R. G. Bell
The Seventh Day - Poem by R. G. Bell
I - Quiet, please.
Creator at rest.
And on this Seventh Day I rest, or try.
I leave them alone, but they will not leave Me!
Aid and advice, some praise, advice and aid,
A billion billion whispers piled into a scream,
A din from every lump of rock left warm
And damp in a weeklong wake of making.
Water! Invented! Given! And still they plead.
And not just water (though water was the key)
Clouds of stars and dark to see them by
Flow in formation with minimum bumping.
Water beings and land, rooted, swimming,
Walking, flying; a line of food enough
For food for the food of the food, all from
Water, leavened with animated dirt.
Gifts came aplenty without their asking more.
Still more I gave before their asking came.
* * * * * *
All's done for them they could not do alone
With minds (I thought) enough to do the rest.
What was that? An algebra test!
My Me! the things they will not do alone,
Leave preparation, lean on prayer,
And spray their ceaseless noises through My air.
"Please spare this life, but kill those over there."
They pass through unrestrained, as they might seem
A puff of smoke through a window screen.
Yet more, "O Lord, we seek Thy will to know
Should we buy this house or its neighbor twin
With the bigger yard but cinnamon
Paper in the hall she says must surely go?
Please guide us in Thy will and wisdom."
So why not build some altar stone and burn
A calf to learn which sock deserves first turn
Or to fold or to wad your toilet tissue, hmmmm?
II - The Non-Pray-ers
I Am - Still here.
The ones who strive to deny are less…
Let's say troublesome, yet far more troubling.
They dig into my little organizings:
Biology, physics, chemistry, math,
And all their many thousand sub-divides,
Believing in their unbelief that just
Another test, a theory here or two
From a handful more of geniuses
Will explain it all, and explain to all
How all was made, but none of it created,
Just a godless, spontaneous happenstance.
Well… that should help their time to pass.
* * * * * * * * * *
A mole-blind mole surveys his hole
And knows it end to end,
And knows he's nearly reached his goal
Just there, beyond the bend.
Another scrape of dirt removed,
A day or two at most,
And he is sure that all is proved
And he'll deserve to boast
That all there is to know is known,
And there can be no doubt
That he alone has learned and shown
What earth is all about.
But there always seems to be more dirt
Behind what's been removed.
It hits him with a little hurt,
There's something left unproved!
But the tunnel branch still left undone
Must lead to final answers!
(Or yet more questions, mud or dung,
Or an unexpected ant stirs.)
* * * * * * * * * * *
So they work at the work of uncreating Me.
And, if it lets them breed a better tree,
Or a cornier corn, or a milkier cow,
That's fine, for now. Just, please, acknowledge how
The primal germ and seed were made by Me.
III. The Creator-Merchant
Clerks - Mind the store.
This might be fun; thinking of them
Thinking of Me as Owner of a store,
A general store, foundation, walls, roof and floor
Conceived, constructed, ordered and owned by Him.
And then this Owner, tired, takes off a day
And leaves His clerks in charge a day.
I'm due a day, and they can do a day.
Let them picture Me sitting by a pool,
Watching football, sipping something cool.
(It's a silly picture, true, but no more
True or less than others they cast Me in;
Sun or snake, river, wind, volcano, tree.
All, and none, and more, the truth be known.
So why not dozing merchant by His pool?)
By My Authority have they authority
Given all good help; to choose to dust the cans
Of corn or first to sweep the dusty floor,
Rotate stock, discard old milk, charge customers
Fairly, and fairly on delivery pay
The vendors, work well with fellow clerks.
No needless phoning the Boss's home!
* * * * * * * * * *
No, that's not quite right. They are clerks, yes,
But, by turns, customers and vendors, too,
All selling their goods and buying their goods.
One trades his apples for another's wool.
One meat and leather for another's shoes.
One forges nails for another's wood.
One wanders in with distant news.
And if, in the general abundance,
One brings a song, compelling story,
Or entertaining acrobatic act,
Let them learn their market value too.
From each according to abilities,
To each according to abilities,
With charity for those who would but can't
And scorn for those who can but won't.
