Introducing a new series: Lazy Saturday Poetry– By: Charles Westerman

When I started this blog, I said I was going to write a little bit of everything I really like to write.  And there is some stuff that I get absolutely jolly writing.  There’s nothing like capping off a sports column with that perfect last sentence, that last neat little stitch to bring it all together.  There’s nothing like learning something big about your faith and then finding a way to put that life-lesson into words. There’s nothing like inventing a new fictional character in your mind that even you yourself find interesting, funny, complex and mysterious.

But to be honest, sometimes my column feels like a chore.  Sometimes I go months without telling people what’s going on in my walk with God.  And most of the time, I want to punch my main fictional character in the face, because he’s just a bad metaphor for my life and he can’t gain his own independence and have his own unique personality (which is what good fictional authors can do).  When it comes to those forms of writing, I often have to dig down deep and pull something out of myself… and though it’s exhausting, when I find the discipline to do it, it’s always very rewarding.

Yes, readers, I’m going to finally admit one of my most awful secrets to you: my favorite writer is myself, and my most loyal reader is me.  I get a tingling feeling when I read my own stuff; I’d imagine it’s sort of what doing crack is like.  Nobody thinks I’m wittier and craftier with words than I do.  Seriously if anyone has a good shrink they should call me, because as you can see, I’ve got some ego-issues going on.  But hey, admitting it is the first step right?  But even more seriously I think all writers have to have this confidence and satisfaction on some level (although my levels are admittedly are a little high).

Personal Hamartia aside (if you don’t know what Hamartia means, Wikipedia that bitch) I’ll get back to the point.  That a lot of the writing I do sometimes feels like pulling teeth.  But even though it feels like I have to dig a lot of this stuff out of me, there’s one form of writing that has always just flowed out of my pen onto the paper, or came in a text message to myself, or that taps itself out on a little document I’ve had open on my computer for four years saved under “Playonward– Cause for Effect” (playing on the phrases ‘pause for effect’ and ’cause and effect,’ you have no idea how much I stroked my ego when I came up with that one).”

What I’m talking about is the writing form of poetry and lyrics.  Since my freshman year of high school it’s something I just have to do or I’ll burst.  Come to think of it, it’s a lot like peeing.  I never really know if I’m writing poetry or song lyrics, but when it’s three in the morning and my mind is roaring like a Harley, I know I won’t be able to get some Z’s until I grab my phone, open a text to myself, and see what knots my head is trying to untie.

What happens as I furiously tap those little button on my En-V3 is a rush I can’t explain.  A kind of trance or orgasm of the brain.  What I’m left with is an explanation to myself I’ve been working out for days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years.  I wrote a poem about my relationship with my late-father on the 20th anniversary of his death that I’d been trying to capture the complexity and feeling of since my freshman year of high school.

If my other writings are what crack is like, poetry is to me, the brief moment of clarity I’d imagine someone gets when they smoke meth.  I still remember the first truly satisfying poem/lyrics I wrote in a text message to my brother one day the summer after my freshman year helping my Dad fix fence on the ranch.  Back in 2005 I’d just got my first iPod and was finding my own unique taste in music– listening to a lot of Dashboard Confessional, Fall Out Boy and The Starting Line.  That angsty teenage music about how girls are the source of all their pain and all their joy.  And though it’s childish, I remember thinking that Chris Carrabarra (the lead singer of Dashboard) was like the Hemingway of angsty teenage music. So naturally I wanted to be like Chris (I don’t so much anymore).

I opened a text to ‘Mitch’ and wrote the following lines, “What goes around comes around and kicks you in the back of the head, I’m chasing your tail, which has me chasing mine instead.”  Yes it was very 15-years-old of me. But hey, that’s what 15 year olds do right?  I had officially started my mission to figure out how to deal with this angst and ultimately conquer it. Once I hit send I didn’t stop the rest of the day.  “Alright bro, here’s another one: ‘Your skating on thin ice and I’m under water with a blow torch to bring you down.'”  It was a bad imitation of Chris Carrabarra, but had Mick not been a good older brother and texted me back telling me they were really good, I’d probably still be looking for some form of my identity to this day.  In fact, I owe most of my confidence as a writer to Mick (and for that bro, I can never repay you).

Eventually I became competent enough with a guitar to start writing songs.  I wrote my first song the second semester of my freshman year at WSU and haven’t gone three months without writing one since.  I’d estimate I’ve partially written about 40 songs and have finished about 25 of them, putting me at about a completed song once every six weeks.  It’s something I have to do to keep my sanity.

