I Wonder Which Is Worse

I find myself asking
A lot of questions lately.
More than I ever have.
And there are no simple answers
To the questions that I ask.

Which of these is worse?
The homosexual,
Or the murderer,
Or the rapist,
Or the child molester?

I honestly don’t know.
But I find it interesting
How many people that I know
Are convinced
That murderers,
And rapists,
And child molesters too,
Can become Christians,
And be saved.

But that fag has got to go.

I have other questions
That I ask a lot
These days.
Here’s another one I find
That I ask
From time to time.

What do males talk about
When they’re in a group?
It’s something I don’t really know.
But I’ve been around
Groups of males.
And I know that when I have
They talked about
Very few things.
Like adventures in consuming
Too much alcohol.
Or the latest video game
That they’re all playing.
Or how to escape
Their demanding married life.
Or how hot the service lady was
That served them lunch
At the restaurant that day.

I’ve heard them talk about
The big football game.
Of going fishing
On the weekend.

Are all males supposed to be the same?

Well.
At least that would explain
Why so many females that I’ve known
Had nothing good to say
About any of the males
They’d ever known.

Then there was the time
That a friend of mine
Declared to me,
“The speed limit
On that strip of road
Is just flat stupid.”

Which brings up my next question.
Since everyone I know
Pretty much ignores
The laws that we have put in place
In our society,
Is it safe for me to ask
If those laws only apply to other people,
And not to them?

Think about that one for a while.

Is it OK to sit at home and wish
That the President of the USA
Would fall to the floor one day
And die.
Of a massive heart attack.
So that he could be replaced.
‘Cause, damn,
He’s fucked the country up,
And everyone knows that?

Why do people lie
To themselves?
Why do they pretend
That they’re well behaved,
And good.
When they act that way,
And think that way.
Ever single day.

Which is worse, I wonder.
The guy that used
A Black and Decker jigsaw
To cut 22 women in half.
Of the guy that sleeps
In bed each night
With his boyfriend.

I find I have to ask.

Which is worse, I wonder.
The guy that date rapes
College chicks.
Once or twice a week.
Or the gal that sleeps each night
In bed with her girlfriend.

Which is worse, I wonder.
The lady that stops by the bar
On the way home from work
After a rough day,
And has a few drinks
To relax.
Then gets in her car
To drive home.
And kills a mother,
And her three sons
By driving drunk.
Or the guy that takes a shower
With his boyfriend
In their own home
Every night.

There’s so many things
I have no answers to.
So many reasons that I find
I’m not one to judge.

Which leaves me with a single question
That I ask right now.

What gives you the right
To judge someone
That you believe is wrong?
Really.
What gives you the right?

Walking Away From Perfection And Success

Pema Chodron said,

“As long as our orientation is toward perfection or success,
we will never learn about unconditional friendship with ourselves,
nor will we find compassion. ”

I cannot help but understand these words.
And I cannot help but feel
The way that my heart aches,
And the tears that my soul cries,
When I look around and see
People all around me
That don’t understand these words
At all.
That think these words
Are wrong.
A lie.

After all,
The American Dream
Is for success.
To be successful in life.
To make a lot of money.
To have a great big home.
To have a job
That pays a lot.
So you can buy
Anything you want.

The Christian Dream
Is to be perfect
Is it not?
To be like Jesus was.
Following the ways of God.
And helping each other
To be that way.

There are other dreams
That people have
That I’ve met in my life.
They all say the same thing.
They all follow
The same plan.
The same framework.

If you work hard enough,
And long enough,
You’ll earn the dream you want.
And if you haven’t
Reached that dream
And you’re not happy yet.

It’s all your fault.

So you have to be punished.
And deny both who
And what you are.
And put more time and effort
Into making the dream you have
Come true.

I got laid off
Back in July
Of 2011.
And everyone was sad.
And apologetic.
“We’re sorry to hear that, Mark.”

“But you’ve got skills.
And talent too.
And if you go out
And look for work
We’re sure you can find a job
That will pay you
What you’re worth.”

And I couldn’t help but feel
That no one would believe
That I could settle for
Any job at all
That wasn’t like the one I’d had.

And there were a lot of people
That I used to know
That were very much surprised
When I went to work part time
In a job that pays
Much less than I used to make.

To them,
It was very sad.

It is for them
That my heart aches
And my soul
Cries tears of pain.

For they don’t understand
The words that Pema Chodron said.
And they still chase a dream
That just can’t be obtained.

Happiness comes from inside.
It doesn’t come at all
From fulfilling a dream.
From searching for success
In the world that I live in.
From punishing myself
For being imperfect
And flawed.

