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once upon a time I knew

Child of God

Created in His image

Christian

Believer

 

or at least

I acted like I knew

 

I did believe

I wanted to believe

I was scared if I didn’t believe

 

The GLBG

“Good Little Baptist Girl”

was what I knew

all I knew how to be

all I thought

I should be

 

but The GLBG

was always afraid

what if someone finds out?

 

what if someone realizes

The GLBG doesn’t

read her Bible

or pray

everyday

or even

every week

 

what if someone discovers

The GLBG would rather do

anything other than

pray out loud

in a group

 

what if someone discerns

The GLBG doesn’t believe quite

as hard as they do

or that the GLBG can’t

just take it on faith

because the bible

or the church

or the pastor

says it is so

 

The GLBG always knew

if she were known

she would be cast out

adrift

cut off

unwanted

unloved

because she was never

enough

 

Not good enough

Not spiritual enough

Not … something she didn’t even have words for …

enough

 

The GLBG knew if anyone

God included

looked deep enough

she would be found out

 

The GLBG hung on to faith

for as long as she could

she hid her GLBG heritage

and tried to live into

the faith she claimed

with freedom

and compassion

and grace

 

but eventually

she failed

 

even freedom

compassion

and grace are not enough

when you don’t actually believe

they could ever apply

to you

 

so I left

I wandered

I explored

I listened

 

eventually

I found words

for what was deep inside

 

I cried

I raged

I hated

I loved

I listened some more

 

The GLBG

slipped away

I learned

not to be afraid

not to hide

 

Goodbye GLBG

I don’t need you anymore

I am enough

 

unexpectedly

my path wandered back

I didn’t plan it

I tried to avoid it

but I found myself

at home in a church

where I am not afraid

where I hear words from the pulpit

that assure me of

unconditional love

grace

acceptance

as I am

 

a queer person

of faith

who doesn’t really know

what she believes

but does know

that if god

by whatever name you call

is to be found

they

 

(singular or plural

you choose

but definitely

non-gender specific)

 

they will be found

in the depths

in the darkness

in the margins

in the hopeless

in the lost

in the wanderers

 


This post is my entry in this year’s Queer Theology Synchroblog on the theme of “Identity”.

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Rainbow coloured outlines
Painted in the square
Bodies sprawled out
Cut down in the midst of life
Holding hands
Clinging to one another
Around a globe
Only
Two simple words
Remember Orlando

Remember Orlando

Watching countless people
Walk straight across
Eyes averted
Or unaware of
Horror represented
Under their feet

I don’t know
When it appeared
Maybe they’ve seen it
Everyday and grown
Accustomed
Maybe they only see
Rainbow colours
Leftover Pride graffiti
Nothing to see here

I see it today for the first time
My heart weeps
Lives cut short by hate
I stop
Pause
Remember
Reflect

My heart weeps more
I know there is much
Since that horrible night
I know we can’t hold
Everything
Our lives would be
Overwhelmed

But the lack of care
To realize some
Almost certainly
Counts themselves as allies
Their Pride duty done

To hear a parent ignore
A child’s question
Hey look! What is this?
Their response
Hurry the child along
I understand protecting
Innocence
But at what cost?

Clinging

White hetero-normative appearing
Twenty-something couple
Pauses to look
A sliver of my faith restored
Until
Traffic slows
Their words clear
In the silence

Okay. I know some people died, but
Do we really need to have this
Everywhere?

I sit back down
I write
I take photographs
Knowing they are not
For me
I will not forget
But much of the world will

Orlando

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It’s Time

It’s time

 

Time for me to make clear

Something I thought

Was obvious when I wrote

The Price of Hate

 

Most understood

Some asked questions

To clarify rather

Than make assumptions

 

On that day

And on the days since

I have felt

Unconditional support

And love

Overwhelming love

Healing love

Soaking in to places broken

For far too long

 

But today

In the midst of

Bathroom bills

In the aftermath of

Orlando

In the facebook posts

Run rampant

It is apparent

Some of you missed

What I said

Or ignored

What I said

Or forgot

What I said

Or didn’t care

What I said

 

So let me be

Perfectly

Crystally

Entirely

Explicitly

Proudly

Clear

 

I am not straight.

 

I. Am. Queer.

 

Perfectly

Crystally

Entirely

Explicitly

Proudly

Queer

 

It is not your business

To know why I claim

That particular word

I am a private person

My sex life

My love life

My romantic desires

Are none of your concern

 

It is enough for you to know

 

I am queer

 

And have always been

Even when I didn’t

Acknowledge or

Understand or

Speak that truth

 

So when I say

What I need to say

In this moment

Today

I hope your ears

Are open to hear

 

You are someone who

Matters to me

Whose friendship

I value

A relationship

I hope

Can continue

 

But …

 

When you speak hate

When share hate

When you keep silent

In the face of hate

Toward anyone

Who is

 

Lesbian

Gay

Bisexual

Transgender

Asexual

Aromatic

Pansexual

Intersex

Gender Fluid

Gender Neutral

Two Spirit

Non-Binary

Queer

And any other letter

In the gloriously

Rainbow coloured alphabet

That makes up

The people I claim as siblings

 

When you tolerate hate

Against my family

You are speaking hate

Against me

 

