For over 20 years, Jim Perkinson has been riffing on lectionary selections in spoken word mode and often presenting the same at worship services of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church just outside downtown Detroit. This is the third in a series of collaborations between Jim and Tim Nafziger putting this poetry in video form with text below.
the second coming of easter (I Corinthians 15)
jim perkinson 4-12-20
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 . . .
For over 20 years, Jim Perkinson has been riffing on lectionary selections in spoken word mode and often presenting the same at worship services of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church just outside downtown Detroit. This is the second in a series of collaborations between Jim and Tim Nafziger putting this poetry in video form.
the gospel (John 18:1-19:42)
jim perkinson 9/30/99
god weeping broken bottle slivers on the cheek of time blood cheek dripping in roses of divinity under the fallen street lamp god is a broken light-shard of shattered moon in the midnight of neon a swallowed sun giving birth to black burnt words and charcoals of ghost sucked like a water pipe of lost manhoods god is smoke ring solitude the profile of dead factory pipes incinerator ash falling on pale skin the dream of stars shrouded in the orange night of city and the eyes of sleeping mothers hearing moccasins on the path
the wail is low the howl is heard only under the skin the groan is your own the taste is flesh the touch is bone the shiver is red the wind is hawk the owl is waiting the rib is broken the treaty is gone the father is underground the finger is cold the ear is dried channel the tongue is choked with nothing the head is cracked the arm is slack the leg is bent the back is supine and down
For over 20 years, Jim Perkinson has been riffing on lectionary selections in spoken word mode and often presenting the same at worship services of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church just outside downtown Detroit. This is the first in a series of collaborations between Jim and Tim Nafziger putting this poetry in video form and adding commentary and footnotes flowing from their conversations.
By Jim Perkinson, a sermon on Transfiguration, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Detroit, MI, February 27, 2022
I have developed a late life habit. When the snow falls around our house, these days, the bird seed comes out. I am a bit loath to invite too much wild dependence on human provision, so I normally don’t lay out food that way. But given our urban Detroit encampment on the habitat of so many wild creatures, I figure snow may interrupt some of the other foraging possibilities and so sprinkle some seed. The local sparrows and chickadees are quick to spy out the offer and just as quick to spread the word, sparrow style. But it is especially the cardinal pair whose territory we occupy that I delight in. For two winters now, when my gift-giving begins, they are adept at the uptake and 2-3 times per day, beginning around noon, will summon me by cavorting in the front bushes outside my second-story study-window. Once I see, I get up, go down to the front door while they vigil in a front-row, top-of-the-bush seat. I give a little throw onto the sidewalk from the open door; they hop down and feast.
The clear untouched pool accepts me into its emerald depths like a big drop of water . . . I dive down again and again, feel the water-fingers softly caressing my hot face, tracing my underarms, my neck and breasts—nipples raised hard against the cold . . . and though the water is not going anywhere, it seems to move against me still, even as I lie immobile on its surface. I flip and turn, purring to the sensual caress. I have dipped into a private treasure and am wrapped in the arms of the True Gods (Lee, 132, description of Glen Canyon pothole only fifteen feet wide, whose smooth sloping sides refuse her efforts to climb out wet and nearly kill her over the next hour).
I begin in the unlikely place of a quote from raconteur Katie Lee—author, musicologist, folk singer, storyteller, Hollywood actress, song writer, filmmaker, photographer, poet, and river runner (in the words of her bio, Lee, 273). She is not indigenous. But she is a “grit” person, as Terry Turner Tempest offers in the Foreword—a woman “not afraid to laugh and tease, cajole, and flirt, cuss, rant, howl, sing and cry.” “Katie Lee,” says she, is “the desert’s lover, her voice is a torch in the wilderness” (Lee, ix). I begin here, away from the subject, because that is where I begin, where most of us today begin, in this land of the less-than-free, home of the most-often-cowardly. We who are not indigenous, not native, pretend to own the land, but we are not of the land. Rather than belong to it, we belong mostly nowhere, counting strip malls and car interiors and I-Phone screens our domiciles of greatest comfort.
by jim perkinson, ps 71: 1-6, lk 4:21-30, performed at st. peter’s episcopal church (detroit, mi), 1-30-22
“they lead him to the brow of the hill that they might throw him off” says the lectionary text for the 4th week-take on epiphanies and magi and comet-streaked skies of the season but they failed to catch the snatch— the orator at nazareth was a rock-kvetched match for their outraged snit, hatched like a birthed-again chic from rugged outcrop, spirit-born and dove-mourned just back from a 40-day stretch
By Jim Perkinson, a sermon for Detroit Unitarian Universalist Church (9-26-21)
What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Climate Catastrophe Time
What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Voter Suppression Time
What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Collapse Health Care with Cavalier
COVID Response Time
What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Right Wing Authoritarianism Time
What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Billionaire On-the-Take Booty Time
What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: Flee to Mars If You Are Elon Musk
What Time Is It on the Clock of the World?: You Fill In the Blank—What Time Is
It For You!
This title question was a favorite litmus test query any time someone met with the late great Eastside Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs over the last ten years of her extraordinary life. In vernacular counterpoint to Boggs’ more philosophical probe, garbage-art impresario Tyree Guyton of Heidelberg Project fame—also on the Eastside—festoons many of the trees of his bright throbbing block with clocks whose hands salute the hours every which way. Each asks outside the politesse of our typical interactions, what hour do you think it is—really?
The Christian tradition that underwrites the theology elaborated here offers — as its primary icon of “how” and “where “God is present in the world and “who” God is in the world — an image of a human being hanging on an instrument of state torture, crying out to God, against God (Mark 15:34). That God is not ripped down miraculously from that piece of wood (Mark 15:29-30). That God does not make it into comfy old age. While still alive “in the flesh,” that God did not always have a full belly (Matt. 12:1-4), did not live in the posh quarters of the city (Luke 9:58), was not greeted with acclaim by the movers and shakers of his day (John 7:45-52), did not have a good retirement policy. “He” regularly angered the foundations like the Sanhedrin or the Herodian Temple Corporation that would otherwise have funded his ministry (Mark 3:11-6). He publicly blessed the welfare queens, hookers, day laborers and beggars, and other assorted “rabble” who had been downsized out of legitimate livelihoods (Luke 6:20-23). He publicly cursed the banquet-givers (Luke 6:24-26), and conference-goers, and upright, uptight stalwart citizens, who, as the pillars of their community, continuously expropriated land from the “people” by means of the debt-code in order to reemploy them as tenant farmers on their own lands (Matt. 20:1-16; see Herzog, 1994, 79-97). He loudly and loquaciously denounced the lifestyle supported by such exploitative practices and labeled “abomination” what the elites claimed as “God’s blessing” (Herzog, 1994, 53-73; 2000, 90-108; Myers, 1997, 125). He openly charged the scribal ideologues and their judicial patrons with privately wrestling widows’ last pennies away from them (Mark 12:38-44) even as they were publicly encouraging the sons to give their mothers’ estates away “to God” through the Temple apparatus called “corban” (that, in effect, transferred such endowments from the marginalized elderly to the Temple’s rapacious high-priestly high-livers) (Mark 7:5-13).
what is this language the psalmist, in fervor, trumpets forth like a meteor? it is loud today, and harsh as silence, reverberating, pounding, whispering, like a flame going up a pine, or a wave on a city street in flood, as unseen as a virus, or potent as a blizzard in texas indeed, these have no words they have no need of words they have no need of bombast and advertising