Borders

Who drew the borders of my world?

Who decided the territories of love and hate within my heart?

Who built the walls in my mind to keep out dangerous ideas?

Who engineered the dams to control the flood of my emotions?

Who decided the latitude and longitude of my soul?

Who set the limits  on the heights to which my spirit can soar?

Was it you?

Is it me?

Today I will travel beyond the borders so carefully set for me

I will draw my own map of the world

Today I will  love what I love and hate what I hate

I will question what once seemed unquestionable

I will think forbidden thoughts

Tonight I will light the fires of passion

Dive deep into melancholy’s pool and get drunk on joy

At dawn I will fly so high my wings are singed by sunlight

Then tumbling from the sky like a shooting star

I will fall into the arms of grace

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The Sparrow…a lenten reflection

Yesterday the world glittered in shades of purple and gold – a whirl of masks, music and brightly feathered crowns. Everything I wanted was within grasp, yet I wanted more. Today life is gray and I wear ashes on my forehead. Sinking into contemplation by the light of a dying fire, silent prayers conjure a waking dream.

I am lost and shivering beneath the ghostly branches of a sycamore when the sudden rustling of leaves startles me. Forgetting that snakes go underground in winter, my body recoils, and then relaxes when a tiny brown bird pops into view. The sparrow hops merrily through the shriveled leaves, foraging for grubs and dried berries. This perky little customer seems sure of finding what she needs in the dull, empty forest. Faith was once my instinct as well.

Seized with the notion this one-ounce creature can save me, I follow her up a steep ravine. She finds a resting place on the edge of a cliff, her body puffy and round in the cold air – a soft, feathered ball nestled in a swirl of dry leaves. I pounce, longing to feel her tiny heart beating in the palm of my hand, wanting to brush my dry lips against her soft wings. She escapes my greedy fingers.

A rush of regret fills my belly, sending me to my knees on the edge of the precipice where she takes flight. Forgive me, I whisper, letting go, if just for a moment, of all the wanting within me.

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I Listened

I Listened

I listened to my mind and my mind said…
Curiosity killed the cat but a cat has nine lives so live curiously
when Jesus comes for dinner, politely ask him to turn the water into wine and
don’t forget that Sister Moon controls the tides even when you can’t see her light
and that death is the beginning and not the end

I listened to my heart and my heart whispered…
joy conjures tears and pain hides in laughter so feel
pure delight in nature’s shapes and creation’s colors
let go of the ancient pain you oddly treasure
fly free from this body and touch the sky

I listened to my soul and my soul intoned…
a melody of darkness reaching under the overflowing garden
uncovering tangled roots, worms and ancient wisdom that fears no demon
into this dischord and harmony I am born again in a river of
cobalt, blood-red, vermillion, umber, starlight and melted chocolate

I listened to my spirit and my spirit sang…
a song lifting me beyond dreams on softly feathered wings
while I danced with you on rapids swiftly flowing and peaks of fire
wandering the world like a gypsy with no tethers of remorse
waking up to the sound of sea waves and sunlight through the trees

I listened…

Merrill Farnsworth
February 2011

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Thanksgiving

Zinaida Serebriakova. Harvest. 1915.

 

Today

I will call the pilgrims

of my longing home

I will not want

I will not regret

I will not strive

Today is enough

I will not dream of tomorrow

or remember yesterday

I will not wonder

Or worry

Or resolve

I will be the hearth of my home

The keeper of my contentment

My soul will not dig deeper

My spirit will not fly

My heart will not wander

Dusty rooms will not be cleaned

My ship will not sail or seek safe harbor

If the storm rages I will  give myself to the wind

If the seed has taken root I will bloom

If the day is done I will let go

Today the vagabond stands still

Content to gaze at the stars

Until dawn when

The pilgrims of my longing

Darken the door

Seeking distant shores

and unsung melodies

 

merrill farnsworth 2009

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Snip Snip

 

