Frank DeRose Jun 18

My father hurt me.
Not emotionally, or verbally, or physically.
But he did push me.

He thrust me forward and higher,
Steered me through brackets of thorny growing pains.

I bled and was scratched,
But am not scarred.

He has constantly molded and guided me,
His hands rough and calloused,
(From all those long years in the kitchen, making and earning bread),
But ever caring.

He gave me so many "father-son" talks,
And charitably called them "man-to-man."

He breathed me into existence,
And his imprint on my soul is indelible.

Though there are places where the treads are different,
And the paths diverge,
One always informs the other.

And while of course we sometimes disagree
On thoughts of who the other should be,

He has taught me what to be,
And I have learned also what not to be--
From him I have taken the best
And behind I have left what is left.

I am proud of who I am,
And as I put these thoughts into words,
I know fully that I am where I am

Not in spite of him--
But because of him.

Frank DeRose Jun 19

Once I was gold,
But now am black.
Once I was shiny,
But now am tarnished.
The unassuming air of innocence,
Has been exhaled.

My past behind me,
Like footprints in the sand,
Shall soon be washed away.
My childhood gone,
Sailing at sea.
My future unknown,
Beholden to me.

Once I was diamond,
But now am coal.
Once I was carefree,
But now am worried.
The unassuming air of innocence,
Has been exhaled.

And so departs childhood,
Gold today,
But not to stay.
Oh, to stay gold!
What misery is this?
The departure

of childhood?

Frank DeRose Apr 11

May I share this sky with you?

May we both look up,
Thousands of miles,
An ocean,
Continents apart,
And share these stars?

I long for your eyes,
The ones in which I see a million stars,
Bright and beautiful.

But your eyes are far away.

So instead I ask,
Might we share through a friend?

Through this great benefactor,
Vast and endless;
A deep blue blanket,
Speckled with pinpricks of hopeful light?

Might we share in the knowledge that we share this sky,
You and I?

I long for your love,
Your heart,
Your stars.

But I'll take this sky instead--
It is all I have.
And it is rather beautiful, too.

Don't you think?

Frank DeRose Mar 7

I am not okay
And I guess that's okay, but
I hate how I feel

Frank DeRose Feb 24

The sun caresses my face
And kisses me with tender care.

The wind tousles my hair
While the breeze floats across my unarmed skin.

My iced coffee is cold and bitter on my lips;
I rise to meet the glorious day.

The bell rings in its tower
10 strikes to mark the early hour.

The sky, a piercing and unabashed blue
A color unlike any other hue.

The vernal equinox still lies weeks ahead
But I'll enjoy this brief, warm stead.

I listen as the birds converse and sing their transient songs
I smile, and do my best to whistle along.

Today is a good day.

Frank DeRose Feb 16

Good does not discriminate.
Be careful who you choose to hate

  Jan 30 Frank DeRose
JR Rhine

I broke up with God
at our favorite eatery
in our favorite booth.

We settled into familiar creases
and asked for the usual.

My eyes lazily staring at fingers
stirring the straw around the ice cubes,
God cautiously spoke up:

“Is something wrong?”

“Nothing.” (Thinking about the dormant phone
concealing behind the lock screen
the open Facebook tab
lingering over the relationship status section.)

They silently mused over the laconic reply,
til the waitress showed up with the food.

“Thank you!” God blurted with agonizing alacrity.

I received the sustenance lifelessly
and aimlessly poked at the burgers and fries.

The waitress eyed me with vague inquisition,
popping a bubble in the gum between
big teeth, refilled my water
and pirouetted hastily.

We ate in ostensible harmony,
the silence gripping like a chokehold,
the visible anxiety and subdued resolve
settling like a stifling blanket
over the child waking
from a nightmare—

Til we couldn’t breathe,
and I ripped back the covers
and looked into the eyes
of my tormentor.

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

God, taken aback by the curt statement,
dropped their burger with shaking hands,
silently begging with wetting eyes
a greater explanation.

So I elaborated:

“It’s not you, it’s me.

For your immaculate conception
was created by human hands,

your adages rendered obsolete
by human words,

your purpose and plan for us
distorted by human nature—

I cannot hate myself any longer.

I cannot pretend to know you at all.

