Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ten More Cliches Christians Shouldn't Use



When I recall my time as a believer, I’m not proud of some moments. I made some good friends, some of whom I still remain in contact with. But there were times I was an arrogant shit solely because I thought I was saved from damnation. There’s an arrogance to the solipsism of Christianity that serves as an affront to my sensibilities now, something I hadn't seen when I in the religion. The cliches on this list and the previous one don’t apply to all Christians (no sense painting everyone with the same brush). Mostly I've found these used by fundamentalist varieties of Christianity but that doesn’t mean more liberal-minded Christians haven’t used them as well. Here they are:

Friday, November 15, 2013

D is for The Doctor



I grew up in an eclectic, strange household. My mother is a redneck, born and raised from rural Mississippi. To give you an idea of how rural I’m talking, downtown for her hometown is four blocks in each direction. She shares some of the gumption and attitude one expects from a Southern woman: hospitality is offered to all friends but it’s not a good idea to piss her off. Deep down though, my mother’s a geek. She was the one who introduced me to science fiction. From Star Trek to Star Wars to Dune, from the Toho monster films to the 1950s version of The War of the Worlds, I was given over to the strange and campy world of science fiction as a fresh acolyte.
And then I discovered the mad man with the blue Police box, otherwise known as the Doctor.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sexism and Misogyny: How to be a Douchebag





My close friend Erica tagged me on the above article after she found it. The link will take you there. While I loathe sending any web traffic to this asshole, I want it included so you can see the source of my anger. I’ve made my thoughts on female empowerment clear before in the essay and podcast concerning women going to college (http://kingscriercommissions.blogspot.com/2013/09/avoiding-patriarchy-women-and-college.html). After reading this article, I felt compelled to write a detailed response. The question of female self-esteem is not really this guy’s point; rather, the point he’s actually attempting to make is how female independence is wrong, especially if it’s independence from male subjugation.

Worth Determined- A Spoken Word Poem

This is a poem written in conjunction with an essay and podcast that will be uploaded as well. Enjoy.

Friday, September 20, 2013

C is for Carlin

This is the next in my ABC's essays. I hope you enjoy it. There will be a podcast up in the next few days covering this one. 

In my previous essay for this series, I wrote about humor, particularly bad taste. One of the comics that I’ve enjoyed for most of my life is the late George Carlin. A wordsmith of incomparable wit, Carlin holds a place of esteem even among his own profession’s best representatives. Widely considered influential for both his content and the style of comedy he utilized, George Carlin helped me fall in love with language and recognize the potency of words.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Avoiding Patriarchy: Women and College


I regularly cruise through Christian blogs, I don’t leave comments on them but I do enjoy reading them. Peeking into the thoughts and concerns of religious people offers insights into their mindsets I’m not privy to normally. While I don’t have any religious beliefs, I do sometimes share similar concerns. One concern deals with the role of women in American culture. I’m in the feminist camp for quite a few ideals, specifically the right of women to self-determination. It’s this stance that makes me rather upset when I see people using bad arguments to stand against female self-determination.
I came across an article on Fix the Family, a site devoted to Catholic teachings. The article in question was written by the co-founder of the site, Raylan Alleman, entitled “6 Reasons (+2) to NOT Send Your Daughter to College”. I’ll examine the article more in-depth but from the other output on this man’s website, this seems par for the course.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ten Cliches Christians Shouldn't Use- An Atheist's Perspective

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christianpiatt/2012/07/ten-cliches-christians-should-never-use/ 


I recently discovered a blog on Patheos from Christian Piatt, a self-described liberal Christian. One of his articles (the link is above) caught my attention and got me thinking (which is always the best kind of essay). It was written from the perspective of someone still within the faith. I felt the need to write a response from my own perspective, chiefly as someone who was once a believer and has now moved over to skepticism and atheism. The ten choices are Piatt’s but the responses are mine.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wander between both worlds -A Poem

Each of us knows the way
of the world:

the dominant, with permission
and respect,
tops the submissive.

It is a tale told on the human stage
time and time again,
throughout cultures as varied
as the clouds on a sunny day.

But what if you wander
between both worlds
of dominance and submission?