Painting by Merrill Farnsworth

Snip

Snip

There it goes

On the floor

Oh well

Can’t sew it back on

Can’t glue it back on

Won’t ever be the same

You were used to having what you wanted

When you wanted it

Where you wanted it

So strong

So handsome

So rough

So unaware of anyone else but you

The apple of your mother’s eye

She tried to raise you right

Didn’t let you drink

Or curse

Or cut your hair

All those long glossy locks

And that body

So brawny

Drove the women crazy

That’s the one thing your mother forgot to tell you

How to treat a woman

The marriage was a disaster

Should have married a hometown girl

Instead of a foreigner

A Philistine

She made you mad and wound up with one of your friends
after your groomsmen tricked you

Which caused you to kill 30 of her father’s friends

And burn down their crops

Which inspired them to burn your father-in –law

To death

And your wife

To death

Then you got really really mad and killed all of them

It didn’t end well

For the Philistines

But you were feeling pretty good

So you went to Gaza and took up with a harlot

And while you wer messing around with her

some people who didn’t like you AT ALL!

Tried to kill you

But you killed them instead.

And by this time you’ve got a quite the reputaion

As a killer

And a man-whore

(Your poor mother)

You’re out of control

Invincible

Insatiable

Then you meet Delilah

Whew! Watch out for that one

She’s delicious

Delectable

Dangerous

You fall deeply

Madly

Insanely in love with her

Which is surprising because she wasn’t really your type

You prefer them helpless

She was a badass

You like them to cry in your arms

You cried in hers

You want them to worship you

You worshipped her

Day and night

Night and day

Day and night

Night and day

For weeks!

People talked

Especially your enemies –

You had lots and lots of enemies

And they were delighted to notice Delilah’s hold on you

They met with her in secret

Which wasn’t easy considering the way the two of you carried on

And offered her big money to find out the secret of your strength

Delilah was reluctant but

As a working girl she had to be practical

Because she had no husband to take care of her

No brothers or sons to take her in

And she’d heard of your reputation with women

How you’d have your way with them then

Break their hearts

Or their necks

And then go find another one

So even though you two were having fun

Delilah figured it was just a matter of time

Before you’d break her heart

Or worse

So she decided to avoid injury

And make some money

Besides the men who hired her to betray you

threatened to kill her

If she betrayed them…

So one night in bed she asks you the secret of your strength

You don’t really want to tell her

So you tease her

And tell her that if she ties you up with string you will be helpless

As a kitten

And so she ties you up

But when you wake up you break the strings

Like butter

This makes her mad and she pouts

And won’t let you touch her

Until you tell her the TRUTH

You hate to see her pout

And really really want to touch her

So you say it’s ropes, not string that will do the trick

That seems hopeful

So she goes out and gets some rope

And ties you up while you’re sleeping

Then you wake up and

SNAP

You break out of them

Sturdy and strong as ever

And you give her a big smile

Like you are the best thing in the whole world

Then you’re really surprised when she starts throwing things at you

You dodge and duck thinking it’s all kind of fun

Until she kicks you out

For good

She says she never wants to see you again

And you are desperate

Which was the plan

She knows you’ll do anything to get what she’s got

And at this point you’ll tell her anything

But all she’s taking this time is THE TRUTH

Crying like a baby you tell her just what she needs to know

in Which is where we come

The Scissor Sisters

Extra sharp

And while you sleep

Snip

Snip

Snip

Snip

Snip

Snip

You wake up

Your beautiful hair all over the floor

You are weak as an infant

Your enemies gloat

They tie you up with ropes so you can’t move

They Stab out your eyes so you can’t see

All this pain and humiliation and all you want

Is to touch Delilah one last time

She takes your hand

Places your palm on her cheek

And possibly

Maybe

Could there be?

A single tear in her eye as she wonders

If you really would have broken her heart

Maybe you  really loved her

And would have taken care of her

Nah

Then she counts out the money they gave her

As they take you away and make you their slave

Your enemies are laughing now

But don’t worry – you’ll get them back!

Just pull down the temple on top their Philistine heads

And die a hero!

As to what’s happens to Delilah

All we’re saying

Is keep one eye open

While you lay sleeping

Snip

Snip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mark

"The Mark of Cain" by Merrill Farnsworth

Every beginning finds an end…

…every ending finds a new beginning. This story begins outside Eden’s gates with the birth of a son…

… then another, two brothers, Cain and Abel…

…one brother ending the life of the other in a jealous rage. Feeling the sting of rejection, Cain cut into his own flesh and blood…

…killed what he loved and tried to bury the shame, but God witnessed the crime.

