“Aberrant Thoughts In A Quaker Meeting”

This is another poem that goes through periodic revision when I catch it. It will continue to do so.

Very few poems come out like Moses’ tablets.  Most poems go through revision after revision.  This refining process is essential I believe to strengthening the poetry….and the poet.

Lady Nyo

Obviously the character in the poem is making the ‘sin’ of intolerance….

Aberrant Thoughts in a Quaker Meeting

Sitting on a Quaker bench,

The wood as hard as stony hearts

I hear this buzz word: tolerance

In message after message—

The ‘Professors’ leadings from

The Spirit.

Beginning to hate that word,

That single word,

There’s little enough

Spread in this world.

Some stiff-necked brethren,

And sisthern, too,

Spirituality like dull pearls

Round stiff necks,

Proud in a borrowed heritage

Coming from foreign shores to do good–

Some did very well– for themselves.

I wonder what the God Vishnu would do?

Would he jump up,  burst into flame?

Would he call in the elephants and stomp the

Professors flat?

Kali would do something.

She would not tolerate false piety,

But would she, as she could–

Run a path of death and destruction,

through the middle of the Meeting,

and let them pick up their ‘weighty’ pieces?

And Shiva?

Would he bring a particularly nasty Rise of The Meeting,

When all would shake hands to those on left and right?

Or would the trickster be the

Yamabushi Tengu–

with a buzzer in his hand?

It boggles the mind,

but at least gets one through

the Meeting for Worship.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

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3 Responses to ““Aberrant Thoughts In A Quaker Meeting””

  1. SenderUpWords Says:

    Love this write. It truly does boggle the mind doesn’t it. Love and Light, Sender


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Lol….well, I thought perhaps I was being rather mean to the Quakers, but since I sat on the bench for 12 years, I’m not sniping from outside.

    This poem came about when I was talking with Dr. RK Singh, in India…a marvelous poet. He has written over 36 books on poetry, tanka, etc. Quite marvelous stuff, too.

    We were exchanging our experiences in spirituality , and religion, when I became interested in Kali/Shiva/Vishnu from what RK wrote. He liked the poem enough to take it to an Indian publishing house, where we heard nothing more about it.


    I certainly haven’t given up on the Quakers, and they haven’t given up on me. Evolution, perhaps.

    Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

    Lady Nyo

    Thank you


  3. ladynyo Says:

    Hello, AFriend,

    The entire work is rather negative, and reflects my (and some others) experience whilst sitting on that Quaker bench.

    Perhaps it was just the Atlanta Meeting? I don’t know, but that was the only experience with Quakers I had back then. It left a very lasting impression.

    It was enough to move me to worship with the Mennonites where I found a very different situation. Perhaps the problem, now in looking back, was more of a ‘class’ issue with the Atlanta Quakers. Someone described them (a ‘birthright’ Quaker) as being a ‘mission camp’. In any case, my 10-12 year experience formed an impression that I am sure Quakers in general would buck at.

    And….I don’t use that term “stony hearts” lightly. In 1998, when the Hall County, Georgia tornado hit I was moved to gather supplies and deliver to the survivors up there. In speaking before the Meeting, only two people were so moved, and I even got the opposition from one man who said to me “you must be the kind of person who likes to see disaster”. That was shocking and nothing worthy of a person who called himself Quaker. That he was constantly a thorn in the side of many people there made me understand what he was.

    There were any number of embarrassed excuses from people for NOT moving their hearts and hands in this: I wouldn’t be supported because I wasn’t a member, I was ‘just’ attending the Meeting, the local Quaker branch hadn’t decided what to do, and I was, at one point, told that “help can wait”.

    12 neighbors responded immediately to what I saw as my marching orders: within 3 days there was so much from my mostly black neighbors for this trip, we had to take my husband’s new truck….LOL!

    The kicker for my 10 year old son and me was this: when we got to Gainesville, Ga….stretched across two kiosks was a large yellow sign: “Help Can’t Wait”. My son turned to me, his eyes as large as saucers, and said that “God was speaking to us!”.

    Yes, he was.

    Sadly, about a week later, North Atlanta was also hit with a tornado, and these same Quakers were very vocal and ready to move their collective butts: a number of their members came from that area.

    So, we are faced again with the devastation of massive tornadoes, tremendous death and destruction.

    I do wonder, just in passing, what the Atlanta Quakers are doing now. I am sure they have softened their stony hearts. At least I hope so.

    Lady Nyo


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