On the Occasion of Communion (Gather You Fires, Part III)

Last night, a good collection of people gathered in an Ozark living room. Friends (old and new) from Portland gathered with us. We shared hard truths about the failings of community, about the successes, too. We prayed a little, broke some bread, engaged in a little intinction. There were some good songs sung (don't people always gather around a good bard with a travel guitar?). This morning, I woke up and caught this poem by the tail.

(This is part of the Collective Poems.) *****

On the Occasion of Communion (Gather You Fires, Part III)

The word of our testimonies reads like fiery scripture from manuscripts buried, could be scripture, like prophets and housewives are scripture.

Gather you scriptures, fires in the feast of living-- take, eat in the collective, starved as it gathers, thirsty it gathers, together in need, we are.

We were made to lament the thirst of addiction, to steel the legs of the fainting, to celebrate adoptions of sons, adoptions of daughters, to be adoptions to each other.

Scripture unspoken, we once floated away like clouds on winds blowing east, past needs, past Appalachians, from sea to shining sea.

Clouds were made to rain; scripture was made to be spoken, made to carry fire; we were made to both rain and be spoken, to be fire carried.

Gather you scriptures best, awake in the collective-- together with bread, sober with wine, come feast and find that you are; Spirit one to another, rain one to another, fire carriers you are. Gather best tonight-- Awake! Awake!-- and find that you are still a brilliant, revealed constellation.

On the Occasion of Mourning Death (Gather You Fires, Part II)

This week, my community lost a life too soon. I am sorry for his passing. (This is part of the Collective Poems.)


On the Occasion of Mourning Death (Gather You Fires, Part II)

The memory of the frailest soul lost burns like a tiny sun, and we together carry many tiny suns, are warmed by many tiny suns.

Gather you sun-bearers by the funeral pyre; gather again– awakened in the collective– rare though we gather, here as we gather, together in memory; We are.

We are nothing if not for remembering the way face reflects joy immeasurable, or soul reflects God uncontainable, or death reflects hope interminable.

We are nothing if not for carrying the legacy of that joy, stretching the legacy of that joy, remembering the legacy of that joy.

We are nothing if not for marking ourselves with ashes, for remembering that, as the poet said, lights are again and again. Memories are unsnuffable things if we let them be.

So gather you fires best– awake in the collective– together in sorrow, together in feasting, in communion wine— and there find that memories are more than ashes. And by this, even the fallen are at last part of the brilliant, unforgettable constellation.

On the Occasion of Mike's 40th Birthday (or "Gather You Fires")

There are band of good people that I know, and Mike Rusch is the chief among them. I've penned this for him, and them, on the occasion of his 40th birthday.I promised poetry this year. Here's one of the first installments.


There are kin-lights recognizable in the best brothers-- the spark of saints' names spoken, wive's held like own Aphrodites, Somali-starred stories, the memory of the frailest soul lost, the mention of village where daughters, nieces, neighbors, sisters were born into an acquired taste for air, for our wounded lungs, for the notion of forgotten, remembered.

Gather you fires-- awake in the collective-- rare though it gathers, short though it's lived, small though it seems; We are.

Lights are again and again, like the ashes of last year's Lent, and next year's, the dogged birthmarking of our natures, best and worst, together.

Gather you fires best-- awake in the collective-- in the feasting, in communion wine, and there find that we together are more than ashes. We are, a briliant, unforgettable constellation.

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