Monday, August 30, 2010

Local Thermonuclear War

To marry is to enter
a state
of mutually-assured-destruction
not unlike the dynamic tension
that balanced the world
in the sixties, between
the late, great USSR
and the latter-day-saint
America.

Somehow the arsenals expanded
every wrong word
each slipped date
adding nuclear-tipped referents
with multiple-reentry-insults
making delivery vehicles out of
your expressions
the way you breathe
and, worst of all
your words.

Until a minor misunderstanding
escalates
and the red phone is dead
and you panic
and turn the keys
and push the button
and there it goes.

Maybe you regret the launch immediately,
but you've fired
and you'll be fired upon
with the furious exchange
wiping out major cities of friendship
and forcing the feelings that remain
to eat Spam underground for a while
and hope the nuclear winter thaws
before they all die.

So speak softly
and abandon your big stick.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Liability

"A Lightning Warning has been declared: Lightning has been detected within ten miles of the facility. All personnel shall cease explosive operations and secure the work areas."

The yellow lights started flashing in the bay. "Aww man," he muttered, "I was just about done, too. Oh well."

He packed the detonator and timer back into its small black plastic sleeve and screwed the cap down over it. The C4 bricks had to be unwired, but that went quickly enough, you just pull the small explosive initiators out and put them back in the monogrammed cigarette case. Sigh. The bricks themselves slid back into their pouches under the false bottom of his laptop bag. He snuck back out of the missile assembly area by the same old ventilation shaft he had come in by, remembering to loosely re-thread the screws back into their holes on the grating. He'd be coming back another day. He dropped out of the ceiling into the same boring old broom closet he’d picked his way into, and had to pick his way back out. Sigh. Walking back down the hall toward the cafeteria, he greeted the engineer he'd duped into letting him come for a plant tour.

"Find the bathroom, sir?"

"Yes, thanks. Much relieved now. What do we do when that lightning warning sounds?" He tried to hide a grimace.

"Oh, not much until the storm clears. Our kind of work can be a little dangerous around high voltage, hehe!" The engineer thought he was being clever.

"Well, I'd really like to learn more about your operations, here, and how GloboTec's processes can streamline your data processing." Back to the same old cover story.

"Alright, Mr. Stock, we'll set up a follow-on meeting with our IT director. He's on vacation right now, but he should be back in a week." The engineer made a note on his pad.

"Thank you. Do you suppose the weather will be better then?" He looked down at his laser wristwatch. He had three minutes before his detonator would make an embarrassing little sizzle and beep. "I must be going, though. Thank you so much for your time!"

The engineer showed him to the lobby, and he had just stepped out into the warm rain and wind when he heard the inevitable beep-beep-BEEP-PHOOT! down in his bag. Stupid non-disableable detonators. He walked to his Aston Martin DB8, and climbed down inside. The seatbelt light blinked at him.

This new "Safety First" policy was ridiculous.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The World and Christ

Hold but lightly to the silver noose;
mourn but slightly for the golden goose;
look to your left, then right, then down,
you'll all alike meet six feet underground.
So if you set your heart on sex and toys,
and run with all your might to girls (and boys),
and quaff ferociously the Lethian wine,
and gorge your gut when you sit down to dine,
do not be shocked, when at the orgy's end
you die alone, unmourned, without a friend.
For this vile world of sin shall reek and roil
and you may lose your shirt in all your toil,
but in the end the earth shall shake and burn
and to what toy or bauble will you turn?
When face to face with God in wrath and might
shall not the judge of all the earth do right?
So kiss the Son, and bow the knee to Christ,
pay homage now, lest by the world enticed
your knee be forced, your tongue be racked at last
and you confess Him Lord who binds your fast.
Take up His yoke while in the day of grace,
He bids you seek, so seek and find his face
and come beneath the gracious yoke of God
before you lie beneath the bitter sod.
The one you serve, it shall your master be
repent in faith, and Christ shall set you free.
Free as a subject of the greatest king
Free to serve and free to praise and sing
True freedom this, and sweeter work is none
than cross and service for God's only Son.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Littlest Thing

The littlest thing
can turn on you
and be the pivot
between here and hereafter
a pebble
on the tire
skip
jump
bump
thump
that's it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On "In Flanders Fields"

I have lived a full life.

This realization struck me today, while reading "In Flanders Fields", the deeply mournful ode by John McCrae.

"We are the dead. Short days ago / we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow / loved, and were loved, and now we lie / in Flanders fields."

And we shall go to them, but they shall never return again to us. The searing loss of McCrae's close friend, the Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, 22 years old, still burns through the poem.

If I should die, would people reflect that I went too soon, or led a full life? I hope they would conclude the latter. How can I say I have not? If I have Christ, the Christ Jesus recorded by John "so that your joy may be complete", how can I claim any defect or shortfall? And if my God is king above all gods, ruling omnipotently from His throne in heaven, ordaining whatsoever cometh to pass, how can I say what is too soon? If God has decreed it, who am I to answer back?

Yes, the dead loved and were loved, but God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And the dead in Christ are loved with an everlasting love. "If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,' even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you."

This is no resigned fatalism, this contentment in the face of all, it is a positive affirmation that my God rules, and knows what is best for me and those around me. I do not know if John McCrae had this hope, or Lt. Helmer, but the certainty of the resurrection, because of Christ's resurrection, and the remission of sins found in his blood by faith is the only hope that can walk the valley of the shadow of death without fear.


"In Flanders Fields" - John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


"'Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.' Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.'" John 14:1-7

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rain on the desert

Rain on the desert
washes the kinks from your back
and the aches from your eyes
you are clean
renewed
the plants, too, soak it in
swelling roots
fat and tiny leaves
and the pervasive creosote
spirating tarry perfume
musk of the monsoon
awful pretty smell for a pretty awful scrub
see the channels flow
dry for long months
and the little pools in the rock
itty-bitty ponds for the itty-bitty frogs
that come out to see the world
only when it's wet
poor things!
must be so confused
because it's always raining when they wake up
and the birds are sullen
kings of dusty sky
today they sit grumpily
puffing themselves
and complaining about the rain
like it was London
overactors
but at least they sing their disgust
as I sing my joy
and look up
like a turkey
and feel the air
and the water that indwells it
and praise the God who made it
very good.