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The Beautiful Distance (2015)

 What is Weakness? 

I know him well. 


The distance between

What I want to do, 

And what I do.

The distance between

My mind and my lips

My will and my hands. 

All that I am 

Not. And all that I 


A wide gulf fixed between

Myself and the person I wish to be.

Caution, lest you see this

As a false humility. 

I been living

Here a long while, and 

Paying attention. 

I know me. 

I’ve held my own 

Face in my hands, 

Taken a good look

At the one smiling back

At me. I mean a good look. 

Deep into those eyes. 

Full of all that I hate. 

Closer. Till I can smell

The saltiness of his

Pores. Till forehead

Knocks against forehead, 

Cheek against cheek, 

Stubble poking me

Like a warning. I know him. 

It’s like breathing for him ...

To burn with resentment, 

When someone is inconvenient, 

And never say a word. 

To stand in self righteousness

With his foot on someone else’s neck. 

In his own mind. 

To win a thousand arguments

Without speaking a word. 

Like breathing for him ...

To take the easy way out. He loves

The low road. He loves the praise

Of men. Spreads his arms, tilts his neck, 

And beckons with his fingers

For worship and adoration. 

And inside he’s a coward, 

A trembling child in a world

Of bullies. Don’t let his 6’3,” 200 lbs. 

Fool you. He wants you to think

He is more than he is. He’s 

Not a doctor, but he plays one on TV. 

He would break his own neck to show you

Only the good side, to hide.

This is the one living

In me. The one you might

Never guess. 

Maybe you don’t want to believe me.

You think I’m being too hard. 

Or maybe you think I am a 

Special kind of crazy. 

Or maybe, just familiar.   

Because you have one, too. 

Living there in the cellar of you.  

Someone you hate. Someone

To hide. 

I cannot count the times

When, collapsed on the floor,
I cry out to God and face the

Wasteland, the broad expanse

Of nothingness. Knowing that

I must do a noble, hard thing, and 

Knowing I have no power

To perform it. Curled around

That fact in the fetal position, 

Crying and begging God. 

While my stomach hurts.

We wrestle, he and I. 

My Weakness is strong. And it’s 

Ugly fighting, the gritty, grunting 

Kind that happens

In back alleys where no one

Is looking. No crowds leering, 

No one to break it up. Just

Awkward punch and kick

And bite if you can, blood 

And bruise and exertion

Until you are both swinging

In drunken slow motion, falling on 

Each other, breathing hard. 

Tasting blood. 

There comes a point

When you realize 

There is no winning. 

He is my equal in every 

Way. The counterpoint

To every point. The Weakness

To all my strength. 

And I know, with my face

Rubbed raw against the concrete, 

I know, with the salted copper 

taste of blood, I know, 

Laying down, looking 

Up at him, that I am not

God. And I will never win. 

And this is beautiful. 

This is beautiful. 

My heart begins to understand. 

I am not God, 

And I will never win. 

I am not God, 

And I will never win. 

I am not God. 

And I stand, trembling, 

Knees cracking as I rise, blood 

Flowing, and I walk to him: 

My Weakness. 

The one I hate. And I 

Hold him in my arms. 

And he lets me. 

And weeping, I thank God

Over him with joy. And I cry to God, 

My God, the one who knows me. 

The one who has placed me here, 

In this back alley, 

The one who has 

Gifted me this Weakness, 

Blessed me with this enemy,

That I might know who I am,

And who I am not,

And what I am for. 

I am not God. 

And I will never win. 

There is a locked door

Called Weakness. 

Reinforced iron forged by God. 

And my years of thrashing

Will not truly scratch or dent. 

For this wrought iron door

Is my teacher, heaven sent. 

To teach my fists

To fold, and to teach my shouts

To plead with the One who 

Holds the keys. 

I have become a slave

To hope. A beggar for grace. 

Lazarus waiting for Christ

To raise him from the dead. 

I am nobody,

Waiting for a name. 

I am a blank page

For the Poet, 

A new canvas

For the Artist,

A microphone

For the singer. 

Oh Joy, my Weakness!

Acres of blackened soil, 

Ready, longing, crying out

For the farmer to sow 

His seeds, to grow

Lavish crops of green. 

My good Father waits, 

With arms full of good seed, 

Reading the skies, 

Waiting for His season

To plant, and water, and grow. 

And I will boast in the stillness. 

I will glory in my lack of power. 

I will savor my insufficiency. 

For my God has thrown open

The locked gates of my Weakness

And the King of Glory

Has come in. 

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