Apple Tree Blues

Just another lyric without a tune

Chorus:
I am an old man
The devil ain’t boss of me
I am an old man
Older than Methuselee

Back in my young years
Adam said to me,
“Don’t you ever eat
Fruit from the apple tree.

Oh, sure the apples
May be a tasty fruit.
I’m here to tell you
God don’t give a hoot.

Eat them apples.
You mess up the Plan.
One thing you’ll get.
The back side of His hand.”

In old Mesopotamie
Throughout that ancient land
All the folks were folks
In apple-eating clans.

They drank them ciders.
Ate all kinds of pies.
But they gave no look
To the clouds in the sky.

Noah was a non-
Apple-eating man.
Never did he taste
Dumplins, fritters or flan

Chorus:
I am an old man
The devil ain’t boss of me
I am an old man
Older than Methuselee

Noah never was
A propheting man
But Noah could tell
God had Himself a Plan.

“Better get ready.
An umbrella won’t do.
Rain’s sure a-coming
To flood me and you.”

It was a Sunday
When he told his wife.
He told her once.
Told her three times thrice.

Noah built himself
A big big boat.
Checked for the leaks,
Made sure boat did float.

Loaded that boat up
With lots of critters.
Two of each they came,
Slow ones, go getters.

It rained real hard,
Pounded forty days.
Noah and his family
Got cabin fever crazed.

Chorus:
I am an old man
The devil ain’t boss of me
I am an old man
Older than Methuselee

Said, “We’re up a creek
Without a paddle.
This boat’s not safe.
Listen to the rattle.”

The boat didn’t sink.
The water went down.
The boat hit a rock.
Noah stepped on to ground.

With seasickness gone
The fam settled in
Raising apple trees
In the way back when.

The Good Lord He looked
Down with godly aim.
“What am I gonna do?
Noah’s more of the same.

Snozzling down cider,
He’s gone apple loose.
Told him not to drink
Any apple juice.”

So God threw up His
Mighty mighty hands.
“I’m outta here; just maybe
Martians will follow the Plan.”

Chorus:
I am an old man
The devil ain’t boss of me
I am an old man
Older than Methuselee

Near 500 words: The Mother of All Living

–from the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence

One of the most moving statues, for me, is “The Penitent Magdalene” by the Italian artist Donatello. With it, we get the figure of Mary Magdalene after years of wandering in the desert. It’s a statue that I love.

After spending some time gazing at pictures of it, I began to think of Eve. The Genesis story doesn’t give us much after she and Adam left the Garden of Eden. All we know is that Eve had three children.

One, Cain, murdered his younger brother, Abel. After Cain was banished to only God-knows-where, Eve and Adam had a third son. His name was Seth.

It seems to me that something is missing from that story. What was it like to leave the comfort and security of the Garden of Eden and spend their years wandering in a world that was so large and people-less? I began to imagine those two wandering souls and their regret for losing Eden. How they must have felt being cut off from God. The depth of their homesickness. Especially Eve, who gets the brunt of the blame for their banishment.

As I thought about the story, I remembered Psalm 137. This particular Psalm was written while the Jews were exiled in Babylon. It begins, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” The Psalmist was speaking for anyone who has been forced from their homeland and cannot return.It’s the story of the African slaves. It’s the story of the Jewish, the Armenian and the Irish diaspora. It’s the story of the Syrian refugees and refugees everywhere.

So I wrote this poem.

“My heart is breaking,” 
Eve told the Earth. 
Then Eve scribbled the words
with the ink of her tears

into the dirt upon the Earth’s back. 
“My son murdered my son, 
and the murderer is a ghost 
haunting the valleys 
and the mountains.” 

Eve sat by a tree 
mourning her first born, 
mourning her second child, 
the blues in her eyes shedding  
seven hundred seventy-seven tears each day  
‘tween the sunrise and the moon. 
“Tree, my heart is bleeding,” 
she sang, her grief rising 
like smoke up to the ears of God. 

Eve went down  
to the church by the river Cry. 
She lit a votive candle 
and prayed the rosary 
one hundred and fifty times 
for the souls of her sons,

one whose life was taken away, 
one who took the life
and a third,
a new beginning. 

Famous Biblical Quotes (You’ve Never Heard)

Adam to God (after seeing Eve): Man, I love what you do with ribs.

It was a Tuesday afternoon when Noah got the call, I believe. Sometime between two and three in the afternoon. He took the call. He knew it must be from God. In this god-awful weather.
God (to Noah): Oops, the ark just sprang a leak.Noah
Noah (to God): Oh, no.
God (to Noah): Just kidding.
Noah (to God): Well, I forgot the dove.
God (to Noah): Nothing up my sleeve. What is this in my hat?

God to Abraham: Let your pee pee go.

Moses: It wasn’t the Red Sea I had so much trouble with. It was that burning bush. I tried everything–fire extinguisher, water, you name it–I just couldn’t get the fire quenched. And it was such a nice bush too.

Moses (to God): I am not playing with snakes.
God (to Moses): How many plagues is that?
Moses (to God): Can’t you count?
God: Yes, but, if I have to count the toes on more than one foot, it’s higher math.

Joshua (to his trumpeters): Somebody is off key here.
God (to Joshua): One thing is for sure. These guys are no Miles Davis.

Samson to Delilah: I don’t care if you are going to Cosmetology School, you cannot cut my hair.
Delilah starts to cry.
Samson: Don’t cry, Baby. I was just kidding. Of course, you can cut my hair.

David and GoliathDavid to Goliath: Everybody must get stoned.

Jonah’s Whale: Burp.

King Herod to Salome (after her dance): You’ve got heads rolling in the aisles.

Peter to Jesus (after Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes); I don’t care much for fish sandwiches without the mayonnaise.
Jesus (to Peter); If you don’t like it, go out and open up your own restaurant.

Jesus to Lazarus: A little smelly there, Laz.

God to St. John: We’re going to have a revelation.

By the way, no Biblical characters were injured in the preparation of this post.

Eve

“My heart is breaking,”

Eve wrote her sister

Lilith, Adam’s first wife,

residing in the land of Cush.

Eve scribbled the words

with the ink of her tears.

“My son has murdered my son,

and the murderer is a ghost

haunting the valleys

and the rivers between

the two of us, you and me.”

Eve sat by the river

mourning her baby child,

mourning her first born man.

Eve sat by the river,

the blues in her eyes shedding

one hundred forty-six tears each day

‘tween the sunrise and the moon.

“River, my heart is bleeding,”

she sang, her grief rising

like smoke up to the ears of God

while the clock kept faith with time.

Eve went down to kneel

in the church down by the river Cry.

She lit a votive candle

and prayed the rosary

one hundred and fifty times

for the souls of her sons.

For the one whose life was taken away,

and the one who took the life

she prayed.