2019

Poems

September-

December

 

Fence Builder          Print this poem only

 

All the houses around us are fenced.

Boarded against the hoard

of vagrant eyes, imagined robbers.

 

Five yellow pages of our fears -

fence builders -

many hoping we will overcome our thrift

and buy their iron or vinyl

rather than the cheaper wood.

 

I prefer to see my neighbors

repairing their pickups

throwing their kids a party

driving, walking, scooting

down the back alley.

Where are they headed?

To the store for lettuce or the lottery

to the doctor for their asthma,

some at an unsafe speed,

are they late to the office

or are they slaves to productivity?

 

It seems we need a retreat

from the attention-demands of a crazy world.

But is it too easy to insulate and isolate?

 

My no-fence house

is my declaration of dependence

on this neighborhood

and my ties to it.

 

But how well I know

my dark talent

for building walls within

to divide me from those I count

as family

friends

and intimates.

 

I don’t want to be

a fence builder.

The costs are too high.

Written 5-9-11  Revised 9-1-19

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Driller            Print this poem only

 

Sometimes I feel like a tiny speck

a pinpoint on the cosmic map

in a long and eventful trek.

I wonder: has it been a twinkling mishap

in the eternal river of creation-

this small life on this land-

has it been a mere gestation

a tiny flame to be fanned?

 

This great project of learning

feels like a random flow

an era of melancholy yearning

an endless lurch and search to know

a fitful labor to pay the bills

fill the day with peak emotion

explore the plains and the hills

make history with earnest devotion.

 

I’ve concluded at this late stage

that it’s ok to stay in one place

linger with the words on one page

stay a while and embrace

the depths of each soul,

to drill relentless and brave

through layers of coal and gold

to be a faithful drilling slave.

 

It is in this drilling quest

seemingly in one hole

each passage explored and pressed

until its juices yield to the bowl

and the story is told whole and wide

when I find there the cosmic Word

every star and atom tied

and each syllable and song is heard.

Written 9-7-19

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Back to the Fold            Print this poem only

 

The sheep graze in the field

one of them departs and goes astray

on a trek to find what’s revealed

beyond the rife and usual way.

 

The shepherd watches, and stays

as the animal explores what’s beyond.

That roamer keeps the shepherd’s tender gaze

and doesn’t lose the love that forms their bond.

 

But when stray approaches the cliff,

in danger of falling to his death,

shepherd’s run for him is swift

and his pursuit takes his pep and breath.

 

Shepherd trusts that the lone stray has learned

the needed lessons in his trek so bold

smiles and speaks the name of the trekker he’s turned,

that single fervent seeker joyfully welcomed - back to the fold.

 

Dedicated to my wonderful pastor, Kevin Williford, for his dedication to and love of his flock, including those of us who ventured long and far on their spiritual journeys.

Revised  9-14-19

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Reflections of a Tree        Print this poem only

 

There you sit beyond the window

in what you call the inside

but think not I am on the outside

for when you look at me

you notice how beautiful I am

as my amber, coral, and russet leaves

prepare to fall into winter.

 

I join you to the seasons

cast you into the universe

of your origin my brother.

Your eyes feast

on my living and dying

reminding you of your own passage.

 

Yes, you are on the inside -

the inside of me

and when you mistake yourself as separate

you suffer the sorrow of your species.

 

So here we are together

in the cooling days of autumn

the wind and I and you are one

waving goodbye to what was,

and hello to what is and is to come.

 

Author’s Note:  Just outside the garden room window is a Chinese Tallow tree whose leaves are just gorgeous in the fall, reminding me of my own autumn.  

Written 11-9-19

 

The following was written by Rudy Rountree to end a piece he wrote for our budding Bible Study Group of which he was part at El Centro College many years ago.  In his writing he honestly and warmly shared the goodness that he saw in each of us in the group.  In re-reading it I was struck by the love Rudy had for all of us and for himself. 

 

“I have never quite known how one loves God.  It is very hard for me to understand that.  But what I think I am feeling more and more is an appreciation for life; an appreciation for a creator that gives me life— with friends like you, my family, and a place to work like El Centro [College].  I sense him more and more.  I love Him for that personal revelation.  -  Rudy

 

An Appreciation for Life from a Tender Man           

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To know Rudy was to soon discover

that above all he was a lover

he would look at you with those penetrating eyes

he’d nod and listen as if you’d given him a prize.

