‘Sand Castles’ and Other Poetry from Darren Edwards

Sand Castles

I can see the heat
rising from your shoulders,
translucent waves that
climb, and climb,
and fly to tickle the feet of God
like an ocean wave
sneaks up on a child
who has spent the day hunting
star fish and filling sand castles
with ages of imagined royalty,
and peasantry, and war, and love, and all the politics
and drama a seven-year-old with heavy brown rimmed
glasses and chicken legs can dream up
and then lies down on his batman beach towel
and sleeps,
and that wave comes creeping,
in a rolling crawl
and just flicks the arch of his foot
before it vanishes
back into the ocean.

This is how your heat travels to God.

Like a vagabond secret agent,
like a poet acrobat,
like Sampson’s hair falling to the floor,
or the scent of the wood Elijah used for his altar
lifted by the wind created from the flap and push
of angels,
like Don McKay’s Icuras—the one who
flew and fell but wasn’t sorry.
And this brings a wry smile to God’s face—all of it—
all of the first graders who still do their flirting with tiny fists,
the suit coats thrown to the ground after another Monday,
the unexpected smiles from sidewalk strangers,
all of the hickies hidden under unseasonable jackets,
the skaters with bloodied elbows and split shins,
all of the fire eating, hula dancing stay at home moms,

and all of our sand castles

though they will be washed away,
light brown streaks
pulled out with the tide.
Because they mean we’re alive,
rolling around below the stars.
We’re alive and blessed,
maybe just for the shortest of time,
maybe just right now,
even just as you’re sitting here
reading this—to know it.

Them

I’ve got a few words for them.
You know,
the dumb muthafuckers responsible
for all the shit going on in the world today.
The ones judging us
as if we need to be judged,
taking our money
and taking our jobs,
corrupting the youth
and filling the sky with smog,
the sideway wound,
act now
think when it’s too late,
crooked glace givin,
consumer life driven,
forget to wipe
because they won’t accept
that they poop too—
Them.

But there is no them
just us
and like Annie Dillard said,
were all a bunch of chickens.
Only I think we’ve been
cooped up too long inside our
own heads
and we’re all really roosters
fighting the urge to crow
at the sun every time it has the audacity
to rise.

And the only person I’ve actually
got the urge to flip off is myself
‘cause I’m sick of being in my own way,
and all I want is two moments of clarity:
one for me
and one for you.
We could share ‘em.
I’d let you play tag with my shadow
through the wrinkles in my brain,
and I could curl up in yours
warm and comfy but too nervous to sleep
just like the first time I slept over at Scottie’s
when he was Goose and I was Maverick
and we listened to Danger Zone
making fighter-jets out of paper cups and masking tape.

That’s what I really want,
a world built of paper cups and masking tape
where we can catch an updraft
pulling 8G’s without leaving our bedrooms.
And the friend flying wingman is a him
or a her
and the jack ass that just cut you off
is a her
or a him
because there is no them
and there never was
only we forgot
to remember
our I’s, he’s, she’s, and we’s
and now the sun’s setting
and begging us
to remember the sound
of a billion people crowing
like we haven’t heard since
before we could talk,
when sound was movement,
vibrations on infant clear skin
like we were seismic detectors of life,
and people were people,
except when they were
airplanes
with wings
that bent like elbows.

Dear Christians

please stop using prayer as a weapon.
Please stop using this beautiful piece of your faith
to hurl back handed benevolence at anyone
who disagrees with you.

When I place my opinions before you
and your retort is that
you’ll pray for me,
I want you to know that
you are tarnishing one of the
very pearls you’re so
worried my damned swiney feet
might stamp upon.

And I have to wonder if you actually
will pray for me.
Tonight, when you kneel at your bedside,
as you commune with your lord,
will you squeeze a cry for my lost soul
in-between thanking him for your vast blessings
and asking for yet a little more?
And what will that sound like?
Will you hide the sarcasm your voice
paraded when you mentioned your intention
to me, afraid that god may not approve
of your mean spirited use of his personal phone number?

You need to know that what you’re doing isn’t
merely an abuse of a religious tenant,
it’s a perversion of what is best in humanity.

At the center of the pagan, the atheist, the Buddhist,
and the scientist there lies a spot where vulnerability,
hope, strength, and need all coalesce into the possibility
of prayer.

It doesn’t matter what, if any, god the words are offered up to,
what matters is the acceptance
that sometimes we are not enough on our own,
that sometimes
we face problems so much larger than us
that our only move, our only hope,
is to reach out
beyond us for something
or someone else.

So, my dearest Christians,
next time someone doesn’t see
things your way
do us all a favor,
instead of lashing them
with promises of prayers,
please, for the sake of humanity,
simply tell them to fuck off
and then go on your way.

