Five Psalms

By Mark Jarman b. 1952 Mark Jarman
1.
Let us think of God as a lover
       Who never calls,
Whose pleasure in us is aroused
       In unrepeatable ways,
God as a body we cannot
       Separate from desire,
Saying to us, “Your love
       Is only physical.”
Let us think of God as a bronze
       With green skin
Or a plane that draws the eye close
       To the texture of paint.
Let us think of God as life,
       A bacillus or virus,
As death, an igneous rock
       In a quartz garden.
Then, let us think of kissing
       God with the kisses
Of our mouths, of lying with God,
       As sea worms lie,
Snugly petrifying
       In their coral shirts.
Let us think of ourselves
       As part of God,
Neither alive nor dead,
       But like Alpha, Omega,
Glyphs and hieroglyphs,
       Numbers, data.
 
 
2.
First forgive the silence
       That answers prayer,
Then forgive the prayer
       That stains the silence.
 
Excuse the absence
       That feels like presence,
Then excuse the feeling
       That insists on presence.
 
Pardon the delay
       Of revelation,
Then ask pardon for revealing
       Your impatience.
 
Forgive God
       For being only a word,
Then ask God to forgive
       The betrayal of language.
 
3.
God of the Syllable
       God of the Word
God Who Speaks to Us
       God Who Is Dumb
 
The One God  The Many
       God the Unnameable
God of the Human Face
       God of the Mask
 
God of the Gene Pool
       Microbe  Mineral
God of the Sparrow’s Fall
       God of the Spark
 
God of the Act of God
       Blameless  Jealous
God of Surprises
       And Startling Joy
 
God Who Is Absent
       God Who Is Present
God Who Finds Us
       In Our Hiding Places
 
God Whom We Thank
       Whom We Forget to Thank
Father God   Mother
       Inhuman Infant
 
Cosmic Chthonic
       God of the Nucleus
Dead God   Living God
       Alpha God    Zed
 
God Whom We Name
       God Whom We Cannot Name
When We Open Our Mouths
       With the Name God   Word God
 
 
4.
The new day cancels dread
       And dawn forgives all sins,
All the judgments of insomnia,
       As if they were only dreams.
 
The ugly confrontation
       After midnight, with the mirror,
Turns white around the edges
       And burns away like frost.
 
Daylight undoes gravity
       And lightness responds to the light.
The new day lifts all weight,
       Like stepping off into space.
 
Where is that room you woke to,
       By clock-light, at 3 a.m.?
Nightmare’s many mansions,
       Falling, have taken it with them.
 
The new day, the day’s newness,
       And the wretchedness that, you thought,
Would never, never depart,
       Meet—and there is goodbye.
 
A bad night lies ahead
       And a new day beyond that—
A simple sequence, but hard
       To remember in the right order.
 
5.
Lord of dimensions and the dimensionless,
Wave and particle, all and none,
 
Who lets us measure the wounded atom,
Who lets us doubt all measurement,
 
When in this world we betray you
Let us be faithful in another.

Mark Jarman, “Five Psalms” from To the Green Man. Copyright © 2004 by Mark Jarman. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books, Inc.

Source: To the Green Man (Sarabande Books, 2004)

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Poet Mark Jarman b. 1952

Subjects Relationships, Religion, God & the Divine, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Mark  Jarman

Biography

Considered a key figure in both New Narrative and New Formalism, Mark Jarman has exerted a significant influence on contemporary American poetry. In the 1980s, with Robert McDowell, Jarman founded and edited the Reaper, a magazine devoted to reclaiming and promoting poetry that emphasized story and image. Controversially warning "Navel gazers and mannerists” that “their time is running out,” the magazine sought to reestablish . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Religion, God & the Divine, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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