 

His love of friends and family filled his heart

he made you feel like you were part

of him, as if you somehow snuck inside

and found a place there to abide.

 

A friend of ours said that Rudy was a tender man

who never forgot his roots in the farming lands

of East Texas where he picked cotton and hauled hay.

A humble man, Rudy said of himself there really wasn’t much to say.

 

Early on he struggled with little pay

held many jobs that showed him the way,

the way good, hard-working people live

and from them and his kin he learned respect and how to give.

 

It has been said that Rudy was always there,

a loyal friend and Brother who cared, unfailingly fair.

And his daughter and beloved wife

were “his girls,” the precious, precious gems of his life.

 

Yes there was a country boy deep inside

but his knowledge and interests were very wide,

a Renaissance man, educated and urbane

yet uneasy with praise and not prone to be vain.

 

He was not a “my God/your God” debater

but he had a simple love for his Creator.

An appreciation for life swelled and flourished in him

and the abiding light of his gratitude did not dim.

 

It is said God is love and he who abides in it

abides in God and God in him. Doesn’t that fit

Rudy who had an enduring slant and bent

toward Love and took that tilt wherever he went?

 

And so here we are remembering this giant of a man

any words I could write or say could not span

the scope of his tender, merciful spirit, or begin to make whole

the measure and size of Rudy’s beautiful soul.

 

Author’s Note: Dedicated to Aven Rountree and Lacy Rountree Stanley

 

Written 11-7-19   Read at memorial service for Rudy Rountree 11-9-19 Fort Worth Texas

 

 

A Few Quotes from Rudy

 

For whatever might have been wrong with the morals, it seems like loving is so much less wrong than all the other "bad" things some people list as no-no's.   Least ways there will be a lot of fond memories as we all start the rocking chairs.

 

And at our off-campus facility sometimes called the Green Glass—Boots and Belle and Nitse (or whatever her name was—I couldn't get it straight).   Major philosophy was debated there, as good as when authentic philosophers gather, and probably infinitely more fun.

 

"Though nothing can bring back the days of splendor in the grass, we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains."

 

I have been on a steady road to deeper and deeper contentment. 

 

I spent twenty years at El Centro. There were a few down times, but like the saying on the sun dial, "I count none but the sunny hours."    

 

I will speak a little of the dead, for it is not likely I can hurt anyone left out.   The pain I felt at Jim Hankerson's death was like that of a family member.   That classic original was loved by everybody.   So many of us have wished we had written down all his special sayings—things like, "rougher than a stucco bathtub."   He was my mentor and close friend.  

 

… to go to college I worked at many minor jobs: ice cream store soda jerk; janitor at the high school; painter; assistant to librarian; worker at wood factory; furniture mover and farm work among other things.   I also borrowed fifty dollars at a time from two bankers, and paid them off slowly.   I usually borrowed at the beginning of a semester to pay tuition and get some clothes, and from my odd jobs paid them back.

 

Which Measure?          Print this poem only

 

The deficit of a Monday morning

piled up during Saturday and Sunday

my mind muses a foggy warning:

approach the breach without delay.

 

But what gauge to use at day’s end

of success and fruitfulness

which tape to measure a win,

if I fell back or made progress?

 

The tape of yellow and black

to find the structure’s strength

the green measuring tape to track

the growth of life by its length?

 

The white one given by the boss

to decide the next raise

from the amount of profit and loss

who goes and who stays?

 

     --------------------------

 

Or the silver tape to measure my meddle

I hope this is the one I will employ,

and for the quality of courage in this vessel

did my work this day give me joy?

 

Did I honor my values and ideals

will heaven smile on me

my better angels at my heels

and finally, what measure of peace in my soul will there be?  

Written 10-28-19

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​​​See-throughness           Print this poem only

 

She was disabled, twisted and another race

he a beautiful healthy young man

and there he was hugging her

speaking softly into her ear

eyes sparkling

smiling broadly

as if touching an angel

and I wondered about their story

two seemingly such different people

so closely bonded,

he holding her up

she clutching him,

together strong.

 

Have you known people different from you

in beliefs, habits, politics, words,

but it just so happens

you see through the oppositeness

to their inner beauty

knitting yourselves together anyway?

 

That see-throughness is a gift

a gift I sometimes refuse

due to my “either-or” walls.

