Three Years Gone

Three years ago I

lost my way in the dark of

July, murmuring in sweaty steel

along Industry Way


Why ask O why did she git me again

the devil sparking fire down candied breath

buzzing my branded noodle

and wasting my sacred hearth


Now daring the dead I’ve become a

fleck’s fleck, a rising bent and tortured arrow

begun in the flesh, converted in thought,

of consequence, and import, not pickled nor bought


Three years gone and with that the soma and shame

With no senses left to bark at, and few worlds in the rough

I saw that in the end only He remains

Pulling fools and the Holy Ones up by the scruff


Herding Leaves

To think an evil thought

then try to banish it

like whispering on a leaf

to flip it on a side

in the air

then seeing it flip back

just before

it lands softly

on the dewed

and curling

morning turf

in a dying homespun grin

challenging its kin

to fall aloft


Five: Poem on Son’s Fifth Birthday

When a man looks for his son

in the ember of the night

What shall he find

When he spies an empty lodge?


How can one say that

anything was close in measure

to that greatest of days

than the coming of

those dark, bright eyes

on this “world’s a stage”

his mom’s most mystical treasure


and as we progress

through this blistering age

of fractalized looms and digital rage

I take this long moment

to thank Him Who we’ve come to love as One of us

for suspending that time


one of the highest of morningtides

not so long ago rolled in upon us

with the greatest of joys a man can know

when those pearls first beheld a beholden world


I felt myself a human at last

as if I had first known Eve

the pride, joy, the mystic dance

the buzzing of our hive


something to shout, look here, look there

kid on a scooter whizzing around a roundabout loop

gathering friends and caring for all, the doctor is in, our shrink and our balm

and we realize, My God, My God, where is he, where is he?

there goes Five…

Sunday of Pharisee and the Publican


Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican is one of the most precious holydays of the Church!

I’ve always liked this particular commemoration, beginning the Triodion, and wished the Church would keep it around for most of the 52 weeks of the year because of its stress on humility.

For me lately, it should be dubbed the Sunday of the Fundie and the Longshoreman. (I was one of both, it seems. Now I’m more of the latter… Lord, how I’ve swung!)

But in reality I lack the grace and spiritual stamina or attention span to even stand within the temple for more than five minutes. Still, it’s a remarkable way to please God to compare yourself not with anyone else but one’s self and with that unfavorably because of the fact that we’ve always got to stand ultimately in front of the throne of Christ.

One of Three of Russian Riot Girls Sprung from Prison

It’s happening… As I warned the Russian state in last week’s entry, the night train from Zurich is whooshing closer into the heart of the Kremlin where the midnight mobs will assemble.

Pussy Riot girl #1 in prison has been released on probation. Ekaterina Samutsevich, let out of the medium security prison this week, after the girl used some legal wrangling with a new lawyer and the fact that she had only been in the cathedral to play the protest “gig” in question for 15 seconds before being tossed out by the church security team to get the authorities to give her a pass from jail.

The other two Riot chicks, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, remain in prison, serving out two-year prison sentences for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and enmity” for the band’s now-infamous ‘punk prayer’ in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Samutsevich leaves prison a star-crossed exile in her own right, likely with enough clout to run for political office, write books, and, perhaps, go back to doing what she and her ilk does best, smearing body excrement on symbolic edifices in the public eye. Or perhaps she will follow the rest of her band’s footsteps and head straight for the border.

GQ Does Pussy Riot… Shadows of Mandela, Lenin Shimmer

If the Russian judiciary keeps up their bumbling of the Pussy Riot case, they’ll make Pussy Riot into a kind of Mandela upon their release…

I’m kinda having a turnaround on the whole Pussy Riot saga over in Mother Russia. Not that I’m losing my Orthodox faith (hanging on as only a knave of sinners can hang on). Nor that I’m siding with those blasphemous punk sluts (I still hold that a reality show of babushkas flogging them in Red Square in the public view showed on a continuous loop for one full church calendar year would be the most just of all acts of penitence for their atrocity in the cathedral last February). But I am beginning to come around to the belief that the Russian judicial wing really muffed the kick on this entire issue with each development. And this latest round of tricks really shows how shaky its hand is in its handling of the affair.

GQ just published its November issue, with an exclusive prison interview with the girls held in prison. Recall they were locked up for their February assault on the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. I’ve written about this several times before and I won’t waste too much time rehashing the whole story, but let’s just say that the act itself was about as offensive to an Orthodox Christian as walking into the Auschwitz Museum in Poland and singing “Deutschland uber alles” would be to someone of the Jewish faith. Or, perhaps, building a Wahhabi mosque somewhere near Ground Zero in New York.

Nah, Lenin works better as an analogy for Pussy Riot. He was more their type. Back from exile the’ll be ready to roll over the Kremlin.

Three members of the “collective” were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in a medium security prison. The GQ story, while I completely disagree with its politics, is an excellent interview by journalistic standards. And a great act of penetration I might add, slut pun notwithstanding. The magazine boasts it did the interview by “slipping” the questions in through Pussy Riot’s lawyers. Apparently, not only did it fool the authorities in getting the questions through, but the answers to two of the three questions slid through the dopey prison guards. End result: a pretty expansive Q&A session with the world’s most fashionable (and slutty) punk exiles.

The problem is, from the desecration of the cathedral on to this point, the Russian government, from the judiciary to Putin to Medvedev has been doing little to deflect attention away from the case. The band’s plight — first its arrest, then its jail time awaiting trial, then its conviction, and then its sentencing and now its time in prison, has attracted copious worldwide attention, and galvanized abundant anti-Russian support, against Putin, against the Church, against anyone there that has kind of institutional or moral authority.

