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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Hate Crime: A Poem of Grace and Gratefulness

by Luke Hankinsguest contributor

Grocery store parking lot(photo: The Consumerist/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0)

I was verbally and physically assaulted in a parking lot at a local grocery store by four people because they thought that my shorts were too short and that I looked like a “faggot.” They didn’t try to take any money. They didn’t try to steal the beer I had just bought. They only wanted to hurt someone. And so they left me with a swollen face and jaw and a black eye, with a confused mind and troubled heart. I was up all night with tears and nausea and roiling emotions, then went to the ER. Three fractures in my face.

Below is a poem I wrote about the incident. I don’t feel anger against the perpetrators, only confusion and pity and sadness. I also don’t take credit for not feeling anger. It’s simply the natural course my mind and heart have taken. But I will say that it has allowed me to recover psychologically from the incident in a way that I don’t believe would have been possible if I were plagued by anger and desire for vengeance. I’m grateful for this grace.

The Way They Loved Each Other

What to be more astonished at:
my calm as the fist made contact
and I saw a flash of white
and the world went silent
as if I had stepped out of it
momentarily, only to be brought back
with a rush of sound and visible objects—
the way I asked them to help me
find my glasses, expecting them
(even as they taunted me,
even though they had just assaulted me)
to feel underneath the violent tribal urge
the obligations of empathy—
the way even as one of them found my glasses
and smashed them again on the ground
I refused to believe that was really
what he wanted to do—the way
they loved each other
in the most primitive manner
but loved each other nonetheless
despite feeling the need to punish a “faggot”
who did not dress like them, because
he did not dress like them—
the way tears and nausea overwhelmed me
nightlong much more than had the blow itself—
the way such small suffering can feel
unbearable—the way no strength is found
for what seems to have no explanation,
a troubled mind more harmful
to the body than fractured bones.


Luke HankinsLuke Hankins is an associate editor of Asheville Poetry Review and lives in Asheville, North Carolina. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in Connotation PressContemporary Poetry ReviewNew England ReviewPoetry East, and The Writer’s Chronicle, as well as on the Being Blog. He is currently editing an anthology of poems due out next year from Wipf & Stock Publishers entitled Poems of Devotion. He regularly posts to his blog, A Way of Happening.

We welcome your reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the Being Blog. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.

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My Advent of Magnanimous Despair: Doubt and Depression Mediated Through Poetry

by Luke Hankins, guest contributor

"We Wait Bowing I" by Grace Carol BomerFor me, Advent means that God is coming into your life — is already there, in fact, has always been there, but you are about to experience that fact in an unprecedented way. I have come to view my experience of losing my faith and falling into anxiety and depression, into fear of damnation, into hopelessness, as being God’s advent into my life.

My first 25 years as a devoted member of a conservative, Protestant Christian tradition were never easy, and I had always been plagued with doubts and fears from early childhood on, but I never anticipated the traumatic loss of faith that I experienced in my 25th year.

About a year and a half ago, my doubts became unrelenting. And suddenly the only framework I ever had for understanding life and for making meaning was whisked away. This coincided with an event that sparked a year-long cycle of severe anxiety and depression unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was going through each day in terror and despair, literally shaking — for months.

On the one hand, I no longer believed in hell; on the other, I very much believed that I was destined for it because of my loss of faith and that I was experiencing only a foretaste of untold suffering in my anxiety and depression.

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