What if you choose
to let go,
to embrace the pain
and remember a fundamental truth
wired deeply into our DNA,
a truth we avoid daily,
with as much fervor as we avoid
the grave:

the pain reminds us we're alive.
That realization is the ultimate pain. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

All the padlocks removed

I have too many filters in my head,
too many censors

telling me what not to say;
what details not to include;
what cellar doors must remain
locked shut
unless the demon behind it gets loose.

And yet I'm telling the truth
but only a fraction,
a few decimals shy of a whole number,
a confused, muddled mathematical word problem
without a clear formula or solution.

Except here, on this screen.
Wilde was right: truth requires
a mask.
This screen gives me a mask
and all the filters are turned off
and all the padlocks removed
and all the demons released.

The mask makes me less accountable
and more accountable.
It is not opaque
but clear as a sheet of perfect crystal,
no imperfections to distort
or magnify any facet.
Just a transparent mask.

But my obfuscation remains in place.
The slight effect it has
does more to liberate my mind
than any drug or spirit ever could.

I still prefer rum to this screen, though.
At least with rum,
I can be a jolly truthsayer.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Nightmare Follows

I run away, towards the edge.
My nightmares
chase me
with the relentlessness
of Death.

All the mistakes, morphed
into demonic monsters;
flayed torsos, beating hearts open
for surgery; Eyelids removed, open-eyed sleep;
Muscles in legs churning in full view, propelling
emaciated bodies, screams
from mouths with no lips, caterwauls
of hunger and pain rattle my ears,
never-ending vibrations of torment.

The edge is near, the cliff is finite.
Below the waves roll like wild horses
stampeding suicidally against the rocks.
I run over the edge, a looney character
thinking air is concrete. The fall doesn't hurt,
it's pleasant, like a morphine drip.

The nightmare lemmings follow,
a second stampede
flying after me.
It's a spectacle. We need the 
big-top now, with the side-show
and a barker selling overpriced tickets
to all the marks.

Let's look under the waves, I think,
as I get ready for the splash. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Special Message

I in no way advocate the murder of politicians or the President of the United States, no matter what kind of dipshit gets elected to that office. This is merely a poetic vision of an apocalyptic nightmare I recently had.

Here stands the carious commander-in-chief,
the putrescent president,

his lectern crumbling under flames
while 3 suns bloom on the horizon.

His jaw stammers up and down
on a bleached skull
which slowly browns
under the heat

(he's between basting cycles),

the timber and plaster set-piece
house
degenerates suddenly,
blasting apart in a wave
of fiery malice.

There was a joint session
of Congress in attendance as well,
skeletons applauding the spectral address. 

Dust, human ash, and deficient dreams
drift away like spilled seeds

but the ground beneath them lays infertile. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dawn's Early Light


A Hunter fan rotates back and forth lazily
in a scorched motel room.
Every so often it blows back ash in my
face, a minor annoyance for
the depressing relief from the mugging
this August morning in
Florida is committing on my person.
                                  
I light another smoke, an imported cigarette
but I don’t bother with menthol,
preferring acrid, Turkish tobacco squeezing my
throat’s interior like a noose hugs a
hanging victim. I watch you sleep
the sheets disarrayed from violent love-
making but you sleep so deeply.

Sunlight creeps by the windows like a
early-bird peeping tom, streaks sliding
across raven-hair and tattoos; my fingers are
jealous, but I want to watch
you at your most peaceful, the cool
breeze before the outbreak of war.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Iron Casket -A Poem

It was a strange state
funeral.
The only time
you'll ever see
the 21 gun salute
fire at the coffin
to make goddamned sure
the bitch really is dead.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

B is for Bad Taste

(This is the second in a series of essays using each letter of the alphabet to pick a topic. Hope you enjoy!)


