So I wrote on my online dating profile “My cat doesn't seem to like people very much But I'm still really glad I got him”

But what I should have written was “My cat doesn't seem to like me very much” But I wasn't brave enough to write that I mean it's true he doesn't warm to most But he warms, a little, to some To my friends who visit occasionally To my flatmate

But what I should have written was “My cat doesn't seem to love me very much” Even though I feed him Even though I clean his litter tray Even though I pay for his insurance Even though I arrange his vet appointments Even though love doesn't work like that Even though I know better Even so, something somewhere is hurt A little And maybe it's me And maybe I just need to try a bit harder To forge a bond

But what I really should have written was “You don't seem to love me very much” Stranger from the internet, seeking out your own love among strangers Crush, that I've harboured for quite a while now, probably unrequited Person I barely know whose seal of approval I still crave for unknown reasons Lover I might have had in another life where I didn't misread you Friend, beloved, who my psychosis makes me second guess God, whose love seems so real and so illusory at the same time and no, sorry, I don't even begin to grasp how that works

Actually, no That would be a terrible thing to write On an online dating profile But I'm still really glad I got him

Beloved God Who creates our creativity See us now As we imitate your love Be present When we are alone Commune with us As we gather in community Help us create for good Help us create for flourishing Lead us not into despair But build in us the keel to grasp the waters of frustration And navigate these currents These winds of tumult and change God who loves us Love our works when we work well Guide us back when we misstep Give us always your feedback Even if we must labour to hear it Amen

I read, and they laughed – well that wasn't expected Was my poem funny? I guess I stood corrected

But maybe it's good, when I meant to seem bad, That they thought I was joking – should it make my heart glad?

When I meant to seem shallow, or at least raise the question Did it seem so absurd as to pass without mention?

I guess I had aimed for incongruous thoughts And to feel safe with laughter's the safe we've been taught

But I didn't feel safe, and I didn't feel good When I first wrote those words, never sure that I should

I was trying to dwell in some in between space I guess there's some chance I'd a smile on my face

I wanted to hear you say “you are OK” Not with a laugh, but some in between way

I'd tried to write of the impotence of writing But now I'm trapped on stage, and I'm sweating the lighting

And I'm trying to answer a question I'd heard About why I oft substitute love with a word

Would you believe it of me, that I suffer from stage fright? Have you come just to watch like you might watch a cage fight?

I think that, on balance, I'm glad there was laughter It feels like a step toward love, ever after

It feels like a healthy-ish place for first meeting It feels like I'm welcomed to go on entreating

So what question, you ask, am I asking of you? Let me step off this stage – for I'd like to know, too

I once was lost But now am found Though there's Just one way in And one way out Are they the same? The way is narrow And it winds, oh how it winds

And there and then, my spirit finds Your Spirit, with my own colliding In a joyous, hapless biding Each encounter, asking “Is this it – is this rest? Have I passed some final test? Am I centred, but not central? Am I done with questions, and with answers And with footsteps – endless footsteps?”

But She just says No words at all Which perhaps Was what I came here to hear?

Her presence feels faint But somehow, that doesn't matter so much And I am Just a little more sure-footed

Write About Something. Not God.

Not God?

(God is in the air)

Let me tell you about this cute girl... Actually – we don't have That kind of relationship

I have a confession: I think I've always liked The song I used to tell myself I hated most as a child

But I can't quite manage; This is all Not not God.

The terror never leaves me now Or that's what it feels like It numbs, it shrinks, it retreats To the edge of perception But does it leave?

That doesn't stop the joy from seeping through, though Doesn't make the beauty of it all less real Less captivating Less here

And the okayness.... yeah, I don't know about it

My aspirations to faithfulness are ongoing

And so I buy White vinegar and microfibre To wipe mould off my bedroom wall

In the joy and the terror

And so I answer my emails and submit pull requests

In the joy and the terror

And so I feed the cat Do the laundry Walk in the park Sing in church Hug crying friends

In the joy and the terror

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil

There Not not not God Is somewhere in there Maybe.

