The Pilgrim and The Mongrel

knight_of_cups
Knight of Cups (Terence Malick, 2015)

The devil looks down

At the motley clan

And he smiles a crooked smile.

They’re stumbling, they’re faltering,

They’re marching single file

Across the winding, narrow track.

One lowly Pilgrim leaves the pack

And stands alone, still.

He wants to rest awhile

Just for a little while

Under the devil’s laughing eyes

And his crooked, yellow smile.

The devil releases his loyal mutt,

Acedia is its name,

It’s a Mongrel of the mangy sort,

Secreting guilt and shame.

Acedia is a lazy breed

And It does not pursue:

It waits upon the Pilgrim,

Just as it waits for you.

The Pilgrim lurches, moves again

And Acedia begins to cry

A piteous howl that cracks the sky.

The Pilgrim tries to run away,

But one can’t run on feet of clay,

And his mind is dragged to  Things Beneath.

The Sword of the Spirit stays in its sheath,

Blunted, rusted, from disuse

Stained orange-red from misuse,

As a weapon of Condemnation.

The Helmet of Salvation

that rested upon The Pilgrim’s mind

is lost, missing,

Undefined.

Acedia howls,

Howls, howls, howls

Until The Hound of Heaven growls

Closing The Mongrel’s gaping maw

In The Name of Grace and Law.

Grace from above, Grace rediscovered,

The Pilgrim’s Helmet  is recovered

And he begins to move again:

Still afraid, still in pain,

But not alone, not forlorn:

The Path ahead is cruciform.

 


This one comes from a myriad of influences, including Terence Malick’s “Knight of Cups”, Kirkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling”, Francis Thompson’s “The Hound of Heaven” and, of course, Philippians 3: 12-16.

 

via Daily Prompt: Doubt

The Cross is Bleeding

 

Crucifixion 1946 by Graham Sutherland OM 1903-1980
Crucifixion (Graham Sutherland,1946)

 

A crowd of calloused consciences,

Their mockery unrelenting,

Gather ‘round the unlucky tree

And they are not repenting.

The scoffers laugh and laugh and laugh

No signs, nor wonders, heeding

And above their dull and blinded eyes

The Cross, The Cross is bleeding.

 

The thief on the left wears a smirk;

His struggle is ending.

His sense of honour (what little he has)

Aches, and needs defending.

He attacks The Stranger at his side

While his own defeat conceding

But, despite his dark despair,

The Cross, The Cross is bleeding.

 

The thief on the right opens his soul,

His own weakness revealing.

He calls on The Stranger at his side

For relief and healing.

The Stranger’s stripes save his life

For he’s by example leading

And, atop that cursed hill,

The Cross, The Cross is bleeding.

 

The Serpent is gripped with fear,

His powers are receding,

And he becomes a savage Beast

On his own cohort feeding.

The Stranger storms The Serpent’s gates,

A dogged army leading,

And their banner is a crimson cross:

The Cross continues bleeding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Locust Eater

days_of_heaven1

 

i am

that

The mud that made man binds my right hand.

The crowd gathers, watching.

They’re impatient, their eyes look through me, above me, beyond me.

My stomach tightens with recently-consumed Woe.

This is not my voice.

Too small, too still, too urgent, too quiet.

Obscene.

Surely salvation raised from desperation is no salvation at all?

The wheel spins, the speech begins-

 Sins, sins, sins, sins.

I am a broken vessel, shattered by the Divine. The spirit came upon me,

It forced me to stand. Beneath every wing

lies a calloused hand,

gathering coal for my lips unclean-

Unclean?

Unclean!

I pause. I must try to start again.

A new word.

A new red stain.

They mock me quietly for fear of mocking Him.

Heretical.

I am a monument to an angel-haunted world,

an embarrassment to those who would have their gods theoretical,

who prefer their miracles hypothetical.

The sky shakes from footfalls of burnished bronze,

the blade that gutted Leviathan protrudes from His lips

and I’m alone,

Abraham’s knife in hand, carving an effigy of the Promised Land-

Poor Isaac.

Isaac lives, he’s… Fine.

At the mercy of the Divine.

Listen, listen! He forgives, He forgives, Isaac lives.

No longer.

Silence.

I am just a broken vessel, raised up, brought low by what-

i am

you are

A man alone

in a ring of stone,

freed from a cage of blood and bone.

This voice, this voice, it’s not my own-

Babbling about a sapphire throne-

not alone

 


This idea began to form as I listened to Nick Cave’s lecture The Flesh Made Word. In the lecture, Cave asserts that “God was talking not just to me but through me, and His breath stank.” This statement compelled me to revisit the Old Testament prophets and ask “What would it feel like if The Creator tapped you on the shoulder?” *

*I explored similar imagery/ideas in both Pillars of Fire and Cloud and Beneath the Blue Throne.

Lukewarm

Its touch could chill one  to the bone

(if It were truly cold).

Its roar would truly shake the earth

(if It could be so bold).

Its coat would be lustrous and bright

and could light up the darkest night

as though it were a sunny day

( if Its coat were not a shade

of boring, neutral grey)

Its charisma would light up a stage

and leap from the pale, printed page

(but Its aura is, instead,

an anodyne shade of beige).

You’ll find that It’s beneath your praise

and beneath your scorn,

It is completely neutral

and totally lukewarm.

via Daily Prompt: Lukewarm

Jesus Fish

An Ichthus

(A Jesus Fish)

It was carved in the catacombs of the Beast,

now it covers the curses on a bathroom wall.

A sign of resistance, repackaged (20% off) and

replaced by the homicide

hanging from the church ceiling.

 

Ichthus, Ichthus

(Jesus Fish)

Not the leviathan the zealots were promised,

it’s a new racing stripe for the road-enraged.

Sometimes, it sprouts subversive legs.

 

Beneath the Blue Throne

 

 

williamhjohnson.jpg
Ezekiel Saw The Wheel (William H.Johnson, 1945)

 

Look, see the heavenly things

above the earth, whose eye-covered wings

watch the mortals down below,

as new Babels sprout and grow.

The wheel spins, not alone,

underneath the sapphire throne:

brilliant, brilliant, blue and bright!

Tremble, mud-man, at the sight!

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Tremble