Poem List: 2019 January thru April
I am no Job my Lord
Print this poem only
I am no Job, my lord.
My heart is purpled
like a darkening horizon
smoke-soaked with the misery
of one more loss.
I am no Job, my Lord.
Why another child
instead of this old man
whose skull has lost its poise
and gaunt-veined neck
can scarcely stay its stoop?
I am no Job, my Lord.
Unlike him, no friends
are here advising me,
for their dead weight
hangs on my neck,
a mass of rusty chain.
I am no Job, my Lord.
My eyes are dimmed
and the music I once loved
is but a steady hum,
dull in my cottony head.
I am no Job, my Lord.
What quality do you see
buried like a grain
deep in this dry earth?
You must be crazy, Lord,
to see creation
in this grip of bones.
. . . . .
I am like Job, my Lord,
drugged with doubt
sorrow's dusty hand
is on my head
and yet your singing
a psalm in my Beyond.
The story of this poem and this image
The poem tries to get into the head of the old man pictured above and what he might be thinking. It finishes with a stanza from my perspective. Back in 2004 I was posting my poems on a http://www.pathetic.org where I got to know several poets in that wonderful poet community. One of them, Wendy Sparling, had posted a picture which looked very much like the one above and had challenged her fellow poets to write a poem based on the image. I did so and the poem to the left, with a couple of minor changes, is that poem. I don’t know where I was spiritually that year, but the poem gives some hints, as I am sure what I said about “his thoughts” were also mine.
My thanks to my longtime friend and brother Garth Hill for this magnificent image from his Flickr.com webpages His caption under the image was as follows:
Every act of creation is a learning process
The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs [...]
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
- John Dewey
Author's note: Although I originally wrote this poem in 2004, I am posting it here because I recently found it by searching my computer after having lost it for years and years. I was overjoyed to locate it as I remember some of the feelings I had as I wrote it. I saw the image above on Garth Hill’s Flickr.com web pages and it brought the poem to mind. Please see my explanation in box above.
Fog Print this poem only
This morning the plains are shrouded in a thick fog
and here I am right in the middle of it
drifting all around
looking for a buoy, a light, a sight or sound
so I’ll know I am somewhere
and not nowhere.
I wonder how many of us
are in their own foggy world
if the planet has little patches
hovering over our species
each of us wandering -
sometimes with great determination -
looking for a place, trying to see
somewhere firm in the shrouded sea
a place calm and silent to be
just for a minute or two or three.
Author’s Note: Inspired by Michael of HelloPoetry.com and his poem, ”Nirvana.”
little star Print this poem only
Lost in the middle of my brain
searching for the star that is mine
wandering my tiny universe
when yours is Beauty beyond beauty,
Galaxies of Stars
not just out there in the sky beyond
but right here on this fecund planet
I call home.
Right here in the neighborhood
my neighbors circling in their small orbits
also wanderers like me
right here on the streets and homes
in the cities filled with constellations
all creatures of your rich heart.
But to remember the Source
of all these orbits, these particularities
to know with certainty it is here on this page
where you and I unite
to never get this off me, out of me,
this union, this sensuous bonding
beyond the puny senses -
that is the fight
the test of my humanity
the struggle of spirit -
to locate and abide in THE Spirit
holy and wholly present
right here, right now
in the middle of my brain
in all its regions
Pirates Print this poem only
Pirates have come to this meadow
smiling a beguiling smile I know not why
probably because I’m such easy pickings
to steal away my attention
and take it like booty back to their ship
and sail away to parts unknown
with my small treasure.
Here and now is where I need to be
here and now I discover how
to enter your heart
feel its warmth and love
anchor myself there
in preparation for the next invasion.
All I need to do is rest easy here in your presence
feel the coolness of the grass on my back,
look at the clouds, get lost beyond the blue
into the loving universe that is you.
I need not know what to say
or how to present my self
due to the depth of our intimacy
and you know the stars
and the black holes
where I try to escape your embrace.
But you do not let me go.
You inspire me
if I but breathe in
the rich ions of your spirit.
Print this poem only
You are a sparkling fountain
surging from your deep
with unimaginable force
gushing out into the universe
and soaking the soil
where I spend my tiny days
and do my planting
for the meager crops I raise.
Before I Woke Print this poem only
Woke up way too early this morning
went to sleep too damn late
but the universe was already awake, loose and free
eons before my eyes opened this day.
The sun was up
and around walking in the garden
searching for weeds among the flowers and onions
he trod the mulch to fertilize creation -
he is at home there
in the dirt and clay
in the failures of the day.
So when I arrive in the garden room
and sit at my little computer
amidst the plants and shells and cats and angels
I feel as if I have come home
from the misty crazy regions of sleep
to find my deeper self
here in this tiny dot in the universe.
