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Mark W Meehan Mar 2017
Water erasing stone,
Color uncovered with each intimate drip
Sandstone? Granite? Clay?
Always shifting.

Life shaping faith
Beauty revealed with each piercing drop
Belief? Truth? Hope?
Oh, how it keeps shifting.

Life sanding stone
miles traveled
conversation, laughter, grief
all sacred sanding, dripping, cutting.

Absolute? Sorry. Safe? Please.
African refugees
and Muslims and holy characters of all walks
sorting, sifting, shifting me and my deepest held belief.

Kneeling on a roof in Delhi, bearing witness
to a thousand rasping coughs offered to heaven
as one desperate prayer,
ascending with the eternal incense
of countless cooking fires.

Simmering in the Carolina sun with Waleed
warm words and a tender heart
intimacy, intimacy with Allah
present the way Aquinas could only hope
for all of us. For me.

Certainty may resist dripping
but the cost, the cost.
Forced, formal, cheap, and cold.
A fearful response to the stunning destruction
of being created.

What if your faithfulness is foolishness? Who are you,
if you miss
the beauty of every drip?
Thinking about faith a lot lately, having wrestled with Christianity and its role in my life for years. Perhaps a step forward.
Mark W Meehan Feb 2017
Franz Wright

It's one thing when you're twenty-one,
and I was way past twenty-one.
With unshaven face half concealed in the collar
of some deceased porcine philanthropist's
black cashmere rag of a coat,
I knew that I looked like a suicide
returning an overdue book to the library.
Almost everyone else did as well,
but I found no particular solace in this;
at best, the fact awakened some diverting speculations
on the comparative benefits
of waiting in front of a ditch to be shot
alone or in company
of others, and then whether one would prefer
these last hypothetical others
to be friends, family, enemies, total
or relative strangers. Would you hold hands?
Or would you rather like a good **** sapiens
monster employ them
to cover your genitals?
What percentage would lose bowel control?
And given time restrictions -
and assuming some still had the ability to move -
would ostracism result? Anyway,
I knew the rules on this bus.
No eye contact: the eyes of the terrified
terrify. Look
like you know where you're going,
possess ample change to get there,
and don't move your lips when you talk
to yourself: the destroyed
and sick, the poor, the hungry
and the disturbed estrange.
The badly dressed estrange, even,
and that is uncalled for. The degree
of one's power to estrange will increase
in direct proportion to the depth
of need for others. Do not cry.
This can only bring about, on the one hand,
an instant condition of banishment
from the sole available companionship, or
on the other, a near
fatal beating (one more disappointment).
Just follow the simple instruction
if you ever come here.
It's easy to remember - any idiot can do it.
Don't cry,
the world has abandoned us.
This poem has haunted me, coming to mind just before sleep or right after waking. I ride the bus a lot these days, but never with alcohol and rarely at night. But Wright's poem still rides with me.
Mark W Meehan Feb 2017
In my mind
a yellow one speed, black banana seat and chrome ***** bar,
leans casually against unpainted drywall
a turned hip’s width from a paneled Caprice Estate
a car so big, all three of us could sleep in the back
lined up straight, sharing a thin plaid blanket, musty pillows
Starcraft popup in tow.

Wind still roars through the top of bare Pocono trees
comforting coal smoke swirls, stinging
as I step inside the kitchen
foggy and warm, formica and maple.
Zippers clack rhythmically,
slapping time in a softly rocking dryer,
steel cake cover rattling along.

Next to the oven
the growth chart is still there,
plotting our course by order of birth
pencil lines scratched in wood
awkward spikes upward, sudden stops
sooner than anyone expected
the birthday ritual faded
we stopped growing up and began fading out.

Did we leave it behind?
To be sanded smooth, a somber start for a fresh family
with their own journeys to take
Fears to face
Growth to plot
Dreams to form
Or will the bike always lean and the coal smoke always swirl?

