Jesus Done Gone Wacky Dancing on Dat Tree — a poem

My three girls read this for me and gave me some great help, corrections and pointers.  They also had about the same reaction. Justine phrased it best, “Mom,  this is supposed to be bizarre, right?” Well, actually yes, it is supposed to be bizarre, because I think we have lost a bit how absolutely bizarre the life and death of Jesus the Christ really was and is. So ….. for what it is worth, which is never much, here’s a bizarre poem.

Thanks Justine, Clarissa and Verity. Love, your bizarre (hopefully) Mom

Jesus Done Gone Wacky Dancin’ On Dat Tree

By Jane Tawel

June 28, 2015

A Southern Gothic Poem from the Backwoods of Southern California

I walked the ridge above the city, lookin’ down, lookin’ down.

Fog hid dirty sky, and below, the trees greened the grey.

I saw You laughin’ like a crazy fool, balanced high, like a clown, like a clown.

You held by fingertips, the highest needle on the pine, legs askew, arm muscles bulging,

Holdin’ Yourself parallel to gravity, You teased me to believe You did it.

Folk who dance for no reason are insane.

Men who dance in trees are fools, Jesus, ain’t y’all figured that out?


If only I could clearly hear the way You sing the silly songs, silly songs.

Knowin’ You became the acrobat to make me laugh through my angry stupid sobs.

You balanced all the earth between two cross beams.

Silly man. Silly God.

You forgave my mocking with your mocking Tourette’s dance on Calvary.

You mock all my agonies and all my wrongs, all my wrongs.

Because what You can do, laughin’, teetered on the tree

Makes me feel my spineless, dirt- crawling, worm-ness.

Worms can’t dance.

Unless You resurrect them to the Pine,

Worms eaten as they Eat You,

Becoming birds and flyin’ away, flyin’ away.

O Happy Day! O Happy Day! A Metaphoric Cirque de Soleil!


You wink at me, and blow a raspberry at my fear, “Come on up, scaredy cat,” You yodel.

And I try a clumsy, graceless pirouette, land- bound, while a middle aged couple I neglected to see sneak up, and gawk at the fool on the hill,  but they be missing The Fool still dancing in the tree. You.

The oh- so- sane two try to sidle by

With their pit bull to protect them when their policies don’t.

Each sporting several aging tattoos worn

In order to prove they believe in something, anything, that how desperate they be.

Just click your heels together and poke some ink under your skin and all the world will marvel.

I guess the woman

Believes in Hello Kitty and he thinks at forty-something barbed wire on his leg

will save him from

Soul intruders.

I try a jette and the dog snarls, as does the woman underneath her breath.

My irritation irrigation floods my brain, but I smile at the dog

And wave as if I’ve just performed on “So- You- Think-You- Can- Dance- American- Idol-American- Bandstand-Lollapalooza”.  “Y’all come on back now, ya’ hear?”

Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

Your foolishness is rubbing off on me. World Weenies, go away, go away.

Come and play another day, ‘nother day.

I gotta get ringing round dat Rose o’ Sharon.


I gave up american idols to waltz with You.

Lordy, I pine for You, pine for You!

You did the Pine for me so I will take up my pine, and pine away, pine away.


I hope to dance, like an idiot, like a moron, like a Crazy-A Fooh, like an autistic, ADHD, Aspergers, special needs fool for Christ.

I need to be cukoo for Cocoa Puffs, psycho, trippy, loony, looped… Whoa, now —

Jesus busts a move up on dat tree, and I boogie into the mosh pit of His Holy Rolling Groove.

I wanna’  hang on dat tree by my fingernails, followin’ Your footwork, (oh, you got that right, footwork get it?– my feet all wet from head to tippy toes, ballerina toe shoes soaked, I’m petered out now),  I gotta be followin’ Your moves, Your grooves, Your hilarious blues,

Not livin’ like a paralyzed prisoner of my own regrets of not joining  Le Grande Ballet.

I be Fred Ginger Nureyev Jackson Pavlova.

I gonna’ find in foolishness a joy that lights the world with madness.

What a crazy world if all danced like You did.

Like you do, high in the trees, in the stars, on the road, in the eyes, in the gazelles and newts, dancing in the clouds, the drippy drops, the rays, and platypus paddy feet, yo, if I don’t dance, the rocks gonna be rock and rollin’, rock and rollin’.

You ain’t a- jokin’, ain’t a- jokin’.

Now I’m laughin’ so hard, I’m peeing my pants.


I’m waitin’ now at home, like a novice in The Green Room.

I last saw You cacklin’, grinnin’ like a madman in the top- most bulge of pine, of pine.

I gonna laugh out loud, unafraid of strangers with their designer to-go coffees–

They be thinkin’ me a joke. Oh, the jokes on them when Saturday Night Fever runs its course and Your eternal disco ball lights up The Dance Floor.