Here I listen to Chopin and Indian flute
and music from beyond
awakened from somewhere
in the shadows and blood
circulating and populating my organs
playing the grand pianos , cellos
and mellow mysterious oboes
The sun is present
in the clattering molecules
of stone and bone
making life and death
into a great and glorious symphony.
Before I woke this morning
the sun was wandering
the creases and crevasses of my brain
preparing me and making me whole
taking my timid self and making it bold
for the vagaries and variations
of this day
ready to climb
into this small moment
Cursing Print this poem only
The tongue wags with sudden impulse
swearing on myself what I’d never utter to another
a volcano of failure erupts like a reflex
gushing in a tide of crimson anger
making me wonder if my mind is master
or merely a servant of fleeting feelings.
I embarrass myself and subject those in earshot
to these small virile tsunamis of garbage
molesting and spoiling peaceful moments
while they silently love me
and cherish the molecules of purity
they see and summon in me.
It will take a higher power
to stem this tide
for my own devices have pitifully failed.
I call out to the heavens
mount me on eagles’ wings
bear me on the breath of dawn
change my mind
and pinch my tongue
between your finger and thumb.
Deep Water Print this poem only
I’ve always had a fear of water that’s deep
I remember my fright in the city pool
how I made friends with the shallow end
how close to the sides I’d keep.
I still recall that curved stone edge
how my fingers held on and I felt a fool
being so scared when the other kids
would jump in the deep end with joy
how I felt like such a silly scardy boy
and I envied their abandon and grit
the big splash when their cannonball hit.
But it’s true my daddy was never there
to teach me to swim
to help when I came up coughing for air.
Oh man, how I could have used him
and his strong arms to hold me
and show me the breast stroke
slap my back when I choked.
Now I still thirst for a father
when I get afraid of the deep water.
The difference is now I’ve got a dad
who’s always there when I’m afraid or sad.
In fact I look forward to the dive
into the deep where I’m so alive
centered and at peace.
But I’m still learning to let go and release
the edge of that deep pool
and breathe in the depths… of spirit fuel.
Degree of Snark Print this poem only
Sometimes diplomas are deleterious to a degree
it seems the cap, gown, and certificate holder
buys a telescope and starts using it to see,
loses the ability to write freely and bolder
becomes particularly adept at speaking in snark -
so much easier than personally and intimately connecting -
preferring critique to finding and being a creative spark
becoming expert not so much from practice as from correcting.
I knew a man who used to be my friend
until he acquired his PhD
then he began to depart and ascend
too high for him to see little ole me
I knew a few too who were doctors and buddies
whose degrees didn’t pedestal them
who didn’t let their higher studies
erase their humor, make their hearts go dim.
Author’s Note: This was inspired by Chris Sorrenti’s limerick, “Comments” (https://pathetic.org/poem/1552996563) in which he bemoans a certain guy named Dupreʹ who had an English Literature degree and habitually made snarky comments on others’ poems on a poetry website but never posted a poem of his own.
Disciple Ship Print this poem only
Which church corner should I go to
which is safe with green lights?
It seems every one has glue and goo
rays of sun and dark of night.
Being a follower - not my big skill
not comfy on the disciple ship
but I’m hungry and want my fill
trying to get God in my grip.
But I keep finding him all over the place
can’t capture and save him just for me
see him in a cat’s and a child’s face
he won’t be my prisoner. He is free
like his forgiveness and open heart.
So this ship is one I might board
the ship of joy about to depart
the cost of this trip I will work to afford.
Author’s Note: I write this in response to something I read in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship.
Dogs and Trees Print this poem only
There’s a college with a library
that allows dogs to be checked out
especially useful for stress relief at exam time
or when loving waters are in drought.
Have you felt comfort when a dog climbed
into you lap for a nap?
Then you know how dogs love to rest
and teach humans what it means
to be in the moment truly blessed.
Ah! the solitude of green
enjoyed by trees
what the silence of a gentle breeze
can do for the soul
if I stop for a while and just breathe
or take time for a languid stroll.
Dogs and trees resting with ease
what glorious gifts for this frantic species!
Makes being human seem alright
even if a library that checks out dogs
is not a nearby delight.
Animals and trees and a cooling breeze
moments of rest and being at ease
what more could one desire
to make a day worthwhile?
Drifting Away Print this poem only
With each passing day
I discover by email or text
evidence of drifting away
wondering what will happen next.
Friends I see - much less hug - so rarely
have moved away to another place
and seem to have enough energy for themselves barely
oh how I keenly miss their embrace!
When I bother to look
I might find signs of them
on social media like Facebook
in a few words from their friends or kin.
