Erasure (and other oppressions)

This poem is an erasure, written as an exercise on political poetry for a class, and built by selecting words from two published responses (from organizations opposed to same-sex marriage) to the historic vote in Ireland on 22 May 2015. You can see the process I used in this Google Doc.

Erasure (and other oppressions)

That victory in Ireland


If that vote should be reality
In the US
And around Europe
Would the result
Be similar?


And around the world?

Not now
18 countries now
But we embolden
Africans and Muslims as well

What tragic hatred
And homophobia
Marked this passage
By the community
We were rejected
We are counted


They said our union
Was gay ‘marriage’
But this woman
Is a very
Handsome woman


Nine months ago, my ignorance expired
Though my despair was only just conceived
A full gestation yet would be required
Before my misery would be relieved
Three-quarters of a year since last I knew
A gleam of hope, or comfort, or self-worth
I guess I’m glad I had no hint or clue
About this woefulness I had to birth
But now I feel the mists begin to clear
Depression’s fist is loosening its grip
Some notes of peace I think I now can hear
Inviting my whole point of view to flip
And what is this I sense with my new head?
The fear that chased me all my life’s now dead

Quake (or) The Peculiar Strength of Wavering

I wrote this poem for my dear friend Leigh, on the occasion of her graduating from seminary and thus ceasing to be our church intern (which I guess means we need to quit bossing her around). If you happen to watch the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, you might find this somewhat familiar. But hopefully you can catch the vibe regardless.

Quake (or) The Peculiar Strength of Wavering

Once there was a superhero
(But she didn’t know
She didn’t know she was a superhero)
One day she found out
The day her power made the whole room shake
And pieces of the ceiling fell
I heard her mutter what the hell
I really didn’t want to be a superhero

Here’s the thing: we do not always get
To choose our powers

Tentatively she began
Exploring her abilities
But she was very careful
(She was scared that she would hurt someone)
She worried that her wisdom
Wasn’t up to handling superpowers
She held back her awesome knack
And really didn’t think she was a superhero

Also: we don’t always get to choose
The way our powers are perceived

But slowly, and despite her caution
(No, despite’s not right)
Because of all her dedicated hesitation
Our brave hero learned that
She could crumble mountains
And could also match the soft vibration
Of a broken or exhausted heart
And help it start again

The thing it took her longest to perceive
Was how her gentle, shy uncertainty
Was like a second superpower
While in some alternative reality
Where she had rather been endowed
With rocklike self-assurance
(Plus the power to make earthquakes)
That might not have worked out well

Great power doesn’t always come
With great humility but
Things are always so much better
When, in point of fact, it does

She also had a tertiary superpower
That I haven’t mentioned yet
Which was: when called upon to do so
She could kick some major butt

But even this she always tendered
Sparingly, and with profound compassion

The Mermaid and the Phoenix-Woman

I wrote this poem for my dear friend Elisa’s birthday last year. I’ve kept it hers alone for over a year, because it belongs to her completely, but at the same time I guess it’s also kind of mine, so I’m posting it here too.

The Mermaid and the Phoenix-Woman

In endless time before the ordinary
The fiery phoenix-woman fell in love
With her: the loveliest of all the mermaids
Her green-blue hair entwining down her back
As she would dive and rocket through the waves

The phoenix-woman knew their love was doomed
For her beloved mermaid could not leave
The warm enfolding waters of the sea
Or else she soon would wither and decline
And gasp her last amid the dust and dry

And similarly, phoenix-woman’s life
Could not include the worlds beneath the sea
For if she ever dove below the waves
Her flaming feathers would be quenched for good
And she would never fly nor burn again

So many, many years passed by, with tears
And longing greater than can be described
Till phoenix-woman could no more endure
The anguish of a love so long denied
And she made up her mind to change the game

She rose at dusk on middle-summer’s eve
Her mermaid love looked up beneath the blue
Eyes growing wide as phoenix-woman’s flame
Flared brighter than the sun, and burned her up
To ashes, which fell softly to the sea

But then the ashes sank into the waves
And coalesced into a brand new form
With feathers still, of brilliant orange and red
But without flame, or faculty for flight
The two embraced, and shed new kinds of tears

Their child, when she was born, was full of joy
In years to come she’d be known far and wide
Propelled beneath the sea by her orange tail
Or soaring through the air on wings of fire
Her laughter ringing through the world entire


This was a response or midrash that I wrote as part of an exercise in live lectio / flash fiction during my church’s 10th anniversary retreat in 2011. I recommend clicking through to read the passage from the Bible to which I’m responding, but if you’re familiar of the story of the first Passover – that’s the one.


It was only an hour before the appointed time, when the Lord would send his angel of death – the angel with the flaming sword that would cut out the heart of each Egyptian family. Rachel snuck out while her father was bundling their few possessions, and her mother was cleaning the remains of the tiny leg of lamb they’d been given by their next door neighbor.

She moved quickly down the street, careful not to slosh the blood in the bowl she carried. At each Egyptian home she reached, Rachel dipped her rag into the bowl, and hastily dribbled blood on the doorframe.

She kept on running into the dark, painting hope on as many doors as she could reach, until the dawn broke, and Rachel heard the first wails of anguish from the homes further on down the street.

Clear Vision

We live as creatures who create
That’s part of what defines us
We are always building something
Like small monuments to prove that we’re alive

So we compose our words and pictures
Scribe our souls in kids, or software
Make commotions, nations, love
Each obelisk will someday pass away

Tonight I’m finding solace in
A truth I heard from a machine
Who lived inside a myth. He said:
A thing’s not beautiful because it lasts