“This bliss of ignorance is a fragile thing.”

December 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

I don’t normally like to preface something I post here, but I feel like I should here. This is adapted from the “Work in Progress” I occasionally excerpt. It occurred to me today, though, that the portion below might be sectioned off from the narrative and all in all re-envisioned. It is, as the title indicates, a sermon text, of a sort. What serves as a kind of choral frame for a chapter is . . . well, something different here. My first — certainly in a long time — longer-form poem. In close, I’ll say this: I do love the economizing effects of poetry.

* * *

A Sermon

The taste of you makes me nauseous —

I know what you have done,
that you have been neither cold nor hot.
Would that you were one or the other;

would that this world fractured,
swollen by


its and all the others,
might somehow be soothed;

would that you be hot or cold,
for now, now you are no better
than the water you siphoned from your sisters.
You, in whose aqueducts the cool
of Colossae’s wells become warm
and heat of Hierapolis turn tepid,
you, who are undeservedly satisfied,
are deservedly damned.

Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out. But make no mistake,
you are not merely a bad taste
spat from the tongue —
a too quickly sharp sweet or
a long lingering bitter, the pubic
fuzz of mold, or a gland-swelling allergen —
nor the phlegm of a season’s sinuses deposited
in pocketed tissues and workplace sinks.

Few of us
would judge you noteworthy.
We may at first, when beverages don’t freezes the teeth
or our showers steam;
but we are, if little else, a resourceful people,
we learn to adjust to and to marginalize as
the consistencies of life
we otherwise find unpalatable.

But it is not taste alone, we judge,
or I might have the choice of avoidance —
of pursing my lips against
a different cup. But, like Christ in the Garden
asking no,
there is no choice to be made.

For you have been contaminated,
You are are now the contaminate,
at one with and indistinguishable
from the fetid stench that precedes you
as sight
and follows you
into taste.

It’s all connected, understand.
Oh, for you must, before it is too late,
before this sensual symphony, that you will at last hear,
the music of life
fit for these final hours before death
turns dulceted delusion:
“I am rich,” you say. “I have need of nothing.”

You must know, there is no truth here.

You who possess nothing of your own have nothing to offer me.
For you whose self-reliance is a lie, sufficiency a fraud,
whose every word is a plagiary, the only thing true
is . . . . . . .

How many times have I stood here?

Would it not be better if you committed your crimes knowingly?
For such are against your kin, and can be compensated or undone.
But yours, your offense is worse for being ignorant, you,
the self-reliant,
who have no recourse to excuse.

You who are, in spite
of yourself,
in spite
of all things
holy, beloved, all this
is a self-deception, your avoidance of
a shame, that only shame itself can resolve.

This bliss of ignorance is a fragile thing.
The borders are barely fortified,
and when they are breached, they are
tore down from the inside.

You are like the poor man who thought himself rich:
when true richness is revealed, you and he
alike lose even that wealth you never had.
The gold refined by the fire of judgment is a revelation:
for the first time you may see! You catch a glimpse
of what you really are:
an object
of pity to others, scorn to yourself.

The powders of Phrygia promise you vision,
the oracles of Apollo portend the unseen,
but I tell you this, cast your eyes
newly open
not outward upon the world, its offers and threats,
or even toward one another, family or foe;
cast them
beyond the neck and below
the waist, to your exhibition
of doughy bits, dangling pieces and folds.

Don’t just stand there, naked ones, cover yourself!
She’s outside that door! Do you dare to look?
She’s waiting,
and there is no turning back. Your eyes may now see
what before your ears before but faintly heard.

The one for whom you’ve been waiting is here:
if you would but open your door to the knock . . .
if you would but open your ear to the desire of her heart . . .

Make way,
this one wishes to dine with you. And those
with whom she eats
will never hunger
of themselves.

Oh, repent, Laodicea,
and let her come.

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