Measuring God: poems by Nolo Segundo















measuring tape, image by Thomas Wolter, on Pixabay



MEASURING GOD

How are you going to do it?

How do you weigh the Infinite?

How do you measure the Absolute?

How do you test the IQ of Omniscience?

Would you measure God for a suit?

Would you ask His age, or how much

money He has in the Bank of Heaven?

What about race, or His education?

What are His interests, likes or dislikes,

pet peeves, political opinions? Or

maybe you want to just ask one thing

only—what are His dreams, his loves?

Only you would ask God such,

only you would try to scale divinity,

only you can breed such arrogance —

the tiger burning bright asks for no

accounting, nor does the deer as it’s

slain, not the eagle as it soars nor

the reptile as it slithers—but you

do, you creature of singular gifts.

You want to take the measure of

your Creator, though you’ve been

told you’re made in His image,

something not told to the lion

or the grizzly bear or the butterfly,

and still you want to measure Him—

But why?

Why must you try always to

put God in a box?

You made untold numbers of idols,

all reflecting your vanity, not His.

And then when he came to you as

one of you, a human being, what did

you do? You could not understand how

God could speak to you so simple and

true, you could not grasp what He gave,

and so, you killed him.

A few of the wisest of you knew, knew

it was never God you wanted to test,

never God you wanted to take hold of,

never God you wanted to understand —

it was you all along you wanted to see,

that thing called a soul which you both

doubted and longed for, that thing even

death could not harm, that Being of air

and light you saw in the man crucified.


_____________________

I Have Been to Places of Great Death

I have been to places of great death:

Walking the battlefield of Gettysburg,

As a lusty young man of no firm belief

Who stepped between the great rocks

Of Devil’s Den and felt his soul shudder

As though he had been a soldier there,

And died in fear a long, long time ago.

I taught my tongue to the gentle Khmers

As civil war raged and the killing fields

Were being sown—I left before the

Heartless murdering began, the killing

Of over a million: teachers and students,

Doctors and farmers, the old, the young,

Each with a photo taken before dying,

Their pictures taped to classroom walls.

And when I visited Hiroshima, now myself

Chastened by death’s touch, and knowing

My soul real, knowing of meaning absolute

And of unseen forces that work good or ill,

As I stood at the first ground zero, I once

Again shuddered to feel the pull of madness

(Though I knew not if it was my own or some

Remains of that evil which brought the fire

And brimstone of a world-wide war…)

But by then I knew I could pray, and so

Opened my desperate heart and sought

His mercy—and then I saw a sort of angel,

Who took me from that place of insanity,

Healing me while we wandered by the

Beauty of the Inland Sea as my storm

Calmed and left me, never to return….

I have been to places of great death, and

I have felt death’s cold, careless hands.

But I know now what death itself fears:

The Light, the light eternal which carries

Souls beyond time itself, like the winds

Of a Love exceeding all understanding.

(Previously published in Taj Mahal Review, June 2020)


____________________

PSALM FOR A MATERIAL AGE

I sing to you from an empty vessel

For you gave me my eternal voice.

All about me are lost, all are deaf

To Your voice as it flies on the wind

And none can see, all blind beggars

Unaware of their deep, deep poverty.

Your beauty is everywhere: sunlight

And moonlight and the grace of birds

In their flights of freedom—and trees

That stand as guardians, and oceans

Whose waves crest eternally, and

Your grace…ah, that is what holds

The Universe itself together, and

In us is the love that calms, the

Love that pulls meaning from death

And gives hope to those who reach.

(Previously published in Poetry Quarterly, Fall 2018)


_________________

IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST

WHEN I WAS A YOUNG MAN

I WAS SWALLOWED BY A WHALE,

LIKE JONAH I FOUND MYSELF

IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST

AND I TOO CALLED OUT

TO GOD FROM ITS DEEP

INFINITE BLACKNESS—

AND GOD RELEASED ME

AND I FOUND MYSELF BACK

IN MY BODY ON THE SHORE.

FOR A LONG, LONG TIME

THAT WHALE FOLLOWED ME—

I WAS NEVER SAFE, NOT EVEN

ON DRY LAND, FOR THAT BEAST