The story could have ended with Cain cold in the ground next to Abel, struck down for murder. Instead God sent Cain to wander the earth in search of a new beginning…

…just as we all must seek new beginnings when we kill what we love.

On his journey, Cain received The Mark, a mark to protect him from all those anxious to give him what they thought he deserved.

This Mark is for all who have killed

Be it hope or joy

Justice or mercy

Tenderness or trust

Time or tomorrow or today

Comfort or peace

Thankfulness or rest

The yearnings of the child within

The caresses of your lover’s arms

This Mark is for all who have cut

Your billowing sails

Before journey’s end,

The blossom of a promise

Reaching towards light

The roots of your soul

The wings of your spirit

The cords of kinship

The bonds of a friendship

This Mark is for all who have murdered

A vision, a vow, or a dream

The flight of imagination

Or the landing of love

In your heart

Your calling, your talents

The meaning of your story

Your belief in beyond

The sparkle in your eyes

This Mark is for all who have buried

Secrets or shame

Disappointment or desire

Your kinship with the dark

Your passion for the rising of the dawn

 

Your laughter, your longing

Your innocence, your wonder

Your impulse to play

To sing, to fly, to dance

For all who wander in search of life and love

Take The Mark of Cain

A sign of grace to protect the prodigal

Until he finds

Until she finds

Peace.

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Jezebel’s Got The Blues

Jezebel's Got The Blues by Merrill FarnsworthJezebel’s got the blues and I am red, red ochre mined from the earth and dried in the sun, the color of passion, fire and blood, the color on Jezebel’s cheeks. They call her  “whore”, and  “harlot” but I call her My Queen – she is more Queen than her enemies can handle.  They want to own her, shut her down, drown her in a lake of her own fire, because this woman holds her head high, too high, stirring up madness in the hearts of men who call themselves holy.

They want her on her knees in a darkened room mumbling the prayers they put on her lips. She fills her mouth with wine the color of crushed garnets, the essence of pepper and earth rolling across her tongue as she stains her lips with dark incantations.

They want her amber skin draped in coarse gray cloth, her blazing eyes and red cheeks covered with a long black veil shrouding the golden bracelets circling her ankles and arms and the jeweled amulet resting on the rise of her breasts. She drapes her body in red silk that caresses every curve, then kicks away the veil and paints red across her face where I cling, whispering her name softly, reminding her that she is Jezebel.

They want her to choke on the smoke of their sacrifices. She fills her lungs with the pungent scents of sandalwood and sage, and breathes in the jasmine piled high on Ba’al’s altar.  It is true that her pagan god stains this altar with the blood of innocents, but Jezebel closes her eyes and holds her breath, barely remembering the tangle of writhing bodies.

A dark mood overtakes her and she rides the night like a wraith, wandering the temple gardens, chanting to the moon, calling out to her husband, longing to wrap herself around him like the soft wild animal she is, drowning him in her perfume. She wakes at dawn remembering her husband is dead and her sons have been murdered and concedes everything but her pride.

It was Elijah who brought her down, Elijah, covered in animal skins; hair long and tangled, eyes wilder than hers. With passion hotter than any lovers, those two became enemies, leaving dead bodies in the wake of their holy war.

Jezebel killed Elijah’s prophets, hundreds of them, all in one night.

Elijah killed Jezebel’s faith, all of it, in one flash of holy fire, Yahweh’s fire, while her god remained silent, impotent, useless.

A righteous mob gathers at her door ready to toss her to the dogs, accusing her of all the wrongs in the world and all she can think to do is sit before the mirror painting stroke after stoke, layer after layer, red, upon red, upon red… trying to mumble their prayers, feeling a dark shroud falling around her, feeling blue.

My Queen! Do not falter!  If you must die, die as Jezebel -let them see you forever red.  Let them tell Elijah you died with fire in your eyes!

Hold your head high as you fall, feel red drops falling like rain, red drops falling from a thorny crown on a savior’s head, a savior gathering the broken pieces of your heart, bending them towards the light, caressing each note of Jezebel’s blues.

Merrill Farnsworth

2009

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