Bad taste humor comes in many different flavors and varieties. Like any subjective art form, humor really is defined best as what makes people laugh. John Cleese once observed that “comedy is exceptionally brittle”, which he felt meant that comedy either works or it doesn’t. The infamous fart scene in Blazing Saddles is considered a comedy classic now but it was once considered the height of crude humor, just like the sophomoric antics of the Jackass crew (which I happen to find utterly moronic but to each their own cup of rancid tea). Comedy is an art form that can be both crass and enlightening, often in the same instant.
But the topic of this essay hones in on bad taste humor and it concerns those jokes that some deem as going too far. As my family and friends will attest, I enjoy bad taste (a little too much, depending on who you ask) but it is a comedy craving that I seek to fulfill a good portion of the time. Like most things I enjoy in this life, my appreciation (and attraction) for crass humor developed in my childhood.
The basis for bad taste is irreverence. Every step up (or more appropriately down) the ladder of humor-in-poor-taste starts from the fundamental lack of reverential respect for people, places, ideas, etc. This doesn’t entail a complete lack of respect. With few exceptions, bad taste humorists have a deep respect for all things in life, just not a sense of anything being sacred. Rape and religion (just to pick two hot-button ideas) are examples of subjects some consider too taboo (i.e. sacred) to ever allow them to be the basis of humor.
My taste for irreverence was first fertilized by Looney Tunes. I’m part of the last generation of kids who had regular, Saturday morning cartoons on all the major networks. In particular, I can remember watching the classic Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters in their older pictures. From the irascible Daffy Duck to the irrepressible Bugs Bunny, the Looney Tunes characters captured my attention and tickled my funny bone in ways Mickey’s crew of tamed animals couldn’t manage. No subject, from Shakespeare to World War II, was off-limits. Some of the older Looney Tunes are now unavailable for viewing on network television due to the use of racial stereotypes and language. While one can argue the merits of such censorship, the decision is not an abnormal one where the topic of race and older forms of entertainment are concerned.
I’ll even include the cartoons created by Tex Avery as well. Avery’s toons, which were often satires of the “Worlds of Tomorrow” displays popular in the 1950s, had an exceptional bite to them. This can be seen in the near-constant mother-in-law jokes in many cartoons. One particular depiction of this trope that still gives me chuckles involves the “House of Tomorrow”. In the cartoon, the mother-in-law receives a variety of ill-favored items such as a Keep Out doormat lined with explosives, a customized medicine cabinet filled with various poisons, and a relaxing easy chair that doubles as an electric chair.
Now some would consider such displays of humor as rather tame. Keep in mind that these cartoons were composed primarily for children in a time where humor was far different. While I don’t consider them inappropriate, others might and this ties into the subjective nature of humor. But Looney Tunes and Tex Avery were just appetizers for the bawdy bad taste I was given access to next.
Mel Brooks remains one of my all-time favorite comedy minds. Both risqué and slapstick, the oft-puerile Brooks was my introduction into adult humor. My mother was and still is a big fan of Mel’s, having grown up with his early movies like The Producers (the original) and Blazing Saddles. She introduced me and my brother to Brook’s work with Spaceballs, the eminently quotable send-up of science fiction, and Young Frankenstein, the deeply sexualized homage to the Universal monster movies from the 1930s.
As mentioned above, Spaceballs is one of Brooks’ most quotable films. Every scene has a zinger or situation that either borders absurdity or runs screaming and on fire in absurdity’s asbestos-covered arms. From the classic Rick Moranis realization that he was surrounded by the extended family Asshole to the priceless merchandizing scene, Brooks managed to satirize the often inane and silly nature of science fiction (a genre I’m an enormous fan of as well). Interestingly enough, one of the most persistent slanders against Brooks is that he is anti-Semitic (which is funny considering Brooks is Jewish).
Aside from Mel’s oeuvre, my experience in bad taste truly expanded with my discovery of British comedy. It says something about a culture that is famous for the “stiff upper lip” that some of their most famous comedy greats had truly ribald taste. The Council of Cardinal Sins (as I’d call it) is the troupe of Monty Python. Python’s members brought wit and intelligence to subjects as far-ranging as cross-dressing to class conflicts to religion. Monty Python’s penchant for absurdity and obscenity were revelatory to my teenage mind, showing me that one could be both crude and smart at the same time. But one cannot mention bad taste British humor from yesteryear without mentioning Benny Hill. Hill excelled at hapless, lascivious humor and he still holds a special place in my mind for showing off the comedy gold the subject of sex provides.
Recently, I’ve cultured a profound enjoyment in the works of modern UK comedians like Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, and Tim Minchin. Shows like Mock the Week and Nevermind the Buzzcocks push the envelope on acceptable humor, slicing at public figures and celebrities with verve, panache, and obscenity. Mock the Week in particular (on which Frankie Boyle served as a panelist for many years) continually walks over the edge in terms of comedy output, making light of events such as Saddam Hussein’s execution to the near fatal car accident of Richard Hammond of Top Gear (another beloved British TV series). Boyle became during his tenure (and this doesn’t disparage the other fine comedians on the show) a gravity well of controversy, for jokes that included the Queen’s vagina is haunted due to her advanced age.
Some would say that jokes like the one above or asides about tragedies (such as the recent massacre at Sandy Hook) should not be made. I feel this prohibition is unnecessary. Taboos change as culture changes. While I feel for every victim of Sandy Hook (and all the other countless others who die every day in similar tragedies), making an off-color comedic remark is a necessary way of dealing with the immense perversity of tragic events. Consider how many people die on a daily basis in what can be defined as “tragic circumstances”. Were someone to do so, they would almost be inundated with tears. We shut out these horrors (for that is the only appropriate word for them) from our minds. Humor becomes a defensive posture this horror (which I consider to be something like what Kurtz refers to in Apocalypse Now) and bad taste humor, while uncomfortable, allows us to laugh at that which would otherwise make us weep.
As someone who values free expression, I have to remind myself that speech that incites wrath should be defended as vigorously as speech that empowers the better parts of our nature. Standing in one extreme or other of the speech spectrum can give one a delusion of moral superiority, which is not something to strive for in this regard. Laugh and do so often because there is more horror awaiting us on the next sunrise.
Remember, it’s all a joke. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

