Ecclesiastes 12.12: A Spoken Word Piece

The following is a spoken word piece I did for our recent Antioch Poetry Slam. It is my wrestling with the fact that so much of my life is composed of words: reading, writing, speaking, etc. I hope you enjoy it!

“Of the making of books there is no end,
And much study is a weariness of the flesh.”
So says the Preacher, and I say amen.
What is the value of sitting before books
Sifting through words on the page; arranged and rearranged
to rage, to wrestle, to war with other words?
Like “ignorant armies that clash at night”
To fight the good fight of rhetoric
To finish the course (to get the grade)
To keep the faith, at least to keep it in my pocket
As if it was mine to hide, hold and have;
To halve, to cut it into parts that are more manageable
As if the mind could wrap around immensity.

I gesture and gesticulate wildly, “there’s something out there”
I stare into the darkness daring that I am not deluding myself.
Are these sentences, that I read, write, rehearse, structure and speak
(So easily now, once it was not so)
Are they real? I mean, is there “real presence” here
Or are they mere sophistry: the art of ornamenting ordinary language
To perpetuate the persuasion that I am talking about something real?
“I have a fever, and the only prescription” is on the printed page?
I paint pictures of things that I have never seen but have only felt in moments that have left me breathless
(On such breathless moments hang so many sermons).
My words like paper bills – rags, really – strips of cloth
Their value derived from that to which they point.
But You – like gold, your value does not move with the market of whether I mean it or not.
And so I will go back to my books
Back to the places where rumors of You abound
My books like small boats that launch out onto the ocean (the boats are so small)
But they may float, and I will row like Reepicheep in his coracle
Paddling towards I know not what,
I pick up the pen and pray
that you will take my paper bills and give me gold.

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