Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 30: A Riff, Psalm 23, "23 Revisited"

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At the funeral this evening, Psalm 23 was read.  It's probably one of the most familiar psalms.  Because it's comforting.  It's about the love of God, an Eternal Parent, watching over all of us.  When I hear Psalm 23, I feel safe, uplifted.

A few years ago, I did a little riff on Psalm 23.  Call it psalm jazz.  Charlie Parker, the great jazz saxophonist, once talked about playing "in between" the melody of a song.  That's exactly what I tried to do with this poem.  Write in between the lines of Psalm 23.

Please don't be offended.  Laughter is a gift from God, as well.

23 Revisited

by:  Martin Achatz

The Lord is my shepherd.  I lack for nothing.
Well, almost.  I could use a bigger
House.  Mine is a little crowded for four people.
Plus, the neighbors smoke pot in their garage.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
I try to stay out of pastures.  Not a big fan
Of livestock.  I once had a bull chase me
On a friend’s farm.  It scared the shit out of me.
He leads me beside quiet waters,
            He refreshes my soul.
Getting back to the house, I’d like a view
Of the big lake, be able to hear waves
Through my bedroom window in summer,
Watch snow roll across surf in January.
He guides me along the right paths
            For His name’s sake.
I always try to do the right thing, give
To Haiti earthquake relief, tsunami aid
To Japan.  I even skipped McDonald’s
For a week or so after Oprah’s exposé
On the cattle industry.  I’d look at a Big Mac,
See corn-fed, hormone-enhanced cows,
Balloons of beef on toothpick legs.
Even though I walk
            Through the valley of the shadow of death,
            I will fear no evil.
I’m a college adjunct English instructor.
Need I say more?
For You are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
            They comfort me.
This morning, when I woke at 1 a.m.,
My hand an ache of carpal tunnel,
I sat in the living room, said a prayer,
Felt Your presence on the couch
With me, like my grandmother’s afghan
Around my shoulders.  I felt better.
Then I took a Xanax, went back to bed.
You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies.
Which reminds me, I haven’t had lunch.
I brought two pieces of cold pizza,
Left them in the fridge.  I hope none
Of my coworkers got into them.
I once brought leftover potpie.
The bastards ate the whole thing.  Really.
You anoint my head with oil;
            My cup overflows.
My mother taught me to say thanks,
Count my blessings the way I counted
Seashells I collected on the beach
As a kid.  So, thank You, Lord, for
My small house, cold pizza, Xanax,
Coworkers who don’t respect boundaries.
Surely Your goodness and love will follow me
            All the days of my life.
Each night, when I go home, feed,
Bathe my kids, their skin
Fresh and pink from hot water,
I know You are there, Lord, watching.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
As long as it has three bedrooms, two baths,
And a really, really, really big kitchen.

Please vote for Saint Marty (Martin Achatz):

Voting for next Poet Laureate of the U. P.

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