Ashamed, I feel sad

sensing I have detoured past

an accidental grace.

 

Author’s Note: Written after reading Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

Written 10-25-19

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Blurry Vision          Print this poem only

 

My vision is on my mind

lately it’s blurry

in a hurry in a bind

too many things all round

focus lost and losing ground.

 

Make it simple I tell myself

pause and prioritize

take stuff off the shelf

stop telling myself lies

like I can handle it all

juggle every little ball.

 

Focus, focus I repeat

turn down the heat

let both eyes adjust

on the things I can really trust.

 

Author’s note: On October 23, 2019 I had cataract surgery on my left eye.  The next day my vision was very blurry.  Doc said swelling has to go down. Both eyes will have to adjust to each other and my brain will learn to balance them.  That will take a while. Patience patience I tell myself.  It’ll be worth it not having to mess with glasses anymore. Have trust.  I must.   

Written 10-24-19

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Music and the Muse          Print this poem only

 

In between the chords and notes,

spaces and pauses, can I find rest

for my hands long enough to get a dose

of the muse, a cosmic moment to reflect?

 

And when a chord is sustained

it carries me in anticipation

of what change or pain

will come, and for what duration. 

 

From measure to measure

I wait upon the muse

for some small treasure

to dwell, disrupt and suffuse,

 

interrupt the normal routine

and reveal something splendid,

an artistic moment unforeseen

a miraculous onset unintended.

 

Do the angels and the divine

intervene in a poet’s affairs,

create miracles in the mind

momentarily suspend daily cares?

 

Or are we listening to the music and muse alone

save the few who gather around

our lines for now til we’re gone

to embrace wholly ground?

 

Written 11-12-19

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Bound to Mercy          Print this poem only

 

I feel a loving presence all around

it seems it’s mercy in which I’m bound

I need not earn it even as I spurn it by day

but for grace each night before sleep, I pray.

 

If I do what I should, I’ll imitate the call

to mercy by day in ways big and small.

When someone irritates and gets under my skin

may I have the grace of mercy to extend.

 

For if I bind myself to my darker side

in that flaw and fault I’ll be tied,

tied as a slave to pain, so let mercy reign

that I may be bound to its freedom train.

Written 11-14-19

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Fall to Winter           Print this poem only

 

The elm has lost its leaves

fallen to ground

gravity has done its work

sucking the dead and dying

back to the earth

their spirits risen

to the beyond.

 

I too in my olding

stay close to ground

my roots dug in here

where my life

is falling into winter. 

Written 11-26-19

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Cranberry Sauce and Home

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Dishes are apportioned according to skill

Sis does great pumpkin pie

Cuz’s fudge gives you a thrill

Brother’s mimosas make you high.

 

Grannie’s stories warm your heart

Unc loves to talk football trash

Dal’s video’s are state of the art

Genie’s song makes a splash.

 

Aunt Inez brings cornbread dressing

We’ll ooooo and ahhhhh over Ginny’s quilt

Brother Steve says the blessing

Larry shows pics of the table he built.

 

We gather in the home of sister Lucy

Roger tells tales of flying planes

Dorothy does a turkey fine and juicy

Mel spins yarns of trucks and trains.

 

Cam excels at shuffling the deck

Ann always makes us laugh

Nita’s gives us dignity and respect

Dick takes our photograph.

 

We love Helen’s luscious cranberry sauce.

But what of those who have no cheer

the folks who feel lonely and lost

the folks who live in fear?

 

We love Christmas and Thanksgiving

but what of those out on the streets

the manic, depressed, the tired of living 

those who are sad and bittersweet?

 

The day after the turkey’s been eaten

maybe you woke up feeling alone,

anxious, bereft and beaten.

But here’s hoping all of us will find our true and loving home.

 

Author’s Note:  Yesterday was marvelous - being with family and sharing a wonderful meal, but I woke up too early this morning feeling lonely and anxious.  I know not why.  I came in here and started typing it out and this poem is what I came up with.  Forgive me if I left you out and please be tolerant of my poetic license. Sometimes I wonder if any of us are truly at home in this world. Thank God I have a warm and dry space to wake up in.  And today and every day may I live in thanksgiving.

 

Written the day after Thanksgiving, 11-29-19

 

​​September Speaks            Print this poem only

 

Here I am in the middle of your days

before the summer has said goodbye

and the brown beauty of fall has arrived.

