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2016 Poems

May thru August


Beyond the Coffin            Print this poem only


You are standing there looking down at me.

You suspect

I am chained there

I cannot let go

I am not ready to go.

You suspect

but you do not know

in  the fog of woe

if I want that lid to close.

You think

I want to reach my fingers over the edge

to keep that lid from closing.


You think

I still have a remnant of life

in that old body

and I want it.


You think

you fashioned and clasped those chain links to hold me there.

By your doubts you are bound

in that box above the ground

Your bout with those doubts

invade you

rob the plump plumb of your sleep

drape darkness over your light.


You won’t give up your stubborn belief

that you, yes you,  can cheat fate…

if you just try hard enough.


Your faith is fresh my son. 

Fall into it.

Loosen the tentacles

grasping  events  and their endings

Free the ferments of life.


Do not confuse control with creation

let loose your irrepressible urge to create

for letting go of the details

does not derail


            Yes, your old daddy knows that now

I no longer need to pound it into you. 


I beg you my bright son:

Yield me to ground

to light and the sound

of heaven’s winds.

Let your real living Father

take hold of you,

grasp your soul

cherish it and hold it in his hands

hold you close to his bosom. 


I beg that new Light

to hold you tight

give you sight

protect your night

from the darkness of doubt

and the guile of guilt.


For you are no longer mine

but His

You have chosen

to be brother of the Son

Embrace him

your sole soul




Author's Note: I hesitated to put the first draft of this piece on the website because it did not seem to be a poem as much as stream-of-consciousness. I actually don't remember writing this as I post this revision now (6-23-18).  The original must have come from a dream, for I often dream of Dad and sometimes he is in the coffin and is still alive.  So I revised it using my father's voice. Hopefully the images will give you some flavor of what he was like at various periods of his life.  Notice the tile on the floor on the color picture.  He built our den and laid all of that tile. 


Molasses            Print this poem only


Unlike Paul on the road to Damascus

my conversion moved like molasses.


But the hound of heaven kept pursuing

his slow moving son prone to gluing

and sticking to his flaws and inept ways

with every excuse for endless delays.


That hound eventually caught me

in the songs that tearfully brought me

to my knees in helpless surrender

to prayer and his merciful splendor.


Unlike Paul on the road to Damascus

my conversion moved like molasses.


But there were hunters following that hound

who kept up till their prey was found

and stood by me gently listening,

my voice quaking my eyes glistening.


Full of my doubts and questions

they heard me and made suggestions

led me to some uncommon men

who described the road where they’d been.


Unlike Paul on the road to Damascus

my conversion moved like molasses.


The hound of heaven no longer bays

but speaks in sermons and songs of praise

he catches me in traffic on the road

and even in moments of overload.


He saves me from my darkness each day,

his Word shows me the way

and other brothers teach me to fight

out of that dark and into the light.


Now, like Paul, my Savior I’ve found

and my pace quickens to catch that Hound.

Author’s Note: A small group I belong to was discussing how the Christian life is one of being continually conformed to be Christlike.  One of the guys said that starting from birth, God gradually works on the things in our life that need to be corrected and when those get done, he moves on the next thing we need to work on (things that need to go or things that need to be added), and so on and so forth.  In his case, my friend said, this is slow as molasses since it seems all the issues and things he should have worked out a decade or more ago keep holding him down. I related to his comments and decided spiritual life as molasses would be a good metaphor and topic for a poem.  I came up with the first two lines and was going to make it a two line poem, but then I got to thinking about how that process has worked out over my life and in the past year in particular.      


Written 5-5-16

The Hound of Heaven refers to Francis Thompson's poem by that name. Below are the first few lines, the ones that inspire me the most:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

    I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

    Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.


See also the Wikipedia article on the poem









Remaking Romance            Print this poem only


If I could I’d explain the way you grab my heart

how your big brown eyes crawl into mine,

travel across my badlands and boundaries 

into the tropics of my imagination.


If I could I’d tell the world the freshness

of our old love, how we’re remaking

and reforming the meaning of romance,

but words cannot capture this creature.  


