Saturday, December 24, 2011

Spotting the TV Stand at De Pere Christian Outreach Three Days before Christmas

By Jen Hunt

As you dashed to the thrift store
You prayed the bin of
Packaged Rudolph noses
Spied on your last visit
Would still be there
Which was quite honestly your only mission
Going in
The stand to house
The 40” Flat Screen
Purchased on Thanksgiving
Was not on the list
At least not
Your living room deserved better
(Chimney stockings
Another matter)

When Lo! an obscure chest
Catches your eye
Its top drawer adorned
With peeling decoupage
A Depression child’s dresser
You suppose
Its tongue-in-grove seams                                                  
Promise pure wood
Under the grooves
But your route to a closer look remains blocked
--As misfortune would have it--
By a stout glass-topped piece
At knee height
Or was it fortune?
Because when you turned
To move the obstacle
What did you spy in the opposite corner
But a frayed but honest stand
Marked “$15 NEW”
Probably a Shopko store sample
Bruised by the coil of humanity
Pushing shopping carts
And eyeing specials
On Black Friday
You surmised

You rushed to the fading grayed teller
In the red Penguin sweats
To ask to mark it SOLD
Which she did
With great pity
“It says NEW here, ya know
But I can tell you it ain’t
See all them scratches?”
She warned
And you had

It is quite possible
You yourself had
Already passed the table weeks before
Telling yourself smugly how
It wouldn’t do
The stain was too light
The surface too marred
And weren’t you proud you had finally learned from the foul
Water-stained number disgracing your den
Of which you might never be rid that
You only get what you pay for

The stand may or may not fit in your van
Parked on freshly-lined asphalt just outside
Good thing the kids were still at school
For now
So the back seats could go down
But fit it did

It was 1:00
Your boys have a way of spotting cast-offs
Ten miles out
And snubbing their noses
Like a mother bird smelling on her chick
Human scent
But if you can get the cargo into your living room
Primped and clean
Before the kids return at three
There’s a chance
It will be accepted
(That would take a miracle)

Perhaps the tint is too orange you wonder
As you jostle
Your catch into the daylight
 “Nothing a little touch up
Pen can’t fix” you say
Pointing to the
Hideous scratches swathing its form

The volunteer retiree
Carrying the end opposite
Nods half-heartedly
Unconvinced it can avoid
Next week’s trash bin

No time to lose
You lug it alone
To the den
Loud bangs all down the hall as you go
Before charging your
Wood de-marker marker
With the impossible task
Of making the thing tagged NEW
Look the part

Maybe one hour
Of frenzied scribbles and burnishings
And a tap or two of polish later
And you will re-right yourself and stare
In awe
Unsure quite how
Like a Charlie Brown tree
Your stand has transformed itself
While your nose was down

You believe
Were you to add ten zeros to the tag
And wait at the door for their arrival
Once they spotted
The stand
In the corner of the living room
Your sons
Would be unfazed
At the price

Christmas Eve will come in two days
And you will place the stand
Beneath your new flat screen
And weep the tears
Of the generous,  the wise and
The unworthy all at once
To have come on such an unlikely gem
For so cheap
A bit like Mary in the stable
So long ago
As she thought of what took place
When she hadn’t been looking
And all that was born
On her knees

Your sons will have good news to tell their friends this year
You hope
As you round the last round-about

Waiting for a 40” Inch Flat Screen at Wal-Mart on the Night of Thanksgiving Day

 By Jen Hunt
You are thankful
It is warmer
Than years past
So warm
You could leave your coat
In the van
Parked in the shuttered store’s lot
Across the road

Though it’s dark
You can be forgiven
The morning nod
You gave the yellow-vests
Flanking the doors
Like Sunday’s ushers

At nine you snagged the tail of
The flat screen line
And once in, there was
No exit
From time to time
Checking your pocket
For the tiny paper
Proving you  yes  you belonged
In the Doorbuster Book of Life

You heard the mad howls at ten
When the pallet of PS3 games was
Torn open and
Emptied in five minutes
Thinking how tame the food lines
In Somalia
Pressed your sons closer and
Tried to balance
Atop the toilet roll bundle
Bracing your frame
The hours they seemed

At eleven you gazed
Past the ant trap aisle
Toward the arc of humanity
Pushing carts
And scanning circulars
“On my way back from
The restroom found DVD’s for two dollars
Got my sister taken care of
Get one for you if you like?”
Offered one gold-goateed comrade
Before confessing
He digs his girlfriend’s mom

You can be forgiven for
Missing laptop spoils
Because you did in fact
Eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day
You can be forgiven for twice
Losing your offspring in the crowd
Forgiven for offering them cured
Beef snacks from a baggie
Right there on the floor

It is not even midnight
Your yams have not digested
It will be some time
Before the countdown to twelve
Amid New Years-esque chants
Before the midnight queue
When the woman in the black burka
At the back of the store
Will complete your sale
Once the phone lines are back up
And the competitor ads have been tallied

