I tell the dream interpreter about tornados and my father.
He says meaning is in the mind of the dreamer.
I say images flicker like filmstrips.
He says they tumble through sleep’s narrow tunnel
and land at the base of the soul.
The talking horse from the TV commercial winks, talks about violence.
I remember his teeth, biting the words like the bikini model
chomps the jalapeno double bacon burger,
sauce dripping down her chin. I think about symbolism.
You must think less, see more, he says.
The tornados keep coming, dressed in burgeoning black clouds,
wide as the swirling chasm to Hades, loud as a lion’s roar.
There is glass on the floor that cuts my feet. I walk in letters.
You must walk over the words you want to say.
My father stands in front of the window, the wind pressing
a violent hand. The broken glass forms eyes, lots of eyes –
my father’s and the storm’s as the house shuts itself tight against seeing.
Did anyone die? the dream-man asks.
I answer, not yet.
My son shows me
the burnt side of a potato chip
that clearly depicts the face
of Jesus in the dark edges.
I’ve heard of God
spreading the love
in pancakes and quesadillas,
popping a grin among flour
and oil, but a high calorie
junk food snack doesn’t seem
the best venue for a savior.
I’d rather see Jesus
in the dimpled marble
of a labyrinth, replica
of the one in Chartres, eleven
rings of meditation and mirth,
or hear him in the clear soprano
of a boys choir, the voices
not yet tuned with the longing
of manhood. I want my Jesus
to be pure, with no
hydrogenated oils, caramel color
or yeast extract.
But this potato chip Jesus
seems shockingly genuine. I don’t eat it.
I lay it on the counter
and wait for it to speak wisdom –
like the orange that, when split,
confides the crucifixion, like the pierogi
that sold on Ebay for a thousand bucks
with a face that only half spoke
of sacrifice and flavor.
I want authentic religion – my heart
is that big. I want the truth
and the cross and the foundation
and the rock. My heart, so giant,
I want everything –
the orange, the pierogi,
the bass, the tenor, the path
through the labyrinth and out again,
the bread, and the anointing oil,
the burnt smile and the eyes
so hollow, so shaded, so broken,
I might mistake them
for my own.
Most of All
You come home and tell me
In your testing-the-waters voice
That it doesn’t matter
But I want to tell you that it does
The little words that seem so unimportant
And transient, that will be gone tomorrow
And never thought of again
Those might be the most important words you ever say
I won’t go on about history and how
All the essential things are discovered
When we look back at them, I won’t tell you now
That the secret gates are the ones
You’ve passed though over and over
And didn’t recognize at the time how the ivy
Hung waist level and roses crept up
The trellis of the dream you’ve been chasing
And the moment you say it doesn’t matter
Is the moment you are less than what you deserve
To be. What I am telling you is
Yes it matters, yes. All the hours and the pale
Morning faces and the “mights” and the “supposes”
They all matter. And the “I am’s” and what you put
After that and everything you fear to put
After that, it matters and the day
You put it all down, lay it out in the grass
And watch it weave together in the last light
Of dusk, matters most of all.