Happiness, I’ve learned
Comes from within.
From knowing who
And what I am.
Knowing I’m imperfect
And forever flawed.
And learning not to be afraid
Of the reality
That I will make mistakes.
And my mistakes
Will not be the end
Of me.

For me,
This turned the world
Upside down.
And success for me has now become
Remembering
That I can always smile.
And learning
Day by day
What it means to care
About the people that I love.
The people that I call
My friends.

And how to care for them.
Helping them to face the things
That they are afraid of.
So that they can find their smiles
Again.

And I know that I will find a way
To write more words
In the coming days.
Because I want to help
The people around me
Learn what I have learned.

That the fear that I once had
Of not being successful
In this world
We all live in
Was just flat wrong.

That my fear is not a warning.
Instead,
It is a signpost.
Set along the path
That I am meant to walk.

Everyone’s Afraid

There are times
When I have to
Close my eyes.
When I have to
Cover my ears.
When I have to
Just get up
And walk away
From everything.

There are times
When I just can’t walk
Among the wounded
That I see everywhere
Anymore.

And I have to walk away.
To come to terms
With the way
That my heart aches
Within my chest.
And I have to take the time
To dry the tears
That my soul cries.

I find myself wondering
How can people be so blind
To the hurt that they are in?
And then.
I stop.
And I remember me.
And the way I was
Just over a year ago.

And I know.
I know.

The people that I see
Are not cold hearted.
Are not heartless.

They’re just afraid.
That’s all.
They’re just so very much afraid.

Of almost everything.

I remember Wednesday nights
At the church
That I’ve now left.
When they had their prayer service.
And one question
That was always asked.
“Are there any private requests?”

That’s when people
Raised their hands.
Although they never
Said a word.

These were Christians.
Part of a family.
And they couldn’t share
Among themselves
The things that concerned them.

Someone I once knew
Tried to explain to me
Once.
The way that people are.
“Mark,” he said,
“They’re private people.
They keep things
To themselves.”

I didn’t understand
What he said back then.
But now,
I have many ways
To interpret the words
He shared with me that day.

Because I know
That the people of that church
That I went to
For several months
Kept things to themselves.
Hell,
I wouldn’t be surprised
If they never even raise those things
With the Pastor of their church.

Not because those things
Are private things
That should be kept
From other Christians.
Nope.
Not at all.

They don’t say a word
Because they are afraid.

They’re afraid
Of other people
In the church.
And the reactions
That those other people
With have
If they were to come flat out
And talk about
The things they want
Prayers for.

And this is OK
Because it’s just the way
That everyone there is.
There are some things
That you just never say.
Anyone knows that.
Right?

There were times I thought,
“I should come flat out and ask
The people of the church
To pray for my son
And his rebellious ways.
And for my daughter
As she strikes out
On her own.
To move across the country
And live in the home
Of her girlfriend.”

Yeah.
That would have gone over well
In that place.

Can’t you just hear the rumors now?
And the gossip?
“We’ll pray for your family.”
Yep.
That’s what they’d say.
Straight to my face.
But behind my back,
I’d bet,
They’d all talk about
What a failure that I was
As a father.
To let my children
Be the way they are.

It’s one reason
That I’ve left
The church yet again.

Because I keep finding
That even there
In a place
Where we’re suppose
To sooth each others
Aching hearts,
And dry the tears
Other souls cry,
All I see
Is fear.

And the way that fear
Controls
The way people behave.

So I’d say these words
To the person
I once knew.

They’re not private people,
Jerry.
They’re not private people
At all.
They’re just damn afraid
Of what would happen
To the image people have of them
If people knew
How they really were.
And how they really felt.

No wonder this world’s
All fucked up.
When fear determines
How every one
Behaves.

I Could Look Back…

I could look back.
At the past.
At what was.
At who I used to be.
At those I used to know.

I could look back
At the mistakes I’ve made
Time and time again
In this life I lead.

I could look back
At all the friends
That are now
Just plain gone.

Like the Lady Smile.
Or the Lenten Rose.
Or the people
Of the churches
I’ve been too.

I could.
It would not be
All that difficult
To do.

To get lost
In the memories
Of a life
That is just gone.

That’s all.
Just gone.

That life did not end well.
It ended in hell.
I don’t know
That I’ll ever forget
The hurt I saw
In the eyes of My Lady
In those days.
Or in those
Of my children.
Both of them full grown.

But looking back
Would not accomplish
Anything.
It would only hurt me,
And my family.

I could look back
At what once was.

But I won’t.

I chose instead
To live right now.
To live
Breath to breath.

For I’ve learned
That now
Is all I really have.
That what was
Is gone.
And no one knows
What is yet to come.

The changes I am going through
Are in full swing now.
Not that anyone would notice.
All that anyone would see
If they were to watch me
Is how I don’t do anything at all.