And don’t forget
The last line you will take outside
In the dark
Around back
When a boy hauls the large box
To your trunk
Warning you to 
Warm the chilled contents
One hour before use

Tomorrow the sun will rise
On you
And your box
Then you must arrange your den
To fit it
Find a stand
To bear it
And a cloth
To cover it
Until Christ’s Birth Day
Surely your sons
Will have good news to tell their friends this year
You hope
As you sit on your bundle
And wait
On Thanksgiving Day

Friday, August 5, 2011

Elegy to a Glove

Joint Compostion June 29, 2010 by Spring Lake Church's Write Path
based on Degas' painting "Woman with Chrysanthemums"

Mother, I have lost my left-hand glove
Again. If I ever find it
I shall throw it down as a gauntlet

On your grave
I am through with
The nauseating, gaudy things

You made me wear
How often you called me
Naughty Kitten. Naughty Kitten? 

I scorn the pugnacious din
Gathered in this lobby
For your dirge. I want to purge

You here in the drab, dark, musty
Death parlor where you lie
Beneath crysanthemums and misery. 

(The mother which emerged from this group-generated poem bears no resemblance to my own, wonderful mom, thankfully!)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Rap On John 4

By Jen and Calvin Hunt

Jesus goes to a Samaritan well
(Which most Jews wouldn’t find so swell)
He asks the lady who draws at noon
For help to wet his whistle soon.

He says “Hey, there, woman, before you go
I sure would like some H 2 O.
In return I’ll give you living water
That satisfies like nothing other.

“The drink I got doesn’t come from a spout
But it can change you from the inside out.
So, get your husband and come back
Then I can give you the thing you lack.”

“Sir,” she said, “I’ve got no spouse,”
(Failing to cite her live-in louse.)
“Right you are! That’s why I asked,
I’m all over your five-groom past.”

Well, she’s quite impressed by his prophetic powers,
But the conversation’s going sour
So she shifts to something less risqué
Like, “On which mountain should I pray?”

Jesus replies, “All hills fare the same,
Spirit and truth are the name of God’s game.”
Now she’s sure he’s the real McCoy
Who won’t treat her heart like a toy.

So she leaves her jar and runs to town
To give all her critics the honest low-down:
“Jesus knows everything, that’s a fact!
If you want the Messiah, just follow me back!”

Of Gum and Shrimp and Machu Picchu*

After his four day adventure on the trail of Machu Picchu
Joseph returns to the hotel in preparation for his return flight.
He drops his pack
Props his feet
Finds a piece of gum
Turns on the TV
Spies some American cartoon featuring a smoking baby 
Subtitled in Spanish

This reminds Joseph
Of the figurines at the museum at the base camp
And of the archeologist’s lectures
About these people who sacrificed grown children
Here and there along the mountain trade routes
Before DO NOT LITTER signs
Littered the trail 
Way back
Before wrong had existed
Before wrong disappeared

As he watches the baby
Joseph rests his head on his hand
Leans into the loveseat
Thank god I come from civilized people
Who do not sacrifice children
On mountains
To make the gods happy
Or make things better for the rest of us
His feet throb
He could never have reached Machu Picchu
Were it not for his sherpa
The Dead Woman’s Pass would have been the end of him

Near the end of the show
His gum unflavors
So he swears and spits it out
This gum no bigger than
An embryo
Or last night’s shrimp
Carried to the top of the Machu Picchu on his sherpa’s back
Gum that has lost its taste is
No longer gum
You can and should discard it

Recumbent, Joseph rolls his eyes back and remembers
The way his hands felt
Against the firm stone walls
Remembers the stones put together tightly
Stones carried long distances uphill
Stones carried without wheels
No space between them for so much as a fingernail
How was this done
Before paper? Before lasers? Before autocad?
He wonders
Feeling a little smaller
Almost as small as the gum he just spit

The drone of the cartoon of the smoking baby
Coupled with his own sore limbs
So tire Joseph that he begins to sleep and dream
Whether or not he had a nightmare
He will decide when he awakes

From inside the television
A woman stares
Into the core of Joseph's soul
As one might stare into the face of a cleft-lipped child
Both pitied and adored
No, you do not sacrifice children on mountains in the daytime
Instead you take little melon scoops out of your face
In the dark
I can see the pock marks on your face
Tiny gum-sized divets
Where the parts you threw away used to fill
And now you are so dimple-filled
Your skin is like a golf ball’s
The melon rind is all that is left of you
It is a wonder someone has not throw you out
If they could find
A tall enough mountain
Or big enough trash can
Joseph, still dreaming, and wishing he had an earlier flight
Brushes his cheek with his fingers then
Raises his arms, his voice in defense
You must be mistaken
My face is smooth as marble
I come from a civilized people
We do not sacrifice children
On mountains
To make the gods happy
Or make things better for the rest of us
And the woman answers Joseph
Again, from the screen into his soul
You do not sacrifice them on mountains--
You do that
In hospitals
And alleyways
Where the cans are
And the gods
Are not
*This poem was written in honor of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

