Tag Archive: Michael Toy

all human

we are all fools

all believe something which

if we were suddenly pressed

we would deny quickly

or slowly slink away

we are all heretics

holding onto one secret thought

which would make us outcasts

we all wish for one thing

with all our hearts

which, if it came true

would leave us wishing

for something better

we all forgive

as little as possible

and only if we think

we’ll get something

in return

we are all lust

and too little love

we are all greedy before

we are willing to share

we are all human

which means both

something beautiful

and something we’d rather

not think about

[by Michael Toy, ‘Blame It On The Huehuetenango’]

[For more powerful poems by Mr Michael Toy, click here]

Toying with the Idea at Hand

the unholy matrimony
of knees falling to the ground
as the king rides past

in the background
the flag is being hoisted
and draped over
the crossbeams of the steeple

as i hear my words
pledging their allegiance
i dip my hand
into the offering box
and draw out two tiny coins
believing Caesar already has enough to go around

the silver coins scattered
around me on the ground
remind me it is getting late

[This poem was inspired by the style of my friend Michael Toy who writes much better poetry than me which can be found here and you should definitely consider buying his book ‘Blame it on the Huehuetenango’ which is really great]


This was the 4th book launch i have done for ‘i, church’ and the first one in Durban. And what another incredible evening it was.

Firstly, we decided to do a small change with this one and focus on the Q & A aspect of the evening which was a highlight for me from each of the previous launches. And as a bonus, i got the chance to preach at 3 Westville Baptist church services on the Sunday before the Q & A slash launch so people got a direct invitation to the launch after hearing some of the heart of the book in my preach.

Once again thankx to a bunch of my friends largely including staff and congregants of Westville Baptist church, especially Rebecca Benn who spearheaded the thing while i was still in Cape Town and got balls rolling, the church for letting me use their hall and Debbie and Baz and some of the youth and young adults who got involved. And then my good friend Sammi Taylor who womanned one of the book tables:

One aspect that was different from the Cape Town launches was the addition of two poems from my friend Michael Toy’s poetry book [for the recovering evangelical] titled ‘Blame it on the HueHuetenango’ which i felt fit in strongly with the theme of the book.

My good friends Debbie and Baz did an intro and then hosted the Q & A using a mix of live questions and sms questions that people texted to Barry’s phone while the session was on – definitely stretched me to some deeper levels with some of the questions that were posed at this particular launch.

This was the best mix of people we have had generationally with some youth and young adults stretched out on bean bags and then a range of older people all the way to some seniors who were on chairs and couches and just such an incredible time of engagement and then conversation as i tried to speedily sign some books afterwards as well. Cape Town friends and friends from October Leadership camp 13 years ago and from Baptist Summer Camp many years ago as well as an uncle-in-law all made it a very special occasion.

i am glad we sold some books, but i am more excited about the opportunity to challenge and inspire people about church and possibly seeing and experiencing church as something that is even bigger than the people in the building who meet on that particular day of the week. And also getting a chance to challenge the church [as in those who were present] about the absolute priority that we need to have in matters of race and reconciliation and unity and speaking and acting and listening into areas of pain and hurt and fear and disappointment that exist in our country.

It really was another incredible night of connecting with God’s people and speaking about God’s stuff in love [which sounds very similar to what my definition of church is]…

And of course the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob, was on hand to bring his own special brand of protection to the books that were on sale…

For anyone who was interested in coming and maybe missed out, i will be leaving a stash of books with Debbie and Baz from Westville Baptist church and so you can get hold of a copy from them for R100 or as always it is available online at Amazon.


[For a glimpse of the teaser including a short extract from ‘i, church’, click here]

My friend, Michael Toy, who lives in Americaland and is a real person writes some incredible poetry that speaks deeply into things and as i am slowly working my way through his book i thought it was time to share another gem – this is taken from the book, ‘Blame it on the Huehuetenango’ which you should order online cos he has such an incredible gift at this kind of thing:

christian men and christian women

christian men and christian women

often hae sex, and find it to be

an excellent sort of thing to do

we are very careful, however,

to never discuss this activity

using any language which

might bring to mind

the slightest hint of

the remembered or anticipated

the emotion or the experience

even words like “evocative” and “nuance”

are avoided, being a little bit

too dangerous.

