Fathers And Sons (1976) Br(Alternate Title: A Hymn To God The Father)

Your voice is like grinding gears,
like a great thunder on the plains,
like steel crushing against steel.

You speak from a tower—from that pulpit
your words come down to the world.
I stand in awe of you, high priest!

Your wrath, o god the father,
has me trembling with fear,
shaking with remorse,
bristling with anger of my own.

Surely you are the terrible god,
the god of the scorched-earth days,
of blood-requiring sacrifice!

Surely you are the god of vengeance, the one
who led the children of israel to war.

How can my soft words be heard by such a god?
My whispers trembled onto the shoulder of a lamb
would be blown 10 million miles away
by the hot breath of such a god.

This is the god who has turned away,
at whom we shake in fear because our love has failed.
This is the god who rules our life
until we have paid the price of redemption in blood,
and the Son comes between us to shade the sweltering heat.

Surely you are the stone-faced, angry god
in whom our wrongs are avenged,
the god who loves to kill!

O mighty warrior, smite me
and shine on me and burn
me into ash. Destroy me and
parch my bones as they lie in the sun.

Take all I have to give,
and when you have parched my bones,
then take my bones as well.

All of myself your wrath may eat, o god the father!
All of myself your angry bowels may digest and excrete!
All of my bones your hairy arms may bludgeon,
All of my veins your heavy sword may slash,

And I will cry out in my dismembering,
and I shall rise in the desert sun and dance,
my shattered limbs dangling madly,
my vessels sprinkling blood in fountains
that shoot upward toward the sun
and spill down onto the desert sand,
my face in a hideous laugh turned to you!

Your game I will play by your rules,
I will take your punishment,
but I shall live!

In the desert sun,
dancing like a broken man,
I shall live!

by Max Reif

Comments (2)

Hi Max I don't agree with Ivy's comment, that this poem is 'strange'. For me, it makes perfect sense, and it hits hard...it speaks to me of earthly fathers, how we perceive them as godlike when we are 16 or 26. It illustrates how we have internalized the 'angry father'. It shows why we MUST be willing to be go up against them, at risk of life and limb, and be shattered, to rise again, phoenix-like and reclaim our lives, including that most important reclamation–to be able to have a merciful, compassionate, loving Father God, not a punitive earthly one. It is so visceral a poem too: that's just how it felt to me to fire the fundamentalist god of my understanding, like blood and guts were spilled everywhere. THANKS MAX
This quite a strange poem.. I can sense your anger and despaired against God, which you still stand in awe and believe in Him. Don't we all feel like that when things don't go our way? I like your will though.. your will to live no matter what, your will to survive even the hardest days that will follow.. Nice poem. Keep posting Max, you have a lot of great things to share with us! HBH