Poet Kent Shaw brings us this challenging poem exploring conviction, the theme of destruction, and
2 Timothy 2:3:
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
WHY GOD KEEPS MAKING CONVICTION SO EASY
At first, God made conviction the size of a rabbit’s throat.
Which was a matter of poor planning. In the suburbs, a rabbit is meandering and conspicuous.
A rabbit is running through the suburban neighborhoods and we’re starting to think that they’re pests.
Maybe there was a time when they were precious and vulnerable.
That’s when we were children.
Conviction, Lord. The kind like boys after school chasing a rabbit and pinning it to the driveway.
Does a rabbit hear the inside of a rabbit?
Does it have a productive dialogue with absolutely terrified or petrified or inconvenienced or
provoked or angry but not angry enough because
look, it’s just boys. But the rabbit can’t move. The rabbit is helpless.
And the boys found something heavy to hold over the rabbit’s head.
It’s bigger than the rabbit’s head!
Are you all seeing all this? Maybe the Lord started explaining conviction but we weren’t paying attention.
Maybe conviction changed to the size of the heaviest thing in the picture.
Maybe it’s the boy who can’t let go of what he used to think of rabbits,
but that was before this rabbit.
The other boys are laughing at this rabbit.
Which is definitely easier.
Lord, conviction runs deep. Conviction is plentiful. The shape of young animals running at evening.
The shape of evening.
The shape of God being boys, whatever a boy is or the inside of a boy or the inside of many boys when
so that one boy feels like it’s OK now.
It’s a fucking rabbit, already. Don’t make it so hard.
From the Artist:I have always been fascinated at the role of God’s will in human lives, especially from the human perspective. How many times does a person sense a certain inclination and attribute it to God’s will? How complicated, unnerving and angular would God’s will be as it runs through the human heart? Conviction is such a potent word, and it wields such authority over a person’s actions. But what is the source of conviction? So much of this poem positions God in ways that are more suitable to human views of God. He’s here. He did this. He told me to listen to Him. People have a remarkable way of attaching their certainties to God. But what makes anyone so certain the voice they hear is God’s?During a reading for my first book, someone in the audience asked me if I thought I had the authority to write poems about God, or to recast a Biblical passage so that it appears in a new light. To this day, the answer I gave to that question dissatisfies me. Hers was a reading of the Bible that presumes to “know” it completely, as though the Bible were a text operating on a single dimension of right and wrong. But I believe the Bible is more complicated than that, because my faith is more complicated. Since that reading, I have tried writing poems that unsettle the condescension I hear in simplistic readings of the Bible. My personal faith life is full of self-interrogation. And the reward is a complex, unnerving and angular relationship with God.
Kent Shaw‘s first book Calenture was published in 2008. His poems have since appeared in The Believer, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Witness and elsewhere. He is an Assistant Professor at West Virginia State University and a poetry editor at Better Magazine.
This work was curated by Hayan Charara.
This poem is copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™