It is not

Against an unknown evil

With an agenda

Contrary to God’s will

You are spewing hate

At someone you

Have known for years

Someone you once called

Family

Classmate

Student

Colleague

Youth Leader

Mentor

Pastor

Friend

Or whatever other label

You choose to apply to

What we shared

What connected us

 

And yes

Sharing posts

Making comments

Supporting political movements

In the name of religious belief that

Vilify

Misgender

Stigmatize

Deny rights to

Denigrate

Dehumanize

Is speaking hate

 

You are entitled to

Your theology

Your belief

Your point of view

Your fear

Your emotional reaction

To something you

Don’t understand or

Don’t experience or

Don’t acknowledge

 

You are not entitled

To use any of

Those reasons

To lessen

The innate value

Of another human being

To take away rights

To block protections to

Ensure safety

To make someone else’s life

Harder to live

 

Be grateful

For the privilege

You have never needed

To realize you have

 

Use that privilege

Make the world

Safer for all people

Do what the God

You claim commanded

Act justly

Love mercy

Walk humbly with your God

Defend the oppressed

Love your neighbor as yourself

 

If you can’t

If you won’t

Don’t be surprised

When I decide to

Prioritize the well-being of

My rainbow family

Over your need to

Prove you are

Righteous and faithful

At the cost of

Our mental health

Our dignity

Our lives

 


 

I’ve never recorded me speaking one of my poems before, but it is too easy for people, especially within the Christian community, to share and make what they think are “innocent comments” without realizing the impact it has on real people that they actually know. I read one too many of those posts recently and decided it was time to make clear where I stand.

 

For those who are prepared to engage in respectful dialogue, I welcome your thoughts and am prepared to engage in that conversation with you. However, please be aware that your “theological questions” are my day-to-day life.  As such, I retain the right to disengage from the discussion and/or block your involvement, if the conversation turns from respectful engagement and generous spaciousness.  (Thank you to Wendy VanderWal-Gritter for encouraging healthy dialogue!)

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I wanted to do this
In my own time
To wait until I was ready
Until I had the answers
Rather than questions
I’m still asking myself

I wanted to do this
When I felt secure
To wait until I’d talked
With those I owe
Deep levels of trust
To share face to face
Or at least Skype to Skype

I wanted to do this
After I’d told my family
To wait until the perfect moment
Had revealed itself
And I was ready for
Every potential response

I wanted to do this
When I knew how to explain
Forty years of truth
Buried so deep
All I knew was brokenness

There is an awkwardness in
Maintaining silence
My safety net of procrastination
Wrapped tightly
Trying to contain the
Chaos of rediscovery

But something happened

Ten thousand children
Thrown away
And my silence feels like complicity
My safety net of waiting
Feels wrapped around my throat
Taking away my breath
Cutting off the words I ache to speak

There is no right time
I may never be ready
I may never be able to explain
There is only the moment now
And in this moment
My safety net must unravel
Else I lose the ability to speak

Heart broken

Ten thousand children
That’s how much some people hate
People who also claim belief in a god
Whose very scriptures teach
Love your neighbour as yourself
Care for orphans and widows
In their distress

Ten thousand children
Starving and in need
Support ripped out from
Under their precious lives
An act of hate
Called righteousness
In the name of protecting
Orthodoxy
From the scourge
Of homosexuality

How can people
Called to be like the god they claim
Who has named himself Love
Hate us at such a price to
Ten thousand children

Tears fall as words flow
Years of learning
Straight was right
Queer was sin
My heart breaks
Am I the only one
Who feels the stab of
Soul-crushing guilt
As if my existence
Is somehow to blame for
Ten thousand children
Dropped in a heartbeat of hatred
When one organization
Makes the tiniest movement
Towards acknowledging our rights
As human beings
Created in the image
Of the divine

This is also the price of hate
But unlike ten thousand children
I have a choice
I will not pay their price
I will not take on that guilt
Being queer does not
Equal broken
Nor does it mean excluded
From the faith of my childhood

I will stand up
I will proudly claim my truth
I will meet their fear
With love
For myself
For the world around me
Even for those who hate
Together may we stand in the gap
For ten thousand innocent children

—–

If you haven’t heard about what happened that caused ten thousand children to lose their sponsors through World Vision in the United States because a powerful group of people who call themselves Christians decided fighting against gay rights was more important than caring for the most vulnerable among us, you can read the details here, here or here, just to point you to a few.

I already sponsor a child through Compassion Canada whom I plan to continue sponsoring until she ages out of the program. I am pondering sponsoring another child through World Vision Canada which follows Canadian laws regarding non-discrimination.

You’re also welcome to visit my other online home at Poeming Out where this will also be posted.

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Ferry Sunrise

    

once i knew everything
i needed to know
about the source of light and love

   
then i would have been
bewildered by those
who paused to celebrate
the summer solstice
  

today i sat in silence
with my face turned
toward the sun
and simply breathed
   

now i have more questions
than answers
but this i know for certain

   
more hope than doubt
more love than fear
more trust than cynicism
more peace than hate
more acceptance than despair
more grace than judgment
more light than darkness
   

that is worth breathing in
that is worth celebrating
no matter how you
understand the source

    

Courtyard Sun

Happy Solstice!

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