the second coming of easter

Water Shift
A pre-pandemic water shift in Detroit, MI.

By Jim Perkinson

empty churches preaching empty tombs
to empty pews, a vision of gloom,
the doom of the poor now creeping
close in corona-spoor knocking even
at the door of the rich and who would
have thought it all could upend
in a single dash of air-splash, invisible,
carrying not quite living code from animal
to our abode everywhere, leading all
but rash, bible-brash evangelical hubris
to hunker in shelter, or fear-trembled,
in hovels or dense-packed streets of
homeless retreats or refugee tents
a world of babel towers
and fake news showers and glowering, bulge-veined purveyors of cover
for the bankers and oil exec wankers to push profit-margins to the edge of the cliff . . .

three lone crosses on a hill
of old canaan, granting red-blood
palliation like a drug-fix for the
powers’ thirst, for the hundred-
million-bezillionth time since cain
first raised hand to disappear
indigenous abel from the land

in years past we have sat tired
and glad the week was now
at last culminating in the elusive
last show, a corpse from a rock
copse, angel-freed and rising
so we could in-tone hallelujahs
and go home to a fried-chicken
feast and sunday nap-rest
but now . . .

now . . .
we are locked-in to the corporate
green-light domain, our every
word-grin and slim key-stroke-
toke in search for connection
on sale to the google-facebook
collection of algorithm-hungry
bakers of our next fantasy of
drone-delivered commodity-hope
and their prison-industrial cronies
hot to incarcerate everyone not matching
their own white-fetishizing pallor

or perhaps we dare scope the democracy-
now litany of latest outrages,
looking for a little help-me-cope trip of
comfort in shared dread of the next
round of disaster-fed lockdowns
of liberty in the necessity of
capital’s ceaseless take and imperial
desperation to aerosol the entire planet
in control and bullets.

but the day does not do other than
its duty, the sun rises, the squirrels
cavort, the birds romance on the wing
in celebration of a coming we simply
take for granted, as we coat the waters
in plastic and the soils in our lifestyle
effluent without relief

and we have long now looked for magic
we have long now have boasted an
overturning of the tragic in a stone
pushed back from a grave defying
the logic of gravity and all other
known laws of this home-base we
have thought we hallowed with
our presence and sagacity
but behold—the resurrection
we have held so sacred and unique
to our own species’ confection of
self-elevating evaluation is not
a lesson in christian exceptionalist
salvation—it is simply
how life functions
season after season . . .

and the question now
the question now
the question for us now
is this:
is it enough that we embrace
being part of the grace that
attends everything else
in the stunning rhythmic
syncopation of death and rebirth
running from 4 billion years
before adam to the very core
of whatever we possibly
could mean by “second coming”?
that coming is happening
right now outside the window!
but can it be—as it used
to be for all our ancestry—
once again, enough?
can it be enough that we are
finally, simply, magnificently,
fragilely, for a brief lifetime,
just like the wondrousness
and temporariness
of everything else?

Dr. James W. Perkinson has lived for 35 years as a settler on Three Fires land in inner city Detroit and is currently teaching as Professor of Social Ethics at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary and lecturing in Intercultural Communication Studies at the University of Oakland (Michigan). He holds a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Chicago, is the author of five books including Political Spirituality for a Century of Water Wars: The Angel of the Jordan Meets the Trickster of Detroit;  Shamanism, Racism, and Hip-Hop Culture: Essays on White Supremacy and Black Subversion; and White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity. He is an artist on the spoken-word poetry scene and an activist in the struggle against water shutoffs.  Preferred pronouns are he, him.

One thought on “the second coming of easter

  1. Amazing, breath-taking words:
    “but behold—the resurrection
    we have held so sacred and unique
    to our own species’ confection of
    self-elevating evaluation is not
    a lesson in christian exceptionalist
    salvation—it is simply
    how life functions
    season after season . . .”
    Something I really needed to read on this Holy Thursday in the Orthodox Church, three days to Pascha, the Orthodox Easter (April 19th).

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