outrage filter is clogged and needs to be replaced so often that I'm experiencing outrage fatigue. I'm tired of being angry, of reading the headlines every morning and being shocked at the pettiness and hatred and bigotry in this country and... and... after a while, I just run out of words. I scan the back pages of newspapers, pick through buried text on websites, I listen to the voices in the electronic wind, and can I find glints of gold? Can I find facts that haven't been stretched like saltwater taffy, bland pap to fill our hungry tummys and make us warm and sleepy? Can I find any indication that we're not being told to live in an epic series of fantasy novels? "Fairy Tales From The Executive Branch"... I would even settle for the naive realism of "My Pet Goat" at this point.

I also hear the rallying cries of bullies in their pulpits, pointing fingers, brandishing verbal torches and pitchfork rhetoric. I hear them spit words like "immigrant" and "alien"... I hear them sneer "gay" and "agenda"... I hear what they say about citizenship and marriage, "family values" and morals, and I hear that they would never call these people son, daughter, brother, sister, father, mother, or beloved. They barely acknowledge them as fellow humans, as real people, let alone family. And they most certainly do not recognize them in their exclusive clubs, in the gated communities of their locked hearts, or in the safety and comfort of their climate-controlled churches.



Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 2:25 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 22 October 2007 2:31 PM CDT
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Thursday, 6 July 2006
tipping point

What are any of us capable of when we make selfish, self-serving choices? Any good person is one bad choice away from not being able to look at themselves in the mirror, and several bad choices away from looking at themselves in the mirror and seeing nothing wrong. We're all sitting several tables over from the self that most of us would never want to be, but could be.

If you wear a comfortable groove of bad choices down the center of your soul, it gets harder and harder to jump the tracks, doesn't it? You think it's easy like Sunday morning, all molasses and flow, but the tide is going out and there's an undertow...

If bad people ever decide to make good choices, do they get steadily more good? How deep is that new veneer of sweetness on their nature? Do maggots shit icing, black widows spin sugar, mosquitoes spit back their stolen blood? Do the snakes among us molt out of the slinky layers of dead skin, dung beetles slough off the crusty brown carapace, crocodile teeth cut down to the bone and expose clean, new flesh?

Can I teeter on this totter and see the pendulum swing, the parabolic track between good and evil that makes us do, makes us be? Where is the tipping point, the flash point, the crystallization point where ice spikes out across the still surface of a night-bound pond, the ignition point where a tinder-brittle forest erupts in flames?

Roll the dice, count the pips, read the leaves. The sure, solid step on the balance beam allows you to cross; hesitate or falter and you fall. Better to toss the dice and know, than spend your mayfly time clutching the unformed possibilities in your tight, sweaty palm. Better to eat the apple and spit out the seeds, leaving a trail of trees and tears, a life well-lived. Better to step through the portal, choose a path, make mistakes, tame regrets, than to spend your days and nights staring at the closed door, a stem cell wishing it was a forest, anything but itself.


Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006 2:06 PM CDT
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