Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tears and the Devil

I haven't blogged in a while, have been to LA and back.

First a poem from my old home town:

Before the Long Beach Grand Prix

Stripes of light interrupted
fall on shaded grass
under the grandstands
as if it were a highway
marked in fluorescent green.

A faux lighthouse warns no one.

Motor heads will come
from Bellflower, Agoura, Pasadena
to watch man wed machine
in a growl of gears
and a squeeze of brakes.

Topped in poles with chain link,
concrete barriers line the course.
Chances are no car will tumble over

Yet as in bullfights there is always
the unspoken, hidden rush of Cain
down where we keep the dark things
that keep us up at night,
a burning body maybe--
the Aztecs had nothing on us.

Human nature doesn't change, does it? In individual cases we see moral progress, but mankind taken as a whole has not, by the average or median improved at all. The numbers are larger, though it's doubtful that the proportions have changed: 6 million in Germany (and Poland), 800,000 in Rwanda, God knows how many in Iraq, Mao and Stalin directly or indirectly killed somewhere around 30 million. Need I go on?

So many of us live with the delusion that we are getting better when the fact is that we haven't changed in years. It is a delusion in most cases, still an optimistic override obtains for the individual--what we call hope. Still a hope to be better is already the hope of one above average in charity. As I said to my men's group when asked what I wanted out of the process, I said: "I want you to help me be a better man."

I'm not comparing apples and oranges here exactly; there is a moral law but absolute comparisons between sinners' relative virtues is prevented by one's personal psychology and limitations, each person's uniqueness, inheritance, and DNA. Those who wish to improve themselves spiritually I salute. Know only that humility is the first grace. Without it we are lost. And no one has monopoly on truth. It can come from anywhere, truly from the mouths of babes. And love is a gift of grace. Grace is God's unmerited favor toward the human race. Notice "unmerited," which reduces us all to equals just as the law was designed to do by its impossible demands.

Now for another poem:


I dreamed
of a frail old man
in a charcoal suit
of expensive cloth
of outmoded cut,
hands spotted with age,
for cuff links, crucifixes.

His thin white hair
was combed back
and his sympathetic
made you feel
as if nothing
were your fault.

Money was changing
hands somewhere.
He sought
to distract me
with a grand-
fatherly smile.
I knew he was
the Devil.

This poem was based on an actual vision I had while chained to a hospital bed and shot up with Haldol in a manic spell. It still rings true to me. The Devil is kindness itself, save for the strings that pull you into slavery. Most of us give up a piece at a time. Few if any actually sign a contract. The Devil doesn't need your signature, only your guilty deeds. He is called "The accuser of the brethren." He's that voice inside believers that intimates you have something special with God, or alternately damned forever--both narcissistic traps, I might add.

I was in LA to fight for grandparents' visitation rights for my seven-year-old grandson, Jacob. I have not been allowed to see him by his father since my daughter Rachel's death in July 2007. It all goes back to Jacob being bitten by our dog while in Mexico under my watch. Therefore I am not to be trusted with Jacob in the father's personal mythology. And the biting incident in question occurred in 2003, and Jacob has no visible scars nor was he traumatized emotionally because of how we handled it. He still loves dogs. Besides, Kenyon had never bitten anyone in his life but Jacob provoked him and Kenyon only behaved like a pack animal, grabbing the smaller and younger pup by the head for discipline.

Unfortunately it did not go well.

When the judge issued his ruling in court I broke out in tears and wept openly. "You are a cruel man," I said and walked out weeping. It took a while to compose myself while my lawyer tried to encourage me that now we must go to trial to prove my bonding with Jacob means our relationship is in his best interest. And we need a judge with the balls to step out of line a bit from the traditional.

I has a premonition that this round was going to go this way. As the court date approached I felt heavier and heavier. I was not surprised at the ruling. Thankfully my daughters cheered me up afterwards--because I felt as if I were on a precipice staring down into a depression, uggh! Cluck, cluck! Kazooey!

As it turns out, my tears were normal feelings and my daughters said they would have done the same.

I'm glad my manhood allows me to cry in public over things that need to be cried over. Man needs his Jungian anima, his feminine side, to be complete. This is the theme I'll be suggesting for the next Men's retreat.

Over and out at Kiloneutral,


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