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Workshop Poem: Black Jesus


Sitting in an ultra-modern café,
sitting among people too cool to be warm,
sipping on a coffee with a long, fancy name,
I ponder about how far I've come
since making coffee over an open fire --
brewing it like a true desperado.

There's a poster pinned up on the wall,
an image of Black Jesus staring down at me,
causing me to feel guilty
for hanging out with all this money,

for hanging out with all this decadence.

Black Jesus stares down at me,
causing me to feel guilty.

Is this how the madness starts?
I can hear Black Jesus talking to me,
while he hangs there on the wall.

"Why have you turned your back on me again?"

"Black Jesus, I haven't done such a thing, why I still...."

"Oh please man, don't tell me how I died for your sins, because my message was lost in translation. I didn't die for your sins, your egos are massive. I was merely made into a mirror for you to pick up and see your flawed reflection within -- to see how many sacrifices you need to make for this world."

"But, Black Jesus, I am trying so hard...."

"Stop. Son, you haven't been trying hard enough, mainly faking mere forgeries to make yourself feel better, is all. I was the beggar you passed before coming in here. You turned your back on the beggar, you turned your back on me."

"You mean -- he just wants another fix. If I give him money, he'll use it to buy another hit!"

"Nonsense. I gave you a test, and you completely failed it again. You should've brought me home, offered me a hot meal and a place to hang my weary head."

"That dude! He might have lice or worse. He might be a crazy, slit my throat from ear to ear while I sleep."

"Please kid, don't talk to me about sacrifice. You can't just walk around singing praise, thinking, 'Jesus loves me this I know', or 'Jesus died for our sins.' 
Nah, it isn't easy like that, it isn't easy like that at all. You have to make a sacrifice each and every time, no matter how high the cost. And not because someone might be watching, not for the reward of a make-believe heaven, but because it feels right.''


I stare into my ten dollar coffee, 
wonder if someone had spiked it hard,
spiked it with Uptight-Timothy Leary's magical carpet ride,
Black Jesus looming over me, causing me to feel guilty.

Hanging on the wall, Black Jesus looks straight through me.



April, 2010

_____


Revised (so far -- needs more editing)


Sitting in an ultra-modern café,
sitting among people too cool to be warm,
sipping on a coffee with a long, fancy name,
I contemplate how far I've come
since making coffee over an open fire—
brewing it like a true desperado.

There's a poster on the wall—
an image of Black Jesus stares down at me,
causing me to feel guilty
for hanging out with all this money,
for hanging out with all this decadence.

I hear a voice emanate from the poster.
(is this how the madness starts?)


"Turned your back on me? Again?"

Black Jesus, I haven't done such a thing, why I still—

"Oh please man, don't tell me how I died for your sins, because the message was lost in translation. I didn't die for your sins, your egos are massive. I was made into a mirror for you to pick up and see your flawed reflection within, to see how many sacrifices you need to make for this world."

But, I am trying so hard—

"Stop. Son, you haven't been trying hard enough, conjuring up forgeries to make yourself feel better, is all. I was the beggar who you passed before coming in here. You turned your back on the beggar, you turned your back on me."

You mean—he just wants another fix. If I give him money, he'll use it to buy another hit!

"Nonsense. I gave you a test, and you completely failed it again. You should've brought me home, offered me a hot meal and a place to hang my weary head."

That dude! He might have lice or worse. He might be a crazy, slit my throat while I sleep.

"Please kid, don't talk to me about sacrifice. You can't just walk around singing praise, thinking, 'Jesus loves me this I know', or 'Jesus died for our sins.' 
Nah, it isn't easy like that, it isn't easy like that at all. You have to make a sacrifice each and every time, no matter the cost. And not because someone might be watching, not for the reward of a make-believe heaven, but because it feels right.''


I stare into my ten dollar coffee, 
wonder if someone had spiked it hard,
spiked it with Uptight-Timothy Leary's magical carpet ride.

In an ultra-modern café,
among people too cool to be warm, 
Black Jesus looms over me.

Nailed to the wall, 

Black Jesus looks straight through me.



2015 workshop version

*Author's note: 

After removing some of the repetition/redundancy,
I felt that too much of it had been removed, 
thus negatively altering the original motion and sound 
by cutting too close to the bone.
So I cauterized the wound, gained back some weight, 
and unpinched the nerves, to offer more vessel 
for the intended frequency to flow through.    