It is easy to forget to notice your

persistent pink exuberance of crepe myrtle

to escape the warmth of your winds

for the coolness of the den.

 

There is still time to grow

before autumn ushers in the first snow.

Being in your midst makes me mellow

slows me and gives me time to re-member

those I’ve loved in the midst of you, September,

time to listen to you in the songs of birds

hear the wisdom of your words

on the peaceful cusp of Libra and Virgo.

 

Speak to me September

blow your breath upon the ember

of this era in my journey

let not the sparks still remaining

be lost in the cross fires

and anxiety of these days.

In your haste to bid farewell to summer

forget not my moments of wonder

let me hear your thunder

and please before you leave me

speak to me in your deep warm voice

and resurrect me from the wasteland

of this languorous slumber.

Written September 16, 2019

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Flood            Print this poem only

 

Sometimes I seem short

of the sort

of vigor and health

I require, or I delude my self

into thinking I am in need

of the force of character to succeed

in my hopes and dreams.

Yet your goodness is there in streams

and your love is so great

all I have to do is locate

a private quiet place

and tune into your loving grace

where I get all the endurance and hope

I need to thrive and cope.

 

Lord, give me gratitude

in a vessel of magnitude

and in hopeless moments help me recall

all the times I came to you in a crawl

and you helped me stand,

placed me in the palm of your hand  

or floated me atop the flood

in the arc of your grace and abundant love.

 

Author’s Note:  I am in Louisiana hoping to travel west toward my home in Dallas through Houston on Interstate Highway 10 but it is closed due to flooding.  I see pictures of people in desperate straits having had their homes again flooded out and losing almost all of their possessions.  I see the Cajun Navy and so many others in their boats yet again rescuing the stranded and discouraged.  This poem is my attempt to remind myself of the Abundance I have and to make me grateful for all of it especially for a safe and solid home on dry land where my wife awaits my return.

 

Written 9-20-19

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​​​Your Body             Print this poem only

 

Your body shows me what it means to be me

to be part of something beautiful and alive

and in touch with every cell that makes it

to be out of this world while right in the middle of it.

 

My old body creaks and lurches from this state or that strain

now tired, now awake, now lively and linked

your blood courses through me like the surging surf

our life and lively spirit get me up and out of bed today.

 

I am in that spirit, active and large in the universe

a nebula, a patch of bright or dark against other luminous matter

never alone never or divided. apart from your presence

always right in the middle of your magnificent body.

 

How could I doubt your power

to heal or lift me from the fatigue or state of dis-ease

when I’m surrounded by all of this energy and light

that invades every cell of my body…

 

which is never wholly mine at all?

 

Author’s Note: This piece was written after rising from 5 hrs. of sleep, not nearly enough for me.  I asked God to help me be a moment of joy for others, to give me strength and to help my unbelief.  I wondered if I was immune to him and his intervention. So I began to reflect on the fact that I am part of something larger.   

 

Written 9-10-19

 

Aspen            Print this poem only

 

There you are all in all

you there standing tall

in your white robe

on the rocky slope

reaching for your higher power

and your glorious encounter

with what is true

like Skies of Blue

and Rays of Sun

praising what creation has done.

 

And beneath the earth

you clone birth after birth

propagate your leaves of gold

and for centuries your old

family graces us with offspring

that sway and sing

windsongs in every season

giving us reason

to rejoice in hymn

and shout a brilliant amen!

 

Author’s Note:  Aspen clone themselves and a single grove can be up to 80,000 years old.  In Utah there is a grove that is 40 times the weight of a blue whale making it the largest living organism on earth.   

Written 9-25-19

 

In the Flow            Print this poem only

How sweet to be in the flow

how dear here to know

you and I are one in this glorious stream

I am teeming

with your life and love

right here below your skies

yet never beyond the view of your eyes

your eyes so old and so wise

I am in the middle of you

in the orb of your love

here, yes, but also above a hectic world in such a mess.

 

Here I am again

looking for you within these lines

in this small cosmos full of signs

of your great love

the swift current of your rushing tide

where I have the privilege to abide

for these precious moments of time

here in this magnificent gentle flow

where I get to search and to know

the fullness of you and your creative force.

Written 9-26-19

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Eager            Print this poem only

 

How sharp is my knife?

Do I keep it honed

by steel on stone

ready to cut through foolish distraction

into the heart of life

or does it remain dull

and ordinary, lost in clouds and shadows?