Or once a year at holiday time
the mail might yield a Christmas card
with a sweet and facile rhyme,
or maybe even a few words of kind regards.
I think of colleagues with memories so fond
of exciting times in our career
encounters that made a special bond
outings and parties we drank with such cheer.
But those moments of poignant recall
seem more rare these days.
Others I can’t even think at all
as they have already drifted away.
This drifting into the atmosphere
is painful as life continues changing
as things so sweet and dear disappear -
these days I’m about rearranging.
But I am grateful for all those wonderful years
for the grace they conferred
on us as we created together and shed joyful tears
for the moments of love undeterred.
We make our marks on this world
we try we hope we love each day
our stories continue to unfurl
and our creative loving spirits will never drift away.
Falling Upward Into the Deep Print this poem only
Stepping into the wide deep of your wisdom
even putting my toe into it
is to be bathed in a warm sparkling spring-fed pool.
When I allow myself to fall into it
I fall upward into your arms
into the embrace of your love
and a brightness that I cannot behold
without something to shade me from it.
Trying to look at this Light
is as if a woman has offered me intimacy
before I know her and I cannot enter into it.
I am impotent, unable to rise to the invitation.
But with you, I never feel impotent.
And when I am ready for it
when I am properly disposed
I can reveal my vulnerable and inadequate self.
I can let down my defenses.
I can surrender my self to you.
And then I can feel your mighty gentleness and affection
the tenderness of a mother
the devotion of a father
the protection of a brother
the compassion of a friend.
Maybe this is why you became human
so it would be easier for me
to be in your presence.
Your Word prepares me
to fall upward into your bosom
to dive into the deep
of your magnificent wondrous heart.
From Garbage to Glory Print this poem only
I read of this little orchestra of players
who made instruments of trash
reminded me how God uses strayers
like Moses, David, and Johnny Cash
recycled their failures into glory.
They found a flash or flicker
of faith to make a moving story.
They gave their flaws to the Fixer.
I see the detritus and lessons of my past
a guy whose mind was all over the place
who soared, swooped, leveled and crashed
was thrown out reaching for second base
whose heart was wounded, erratic and hurt
but had a treasury of teachers on his path
who inspired and encouraged the introvert
to use words instead of physics or math.
Yes, words became my friends
opened vistas of meaning and learning
paid limitless dividends
set my curiosity and wonder burning.
Fragments of imagination
bubbled up like a spring
moments of yeasty inspiration
of darkness and light took wing.
The salve of poetry has brought healing
its warm oils and sweet scent
delivered me from darker feelings
gave me vigor when I was spent
gave me drink in the dessert
brought me moments of glory
in a world of hurt
helped me tell my story.
So like those Paraguay players
making music from trash
from all of life’s layers
of flowers and ash
I’ve been to the mountain peak
and to fertile green places
in my true voice I now speak
and swim in glorious graces.
Author’s Note: You can search the web for: Landfill Harmonic, the “Recycled Orchestra” for videos of “this little orchestra of players” spoken of in my poem or you can go to this webpage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYbORpgSmjg
Head up, head down Print this poem only
The arrow in my dream pointed up
I wasn't sure what that meant
but I slowly swung my legs out of bed
still woozy but knowing I had to write
so I got up.
I walk with my head down
watching the darkened floor so each step is safe and firm.
Recently I saw my sister walking with her head up
looking at the trees
looking up to see the branches growing.
I worried she would trip on a crack or branch or rock and fall.
She walked with her head up.
She is a good example for me
looking for growth
When she looks down it's for all the gifts
the Doug Firs and Cedar leave for good Earth
some of the samara she gathers like precious treasurers,
takes them home and spreads them about
for adornment of her place.
When discouragement or sadness get me down
I need to remember to look up
beyond the muck
toward the stars
where creation began
and listen for the bang
in the voices
of jays, cardinals, friends, loves, and strangers.
Written (revised from previous reflections) 1-10-19
Hello out there…? Print this poem only
This morning I woke up feeling lonely.
I don’t know why.
I have people around me who love me
and want to hold on to me
and I onto them.
feelings like this
fly and soon evaporate into the cloudy sky.
But today some dark critter
a residue of the night
has hooked me
and won’t let go
it has reeled me in
so here I am using these lines
to cast my mind out into the choppy waters
to see if I can connect
with something swimming there
that’ll make sense of this tenuous mess
in which I wander and wallow.
I don’t seem to find my self
comfortable, wholly accepted and at home
with the people and places I roam
in this soaked and leaky vessel.
I know it’s stupid to be out here floating
when songs and words I’m often quoting
drift inside my head
planted there by many magnificent progenitors
who earnestly bred
a young man for whom they cared.
But loneliness does that.
It puts me where I know I shouldn’t be
by all grateful accounts.