For instance, the hate group Femen has been chainsawing crosses down and paying “bounties” for others to do the same. Copycats across Russia have been busy defacing Russian churches. Meanwhile, the Russian judiciary, by locking up Pussy Riot has emboldened opposition to it and radicalized hatred of the Orthodox Church, which has for the two decades enjoyed a huge revival in post-communist Russia. It’s as if their moves have loosed the ghosts Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and the whole cabal of rabid commie church-haters upon the  land again.

One way to deal with the crisis would be to let the girls out now and deal with the aftermath as coolly as possible. (Another way to handle such crises in the future would be to behead the girls, stage anti-western riots daily, burn American flags for insulting Orthodoxy, and then western apologies for Russophobia would come pouring in. That simple. But we don’t have to wax hysterical over such black humor, don’t we?)

On a serious note, the Russian Orthodox Church now permits its own clergy to run for political office. Not sure how I feel about that yet, but at least we know that the Church, the State, and the country in general don’t give a hoot about what anyone else in the world thinks. And kudos for that…

Not ironically, the Church itself has asked several times for that judicial system to have mercy on those grrls, although a unified call for their early release from prison has not quite been uttered. Many church members have voiced a personal desire for immediate clemency for the three, but not the entire hierarchy. In fact, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has called for their release for time served, yet his plea has fallen on deaf ears. Instead, the bumbling Russian judiciary allows western press access to the girls by hook or by crook, as if to strengthen Pussy Riot’s already strong, unfeminine hands. More Stings, more Madonnas, more Paul McCartneys, more James Camerons, more publicity, more empowerment to the exile.

The girls are apparently reading Solzhenitsyn in their cells. Next thing you know, Pussy Riot will become Russian Mandelas, ready to topple Putin and United Russia from power when they get let out. Russia will be run by a triumvirate of Pussy Power…Imagine that! (I bet there are a few Russians that actually could.) Actually, those slutty chicks wouldn’t be like Mandela at all. They would more resemble Lenin, coming out of the Zurich exile in 1917 to try to kill Christ again in Mother Russia.

Crazy thoughts, for bizarro days. But they fit. They really do.

Russian Patriarch Reaffirms Need for Powerful Russian State

Patriarch Kirill on Friday re-emphasized the importance of the ties between church and state in Russia, saying that it gave “clear and very definite support to state authorities.”

Reuters took this to indicate a reaffirmation of its support expressly for Putin, basically regurgitating the subtext of jailed punk rock sluts Pussy Riot when it sacked the Christ the Savior Cathedral last February to play a really bad “punk moleben,” which cost three band members two years in prison.

[Full disclosure: I used to be a Reuters correspondent, in Vilnius, Lithuania, not far from Russia. I might as well have joined Putin’s torture squads underneath Red Squad with my differences with them on this one.]

Here’s what the Patriarch actually said, as quoted by the Reuters reporter (italics are mine):

Reuters claims Russian Patriarch Kirill shown all support for Putin, which he expressly denied in the speech which they covered. Nice editing job again Reuters!

“The institution of power appeared in the world, in a society prone to sin, to safeguard this society so that people could live together. So, clear and very definite support by the Orthodox Church for the institution of state authorities does not amount to an assessment of this or that politician or state figure by every representative of the church. But it is indispensable to understand that safeguarding the institution of power is a guarantee of a flourishing society.”

In other words: power institutions are instituted (he would imply by God) to help protect a society already beset by sin from itself. In a sense, this is correct: If you take away government, given human nature, you are left with looting and shooting. Reuters is trying to imply that Patriarch Kirill is furtively fingering its big-stick support for Putin without actually saying so. But if you read carefully the statement that Patriach Kirill made, you’ll see that he specifically avoided mentioning specific politicians. I’m sure he had his reasons.

The other part of the article discusses proposed changes to Russia’s criminal code, partially due to the Pussy Riot cases. The Reuters article said:

The lower chamber of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, is now working on changes to the criminal code that would introduce jail sentences of up to three years for anyone guilty of offending religious feelings.

Critics say that this would blur the line between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church, and that the new law could be used to stifle Putin’s critics.

The parliament, which is dominated by Putin’s United Russia party, has already passed measures that the opposition considers repressive, such as increasing fines for protesters who step out of line and toughening the punishment for defamation.

Here’s the opinion of Tents of Sinners on this: Patriarch Kirill and the Church has its rights to support the state authorities. And why not? Is Russia the West? Did Russia ever have a Protestant Reformation and a separation of church and state? It did in a sense during the nightmare of communism. That’s called the demolition of the Church. This is also an Orthodox blog, so we hold that Russia would not ever want a Reformation. It wouldn’t need one either. The Orthodox Church does not believe it needs a Reformation. It doesn’t want nor seek Western-style theological constructs. And if it continues to import too many western values, pity on that society. It might as well detonate all its remaining nukes right in the Kremlin and head straight home to God.

But let’s go back to the sane part of this argument: Putin holds the reins, fair or unfair, for now. Sure, Patriarch Kirill thinks that Putin’s government is making the best of a challenging situation. The Patriarch has called him a “miracle of God” and in a sense we at Tents of Sinners agree. Putin as President of Russia has done a helluva lot better job than certain of his predecessors. Of course, the West liked Yeltsin better, partially perhaps, because an avuncular drunken hero was a lot easier to handle than a coolheaded, icon-kissing, former KGB agent. The former was weaker but softer, the latter was a hardbody, unpredictable, and perhaps worst of all, maybe even a bit anointed.