birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

To the Gods--After Waking Paralyzed

Dear Gods,
I am feeling your struggle
for my heart and soul.

I am living it.

I have long tried to avoid it,
to placate y’all,
to put it on others to fix it
—no, to fix ME
—or to solve it some other way.
But mostly to FIX ME
—the broken,
the shameful,
the never-enough ME.

It appears I can no longer do it that way.

First I will name the experience,
then I will name you.
Or, maybe it’s the other way round.

You who are vying for me are:
Aphrodite and

I am in parts, or/and by turns,
Psyche and

To describe the epic we are in
calls up a number of aphorisms—
I have come to believe
the appearance of aphorisms signals
the advent of the archetypal.
Ordinary descriptive language disappears.
In its place come communal turns of phrase.

Various image-sayings have lit up my night.
And at the moment they have all gone away.

I see/feel that what you want/need/demand from me is:
To acknowledge that
the gods are the helpers I need.
To give up all expectation that
humans are the help.
To choose which of you will be THE helper.

I have long known/believed the first.
I have been slow to offer it and
call on it for this journey
—there are reasons for that.

I have never before done the second,
nor have I wanted to.
I will allow it for now,
in a provisional way
—that I must name and
know that you are source.

I cannot allow that one and only one,
and only the three of you,
are the help.
I can, and do, allow that
the help must come from the gods
—and my GOD who is not any of you.

In this moment I make sacrifice to you
—not of my soul,
but of my willingness
to name and honor the source.

Source of my life-long longing
Source of my hope and true purpose
Source of my gifts for my life work.

I call on you, demand of you,
that you give me your blessing
—like my hero and model Jacob.

I feel the night’s visitation presaged it.

So, I will receive it now.
I see that I must stop denying that
I am a CHOSEN one.
I must accept my specialness
in order to live my call.
Another aphorism appears—
“God don’t make no junk!”
That feels different than it did in 1975.

I am not a writer—I am not a teacher—
I cannot sacrifice these not-s just now.
And I will sacrifice—
set aside for the moment—
wrestling over THAT.
What is prior, and first,
is the doing of this paper—
the showing and telling of
my work to date.
Nothing more,
and also nothing less.

I declare to you—
I will let you make this
of me,
from me,
about me,
for me
As Mary says,
I am the handmaid
of the Lord.
Let it be
according to
your will.”

A Brown Bag

Taking Wing