I think to myself
I wish so and so was here to talk
but they’ve long gone and walked
who has lived so long.
So here I am alone
to find the answer, a home
or a place of some special grace…
while I sit here with these lines
in this lonely state.
Hello out there…?
Hugging Clouds Print this poem only
Did you ever try to hug a single solitary cloud?
It seems real floating out there
gathering moisture in the air
But if you try to embrace it
you’ll see that it has nothing to say.
It would rather float far away
without a voice.
That’s the beauty of a cloud
it doesn’t declare out loud
doesn’t whisper a word
can’t be heard
leaves as fast as it appears
escapes in the stratosphere.
Instead of staring in space
searching for inspiration
look at the guy next to you
notice the contours of his face
the sadness or fear or celebration
the love, longing, or despair
the songs or psalms in his eyes
the years he has before he dies
the kids for whom he cares.
It’s not bad searching cloudy skies
but instead, seek the light or dark in disguise
in a person - real, warm, and in the flesh.
No telling what you’ll find there that’ll refresh
or awaken you to what’s deep inside
a meadow or brook where you can abide
and discover something in you that’s beautiful and fine.
Please look or hear not a cloud or thunder
but a real person
who’ll boost or send you to climb
or dig your way under
your busy hoary haze
to your promised land and your glory days.
Last Contact Print this poem only
I’ve seen movies and read about first contact
how alien species behave at first sight
how we and they speak, listen and act
inklings of fear, courage, wonder, or flight.
But I am curious about the succeeding
contacts or the dirth of these reachings,
how those ties do with little or no feeding,
does friending or kinning end, starved of greeting?
My cousin and I have not spoken in years
I wonder if he even wants to speak or see
would he even know if I disappeared
and what about the good or bad health of me?
But what do I know of that old boy
his grandkids, his health and his wife
his retirement, pain, hurt or joy
does he hate or love his life?
They say without contact a relationship ends
Yesterday I sent a message to my cousin not so dear
and now I’ll see if that effort pays dividens
or if I’ll hear from him in the next year.
Shall I give up on him if he ignores my reach?
Is our relationship a thing of the past
has there been a cousinship breach
I wonder if my message and contact will be our last?
Mellowed Morn Print this poem only
The pickups across the alley seem asleep. No lights, exhaust fumes, man in charge ready to wheel into another work day.
Winter-denuded trees blend into his roof like dark rivulets from its peak. No lights in this dawning Saturday, all still asleep. Except the birds feasting in the newly seeded bird feeder. In the softness of this new dawn their flights are silent.
The fog shrouded morning suffuses softness to hard edges. Clapboard storage unit rests quietly on the edge of the lawn.
Rakes, mowers, hoes still asleep, no work tension in their bodies. Fallen browned leaves lay on still-green lawn gently carpeting “the back.” Cold black fingers of tiny limbs indistinguishable as individuals, smudged and blending instead. No limber bending till months-away spring.
Trees in the distance surrender their stark names to clouded sky not yet brightened by the distant weakened sun. The fog has laid upon this place a muted harmony. No dissonant horns or voices heard in this diffused snooze of now. The only movement: from the winged creatures greeting the day just yards away reminding: life still pulses. I fall into this peace.
The fog of sleep
a hallway moment away
where my self is mellowed
and lost beneath the sheets.
Author’s note: This is my first attempt at writing a haibun, a sort of narrative prose-like, haiku-style poem full of images but not much intellectual baggage. Thanks to Ronald A. Pavellas for the inspiration in his poem: The Pill Box - https://pathetic.org/poem/1549102514
Not Just Another Guy [lyric]
I need another guy
whose love I can’t buy
or pay off by behaving
or win by credit or savings.
I need a guy who won’t see a freak
or shy away or think me a creep,
a guy who I can say my private stuff
the stuff that shows I’m not good enough.
I need I need a guy
with a loving eye
who can see
who can see
the goodness in me.
With a regular guy there’s that doubt
the sliver of fear I’ll be found out
to be a hypocrite or a fake
exposed as just another mistake.
Because I know all the cases
when my actions were graceless
my mouth overloaded
or my temper exploded.
I need I need a guy
with a loving eye
who can see
who can see
the goodness in me.
I need a guy who’ll see me through
see the soul of a child pure and true
who’ll love that child with no hesitation
and see a future of transformation.
In other words I need a guy who’s a man
AND a God who was here when it all began
I need the strength of special Guy
whose Spirit no one could crucify.
I need I need a guy
with a loving eye
who can see
who can see
the goodness in me.
Ode to Byron Van Clief Print this poem only
When Byron was a little paunchy chap
the guys made fun of his clumsy ways
he didn’t fit in and was prone to mishap
and some days he seemed stuck in a daze.
