Cathedral of Shame

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger) becomes final Thursday. After meeting with the cardinals, he departs via helicopter to the papal retreat south of Rome. His abdication of the papacy, however, pales in comparison to his abdication of the truth in the issue of molestation within the church. His legacy will be forever tainted for his abject failure in addressing and attempting to right this terrible wrong.  Shame on him.

My poem below, “The Cathedral of Shame” underscores the lingering pain and shame of those who fell victim to this horrific sexual scourge within the Church.Try as they might, many have tried to return to the fold, but until these crimes are fully owned by the papacy, most of these efforts at reconciliation will become epic and painful fails. Perhaps the next Pope will possess the courage Ratzinger lacked, and will take ownership of the Vatican’s complicity in these sordid crimes against youth. Let’s hope so, because, until they do, the abuse of the body will only be compounded further with the abuse of denial.

The chances are slim, however, that any meaningful redress will arrive with the new pontiff. This is, after all, an institution that took hundreds of years to issue what ultimately amounted to a lukewarm apology for the Great Inquisition, and has yet to take any responsibility for the bloody atrocities of the Crusades. Let’s hope that the addition of the Age of Molestation doesn’t replace the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost with the aforementioned Trinity of Complicity.

Cathedral of Shame

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It was never my intent to return to this place
dark halls of betrayal, and lacking in grace
Lustful intentions, like geysers of steam
scald memories ‘neath mahogany beams

Yet I come on this day to recapture my soul
To quiet the screams now three decades old
Black flowing robes with collars of white
Incensed chambers to the left and the right

The bones of saints litter this brothel of sin
While confessions absolve the evils of men
The innocent novice here silently cries
Behind red velvet ropes of cardinal lies

Like lambs sacrificial to the altar are led
While the pure hearts of angels are quietly bled
I kneel before God, but my prayers silent fall
In the shadow of Christ in this candlelit hall

The peace that I seek here doesn’t exist
Where the holiest men refuse to resist
Hail Virgin Mary, full of sweet grace
Help me to rise and get out of this place

 

Kayaking the Everglades…Never!

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Kayaking the everglades is both exhilarating and foolhardy.  Each thrust of the oar into the moss-covered water propels you a few feet further into an unknown destiny, whether that be a divine photo-op of cormorants fishing beneath the shade of a bald cypress, or to put yourself down as the special-of-the-day on a gator’s lunch menu.

Imagepulled my kayak to the water’s edge and settled into a launch site not twenty feet from an alligator nestled in the sparse cattails lining the shore.  I had not even noticed his presence until I was ankle deep mud-sucked into the water’s edge, prepping my kayak for the day’s journey.  I only looked up because of an eerie “hiss” I heard as I placed my camera in the watertight hold of the boat.  I glanced up and there he was.  All twelve feet of him!

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It was a hot, moist morning absent the cooling breezes of the previous day.  Salted sweat trickled down my chest and forearms, requiring little effort on my part as I warily eased my kayak into the still waters near the sun-bathing gator, whose lizard eyes were locked on my every move.  To reinforce his primacy in this back-water environment, his massive jaws opened ever so slowly to reveal two rows of sharp daggered teeth.  While my limited knowledge of Florida gators reassured me that he was merely cooling down, I chose to interpret the gesture as an invitation to dinner.  I backed away another twenty feet.

Slowly, I eased my blood-red kayak into the water, never once breaking the stare-down I was engaged in with this pre-historic reptile.  I strategically placed the boat between me and the lounging lizard of death, but I knew in my gut, which was slowly churning in warning, that this was a vain effort. So to reassure myself (or further delude myself!) my left hand fell upon the sheathed Bowie knife I had attached to my belt.  Instead of bolstering my confidence, I suddenly felt like a child who had brought a pop-gun to a high noon shoot out at the O.K. corral.

I gently stepped into the kayak and pushed off with the gator-side oar.  As the bow of my craft quietly knifed through brackish water, the silence was cut short as the gator, too, entered the bayou.  I paddled four times for every single effortless swish of his giant tail.  This was not good.  Not good at all.  His eyes, which had been locked on me since my foolish arrival, suddenly slipped beneath the greenish waterline. 

No, this was not good at all!  Where had he gone???

With several deep, full-armed strokes to my left, I reversed course and headed back to shore only slightly less quickly than my heart was then beating.  I crashed up the embankment and bolted from my kayak.  I sprinted through the low grass toward the parking lot and the relative safety of my nearby waiting truck.  I left my $3,000 Pentax in the captain-less kayak; a peace offering should the alligator choose to accept it.

But he never resurfaced.  I waited for a full half-hour, scanning the water for any sign whatsoever of my dinner-host before I braved the slow, methodical return for my boat and my camera. And then I saw his eyes break the water once more.

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Fuck the Everglades. Fuck my kayak and my camera, too!  I returned to my my truck, shakily turned the ignition, and headed north, to Orlando.  I heard they just refurbished the “It’s a Small World” ride…just my pace.

Pirate, the Island Dog

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Pirate is everyone’s, yet he is no one’s. Vacationers arrive, discover him, and dote on him for two weeks, then disappear. He is their holiday project – a story they’ll tell over dinner at home. On those soft, warm-winded Caribbean nights, some allow him in, to sleep at the foot of their beds, to guard their front door. In passing, some even toy with the idea of a rescue. Could we? Should we? Shots? Papers? Questions asked with the exuberance of the relaxed and the happy, but as the time to leave draws near, reality encroaches, the idea stalls.

There is an eternal sadness in Pirate’s eyes that comes from continual loss. People come and offer love, then go away, leaving him vainly searching for those he has loved so loyally in return. Yet his heart is enormous, and mixed in with his grief is boundless hope that the next one will be the one. He sits beneath the warm sun when the ships come in, panting in anticipation of the people off-boarding into his life. He lives in the moment, and the moment is glorious when the kids swarm to him, petting, cooing, and hugging. In that moment, he finally belongs…if only for a moment.

Every couple of weeks, Pirate sadly watches his loved ones depart, on the same ship that delivered them into his heart in the first place. A new band always takes their place, and he is robbed of his grieving as he prepares for the newcomers. This island dog waits, knowing it will take only one; one, to give him a name that won’t change, one, to call it out in the dark should he wander too far. One to call to him and him alone: Come home!

Applebee’s Waitress Fired For Sharing ‘I Give God 10%’ Tip Receipt


One day last year, on a cold winter day, a young boy went into a restaurant and asked the waitress,
“How much for a large cup of hot chocolate?”
The waitress replied, “$1.99, sweetie.”
The boy reached into his pants pocket and fumbled through a small handful of change.
He then asked, “How much, then, for a small hot chocolate?”
She said, “$0.99, dear.” He thought for a moment, smiled, and said, “I’ll have the small hot chocolate.”
Ten minutes later, having consumed his drink, the young boy got up, put $0.99 on the counter, and left the waitress a $1.00 tip.
Come to find out, if he were like the pastor at Applebees (click link below), he could have had the large hot chocolate all along, but he denied himself so that he would have enough left to leave a tip.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost