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The Singer (David)

"When I Sing"


Psalm I

And when I sing, there is no more loss.
When I sing I am transformed.

I am once again the child on the battlefield
unsurprised by success, holding aloft
the severed head of the Giant by it's foreign beard,
blood patterning the ground like sin redeemed,
announcing, "The day is mine!" in a genderless voice
so tireless, so full of youth undiminishable…

The habit of my singing forges
even small words into the epic
of human expectation.


Psalm II

And when I sing, there is no more separation.
When I sing I am entwined.

Surrounded by the sweet serpent cord 'tween Mother and Child,
I am knit together with balanced harmonies
in strains of life and death and all gradations connecting.
Like a thousand Christmas shepherds sighing toward the light,
mirroring the Giant's lifeless stare, waiting, praying that
somehow, now, the image is more than mere reflection.

For a brief moment I forget
I am not a Mother
flinching in the joyous pang of birth.
Nor can I ever be, perhaps.

For a moment I forget
I am a man living and dying and performing all the gradations in between.

For a moment the womb of my mouth
gives birth, like a goddess.
And there is no more need for forgiveness.


Psalm III

And when I sing, I am in love again.
When I sing the air is ambient, lighting my way.

Like two verses tousling on a bed,
you and I are the singing, the sung;
gravity embraces me yet no longer pulls at me.
Your tongue fills my mouth
and the world falls away.

Lyrics, like so many wordy lectures,
lose their cadence atop the pounding heartbeat of the holy song.

I consummate my humanity,
touching your lips across this infinite space,
feeling the warmth of your breath in my prayerful nostrils.

Songs, too, need to be held
in their nakedness,


Psalm IV

And when I sing, there is no more hiding.
When I sing I am enunciated.

My song tears the skin from my face,
pries the organs from the skeletal nails,
and a hundred ragged vessels drip life
as if from an endless wellspring.

Recast by pain,
I am no longer a clay statue of a man, reposing,
nor a man of clay wishing to be shaped into eternal stone.
I am as fluid as music
pooling at the feet of a happy player,
washing over the dog-eared and ash-stained manuscript
used now, and only, to sop up this wondrous mess.

I am defined one moment
and in the next moment freed
beyond all defining.

Like a portrait melting
beneath the volcanic breath of an unseen god.


Psalm V

And when I sing, there is no more guilt.
When I sing I remember innocence.

Like a timeless spiral
weaving through the plastic silence,
this fugue of lost peace and innate hope
finds me open-mouthed and wanting.

Even as I sing the noise of my self-centered song,
the whispering of generations tickles my ears
with the intimate inflection of a cradleside caress,
and I laugh,
despite all my convoluted and well-rationalized crimes;
and, in laughing, reset my teeth,

Despite my shame,
I find my voice, again.


Psalm VI

And when I sing, there is no more loss.
When I sing I am filled.

Beneath the shadow of the Giant,
beside Babel's abandoned scaffolding,
at the foot of my lover's makeshift bed,
at the head of my brother's grave,
astride the crumbling walls of a sunless garden,
knee deep in ash,
I sing.

And the future echoes back in counterpoint
through the porous skin of intention.

The Singer © 1999 by Tobin James Mueller
"Ash" published by ArtsForge Press.
All rights reserved.