But little Byron loved to read
books were his passion
those stories were like a farmer’s seed
and soon he became a flowering tree in a fashion.
Byron began to write fascinating tales
of knights and freights and a pirate’s ship
where those bullies were caught in the yarns’ sails
and in a matter of time hordes flocked to this writer’s grip.
Women chased the handsome man he became
he made big bucks, got married and had three boys
being on TV and writing movies brought fame
and he bought a house and big man-toys.
He got to be on top of the heap
in control of his life and those of others
his success and pockets were deep
he almost always had his druthers.
But then Byron grew older
and being selfish and strong didn’t do it for him
it wasn’t enough to be better and bolder
and he’d lost track of his wife, his kids and kin.
All that he’d gained now seemed like a cross
with Byron’s luck, exploits, and scores
it was his center and his anchor he’d lost
but soon he wondered, and asked was there something more?
He retreated to the desert and a secluded place
and discovered that being on top and number one
failed him and the noonday demon gave chase
as he was tempted to get up and run.
But instead he decided to let go in his grief
recalled that chubby boy reading in a quiet place
and he found the true self of Byron van Clief
who then and only then… could fall… into an ocean of grace
Ode to the Unmade Bed Print this poem only
I have a friend who lives alone
with daily determination
the ritual of making her bed.
When I visit I make a point of walking to her bedroom
for a viewing of her work of art.
I’ve often thought:
if I practice this practice
it might give me some semblance
of order in a globe wracked with crisis.
But my mussed and unmade bed
is a marque or warning
don’t expect the normal, aligned,
or well-wrapped story
in this house.
Author’s Note: I bow in the direction of my poet friend Philip F. De Pinto and his poem https://pathetic.org/poem/1448122572 for the idea for this poem.
Oil Print this poem only
I smell the oil on my forehead
smudged by your thumb
I feel its warmth.
It is a birthmark
that has penetrated into my soul.
It is an anointing.
No ashes there now
just the oil of your blessing.
Opened Fist Print this poem only
If I but open my fist
leave the damning shouts
on the evening news
no telling how far I could go
what I could release
from a heart also opened
how many galaxies I could find
mountains I could climb
peaks I could occupy
above and beyond
Author’s note: Thanks to Erian https://hellopoetry.com/Erianrose/poems/ and the poem, “I’d go far further” for the inspiration for this poem.
Pancakes and Fishing Print this poem only
The alarm got us up before the sun fully awoke
we pulled our sleepy bodies out of bed
got on our grungies not even fixing coffee yet,
got our gear together in the pickup
and headed for the peninsula
where we hoped the sand bass would be schooling,
searching for some breakfast of worms or flashy things that looked to them like food.
If we were lucky we hooked a few which we would cook later
or save for the freezers back home.
When we got back to the campground
we’d comb our hair brush our teeth and head into town
for Pat’s Cafe who served the best biscuits, eggs, hashbrowns, and pancakes in the region
and if we were lucky Pat herself with her long black hair and sexy lips
and substantial hips
would stop by and in her Texas twang and charm
she’d tell us about their farm
we’d speak of our wives
and some of the small details of our lives
and how we loved that large beautiful body
that sparkled and sang to us each spring
and how we savored dipping into Lake Whitney.
In late afternoon we would laze about the RV
discussing Teilhard and Jesus and Charlie
he’d speak of Bob Wills and we’d share
trying to make sense of the spirits there
and how they made us leap and soar.
We spoke in sync and explored
lines of novels, and fascinating texts
that made us eager to discover what was next
that would make us laugh or shed tears
of all those memorable years
we’d been brothers
afloat of the same waters
becoming men who hoped to make their mark
spark something good in the minds
of other seekers who also drank wines
fermented in corridors of learning
who had the same yearning
for knowledge and truth
embedded early and deeply in our youth.
Presence Print this poem only
Unless I am utterly into you
dwelling in your eyes
every crease in your face
seen the shade of your cheeks
hung out there - all of me
waiting to see all I can see
hear all I can hear
just like a cat - turning my ear
in your direction
leaning to drink in your sound
if I am not knit and bound
to you in body and mind
if I do not smell every flower of you I can find
nor extend and stretch my being
as far as is humanly freeing
I have not drunk your nectar,
ingested the juice of your soul
and my self
is not really present
nor fully there
in you my sweetest dear
nor you in me.
Proclivities Print this poem only
Proclivity: Origin - from proclivis "prone to," lit. "sloping," from pro- "forward" + clivus "a slope," from Proto-Indo-European *klei-wo-, suffixed form of *klei "to lean."
I seem to lean
into my shadows, failures and faults.
That slope too natural
and my downward leaning too easy.
