D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

On Top of the World

In the airplane, I put on my headphones [this is the first time I have flown since we moved back to Portland 10 months prior, the first time I have ever left my baby behind, the first time I am going somewhere to talk about my writing, the first time I wore boots and a faux-leather jacket borrowed from my sister in order to appear confident, calm, professional, put-together].

The words and music that pour forth unnerve me [ I had listened to my husband’s weird and wild and quirky album before, sure—while I cleaned the house or had the same conversation ten times in a row with my child. My husband knew for some reason I needed to hear it through his fancy headphones, in a suspended place, I needed to pay attention. My husband is bearded, kind, adorable. He hides his angst and is learning to better understand that it is OK to be angry at things that are unjust and unwell].

During my talk, I unabashedly cribbed from my husband and his songs [I said, to a certain extent, that I love to write troubled, to write scared, to approach our life and work and our compulsion towards meaning-making with a bent towards complicating matters. Heaven knows Twitter wants to take my thoughts and make them short and snappy and sanctimonious. Heaven knows I want to be seen as good and perfect and an artist and an activist. Heaven knows we are just grappling, all the time, with the ways the devil convinces us that the world should work]. 

So here, I will just leave them here. The words that reveal so much about our hearts. We long for that equitable kingdom to come. We long for it to not cost us so much. But the very best things are worth everything, aren’t they?

 

 

Top of the World 

By The Maiden Name

 

 

top of the world 

bourgeois at least 

it’s clear it’s engineered 

for folks like me 

top of my game, I mean top of the game 

but then again from my end I didn’t really have to compete 

 

white, straight, master’s degree 

cards lined up in hand, so it’s guaranteed 

that this world will work for me, was built for me 

my demographics is my skeleton key, 

 

at least this system runs 

so let’s tweak it gently 

yeah, when the Kingdom comes, 

let’s, let’s change things gently 

 

power isn’t a problem 

gotta get it in the right hands 

fingers in front of me are fit enough 

just watch, I’ve got compassionate plans 

 

let’s raise wages just enough 

don’t raise the prices 

and don’t lower my salary 

or take away any of my write-offs 

 

we’ve basically arrived, right? 

seems like it from where I stand 

at the top the game, it’s good 

offer the less fortunate a helping hand 

 

justice vs. compassion, take the latter every time 

it feels better to give than to pay a proper dime 

 

let’s raise the valleys 

without tearing the mountains down 

I want justice to roll down like river 

but I’m afraid I might drown 

 

I’m opposed to violence 

and I’m opposed to not feeling safe 

and when those two come head to head 

I’m still not sure which choice I would make 

and I used to avoid paying war-taxes 

by keeping my income low enough 

but with both of us working 

can’t bring myself to donate the surplus 

and my neighbors next door 

yeah, they’re on the run from war 

while I’ve been sitting on my sofa 

writing theology behind closed doors 

yeah, I’m safe and I’m secure, 

even in my neighborhood 

they say it’s the hood, hood 

but I know that I don’t look like you’ll think I’m up to no good 

 

so I walk down dark streets 

and I don’t look over my shoulder, 

and if there’s no one I have to meet 

then I’ll walk a little slower 

without a worry or a care 

I take my walks without falter 

maybe that’s the reason why never had 

any use for the Psalter 

 

question: can I ever be saved? 

you know my face looks enraged 

but I have slave trade chocolate 

silently running through my veins 

before we give these valleys a raise, let’s wait 

cause I’ve escaped the curse at the cost 

of inequality’s iron rod 

of others being crushed by the weight 

of a system I did not create 

but I’ve bought into it in a literal way 

my money for products at a low wage 

my vote working in what I pay 

my heart in exchange for what I gain 

my soul in exchange for what I save 

I’ve never worked the ground from which I was made 

-can I ever be saved? 

 

Up on a mountain looking down 

you only see loss 

so when the Kingdom comes 

I know it will come with a cost 

I know it cost someone like me a lot 

 

I want to justice to roll on like a river 

its current to flow strong and mighty 

but I want to keep my feet dry 

and from what I hear that’s just not likely 

 

what did I go out into the desert to see? 

a wind-swayed reed? 

did I hope to stay as I am? 

or did I hope to be redeemed?

 

 

(You can listen to the song/hear the rest of the album here)

 

 

 

 

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