christian men and christian women

often stand in a room with

a thousand strangers singing

all unfettered adjectives and adverbs

of overwhelmed beauty and

longing for a completion

which shatters the secret soul

and fulfills creation

stretching out their hands

to touch the divine

oh, to be the beautiful bride

on the night she finally

gives herself to her lover

christian men and women

this is one reason why

people sometimes

don’t take us seriously

= = = = = = = = = =

[For another great poem by Michael Toy called all human, click here or head on over to his site over here

continuing with another excerpt from the most amazing poetry book i have ever read [and while this is a really small set of things, that doesn’t diminish the amazingness of this book one bit] by my online friend, Michael Toy, titled ‘Blame it on the Huehuetenango’ and this poem in particular which he calls ‘My First Last Day’ being reminded that the subtitle of this book is ‘Poetry for the Recovering Evangelical’ and so specifically for anyone who ever walked, or contemplated walking, away from church…


I remember the day I hung up my robe,

we were all smiling and thinking 

      which buffet we’d eat at.

I knew I wasn’t coming back.

Next Thursday night

when the music director handed out the charts 

for the special music,

I wouldn’t be there

wondering who got the solo.

I knew that next Sunday,

I would not be a blue-robed architectural element,

a backdrop for a proclamation that went forward

but never came back.

What I did not know

was that I was about to die.

My tupperware life,

as artificial and commercial as it was…

was still a life.

Now I wander in a Valley of Un-Life

faced away from one thing,

unable to find the next

At sunrise and sunset

I see a reflection in the clouds

of the light from the country

I am looking for.

I ache to walk in that light,

to feel the warmth of it

under my skin.

But the earth conspires,

gravity draining,

steps fail me

Stainless dreams for a happy ending

hang on the hook next to my robe.

What were my dreams when I hung up my robe?

I can’t remember.

All I remember is the feeling of emptiness …

it dawns that I have traded one emptiness for another

and tears at last find their way into the open air.

With the tears come words,

lyrics to a song.

They surprise me,

because they are joyful.

“Brother, Sister, Friend, I am so glad

        that you are here with me today.”

Still lacking direction

I feel less lost

The country of light seems close

as we embrace and the warmth of your breath

passes over my face.

[For another great poem titled ‘Christian Men and Christian Women, click here]

i am busy reading this poetry book which was a gift to me by a friend i have only met online and know through friends of friends but his gift of words and wielding them to weave and create and display and be creative is at the same time obvious and captivating here is a second one that really resonated with me [maybe cos i am all that kinds of crazy myself]:

[from the book, ‘Blame it on the huehueetenango: poetry for the recovering evangelical’ by Michael Toy]


there are several different levels of crazy
the “at most a little bit crazy” of thinking that someone,
or something, somewhat like a person
called god is actually out there

the “change the conversation before it goes wrong” crazy
of thinking that this something knows about us
and might even care

the “veering into dangerous territory” crazy
where conversations with this something occur,
two way conversations

the “cross the street to avoid” crazy where
when the something suggests actions,
that among the possible responses,
is simply following the suggestion

right now, i am one step away from
the really scary crazy
the “lock them up before they hurt someone” crazy,
where someone is all those kinds of crazy
but doesn’t think it is crazy at all.

[for another great poem by Michael Toy, titled ‘My First Last Day’, click here]

Michael Toy is one of my imaginary friends, you know like the one you had as a kid, that you were convinced was real. Except that this one really is. No seriously, you gotta believe me!

Although his last name even suggests that i might have trouble convincing anyone of that. ‘Imaginary’ in that, though we have been ‘friends on Facebook’ and have at least 30 mutual friends  [most of whom i actually real-life know] we have never met and yet somehow i managed to end up with his recently published poetry book, ‘Blame it on the huehuetenango’ – some type of spicy chili perhaps? – in my hands… and by ‘somehow’ i mean that he sent me a copy when i was trying my hardest to buy it off Amazon [what does this guy have against Amazon!??!]

i am only four poems in [i was using them as rewards while writing a bunch of talks yesterday] but every single one so far has deeply resonated with me and semi-blown me away, and so i really wanted to share a bunch of them with you [but you should seriously consider heading online and buying a copy – you will likely not regret it – just don’t let him know though or he’ll probably send you one!]

oh wait, i just remembered why i wanted a copy, it was for purely selfish reasons [of course] – Michael invited people to write scathing reviews of his poetry that we hadn’t read to stick on the back cover of his book. Gems like:

“Never been a fan of poetry. Still not.” – LAci Scott, retired super-heroine, not her real name

“I would have paid more if this was 2-ply” – Christian Waiau, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you

And mine were not good [bad?] enough for the back cover, but they did get honourable mention inside the book…

So before you read this offering, know that this is what i had to say about it, before i read it:

“Toy manages to take a universal concept like poetry and through sheer mangling so horrific it would make Darth Vader send a letter of condolences, manages to create something even Poetry itself has been overheard saying, “I’m sorry, he’s not with us.” – Brett Fish Anderson


“Never before has such a wondrous breath of fresh air and deep and satisfying appreciation of life been so horribly interrupted , as the moment i started reading this book.” – Brett Fish Anderson

I think Michael’s explanation or intro to his poetry on his site explains them well:

‘It makes no sense to me that I ended up being a Christian Person. Somehow, I did. Thus began a quest, like Dorothy when she steps out of the fallen house, to figure out where I am, and what kind of crazy country have I been transported to.

Poetry has turned out to be a great medium for me to wish, wonder and wrestle with these issues. I can ask questions and suggest shapes and directions without having to murder my enemies.

To my friends (and if you are reading my poem website, you are my friends) for whom even the idea of “faith in Jesus” makes your skin crawl, I would like to say this. That sentiment lives in me too, and there is even some of that in these poems. Feel free to skip these poems, but also feel free to read them. I have had people try to convert me, and it was a horrible experience and I promise not to do that to you.’

So without further much ado about nothing, i give you, Michael Toy and ‘Blame i on the huetenango’:

i hold in my hands a tiny cup
of single origin espresso
from the mysterious land of huehuetenango

( … yes it is fair trade )

the first sip
the smoky flavor
reminds me of something …

they say the fires burn there
with a heatless flame
that never dies,
bathing you in pain
but never consuming.
they say this is reserved
for those not under the blood
who don’t acknowledge the lordship.

they tell me that i need to understand, that god has a reputation to protect
and can’t be seen in my company
him being perfect,
and me

they tell me not to worry
god has donned human flesh,
like a hazmat suit.
walking bravely into the contaminated area
to bring us good news.

they say my remaining time can’t be predicted, it could be decades or microseconds
they tell me i need to make sure,
before that final surprise package,
to save myself by accepting the free offer of salvation.
they tell me once i die and finally see jesus as who he really is
full of glory and love and wisdom
without the witness of the crusades
the inquisition
the catholic pedophiles
the protestant slavers
or the nondenominational spectacularly coiffed televangelists
to cloud my vision.
when i finally see jesus as he really is,
it will be too late.
like trying to place bets on a horse race after it’s over.

before this once in a lifetime offer expires,
before the last grain of carefully measured grace falls in the hourglass,
before the winged monkeys come to bear me away to the castle of fire,
they tell me i need to declare that jesus is the lord of my life

they even drew for me a diagram
which represents my life
to show how pretty it would be
if i put the cross, right in the middle
like a child matching up the red cube
with the red square shaped hole
i will win the prize
i will be saved

and ooooooh lordy
the polyester hell you end up in after that salvation with
the unquenchable flames
of smiling people who are “fine” every sunday
and want to know how your “walk with the lord” is doing
as if it were a third person in the room
whose name nobody can remember
but is also “fine”
sip the crappy perked coffee
what’s for lunch?

how happy you will be to sing on that morning
of god’s glory and the beauty of the far heavens
where the lord sits waiting for you to die
so that all the ugly repulsive parts of you,
that you are learning to hate as much as he does,
will finally be gone and you will at last
be fit to be seen in the presence

i need to pray more
i need to read my bible more regularly
i need to hate the sin and love the sinner
i need to take detailed notes when listening to sermons
i need to memorize more scriptures,
including the gps coordinates of key passages
i need to get to work, be part of the family business
i need to see the angels helping me cross the street safely
i need to avoid listening to the false teachers i need to hold fast to the teachings of the apostles
i need to be ready to give answers about the hope within me
i need to understand the deep significance of the hebrew word for “know”
and the subtle distinctions between the five greek words for “love”
i need to let go and let god
i need to shine the light of jesus in a dark and desperate world
i need to inventory my spiritual gifts i need to discern my calling
i need to find an accountability partner
i need to keep piling more of this on, as i gain the strength,
growing in maturity,
ever vigilant ever striving

to not be like the hypocrites, the pharisees that jesus yelled at
who had a list detailing
exactly what god required of them
but couldn’t see him when he was right in front of them
inviting them to sit and eat and drink.

invited to a feast,
i wonder if i am even brave enough
to take a second sip.

[For another poem titled ‘Crazytown’ by Michael Toy, click here]

[For more Michael Toy literary greatness, challenge and wrestlingmanship, take a look at his website, over here]

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