He works part time.
In a job
That doesn’t use his skills.
And he doesn’t seem to be looking
For a job that does.

The inside of his home
Is a total wreck.
Hell,
He can’t even keep
All the dishes clean.
See how they’re collected
In the kitchen sink.

He tried going to church
For several months.
And couldn’t even
Keep that up.
He had to withdraw.
As if he’d grown too lazy
To bother getting up
On Sundays any more.

Then he stopped communicating with
Everyone he’d come to know
In those few months
He’d gone to that church.

And no one there at all
Understands
What the heck he did.
But if he’s that way
That’s his problem.
He’s clearly
Not one of them.

I’ve learned
From having been so hurt
That people do
What they want to.
No matter what they claim
That they believe.

That they’re all tied up
In coping with
The problems in their lives.
As they claim,
“I can’t get involved.”

Part of why I went
To that church for several months
Is that I was searching
For something.
And I’ve finally figured out
What that something is.

I’m searching for people
Where I feel
Like I belong.

And I left that church
Because it was a place
Where I didn’t belong.
Where I didn’t understand
How everyone there was.

I only knew
That from my view
They were all the same.
And I was not.
And I could not help but feel
That my presence there
Disturbed some of them.

Whether it did
Or not.

But I have started to find
Some places in the world
Where I can fit in.
Where I feel
Like I belong.

I have found a few
Creative souls.
Each of them different
From the other people
That I’ve known
Throughout my life.

It’s not a perfect fit.
And I know
It will never be.
But at least
I’ve found people
That aren’t afraid of me.
That let me be
Who I really am.

And I’ve never found
People like them
Before.

So I’m learning
To live in this moment,
And not to worry
About what happened
In my past.
I’m learning
To let that go.

I told my doctor
Several weeks ago
That I don’t ever forget.
That’s just not the way
My brain’s been wired
Since birth.

That I remember.
I remember everything.
And because I don’t forget,
I have to integrate it all
Into my life.
And learn to live with it.

That’s what I’m doing now.
Letting go
Of the last thread
To the past
That was holding me back.

The memories
Of the Lenten Rose.
And of the people
That I met
In the past few months
At the church
That I went to.

For the truth is
They’re not part
Of the life I’m going to have.

It’s what my heart
Tells me.

It’s time for me to continue
The walk I’m on.
Down the path
That’s before me.

Even if I can’t tell
Where it really leads.

I could look back
And remember
The stories of my past.

But I chose not to
Any more.

I’ll Try So Hard To Learn Your Ways

OK, God.
There’s something I would talk about
With you on this day.
And I know that you already know
Every word
That I would say.
And every question
I would ask
Today.

But I’m going to say the things
That I feel I need to say.
And I’m going to ask the questions
That are eating away at me
Today.

And I know
That doesn’t surprise you
One damn bit.

First I wish to say thank you.
For making me the way you have.
For the differences
In my neurology
That I was born with.
Because I’m learning
That those very differences
Are the source
Of the differences
That I’ve been blessed with.

Thank you
For placing me
Outside the little box
That makes up
The society
In which I live.

I can’t help but believe
That you made me this way
So that I would come
To understand your ways
Better than I could have
If I’d been made
Any other way.

I’ve lost count, God
Of how many times
I’ve heard a Christian say,
“I saw a man
Wearing a dress.
And it made my stomach turn.”

I’ve reached the point
Where I find I can’t
Remain silent any more
When I hear that.
Because while I hear those words,
I hear something else
That remains unspoken
To this day.

“Someone kill that fagot,
And get his kind
Out of my world.
They all deserve to die.”

And you know, God.
That just doesn’t strike me
As the way that you want
Christians
To really be.

Now, I know that homosexuality
Is something that you don’t approve of.
I understand that
Very well.
But, damn-it, God,
I just can’t understand
Why Christians can’t see in the least
The sins they are committing
When they carry in their hearts
Hatred,
And violence,
Of the kind I see
When they say such things.

I mean, hell, God!
It’s not like none
Of those devoted Christians
That say such things
Are without sin themselves.
Hell,
I have to wonder
How many of them
Get their jollies off
In the bathroom
With a magazine
Or a raunchy book,
And their own two hands?

I assume they’ve never read the words
Of the Bible that declare
How much of a sin
That masturbation is.
If they have,
I sure can’t tell it
From the way that they behave.

And you’ll never convince me,
God,
That any male I’ve ever known
Has never humped his wife
Without imagining she was someone else
At least one time.

Sin is sin.
Let’s be honest now.
It’s no wonder
You know,
That I can’t go to churches
Filled with people
That live that way.

There’s many things like this
That I don’t understand at all,
God.
And I know
That you already know.