What darkness have I learned?
What sullen seed has
merged into the deeper passages
Is it my repeated stumblings
or the sin of another
but now forgotten?
Maybe it’s so terrible
my mind has stashed it way way down
now a fungus still alive in the dark?
I feel too at home
dwelling in that cave
and I am in need,
I am sorely in need
enough lasting exposure
to kill the blight
scorch the itch
and set me leaning
into an upward pitch
to thwart the dark
Samarian Effect Print this poem only
There are some who sparkle and glitter
so full of thought and creative power
they’re like human transmitters
their minds and eyes seem to flower
and being close to them brings
you zest and vigor, to a peppy place
wanting to search for the next thing,
to discover a quiet thoughtful space
within to water and cultivate
the seed of your own creative force
that something in you that’s great,
so you too will be a fruitful source.
Author’s Note: Samara are the small winged fruit of the elm, ash, maple and sycamore trees that can be found on the ground or sidewalk, evidence of the tree’s desire to procreate and create more trees and a beautiful fruitful planet. The Samarian Effect is a term I made up to encourage all of us to radiate creativity, life, grace, and love.
The Decision Print this poem only
This morning when I woke
comfortably lying in bed
feeling no pain nor being broke
not even one thought of being dead
I knew when I cast my feet to the floor
I would have an important decision to make:
to focus on what muscles were sore
OR forget about this or that ache
about this body dilapidated and aging
OR remember the larger body of which I’m part
the body of Christ I’m engaging
reaching out, making a new start.
I’d have to decide how I can touch with my hands
the arm of a person who’s feeling hurt -
or desperately lost in sandy badlands
how I can help one stand who’s feeling inert.
Like David, and Caleb crying Lord, Lord, Lord
in their wilderness and sorrow
may my voice join theirs in one accord
“Lord we will seek You today and tomorrow.”
Christ, you command us to answer your call
to follow you, God’s beloved son,
no other road but the one taken by Paul
obey you like he did until we are one.
Won the race, run hard and bold
to clutch the hand and Body of Christ
to reach out each day and take ahold
of the Tree of Life in the Promised Land… we’ve so prized.
Author’s Note: This poem brings together several threads of my recent thinking and studying:
The story of Joshua and Caleb how they yearned for and with faith and determination sought the Promised Land. Helen and I have been reading aloud and together: by Max Lucado, a book about the choice we all have, just as do the characters he speaks of in the book (Moses, Joshua, Caleb, etc.) What do we focus on, our problems, troubles and muck or on the Promised Land each day and the future hold for us?
How I am a member of the Body of Christ?
What is meant by discipleship?
What is Christ’s call to me?
Is it abstract theological thought and knowledge that really inspire me to discipleship or is it adherence to Christ the living Son, the , who is calling me? ( by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pp. 58-59)
The Introduction to Richard Rohr’s new book: in which he posits that Christ is in all of creation, even in the darkness, sin, and death (the crosses) each of us experience. He is everywhere.
The Land In Between Print this poem only
Stuck in Egypt for decades
serving Ramesses as slaves
leaving sweat and blood in the sand
they toiled and built as a vast, pitiable band.
Among them a man named Moses arose
to unchain his people from that horrid Pharaoh
in an exodus they crossed the sea to Sanai
spent forty years in a desert vast and dry.
This wilderness was their land in-between.
They wandered there and yearned for the green
and flowing milk and honey of Canaan land
beat down and rebellious they needed a God-command.
They left Egypt, but for some Egypt never left them
and their minds were stuck in that in-between land.
It’s said 9 out of 10 believers languish in dessert dearth
only one of ten see glory and a promised-land-life on earth.
It seems too much of my life was spent in the land in between
but I’ve seen and stood in that promised land’s sheen
moved from the valley up the slope to the ridge
crossed raging rivers on a splendid bridge.
How many of us enter onto our Canaan shore
with Egypt in the past not inside any more?
How many still reside in the in-between place
searching the wilderness for victory and grace?
White Glory Print this poem only
Across the alley
in the early light
you catch my eye first
you in the million white flowers
popping out of every branch
surging forth from each small tributary of your body.
You are the irrepressible life
that lay dormant
in your winter of contemplation
waiting there patiently through icy foggy days
earth cloaked in pregnant waiting clouds.
You are the tree of life this morning
beckoning me from my sleepy sluggish body
to join the chorus of your rejoicing
pricking the hidden hallelujah
coursing in the sea of cells
still alive and urging me
to union with you.
And so here I am
eyes wide open in the quiet dawning
of this small moment of eternity
imbibing your white glory
taking a tiny leap
into the cosmos awake in you
in this early day
Writing lots… Print this poem only
I open this blank Word document.
Its white expanse a challenge I am not sure I want to take.
