Epiphanies

I had an up and down week. There have been some real down, dark moments. In the middle of that, I sat outside at the end of the day, today with a glass of whiskey and a cigar and enjoyed the nice weather. I came to a couple epiphanies. 1: My religion is basically this – Just do your best. And 2: I’m not sure what the Bible means a lot of the time, but if a guy named Jesus came down to earth and died and took our place so we could have a relationship with God; I think that’s beautiful. Maybe I’ve been overcomplicating things. Maybe it’s way more simple that I thought.

Neither – Tyler Strittmatter

I deal with a mental illness of extremes. An illness of war and peace. I wrote this poem about the sinner and saint living in me. I am in a period now where I don’t really know what faith means anymore. I feel it is neither bad nor good. Wrong nor right. I still love this poem even where I am at now. I am proud of what I write and I always will be.

Tyler Strittmatter: Neither Jesus nor the Devil from Christine Shrum on Vimeo.

This Lustful Life

“Life? ‘Course I’ll live it.
Let me have breath, Just to my death,
And I’ll live it.” Maya Angelou

                                                        *           *            *

You tear at the corners, rip it open, just to see what color the stuffing is. White, but every kind. Ghost white, snow, ivory, old lace, vanilla.

This lustful life –

Your cheeks are packed full of orange and yellow sweet potatoes. You’re gunna choke, but manage to wash all the mess down with bitter wine – so sour and slick with tang.

Manic Mondays and Tuesdays, that bleed blood red and purple into the rest of the week. There’s so much color and texture, that your eyelids are sore to the touch the next morning.

You rub them at your alarm. Your head aches, from your temples, down your spine. Time unfolds like helix coils, unzipped. Tap your tongue to the top of your mouth, then glide past every segregated tooth.

Coals from last night’s bonfire glow in the mid-morning light. With a rubber hose, you wash them black and run through the sizzling steam. You want every part of your jacket to smell like that.

There is a wall of muffled sound: Trains screeching as they slide to a stop, cars humming on the freeway, doors opening and shutting, honking, talking, rustling, music playing.

You write poetry.

Speak a native language.

Play an instrument.

Use public transportation.

Transport yourself.

Listen to music.

Converse.

Talk friends out of suicide.

Paint.

Draw.

Rap.

Snowboard.

Skate.

Swim.

Hike.

Take pictures.

Read.

Watch the sun set.

Eat home cooked meals.

Sleep.

Wrestle with Faith.

Believe in God.

All while you live, this lustful life.

The Blue-Silver Being

I am a flat, graphite sketch
on a interdimensional being’s
drafting table.

I look to my right and left
and the being is shouting
at me about depth.

Depth? I ask. Like, what
in the hell is that? Then I
skip away feeling heavy.

I know the being is there,
but I can’t see it/him/her.
The being is blue-silver.

I pray to the being every
night, even though it/him/her
recently erased some of my friends.

I’m not super scared of getting
erased – mostly because, what
does that feel like, ya know?

My world is screens and planes.
The being’s world is cubes and shadows.
Maybe I wanna see stuff like that.

“Everyone gets erased at some point,”
the other 2Ds tell me. I wonder sometimes
about the thickness of this page.

If I am a drawing, is there a drawer?
Woah! Creation ideas abound in two
directions!

I am a bunch of curvy
and straight lines. The being is
fractal-crystal-galaxy-turbulence.

Maybe I will never understand
the ways of the being. Maybe
I’m too thin to take all that in.

Hope – Produced by Made for Tomorrow

In this current season of political chaos and personal strife, I have felt uneasy; like there is little I can do to help. In the middle of all the swirling negativity, this is my prayer.

Promise

A friend of mine was praying. While he prayed, the word “marriage” came to him again and again. “But I am already married, Lord,” my friend said aloud. “What does this mean?” He continued to pray and then he heard a name come from God. He thought he must tell this person, but before he did, he prayed for two weeks to make sure he had heard correctly.

My friend came up to me in church. I had not seen him in a while.

“I’ve got something to tell you,” he said. “Something I heard from God.”

I was intrigued and admittedly a little nervous. I thought perhaps God wanted something big from me; to move to another country or become a missionary.

“God told me that you will be married,” my friend said to me.

I smiled and blinked as I stared blanky.

