Exploring San Francisco
Man made steps
poured concrete ripples,
of Man made labor.
My escorts two street pigeons
Clergy of city soot gray
pigeon walking beside me
cooing bird Latin
How Roman catholic pigeons really are
in a walk only pigeons and popes do achieve.
People criss crossing on the street
Quickly making holy signs,
Creating invisible lines of prayer.
Criss crossing, moving on by.
highlighted with a sign on the door:
DONATION FOR 7 DAY CANDLES: 4 Dollars
(Due to high cost of maintenance, supply and demand)
Deliverance is never cheap.
Moving thru doors,
quiet, quietly, quiet.
Only a few inside.
A janitor cleans pews
Four random people silent : calling to above.
Children play as a parent prays
Along the way, the aisle outlined
candles, hundreds of flickering lights
candles hundreds of candles
burning — 58 cents a day — away to soot.
Walking up to the altar.
Discover brightly lit yellow hazard tape, across the alter steps
–“caution trip hazard”–
warning the faithful
before proceeding further, before reaching god.
Looking up, at the altar
Find Jesus: on a cross
In marble, eyes closed, not seeing me.
Twins of Jesus stand guard
To the Right: A wooden cross bearing a wooden Jesus
To the Left : Madonna holds his corpse.
Seems strange to always find him in pain.
Looking up to a vaulted heaven…
Expecting to find a pained gaze looking back down
instead a glow of windows.
Stain glass bridges to redemption
Lit of sun all twisted aglow
— it seems right —
Men and glass are of the same nature.
The church is silent
occasional child play
occasional clatter of a cleaner’s dust pan.
This is the sound of praying.
The noise of children pulls attention back towards the beginning.
The entrance door shimmers heavenly
Seemingly a trick of the light
As on the other side of the door
is the waterfall to the Martin Luther King’s memorial.
Water falling into rippling cascades
making the door absolutely shimmer in its light.
Ahead of me calls Modern Day King Martin
Behind me lies Past King Jesus.
Both calling from the dead
Using the voice of builders of here and now
decrying accomplishments of saints in the past.
Standing at the alter
I cannot pray.
Instead silently writing this down
perhaps poetry is praying of a sort
to god? to myself? to who?
Will glass men heed words
Will this poem burn as brightly as a $4.00 candle
not likely… so Instead, I leave quietly…
The church has silenced too many before me
Stronger more outspoken men
Have stood before many alters
Stronger men have been broken into silence by these alters.
Noise is for the living
This is no longer a place to make noise within.
The church is only for holding the bones of the past and saints.
Life, the present, the place to speak
is on the streets
where the truly needful sleep.
The streets where Jesus and Martin
both stood out and made the difference.
Being an angel means —- having no wings.
Means lifting up to their feet
those who have fallen off the beat.
Walking back out
out past the sleeping people in the grass
out , into the daily grind of the city
out , into the light
back to the MLK memorial
Visiting for the last time to see
Martin Luther King
His words echo before me
Off of me From me:
I have a dream
to exceed what has been deemed impossible.
To shift from a material oriented society to a person oriented society
to join together in with our humanity.
I would rather Die in poverty
than to destroy with prosperity.
Standing not in comfort
but to face our times of trouble.
Thank god all mighty
thru the grace of man.
I want to do God’s will
to free Man’s will.
We are free at last
free from material greed to be ourselves.
The ultimate measure of man
is helping others to be free.
These are revolutionary times
if we are brave enough to make it so.
What he would say today… Isn’t for him to say.
Its been handed to us: now, here and now!
To stand up and make our way into truth.
Because we don’t have wings
yet we can help each other fly.
Casey Kochmer June 2004
Personal Thoughts About the Poem
This is a true story actually of my visit to a church and overpowering vision I had, not of God, but of man, of each person helping each other to stand. To be a saint isn’t a deed of the past, it’s someone here and now making a difference.