No Post This Week

No posting this week due to illness. Next week, I'll be publishing the second in my ABC essays, B for Bad Taste.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Murder Hotel -A Poem

Carpet stains, an odd mixture of
puke,
blood,
jism,
and grave intentions, a cocktail
of misery

only a few know the taste of.

Watch out for them,
the lowlifes that cling to life out of habit only,
the pimps who see dollar signs in smiles,
the hookers whose smiles are as vacant as a
bank parking lot on Sunday,
devil dogs of powder, fire, and spoon,

the harbingers of the American Dream's
after effects

the putrid afterbirth

a rancid placenta

who act as unwilling guides
for a blind populace 
still dreaming.

Drains and Holes -A Poem

At work, I'm stuck
between 3 ghetto hens:

bwuk-bwuk-yo-yo

but I dont mind
(most of the times, they're harmless;
the rest, they're capable of 
instilling the need to commit
crimes against humanity)

I ascribe it to youth
and remember
I was just as energetic
(and obsessively obtrusive
in other's sanity)
as they are now.

Give them time.
The world will drain their exuberance
like a battery victim.
There are little joys
like schoolyard candy
and everyone's pockets 
have holes in the bottom. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jewel of Sol -A Poem


A cinder floats in the void
of space, with putrid green waters,
like the mantle cracked and released emerald
vomit.
Angry cyclones the size of continents
rage and batter radioactive landscapes,
spires of rock and asphalt and glass
decay and crumble from erosion. Achievements, accolades,
all wasted on a petty feud now forgotten.
No being in the universe will find
a brilliant blue jewel slung by gravity
around a mid-range star.
Instead they will find a testament
to gullibility
and a grave marker in a war
over who had the most powerful
imaginary friend. 

Exception -A Poem


The first man-robot was lost,
unable to locate his position
inside the suit of armor.
The pieces of brain left in the neuroprocessor,
the mind of the metal man
(for if the soul exists, the brain
is its residence).

A sexta-core and the human brain,
firing and processing every possible variable
except
whether the suit should continue the journey.

So the metal man stands, lost inside
a recurving, revolving riddle,
the same riddle that plagued him
when he was only flesh.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

County Road 574


     It had been a Tuesday night in April when Malorie let the tears fall without wiping them away. She needed her hands for steering the car. Beside her was a half-empty bottle of Bacardi rum, 150 proof. The proof hadn’t mattered when she purchased it, though. After drinking most of it, she realized her error in selection but that didn’t matter much either. Her thoughts drifted from the road ahead to how he could have done it. The first time had been an accident, she swore to herself. A brushing touch against her hip while she was standing at the counter doing dishes. In the small kitchen of their Plant City trailer, it was easy for the sixteen year old to brush against her father Rick haphazardly. This time, like the five others after the first, was not an accident. She could still feel the imprint of her father’s hand on her ass; still feel the digits kneading her flesh with disgusting lust. She tried to focus on the road. At least the road didn’t make her want to vomit as much.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fossils -A Poem


Dying from this
Dead from this

We are the lost generation, stranded in a sea of flaming debris
The giants, whom we call parents and grandparents, linger on

Dying from this
Dead from this

Stillborn children, we are; far from breathing
where we will, with whom we Will

Dying from this 
Dead from this

Dreadful meals, irradiated by micro waves, 
consumed with mindless fervor and unhappy grunts


Dying from this
Dead from this

No longer born like Bukowski but left behind
lifeless but in the middle, the half second between

Dying from this
and
Dead from this

the lip of the event horizon, the space inbetween
tick and tock where one can be both

Dying from this
and
Dead from this.

