[Real Change published this poem soon after I decided I had finished it in 1995. It was illustrated on my Speakeasy website until I cleaned that up recently, along with a Part II, which I might post here later on.]
My Childhood Study of Christianity
OR Gloria in Excelsis Deo Part I:
Why I'll Be a Pagan 'Til Kingdom Come
I'll begin with a little pre-history -
My mother called me wild sometimes, sometimes a freak.
She often raped and beat and tortured me.
While my father just got drunk and shrieked.
At six I came to understand
that my parents were Christian
and that Good Christians are persecuted, not persecuting.
I further learned at seven
that Christ would bless Good Christians
and support them in their suffering,
buffering them, so to speak,
presumably from the
persecutions of the BAD Christians.
I had questions to ask of suitable authority.
Christianity itself was promising.
Somewhere in Christ and Christianity
there should be answers! (There'd better be.)
I learned to read, to speed my way to the grace
by which I would escape my tormenters,
or at least to face their torment.
Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph.
Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Josiah.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
666, Whore of Babylon
Paul aka Saul and all and all...
Shadrach Meschach Abednego
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Plain of desolation
Mustard seed, Transfiguration
Michael, you row your boat ashore
Now Noah got no shore to row to.
Adam and Eve and Lilith makes three
days and three nights and the
burning lake was three times around
the walls of Jericho burning
incense, the Temple WAS rent
body and bread, blood and wine
Daniel in the den of lions
A generation of vipers
that gets only one sign
King Cyrus, Maccabes
Peter, get thee behind me
For it is right and meet
with all the angels to sing
Eli, Eli, lama Sabachtani
Kiss the ring! Kiss the ring!
Job was promising - you know the guy:
"Sorry Life! Woe and Strife! Teeth do Gnash!
Ain't got no Wife! Ain't got no Cash!
The Lord gave Ear
To Satan I Fear
So here I Stand, all covered in Rash."
But THEN God the Old-Testament-Lout steps out.
"I made Heaven and Earth," he says, "what are YOU worth?"
And Job shakes and quakes and begs for mercy, and just happens to get it.
None of which did anything for me, or managed to answer my questions -
- namely -
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?
AND HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DEAL WITH THEM?
Then there were Psalms.
Psalms, Canaanite Songs
in the Court of King David
"O sing praise to the almighty deity
Who makes sky, pie, and hairy flies alike..."
No, they don't say He makes pie
Mother makes pie and I don't care
Mother makes me cry and I don't care
Mother wants me to die and I don't care
The Psalms say God made the sky so I should shout Hallelujah.
How about I fart at His sky and cry out what's it to ya?
He who hath created me hath in addition created TOO MUCH SHIT!
But THEN, Psalm 23 was promising.
"Verily, though I walk blah blah blah
I shall fear no evil".
How's that work?
"The Lord is my shepherd?"
Framed on my Aunt's dresser.
The Sunday School Teacher Aunt.
HEY, maybe SHE'S the GOOD CHRISTIAN.
An operator lets me make the long distance call.
And I beg her to take me away from them all.
Four hours later I'm tortured by mother more than ever before -
raped by enema and beat an hour and a half and "Clean up the mess,
YOU made it" and HOW could I have made anything I'm not the same person I
was two hours ago. THEN there were two of me now there's one, twice.
"One against you, one against Aunt Snitch."
The Aunt who would have been a Good German in '41,
the one who verily fears no evil because
she hands over to it whatever it wants.
She DOES need a shepherd for a Lord.
So I quit Psalms until the age of ten.
Then one Sunday almost asleep in my pew,
Ready to give up entirely on Christianity,
The Psalm reader began Psalm 22:
"Lord, Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Like it's a question? So I grabbed my Psalm book?
So I could look for myself and read along?
It's no question he read it wrong.
WHY hast THOU FORSAKEN me?!
It's an accusation, backed up by the facts.
And it demands that THE Lord act NOW!
Why the reader couldn't read it right,
Why the Chaplain couldn't give it light,
No matter I knew it meant something
I'd find out for sure
I'd ask the Chaplain
on my way out the church -
Tell me what it means I said
It prefigures Christ he said
His words on the cross he said
The casting of lots he said
Tell me what it means.
It's not just about
It's about ALL people
After a wary glance at my parents
He bent down to whisper in my ear
"I believe you know too well what it means.
May God help you and forgive us all."
Yes, I did know what it meant -
I just wanted to know I wasn't alone
before my gods called me home
and stood the world upright again.