Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bark is Worse than His/Her Bite (10/17/13)
TITLE: Death and the Process of Being
By Donald Standeford
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Forget all that “be nice, don’t be bad,
Keep a little sadness in you;”
Just hold my hand cousin and let God
Break you; ride this stream; I hope now
You can get serious before you die
There was a woman with an issue
You may say, “What’s that got to do with me?”
She had tried all the remedies
Her own body turned against her
Like your cancer of blood
When the flesh clamps down on you
With its strangling hug; think of this lady
With the issue of blood
All the way sick
She was all the way healed.
Makes me think of the chittum
We once peeled
For medicine in those woods
They weren’t our trees; they belonged
To a man that weighed five hundred pounds
We stole in the innocence of our youth
Still it’s in my mind, a scene that we shared
We peeled the chittum trees
To the cold skin, and that howl in the forest
Some big dog or beast
Haunted us like the spawn of Satan,
Don’t worry, though you may be
Awake in the cold tonight
Death’s bark is worse than its bite.
That deep deep forest
It had a stand of white trees, we claimed
Our youth in its whispering breeze
Would you scold the pale woman
With the issue of blood? Or like Peter wish
For the hem you once followed in love?
At the edge of the forest, white trees
Bared; tick-tock, tick-tock
It’s time for me to talk:
Cousin; where are your legal pals now
Frozen pews who think law is still king?
Those whitewashed tombs now ignore you
Whitewashed in layers
They could never be porous; so
Things have they done? Remember 59? 40?
Peel your cure in the cold and don’t fear
Death’s bark is worse than its bite.
Tai-i-thacu-mi, I just felt His spirit move right through me
Only Jesus can un-sick death, so rise
From your sickbed my cousin
And go go go; don’t take two coats, no!
Just walk and pray and walk and pray
Till your clothes are rent and this sickness has gone
breathe breathe, my heart’s
Brother, my friend; ignore those in tombs;
But be careful in who you believe, for
If it were John the Baptist who rose from his grave
How many would that have saved? As for death
Know how its bark is much worse than its bite.
The woods of our youth were sinful and harsh
But we felt His touch, soft pliable hands
Dry rough bark close to our soul
We had no idea that he was the God/Man
We worshipped in Sunday school,
As we sang to Jesus songs so sweet
In retrospect, those songs ring true in my mind
Like Hawthorne’s scarlet-ed woman, alone I gazed
At the tumbling creek and hoped in the bark
That seemed to go deep in the woods and the dark
To arise in the winters and fall into springs
The springs of our youth; you were always persistent,
My cousin, my cousin; be that again.
Remember the fairgrounds and rotting wood benches?
You introduced me
To all worldly things, for that
I forgive you, as our past was a growing place;
We trusted each other and thrived in the summer
Country times – only half of me accepted your world
The other half wanted to leave berries and bees
Chittum and fern, and creeks and dry beds
For the city
Why would He care for us wretched poor beings?
He starts the sky yellow, changes it to blue
We’re killed every winter; then He brings back the dew
This sweetest of life is ours once again
Remember, my cousin, life can be yours
Again, I tell you, so many mornings I spent
On my knees for my own health,
For yours too now,
As that small yellow sun felt cold
My faith hardened, but my gait grew old
Imagine, you cheating your cold dead fate
As your old gray head bows to pray
And your skin gets peeled away you’ll see
That death’s bark is worse than its bite
And you are no longer young
Each breath you take will feel
Like it’s a stolen one.
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