Profane and Worldly -A Poem


The treasure is under the trash bags,
perhaps even inside, lost beneath piles
and piles of shit.
Not useless junk or leftovers no body
wants;
actual shit, the pieces your body
doesn’t need.

The floorboards creak, mistreated
like an abused bride on the honeymoon,
by the occupant’s
obsession
with collection.

Stained, structurally unsound, like a universe
made from a fresh bowel movement, the house
must come down.
It cannot stand as a monument, a sacred
sanctum, of these profane bodily fluids.
Your sanctuary must be torched
and the ashes must be scattered
for fear that it will reassemble.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A is for Atheism

     I recently watched an interview with Stephen Fry where he discussed a variety of topics, each beginning with a letter of the alphabet. This struck me as a wonderful idea for a series of essays. What follows is the first of such essays. 


     Apostasy can be defined as the total desertion of one’s religion. But losing one’s religion is not as cut and dry as simply saying one doesn’t believe in the supernatural. For myself, it took more than a decade to accept my doubts and realize these thoughts were nothing more than my mind not accepting an incredulous story. It was not an easy transition (and no worthwhile transformation ever is). But it was (and still is) one of the most important steps I’ve ever taken in my life so far.
     Apostasy has existed for the same length of time religions have existed and it has always been the minority of people who shirk off superstition. Numbers alone are not a measure of the plausibility of a particular belief, though. This leads to one making the argumentum ad populum, or the popular argument, a logical fallacy. Such arguments are relatively easy to dismantle by using something currently unpopular that was once popular (for example: slavery or the suppression of female voting rights). Another method of dismantling the popular argument is to further segment a given religious ideology into its inevitable subsects and movements, pointing out that such segmentation on the part of a religion effectively cuts off one from a larger swath of fellow believers. But as I mentioned, the popularity of one’s position should never be the sole determining factor in either abandoning it or clinging to it.
     My loss of religion could be said to have started in high school, that bastion of torment and the first doorway to self-discovery. It’s been said that the rest of adult life (in all facets) is simply playing out the dramas of high school on a larger stage. From my current perspective, I can see that my slide into apostasy began because I never challenged my beliefs. While never outright stated, I was quietly encouraged by my mother and church leaders to embrace the Bible as the ultimate final authority. I was encouraged to accept the creation myth as fact and that any “scientific” explanation was simply a deception conjured by Satan to fool the masses. I was also encouraged to accept a bloody human sacrifice (and I use the word “sacrifice” in the lightest possible way) as payment for slights against my loving (also used in a feather-like fashion) Heavenly Father.
     When confronted by alternative opinions, my faith wavered, in large part because I was a teenager with zero self-confidence. I was, after all, a despicable, dirty sinner who couldn’t help but engage in wicked, immoral thoughts. Not actions, mind you (with a few exceptions that I still remain regretful over committing), but simple thoughts and fantasies that every single teenager (and adult, for that matter) experiences. I was made to feel inferior by my faith in a way that I can now describe as utterly abusive. My relationship with Yahweh was a psychologically and emotionally damaging as any other abusive relationship one encounters in reality. I was constantly reminded by Christian music, books, sermons, etc. that I was a wretched human being (despite living a rather normal life) in need of salvation.
     The ridicule I received from the people I called friends served as a kickstart to my analytical mind but only on the subconscious level. I began to ask questions of my faith, legitimate questions that I had ignored for quite some time. Questions are anathema to proper observance of faith, in my experience. There are theists I have met of every flavor who claim that they openly question their faith. But are these questions seriously critical of the faith or are they softball questions meant to maintain one’s cognitive dissonance? Much of what religion teaches must be accepted on blind faith or else the entire house of cards falls to the floor.
     My first questions began simply enough: why were angels able to rebel against their master? Angels are universally depicted as lacking a soul, created solely for the purpose of serving Yahweh and lacking the ability to make independent choices. Even better, how could a being who can create a universe ex nihilo be incapable of subduing or destroying a rogue element among its servants? These distressing questions are all the more baffling when one considers that two of the primary characteristics given to Yahweh are omnipotence and omnibenevolence. Omnipotence defeats non-omnipotence every single time and an all-loving, all-good deity would see to it that such deviant beings were removed, lest a corruptive element be introduced into perfection.
     This questioning led me to reread the Bible from cover-to-cover repeatedly. What I can say for that experience is that it taught me that every denomination and sect in Christianity (and for the vast majority of religions with holy texts as well) engages in some form of cherry-picking. As a Christian, I focused on only those passages highlighted by Bible study books (with their own interpretation of the material) and my pastor’s sermons. These sources of interpretation tend to neglect or outright ignore the sections of the Bible that don’t agree with one’s personal ideology or personal moral compass. This is the reason one can have Southern Baptists, the Westboro Baptist Church, and First Baptists all claiming divine mandate for their particular point of view.