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  1. Date: 5/18/2015 2:23:00 PM

    I am not interested in critiquing a piece with the power to not only keep my attention but also reach my heart. There is so much I want to say about this piece that the only thing I will say is that it is more reality than simply words on a paper. ....I may not give that man at the gas station money; but I always buy him something to eat. Thank you Chris
  1. Date: 5/16/2015 12:17:00 PM

    Not sure if this is noteworthy, since I'm clueless when it comes to the use of dashes and ellipses, but do you think it would be better if you changed some of it to dashes (the speaker's part)? It seems to me that Jesus was kind of cutting you off, but with the use of ellipses (could be just me) it sort of indicates you were trailing off, but the way Jesus was talking seems to be more abrupt. Done now with rambling, but yup, this is such a great read, rich with lines & thoughts to ponder on, & that last line rounded it up perfectly methinks. Sorry if I got a bit nitty gritty here, but all of course are just suggestions...
  1. Date: 5/16/2015 12:07:00 PM

    Hi Chris! I saw that this was also featured this week? I saw my comments before about maybe putting line breaks, but the more I read this, the more the lengthy conversation lines seem to work For the poem, and not against it. Some of the repetition here is nice, namely the "hanging out" part, how it could imply excessiveness. I do think that you choose certain words and placements since they have extra meaning. As for the 2nd sitting- I saw Ruben's suggestion and I think it would be kind of cool, using a different "s-" word, maybe one with another double letter? Just a thought but the only words I can think of right now would be umm "sinning" (doinnks, kinda weird & off if placed in context) and "simmering" though-- so those suggestions might not be too apt. Not sure, but could "pinned up on the wall" be a bit redundant? "Pinned" could very well indicate how it was put on the wall though, but maybe omit the word "up"?, or would "nailed" be better? contd'
  1. Date: 5/15/2015 8:17:00 PM

    POLEMICS/RANTS:a term used by Clockwise Cat-brashly, unabashedly progressive. We don’t hew to hierarchies and we are authoritarian-ly anti-authoritarian. Therefore, political rants and polemics MUST be progressive in spirit. Obviously the term “progressive” is subject to ambiguous interpretation, and we certainly don’t want to dissuade disparate viewpoints. Typically, we like rants that are anti-imperialistic in flavor, and of course they must be well-written and not require extensive editing.
  1. Date: 5/14/2015 1:14:00 PM

    --> 4th stanza: Would you like to take 2nd and 3rd lines out? Stop patronizing the readers!! : D They understand that is Jesus who's talking. Moreover, you're using italics. That's it. Nada mas. I empathize with both Deborah and Cyndi's suggestions. Check my workshop, I'd like to hear your response.
  1. Date: 5/14/2015 12:49:00 PM

    Here you are! I'm not sure if you like suggestions ... I'm going to give them anyway. : D Don't you dare roll your eyes after reading this comment! : D Would you like to take the 2nd "sitting" out ... or replace it with another "s-word"? 2nd stanza, 3rd line (and its repetition): Do you really need to "tell" the readers how you feel? I think that they get the idea reading the two subsequent lines. -->
  1. Date: 5/13/2015 2:51:00 PM

    For me, giving the coffee a name would ruin a part of what is written between the lines of your poem...I love that it feels like a lecture, but never actually lectures the reader...hmm I only have one superficial suggestion...perhaps restructure line 4? *kiss* (word ecology) :p
  1. Date: 5/11/2015 8:02:00 PM

    hmmm, well (hmmm) line 3 doesn't need to be LONG & FANCY, line 8 I think you could find a better word than staring, line 21 you don't need the word WITHIN, line 24 doesn't need this? [You turned your back on the beggar]it's implied. Not sure this is poetry or even poetic prose, though I enjoyed the content, it seems most like a lecture?
  1. Date: 5/11/2015 4:15:00 PM

    Hey Robin, our wonderful wizard of odd, never would I tread midst your words for fear the vortex would disambulate me, (That's right, a new word a minute) and at my age it's harder to get up. Love your mind as always, LMAO and amazed.
  1. Date: 5/11/2015 3:23:00 PM

    OOh... love that last line!!! Kudos! :)
  1. Date: 5/11/2015 1:30:00 PM

    Maverick, its gonna feel like I'm scribbling crayon on the bible, lol, and I will have to come back tonight -- trying to spring clean and it ain't pretty. Now, I do think you can tighten this without losing its flow or unique style. Example, brewing it like a true desperado. You're making coffee, already, so, that line could easily be, a true desperado brew. Funny thing, My minister's name is Drew. He makes the worst coffee. He even says so. We call it, "Drew Brew." Belongs in your poo poem.
  1. Date: 5/11/2015 6:24:00 AM

    Hi Chris! :) I'm looking at line 13, and see that you have already used that line once above it, so why not on line 13 say something like...'assuaging my guilt.' and again, in the next to the last line, you've used that same line, maybe you could find another way of saying that without the repetition. :) Love ya, catie :)
  1. Date: 5/11/2015 2:23:00 AM

    Echoes of Harris, Dawkins & a once was, Hitchens. My suggestion: Second stanza, consider avoding the double "for hanging out with".
  1. Date: 5/10/2015 4:24:00 PM

    That is an interesting take and I like the way you have written it. The only workshop you need is apparently the way Black Jesus wants you to think. which is your call. With that said, If you research the skin tones of Jerusalem you will find that Jesus was not fair skinned...Thanks for the poetry...

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