Trumped
frequentlywrong
The fire-hose of falsehoods is distracting us from those with white hoods enacting laws unlawful establishing the awful till we're left in a wallowing mire which cannot ever inspire tiring us all till we're left at our own wailing walls.
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Sitting On The Wall Outside The Temple
frequentlywrong
Yesterday afternoon I sat on a wall alone
together with those who can't go inside the temple
invisible yet painfully close to my side.
We sat, outside the temple, built by men
to a god they think they understand.

We build cathedrals to the sky
god in our Image deified
to look and act just like us
without any semblance of something like
justice.

49 dead, bullets fired, prayers unanswered
the temple sits empty, bereft
as we sit outside waiting.

My last name is Brandkamp.
frequentlywrong
On this Memorial Day I can't help but wonder about the etymology of my ancestral surname. My father and I used to joke about what our family name meant, jesting that it might have meant that our long lost ancestors were pirates on the North Sea (our ancestors were indeed sailors along the coast of northwest Germany for many generations), even to the point of me saying that my last name meant "the pillagers of the villagers" since the first part of our name is "Brand" and could mean either a burning torch or a sword, and the last part "Kamp" which could mean either a military encampment or, more notoriously, a struggle.

Now maybe all this surname guessing is all nonsense. I admit that's a real possibility. But I do know enough about the German side of my family history to know about our religious history, and that's where it gets interesting. My grandmother's maiden name was Noormann and she was from Lehr, Germany in Ost Friesland (East Friesland in English) just next to the Dutch border. She could walk to the Netherlands in a few minutes from her B&B house where she grew up. She apparently fell in love or maybe lust with a boy my great grandparents didn't approve of, so they sent her off to America in the late 1800's to makes sure she didn't get into a relationship with him. She always bragged that she didn't arrive in America at Ellis Island like the rest of the "immigrants". She arrived on Long Island and simply overstayed her tourist visa! She was such a proud woman!

Sadly, my only memories of her are from my earliest childhood and were of her dark home in Old Town, Staten Island and how she wasn't a very nice person. My mom only half jokingly said that she always knew when it was time to leave grandma Brandkamp's house when she'd start talking about pure Aryan blood. It's still heartbreaking to me that she bought into the Nazi ideology of her earlier years. She did have a very cool lava lamp though that I always thought was super cool! Talk about a strange juxtaposition!

My German grandfather, on the other hand, died several decades before my birth. I own his Plymouth Brethren hymnal which my father, Herbert, gave me many years ago. It has his signature in it. He had the most perfect penmanship and his first name was Fred, the short American version of his German first name of Friedrich. I also have a picture of him sitting on a stoop somewhere in New Jersey (I believe at an aunt's house). He has a short stogie cigar in his hand and has the most beautifully gentle eyes and definitely had the typical Brandkamp furrowed brow. I wish I could have known him in person. My father had only good things to say about him. He was a very godly man who even preached on occasion. Strangely enough, I'm glad he died before Hitler's rise saw its awful fruit come to its deadly genocidal conclusion. I'm grateful he was spared that awful spectacle.

My German grandfather Fred was also born in the same part of Germany as my German grandmother Marie, in a similar sounding town nearby, but they only met years later in NYC at a German Lutheran church in Brooklyn, NY. after his first wife had died. I don't know anything about his first wife, or much about my aunt from that wife, except that she was much older than my father and his other siblings. But I believe they all got on quite well. My father joked about how my grandfather carried his Scofield Study Bible tightly and thought that Scofield's notes were only "slightly" less inspired than the original text! Bless his heart (if you're Southern, you'll see what I just did there)!

Anyway, he was a good man from everything I know of him. What I find especially interesting about his past in coming to America is that he came over as a child and was raised by German Mennonites in Kansas (I have no idea which port he came in through) and only later came to NYC and fell in love with the big city and the bright lights (most likely gas lamps back then!). Here was this German country boy, mostly familiar with farm life both in Germany and Kansas, speaking Plattdeutsch/Low German and halting English in NYC!

In fact, my favorite story from my father is of him meeting a West African man, skin black as coal, who emigrated from a German owned part of Africa, who he happened to meet in the Lower West Side of Manhattan. He asked my grandfather for directions in his language, and my grandfather understood everything he said! They had a wonderful conversation as two expats in a truly strange and wonderful land! Their common Plattdeutsch dialect united them!

But I digress...

I meant to speak about Memorial Day.