And deal with thieves in no uncertain terms,
Whether what they thieve are goods or lives
Or the liberties that make lives good,
And quickly, before their numbers soar
Enough to raise a storewide, worldwide war.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Could they picture merchant Me without
Raising up an enterprising clergyman
Raising up himself a new, competing sect?
(The Brotherhood of The Pool Lounging Grocer?)
At first one small enough to be killed for,
Then big enough to kill some others for,
As if they hadn't now enough religions,
Tongues and false ambitions to slaughter for?
IV. The Re-Creator
Lets talk recycling.
Do they know (some must) that every water drop
In stream or sea, in puddle or pole,
Has passed through a bladder a million times?
Drink, as they must and will, they share their cups
With tyrants, slaves, with livestock, cats and mutts,
Dead heroes, dead cowards, with nuns and whores,
Plus humming birds, vultures and dinosaurs.
Then, passed once more through cloud and rain, it's drunk
Again and again and again and again.
(So ponder that with your morning cup of Joe.)
* * * * * * * *
They fear for harming what's being destroyed
When all they control is pace. I smile.
Let's pretend a conversation, Old Book style.
As Joe stands barefoot in the yard he mows
Enjoying the joy of green between his toes,
"If I stand right here to repay my beer,
No neighbors' eyes to offend, or leer,
How long before my soles won't think it hot
And make me step around the unclean spot? "
"One good night's rain, or two light ones at dawn.
Before you need to mow again it's gone.
Did you know last night a nibbling hare
Made rain on the spot you stand on there? "
Joe, stepping off,
"And if I pour a can of motor oil,
How long will that destroy the soil? "
"It won't destroy, just make a smear
And leave a bare spot, maybe a year."
"And if plutonium, a pound discard?
I know I'd die, but what of my yard? "
"By time it needed mowing again…
Well… there'll be no yard to mow by then."
"I will have destroyed then? "
"Not at all.
Replaced, by desert or plain or mountain or sea.
With enough half-lives it's plutonium-free."
"So I can make whatever mess I want! ? "
"Yes, but please don't take that as a taunt."
"Then what do you mean? Speak plain! "
"You cannot make a permanent mess.
If you don't wish to live with one, or can't,
Don't make it. Or if you must, clean it up!
Cooking a meal or building a home
Necessitate a mess. Just clean it up!
It's all a matter of your own convenience.
If you'd rather enjoy a mountain's looks
Than tear it down for a road or ore,
In the short term, Joe, that's up to you.
Level or hollow some, leave most? It's up to you.
But know that every mountain range will fall
While new ones grow. That part's not up to you!
Seas come and go of their own volition.
It's all a perfectly run condition,
And without the strength to stop, or do,
It's not your mission."
* * * * * * * * * *
Nothing's made that was not made before.
Nothing's born that was not bourn before.
Nothing's died that was not tried before.
Every leaf has been a leaf before.
All has been, and all will be again,
With circular cycles, circular time.
And souls? Are they so jealous as not to share
With their selves they were but don't recall
Or their selves to be they've not yet met?
(More to ponder with that morning cup of Joe.)
They want advice.
If I were to give some…
1. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize.
It's a menu, not a to do list.
Ignore the worthless.
It blinds to what's worthwhile.
Consider it a test
Of useful, discriminating thought.
Do what you're supposed to, and can.
I have managed the rest. Trust Me.
You assume horrific guilt
For being the beings I made.
I find that insulting.
Almighty damn insulting.
The "sin" is not in being what you are
But in not being what you can.
You believe you disappoint,
(And, I admit, you do,)
But more for what you don't
And less for what you do.
You miss the mark.
Once, you called that "sin."
Your word, defined,
Once meant "to miss the mark, "
To be imperfect. Good word.
Ask an Ancient Hebrew writer
Or an archer serving King James.
"To sin - to miss the mark."
Others, seeking power,
Transformed it to "fatally evil, "
A birthright curse of separation
To use against you,
To make you dependent on them
For a connection with Me.
Every salesman's first task
Is to show your want or need.
But for an ecclesiastical merchant
To make up your need…
Now there's an Original Sin.
You were not made to be rejected.
I don't make rejects.
You're better than you think you are
But nowhere near as good as you might.
Yes, you miss the mark,
And, yes, you are imperfect beings.
But you are still My imperfect beings.