But now I’ve got two lines - going on three
will this be the seed of a small green sprout of a tree?
This page is a bright sky
beckoning me to take a breath
at first shallow barely containing enough oxygen
to sustain sitting up.
But writing is like breathing to me
I do it most of the time without much effort
inspiring and expiring
here in this white desert
one line at a time
minute by minute, day after day
trying to find something worthwhile to say
worthy of my time as I sit here growing older
or your time to pause here in this blooming desert
never quite sure if it or I am worthy of the fuss.
But isn’t writing the thing that sustains us
no matter its poetic patterns or rhythms or rhymes?
Writing is breathing to me and do it I must. Lots of times.
Floating upon the waters
has been natural for me
on my wavy journey of faith
yet for most of my life I have been moored
to one or another church or spiritual dwelling
and there in the six directions
of the medicine wheel
or in mindful silence and meditation
I found solace and inspiration
and challenges to be a better man.
Born into the Roman church
from a mother whose tie to sanity
was her rosary
each bead a knot
and the chain her bond to the holy.
Novenas, prayers, litanies, and creeds
became the native tongue
taught when we were young
mysteries and sensory symphonies
of the rituals filled us to the brim
spilling dreams and designs
for a special future
ending in the Great Upthere.
But a destiny of storms
awaited me on my journey there
as I fled into a barren night
a zeal and appeal of career my light.
Now in the lateness of life
I am again moored in a church
in love with several humble followers
of Jesus the Christ there
songs and Word and wisdom fill the air.
And back home I have my own medicine woman of a wife
a five decade anchor of faith
a vessel and fiery heart full of love.
So here I am no longer floating
or boating from one port to another
my friends are dying and growing old
my body battered and heart weary
but I am alive, again brimming and often teary
for God has taken hold of me
Jesus who hounded me has tackled this old fool
and the Spirit has chiseled and shaped a jewel
tenderized my heart with his reckless love,
his overwhelming endless push and pull
and with his merciful Light has re-created and made me full.
My Heart Print this poem only
Tomorrow makes its way into the history
of my heart – always a mystery to me
it is full of people, music, feeling, and strain
a morsel of ache and moments of drain
it has taken me
walked and run
from rising to setting sun
from shame to grace
from a lower to a higher place.
This old heart has filled me with tears
of sadness, joy, faith and fears
awe and anger, glorious heights
lowly dark and bruising disgust
love full of passion, pain, and trust.
Touched by victories over incredible odds
moved from darkness to cirrus gods
from squalls and brawls and angry shouting
snatched me from moments of demons and doubting.
Heart to beating heart in warm embraces
football in sandlots and youthful races
fearful greetings and tearful goodbyes
falling in love with her big brown eyes
heart to heart in evenings of sharing
from being apart to coupling and caring.
And so tomorrow I and my heart
go again for another new start
in the hands of healers
and angels from afar
whatever comes from this
if all is well or it goes amiss
I fear not whatever the course
for I have been - and will be - in the hands of the Source.
In April of 2019 I was hospitalized for observation while being put on a new drug for my heart arrhythmia. It was a more powerful drug, but it had possible side effects that they wanted to be able to observe in case there was a problem. As I write this note (7-10-20) it is more than a year after beginning on the new medication and it is working just great.
A Man Among Us Print this poem only
Dear Dave Bates the anchor for us poets
you are a big angel with us and we all know it
bringing lots of laughs and a few wistful tears
you are a treasure among us for all these years.
Thank you for all the love you give
for this country in which we live
for your family and your dear wife
for the loyal duty you’ve served in your life.
You have worked hard and long
and your faith has been strong
a leader among us you are much admired
a Christian man committed and inspired.
Loud and clear we’ve heard your voice
you speak to our souls and for that we rejoice
we’ve heard you in drama, comedy and plays
and delighted in your clever turn of phrase.
But of your many and varied gifts most of all
it’s your verse that has had us so enthralled
we cherish every minute and all the times
we’ve heard your lines ending in rhymes.
Thanks for being a man
who has taken his stand
dedicated, proud, and strong
thanks for letting us tag along.
Author's Note: This poem was written for our dear friend and fellow poet, David Bates. He was a mainstay in our local poetry groups for years. He had a distinctive style of writing on a variety of subjects my favorite of which was entitled "Roamin," about roaming the West Virginia hills and forests in autumn. As I write this note (7-10-20) he has gone on to his eternal reward, and rereading this poem brought back fond memories of this extraordinary man.
A Wake Print this poem only
Last night I went to an old friend’s wake
he lay in the coffin now at peace
gone overseas from the land of pain.
