On The Evening of Joseph’s Nativity

By imperfect ways observed, the Man is no longer backgrounded.

By praise of jailers not quite as distorted.

His tongue too forked up by a Bible, in cold pews sit dragon’s teeth confounded,

Your companions more frail.  Counselors every vanity compounding,

Forty sisters to wife, rich tilth under stores to plunder,

Ambitious of office and fine button, every season a change of color.

 

In your stride, all taken: Angelic ministratation, divine revelation,

Human ways that set your feet a tripping, high blocks, stones,

Worse than senseless things, man taken, nearly in vain:

To the Vale of Aman, the Tree at Zomar, to Enoch’s City in the stars,

Man with you came stumbling, fearing, but taken;

Taken in, perhaps, so most do see with scarcely a glance at your work, a trifle,

How rude a scheme: Gypsy, Injun, Hebrew, Christian.  Giants of Jared,

Waters of Mormon, diamondic embowed spectacular interpreters,

For plates of Gold, reformed, thrice witnessed.

 

A seer alone, surrounded by nine eager scribes,

Putting sights to paper, then print, then preachers:

Jails to keep the Smith who bloweth the coals, whose coals burnish their lips.

Paper prisons kept by cowards whose bellies are not purged.

Herein is the Smith at this forge, standing, hammering, glammering

Weaker men as alloy for his steel,

Still unmelting, behind their bars, behind praise, jailer priests all taken in.

Put to smiting, those sons of scribes have taken your sight,

To an iron yoke have bent them, your words less wisely chosen,

In weakness taken, to jailers given, words long awaiting their answer

 

To your call, to make, and take joy in the making.

Your people they failed, your city abandoned, temples to ruin,

Zion is squandered, fled they from you, near a Summer’s Mid Eve,

Mobs in grey face gathered by twilight, sending down too early their sun,

Shaking chains, links reflected in what pale light remains, grey given for gold

Then iron for breaking all you had done.

 

But a rod of your smithing, slowly melting, spreading, running

Down into plates for engraving, finer words less forkedly wrought

To witness of your work (mostly failures, true), will come.

 

For not all fell with your body and six iron balls,

To earth, deeply buried, for springtime rising

The tree cut low by late frost, newly shooted, curled green leaves unfurling,

Pale color under light blossoms, slow to fruiting, true.

But some spring day, mulched by your flesh, once shred by iron laid

Upon you by men a-fearing, his rules all broken, by you:

In wives too rich, in friends too poor, in visions prodigal, and always translated.

By man nearly all recast to his Ruler, measured three by two and more, zeros

Upon zeros, upon zeros.  Yet under ideal figures, if we look,

 

Lies a man who made god again man, incarnate

Not in glory, and high power, but finding new power in weakness,

And taking glory in the making, even the failing,

Frail as a babe, earthy as a stable, scarcely out of rut.

Steaming, reeking of musk, and blood, intoxicating.

Your hair woven in gold, your eyes given blue for the fencing of evil,

Somersaults and caterwauls, living in jest: at last made the gods recall mirth.

Laughting at your imperfect ways, rubish and quaint,

But moved to doubt, too: That maybe Man is not some god in embryo

 

But gods all men yet unruined, proud, unweak without thorns in their flesh

Like castles of stone, too strong, to the wise easily cloven,

Too strong to endure this new world, hot blown by the Smith,

Limping, his bellows whistling at esses, hammering to take in the weak,

Those easy to believe; they alone easiest to yoke with iron, are also to be set

Under light crowns, and burdens set light.  See the Smith at his forge,

Pulling ploughshares from a fire, and plates for feeding, reading.

Come, dumb man, made for joy, call the gods, for joy alone is enduring.

On the End of the World

 Two Poems on the End of the World

 

To Frost

 

The World did not end in fire,

Whatever the Frost has tasted of desire,

Nor in Ice, although now surely twice

The lessons have we had of late

Of how that too sufficing hate

Holds a ruler to measure the great

And the small, and too a knife to slice

To fit when too great might inspire,

Little lumps blown up into humps

And bent over backs over burdened by fate

Whatev’ring its end, grumps, whatever, just end.