Why My Husband Deserves A Raise

An Appeal from “The Wife” or Why My Husband Deserves a Raise

Some employees who come along quite rarely
And deserve to be reimbursed squarely
Permit me here to tell what and why
Graham Hunt deserves from Humana’s pie

A modern day Mike Mulligan
Finishing four weeks’ work in one
Unassuming, diligent,
Trustworthy, vigilant
Hardly ever leaves his desk
Seldom flirts with opposite sex
Dresses plain, not debonair
(You know, the guy with the tow-head hair)
Modest and clever, a true problem-solver
Would never think of becoming a door-revolver
Loves his boss, his boss loves him
Situation’s a real win-win

Yet, underneath the hood
Lurks one small bug he’d fix--if he could
(Allow me to explain
Before you divvy up the grain)
It’s that . . .he rarely ever buys a lunch
Rents a duplex for his bunch
Let’s no penny run away
And still can’t travel unless others pay
Cannot save for his kids’ college
Retirement savings? a sad mirage
Helps everyone’s computers go faster
But earns less than he did as a pastor
Is this fair? Is this right?
Could this be keeping him up at night?
Might a little bump in pay
Keep him singing through hard work days?
You could help, you could try
To recompense this fine tech guy

Some employees, honest and smart
Deserve to be paid well right from the start
Thank you for letting me go on and on
About Graham’s slice of the lemon chiffon

My Yogurt Warns Me

My yogurt warns me of urban sprawl
My cereal bemoans the orangutan’s fall
It’s enough to make a girl depressed
To find she’s halfway to hell before she gets dressed

How do I know if the cause on my milk cap
Is truly momentous, or just someone’s pet
I want to be faithful without being foolish
Can someone please sell me a litmus test
Tell me which way is up in this save-the-world mess?

Because I want to save the world
But what world are we talking?
I want to save the world
But whose lifeboat will float?
I want to save the world
Tell me where are we going?
The waves are all high and the mountains are quaking
I think it’s because somewhere God’s heart is breaking
As we run around shaking fists at the ozone
Saving trees and ignoring our souls
Oh, can you tell me which way to go?
Before my corn flakes get soggy and my feet get cold?
Can you tell me which way to go?
In this runaround black-is-white show?
Because I really do want to know
Jesus, I really do want to know.

From the sermon on Matthew 8 on November 30, 2010

Lord, I am not worthy, but you say the word
And my servant at home will healed
Just say your will, don’t bother to come
If you speak, his recovery’s sealed.

The centurion man lived accustomed to clout
Bidding hundreds to come or to go
If he but required it, no matter the task
His soldiers would dare not say no.

Jesus applauded the level of trust
Of this seeker outside of the realm
At that very hour the servant was cured
For his master knew Christ had the helm

That is why I trust you, Lord,
You are God of the great and the small.
You care for the servant, the troop and the Jew
With a word you can soften our fall --and heal us all.

What Good Are Bodies

I have a body
It’s solid, liquid, hard, soft,
And everything in between
The inside me and the world

My thoughts have nowhere to go
Without a body
If I think a thought, it is only a matter of time before
Anger speeds my heart or slants my brow
Fear dimmers my eyelids or tears my hangnails
Love tingles my back or swells my belly
Joy turns my lungs to bellows, my eyes to crescents, or
My steps to skips and swirls

Sticks and stones and
Words hurt bones
Whatever you say bounces off my insides and
Sticks to my flesh
Like a cave creates stalactites from the tiny, drips
Flesh forms patterns
From the drips of thoughts over time
Time over time, ages on end until
Heads ache
Hands itch
Flesh groans
Sleep fails
I decay

When I don’t listen to my thoughts
My body turns up the volume
I may kick it like a mule
Carry on!
I may treat it like an enemy or a stranger
But it is always a friend
My conscience when conscience fails
My own truth test
I can count on my body to become
Who I truly am

(There was a man at the post office, maybe 70
Bent over, back like a turtle’s shell
I held the door so he wouldn’t fall as it swung back,
He did not become a humpback overnight
He did not go to sleep one day and wake up bent)

Bodies erode quietly and slowly
Yes, gravely and grandly, like a canyon
Through neglect, decay and a million distractions.
They are the main attraction
What we get when we’re born
What we shed when we die
Our trade in on Judgment Day
The wand in our hand
To bless, to curse
Wage war, make love
Our closest, surest tool
For forging the kingdom of God

Apples are hard, peel and core, that’s all.
But people are soft and solid with a soul in the middle
They are meant to house the fullness of God.
Bodies are how others know we’re really here
Or He’s really here.
The outline of our spirit,
The edge of our effect on the world.

(Jesus was real before he had a body
But it wasn’t until he got one
The word really got out that
He cared. He calmed.
He wept. He walked.
He bled. He died.
He came back to life.

He’s off to a better place now. So I haven’t seen him yet.
But he still has that body.
And we still have ours.
Scars and warts and all.)

God thought up bodies
He must have had a good reason
God has a body--
There’s something to be said for that, too.
I have a body--
Enough said.