The years go by And I misremembered Which cemetery We buried you at

The years go by And your daughters are growing up fast And will never get to know you In quite the same way we knew you

The years go by And they will rob me Of how angry your Facebook rants used to be And how uncomfortable they would make me Even when I agreed with you Especially when I agreed with you

The years go by And I'm not quite sure I have your laugh 100% right In my mind

The years go by And I miss your faithfulness Although I feel You would be giving G-d a piece of your mind With respect to a thing or two

The years go by And I wanted to talk to you About so many things Even if I was bad at it

The years go by Your hospitality Is unmatched

The years go by And eventually I found your grave You have many neighbours now I should visit more often But I don't know if I will

The years go by You're already long gone Yet still slipping away from me

The years go by And I remember How annoyed you were to have Bad Romance Stuck in your head at Ding Dong Dang And now it's my karaoke mainstay And I remember How everyone did a terrible job at trying to convince you To like Ben Folds And I told you to listen to Not The Same And you thought it was OK And now it's my favourite of his

The years go by And I'm still sorry my baptism was on a Saturday And you couldn't come But maybe I'm misremembering that, too And we hadn't met yet?

The years go by And I'm crying more now Than when you died And I don't know why

The years go by Let's make music together

Drowning in air Fair fight, freedom lite Leave me alone

A lone what? Ranging the spectres Of Christmases past

Not so fast Freedom, heavy at first Christmas futures forseen Easter options unknown Feel it to the bone

Floating above the skin The threat of a promise A prayer for just a little magic Tragically, an eventuality Feel it through the soul A dolphin, in the waves An emptiness to make you whole

Do you feel saved by grace? Or just a little less... Crooked? Umbrella terms for a certain quality of the timber Build!

It's the end of the world And I'm not quite sure what I feel Except it could be better Well, different, at least

Please don't answer my questions

More words required Extraneous If we were ever neous To begin with

Ideas dropping Like flies Frying Like french fries But what's the smoke point?

Take the trip, and climb the tree Will even elevation and foliage set you free?

Maybe I should give more serious consideration to taking up vaping

God only knows what goes on in this head What the voices that dwell in this skull's depths have said

God only knows why I can't start a task It sure doesn't seem like such a great ask

God only knows how I spend whole days sleeping A last sad defence against ghosts that come creeping

God only knows what's out there in the world What lies at the bottom of the holes that we've delved

God only knows why I don't ask her out Though I begin to suspect that it might be self doubt

God only knows that we've come to take stock Having weathered the storm and endured the shock

God only knows where our dreams and hopes went Despite all the blood and goodwill that we've spent

God only knows of the hope that survives When God's presence feels absent from the weft of our lives

God only knows the day and the hour Come marching the kingdom, in glory and power

God's slow to tell if we've booked our last shows With a script for the final act only God knows

Only you know me, or so my lines go But am I worth sharing, this me that you know?

God in the hangover Trembling a little Trying to ignore the existential itch Flooded with a solipsistic sort of love, and with panic Ready, but mostly unable, to talk

God in the alibis Sifting them, but only as an afterthought

In the cockroaches and the maggots and the gangrene Even if I have to retch and cry and flee

In the lapse - Though could you blame the faithful Their separatist inclinations?

In the {redacted}, {redacted}

In the sepia The monochrome The lost degrees of freedom

In the binge eating The singularity of disgusting purpose One provides a running commentary Ever fascinated By this basic bug in its own programming

In a spurned gift – doubtless not meant that way

God in the cooling body, dead in the tomb

In the beeps the microwave makes When it's done its work And I'm yet to attend

In the car stopping just a little later than it should as you cross

In building the foundations For another round of repentance

In the whispers, in the chitinous clicking sounds

In the dryness and the lukewarmness

In the parking fines And the self-righteous rage At petty inconveniences

Should I see just what's here And not some holy light?

In the ceramic Left a little too close to the stovetop That you pick up

In just ten more minutes of procrastination

In the gossip, the mildest of betrayals Inconsequential Probably

Best not chase this dragon Just make allowance For being found here

Love is patient Love is kind (Praise be to Macklemore, amen)

Love had better be patient Because love is hard Love is not a sprint, nor even a marathon There is no finish line Just the steady beat of your feet On the asphalt Tired legs And the growing realisation That maybe you were meant to be a runner All along

The growing understanding That pouring yourself out To meet another, somewhere in the middle May be tougher, in some ways But in ways words can’t quite capture It satisfies something Something so deep in the soul You might never have noticed it But for this

The growing knowledge Of what it's really like To be known

It is written Love is greater than faith Greater even than hope That sounds Pretty great To me