Oh My God,  I knew that in that moment, You were mine, You were mine.

Not a sad, serious Man of Sorrows always bleeding and alone, walkin’, crawlin’ slow.

But You be a righteous Fool for God, moonwalking on real stars,

Makin’ me laugh, You chasse away this world. I’m only trying to follow Your moves.

You dos-a-dosed the Last Tango, grippin’ ole Satan by the tail

And trippin’ the Light Fandango,

You Done and Gone Wacky, Jesus!

Bustin’ yo’ moves on earth as it be in Heaven.


On that two pronged balance beam, it all hung in the balance;

You ball change and balance me by keepin’ me off balance.

I take Your hand and you lead me in The Dance.

You done gone wacky, Jesus, dancing high up dere on dat tree,

and I gonna swirl down on my knees

and pray God, I can go wacky dancin’ wich you.


A Poem: “On Being Young By Water”

“On Being Young By Water”

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(Begun 4/28/11 – Maybe Sort of Finished 5.23.15)


By Jane Tawel

Do you remember those nights

Of being young by water?

Do you recall the haunting of the watery smell

As you lay longing in your bed until

You threw your covers off?


And when the sounds of waves lapped against your dreams

You woke to yearning more complete than any pain,

More in tune with your need than any Sirens’ Songs,

Swooshing against the solitary staccato of your heart.


When you were young,

Encased within the sounds and smells and sights of H2O

The Water World held your DNA

More tightly than a womb.

Your small raised fists floated carelessly

Arguing for sense in puberty’s mad, mad world.

The moonlight stabbed through leaky window screens

And the water washed away day’s bloody light.

‘Til morning expelled you to breathe away the night.


The sunwaves licked you like a hungry cat each morning

And the daywaves called you out to splash and play,

Luring you to your death against the shoals of growing up.

And the lullaby of water

Nixed you to sleep on dreamwaves each night.


When I was young with 78’s

I knew the watery poets better than my best friend,

Who never really was, though not imaginary.

We traded diaries and sleepovers,

Creating the tie-dye fantasies of our futures.

We swam upstream toward an unseen shore.

I didn’t know that friends loved with oars while

I swam rudderless, hoping for a lifeguard.


One day I found a Lifesaver floating by on a river of blood.

I jumped in the water and got dunked three times,

Father, Son and Holy Water.

I’m still clinging, trying not to drown in the baptism of Life.


And now the waves keep rolling me along past landing after landing,

Safety always geysering just out of reach

Only enough strokes left to make it a little further today

While my arms grow weary and my legs numb.

And I know that scary things lurk underneath

And I know I cannot surface or I will drown.


Now I thirst to come ashore and wake to

My aqueous dreams by The Lake,

And languish in young hurt,

And cry waves of tears at lost love–

Imagined oceanic love, not real –

Real love is like a desert.


I tried to take a CPR crash course so I could teach my daughter how to swim.

She swims so hard, she sweats while shivering wet with cold, cold tears

But acts as if she’s always dry—

Modeling like Ran

For the Sea’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

She blasts into me for being wrong about how drenched her heart is,

She thinks that I won’t notice she is taking a hot shower in icy unshed tears.

No, nothing’s wrong, Mom……” Except on Facebook.

We paddled too far from the water world and the desert daily drowns us.

I only want to sail her home.


Do you remember those nights of

Being young by water?

Oh! the smell of waving, living water still breaks my heart, ten thousand miles away.


Now I float helplessly, treading foolishly in Time’s Current

“You can’t outswim Me”, Dylan the Second Wave god reminds.


And the days’ tides run out to nights.

And I do not sleep through them


I lie awake knowing that soon

The tide will not return.

At least for me.


I hope someday, I shall not burn out,

But float away

Buoyed up to walk on waves,

Young again, forever

Spending endless days and nights

Of being young by water.

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A Poem from A Trip to Los Osos 2012

Poem from Los Osos   10/ 7/12

This is a poem written after walking through the bird and nature preserve in Los Osos, California. I love walking there whenever I am happy enough to find myself in that treasured neck of the woods. I remembered the poem by repeating it in my mind over and over until I got to the Mexican restaurant and asked the waitress who was setting up for the breakfast crowd for a napkin and pen to borrow so I could write it down. We were staying with our wonderful California family, The Tooles. On this same walk I received a free dvd of about an hour and a half of bird sightings from a gentle man with binoculars who thought I might like it.  I gave it to Heather Toole as a house gift.

“Los Osos Preservation”

by Jane Tawel

I like the dross of water.

It has a stellar stink

Of rotting stars caught under.

It makes a person think.

And, Oh, the dead eyes gleaming!

And, Oh, the fishy smell!

If heaven is so teaming,

Then who could ‘ere fear hell?