 

I want a knife

a life

that gleams in sunlight

reflects goodness

fresh crisp and vivid

sharpened by friction

and communion

with others

eager to love

keen from discovery

of goodness

within

having cut away

resentment and fear

until all that is left

is surrender

to light.

 

Author’s Note:  This poem comes from my reading of a Richard Rohr meditation (9-27-19) in which he says:

  • God cannot be found “out there” until God is first found “in here,

  • Fear, constriction, and resentment are seen by spiritual teachers to be inherent obstructions that must be overcome.

  • All mystics are positive people—or they are not mystics! Their spiritual warfare is precisely the work of recognizing and then handing over all of their inner negativity and fear to God.

 

Written 9-27-19

 

The Visitor’s Gift          Print this poem only

 

She came into the living room

noticed the painting on the wall

they said it was just an heirloom

and they barely noticed it at all.

She was entranced by the work of art

her eyes danced over its scene

said the painting touched her heart:

the shepherd in the valley of green

the puffy clouds, the grazing sheep

the gray mountains and that little boy

on the flowery hill sound asleep.

On her cheek appeared tears of joy.

 

I wonder what works of art I miss

in the landscape of my daily life

like the glint in her eye, the hint of bliss

the way a smile forms on my wife,

rich emerald ivy that bows to the light

roses blooming fresh outside

the candle’s flame - gold in the night

the wedding picture and youth of my bride.

God grant me the gift of the visiting guest

who loves the colors and contours of the every day

to hear the poetry in that which I’m blessed

and transform this humble lump of clay.

 

Written 9-28-19

 

​​​I Don’t Even Know              Print this poem only

 

I watch TV and stay too long

I feel restless and kinda tense

and start to think it’s wrong

to stay there at my soul’s expense

to watch till I’m feeling numb

and my gut’s tight as a drum.

 

I don’t even know when you reach

out your hand to touch and teach

 

I’m mowing the grass

in the heat of the day

I feel beat and out of gas

my thirst stops me and I make my way

to a shady spot to rest and stay

to take a drink to stop and think

 

I don’t even know when you reach

out your hand to touch and teach

 

She looks anxious or mad

or maybe a little sad

I’m afraid to stop and ask

what’s troubling her or going on

but I take off my manly mask

shut up to let her talk

and hand in hand we take a walk.

 

I don’t even know when you reach

out your hand to touch and teach

 

When I’m worried or afraid

this or that won’t turn out

according to the plans I’ve made

or I’m full of doubt

if the surgery’s right

and I fear the doctor’s knife

 

I don’t even know when you reach

out your hand to touch and teach

 

And in the midst of all the fear

I remember that you are near

and all I have to do is let go

fall into that moist green meadow

and the stream that runs through

to refresh me with a peace of you.

 

I don’t even know when you reach

out your hand to touch and teach

 

Written 10-3-19

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Your Heart            Print this poem only

 

The rhythm of your heart

let it beat regularly in me

the flow of your heart

let me float in it

the richness of your heart

let me soak in it

the sound of your heart

let me intently listen

the warmth of your heart

let me spread it around freely

the abundance of your heart

let me practice it

the peace of your heart

let me feel it.

 

Written 10-4-19

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​Dawn            Print this poem only

 

I love the way

you approach silent, soft

first shadow gray then slowly

ray by soft ray light creeps in

to transform you from a shy and delicate dawn

into the confident beginning of another day.

 

Written10-4-19

 

Before Dawn             Print this poem only

 

The night is all around me

wraps me in its sweet soothing arms

comforts me before the brightness of day

makes its insistent demands upon me. 

I sink into the night

surrender the dilemmas of the day

its anxieties and problems

into the darkness where the God of all being

will make all of these concerns into nothing

if only for a while

so I can find him and myself

in sleep. 

Written 10-5-19

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Poetry is my armor            Print this poem only

 

There is the ancient story of a shepherd boy

whose king outfitted him with armor

to ready him for the challenges of the day

and the boy could not walk

so he threw off the armor

picked up his sling

and tended his father’s flock

with peace and joy freely erupting in song.

 

My armor is not wealth or wit

I cannot make myself fit

into the current conventions and hype

trying to conform to the normal type

stops up the energies that yearn to flow

freely and gleefully and urge me to go

to the dawn, darkness, clouds and sun

to wrap myself in words that run

like sparkling streams

and windswept dreams.

