Saturday, November 20, 2004

Psalm 6

Note: I have been trying to make these psalms basically companion pieces to the real Psalms. This is a definite exception. I found Psalms 5 & 6 to be hysterically contradictory (in the KJV, that is) and just couldn't quite get my head wrapped around writing companion pieces without them being laughable.
So. This psalm is a specific follow-up to my fifth. Please read the fifth first. I hope they stand alone, but I think it casts a pretty good contextual light on this psalm to read the other first.

I just remembered.
At a concert last
I balled
up with ill will
upon sight of the
2nd opening act
who looked just
like an educated
and kindly version
of the kid who
lives next door to
my parents.
I do not remember
much of his performance
but I remember that
my anger welled
and I wept hard
bitter icy tears.

It is time to
play benevolent.
I am forgiven by
God and should now
be forgiving:

My parents were busy
with their first and
and it seemed to me
they forgot the third

until he disappeared
and by then it was too
far, much to far,
to retrace all the
millions of steps.
My parents love me,
even if I baffle them.
I love them, for
they are people of
simple and fervent
who try to make
sense of the charnel
house the world has
become around them
I forgive my father
his vocation
and my mother
her devotion.

My brother was
alone and awkward
as any boy

and his anger spilled
onto me for the first
thirteen years of
my semi-visible life.
He hurt me,
fierce fists and
brief suffocations
and contempt for
the fuck-up I was
bound to become.
Hate is learned and
my brother attended
public school
I do not begrudge
Michael his
former youth with
dreams of escape,
I see that we are
more the same than
any could imagine.
I forgive my
Brother his image
of me as
Surrogate Effigy.

Jessica at five
years old, and
Annie at fifteen.
And every desperate
clutch thereafter,
23 years in
concentric circles
of loving more
than I knew how
Yes, very terrifying.
I forgive them
all of their
collective contempt.

That girl years
ago, so fragile
by the end, who
loved someone
else in secret for
those 3+ years.
The same girl who
slept while I'd
smoke and cry
in the other room
bathed in blue light
and radio static.
I forgive-
and who wouldn't-
her longing for
a stability I'd
never heard of.

And my friend
who took my place.
My friend who
filled every gap
in my absence.
Who did secretly love
the one who I loved
and love tonight.
My friend who
became on one birthday
a stranger.
I forgive his
for it was
my own.

And you who
isn't witnessing
who abandoned
me only in part.
Who abandoned my
scent and my child-
worship and my
early senility and
my Gentile Judaism.
Who abandoned my
abandoned Self-Control.
I forgive you
your absence
because you were
ever-present during
my own, and
no person deserves
to inherit such


My shitty,
Shitty ex-
who accused and
hated. Who lied
and stole children.
Who refused and
wounded and never
looked back nor

I am convinced
that you led with
your heart.
Corrupt it may
be, but your heart
was as good as
it could possibly manage.
I forgive you
your appetites, for
Flesh is Flesh.
I forgive you
the courtroom, for
I think you believed
I was a monster and
I believe you were
mislead by your mother.
I forgive you
the Appalachians
and the distance
from home you've
taken your son, for
I know that his
world is much bigger
I forgive you,
and it's taken
me years.
Know that if
you damage that
frail spirit any
more than it's
been, I will,
with certainty,
destroy you.

Jerry Falwell and
George W. Bush.
Bakker and Swaggart
Red-staters and
Border People.
Television personalities
and corporate whores.
Policemen and
Barkeeps and
Harlots and
Chimenysweeps all sad and lonely
You are Forgiven
Your unwitting Debts.
You are known and loved-
though perhaps not by me-
and I cannot show
forth my contempt.

My contempt
and my loathing,
my impotent rage,
my longing and longing
and selfish despair.
As long as these
As long as I serve
two masters
my forgiveness
may never flow

Unforgiven by
Unwilling to accept
these sacrifices.
Grace is simply
not enough.


grace is simply not enough


At November 20, 2004 at 3:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my God. How does one fit that much fucking beauty and anger and pain into such few lines?



At November 20, 2004 at 6:23 PM, Blogger Trav said...

(silently hoisting a glass in the corner of the darkened room)

At November 22, 2004 at 9:10 AM, Blogger ali said...

I didn't let the tears spill over the rim because I'm at work. I'm pretending not to feel and yet and I'm screaming with my maudlin heart and mind. You have taken me far, Marty. Thank you.

At November 22, 2004 at 5:16 PM, Blogger Scott Jones said...

Searing. It cuts. Especially knowing so many of the people. I was left trying to figure one out, but I'll ask you about that in person this week.

Let me say once more how much this entire project is simply amazing to me.

At November 23, 2004 at 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you always leave me with lots to think about... you bastard. i love you and everything you do here.

At November 23, 2004 at 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

marty--i can't find your email address. email me with your number so we can hang out this week. yay!

At November 24, 2004 at 11:32 AM, Blogger Nina said...

Ah Marty. I wish brillance poured out of my brain, heart soul and body as it does from you. you never fail to amaze me. you never fail to leave me in total awe. I love you dearly Marty.

At November 28, 2004 at 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay--a real comment. :) it was so so lovely getting to read this with the poet himself explaining the context/inspiration/motivation of each stanza. que fuerte!

At December 3, 2004 at 4:52 PM, Blogger jpe said...

Good stuff. I typically loathe poetry, but that's excellent.

(and the band you saw looks pretty rad - between Tristeza and Pinback, they got some real bona fides).

At December 6, 2004 at 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's beautiful Marty. It makes me miss you...

At December 16, 2004 at 12:15 PM, Blogger michael said...

i was wishing that you had posted a new Psalm today... I am looking forward to the next one... soon???

At November 22, 2005 at 7:59 AM, Blogger Blog World said...

Faith is spiritualized imagination.
Henry Ward Beecher- Posters.

At June 15, 2007 at 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so, i read it again.
i can't get your voice out of my head, and i love that.


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