Who my mother and father say you are
is not who my friends think you are,
nor my teachers, my pastor,
the president, Stephen Hawking,
Muhammed, the KKK, Buddha,
the Westboro Baptist Church,
Walt Whitman, Derek Zanetti,
and Billy Graham.

I am told you care who I bring into bed (and when),
and what movies I watch,
and what music I listen to—

I have not heard what you say about
child soldiers, the use of mosquitos,
or the increased destruction of the earth
which you proudly proclaimed your creation,
or the poverty and disease and famine
which has ridden so many of your children—”

God interjected,
“But you’re chosen!”

I snorted,

“You say I’m chosen
to spend eternity with you—
why me?

Why’d you pick me among
thousands, millions, billions?

I’ve been told I’m ‘chosen’
since birth
by others like me—

those with fair complexion,
blue eyes,
blonde hair,
a firm overt sexual attraction towards women,
and a great big house
with immaculate white fences
delineating their Jericho.

I’ve already fabricated eternity
here among the other ‘chosen’
and there is a world of suffering
right outside the fence
and I see them
through the window of my bedroom
every day.

Am I chosen,
if I don’t vote Republican

Am I chosen
if I am Pro-Choice

Am I chosen
if I cohabitate with my girlfriend

Am I chosen
if I never have kids

Am I chosen
if I say ‘Happy Holidays’

Am I chosen
if I don’t want public prayer in schools

Am I chosen
if I don’t want a Christian nation

Am I chosen
if I don’t repost you on my wall
or retweet your adages?

I’m tired
being the ubermensch,
for it has not brought me
and I blame you.

I will not ignore
the cries of the suffering
believing it is I
who is destined to live
in bliss.

I will not buy
Joel Osteen’s autobiography(ies).

I will not tithe
you my money
for a megachurch
when another homeless shelter
closes down.

I will not tell a woman
what to do with her body,
or a man
that he is a man
if they say they are not.

I am neither Jew nor Gentile,
and I will stand with
my brothers and sisters
of Faith and Faithlessness,

Gay and Straight,
Black and White,

and apart from these extremes
free from absolutes
the ambiguous, amorphous
nature of Humankind
which I praise.

There is much pain and suffering
in this world,
potentially preventable,
but hardly can I believe
it’s part of your plan
to save

I will not be saved
if we are not
all saved—

not one will burn
for my divinity.

The gates will be open to all—
and perhaps you believe that too,
but I’ve gotten you all wrong
and that cannot change,
as long as there is
mortality, and
corruption, and
power, and
lust, and

God whined, growing bellicose,

“It is through me that you will find eternity,
I am the one true god!
I am the God of your fallen ancestors,
it is because you have fallen short
that you need me!”

I replied, growing in confidence,

“We have all fallen short,
but we are also magnificent.

We have evolved,
we have created,
we have adapted,
we have survived.

We have built empires,
and we have destroyed them.

We have cured diseases,
and we have created them.

We have done much in your name.
We’ve done good,
and we’ve done evil—

And unfortunately it’s all about
who you ask.

Your name is a burden on the oppressed
and a weapon of the oppressor.

You are abusive, God.

You tell me you are jealous.

You tell me apart from you I will suffer for an eternity.

I’m scared to die, yet want to die,
because of you.

You have made life a waiting room
that is now my purgatory. It is

Hell On Earth.

So you see,
it’s not you,
it’s me—
a mere mortal
who has tried to put a face
to eternity
and it has left me

And also,
it’s me,
for I have learned to love me,
as I have expelled your self-loathing imbibition,
and the deleterious zeal
I have proclaimed
through ceaseless
and self-flagellation—

I have learned to love me
by realizing I am not inherently evil,
that my body is not evil,
that my mind is not evil,
and, ultimately, that
there is no good
and there is no evil.

My body is beautiful,
my mind is beautiful,
this world is beautiful,
and we are destroying it
waiting for you to claim

I leave you
in hopes to see you
again one day,

and perhaps you will look
different than I have
perceived or imagined,

and in fact
I certainly hope so.”

Just then the waitress strolled back up
with a servile smile:

“No, thank you,”
I smiled politely.

And with that,
I paid the check,
and took a to-go box—

walked out into the evening rain
to my car,
put on a secular song
that meant something real to me
and drove off
into the night—

feeling for the first time
and alive.

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