 

Poetry is my armor for each day

where worries and problem allay

where I search my feelings and mind

for the word elixir loosening knots that bind.

This armor does not weigh me down

but frees me to my triggering town

where I find and create the poet me

and the landscape of my soul’s poetry.

 

Author’s Note:  My favorite book about writing poetry is one by Richard Hugo, Triggering Town where he says, “Your triggering subjects are those that ignite your need for words. When you are honest to your feel­ings, that triggering town chooses you. Your words used your way will generate your meanings. Your obsessions lead you to your vocabulary. Your way of writing locates, even creates, your inner life. The relation of you to your language gains power. The relation of you to the triggering subject weakens.”

Written 10-5-19

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​​​Good Conversation, No Romance (Dodoitsu)           

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So cute with her turned up nose

hair styled perky with turned up twists

perfume aroused eros

but without one kiss

 

Author’s Note:  This is my first attempt at this new (to me) poetic form. 

What is a Dodoistu?  A lot of Dodoistu poetry focuses on love, humor or the unexpected, though there are many Dodoistu poems that also look at nature and beauty.  It has 26 syllables: 7 in the first, second and third lines, and 5 in the last line. (7/7/7/5).

 

Written 10-7-19

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Ten Minutes            Print this poem only

 

Got so much to do today

get the table clean

call the bank right away

fix the hole in the screen.

 

Always something vital to do

duties, playing, reading

more important than you

all of them screaming.

 

But in ten minutes time

my heart might fail and I die

before the end of this rhyme

and I let this moment with you go by.

 

Do you ever put off praying

or writing a note to someone

who needs it or saying

a few words to your son

 

when you really don’t know

if you’ve got ten minutes to live

ten minutes before you go

ten minutes to forgive. 

 

Written 10-9-19

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Keep Coming Back            Print this poem only

 

My cat comes into the bedroom in the mornings

when she knows I am up for the day

jumps on the bed and waits patiently

for me to return there after I’ve cleaned up. 

She’s there waiting for me to love on her

she hopes for my love, longs for it, savors it.

She makes me a better man

for she believes in my love

and most often I give her

my hand caressing her soft tabby coat

for a few minutes, just she and I

there together in a moment of connection.

 

Christians speak of the awaiting the second coming

and are encouraged to wait faithfully for the Lord.

I wonder if he wants me to seek expectantly

his coming in each person in my life.

 

Maybe I can be as faithful as my cat

expecting, looking for, and returning love.

Written 10-13-19

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Coexist            Print this poem only

 

Figure out how to fix the drain

and the computer glitch, clean the dishes,

mow the lawn before the rain

go out and buy new britches.

 

Sometimes I find my mind in a bind

 

The teacher says let your self go through

fall into or upto mystery

climb over all the stuff to do

open your heart beyond your history.

 

Sometimes I find my mind in a bind

 

But why not loosen the rules that say

mind and heart don’t mix?

Embrace the gray today

open up and let them coexist.

 

So, don’t bind the mind, let it and heart gently combine.

Written 10-14-19

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Walking Crooked            Print this poem only

 

I am still becoming the man I want to be.

I know it’s said we’re redeemed once and for all.

But over time - lots of conversions needed for me -

I walk straight but then I trip and fall. 

 

I know God loves me just as I am

for I’ve wept in my talks with him

and I think he too weeps for this old man

as in his ocean of grace still I learn to swim.

 

Walking crooked I need to steady my gait

sometimes on a chair or even a wall.

Jesus, friend and kin help me step straight

for I’m still becoming a guy who can stroll steady and tall.

Written 10-18-19

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​Darkness in the Ditch            Print this poem only

 

I lived here far too long

in this cavern dripping its darkness

with accusations and critiques

that have wetted my back with thick moisture

sticky with comparisons.

The crevasses and stones were placed with my collusion

in crazy cooperation with shadow.

 

Sadly the path of my past is strewn with this profusion

but gladly timely shafts of light spoiled the deception

and I climbed to a luminous plain

encountered rocky mounts

with veins of silver and gold

that bantered with the pain.

 

Now my long conversation with light

has staunched the blight

and rarely does the tempest threaten

to drown my spirit in its flood.

 

For now my shortfalls are taken in stride

measured against the serenity of truth

that surrounds me.

