My God is God
My God lives in heaven and He lives here
In my heart and the hearts of those around me.
His thoughts are pure and true and gentle,
and his truest wish is to dream of babies
playing in water soft as white roses.
When His lips come together in a smile
The heavens smile too and the rains say
“Goodbye, goodbye, the sun is coming”
And when He smiles men are never hungry
and their wives have eyes as soft as roses too.
And where my God is, there are no strangers,
only brothers who will take our hands
And kiss our cheeks for luck along the road,
No matter how hard it is, no matter how long.
Your God is the Devil
He wears a broken hat and dead men’s clothes
and he comes from a place where men are hungry
and children die in the dirt waiting for dawn.
Nothing your stupid god wishes for comes true:
If he prays for peace he gets cyclones,
twisters that shred his skin like razors
and rain sorrow on all who pray to him.
If he wishes for love among brothers
he gets brothers who spit at each other,
fathers who beat their sons on their weddings days,
daughters who flaunt their evil shoes and dresses
before their mothers and holy grandmothers.
Your god is a straw thing who fears my boot
And what I can do to him with my hands.
The Man from Nazareth
Eight hundred crucified Jews
scream from the torn scrolls—
their families massacred before their eyes, cut down,
trampled on by the victor’s executioners.
What, compared to Alexander Yannaios,
was Herod the Great? A bungling child-murderer.
True, his own children were among those he murdered.
But numerically speaking? And then, compared to him,
What of Antipas, King of Galilee? And during
his tepid reign, what of the gentle fool
who was hauled before P. Pilate, the one accused
of “sorcery” and of “aspiring to power”?
A wild dove fluttering in the fire-storm.
And on the other hand
a small fir-cone a forest will grow from,
a cool spring, miraculous water
to quench the thirst of millions who struggle in the desert
of history. And a face so touchingly human
we cannot turn our eyes away from it.
Translated by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri
God as an Old Man, Painting
Only a painterly God could have created a morning like this:
soft, cool blue water filigreed with strands of white
and broad flanks flecked with purple.
Mountains—hazy olive in the distance
close-by mottled lime and viridian
spots of yellow, ochre, a dab of umber.
He covers the sky with a wash,
blocks in shapes, refines his drawing
checks perspective, and then steps back,
squints. He takes a break.
He breaks more often now.
This God is older, though people
still talk of His youthful exploits.
Like a stern parent tempered with experience,
He has mellowed, wants to relax. He wants to paint.
Of the creation, He most loved painting the coats of the animals.
He recalls the joy of painting the jaguar, some dogs, too many birds.
Man, He only began before He grew too busy.
Precocious children, some ran off unfinished.
The eskimo and aborigine
He took on as His first students.
Ah, but then work intervened.
Now, retired, no students can be found.
And so, twice a day, He paints. He paints.
And as He paints, He hums.
John just emailed me this link to another poem he wrote that brought tears to my eyes.
What My Father Believed
by John Guzlowski
He didn't know about the Rock of Ages
or bringing in the sheaves or Jacob's ladder
or gathering at the beautiful river
that flows beneath the throne of God.
He'd never heard of the Baltimore Catechism
either, and didn't know the purpose of life
was to love and honor and serve God.
He'd been to the village church as a boy
in Poland, and knew he was Catholic
because his mother and father were buried
in a cemetery under wooden crosses.
His sister Catherine was buried there too.
The day their mother died Catherine took
to the kitchen corner where the stove sat,
and cried. She wouldn't eat or drink, just cried
until she died there, died of a broken heart.
She was three or four years old, he was five.
What he knew about the nature of God
and religion came from the sermons
the priests told at mass, and this got mixed up
with his own life. He knew living was hard,
and that even children are meant to suffer.
Sometimes, when he was drinking he'd ask,
"Didn't God send his own son here to suffer?"
My father believed we are here to lift logs
that can't be lifted, to hammer steel nails
so bent they crack when we hit them.
In the slave labor camps in Germany,
He'd seen men try the impossible and fail.
He believed life is hard, and we should
help each other. If you see someone
on a cross, his weight pulling him down
and breaking his muscles, you should try
to lift him, even if only for a minute,
even though you know lifting won't save him.