Rock and Sling:A Journal of Literature, Art, and Faith is a fascinating journal dedicated to sustaining a forum for writers "to search both the depths and near misses of spirituality", and "writing that nudges up against Christian faith". For instance, publishing a poem from the vantage point of a gay Judas musing on his relationship with Jesus. The original print copies of the journal are not accessible on-line, but the new website can be found at:
Other poets published in Rock & Sling include Li-Young Lee and Ellen Bass.
A massive sculpture fountain sits just down from the Capitol
outside the Sacramento Convention Center.
Morphing from granite contours are many faces:
Sumerian, Japanese, European—as though humanity
was a many-faced creature eschewing from the same body,
not quite animal, not quite spirit—confused as to origin,
destination, but magnificent. Along the base, a question
is carved on each of the four stone sides:
Where Are We Going…
What Have We Thought…
How Are We Loving…
What Have We Wrought?
And I think that government is essentially
a spiritual nurturing gone astray, how the circle
of citizens quibble over tax codes & loopholes
rather than hunger, health—how the heart
beats in such isolated synchrony when the song
of me & mine is the only tune playing, the great
questions etched silent, abandoned to stone,
forgotten. Entering the building adjacent,
I take an elevator to the twelfth floor
where we sit in black leather swivel chairs,
tan carpet & polished wood tables stretching across
the windowed room. Seasoned committee members
ponder legislative bills, policies, statistics:
every yea or nay the small butterfly wings
that turn to hurricane or balm the welfare
of those living outside this white citadel.
I remember Dante’s story,
the simple difference between heaven & hell.
In two rooms, the same large soup bowls,
the same impossibly long-necked spoons—
but in hell, the endless failure of feeding alone;
and in heaven, the ease of dipping each long spoon,
lifting it to your neighbor’s lips, the joy
of being fed in return.
It was in Bible school, I was just old enough to sit with the adults, watch my father, see how it was done. When it came to God, my father had a true feeling for the matter—his face would squinch-up, one eye would close, and he’d speak as though dragging up heavy buckets from a deep well. We are saved by grace, not works…
but it seems like work—this grace in the cavernous dark. Lifting each excavated word to light, watching it evaporate in the air.
Diane and I walked down the dirt roadside
after high school one day in Atwater,
carrying a stack of Jesus People newspapers.
She had the full-rounded breasts adolescent boys worship,
as though remembering in blood vessel & bone
the Great Goddess, figurines buried across Europe
an eon before Jesus bled on wood. I was shy,
awkward, believed in Jesus with all my heart,
but couldn’t easily proselytize, attempts to sway the wayward
turning my tongue to dust. But I knew Diane
would think me brave if I did, so offered a crisp sheath
to a boy walking the other way, then another paper
to a couple, and another still—and by the time we arrived
at her house, she paused, invited me in for ice tea & ping pong.
I was elated, elevated, not sure if it was the hem
of Jesus’ robe I held, or the Great Mother’s—
the look in her eyes, the curve and undulation of breast
as she swung her paddle, the shy laugh, inviting me
to be the man I’d dared believe in on the road,
the one who would stand for something,
the one who would testify his heart.