     But I didn’t stop at one read-through, as I mentioned. I found multiple versions and read through all of them. Each time my questions increased and became more persistent, more recalcitrant to retreat from my cacophonous protestations of belief. How could a perfect being create imperfect humans? How could a loving father willingly attempt to sacrifice his child to appease their master? Why does a human sacrifice make my sins null and void?
     These questions did not find purchase in Christian dogma. So while maintaining a nominal connection to Christianity, I began to investigate alternatives. Several of my friends at the time were (and many still are) neo-pagans and Wiccans. I delved deeply (as only a recovering addict can) into this previously taboo concept, embracing the concepts of magic, metaphysics, and energy transference (just to name a few ideas). And for a time such distractions kept me from examining supernatural claims too harshly. Even after I discontinued practicing pagan and wiccan rituals, I still identified myself with their ideology for years. Even now, after I cease to believe in any form of magic and supernatural energy sources, the respect for the natural world exhibited by many neo-pagans and Wiccans is still part of my ideas on the world.
     It was my reintroduction to education that brought about the final catalyst, specifically my growing love for the written word. I was introduced to Thomas Pain, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, men who held indifference or irreverence for religion. I was also reintroduced to science and the vast evidence for a non-supernatural worldview. This was finally the last nail in the crucifix, so to speak. When one considers that the elements that make up one’s body and the Earth were once forged in the heart of a star, a god seems so small in comparison.
     Recently I came across a derisive meme poster of a fish in a bowel. The caption read “Atheism: Like a fish denying the existence of water”. Let’s examine this fatuous piece of internet piffle for a moment. Forget that a fish does not possess the mental faculties necessary to believe or disbelieve. It would be childish to assume that a fish would disbelieve its natural environment. This argument is specious for another reason: Water is quantifiable, testable, and physical. We know what makes up water: two parts hydrogen with one part oxygen. The composition of water is known to us through discovery, not revelation. If we’d waited until a holy prophet revealed the nature of water to us, we’d probably still think alchemy was possible.
     Atheism, to me as well as many others, is simply the rejection of all supernatural claims due to lack of evidence. Some will say that you will only find what you seek and my response to that remains the same: show me evidence. An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence to support it. Christianity isn’t the only religious system I reject, though. I reject Islam, Paganism, Wicca, Norse myths, Greek myths, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. And I’m not different than theists (save those of syncretistic belief systems like Vedanta) who are atheists with regards to the claims of other religions. All religions bear the onus to produce evidence to corroborate their claims. And evidence is more than holy texts. If holy texts were the final benchmark of whether a belief system was true then all of them would be true. If a religion cannot or does not produce said evidence, then the only logical step to take is to reject the claim.
     Rejecting the notion of all-powerful (but somehow fallible and flawed) deities is not the same as a fish denying the existence of water. The fish knows better than to dismiss what is physically right in front of it, what physically enters its gills, and what provides a good portion of the nutrients it needs to survive. Atheism is acceptance of all the elements (both fear-inducing and awe-inspiring) in the natural universe. To deny reality is to deny one’s place in that reality. After all (as Carl Sagan once eloquently put it) we’re all made of star stuff.
     I do not wish to replace religion with secularism, though. One could argue that this change is already under way. But as Christopher Hitchens pointed out during a debate with the Reverend Al Sharpton, religion is people’s favorite toy and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. As long as our species fears death, there will be some form of religion. As long as our species has a streak of credulity, there will be some form of religion. My goal as an atheist is to minimize the negative repercussions of religious indoctrination and zealotry. There are plenty of good, decent, moral people who believe in some form of theism and they are welcome to it. I do not wish to be that type of person and I do not wish to have their theism forced on me for my own benefit.
     Being an atheist means that I can be moral without Big Brother watching over my shoulder telling me to be a good boy. It means that I am ultimately responsible for any actions I take. It means that I have to treat people properly the first time around because there is no vicarious redemption or retroactive forgiveness. The only way I can gain some measure of forgiveness is if the person I’ve wronged is kind-hearted or has memory issues. I am also responsible for ensuring the well-being of future generations because this life and this planet are the only guaranteed havens we have in an otherwise hostile and uncaring universe. And because I do not believe in an afterlife of any kind, I see war and the deaths that result from war as futilities that should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. For me, there is no glory or transfiguration in death, only oblivion. And while I do not look forward to dying, I am resigned to this ultimate fate in much the same way that I am resigned to the fact that the Earth is spinning around the Sun. And as an atheist, I am resolved to enjoy and experience life with joy because it is all that I can ever expect to have. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Union Rules -A Poem


