Archives for category: God

Garden-variety Evil

The devil speaks in whispers.
His delivery is subtle, his game airtight.
After all, he has been doing this
for quite some time. No novice here.

His influence takes many forms:
isolation’s despondency,
discouragement’s weariness.
Self-doubt that mocks your bravest effort;
the crisis that questions survival.
Late nights of losing heart.

But mostly, the devil
prefers to make his approach
wearing a more mundane disguise—
perhaps posing as someone
you should have been able to trust,
someone you allowed into your life
when you saw his friendly face
at the door.

By turns, he wins your trust.
He learns the weave and form
of each delicate insecurity,
studying the intimate details
of your blackest fears
like a lover memorizes
the curve of a neck.

What makes you shake,
and what shames you,
whatever it is that you could
never face; the very thing
you would sooner choose death
than have to endure.

In his view, it makes sense:
if he is going to dismantle you,
he needs to know how you operate.
He mechanically notes your distress,
then turns away as he smiles,
so you cannot see him.

He counts on you forgetting
everything you thought you knew
about love and grace and hope,
gradually planting in your heart
a new miserable comprehension
of what you are worth.

He is the ultimate student.
Of course, having failed at his goal
to become the Ultimate Teacher,
he is cursed to sustain himself
with lesser accomplishments,
such as feeding on your failures.

He takes particular relish
in carefully cultivating the belief
that cripples you again and again:
that of your own irredeemability.

In that, you procure for him
the sweetest apple off the tree.
Doomed as he is, the offering
of your transient pain
will always be savored.

To him, you are nothing
more than delicious, vulnerable
entertainment.

Claire Juno, © 2017

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Ode to Odes

Above the clouds
where there is no thinking,
no need for intellect
or dusty stacks
of books,

from this lofty space
these unneeded words fall,
contained in raindrops—

sometimes coming to us
as gentle showers for contemplation,
sometimes as stormy torrents
pelting the heart.

Drop by drop,
they bloat the dusty stacks
of books we have yet to read,
running in rivulets
down our Earth-bodies,
filtering through all memory
and experience, to the ground
beneath our conscious feet,

where, once embedded
in the sleeping soil of the ages,
they gradually ascend once again
like geese from the pond,
drifting back up, up

to that space above
the clouds, where there is
no thinking, no need for intellect
or dusty stacks of books
we keep meaning to read,
only joy and more joy,
wordless joy.

Claire Juno, © 2017

…dedicated to those above the clouds, on this Day of the Dead.

A Leper’s Wisdom

There is so much I do not know,
for I did not live a life full of beauty.

Mine was something else,
but in spite of that, or perhaps
because of it, I know something
about faith, instead.

About the gift of simply
being here. About what can be
endured, survived.

About why the sun bothers
to rise over my humble terrace,
just as it ascends the gates of some
grand distant castle.

Quit trying to make perfect
an imperfect world—
propping up one thing after another
in desperation, when everything
is perpetually on its way
to the ground.

Dear one, great skeptic
of the inevitable, you are
duped by this futile notion
again and again.

Stop wasting time.

Claire Juno, © 2017

Desolation

I am alone in this garden.
Alone with this pain.

I have told you before
how everyone has left me,
all have turned their backs,
all have chosen blindness
for the immunity it affords.
They are cut off from
their compassion.

There is no one to hide me away
from those who wish me harm,
who hate me without cause,
other than their sickness.

And I come to you with nothing left,
with empty hands, with a heart
weighed down by isolation and dread
and by the darkness itself, which seems
deep enough to snuff out my cries.
I know what is coming.

What I have already borne
is too heartbreaking. Though I am
strong and sturdy, the betrayal has
weakened me, has slowed my feet,
garbled my words.

I am afraid.

I have no one I can trust.
My sweat is tinged the color
of these roses in front of me
as I sit in this garden,
feeling unwell and uncertain
and small; powerless to deter
what must overtake me
to fulfill something greater
than myself.

The pain makes my head feel
as if it would burst, and the tears
that stream down offer no respite.
There is no one coming to aid me,
is there. You can hear me but
you do not help me, as much
as it hurts you to see me in this state.

We both agreed to this once upon a time.
Only we underestimated something.
We had no idea what it would actually
feel like to be here among them,
to become one of them. To nurse
from a breast, to learn to use our legs
and form words with our mouths,
to see blood spring from a scraped knee.

To see the sunrise as one of them,
to know friendship as they give and receive it.
To feel the warmth of a fire, an animal;
of brotherhood, of working side by side
until some work is accomplished.

To feel a fever, a lump in the throat,
our stomachs stirring with hunger.
To know the feeling of cool water on our
bodies. To know how they feel, and
what they feel, when they feel anything
in their world.

And now you’ve had me here,
building a life, an occupation, a purpose,
for some time. Enough context to make
the ending even more exquisitely
painful than we already anticipated
it would be.

This has become too complicated,
too wrought with attachments.
And I am certain now the torment
well under way will be unbearable.
It is too much.

That is all I can say
on this horrible night.
Words are escaping me now,
and my heart won’t stop pounding.
It has brought me little peace
to speak honestly to you, to make
my feelings known, in spite of the forces
already at work against me.

I know I am loved,
I know there will be an end
to my suffering, my fear and despair,
and that is all I have in this dark moment.

Claire Juno, © 2015

 

The intention of this writing is rooted in empathy, wondering what this experience could have been like, to the best that I can understand it.

The Ultimate Empath

How does He do it?
How does He scoop up
the weight of a world’s worth
of pain, with tenderness
and perfect presence— and not
lose a little part of Himself
at the sight of us?

Fashioning His arms
into a mammoth cradle,
His tender lullaby sends
the clouds adrift, dishevels
the tops of oak trees,
weaves a sliver of morning
light between our curtains,
pins a gleaming crescent
of moonlight in our sky—
some kind of divine analgesic
in faithful doses,

until at last we fall asleep,
just as we are, just as we always are
and can only ever hope to be:
surrendered in the moment
to the sufferings of a fallen world,
to grief that shatters,
anguish that nips away
at our birthright of joy
like a famished street dog,
but in the end, still knowing
that Someone knows all about it.

Claire Juno, © 2017