Mark W. Meehan, PhD
February, 2017
A work in progress and would appreciate feedback. I love the idea of memory, the crazy impact of it today, the ambiguity of the reality it seeks to represent. This reflects the work of Robert Lowell, an amazing poet of memory.
Mark W Meehan Jan 2017
I’m NOT upset
because my choice for President lost.
I am angry because the person who brags,
graphically, persistently,
about his power to/pleasure in assaulting women
was elected as President of my country.
He mocks the disabled.
He taunts the powerless.

I’m NOT irate
because I’m a “sore loser.”
I‘m astonished that the common consideration
of his proposed cabinet
isn’t expertise
or public service,
but obscene wealth.
The worst kind of cronyism.

I’m NOT a passenger
on a plane, irrationally demanding a new pilot.
I’m sitting in economy,
gripping my cheap seat in terror.
The nose of the plane diving,
the left wing lifting into a death spiral,
while the pilot declares
“This is going to be the greatest flight ever.”
I wonder how many of our poems find their source in Facebook these days. I wrote this as I read my FB feed, amazed by the many posts about how I should feel/why I think what I do.
Mark W Meehan Jan 2017
I’m a native Babylonian
Born with blood from others like me
A strong Babylonian mother who clothed and fed
Cultured by my media, a shaved disciple before a glowing screen
I breath in unison, initiated into the cult of this land
My heart dreams in Babylonian.

Not sure what to think when others
Further along than I
Declare their proud independence
“I am in this world, but not of it, a stranger in a strange land!”
Sipping Starbucks and glancing at their Seiko.

I still unbuckle my discolored jeans
They quietly pile on the cold tile floor around my bare ankles
I sit on a white Babylonian throne
Relieving myself from the burdens of waste
Thin paper wipes the excess, fragrant soap and warm water combine to clean
A daily reminder of where I’m from.

I can’t invade this land
A missionary zealot with appropriate passion
I’m one of them and this land is already mine
I’m changed, yes, I am newly alive
A clean heart fixed to a renewing mind.

But I know my stripes
I know my noise and my quietness
I have hope for where I go
I walk newly now
But as a Babylonian with love
Among my people.
I spent many years trying to understand a Christian faith. At the time, there was a lot of discussion about "being a missionary" to your own land. "Engaging those around you" as if they were . . . something else.
Mark W Meehan Jan 2017
My Old Flame

My old flame, my wife!
Remember our lists of birds?
One morning last summer, I drove
by our house in Maine. It was still
on top of its hill -

Now a red ear of Indian maize
was splashed on the door.
Old Glory with thirteen stripes 
hung on a pole. The clapboard
was old-red schoolhouse red.

Inside, a new landlord,
a new wife, a new broom!
Atlantic seaboard antique shop
pewter and plunder
shone in each room.

A new frontier!
No running next door
now to phone the sheriff
for his taxi to Bath
and the State Liquor Store!

No one saw your ghostly 
imaginary lover
stare through the window
and tighten
the scarf at his throat.

Health to the new people,
health to their flag, to their old
restored house on the hill!
Everything had been swept bare,
furnished, garnished and aired.

Everything's changed for the best -
how quivering and fierce we were,
there snowbound together,
simmering like wasps
in our tent of books!

Poor ghost, old love, speak
with your old voice
of flaming insight
that kept us awake all night.
In one bed and apart,

we heard the plow
groaning up hill -
a red light, then a blue,
as it tossed off the snow
to the side of the road. 

Lowell Robert (1964). “My Old Flame” (p. 5). For the Union Dead. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, NY.
Have you every "discovered" a poet and wondered how you had lived so long without them? That's been my experience with Robert Lowell.
Mark W Meehan Dec 2016
Tropical sun shines sharply, forcing faces down
The penitent position
Of a man newly hung
“When the elephants fight
It is the grass that suffers.”

Refugees slide slowly toward the ragged edge
Diaspora into darkness
Shoeless journey into air
“When the elephants fight
It is the grass that suffers.”

Dusty human mosaics burn slowly in the sun
Fragile forms holding hope
Home, when the game is done
When the elephants fight
It is the grass that suffers.
I met a young man in Mozambique who had fled Zimbabwe. As we talked, he referred to the phrase "when the elephants fight . . . ." I'll never forget that conversation.
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