If I could I’d paint the contours

of God’s work in us for all to see

but there’s no pigment or brush

no blush or hue to show his breath in us.


If I could I’d sing or play some bars

that throbbed and crooned those years

quickened the pulse, spurred the spirit

of the sacred, and deepened our intimacy.


But there is no recapturing this glorious past

no recall good enough to measure

the breadth and depth thereof

there’s only the daily decision to love.


Written  5-25-16

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Young            Print this poem only


I thought they were over

days of running free in hills

tidings as fresh as clover

songs that give me chills.


I  thought they were past -

moments of sheer wonder

a hundred things to ask

ideas that crack like thunder.


Being so excited to learn

I feel that tingly air in my chest,

and I’ve got faith and hope that burn.

Good Lord, I thought none of these were left.


But now I hear the strains of songs

inspired and sung with joy

about forgiveness of wrongs

God’s mercy and love - Oh boy!


My bones are creaky and old

but let me say that these days

I am feeling confident and bold

my rugged old soul is ablaze.


Thank you God for so many years

for excusing the fire from my tongue

for unrestrained laughter and tears

for again making this soul young.


Written 7-1-16

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A story in those eyes            Print this poem only


At the bar I drank a few cold beers

and saw him in the mirror on the wall

I caught his gaze and raised my mug with cheers

he forced a smile that had no cheer at all

I wondered if he’d also been through hell

I knew myself the times that I’d been bleak

and saw a story in those eyes to tell,

so I turned to him -- and he began to speak.

      .         .         .         .         .


In nineteen ninety-two he went to war

a war he fought by day and lost at night

on streets of gold he buzzed from eight to four

he worked and won a fortune to excite.

But when the sun went down the fortune flew

it went to every tavern in the town

it drained away with every mug of brew.

The gains he made by day - by night came down.


In January of that fateful year

the woman he loved left him lost

she died a death that drained his every tear

and every hope for love was lost:

every hope for baseball with a boy

for rooms that echoed screams of little girls

for Sundays out to church to sing with joy

for trips in summers all round the world.


He said he wondered if he’d even live

and how he missed her softness and her touch

he wept and said how much she had to give

and  how he hated liquor for his crutch.

We talked for hours into early morn

I listened closely to the pain he shed

and to the grief and sadness that he’d borne.

I recognized the crooked path he tread.


And finally the bartend said to leave.

We packed our woes and left that sotted place.

We called a group that promised a reprieve,

we swore to try this gathering space

and meet on Wednesday night the thirty first.

We found St. Ann’s a room where others told

the stories of their weakness and their thirst

and learned to help each other be whole.


Written 7-3-16

Sunset, Sunrise            Print this poem only


The sun is trying to set on Dallas

but two days later it won’t settle nicely

its coral-amber swath is wild,

clouds swirl raw and confused

a brooding purple looming sorrow.


From a distance the cityscape

silhouettes its jagged dark towers

and sadness haunts this homecoming,

thoughts of the dead and wounded

weigh on me and push out in tears.


For years there at Main and Lamar

I heard the angst and strong voices

of those who knew the darkness

of our racial past and stretched to recast

themselves to save that village.


I saw bright and plucky leaders

who stood and held fast to the fight

to collect the people and remake a city

fit for the children who could lead us 

to respect, to listen, to speak kindness.


Those once stormy youth and their elders

nurtured families who began to live in hope

and became new determined leaders

and followers who would not give up

on this city, our city - unfinished, still growing.

Author’s Note: On my way back from east Texas on I-20 Saturday evening, having heard and seen the news Thursday night July 7, in the distance I could see the striking sunset and the silhouette of the Dallas skyline.  I taught at El Centro College for 35 years stood on that very corner countless times.  I knew African American and Hispanic students and their parents, some of whom were  leaders and served their community with love and dedication.  I am inspired by people like Chief Brown, city councilman Adam McGough who took my place at El Centro, and the young people in that march. The Dallas Morning News July 10, 2016 front page editorial was the finest and most sensitive writing I’ve ever read in that paper and I congratulate the editors and Michael Hogue the staff artist of that amazing illustration.

