Jul 18, 2013 - My Poetry    No Comments

Day 31: Watch your language

Dear Pope Francis,

Yesterday’s post on the Vatican Twitter indulgence story reminded me of a poem I wrote awhile ago. It was just after I’d begun my studies at the Sophia Center, and I was struggling with not having the language to describe what I was learning. The New Story brought so many, well, new concepts into play in terms of how I understood the Divine, but I lacked the language to discuss them. My “old” words did not seem capable of conveying all of this new meaning. I felt I was fumbling for words.

So, I wrote this poem. I hope you enjoy.


Forgive Me as I Fumble My Words

by Kevin Aschenbrenner


Forgive me




my words.

At thirty-nine, I’m learning to speak


Words I thought

I already



God. Father. King. Religion. Heaven. Hell. Saint. Sinner. Scripture. Jesus. Good. Evil.

These used to be solid, dependable, pronounceable words.

Rolling off my tongue, automatic, thoughtlessly.

I was fluent in that language. Knew its rules.

Learned the conjugations long ago.

Could be understood within my closed tribe.


But these words no longer fit

in my mouth.

Like a favorite food that once made me sick,

and since then I can’t stomach,

to me they now bring nausea

a puckering of the lips

gorge in the throat

warding motions of the hands

grave unease.


And I know why.


These are baggaged words.

They come burdened with meaning

accreted through millennia of misuse



They are barnacled over, sharp.

They wound me now,

when they pass through my throat,

leaving jagged cuts along my tongue and gums.

They wound others who hear them, too.

They alienate, drive off,





I no longer want to pay the baggage fees for these words.

Their cost is prohibitive.

I want to unpack that ugly luggage

smelling of unwashed clothes

too long kept from the fresh air

and let the truth out

to run free again in the world.

As it was always meant to.


For that is what our spirits need.

A good airing out.

Time to shake themselves loose.

Mix with fresh air, and ideas.

Let the wind in to plump them up

Like new pillows

So they may support us in these nervy times

When we all need a soft, safe refuge to collapse upon

To rest, renew, and rise again.


And I will resist temptation to clothe truth too quickly

in binding words.

To end the uncertainty

and placate my anxiety with forced enclosure.

For I know what starts as a flowing linen robe

May soon, if we’re not careful

Become a corset

Or a constricting collar with a perfectly-knotted tie

Making truth becoming to look at

for some

but left scratching at its throat, straining its torso

panicked and unable to breathe.


I will not fear that without those old words

those old bindings

that what lay obscured at their core

is gone.

Truth persists.

It travels well and remains undamaged,

no matter how poor the packaging

or negligent the handling

It bounces back.

Arrives fresh, ripe, unspoiled.

You just have to know it needs peeling

before you can bite in

and let its juice dribble into your soul.


So, forgive me

as I



my words.

I am frustrated, too

that I can’t make myself


as easily

as before.

And this spiritual aphasia may persist

for a good



So if my words come slowly


and ill-fitting

bear with me.

I’m using new vowels and consonants

to build an airy, boundless, transparent net

To both carry truth

and let it breathe.


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