It seems my last name is strange. Brandkamp is a strangely militaristic name, bespeaking a familial history of military exploits. And yet my grandfather's family was thoroughly Mennonite and Anabaptist, thoroughly pacifist traditions. How could a name so associated with such a militaristic history be pacifist? I do know that my great grandfather and his elders all signed the "nonconformist papers" in Lutheran Germany in the 19th century. This allowed them to avoid paying the state tax for the Lutheran church, but it also barred them from any public service. This had real world consequences for these signers. They were shunned and seen as enemies of the state and state church. I'm not sure, but I think a long distant relative had a "come to Jesus" moment a few centuries ago and decided to leave his life of warfare for the state and decided to engage in warfare of a more spiritual sort with different kinds of swords.

This is the part of my spiritual heritage I'm most interested in investigating.

Soldier on friends, soldier on.

Fundamentalist Dreams
frequentlywrong
Strictures and fixtures adorn my mental pictures
of images fixed by minor key solitudes
standing athwart against uncertain certainties
sung by judgment songs of jazz improvizations
singing into a broken racialized nation.

Water flowing over water
is not what I intended to write
but it ended up being what needed
to be written now.

Water flowing over rock
wears down the rock and changes
the direction of the water
mostly against the water's wishes.

What is water except a liquid form of travel
traveling down a road ridden and largely hidden
by a channel largely channeling a life of travail.

Certainties were my savior many an age ago
fundamental to my sense of self.
It made sense in that day and age or so
but now it only makes me sense the senselessness
of the certainty of my self certainty.

And now I fundamentally know
the certainty of my own uncertainty
regarding my own sense of certainty.
Of this I'm quite certain,
certainly and fundamentally.

A Recent Dream
frequentlywrong
I had a dream recently. It started, as best as I could tell, with me riding on top of a Formula One Car in some inner city setting (the roads were very narrow). We pulled into a rest stop which also doubled as a MacDonalds restaurant. I recall getting off of the car and trying to read several books stored on a decrepit bookshelf alongside the street. It seems, even in my dreams that I'm a bibliophile. But then I walked over to the fast food joint and I tried ordering drinks as my Formula One driver rode off the rejoin the race. As I was trying to decide which drink or food I would order I saw a friend of mine who was working her first full day on the job. It was Susanna Walden from GCTS and she was sick, but still being a trooper and working her first shift on the job.

Jesus Won't Look Like You Think
frequentlywrong
Your skin is different than mine.
Your accent sounds queer to me.
You showed up different than I expected.
You can't be Jesus to me.

Your commands contradict my own.
They tell me things I don't want to hear.
You look just like my enemy.
Damn you Jesus, how dare you draw near.

Forsaken you are.

Prophets versus profits
frequentlywrong
The rhetoric of love and hatred is a song sung, separated only by a minor key change, arranged by prophets of love and hatred is a song sung, separated only by a minor key change, arranged by prophets unconcerned with profits.

To Be Continued....
frequentlywrong
I still believe in Jesus and the way he taught
The way he showed us to the way of is and ought.
The way of extreme non violence fraught
with terrors unimaginably taught.

Wolves and Lost Sheep
frequentlywrong
The wolves and lost sheep
are often mistaken for each other
as are the wheat and tares
growing up together.

Intermingled and entangled
they roam around each other
intersecting and dissecting
those they seek to gather.

Interminably impatient
I want to furtively uproot
the roots unseen by me
laid down by one unseen by me
and unseen by me as moot.

Interminably impatient
I want to furtively uproot
the roots unseen by me
laid down by one unseen by me
and unseen by me as moot.

The wolves and lost sheep
are often mistaken for each other
as are the wheat and tares
growing up together.

Intermingled and entangled
they roam around each other
intersecting and dissecting
those they seek to gather.

The mystery of evil
and the mystery of good
is veiled behind the curtain
of what is often thought as good.

Yet the good we think is good
often leads far too often
to evils of convenience
which occur far too common.

October
frequentlywrong
Though the shadows grow long and the leaves grow wrinkled
with dappled rouge masquerading their impending mortality
the swing of the bat and the scent of cracker jacks
fills the air in October with outings filled with innings
filled with pitched battles between batters and pitchers
cracking the bats or hitting the mitts till all innings end
no matter how long with extra innings limitlessly extended
till there's finally an end.

Symmetrical perspectives from almost every angle
bring the batter and the pitcher into a metrical tangle
of curves, checked swings, change-ups, and even an occasional
knuckle ball or passed pitch perfect for an advancement to
first principles always looking for the way back home
beyond our basest bases and errors impeding our
way back home.

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