A Note from Paula:
Roscoe Burnems is one of the first names that come to mind when you ask me about poetry. I call him Uncle Scoe for fun but he’s also been my mentor, my coach, and the therapist in my taxi cab confessionals! Mostly, I am honored to call him friend. Through his poetry, not only have I been challenged to mature as an artist but encouraged to write rawer and realer than ever before. The poem you’re about to read is just that. It’s the epitome of what you get from Roscoe: Honesty, Complexity and a whole lot of Love. Thank you Scoe for sharing your poetry with For Lack Of Better Words.
The Truth about God by Roscoe Burnems
My mother has a heart full of batteries;
an active morning leaves her drained, leaves her out of breath.
She is plugged into her bed through most of the afternoon.
Recharging, most days, takes all evening.
She uses these moments to read scripture and talk to Jesus.
My mother owes her life to her faith.
Would often ask me to take her to church on Sundays.
She remembers all the times she’s died,
when resurrection has been a defibrillator laying hands on her.
She thanks God for all her transformations, but never the doctors.
I recently watched a documentary on how often religious text gets doctored, how holy books undergo transformations. I read about scripture: heard there are 14,800 differences
between the original bible and it’s modern version, that there’s no mention of Christ’s return in its earliest rendition, the similarities between Christianity and Egyptology are uncanny, most religious holidays linked to Christ are pagan and have nothing to do with Christ at all.
With this I became agnostic, not atheist.
I did not choose to believe in nothing, I stopped looking through the pigeon-hole that is religion.
Felt a huge word like “god” is too big to put in a chapter book.
I use terms like “the universe”.
I don’t “pray”, I “meditate.”
And if Moses, Mohammed, and Jesus didn’t need a Bible, Quran, or Torah to find the creator
then maybe I should follow suit.
At a point, I felt like I had to educate my mama about the history of religion: Truth about King James and all the translations, religious wars, fear mongering, and the origin of Satan.
Since then, My mother stopped requesting me to take her to Sunday service.
She tells me she’s praying for me, never specifies what she prays for.
She thinks I’m an atheist, never heard the word “agnostic”.
I used to believe there were 14,800 differences between my mother and me
but when the surgeon said there was no mention of her return
like muscle memory I recited in her tone, “o’ ye of little faith.”
I realized the similarities between her and I are uncanny.
The little bit of gospel I have is pagan and has nothing to do with Christ at all.
It was after cardiac arrest and coma left her chest split like a red sea
watching cancer be a nail in our family’s palm, and the men in her life be one Judas after another. These obstacles makes me doubt the lord, overcoming them makes her believe in God more.
Maybe she’s blind.
Maybe I’m blind.
Maybe faith is about being blind and trusting what you feel
She calls it God, I call it The Universe.
She found it in a book, I found it in her.
I’ve learned too much about the bible to believe in it, she’s gone through too much about life not to.
My mother passed down the same bible she swears kept her alive.
I swear I’d read that shit if they had a book about my mother.
I am agnostic, not atheist.
There are moments I’ve seen too much to believe in God,
but I’ve watched my mother be god too much not to believe in something.
Roscoe Burnems is a Richmond based poet and author. He has invested himself into an artform that is often misunderstood but represents it with the most honest and raw expressions of humanity. From that investment, we reap the benefit of intimate writing workshops, poetry slams, and spoken word performances. He is a 3x published author, comedian, educator, father, and husband. Roscoe recently tapped into stand-up comedy with his groundbreaking special “Traumedy: A Poetry & Comedy Special.” The special has been featured in several magazines in Richmond, VA and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.