With that in mind, I’d like to start consistently sharing with my small handful of faithful readers, where my true heart for writing came from.  I’ve posted a few poems on here before, but I’d like to make it a more regular occurrence. So I’m going to start a series title, “Lazy Saturday Poetry.”  One poem will be posted by yours truly at 12 pm Pacific Time every Saturday.

And when you read them, know that the writer your interacting with felt nothing but bliss and exhilaration as he wrote the words.  That he was refreshed and not drained as he hammered them out.  That even though writing his sports column was like doing layup drills, or writing about his faith felt like practicing free throws, or the short story your reading came from countless hours studying film– the poetry your taking in, was to him like all that hard work paying off as he took the court for the big game.

Below is the first ever edition of the Lazy Saturday Poetry series.  I wrote it in church last week.  It by no means stands out from the dozens of other poems I’ve written on this exact subject; trying to motivate myself to conquer my pride, and remind myself that only Jesus Christ has the power to do that.  But in a way it’s kind of a classic Charlie poem.  A good way to introduce you to my style: pure, flowing vulnerability.

Lately I’ve been trying to write some poems that have a rhyme scheme that’s more complex than my natural Mother Goose style.  I’ve been playing around with structure, punctuation and capitalization more, and learning how to make something flow that doesn’t necessarily rhyme, or at least rhyme all the time (you see, I can’t help myslef).  And though I’ve made strides in this department, I’ve come to the realization that sometimes a poet just needs to be true to himself and his natural style. I hope you enjoy it.

Why The Wine is Red 

See your face, and I shake like a quake.

The center of the flock breaks,

And the lambs disperse in every which way.

But the shepherd speaks a stern command:

We can be united again,

When you come back and feast from the palm of my hand.

Will you wait for me to find you or will you wander in the land?

If you’d ever stop screaming you could hear me calling back.

Calm down and come back.

You get a little closer with the tiniest of steps.

Deliverance will find you when you eat the bread,

And remember why that wine is red.

Go back to all the times where you thought your soul was dead.

And you prayed that sweetest phrase,

“I swear I’ll start living it.”

I don’t want another start, I just need another chance.

One more day to sing a song, strip off my clothes and dance.

Another night to ponder stars and praise how small I am.

I’m just a man without a plan because instead I chase my dreams,

That Christ would take my life until there is no more of me.

So I bid good riddance to that sore in my eye.

That swollen, black, pride.

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The Functionalist Manifesto– By: Jeremy & Charlie Westerman

My brother Jeremy and I started a non-political political party last year as a joke on facebook. It’s called The Functionalist party… and the more we think about it, the less of a joke it is, and the more serious the idea has become as a set of ideologies to live your life by. With that in mind we decided to draft a Manifesto this fall.

I read some Manifesto’s for one of my English classes with my favorite professor Jon Hegglund and remembered thinking; “It would be cool to be passionate enough about something to write a Manifesto…” So yeah, I can at least cross one thing off my bucket list this year!

If you’re interested in joining The Functionalist Party email me at– cmdwesterman@gmail.com 

The Functionalist Manifesto

We are a political party that does not believe in politics.

We believe in doing what is functional.

Because what is functional is love.

And Love is the Most Excellent Way.

Therefore what is Functional is the Most Excellent Way.

We do not believe in unbridled capitalism.

We believe in capitalism in moderation.

Because capitalism has become an idea of excess.

And the only thing Jesus Christ believed should be excessive is moderation.

He is the moderation of justice and he is the moderation of grace.

He is the moderation of power and he is the moderation of humility.

He is the moderation of laughter and he is the moderation of tears.

We believe that there is obvious and undeniable proof that God exists all around us.
This proof might be big and it might be small–

But we believe if you look hard enough you will realize this is completely true.
We believe this to be true so strongly that we are either right or totally crazy…

We are ok with either.
The proof here on earth is God’s gift to us and drives our faith.
Our faith drives our obedience,

And we obey because we have sought to bring knowledge and deep understanding to our faith.
Our obedience drives living a functional life.
We believe a functional life is the best way to have a happy and fulfilled life here on earth.
We believe this life is only temporary and we will live the MOST functional existence in Heaven.
We believe the concepts of Functionalism are simple and clear.
We believe these concepts revolve around people and relationships.
We believe the relationships we have with people (and God) are some of the best proof of this.

