Saturday, November 19, 2011

thanks² 18

Blessed are those who pull for shore. Not for the peril of dry land, but the safety of the deep.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

thanks² 17

"Let's go."
"We can't."
"Why not?"
"Because we're waiting..."
"Oh yes."

thanks² 16

We only gather together in order to scatter together.

thanks² 15

We're all patchworks of each other.

thanks² 14

Once abandoned, some things grow beautiful.

thanks² 13

Everyone's a mess under there.

thanks² 12

Dry leaves wash up on the roofshore, the apostles of the gospel of winter.

thanks² 11

Someday, I am going to die.

thanks² 10

I weep with, and I laugh with. Not so good at keeping a straight face with.

thanks² 09

Who says pessimists get all the emptiness?

thanks² 08

Go to the theatre. Play the part. Sing and raise your hands. Pretend to love. Then wear it home. Maybe your heart will stick like that.

thanks² 07

It's dangerous to go alone.

thanks² 06

We are afraid there is nothing there. But flip that switch anyhow, friends. The light itself is good.

thanks² 05

William told us and Chinua told us.
And we have to believe them.
But you can sew a satin lining, too.
And then when you come home to a dark house,
you aren't afraid to find it
and half a closet empty

thanks² 04

Deep down, I wanted to be fired.

thanks² 03

To unravel is to destroy, I know.
No more to be held and hover
in the echoes of spring, sleep quickened.
And a couch shared
does not make more than friends.
But those intent minutes among
untwisted ropes would be glorious.

thanks² 02

So much have I not lost.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

thanks² 01

All mornings are windows too bright to see through.

thanks² prime

My friend Bet Mercer invited a bunch of people to contribute to a project on thankfulness for the month of November. Every day, take a picture with Instagram or RetroCamera and write a line of prose or poetry about it. I've been posting these to the Facebook page, but I want a central place to archive what I've been up to these last few weeks. Here comes what I've been and will be thankful for.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lenten poem

I was asked to contribute a piece to our church's Lenten table this year that centered on the Main street corridor near our house. In the midst of the earthquake in Japan, and the Love Wins controversy, and the Arab Spring, and everything else, I wrote this poem for that first week of Lent. I rewrote it for the last week, and then did some slight revisions for here.

Roots All the Way Down
Elemental reflections on Lent, 2011

I. nero
Rushing water invades spaces,
all of your gathered
broken-home friends,
crushing like week-fresh teenage infatuation
dashed, sneaks under the doors, rats
bringing a new plague, nipping at your toes
under blankets, your bed was too low, friend, your house
built too close to the sand.

I always imagine Death is green, glowing
like in paintings of Chernobyl
that hung in our church hall in Minsk,
lumbering with his scythe, skeleton
sweeping through skinned skeletons, the helpless
and the helpful, and I'm sorry Irina, and
I'm sorry Andrei, you don't get to have legs. Or
a mother besides this cold crib, one more
in a cubicle sea dropped in an ocean of dry white
buildings where they can't afford enough nurses.
And yeah, yeah, amazing grace. But also,
what amazing destruction.

Minsk made it through. They seeded the clouds with cannons;
you could hear them booming in the morning.
It was only the country that died.
And I'm sure Japan will make it.
Okuma isn't Pripyat, I tell myself,
whisper with all the courage of
God is now here.

II. gi
I walked the earth to Main last night,
the light turned down to amber,
wanting to be plucked by a great hand
off to a valley chock with metaphor
where God would ask me a question I had no answer for,
and he would answer with breathing
life into death,
and I would finally have a good word for you now.

And I know Main isn't 27th, isn't Detroit, I know
some businessman will breathe life into these bricks again,
replace rock-emptied panes. The sunshadow
of long-dead Auto Parts signs will
be filled again, life abundant. I believe, brother.
I believe, sister.

But if God met me there at all, I couldn't touch him like
I held a flaked shard of a concrete window sill,
broke it, thought to taste,
laid it back to rest instead.

III. aer
On a walk like that, when you don't meet God,
you expect the devil, coming along with
look at her walk, why can't you afford
this bauble, turn that
unused parking barrier into bread.
But I didn't hear him either,
just the voice of the city,
the vast empty rush of tires on pavement,
dirty windows, NO standing, get a loan you'll never afford.

This also I heard: the spaces between waves of cars and buses,
drywall hung -- not finished, and will it ever be?,
black windows further up than a man's throw,
and the alley between a pair of houses condemned.
And if he's not up there somewhere in the sky,
looking down on us, causing tsunamis and breaking all our hearts,
maybe this was God.

IV. pyr
There's a fire burning in the womb of the world,
it's a pool they can't cool before it steams,
pouring and pouring, can it ever be filled?
And it's people walking the earth, out into streets, asking
for a voice, crying for a voice,
and hearing bombs in return,
our bombs and their bombs, and who couldn't pull a trigger
in a place like that?
And it's a city divided by a street and a color and a state line.
And it's all the things you can't hear, even straining.

I hear hope lives. I pray hope lives.
But there isn't a man on a hill,
right here, bushy beard, smelling of campfire smoke
and a long second mile
to tell me don't be afraid,
selling all I have and giving it all away
will wake me to a new view, a new kind of crushing empire,
an empire of love the Leader killing you like you love your brother,
like you love your own self,
and if you were the one hurting you, what would you do?
All we have is alleys, lovers' whispers you can't quite hear,
waiting rooms, and wind chimes,
and the long silence after the shaking stops.

V. aether
So we huddle lonely on the mountain,
waiting for the waves to come,
afraid only of now, of when,
afraid of everything,
then. Even living.
Asking what we'll do
when the fire consumes us,
the silt and mud suffocate,
the wind topples over the edge.
Saying farewell to those who dare think
we could have a scrap here and now,
the only question to ask is when to jump. Not if.
All the paths directed to the same damned place.

Unless, there aren't any questions anymore because
there aren't any answers except
reaching over and clasping hands.
God off his throne,
in the warmth of our fingers.