2019

Poems

January-

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

faintly stirs

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

and beyond.

Written 1-5-19

stars-cross.JPG
 
 

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.  

 

Written 1-3-19

Fountain
  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.

Written 1-3-19

 

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

violins, flutes

and mellow mysterious oboes

within.

 

The sun is present

in the clattering molecules

of stone and bone

infiltrating

crashing

creeping

and propagating

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

of time.

 

Written 2-16-19

SonRiseCross-1.jpg
 
 

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.

 

Written 3-23-19

AngryMan.JPG

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.

 

Written 1-16-19

 
 

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.

Written 3-19-19

 

​​​​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.

Written 2-21-19

ship-at-sunset.JPG

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?

 

Written 2-23-19

 

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.

 

Written 1-7-19

 

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

disposes me

to fall upward into your bosom

to dive into the deep 

of your magnificent wondrous heart.

 

Written 2-9-19

 

​​​​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  

Written 2-15-19

 

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.

I worried.

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

girl looking up.JPG
 

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.

I know…

feelings like this

and dreams

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

from me

who has lived so long.

 

So here I am alone

casting out

or in

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…?

 

Written 3-2-19

 

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. 

 

Written 2-28-19

old man close up.JPG
 
 

​​​​​​​​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?

 

Written 2-5-19

tree in fog.JPG

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

 

Written 2-2-19

 

Not Just Another Guy [lyric]

Print this poem only

 

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.

 

Written 1-8-19

 
 

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

 

Written 3-22-19

old man reading book.JPG
 

Ode to the Unmade Bed      Print this poem only

 

I have a friend who lives alone

and practices

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.

Written 3-7-19

unmade bed.JPG
 

​​​​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.

 

Written 3-9-19

 

thumb-on-forehead.JPG
 

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

the clouds.

 

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.

Written 4-13-19

hand in air.JPG

​​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.

 

Written 3-4-19

 

​​​​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

 

then

 

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.

Written 3-6-19

 

​​​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 

to transform

into thorns?

 

Is it my repeated stumblings

or the sin of another

inflicted early

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

of light,

enough lasting exposure

to kill the blight

scorch the itch

and set me leaning

into an upward pitch

to thwart the dark

 

proclivities.

Written 4-6-19

leaning in shadow.JPG
 

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.  

 

Written 1-23-19

 
 

Soil          Print this poem only

 

This dark soil 

teems with potency

of light and life

the sun stirs the soul

hidden in wait

for the creative juices 

to flow and saturate 

its seeds to spring.

 

Written 3-26-19

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. 

Written 3-14-19

 

 

 

 

 

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?

Written 2-2-19

 
Sinai-dessert.JPG
Promised Land.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

of spring.

 

Written 3-13-19

 

 

 

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.

 

Written 2-25-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moored         Print this poem only

 

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.

Written 4-9-19

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Written 4-10-19

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Written 4-15-19

 

 

 

 

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]

Written 4-2-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Written 4-4-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

the light

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

toward truth

and its small soarings

telling my little stories

from death to glory.

 

Written Easter Sunday 4-21-19

light-man-rising.JPG
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

rough edges. 

 

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. 

 

Written 4-27-19

 
moon-on-still-lake.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 

and heart.

Written 4-28-19

 
Bird-singing-in-grass.JPG
2020 Copyright by Glenn Currier