Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Something for Easter: Of Wood, Nails and Colored Eggs (by Martin Bell)

Of Wood and Nails and Colored Eggs

Wood: Something like an eternity ago, human
beings got all caught up in the illusion that being
human is a relatively unimportant sort of proposition.
Here today - gone tomorrow. A vale of tears - that
sort of foolishness.

What’s more tragic, or course, is that in the
wake of this basic error, there quickly followed the
idea that human beings are expendable, which easily
degenerated into the proposition that some human
beings are expendable. Really bad guys are expendable.
Guys with low I.Q.’s are expendable. Anyone
who disagrees with me is expendable. A long time
ago, human beings got all caught up in the illusion
that being human is a relatively unimportant sort of

Well, that’s not true. It’s wrong. All wrong.
And it has always been wrong. From the creation of
the heavens and the earth, it has been . . .wrong.
There’s nothing more important than being human.
Our lives have eternal significance. And no one - absolutely
no one - is expendable.

Nails: Jesus was dead. He was dead and
buried. It was expedient that he should be dead and
buried. Caiaphas had explained that to himself and
to others over and over again. It was expedient, he
said, that one man should die for the sake of the
people. Jesus is expendable. Caiaphas suffered from
the illusion that being human is relatively unimportant.
And so Jesus was dead.

What happened then wasn’t so remarkable,
really. God simply raised Jesus from the dead. He
merely walked into the tomb that we call insignificance
and absurdity, and meaninglessness, and
other such names as that - he merely walked into
this tomb and raised Jesus from the dead.
There was nothing very spectacular or remarkable
about this. God revealed himself to be the
same God who created the heavens and the earth
and called his creation good; the same God who led
his people out of Egypt to be a light to the nations;
the same God who affirmed David in his weakness;
who called forth the prophets; who kindled the heart
of John the Baptist; and who reached out to touch
his tiny children in the person of Jesus Christ.

God raised Jesus from the dead to the end
that we should be clear—once and for all—that
there is nothing more important than being human.
And no one - absolutely no one - is expendable.

Colored Eggs: Some human beings are fortunate
enough to be able to color eggs on Easter. If
you have a pair of hands to hold the eggs, or if
you’re fortunate enough to be able to see the brilliant
colors, then you’re twice blessed.

This Easter some of us weren’t able to hold
Easter Eggs, others of us were unable to see the
colors, many of us are unable to move at all - and
so it will be necessary to color eggs in our heart.

This Easter there was a hydrocephalic child
lying very still in a hospital somewhere with a head
the size of his pillow and vacant, unmoving eyes,
and he was not able to color Easter eggs, and he
will not be able to color Easter eggs in his heart, and
so God will have to color eggs for him.

And God will color eggs for him. You can bet
your life and the life of the created universe on that.

At the cross of Calvary God re-consecrated
and sanctified wood and nails and absurdity and
helplessness to be continuing vehicles of his love.
And then he simply raised Jesus from the dead;
and they went home and colored eggs.

By Martin Bell

Monday, April 3, 2017

Crescent City Blues

Crescent City Blues

I could see the Mississippi out my window
as it marched slowly to the gulf. The blood
of the heartland was pouring into the sea
and I was drinking scotch on the 46th floor.
The end of the day, the end of the week
in an another city and another hotel room.
I refreshed my glass, spun the amber and ice
with my finger as I moved back to the window.

The sorrowful whistle of a river boat resonated
off the glass in low tone that seemed apropos.
New Orleans is sad from this vista, like most
party girls, she doesn’t look quite as alluring
in the sober light of day. As I looked to the north,
to the skies above Lake Pontchartrain, I could see
the hoary clouds of a thunderstorm. Intermittent
lightening scratched the air and illuminated
the squall’s dark tentacles as they fell to the lake.

The sun was retreating to the west pulling a curtain
of darkness in its wake. There’s an emptiness in the
night, when you are alone in a strange city, it climbs
into bed with you and whispers tiny lies in your ear.
Two glasses down and half a bottle to go, while below
the heartland just keeps pouring blood into the sea.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Mechanical Perturbation

Mechanical Perturbation

From three thousand miles away
a heartbeat is difficult to detect.
The insulation of distance mutes
the sound of sinus rhythms as they fade.

My first car had a bad fuel pump,
the diaphragm membrane developed
a hole and the car began to lose power.
As the hole grew, the engine got weaker
until one day it just stopped.

The day you gave me my first “A”
I think my heart skipped a beat.
The wall of doubt had its first crack
and you’d handed me the hammer.

A new fuel pump for a 1963 VW Bus
is not a stock item so I had to wait
almost a week for the part to arrive.
I used the extra time to change
the oil and adjust the valves.

The first heart transplant took place
in 1964. For lack of a suitable donor
they used a chimpanzee heart;
the patient lived for a little over an hour.