Too old to desire, and too cold of heart to hate.

 

 

Three Two One End

 

I’ve got a book on the Maya

Discussing the Maya forecasting the End

It begins with a Friar, a Spanish padre

Who came, by horsebacking an army

In silver seeking the same, come

Last to sacred caves and great holes of green water

Where Kukulcan divined the way of stars

And foretold from jewels of that friar’s face

Staring back from green water and into his own

And how he’d quail, and in fright tear away

 

To Merida, to light up a Cross bearing tallow

And there sit before a table, with pagan book open

Pulling out ciphers and counting on fingers

Pulled out from brown habits to tap out the years

Sighing at last, for the End, he said, would not come, not yet.

So long as he was on the earth.  The End,

He said, Father, is set for five centuries later, in Fire.

These Maya may enjoy, Padre, good service to the Crown

 

For their souls are wild, bodies patina’d with lust

But by work and routine, prayers rolled out in haste

These Maya might learn of sin, abjure pagan ways

Like declaring the End of a World, not theirs to lay waste

 

So the friar in smile turned from the Cross, and looked to the square

Of white light, flat fire, misshapen grown as a huddled form enter

And fell in the doorway: Kukulcan, the ancient

Returned to make one more revision, in the book.

 

A number long lost, dropt to a cave’s bottom, he to find

And now rolled out from his fingers: the absence of five

Centuries, deducted, down to the zero of his day, twilight,

While the square light turned grey, and soon violet dark

To shade out the day, the church where the priest in candle light

Red on heavy robe knelt, lifting from open hand this zero:

Adding to his figure, this cipher, and now back to wonder,

Padre priest and friar: when, indeed, his world would end.

Sandy Hook, one last time.

At Sandy Hook

Chase! Grace!

Charlotte, Daniel,
Rachel, Dylan, Oh . . .

Chase, Grace . . .

Anne y Ana,
Avielle et Madeleine.
And Caroline too?

Chase Grace
Allison, Olivia,
Lauren, Emilie,
Josephine,
Catherine,
And their shepherdess Mary.
For us, please,
Find Grace, for she is It.

Jesse, Jack, Jessica and Noah,
James u-Benjamin:
Two by two come you, not in single file.
Let us hold hands, resting,
Having Found Grace.

And for us, too, someday:
Dawn necnon
Our Victoria

Reap The Whirlwind

Near my home is an elementary school, and every day I hear the sounds of children, among them three of my own, given some reprieve from learning about indians, reindeer, dinosaurs, numbers and all that God has created. When I dropped my daughter off to kindergarten a few years back, I had a hope that when one dies, the course taken is not unlike the way five year olds line up, brave under backpacks, and walk through a door after being greeted by the kindliest persons, getting to work coloring upon tables seating six new friends whose names they’ll learn weeks later, around tables named for colors, everyone at the blue table learning letters to music, and at the yellow playing with blocks and all the air is full of sound and color. Can any parent step into an elementary school and doubt that it is hallowed ground? Here is a temple to last the ages, with walls of little abcs, lunchroom tables folded high but waiting, and covered by crude sketches of Cleopatra or The Greeks. And its breaching: an omen of something too, now too late, we realize, a thing made secretly in our midst to last nearly as long, but by other means.

So today at my youngest daughter’s christmas program, the heartbreak was palpable, the sense of shame evident at what we’ve allowed to grow while all the world sought for wealth, digging pits for our neighbors, grasping at his throat; and now the awakening to an awful situation, as I did on Friday to my wife’s report, having slept too late. But thirty little six year olds sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas today, like they really hoped it might be: something I’ve not heard behind those lyrics for a very long time. It was received as every message is received when found inside a temple.