Written 7-7-16


Choir            Print this poem only


Sometimes you think yourself leafy brown

with odor of musk and watery ground.

You think yourself a toddler compared

to poets writing stars and clouds in air.


You do not hear your voice as one

of sweetest tone in surging run

a tenor in a high and brighter space

joined with orange of alto and blue of bass.  


You are a voice not a choir

it’s not a solo you require

but a body - all organs working

neither slumbering nor shirking.


So, just breathe in and breathe out

forsake control give up your doubt

believe, believe in mercy and let go

trust the well, the depths - just grow.



Making My Way Back            Print this poem only


Why do I leave the clover meadow

cool and humming with life,

abandon the lucid brook

vibrant with freshness

teeming with rebirth?


Fanfare and foibles

cast me out, out, and away -

fooling, beguiling

with this good and that

singing familiar lines,

past melodies and moods

dancing, entrancing

with their fix.


I am numb with bluster

streams of noisy luster

flaunting bodies

clothed in lies

filling eyes

frilling tingling

oh so very pretty -

and empty.


This flourishing obsession

tries its best

to rob the soul

but it whimpers

and fades

its trembling blight

loses its gains

in the cleansing rains

in the gentle power

of the Light.

Now I am making my way back

making my way back

to where I belong

to the faithful and the strong

to a place I believe

to a field singing with green

to a river of hope

tributaries of love

where I am refreshed

where I am



Written 8-8-2016

Romans 8: 5-65 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

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Shining Moment            Print this poem only

Oh, that shining moment

head emerging from the water

breaking forth into the Light

as from my mother’s womb

this time the span of a life

beneath those ripples

and I an old man

bathed in grace

rising, dripping joy.


Remembering that moment

a year ago

tears now drip

from these old eyes

my sight blurred by them

blurred by Spirit

by Jesus

who has not let go of me

still he holds on

grasping my heart

shaping it.

Is he a carpenter

or a stubborn sculptor,

his firm hands


chipping away?



Author's Note: Written for the 1st anniversary of my baptism, my first rebirthday, which was August 30, 2015.

Written 8-30-16


Distance (Sonnet)            Print this poem only


This distance between us occupied

minutes and hours multiplied

by walking and running thoughts,

divining the cost of careless loss

roving and darting with such might

not even a rest in dreams of night.

Then a trouble or something tragic

pauses me, and a moment of magic

makes all that distance naught.

I fly to you my love in thought

bound again by strings unclear

I yearn and ache to have you near.

But again the world cries out to me

and again I am gone - in its roiling sea.


Written 8-29-16


Inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet # 44

By William Shakespeare


If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote where thou dost stay.
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee;
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought
I must attend time's leisure with my moan,
Receiving nought by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either's woe.

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Brandi in the Light
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We are here to celebrate grandly

a young woman by the name of Brandi

we watched the baby become a child

then a teenager with a beguiling smile.

Yes, she became a beautiful lassie

but sometimes a little sassy.


She took to the water like a duck

learned to turn bad breaks into luck

she made a home of the clear blue pool

and with vigor she dove into school

by her love of family and knowledge impelled

with resolve she made her mark and excelled.


So, Brandi, dear Brandi a little wisdom to take

on your path into the future you’ll make…


Now new challenges you’ve never conceived

will test the gifts you’ve freely received

and it will be up to you to decide

whether to ride the common tide

or to show your gratitude and grit

and create something new - to commit.


You will know failure and you’ll feel pain

you’ll wonder if you can take the strain.

Be courageous and go deep within

and trust God to embrace you when

everyone one and all else seem to fail

know that you and He can prevail.


Some day some time make a gratitude list

and when you think you cannot persist

your goals are foggy and your mood is blue

dig out that list and read one or two

and make your way out of that night

find love and gentleness and Light.


To Brandi from Uncle Glenn


Written June 3, 2016

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