May 4, 2012

If there is a God, he must be wearing black.

Blood matted in young, blonde hair twists into this old mind like rings into tree trunks, hard rivers that stretch wider with age. Green shoots were breaking the snow, I remember, and daylight refracted off the pond’s mulchy glass. The children couldn’t help themselves, sledding on their stomachs, pulling imaginary triggers at each other before the first landmine screamed in my ears. Things rolled to my feet.

If there is a God, he’s on his knees.

Seattle Spoken Word Performance & Preview

June 29, 2010

I am going to be involved in a performance called, “The Show 2010: The Art of the Duo” in which I will be its spoken word artist.  It shows on August 7th in Seattle’s Mount Zion Church on 19th and Madison at 7:00pm.  If you’re in the area, I recommend you come.  It will be great and feature many incredible artists.

As a result of working hard on this show and my novel, I have been guilty of neglecting this blog.  So, I thought I’d share my most recent spoken word piece with you.  It’s titled,

“My Name is Kaston”

My name is Kaston.  I live on a street that borders two cities and swing like a pendulum from Seattle to Jerusalem, from Darwin to Paul, Burien to Babylon, from suits to joke T-shirts to suits.  I’m trying to find God in cement cracks and crawlspaces, in peach skies and windows, under pink skirts and among change, on closed doors and electronic boxes.

I don’t pray anymore, but when I was a kid, I’d tell you He’d made the world in seven days, that he ushered my brother into front row heaven, that he’d sent Bill Clinton and that there weren’t going to be any problems anymore.  I’d race across waxed school hallways and catch worms while the sun hung high in the sky, making jungle gyms sparkle like glass castles.  I was God’s child and He helped me avoid dodge balls and blondes, helped me earn gold stars and respect, helped me make star pitcher in little league and love notes with three, perfect checkboxes back when maybe was a legitimate answer.

As I grew, I’d lie on stairs looking up at the popcorn ceiling, pretending the glitter was a net of stars and plaster bumps were cosmic Braille, winking the alphabets of God.  My prayers always began with “I know we don’t speak a lot” and always ended with “Could you make Sedalia like me again?  Could you make me more popular?  Could you give me superpowers and send velociraptors to math class so I could crush them all with super strength and speed and make everyone clap and cheer and love, all for me?  Could you make Dad come home?”

I waited on porch steps, in detention chairs, and by the phone for signs He’d heard me until I realized I’d somehow let go of His hand like a kid in a crowd.  So I’m trying to find God in creased pages and late night dinners and laughter.  I’m trying to find God buried in cereal boxes and search engines.

TV always offers to help.  They pull Him into every channel.  They say God is cutting benefits for wolves with ties, God is making bombs, God is shelling for the Crypts, God is dropping white rocks on the Bloods one thousand dollars at a time, God is punishing the gays with Katrina, God wants to amend the constitution, God is running for high office, God is going to throw a Hail Mary on this oil spill, you just wait and pray because that’s all you can do, just stay indoors and get back to those jobs, get back to the fashion of democracy, get back to investing, get back to patting yourself on the back, get back.

Images of towers falling and talking heads pound and stretch my skull and soon I just want to run away.  Somewhere.  Maybe Koh Phangan, Thailand.  Go back to those sandy markets, back to the postcard beaches and flowers in women’s hair.  And a student of mine, Kyle, is raising his hand.  He asks, “What’s the big deal about poetry, Mr. Griffin?  Mr. Griffin?”

“I write poetry because there’s nothing like the first streak of color on a white canvas, because I can unearth mountains and light the sky on fire.  Because sometimes I wake up and I want to put my mouth around the whole world like it were the bulb of a microphone and scream until the levels are China-glaze red and its pulsating core of ignorance and prejudice flattens.  Because I can load guns with songs locked in old tin boxes or unfolded from trash bins and demand that the strongest armored come forward.

Because each stanza I write takes me farther from the day my father abandoned me; because every breath I take is another chance to tell him, my mother, and grandmother that I love them and I don’t know what it’s going to be like without them.  Because poetry takes me back to the first time I held hands with a girl who loved me.  Because I’m trying to find God, Kyle, and I’m afraid I’m looking in all the wrong places.

But He’s an anthology of wisdom and I’m only on poem 109.

I’m looking for God, Kyle, and I’ve learned to take my time.”


Thanks for reading.  Posting this is a little embarrassing as it’s a first draft, but I hope you enjoyed it.

Haiti: January 13th, 2010

May 28, 2010

Lord, long

have we walked toward your promised land, toward the foothills of your mountainous grace and glory.  For two hundred years, we have walked with locks snapped from between our feet, but still we feel the weight of iron as chains drag behind us like metal tails, pulling our heads under the dregs of life while white men swim in the clear water above us, looking as far off as the sun.  We are drowning, Lord.  You birthed us without buoyancy and though we fight with powerful arms to reach your heavens, we remain at the bottom of life’s pail like black smut suffocating in familial ashes.  Give us something, Lord, we pray.  We believe in your presence and your righteousness, Lord, that one day you will make us irradiant phoenixes, burning high among stars and our black skin will glow with your divine solace like night.  But today, 40,000 families are dust and embers, Lord.  And our buildings blaze like matches.  They splinter under our feet.  So I ask, in desperate repetition:

What do we do now, Lord?

Where do we go, Lord?

What do we do now?

Where on earth do we go?

In Rust We…

May 13, 2010

The slate sky strung itself with thick cords of ink-black, the color that scums ocean floors and stretches through gutters. Bells of light that once streamed and pooled like uncoiled trumpets now whispered through the smoke; the greasy haze had persisted long enough that no one in this corner of the world could recall the gleam of day without squinting. On my way home, I passed by Thorn Crown church, the only halfway house left for the confused and spiritual, the last, white scab on the island. Wind and sea salt stripped paint from the door and ran through vines like harrow’s teeth, warping the horseshoe trellis that bent around the frame. The long shadow that hung over the walkway led up to a “wings of desire” replica standing in silhouette. The angel’s metal wings spread to her sides and her hands rose into the dark heavens that seemed to sink over her skull like oil. Through the hallow rattling of the breeze, the black statue called, “My wings…” It wheezed with dragging repetition to remind passersby to be fearful. “My wings,” it echoed all through the night, breathing on the faces of men and women, lapping over the town like waves.

I’m Certain

April 27, 2009

I will die soon, I know that for certain.  The same summer will come, the same fall and winter, wrapped up violently in the same half-spring (as I’ve come so reluctantly to call it), will, without fail or deviance, come, I’m sure.  It’s been 17 hours since the 13th beginning and in writing, for the first time this Year, I can’t help feeling a tumultuous trembling surging through my insides, a dizziness, a thought that grips me, that slaps me in the face, drags my eyes to the wall clock shadowing the typewriter intermittently, and a hundred times an hour tells me that I am wasting time.  I will die soon, I know.  I will die April 13th in a death, which in my most morbid lapse I’ve determined will last 7 minutes and 6 seconds.  My story is a story of numbers, of faces, and metered movement.  And yes, the allusive nature of my life (if you can title such a beginning and end[?] as so) kills me.  That most stable of certainties, above the seasons, TV cycles, and the contents of newspapers—the dart-sure affirmation that this is all a joke, that someone, somewhere, is pulling the strings and never gets tired of the same show, still gets me.  Even in the brightest pockets of the Year, the knowledge—that He is a child pressing the life from his crying creatures—sucks me into a morbid humor I never knew to exist.  And that laughter that echoes up from the world’s bottomless wells can cocoon me ‘til half-spring in its blackest madness.