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Poems for Cecil, on the Occasion of his 92nd Birthday

By Marvin K. White

Because…We Are Poetry

1. A Meditation

The seed does not contain the flower.
The sun does not contain the fire.
The eye does not contain the vision.
The body does not contain the dance.
The mouth does not contain the song.
The knee does not contain the prayer.
The pencil does not contain the testimony.
The spark does not contain the fire.
The eye does not contain the tear.
The ore does not contain the iron.
The iron does not contain the chain.
The tree does not contain the lynch.
The blackness does not contain the danger.
The wing does not contain the flight.
The moon does not contain the howl.
The desert does not contain the sand.
The water does not contain the ocean.
The ocean does not contain the water.
The machete does not contain the cut.
The cane does not contain the sugar.
The tongue does not contain the lie.
The gun does not contain the murder.
The circle does not contain the infinity.
The path does not contain the way.
The silence does not contain the nothingness.
The stone does not contain the monument.
The end does not contain the totality.
The library does not contain the gods.
The universe does not contain the galaxies.
The neutrality does not contain the peace.
The future does not contain the past.
The past does not contain the future.
The bone does not contain break.
The suffering does not contain the blessing.
The survival does not contain the blessing.
The recovery does not contain the blessing.
The pitch does not contain the tar.
The hit does not contain the run.
The neck does not contain the choke.
The poet does not contain the poem.
The sky does not contain the watcher.
And the prophet, Cecil, does not contain the prophecy.
The prophet contains the god.

2. A Public Policy Recommendation: Universal Health Prayer

Universal Health Prayer (UHP) is global health assurance, also known as The “Unconditional Love For All Act” or “The Cecil Williams Act”, is a system in which a truly organized religion, organizes prophetic health care, for the delivery of healing, restoration, and breakthrough, by deploying unimaginable joy and resources. UHP rests largely in private hands; in the hands of the people who pray.

Under a Universal Health Prayer system, all residents of the U.S., all of creation, and all changing climates would be covered for all spiritually necessary services, including healing, holding, grace, long-term joy, renewed minds, mental health, reproductive healthcare, smiles, visions, eastern, western, and indigenous prescription medicine costs.

The program would be funded by the savings obtained from replacing the prayers against the poor, against women, against black people, against the incarcerated, against the elder, and against migrant families, with a publicly streamlined, nonprofit, and public prayer.

Those in need of prayer, who are living below the prayer poverty line, would no longer face financial barriers to prayer care. The Church would no longer have control of who gets prayer. The people regain autonomy over their prayer lives.

The Universal Health Prayer Act, is an expanded and improved prayer-for-all people act, C.W. 92, abolishing single-prayer systems forever.

3. An Autobiography of The Tenderloin

We talk to God in the Tenderloin.
We know God talking about us cuz our ears be burning.
We know we somebody’s prayer.
Different from being prayed for.
A prayer is a conversation.
A conversation not an order.
God don’t got no more to than ten commandments anyway.
Ain’t no glass ceiling between us and God.
Ain’t no heaven between here and God.
Ain’t nobody standing in the way of my promotion.
We walk to work every day.
You’d know that if you decided that living was your job.
Set your radio set to wake you up to the miracle station.
Inventory your space.
Rent God a room.
Let God reside in you.
Offer this, your body as the one to view this human condition through.
We are an expansion of God’s territory.
God don’t end in the Tenderloin.
Forever don’t skip over the Tenderloin.
If you hear me singing, “Increase My Territory,” in the Tenderloin.
We ain’t asking for more, we asking for less.
That’s the lessen.
We in service.
We stronger in this wake then when we laid down sleep.
We gon’ do what is expected of us.
You heard right. We expected.
And anything expected Cecil, cannot be contained.

4. An Uncrossing

What to do with this cross now that it is half off?
Now that we have lived on it, died on it, climbed up it and then climbed down it.
Was hung on it and then taken down off of it.
Made it memento to our oppression, then a reflecting pool for our liberation.
Maybe it’s not a cross anymore.
Maybe what’s left is nothin’ but two sticks tied together.
Maybe the claw of the hammer is to remove the rope and nails from the cross.
Maybe it is time to reclaim the blocks of wood, take the pieces from the bottom of its pile and place them newly atop one another.
Maybe we must play at rebuilding a world by destabilizing the cross; unknotting its symbolism and releasing from it the energy that it has taken to hold it together for all of these years.
Do you know how much a cross weighs?
Maybe it is time to pull the cross out from under itself, each of us taking a turn, each of us kinder and kindler, each of us poplar and each of us ash, each of us architect and demolition expert, each of us creating a taller and increasingly unstable structure as the game progresses.
Maybe it is in the instability, the potential toppling over, where the new church is. Where love shows itself.
Where our futures are worth the risks of questioning the authority of everything.
Maybe no child says, “We wanna make crosses for a living when we grow up.”
Or maybe it has always been about the cross maker.
Maybe it is about the crossing out.
We must make the wood of use today.
We need water towers today.
We need splints today.
We need houses today.
We don’t need wall plaques and knickknacks, curios and figurines.
We need tables to break bread on.
We need kindling for the fire that we are called to start.
We need a new desk.
Maybe the second to last line of Christ’s poem,
the penultimate one is the death sentence, written in god pencil potential.
Written with the whittle and written in the uncrossing:
we need to know ours is a Jenga God.
We need to know that the cross is a crime scene,
And it does not contain our salvation Cecil.

Amen. Amen. Amen.