Statement of faith:


Green as the earth

Is green,


I have made so many

False starts


Into this world.



*  *



As a teenager I snuck out at night not to do anything parents dread their adolescent daughters doing, but to pray in the woods. I believed in Christ; I believed in the moon.


I thought I wanted questions answered but wild, dark spaces don’t do that. The air was shot through with a force without name, a part-God, part-forest force I imagined let me kneel on the grass as long as I remembered who was boss. I had dreams of it embodied: as a man who kissed so hard I bled, as a lion that tore my guts open before taking me to the ground. What I was really going after was having the rational mirror of question and answer shattered by that force.



Stretching over the skies,

The lung-branched


Trees that hold their



Forever are a chance
I have. 



This poem revels in the possibility that a wild space could elevate a rational relationship with the world into a more ferocious and honest state of being—it immediately brings to mind the force I encountered over a decade ago. That state perpetually exists just out of reach of language, which makes sense; what’s longed for seems to involve a release from structure, and language can’t escape being a structure. But it gets close—that state is only just out of reach, and the speaker aches knowing it’s near:



            …        But how


To describe it, how to

Define just what I mean.


I am lost, yes, but home

Is near again. 



*  *



I was taught in church that only believers possessed the Holy Spirit. Stained glass windows portrayed the Spirit as a dove that descended on Christ from the Gospel of Luke, but it felt like a world of shadow and gold-flecked mountains I carried between my spine and ribcage. That I had this Spirit, well-intentioned church leaders said, meant I was saved.



I would say that there is

An unreachable place


Inside, a psychotic core

In each one of us


That is pure chaos and reaching

Toward a higher goodness.



But it quickly became plain that non-believers carried rich inner worlds around with them too, and the Hell I’d been warned about was extinguished. Ham-fisted designations of saved and unsaved gave way to recognizing the endless variety of people’s tucked-away wildernesses, landscapes no one besides they themselves could enter but could be seen from across an impassable, sacred divide.



*  *



And when a man asks me

For change,


I always give when I can.

Will this keep me from


The inevitable?  No,

But it will keep me


From the other inevitable,

For which I was marked


Since birth, like a madman

Brandishing a razor.



Or, Hell doesn’t have to exist for people to be damned.



*  *



But it is that soil-brown



Where one stands totally alone,

Apart from anyone or


Anything that is the most

Healing.  The inner wounds,


The blasphemy that comes

With them,


Take their toll upon a body.



It is helpful to remember that if you’ve been blasphemed against, by definition you’re at least a little bit holy.



*  *



The unabashed humanity of this entire poem pummels me, but few parts more so than this:



I am miserable

When I don't believe


In something higher

Than myself.


I cannot stand to feel

That unprotected,


To feel like I am walking

Around this earth


Without a shield.

There seems to be no


Purpose in living

When I don't have a God,


And usually, I have idols

To keep me busy, too.


The cat can be an idol, my



The color of my nails,

Just about anything.


But God to me is real,

And since I am


In a position of uncertainty,

I feel uncomfortable.


Some say, uncertainty is



A reaching toward.

I say, when you're manic-


Depressive and have lost

Almost everything


Of any importance,

Uncertainty as a stance


Is merely an attack

On sensibility.


I say, go ahead, believe,

And don't for a moment


Feel like you are just not

Cool, or that


You are less than any of

Your fellows


Who have not lost so much,

Who have not tasted


The apple of delight

Which was your poison.



The speaker sings about her belief how many Psalms do—in the midst of trouble and death, and honest about the fact that for her belief is a need. She emboldens us to sing without shame the songs of our beliefs, which are also songs of fracture and incoherency, songs that screech through the darkness.


I don’t believe in Christ or the moon like I once did. My relationship with them is troubled and shot through with tenderness, which I find hard to articulate for people who’ve never sincerely believed in something supernatural. Still having some kind of connection with them takes up space in me, like a need. I’m relieved at the reminder this part of the poem provides, that belief is consuming—like any great love—and therefore to lose it is a real, violent loss.



*  *



The very place I feared, I inhabit

Comfortably now.


Body, always back to the body,

Houses my soul perfectly


Like a silent form outlined

In charcoal dusk. 



Or, the spirit doesn’t need to leave the body to experience salvation.



*  *



I really feel so small in this

Green world,


But I have a need to engage

The bigger world,


To jump on top of it

Like a politician or


A madman, jumping on top

Of a car.



This reminds me of a confession of sin. The speaker compares her hunger for life to archetypes of corruption and instability, and who can blame her? Joy often feels stolen instead of earned, or like it would ravage the world if not properly restrained.


But if this is a confession, it’s delivered without guilt. The speaker talks of her need matter-of-factly, without apology—it might be transgressive, but is certainly not something for which she need say I’m sorry.



*  *



I was a mess.

But good people also came,


And it is because of them,

Listening to my ranting


That I got through it

In one piece,


And came out the other side

Better off


Than I was before.



Salvation, thank goodness, can be as simple and amazing as this.



*  *



Statement of faith:



I don't understand what is happening

Exactly, but I think


The world is falling to pieces,

And when it does,


I can give out fruit

And day lilies,


And some solace.




Layne Ransom continues to exist. She has an online chapbook out on H_NGM_N and is a recent graduate of the New Writers Project MFA program. She is an aspiring moon princess and loves Sting’s solo career. Those are probably related somehow.