Canon

I hold in my hands
a new holy book.
Its cover is not
the bleached white
face of the old family
bible. It’s leather is the cracked
and studded image
of a biker’s jacket
rolling down dust back roads.

No disrespect to Mathew,
Peter, Paul, and the gang,
but they didn’t make the cut
in this canonization.

Inside this book of holy writ
you’ll find,
tattooed on vinyl,
the gospel of Gregg Graffin,
where words bounce to the beat
of Bad Religion,
and with each turn of the page
the words move faster and faster
forcing you to acknowledge
and abandon the hypocritical
parts of yourself just so your
soul can lose enough weight
to keep up with their building pace.

Placed on mahogany panels,
the Epistles of Annie Dillard are
drawn out in careful calligraphy
singing the praises of our natural world
while simultaneously charging
it with the monstrous crimes it commits
every day against the clay footed children
who wonder its face.

The Songs of Montaigne are filled
with farts, frailties, and jokes about
pubic hair, asking that we embrace
ourselves whole and complete,
no longer despising those parts
we’re taught have no place
in polite conversation,
reminding us that
even on the highest throne
we are still seated upon our arses.

And while the psalms of Chardin
glorify the majesty of questions,
the First Book of Descartes
teach us the method best used
for answering them.

Nearing its end
we find the revelations of South Park,
painstakingly composed by
brother Parker and brother Stone
where we can learn about the value
of irreverence, how it cuts through
pomp and false pretense
with a snicker and a sneer,
reminding us that wisdom
and insight can come from
anywhere,
even a narcissistic, anti-Semitic, fat boy
from a small town in Colorado.

Now, if anyone,
upon hearing the contents of this book,
is stressed or offended,
frightened or a little bit off put,
take comfort,
for if, as is so prone to happen,
a war were ever to be waged
over this holy book
you can rest assured
that the scrawny Mohawked,
teens that would wage it
could easily be put down,
after all, it’s tough to win a war
with soldiers wielding angst and ideas.

Dear Politifucks,
We’re not amused.
We’re not surprised.
And we’re sure as fuck
not impressed when you
twist facts to your own
advantage:

Ronald Reagan campaigning
as the “Education President”
when, especially in the eighties, education
legislation was left exclusively under the direction
of the states.

Or, when you leave out inconvenient details.

Case in point, Mitch McConnell
praising how we possess the best health care
system on the planet,
when, in actuality, we only placed first
in preventative care in a study possessing
data from five county. Conveniently
passing by the World Health Organizations’
comprehensive study which proceeded from
a more healthily populated sample size
inspecting a broader range of topics
and placing us thirty-seventh in the world
below Greece, Canada, and Chili.

Watching you play games
with the policies that impact
the process of our daily life
is positively exasperating.

Your childish nature
is not endearing,
when you stumble
over your own double speak
like a 6-year-old trying to talk
his way out of the pile of cookie
crumbs strewn about the kitchen
floor. You can try and cute face
your way out of this one,
but we, as your generally
too tired to give a fuck parents,
are about to wake up.

The information age is coming
full circle and were starting
to move past using the gateway
to enlightenment for only looking
at porn, or photos of kittens with
silly captions. We’re starting to realize
the speed at which we can fact check
the bullshit which pours from your
mouths faster than the toxic waste
you’re constantly trying to convince
my home state we need to let you
bury in our back yards.

The day is coming when no amount
of air time bought with back door
corporate donations can make up
for the ground you lose every time
your tongue splits into another fork.

So, here’s my advice: Stop! Just Stop.
The only people you’re bullshitting
are yourselves, and delusion, political,
pathological, or otherwise is a track recursive
as a monopoly board always leading
back to dissonance and despair
as your own cognitive abilities shouts
“hey asshat!”
every time you pass go.

And whatever currency
of credibility you once curried
with us is as useless now
as the cud being chewed
by all the cows we no longer
resemble, mulling amongst
our masses, tromping wherever
you led us.

You’re about to witness what a wasteland
we can wear your ideology down to
as we magically sprout horns
and like the bulls we forgot we were
wage war with all the fences you’ve
used to weave us
single file
away from the truth.

Bio: Darren M. Edwards is a performance poet, essayist and teacher. He received both his B.S. and his M.S. in English from Utah State University where he also worked as an Editorial Assistant for Isotope: A Journal of Literary, Nature and Science Writing. After graduating, he started New Graffiti: Literature on the Streets which, during its three year run, received a “Best in State” designation from City Weekly. Currently, Darren teaches courses in composition, literature, and creative writing for Dixie State College. In addition, he co-founded Storm the Mic, a weekly open-mic for creative writing.

His essays and poetry have appeared in a number of journals including Dialogue, Irreantum, Camas, and Stone Voices. His writing has received awards from The Association for Mormon Letters and The Utah State Poetry Society. He has also been featured on Utah Public Radios literary program Synecdoche.

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