I have thought so many things since that moment. I’ve asked my friend if he heard the word “soon” or if another name was given. My friend smiled and said “no” to these things. This friend of mine is solid. He is a man of his word and has heard things from God before. This leads me to believe that he is not lying and that he did in fact hear something.

I am a worrier. I worry that I will die alone (it is my greatest fear). I worry that I am not stable enough for a marriage. I worry that I won’t be able to provide financial support. I worry about so many things: my lack of physical fitness, unstable mental health, struggles to start a career,  but I think I worry the most about never finding love.

So in the midst of all that worry and doubt came a promise from God:

You will be married.

I struggle with deep depression. Perhaps this is God’s way of saying “hold on.” I think he knows my greatest fear and speaks against it. “I got you, even in that dark place.”

I am glad for that knowledge. I am glad for the peace that comes from it. I am going to try and believe the promise God made to me and all the other promises he has made to all of us. I am going to try and leave worry behind and pick up hope instead. It is much lighter, I’m sure. 

Even the angels have demons – But the demons have a mighty foe

There are not demons telling me to do it.
It is only me.
And that’s all there will ever be.
Just me.

I know the weight of it.
Know what it feels like in my hand.
Maybe I could stab it quick.
Maybe you could understand.

I’ll see it through to the end You see.
See it through.

Gritty nonstop hardness. Violence that spills into the street. Wine pouring to the edge of a glass. Broken glass from a storefront. Front street complete with break ins. Broken bones no simpletons.
“I’m a street nigga” he said, looked right through me. See through cats. Girls try to woo me. Pivot on back foot, grimey chimney soot. I’m strapped and ready for action. Now, gimme gimme more. Let the speakers blow. Let the people know. Wringing out the blood from your white tee. Ringing off hook phones. Hang up tones. Microphones spoken by street corner pastors. Snapped guitar strings.
Hang yourself with ‘em. Pawn shop diamond rings. Midwife bring ‘em. Did a deal with devil? Smarter than ‘em. Shame Lucy with Gucci. Now, gimme gimme more. Let the speakers blow. Let the people know. Put ya hands in the air! Freeze mo fucka Freeze. On ya knees mo fucka on ya knees. Beggin please mo fucka beggin please. For the cheese mo fucka for the cheese. Cardiac cats gunna seize. Askin god exactly what he sees. Shouldda got A’s stead of C’s. Asking Christ who he wanna be. Or is it me?

Bluetooth-fuck off-City
New-tunes -luck draw-gritty.
Not shitty. Now that’s Cincy.

There’s beauty in that pain. Can you feel it? Can you movie reel it? Ask em who the realest. Go ahead, ask em who the realest.

* * * * *

He steps into frame

Full of light, sword in hand

He walks slow

Because he is not afraid

Because he can

He is a warrior, yes,
but also a King

Like a President
and lowly worker
at the same time

The dark is day to him

He is the energy
from which the sun
draws inspiration

With a wave of holy
steel, he casts out the
darkness clinging to my
fragile mind then, He
turns it on the evil in you

He is a tower
made of deafening sound

He is the sound
that a sunrise makes
and thunder rains
that fill up the clouds
then the ponds

He showed me
what has possessed me

He even gave it a name

Then he cut it down
with a stroke that tore
the sky from the East
to the West

The prison,
the seemingly impenetrable fortress
is nothing to him

Nothing

He rips it into halves
this time with his mighty hands
and scoops me up
and you too

Run, He says,

Run as far as you can
from these things

This is no place for you

Come with me,
I’ll show you what real is

More

I want more grace dripping from all of my pores
more women who won’t call their own mothers whores
More men who can’t be bought at any price
men who pick up their kids and put down the dice

I want more programs for the youth after school
More teachers who think that Christ is cool
More mentors to show up at the house
More people telling me what life’s all about

I want more ambition and less politicians
More God willin and less mob villains
I want more Sunday mornings that last the whole week
Less listening to the media and more to God speak

I want more grandma’s house with fam in the woods
More family dinners with boys in the hood
More homeless men showing up to my church
More people hanging on with every verse

I need to be surrounded by those who are driven
More people who realize just what God’s given
Way less anger, terror, judgment and strife
Way more people who are willing to go all night

Give me more classic cars bumping rap from the 80s
More Marshall Mathers and less Slim Shadys
And if my brothers and sisters are headed toward hades
Give me more pastors quick who make the grade please