If they can't find a donor, your heart
may stop before I hear it beat again.
Cedars-Sinai is apparently out of stock,
and chimp hearts are no longer used.
I’m not sure how to fill the wait time.

I got rid of the VW bus years ago,
replacement fuel pump and all.
The wall is mostly rubble now;
all I’m left with is your hammer,
and three thousand miles of silence.

(Re-posted from Notes & Grace Notes)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Pressure Cooker

Pressure Cooker

The boiling point for water,
at sea level, is two hundred
and twelve degrees Fahrenheit.
Under pressure the boiling point
will rise at a scale corresponding
with an increase in pounds
per square inch or kilopascal.

I’m not really sure what
the boiling point of faith is
but there would appear to be
an inverse relationship
with an increase in pressure.
Gods and their minions tend to boil
over easier and with more frequency
as the pressure of life’s uncertainty

Force equals mass times
acceleration. The force required
for flying metal to separate
human limbs from the body
varies based upon the size and age
of the human in question.
The break point for an eight year old
is less than that of an exchange student
or an adult woman but all will break
if sufficient force is applied.

Nails, ball bearings and gunpowder,
ignited in a pressurized environment,
will achieve the required velocity
and generate more than enough force
to break most humans along with
most of my faith in humankind.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017



When the hands of the clock
are flipping you off,
its face a twisted smile,
and escape to the bottle
has drowned the words
that once intoxicated you.

When lust is merely a metaphor,
love a long distance call
and your voice has turned
to autumn leaves
that crackle under foot.

That is when the night
becomes only darkness
and the call of that bottle
fills the spaces in between
the sunlight.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Guilt You Would Not Understand

A Guilt You Would Not Understand

A knock on the door
that echoed in
the unreachable distance.
The last indelible image
of my love as you faded
in the darkness
of a back bedroom.

The foreboding
that swarmed me
ignored, in favor of
an agenda long forgotten.
The immediacy of the day
superseding the years
of sacrifice in my favor.

The hours spent
playing catch in the absence
of a grandfather or father
not otherwise engaged.
You were love and acceptance
in my eyes and when you passed
I was passive and afraid.

Betrayed by a single weak vessel
in that brain that I so admired,
you lay helpless, a state
that was an anathema
to everything I knew you to be.

Forgive me
for not kicking
that goddamn door down
and carrying you to the help
that might have saved you
and all that you were to me.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Times Square Lament

Times Square Lament

The heavy days of New York summer
sit and wait with me on the train platform
and remind me how far I am from you.

Here at the confluence of Broadway,
Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street;
the eastern terminus of the Lincoln Highway,
I stand and strain my eyes westward in vain.

My picture memory has expired
with time -- with distance,
and you continue to fall away;
another sun below my horizon.

You said my dalliances were unforgiveable,
and you never understood my need for time
apart, though I always came back to you.

I tried to call and confess my love
but the buskers drum and taxi traffic beat
made it near impossible for me to hear.

I don’t belong here amongst the bad clichés,
Bubba Gump and “I Love NY” t-shirts.
I haven’t slept in almost two years
and neon lights can’t replace the sun.

This city is a cheap whore
and Times Square is where she tricks
the gullible as they climb off the bus.

Moriarty’s ghost haunts me
and beckons me back to the road;
back to your long golden embrace.

Please forgive me my love
and help me find my way back
across the broken heartland between us
and back home to you.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Label Whore

Label Whore


Please feel free to leave comments as feedback is always welcome; good and bad.

Thank you


Wednesday, February 4, 2015



You are not a choreographer but you make eyes dance across pages; draw beautiful pictures with your words. They sing to their readers and perform amazing verbal plays. You don’t fold papers but you bend phrases into magical birds of flight. Your whisper is soft assonance, your cry, crafted consonance. You twist steel metaphors into wild animals and weave words like a Panama hat maker. You don’t cook but you tantalize the pallets of those starving for creativity and culture. You remove dead literary appendages with buzz saw tenacity and sew disparate pieces into a fine tapestry. You don’t carve ice; you chip away bits of frozen heart and color the leaves of fall with artisan adjectives. You are languid and lithe in a gown of Longfellow with Langston Hu(gh)es. You do not make wine or brew beer but we drink in your elixir of verse and become intoxicated on the bouquet and effervescence. You create images that stick and emotions that dissolve sweet and savory on the tongue. You are a poet!


Monday, January 5, 2015

From the Brooklyn Side

From the Brooklyn Side

The dusk climbed behind me
as motorists and pedestrians
moved steadily west and east
across the Williamsburg Bridge.
They traversed the grey steel,
above the flood and ebb-tides,
in a ritual as old as the city.

Below, the East River roiled;
a rough mix from the tail waters
of Harlem and the Bronx Kill.

From the apex of the bridge
I watched the sun burn down
the Manhattan skyline and
slowly drown in the Hudson.
I recalled the Whitman poem
and felt the ties between us.  

In the distance, the gray walls
of granite and glass loomed;
today and a hundred years hence