Dark Boots: A Slam Poem 

This is a poem I wrote for an Eikon event at DTS yesterday evening, which I read to a wonderful audience. Here is the text of what I wrote! It comes in part from a statement in a book I cannot now remember, though I’ve tried, where the author basically asserts that everyone in the world wants everyone else to love the same things in the same way, or to “worship the same God(s).” If you enjoy something, you want others to enjoy it to (that’s CS Lewis). And their enjoying it makes it all the better, but their rejection makes you uncertain of yourself. That insecurity can lead to a lot of personal and relational problems. 

In Christ, we find a secure identity based on a love that is permanent and unchanging, unconditional. Only a unity based on Christ, then, is truly lasting, healthy, and holy. But frequently, in our efforts to obtain the praise of others and thus validate our own loves and selves, we compromise Christ for other things less than good. Everyone wants a type of unity and validation of self-worth, but each goes about this process in incredibly unhealthy ways, which lead to much of the damage we see in the world at large and also in the Christian Church. 

This poem explores the ways we humans seek identity and unity (a New Testament command for those who follow Christ) in ways healthy and unhealthy. It points out the ways we get mired in a perspective which does not lend us a full and clear view of what these patterns of behavior are doing to ourselves and others. 

This poem is entitled: dark boots

dark boots march, clud and shump through marsh, mud and thump out of the

blazing sun itself.

Sharp silhouettes lunge at the edge of sight, encroaching,

approaching in rhythm, 

Unity herself marching with them

…faster…

A singeing sprint where there will be no abating,

evil gathering and concentrating into the glinting point of a spear

to strike fear until we are rent hair to heel

by the enemy,

the adversaries of humility, 

defriending and defrauding the destitute, the prostitute,

the weak, needy, left hanged and bleeding 

upon the cross of Rome, Progress or ISIS,

in the name of power, purity and stability in crisis; 

out of the faces of the master races, denominations, and trickle-down vices:

What is it to be like this?

Like what?

Like one who respects not change and differences,

who feeds not the homeless and feels such distances 

between himself 

and his dependent hindrances? 

Like what?

Like one who refrains from engaging the other, another creation of God,

drawn down into darkness of self, left limp in the sod,

and suffocated with clods of dirt, self-accumulated money and things

and the pride of life self-begotten, self-wrought, my praises to sing? 

Like this? 

Unity calls and marches in dark boots;

Will it be through Christ?

Or compromise to platitudes of

“Just believe in yourself”

“It’ll be okay”

“You’ve got a career, don’t let that baby get in the way” 

We’re captured by others,

captivated by one and another,

by the other within and without,

yet fear one another and shun the other culture;

Maybe we are scared of the other in our sisters and brothers

because the other we fear the most

and understand least

is ourselves. 

Instead of being arrested by each other for the creations we are,

we arrest each other with:

impossible expectations, those scars with which we mar,

Hollywood affectations, till our lives are ripped apart,

Hollow adulations for plastic surgery of the heart 

Bourgeois protestations that loving the poor is just so hard!

So I wait for the rapture to take my problems so far, 

Separate me and them–so I can be perfectly set apart;

Suburban heaven and hell now ferments, 

where oneness comes through sameness

and not accepting the lame lest

we be adulterated adulterers, adult vultures raising the poor to the pyre

to set fire to differences; instances of blessed responsibility 

I push away; assert my innocency, washing stained hands below the picture of Jesus, 

white and wealthy who blesses and then leaves us

alone. 

I’m grieved for us.

The hermeneutic of power 

withers as a flower in the summer under the heat of the Word,

dead petals of false truth peddled commercially—top hits mean profit’s incurred. 

Unity calls and marches in dark boots;

Will it be through Christ?

Or compromise to sexual and verbal abuse,

And a polluted, dying world? Hand your children the noose. 

Under the headship of Christ

neither you nor me

but the beginnings of we

I see in the church…

…until he stopped to lurch toward the vain,

and she stopped to complain of the church

as a stained, boring dirge

that should just die

because it doesn’t look like her idea perfect.

Jusqu’ici, tout va bien,

just you and me on the lawn 

on the hill

and the city burns, and we take in the smell,

vicarious vicars content with the picture of

Discontent breeding; when they burn the bridges and boats

How deep will we dig our moat? 

The unity of the world threatens at the gate each day 

to make of people the United Slaves, deluded into digging our own graves

by means of greed, that pervasive lack of a love which bears beyond need

In the name of Christ.

And so,

Unity calls and marches in dark boots;

Will it be through Christ?

Or dehumanizing troops with trucks of women and children grouped

And sold to be slaves? Did you go to the auction in Houston today? 

The dark boots march, promising an increased salary,

infesting our truth through the cracks we leave open to the world

and closed to Calvary,

barely ajar, so that we can find

“A little happiness for myself”,

and not stuck inside with ourselves and repetition;

Instead stuck with the tension of who to trust:

When Christians can’t be reconciled we dig deeper into us

against the world alone, church apart from church, 

we begin to rust, 

forsaking responsibility for 

the us versus 

the “just me and Jesus,”

Seeking an individualized sanctity 

that will leave us blanketing the sins of forsaken unity 

because, well, I’m not being persecuted physically.

Unity calls and marches in dark boots;

Will it be through Christ?

Or will we soothe the youth with the abdication 

Of honest evaluation and parental care, giving way to

Teenage tribulation and regret too great to bear?

Is loving you a matter of Christ or compromise? 

What do I give up? Where do I give in? 

A humble servant, but rejecting all sin and perversion,

not to the point of aversion of the new and distinct

because God, who tore down walls, would have us stop and think about our differences

before we put up white-picket fences, and see through new lenses

at the same thing we’ve looked at for a lifetime,

before our holy message is hidden because couldn’t get along.

When do I crack? Where do I flex?

What do I hold to? And what comes next?

What is this new life? What is the new body?

What is it to be one? How do I react to all of these

questions and differences of opinion: 

To the sign of the cross at the end of a prayer?

To a prayer to Mary and the saints all layered? 

To the icons at the altar, to the breaking of leavened bread,

When Christians are dying on crosses and from shots to the head?

When I see the children there, and see where they bled:

The muslim boy who became a bomb in a demonic stampede;

The atheist child who commits suicide after he asks and pleads

his parents for answers, his friends for some comfort

while the world says that hopelessness is just that one port

we all get stuck at? 

Grow up son, get good grades, be a man self-made

and ignoring others, using people for fodder 

for business or bombs, either way, lambs to slaughter

for the sake of power, the god of the hour;

Unity calls and marches in dark boots;

Will it be through Christ? Or compromise to business suits

and terrorists? 

When I refuse to love you, to speak to you,

I become the unclean

The man who uses people for his own means

and ends

Instead of persevering for the sake of the God who Sends

his people to the world, till this age comes to end

And Christ returns, and ask about our investments.

Will we be left to fail the assessment

instead of being iridescent and incessant with our faith

that the God who Lives calls all for His own Sake

and their salvation?

Unity calls and marches in dark boots;

Will it be through Christ? Or compromise to a ruse

and issues more important

than the God who sent his Son

to give new life to the orphan?

Unity calls and marches in dark boots;

Will it be through Christ?

Or something better and new? 

With every second we choose:

Unity calls and marches in dark boots;

Will it be through Christ? 

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