We are some twenty years into a new growth of of maybe a very ancient evil, only now daring to do what is unthinkable: walk into these temples, snatching its holy priesthood, or to blast away at children gathered to build gingerbread houses: with doors made of gummy bears, who find their way home by the light of gumdrops hanging from candy canes, made only to take to real homes and set upon their dinner tables, all crooked walls and missing candies, in the delightful slop we wise adults have long forgotten to enjoy. There are still places where humans believe in gingerbread homes, cinnamon bear neighbors, and candycane lampposts, and they labor daily in our only true temples to our good and loving Creator. And so the breach of that place last Friday signals the work of an evil we’ve let grow in the best neighborhoods, and one which, I fear from the sense of something like facing a very long hike, we will struggle against for a very long time.

While we have slept in carnal security, an army of darkness has been gathering, and the hearts of many men have waxed so cold that they cannot understand the awakening to grief so many Americans have this week realized, and in many cases have not themselves begun to understand, of some sign divined when the name Sandy Hook entered their hearts. The children huddled in closets colored with red and green crayons while the gun and its master delivered their siblings and neighbors to some holier classroom, gingerbreads left unbuilt; leaving, these blessed souls, this new evil among us, for some reason forced Friday into desperate acts, being ripened in iniquity, surely, but not only this: there is panic among the demons, for too much good has been left to grow in too many little Sandy Hooks, and they are too late to stop all the Wishing of Merry Christmases and shaking of little bells, and the building of cities upon cities of gingerbread buttressed by icing and roofed in sugar wafers, built not like fortresses for a millenia, but for an evening, and for evenings everlasting.

_earing _ants to Church Day

In solidarity with semi-formal Sunday-appropriate attire pants-makers, fabricators, designers, and distributors across the nation, and those womynb who seek to pull down power by pulling up their pants on Sunday and getting to work on their nursery programs, I give the following catalogue of offensive things one should NOT say to fully pantsed women at church:

Let’s promote follicle equality and Shaker outreach by wearing hats to church

Promote discursive widening by driving swearing aunts to church

Insist upon fishery preservation by applying for herring grants at church

Spread wilderness survival awareness by smearing ants in church

That, sir, was but an erring glance to (Mr) Church!

Soon they’ll be marrying plants in church.

You’ll get called into the bishop for putting me into that glaring trance at church!

This list is nothing but a flaring nonce at church.

Everyone is invited to Monson’s “sharing” manse at urge

Propose greater inclusiveness by shouting, “fearing Bantas is no better than Bearing Fantas to church!”

Notice how her earring slants at church?

Let’s demand the choir be elevated to singing chants at church.

Admit we’ll never be hearing Kants at church

You swear you saw my ex Nance carrying Lance to church?

What does a Mormon girl do on saturday night when the priesthood closes every session of every conference, claims to hold all the keys for exaltation of her family, refuses to call her words “revelation,” insists she needs neighbors to bless her children,  tells her her place, and then tells her its another place, shames her if some randomly assigned body parts are partly visible, and gives the prayer over beers that are brought to a party at her friend’s house?  Pulls up her pants and goes to church in protest.

Not A Bad Year For Mormons

Overall, 2012 was Almost The Year of the Mormon:

National League Rookie Of the Year and Brigham Young Look-A-Like: Bryce Harper (and most patient autographer; see below where my daughter with the white flower in her hair was nearly crushed by his fans)

byBeardP1000740

BBergTrueSecond Worst Magazine Cover: Bloomberg (and also best quote from Mormon Anthropologist)

Second Place for Heisman Trophy: Manti Te’o

Second Place for President: Mitt Romney (sooo close!)

Top Album on Amazon: Imagine Dragon (frontman)

Next Top Album on Amazon: Neon Trees

Top HS Recruit in Nation: Jabari “I’d be crazy to go to BYU” Parker

Top Broadway Musical: The Book of Mormon Musical (admittedly, not really “Mormon”)

Second Place: Computer Generated Conference Talk Imitator: Brother Porter’s GenConPreview (more on this one later . . . )

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First Place Computer Generated Conference Talk Imitator: Tie: David “Max Hedar” Bednar (v.12.2); Tom “The Monkey Puppet” Monson.