Pictures of his active life and loves
lay about on small tables
where persons gathered alone
tearfully remembering him and the stars in his universe
dwelling in moments of solitude with his soul
to reflect on the paths he crossed
entering for a brief era
the valley of their loss.
The room was loud with laughter
and stories like the one I told
of beer and touch football three decades ago
when our bones were young
joints moved easily and swiftly
running and receiving passes
on legs that now move like molasses.
Hugging old friends and catching up
was like drinking a cup
of sadness and joy.
He was a man of peace
and there in that still presence
past grievances and sins
no longer swirled among us
but only volumes of shared lives
meeting our husbands and wives
abiding in a circle of re-membering
as if we were limbs and organs
of the same human flesh
still pulsing with unfinished work.
We were a wake
to our souls and his
and today I meet all those beautiful souls
in place of hope
that these precious moments
of rising from death
will remain with us
for our small sliver of eternity.
Author's Note: Dedicated to my friend and colleague Randy Conine who taught English, Critical Thinking, and Peace Studies in the Dallas County Community College District. He was a champion of international students, especially those from Africa, some of whom he and his wife took into their home. He was an extremely articulate man whom I admired for his ability to speak eloquently on ethical and academic issues in our faculty meetings and other public settings. He took time for his students and was a good listener. [Pictured above]
Wrapped in Time Print this poem only
God must get a kick out of each child
all wrapped up in twine of time
We pray to sleep just a little while
softly in bed before the alarm chimes.
We beg: wait and let our team either tie
this terrible game if not to win.
Please, give me a year before I die
to get absolved of that awful sin.
Dear Lord you don’t know
the hours of hurt and pain,
you up there all aglow
without a minute of worry or strain.
Time seems so confining
not enough for so much to do
times up, time to go, need a silver lining
not enough time for me and you.
My friend died the other day
waiting for a lung to transplant
he grew weaker with each moment’s delay
for him and his loves time was too scant.
Is this poem a waste of time
when wars are raging
cities soaked in crime?
But here we are wrapped in time, still aging.
Often time seems a burden to bear
but without it we’d be lost
so I’d better use it with great care
for we lose it at a terrible cost.
My resurrections Print this poem only
The big story of this day is Jesus’ Resurrection from death.
It will be celebrated in homes and churches throughout the world.
But I think Jesus is more interested in us than us celebrating him.
He wants us to recognize
and celebrate the way we rise
from our darkness, and digressions
failures, weakness, sadness and depression.
When Jesus was on Earth he was honest. He was himself.
That’s what got him in trouble.
He teaches me to subdue the anger and every hint of violence inside
to be true to the unique creature his Father has crafted
not special or above the rest of ordinary men
just different and true to my own voice.
Unlike Jesus, I am not that courageous and mighty with the power of love.
I still fantasize doing damage to those whom I deem evil
still I care too much about what others think
about how I look or sound in public.
I am unlike Jesus in too many ways,
but I am like him in my rising from darkness and doom
from my own self-made tomb.
My resurrections might be tiny
but large is the Spirit in me
and the ability to see
to see the right
and pursue it wherever it leads
into meadows and into the weeds
away from tradition and my roots
beyond my past moorings
and its small soarings
telling my little stories
from death to glory.
Written Easter Sunday 4-21-19
Tiny Resurrections Print this poem only
A few of his friends went to his coffin
some looked bewildered others sad
years of cherishing made his heart soften
you’d see it in his love of birds and dogs he’d had.
Around the room visiting
were small groups of friends
telling stories, eyes glistening,
jokes were told by buddies and kin.
Aroma of flowers soaked the space
he’d love the life in them and the stories,
how people listened and embraced
and shared moments of glory.
Isn’t it amazing that a man’s dying
brought people together who’d been apart
caused tiny resurrections and rising
waking, softening and joining their hearts?
Author’s Note: These reflections are based partially on the experience I recently had at an evening visitation the day before a friend’s funeral. In addition, every Easter I like to write a poem on the theme of rising from darkness, death, depression, or sadness. Maybe these human resurrections will remind us or reflect in very small ways The Resurrection.
Written 4-21-19 (Easter Sunday)
A Quiet Moment Print this poem only
In this quiet lake
floating on a fugue and the Clair de Lune
the softness of your touch
soothes me smooths and sands away
How sweet this pianissimo movement
before the bombast trumpeting of work and muscle.
These times make a life of worth and dignity
give now its power
and hint of eternity.
Wrapped in Joy Print this poem only
The birds' songs are inviting me
to join them in joy
in holy union with Earth
where they make their home.
May I have such a relationship
bring such joy
to each small encounter of the day.
My desire is to be wrapped in a spirit of kindness
cloaked with love
as I step into the stream
with my fellow creatures
for I know the pain of anger
the dark valley of revenge.
Today I want a different mind