Small levers work a big machine,
at least that’s what the little man
in my brain says
during his union-mandated coffee break.

Apparently
there’s a break room
in my amygdala
with a coffee machine
that serves dreg coffee filtered
from salt water
refigerators that switch between arctic circle
and room temperature
and a foosball table
with both teams missing half their men.

I wonder where the microwaves are
for where the work crew
reheats leftovers from last night’s meals. 

Sing-Song Swan-Song -A Poem


She speaks like a queen, but not
the one you’re thinking of.
Think less Elizabeth the First and
more Ru Paul.
Trailing sequins and incense she came
into this world;
Trailing sequins and incense she shall
leave this world;
A smiling, singing, jester in a dress,
poking the breeders who cursed her
and being poked by breeder’s curiosity,
like an impromptu photo shoot on 7th street
in Ybor, in gaudy purple and gold,
with Japanese tourists who thought she was a goddess.

She was a deity, both on stage and off
with the eyes of hundreds watching,
like a bitch in heat strutting around caged males.

But now there are no more songs, no more
laughs or playful (sharp) insults
or nights of kisses
and “come fuck me” glances.

The world will be a little less beautiful today
when the funeral march ends. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dark Fingers -A Poem


There’s an element missing from the periodic table of our relationship. It was there when we started and it had a half-life longer than uranium, or so we thought. This missing link evaporated over time, like a puddle does during a hot July day in Florida, the kind we used to go to the beach, or go to Picnic Island and swim in the waters of the bay, or even just lay in our hammock between the canopy of dark green fingers stretching from protective oak trees on the front yard. But the fingers are broken now and it’s November. Fall is the best time for a divorce, don’t you think?

Crowns - A Poem


new horizons
and fields of grain       made from holly
woods are lovely in the spring when you
see the dancing girls moving their hips and
drinking from the crowns
                                          of rich men that leave
behind
             whiskey tips in garter belts.
Spin around the pole, darling. You know
the way daddy likes it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Liquid Fertilization

Strips of flesh, like first-place ribbons
are what I see as I hold
the cat o'nine tails.
The Romans loved this simple tool,
used it to cleanse themselves
of troublesome people.
Unlike the Roman tool, there are no
bits of metal or bone
embedded like jagged ticks
in the leather studs at the end of each tail.

The straps wave back and forth
like leathery reeds in a soft wind.
She hangs before me, suspended by her
wrists, her purple-painted toes barely
brushing the floor.
Supple, pink-white flesh, a cultivated garden
of nerve bundles, like individual flower beds
awaiting a dose of fertilizer to grow.

But as I bring the cat down
and she squeals 
like a child on a sugar rush
all I can picture 
are strips of flesh.

It is the moment people like me fear,
disconnecting from the scene
 like a phone left off the hook.

Gist of Substance


The newspaper vending machine has a T.V. set inside
showing static
                        fluctuates,
undulates into formless shapes.
I can almost make out
the gist, the substance through the filmy
fleeting glimpses of order,
like a trail of ants leaving the hill, scavenging
understanding from desiccated husks of bark.