The Monsters Inside Us

In my dream I am being chased by Sweetums, the muppet

down an endless hallway

I run and I run, but I can’t escape

so he overtakes me and gobbles me up

and I’m in the belly of this muppet

in the dark

saying to myself,

“It’s a dream it’s a dream it’s a dream!”

But I can’t wake up

and I don’t wake up until I shut up.

That’s when I finally awake.

 

Life is like that.

There are monsters in our lives

that we can’t outrun,

we can’t negotiate or reason with.

There are monsters we must embrace

Because they’re not monsters at all,

but rather instruments of change.

 

And change is scary.

But God is good.

He will get us through.

In a Cloud

In a vision, I saw Jesus standing

before the gates of heaven

holding two great stones:

one labeled TRUTH and the other

GRACE.

“What are these stones for?” I asked.

“This is how I judge the lives of those

who approach the gates.

I have walked with them their entire lives.

By their actions, they have chosen which stone

I shall judge from.”

I noticed only then that He had a sword ready at His hip.

“What of the sword?” I said. “What is that for?”

“Many will storm the gates of heaven,

demanding to be let in.

They do not want or do not have time

to await my verdict.

Some act if they already know,

others actually know and will not stand for it,

but either way I will not let them in.

I protect my sheep. I am the only way in.”

“By which stone will You judge me, LORD?” I asked.

“The choice is yours.

Not by your lips, but your heart do you make your decision,” He said. “Yet the time has not yet come. Return to Earth. Live your life. Go in peace.”

I bowed before the King of Heaven and began to make my exit.

“And Aaron, remember that I am always with You, through the good and the bad. Nothing escapes my sight,” He said.

“I know LORD,” I said, before descending back to Earth

in a cloud.

Scheduled Execution

As I set my head upon the guillotine,

A voice descended from heaven.

“Stop! Why do you do this?” It said.

“Because I am guilty,” I said, “deserving death.”

“Your sins are grave, but I took them to the grave

They died with me and I brought you up

into new life. Do you not remember this?”

“I forget so easily,” I said.

“Rise, my child, into my grace,

and your new life.”

I did rise after all and since then

have been forever changed,

though that fateful blade still haunts menacingly

the corner of my mind’s eye.

The Truth Behind the Eyes

He marched into the cave, full of muscle and sweat. The last tendrils of light glinted off his biceps and chest. He tightened his grip on his broadswords and walked farther in.

The cave was hot and damp, heated by the fetid breath of the beast. The lichen-slickened ground made for a hard journey. The sides of the cave were jagged and warped from the beast’s thick hide and claws.

The first thing he heard was silence. He strengthened his resolve. The silence was always the worst, but he had come this far. He would have his trophies. For the villagers. For himself. To prove that he was a man. His member surged beneath the loincloth as he thought of it.

Deeper, ever deeper. Sensing nothing until finally he heard it: the beast’s strained-raspy and hissing breath. He strengthened his back and stood erect. He waved his sword into the void.

“I am Bukanin son of Orinshield. I command you to come out beast,” he said.

Nothing. Breath.

“I command you to come out.”

The breathing stopped. A growl replaced. Bukanin gripped his sword.

The beast roared. Stomp-stomp-stomp-stump. Rrrrrrrrrrumble. The Beast charged. Bukanin charged.

He met the beast, with all its talons and fury. Roaring. Ranging.

Its hideous eyes. Thousands of them. Its hunched back. Its tiled and armor-like hide. It teeth and talons. Its rage and fury and hate. Bukanin challenged them all.

They fought there in the dark. The creature was used it, feeding off the energy supplied by bioluminescent mushrooms growing on its skin and in the cave around. But the warrior held his own. This would be his first beast, but it would not be his last. The village was full of dead animal trophies. He would not let them down.

They stabbed and slashed at one another. The blood! The blood! Green, animal blood blending with red human blood. Spraying against the walls. Drenching each other’s forms. They were both mad, crazed. Their draining fluids only made them halluncinate victory.

They sparred for ours until finally Bukanin gained the upper hand, hamstringing the foul creature, bringing it down to its side. He stood over it. Weak due to lack of blood. Weak from the dying adrenaline rush. All he had to do was finish it and it could all be over.

He towered over the creature.

“Finally beast you are slain!” he said, waving his broadswoard high.

He climbed atop it and flipped his weapon about, pointing fearsome blade at his opponent to end it.

He stared into its many eyes. A long time. It was so near death, it had scarcely the energy to keep them open. He could relate, having scarcely the energy to stand, let alone kill the thing.

He stood there, in the death position, breathing; then, he flung the sword aside.

He collapsed atop the beast and slept.

***

He did not return to his village for a long time. Rumor spread that he had been eaten. Rumor spread that he had been overcome. Never did they fancy the truth: that he and the beast spent many of their days hobbling the hills together. Many years later, a young man, out to prove himself found them, offering to end the beast’s life.

When Bukanin decline, the young man branded him a traitor. Bukanin accepted this word.

He was who he was, and if that was who he was, then so be it.

Later down the road, the villagers came and hunted them down. They slew them, for a hunter to befriend his prey was too much for them. They laughed and cheered and drank over the bodies of the dead. They had righted the Universe.

But the last thing Bukanin ever saw was the beast looking back at him with all those many eyes. That was enough for him. That had always been enough. So he peacefully surrendered himself to his fate.

Birthday Suits for All!

Life can knocks us out again sometimes,

like all those old cartoons where the clothes

or wool

are literally blown off the skin

and we’re left alone and embarrassed.

 

But you know what? Oh well,

“Naked I came into this world,

naked I shall leave,” says Job.

If that’s how we are, that’s how we’re gonna be

and we’re gonna be awesome too.

Birthday suits for all.

 

Through all things, blessed be the name of the LORD!

Just Jazz

He had always been a tall man. Walked tall, lived tall. People asked him if he played in the NBA, but he hated the sport. Pass the ball, run. Pass the ball, run. On and on. Always predictable. Jazz was never predictable. It was always raw and alive. So he chose jazz.

He played trumpet alongside the best of ‘em, moving from smoke-drenched dives to glitzy ball rooms, always wearing his favorite silver bowtie. A good luck charm of sorts. He was meant for this. It suited him well.

Then, death came, like a dark tide, sweeping away his favorite players. Overdose. Cocaine. Everyone riding A-train into the netherworlds. He got on board too, found himself in the emergency room, two shakes away from death.

But he didn’t die. It was the bow tie, he told himself. Or something.

He left the scene, stepped away. Started working on engines with his brother.

Then, he got the call. An old buddy was getting married, wanted him to play. He said he was out, but his friend was very insistent. He did miss the scene.

So he showed. He played the gig. The kids beside him idolized him. He didn’t care. He’d been here before. The music was all that mattered, and the music felt good.

Across the way was the bar. He wanted a drink. To calm his nerves, he told himself, but he wanted more, much more. He wanted back.

He walked up to the counter. The bartender greeted him.

“Can I get you anything?” she said.

He paused.

“I’m just taking a break,” he said.

She paused.

“Water?” she said. “It’s a hot day.”

He nodded.

She kneeled down, grabbed a bottle, and shot up again.

She wobbled.

“Oh wow, I stood up too fast,” she said.

“All for nothing,” he said, and took the bottle. “Thanks.”

He drank enough to wet his lips and returned to his horn.

He played and played until everything was gone, until it was just him and the music. No death, no drama, just jazz.