Oh, there's evil in abundance,
A profoundly bad miss,
A most unworthy choice.
But it's not a state of being
Imposed at birth.
Evil's just another test.
Recognize, confront, defeat it when it's young
Even if you are not.
A threatening mole if snipped today
Won't make you die another day.
(Franklin calls it a stitch. Same idea.)
Not doing so misses the mark.
Allow an honest cop to stop today
What will take an army tomorrow.
It's badly missing the mark
To sacrifice future millions to end an evil
When a dedicated few can end it now.
Evil, like cancer, feeds on tolerance, multiplies.
Speaking of evil,
Shun those who would rule.
But fear those who seek to be ruled.
The mob empowers tyrants,
Seek neither to rule nor to be ruled.
Leadership does not depend on blind authority.
Follow only those who lead by merit.
Lead only when the merit's yours.
Teach only if you know.
Think, explore until you're sure you do.
Seek teachers who already have.
Challenge the teaching to be sure they have.
Assault will strengthen Truth.
Truth begets belief.
Coerced belief will almost surely
Miss the mark.
5. The Technology of Modesty
Enjoy the stars.
But think hard, and think hard again
Before trying to reach them
Lest you fall short and only manage
A more lethal means
Of reaching others of yourselves.
Seek technology that makes you better,
Proving able to say a lot
Doesn't prove you have a lot to say.
A clear thought from a quill
Trumps useless noise in hard drive.
Beware the traps in awesome trappings,
And those who crave to awe you
With their awesomeness.
It's a shameful sham.
Of religion, government, medicine,
Industry, fashion, and entertainment
Polished stone and glass and gilt
Provide no aid in reaching Me,
Leading nations, or healing flesh.
They only pad the bill,
And demand a currency
More than currency alone.
Temple-ers insist you pay them awe.
Use the lavish part
Of tithes or tax or fees
To hire the artisans
To build your homes, and theirs.
Cut out pretentious middlemen.
I gave the gift of laugh.
Find more time to use it,
Mostly as a joy
But also as a weapon against tyrants.
My best, most dangerous gift.
When false or allowed to die
Betrayal achieves eternal life.
Don't make commitments you're not committed to,
Whether to spouse or child,
Friend or any worthy cause.
Far better to make none than to keep none.
Don't let your would-be Rulers convince you
The passions I gave you are wrong.
That leads to the tyranny of
Subordination and control
And will remake you into willing slaves.
I don't make slaves.
Don't let them.
There is no inherent evil
In the passions you possess
When properly directed.
Lust, like fire (related gift)
Should be confined
To a well-made hearth.
Unleash desire and ride it freely,
Exhaust your petty strifes
With one to whom you are faithfully joined,
Whose fires match your own.
Want to be awed? Look at the stars.
They're free, and made, in part,
To set the lovemaking in motion
Or guide a gentle return to earth
Once the motions of the making end.
The gifts of four bare feet
In a clean warm bed
Are as great in a cottage as a castle,
Maybe better for lacking burdens
Of useless awesomeness.
Tomorrow, back to work.
I look at all my Work, and it is good.
Time and gravity are clever tricks.
I'm really glad the stars are in the mix;
Islands of warm in cold, expanding seas.
As things move out I'll make some more of these.
Those noisy beings are not exactly right.
No one here to blame, it seems, but Me.
I must have left them just a bit undone.
Perhaps it is because I made them last,
The final second, the final making day.
Perhaps I was a little tired and stopped
Their polishing a rub or two too soon.
I made them smart enough to ponder things
That they're not strong enough to act upon.
That must frustrate them in ways I cannot know.
Tomorrow I will set about to set it right.
They need more confidence, and yet less hubris.
The balance is so precarious
They can't decide which way to fall.
Without limiting their many choices
They need to be inspired to better ones.
It might take just My whisper on the scales,
A deeper breath, a cleaner line of thought.
I could raise up a better race of dog
To live with them from infancy infirm
To senility infirm. Just that might be enough.
Something must be done. Something will be done.
Alone, I need them better company,
I need them putting better music in the air,
‘Cause, after all, that's why I put them there.
VII. The Eighth Day
It starts at dawn.
Though life is not, I will be fair.
Till then, be well, endure…prepare.
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