to the theme of psalm 16

Pssst.
God, don’t step backwards.
I’’m hiding here behind you.

Remember, Yahweh?
I’m the one who loves you.
You are my God,
my only hope for joy.

But just look around us
in every direction,
people stumbling over each other
to fornicate with other gods:

they parade for the goddess Macy’s
and stand in line to offer her cash,
work their fingers bloody and pave your planet ash-grey for the SUV gods
feed bloodied corpses to the goddess America (and demand that you bless her)
seek out dark and secret corners to submit to Lust
(through her avatars Pornography, Prostitution, Infidelity),
recline religiously before the Television god
to learn what to crave, what to fear, what to hate.

They scream the Torah of Fox News in the breakroom
or chant the Wisdom of goddess Oprah at cocktail parties.
In the Temple Starbucks they commune on the full-bodied bean juice of the Caffeine god;
they twist, bend, pump, and grunt their devotion to their own bodies in Fitness Centers,
then pour libations of alcohol to the god Good Times in the name of the god Friendship.
Keeping Football’s sacred Sabbath, honoring the Weekend to keep it fun,
planning services for the Dating god, festivals for the Wedding goddess, nursuries for the Maternal Instinct god,
chasing the elusive god Knowledge through libraries, classrooms and books on CD,
hallowing the deity Domesticity in how-to TV shows, then streaming to the holy mountain of Home Depot,
flipping through Cosmopolitan, Martha Stewart magazines, Craft Fairs, Salons in search of the godess Feminine Mystique,
pumping deer full of ammunition to feed the blood-lust of insecure Masculinity,
dieting to the god Body Image,
devoting hours of worry and plotting to the mighty goddess Career,
dreaming at night of the Joneses, gods of the neighborhood,
gyrating to the god Youth in bars and night clubs,
blaring music to the god Exhilaration,
tweaking for the god Ecstasy,
vomiting for the god Anxiety,
back-stabbing for the god Success,
pounding their children into temple regalia
gutting the poor and the weak on blood-greased altars
frying their own sacred lives in distraction,
they love themselves orgiastically, cannabalistically
they ache for destruction and release.

Look at them, always tantalized by
the irresistable god Beauty,
the stunning god Style,
the ephemeral goddess Gracefulness,
the snobbish goddess Aesthetics,
the addicting god Attention,
the fleeting goddess Intimacy,
the alluring god Rest,
the comforting god Sentimentality,
the time-eating god Triviality,
the delusional goddess Self-Realization,

Ever taunted by
the stodgy goddess Reputation,
the demanding god Control,
the resentful goddess Manners,
the proud god Cleanliness,
the compulsive god Rule-keeping,
the detached god Reason
the fickle god Health,
the competitive goddess Sophistication,
the demeaning god Sexual Power.

Determined to trade You for
the god Churchianity
the god Worship Experience
the Getting-What-I-Deserve god
the god of Unconsidered Ritual
the Ideology god
the Republican god
the Church Program god
the Denominational god
the Suburban god
the tired and kind Old-Man-Upstairs god.

Feeling left out, God?
The United Union of Powers and Principalities
says these are their terms, Yahweh:
you can join, if you like, they’re even willing to grant you
pride of place in their pantheon – you can be the spokesman,
you can pretend you’re Charlton Heston, you know,
since you’re so old and distinguished,
they’ll see you get change in your offering plate
and a rushed prayer at dinnertime
it’s a win-win,
just agree to stop saying things like
“I scorn your festivals”
and “Is that what you call fasting?”
Surely there’s enough worship to go around?. . .

Smite them into oblivion, Yahweh!
Never will I pour out my life before these gods,
Cling to me, my God.
Keep me from the futile worship of Myself in any of these guises.

Whisper my name to me, Yahweh,
and I know I live,
inhaling as you exhale for me,
dwelling upon you
feeding upon you
my only existence derivative,
subsisting on you presence.

Cuddle into me, my God,
over and beside and under me,
chill me again with your warmth,
with shivers of awe up my neck
and past my ears—remind me
that you won’t abandon me,
that death can’t separate me from you—
for I am in you
and you Will Be
what you Will Be.

One, yet two-parents, in Three:
I am your nestling.
I fly, and you glide beside;
I plummet, you soar beneath.
Cover me eternally
but nudge me forward
into your sky.

-joel short, 2004

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Creative Commons License
To the theme of psalm 16 (poem) by Joel Short is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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