Monday, January 25, 2010

maybe the poet

i'm sure the psalmist was bipolar.

reading the psalms can sometimes feel like trying to make sense of the journaled ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic. in one moment there are words of hope, victory, assurance, confidence and vision, while in the next there are the muffled sounds of someone tearfully whimpering from under a rock somewhere, whispering curses and justifications or frank, shame-filled confessions. often these drastic swings are found in the same post.

and yet, as i look at the rollercoaster ride of my own emotions, which seem to regularly take me into the funhouse to gaze at the distorted image of myself reflected there, inviting acceptance, i cannot help drawing some comfort from the fact that the psalmist does not seem to be able to get it all together for very long before he has to step outside of himself and regroup yet again.

perhaps we're all crazy and this, in and of itself, is the key reason why the psalms have survived in some written form these three thousand years- to give us someone to talk to while we wait in the dark for the coming dawn that always arrives.

in addition to spending time dialoguing with the psalms, i've been thinking about an old song by bruce cockburn over the last couple days...

Maybe the poet is gay but he'll be heard anyway
Maybe the poet is drugged but he won't stay under the rug
Maybe the voice of the spirit in which case you'd better hear it
Maybe he's a woman who can touch you where you're human

Male female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see
Don't let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

Put him up against the wall, shoot him up with pentothal
Shoot him up with lead you won't call back what's been said
Put him in the ground but one day you'll look around
There'll be a face you don't know voicing thoughts you've heard before
(Toronto January 1982)


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