We believe that while the people who believe in God fail all the time, God himself is not a failure—his son, Jesus Christ is the most functional being to ever walk the planet.

He is the Most Excellent Way.

Because Christ IS love.

And there is no fear in love.

And if we stopped successfully portraying him as a failure, his teachings could literally save the whole world.

We believe the only way to do this is through the power of authentic community.

We believe America has become a country that doesn’t value authentic community.

We believe we can change that through the power of communication, organization, genuineness, laughter and resonating the spiritual with the intellectual.

We believe in DEEP THINKING.

We believe you should know why you believe something.

We believe you can’t have authentic community unless you have authentic individuals…

This stuff isn’t rocket science.

We believe in the separation of church and state.

We don’t believe in the separation of Jesus and state.

Because we don’t need separation.

We need a united state.

We don’t think that concept is a coincidence.

Because Jesus was all about commUNITY.

And our country is fighting Civil War II.

Instead of Confederate and Yankee, we have Democrat and Republican.

We just don’t use guns, we use words.

We believe that it’s not a coincidence that God calls the Bible his Word, and that when Paul writes the full armor of God, he compares the Word to a sWord.

We believe that words are swords, so we may not be fighting a war with guns, but we are fighting a war with words

And as iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen each other with our words.

Therefore our words have to start sharpening each other for good.

We believe that the author of salvation is a hallelujah revolution.

Hallelujah means inexpressible joy.

We believe we have to start truly believing in that revolution.

We believe that he can take away all of our fear and worry.

Because as John says in chapter four of his first book, “God is love… there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

And as Jesus himself says in Matthew 6 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

We believe that when we eliminate fear and worry from our lives we become more than conquerors.

Therefore we have to start using words that contain only absolute truth.

The only absolute truth is love and God is love.

We don’t believe God shows this love through our circumstances.

We believe his love is how to deal with and improve those circumstances.

Even when children die, love can improve that circumstance.

It’s the only way TO improve that circumstance.

You can either use that tragedy to make the world and your life a more empty place, or you can love the ones who are still with you better and bring beauty from the ashes (Our official party bird is the Phoenix).

We realize this is not an easy thing to do, however it is a necessary thing to do.

We believe that a lot of the information our culture gets doesn’t contain absolute truth.

(For example what the news reports about our government doesn’t always tell the full story)

We believe good communication reveals absolute truth.

We will only put information out into the world that we truly believe to be absolute truth.

This is what we call good communication.

We believe good communication happens in good relationships.

The only good relationships are functional ones.

The only functional ones are relationships that are built around honesty, selflessness and genuineness – aka LOVE.

We believe that Christ isn’t a religion he’s a relationship.

We believe that life is all about relationships.

Functionalists strive to have functional relationships with God, themselves, their family, friends, strangers, technology, time, music, sports, work/school, food, alcohol etc.

We believe humor is one of God’s greatest gifts.

We believe that a community where plenty of laughter is found is the sign of a healthy, authentic community.

We believe our party should strive to make the whole world laugh more.

Because the more we laugh, the less fear and worry we have.

We believe this party started out as a joke between two brothers who were fed up with a dysfunctional government.

We are dead serious when we say that this joke could change our country—and even the world– for good… God is ironic like that.

We believe that power is a responsibility, not something for our own personal gain.

We believe that if God blesses you with money, power, fame – that he has given you a responsibility to use those things for good.

To help the widows, the poor, the sick, the fatherless, the homeless, and all who feel powerless.

We are a party of compassion.

However we are NOT pushovers.

The men in our party shouldn’t be “nice guys” or “bad boys”.

They should strive to be “good men.”

They should be warriors for what is good and just in the world.

Being a warrior means we believe in chivalry, therefore we treat women with respect.

We strive to be good leaders, husbands and fathers.

The women in our party don’t go for “bad boys” or “nice guys.”

They go for “good men.”

They holdout for men who strive to be good leaders, husbands and fathers.

Because they are all too beautiful not to holdout for such men.

We believe that if we have good marriages, we have good families, and that if we raise good families, we will start to have more authentic communities, and if we do that, the problems in the world will start to fix themselves.

We believe that nothing is manlier than justice.

And that nothing is womanlier than grace.

And that if there’s a perfect balance of that in our marriages.

There will be a perfect balance of it in our world.

Because Jesus was the perfect balance of justice and grace.

And he was the most functional, influential human being to ever walk the planet.