Like the questions that I have
About the Bible,
God.
I do believe,
You know,
That it’s the best interpretation
That we mortals have
Of the words
You’ve shared with us.
That it’s the best tool
We have ever had
To learn your ways.

But, I keep running into people
In the Christian ranks
That conveniently ignore
How the Bible was created.
How it came to be.
The way that it was written.

If you ever want
To piss one of them off,
Ask them how Abraham,
King David,
The 12 disciples,
And Paul,
Managed to gain such favor
With you, Lord,
Before there was a Bible
At all.

And then you can tick them off
Even more
By telling them the facts
Of how the New Testament
Came to contain
The books that it contains.

Talk about politics.
It’s a hell of a story,
God.
And the effect
That the politics had
On the final content
Of the Bible
Are well known.

Anyone can go read them
If they want.

But no.
Too many people that I know
Look at such a topic
And they scream at me,
“Shut up!
It’s all a lie!
It’s just a test
Of faith to me!”

As if they’re screaming
At the top of their lungs,
“I’ll believe
What I damn well want to!
Don’t bother me
With the facts
From history!
I don’t care how things happened.
That doesn’t matter in the least
To me!
I’m going to cling to
The things that I believe,
No matter what!”

Hell.
We may as well have stayed
Back in the days
When the Earth was flat,
And the entire universe
Was centered on it.

Why can’t people
Just look to you
And do the simple thing?

God,
There’s so very much
In this life
That I don’t know.
And I don’t understand.

And I know
I fuck up
Every single day.
And would be lost forever
In the darkness
Of this life.
But for one single thing.

You’re son
Gave his life
For me.
To pay for the mistakes
That I make
Every day.

I don’t know
Where all the other shit
Came from,
God.

I really,
Really don’t.

It’s like Christianity
Has lost it’s way.
And can no longer hear
The words you say.

Help me to do things
Your way.
I know I’ll fail.
Hell,
I’ll fail miserably.

But I know
That through your love
For each one of us,
Despite the sins we make
Every single day.

I can be forgiven.
And if I’m blessed
With another day of life
On this world that you made.

I’ll get to try again
On another day.

And that’s what I’ll try to do
For you
My King.

I’ll try so hard
To learn your ways.

Breathe. Just Breathe.

Close your eyes.
Then put your hands together
In your lap.
Sit there.
Sit still.

Now.

Breathe.

Breathe in.
Feel your lungs fill
With the air they need
To sustain your body.
To sustain your life.

Breathe out.
Feel your lungs expel
So many things
That your body
Does not need.

Breathe.

Breathe in.
And remember.
Some one you once knew.
Some one who
Is now gone.

Breathe out.
And feel the ache
Of that loss.
A loss
You have never faced.

Breathe.

Breathe in.
And remember.
The magic light
That you could see
In her eyes.
Every time
You looked in them.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the pain
That you still feel.
Pain
You have never faced.

Breathe.

Breathe in.
And remember.
The way her smile
Touched your frozen,
Rock hard heart.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the fear
That you still carry.
That now
She hates you.

Breathe.

Breathe in.
And remember.
The music
Of her laughter.
A music
That you hadn’t heard
In far too many years.

Breath out.
And let go.
Of the fear you saw
When she spoke with you
On Saturday.
September 11th.
Of 2010.

Breathe.

Breathe in.
And remember.
What it was like
To at long last
Have a friend.

Breathe out.
And let go.
Of the darkness
In your heart.
Darkness you still feel.
At how everything
Came to its end.

Breathe.

Just breathe.

Breathe in.
And draw in
All the hurt.
And all the pain.
That you know
Are out there.
In this world.

Breathe out.
And send into the world
The understanding
You now have.
Of how precious
Every heartbeat is.

Breathe.

Breathe in.
And draw in
All the sadness
Your heart tells you she felt.
When your old life
Reached it’s awful
End.

Breathe out.
And send to her
The truth.
That you are OK.
That you have found a way
To smile again.

Breathe.

Breathe in.
And draw in
The fear that you have.
That the things you did.
The things you said.
In those days
When you were hurt
So much worse
Than you will ever say.
Caused her
To go away.

Breathe out.
And know the truth.
That she spoke to you.
When she told you
That you both
Would be OK.

Breathe.

Just breathe.

And remember.
That you are most afraid
When you near the truth.

Just breathe.

And remember.
That your fear
Is just a feeling.
And feelings
Come and go.
They’re transient
You know.

Just breathe.

And remember.
That the only way there is
In this life you’ve been blessed with
To find an answer
To a question.

Is to ask.

Just breathe.

And remember.
Who you are.
And what you wish to be.

The compassionate,
Caring,
Tender-hearted
Warrior.

That life meant
For you to be.