First Reformed

(Based on the Paul Schrader film with Ethan Hawke.

Written in the voice of the Pastor.)


I lament my deficit of prayer

Instead I speak to God

Let the shape of words fill a journal

Everyday without Mercy

Until my conscience burns all traces of these pleadings


I fill the air everyday with a clutching honesty

And call a pride into your house

That damns the floodlight of my prayers

Before the waves of sorrow reach the Beachhead

Where my immature vision of God’s power lives


The sinew of grief weaves around my heart

With a wrenching tearing of skin

Where blood issues my nihilistic embrace

A pouring out of denial and love wedded

And hung from a scaffold

Shielding me from God’s urgency

I am wrapped and tied in the coils of rose-wire

Lynching my conscious image of the Divine

Releasing my demons of despair

That masquerade as a calling to God’s work

Those mysterious renegade actors

Spawned by my own inner rebellion


Ambassadors of ego’s reach

Fomenting the external shape of inner landscapes

The apocalyptic upheaval

Lancing ripe expressions of desperate prayer

Embryonic yearnings for God’s help


Before steam grows and marches

Yet God knows all my alibis

You see death where I claim emergent life

Where hypocrisy cries out a forlorn flame

Where we both float on a new ether of hopelessness


And my nature comes as obscure gifts

Where giving is self-destruction

And death is all around me

Wincing all night into the maze

Of the bottle magnifying the steeple and cross

Only to raise a bare hand and hold God back

Tears from the past roll up in time

To reach your fountain

And in the end

I kiss your flesh with unconscious weakness

While the spiritual in me staggers off

Into yet another abyss before the church

Before my son

And before all shortcomings

That place me in your arms

Rising together into a new dimension

Away from God’s influence

Away from faith

Merging into only Earthly love

And this love despises the Earth

As Death is everywhere

In everything I touch