 

Now my hands are joined to fellow travelers,

to the faithful who laugh with me

at the reaper of darkness

weak in the ditch

whimpering over the paucity of his power

in the face of brothers and sisters

redeemed by the force

of honesty, trust, and Love.

 

Written 11-9-19

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Wedges            Print this poem only

 

It comes from I know not where

the tiny wedge of doubt

that reshapes itself into a dark and ugly snare

and glimmers of hope are crowded out.

 

Is that wedge rooted in shame?

Words from the past: “You’re not enough”

when I learned to live in the land of blame

and recall “Boy, you just gotta get tough!”

 

Or is it the moral mistakes I’ve made

like the lies and angry cries

or the thoughtless trick I played

on my friend and possible ally?

 

Some speak of the devil who cunningly placed

an accusation that rang in their heads.

Others say it was turning down grace

that cut discipline and confidence to shreds.

 

But this I know, the wedges begin thin

and unseen when we are content,

safe and comfortable within

or when all our energy is spent.

 

They separate us from the divine inside

these wedges of doubt that come like a thief in the night

to corrupt the soul where goodness abides.

But, I pray: do not let them steal away your sublime and precious light!

Written 11-30-19

 

Sage            Print this poem only

 

There you are through the seasons

quietly standing

in your humble green

not seeking attention or glory

even in spring your little magenta flowers

peak out from your branches too modest

to make a loud fuss.

 

The scent of your body

transports me

to the place of your birth,

the plains of heaven.

 

May I take your simple doctrine

of acceptance and humility

to heart and rest silently

unconcerned with appearance                              

happy to let a soft inner light

be the meek gospel of the universe.

 

Author’s Note:  This morning I was reflecting on the way the divine is manifested (and mostly ignored) all around me in the most humble things of creation.  Then I noticed the sage bush in our back yard, planted and growing a little way off from the corner of the sidewalk.  I remember smudging (burning a small bunch of sage) as a meditative spiritual practice decades ago. I can almost smell the unique aroma of the smoke rising to my nostrils and on to the heavens.  Even the memory gives me a momentary wonderful peace. 

Written 12-7-19

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Joined at the Heart            Print this poem only

 

This small gathering of lovers

meet and hug and inspire each other

often enough to keep the pilot light

of friendship glowing for it to burn bright.

 

Each time we sit at table

we tell as best we are able

the events and people in our lives

and again the flame is revived.

 

We hold hands a moment there

and speak our spirits in prayer

We eat of God’s abundant earth

share both our sadness and mirth.

 

We’ve watched each other grow old

dug up hunks of coal and gold

found leaves of precious inspiration

from the tree of grace and salvation.

 

We trust each other to share our emotion

our dreams and struggles with devotion

here’s hoping nothing will tear us apart

for we are souls joined at the heart.

Written 12-9-19

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She touched his robe           
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Do you know someone who heals,

in whose presence you feel whole

you do not have to bow or kneel

nor beg nor fool nor cajole?

 

Do you know another whose care

and ability to reach inside

erases doubt and lays you bare

your doubt and pride are laid aside?

 

Distrust in me is the boulder rock

that averts, delays and hesitates,

stems the tide and sadly blocks

the flowing stream of healing grace.

Luke 8:46    "But Jesus said, Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.”

Written 12-10-19

 
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Beware the Dog            Print this poem only

 

Hot dogs and more hot dogs

turned my gut into a bog

so today I move in a slog.

 

They are so tempting and easy

at the store fatty and greasy

but last night they made me queasy.

 

Sleep interrupted for a trip to the pot

because I did what I ought not

brought me to kneel at the porcelain spot.

 

The moral of this story so pitiful

eating easy can make you miserable

so about food: Be a bit more critical!

Written 12-11-19

 
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Souls on these Shelves            Print this poem only

 

These shelves stacked with books

drip gold from their pages

mined from the souls

of the fathers and mothers sisters and brothers

who I’ve placed side by side

resting and waiting for my eyes

to sojourn from between bookends

down the crooked path into my heart.

 

I pull one out by its spine

and Rumi walks down my fingers

then leaves of grass waft with Whitman

falling from his beard as he laughs his rich humanity.

Buddha’s followers file behind him

and perch on my shoulder whispering in my ear

peace, detachment, and compassion.

David, Samuel, Jesus, John, and Paul sail their ships

onto my legs as if to urge me to rise and travel with them

from the comfort of this peaceful space

into storms, deserts, and paths of discovery and grace.

 

And there is Black Elk and his native kin

speaking from weathered tortured souls

drumming the earth and wind across the ages

I hear their jangly dances wafted by feathers and leather

and their horses run over the land sounding a deep beat

thu-thum, thu-thum, thu thum

over the decades, plains, and mountains. 

 

And here I am feeling so small in their presence,

honored to have them resting and sleeping under my roof

until once again I open their pages

and they cry out and whisper their centuries of wisdom.

I am humbled and unworthy of this gathering of giants

and yet they sleep silently on these shelves

knowing they are my friends and fellow travelers

who have found their way and dwell within me.

 

I am full of them

my heart bursting with joy

and quiet peace.

I feel them in my lungs

as I breathe in their scent

and hear the echoes of their voices and rich, sonorous music.

 

Written 12-14-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Years Together            Print this poem only

 

This couple still walks together

in sunny and stormy weather

both are blessed with many years,
seasoned by laughter and by tears
and love of family and friends
learning each day how to transcend.

 

They still walk together sometimes a hitch in their gait working at marriage finding out what God will create.

 

They find each other at every turn
still surprised by what they learn and discern
in each other along the winding road,

each mile sharing life’s heavy load

learning to live out their vows,

to pause and listen and be in the now.

 

They still walk together sometimes a hitch in their gait working at marriage finding out what God will create.

 

At times he gets up early and washes dishes

feeds the cats, writes prayers and poems and wishes

and when she’s tired and in pain on her feet

she launders and folds tee shirts and sheets.

He shops, goes out and about in the car.

She sews and calls sisters to see how they are.

 

They still walk together sometimes a hitch in their gait working at marriage finding out what God will create.

 

They’ve had romance, disillusionment and joy
melted two metals into a precious alloy
each of them has had earnest searches

for the Spirit in people, groups, and churches,
went to mountain tops, deserts, and plains
nurtured each other through hurts and pains.

 

They still walk together sometimes a hitch in their gait working at marriage finding out what God will create.

 

They’ve driven through sweltering heat and snows

to be with family or in resorts and hotels for repose

together they’ve flown on planes and on eagles wings

listened to drums, brass, and stirring strings

joined fellow travelers to sing with their voices

learned to love each other with a million choices.

 

They still walk together sometimes a hitch in their gait working at marriage finding out what God will create.

 

Their marriage encounter happens each hour of each day

discovering anew to forgive, heal and just what to say

pausing on occasion to read and speak inspiration

taking time together for questions and affirmation.

It is a Holy Spirit that binds this couple in love 

moves them from shadow and lowlands to above.

 

This couple still walks hand in hand together in every season, on sunny days and stormy weather.

Written 12-24-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twilight Together            Print this poem only

 

It’s a quiet cool twilight

and through the windows I see

elm and pear standing in elegant silhouette

arms and delicate fingers

calmly reach for the sky.

They know not the years’ end is nigh

they remember spring summer and fall

and now they rest in winter’s arms

theirs the wisdom of passing

season unto season

their roots reach down and deepen.

 

We two are quiet at twilight

yet reaching for the heavens,

but we do know the years we’ve stayed,

more than eighteen thousand days

in the embrace of our love

season unto season

our roots deepen

and reach into our hearts

finding reason upon reason

to learn and grow and mature

millions of minutes step by step to endure.

 

And breath by breath

she has said yes upon yes

to this man unworthy of the grace

I have found in her voice and her embrace.

In moments of anger and near despair

we crafted a sculpture of care.

 

We’ve walked through darkness into light

knelt before each other sad and contrite

for our failures and night upon night

we have laid side by side

and together we’ve stayed

conquered our pride

found the divine in each other and beyond

turned tears and fears into a durable bond.

 

Still her smile melts me

floats me and bolts me

and her lips still thrill and pull me into her fiery orbit.

Even after this long, this woman I cannot resist

and yes, she persists

in her acceptance of this old guy

who can still bring a sparkle to her eye

a chuckle to her voice and a smile to her face.

Here we are at this twilight time

golden and holdin together

and – still – yes, still we rhyme.

 

Author’s Note: Dedicated to my wife, Helen Elizabeth Currier on our 50th wedding anniversary

Written 12-30-19

 
2020 Copyright by Glenn Currier