Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Porch....Not disturbing enough for pleasantly disturbed but "driveling" and "vericose veins" are in there.

The Porch
It was at the dead end that a house stood empty with a sign stuck on the front hill.  It said it was for sale.  How could I purchase just the memories that hover around that place?   I didn’t want the house necessarily.  I wanted the things that held me suspended in peace above the malformed opinions of adulthood.  Ignorance was bliss and that bliss faded into the backdrop of life away from home.  That was a stance I took in front of the house that wasn’t my home any longer.  I, a driveling reminiscent, stood hoping for a sensory flashback to red ball jets and ham burg gravy.

My daughters climbed the stairs with me and we became momentary voyeurs of a place where I learned to walk, ride, and drive.  We cased it like future burglars.  We peered over the window sills.  We walked its perimeter.  I started pouring out stories like a coffee pot.

I told them how I used to ride and ride my stingray around the house until the roots of the maple trees rose like varicose veins.  The path would allow a few hardy dandelions to hang in there.  But now there was actually green grass circling this “used to be” home.  How my mother would have liked to have something to mow back then. 

I got on a knee to peer under the wooden overlay of the cement stoop in front.  It was under there, crumbling still.  Instead of five smooth stones there were five rough steps with bookend brick walls.  Those walls held, for a while, the stories of our lives.

In the spring ten children would fall out of our winter barracks and sit at ease on those steps.  It was the place to hang out and watch the world go by…even on a dead end avenue.  By the way, it was never dead.

My sister Mary would sit on the wall almost any time of the day and wander around chords on her guitar.  I remember her playing the intro to the Beatle’s Blackbird.  Now I hear my son playing it and his fingers pick and point me back to front porch days… 

Back when it was a safe zone for tag or home base for hide and seek.  Back when my mom would blow the police whistle from that porch to call us home for dinner or baths or a head count.  Back when in early August it was an excellent place to watch lightning bugs and listen to the cicadas sing.  Back when neighborhood kids would show up for senseless banter and storytelling from its podium.  Back when cigarette butts were flicked into the sidewalk cracks.  Back when it served as a barricade for water balloon and squirt gun fire and pitches of the little pearly berries from the shrubs out back.  Back when it was the backdrop for graduation pictures.  Back when tears of sadness, frustration, anger, happiness had freckled its grainy mortar.  Back where hellos and goodbyes were handed out.

It reminds me of my Mom.  Actually, it was for her I wrote these words down.  That porch was like the house’s lap.  We could crawl up on it and relax and be ourselves.  There was a certain comfort of simply sitting there.  Sit and be.  Let the wind blow our hair back like she did when she checked for fevers.  First the back of her hand against our cheek, then a cool palm on our forehead, then the brushing back of our hair and her pursed lips just above our eyebrows. 

Then to climb up on her lap…the best easy chair ever there was.  It would support our weighty little bodies.   We would sit and wait for her strength to be transferred to us.  A short visit there would lend us security.  Now I know that her strength and security was often waning.  Only God and she knew how many times her cup was empty and yet a little drop of love managed to fall on us… and that was all we needed.

Now that porch is laminated in painted wood, make-up that covers its inner beauty and foundational strength.   I feel like I need to go back in cover of darkness and pry up the cover up.  Then I could sit on the pitted remembrance of who I was becoming.   I would imagine all my siblings stuffed on that porch sharing the steps and the one lap we all had in common. 


Wednesday, September 29, 2010



Draw me a warm psalm
so I can slip a worn out soul
into it.
It’s been a long day of
propositional truths.
My backbone aches.
The carpal tunnel flares
in the traffic jam of
neuron highways.
Can I just soak in
the feelings for a while?
Will the Lover of my soul
stir the water a bit?
I thought, therefore I was.
I feel, therefore I am
wrinkling wet.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back Seat Love for One Shot Wednesday

I know. Is the back seat really a place for love?
In one respect I think not…
But hold on a minute, I’m talking about love.
I dreamt I was a taxi driver in and out
of life’s traffic and jams.
My light was on waiting for a whistle or a hand.
Then she got in and sat in the middle back.
My rear view cropped her face.
Her brown eyes caught mine in the mirror.
“Just drive a bit,” she said calmly.
I nodded and pulled back out into it.
She smiled her eyes and
I think I smiled my eyes back.
“So, any destination in mind?”
“Sure, is that near West 42nd street?”
“You never know.”
“Well, I will never know if you don’t tell me.”
She winked and fully opened her eyes briefly
exposing the whites like teeth.
Somewhere I heard the eyes
are the windows to the soul.
What a beautiful window.
I thought I saw her soul…even more beautiful.
She leaned forward with her chin
nestled in her forearms.
“Don’t worry,” she said, “I am not in a hurry.”
“I’m starting to get that. What about the meter?”
“Keep it running, where I want to go is priceless.”
I took one hand off the wheel and relaxed a little.
“A taxi driver not knowing where he is going…” I mumbled
“…is a nice diversion,” she whispered.
“Wait a minute, you just hinted at a destination.”
“I suppose I did, but you are the driver. Without you
I am not going anywhere,” she sang with a smirk.
“What kind of Jell-O logic is that?”
“Oh, let’s not get strapped too tightly into logic.”
I took a cleansing breath. “Jell-O,” I said flatly.
She sat back in the seat and stared in the mirror.
“What?!” I said.
She brushed the band of brown hair from her eyes
and tucked it behind one ear.
She said softly, “Look into my eyes. I know you saw it
the first time. That’s right. It’s the beauty beyond the eyes.”
I did see it. I pulled over and the tears in my eyes magnified
the beauty I saw in hers. I felt something jump into me.
“That’s where I was hoping to go”, she said as she
handed me the fare and walked away.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fold In

Fold In

She was making bread and I
asked if she was going to fold
anything into it.
She said she was mixing and
kneading, but no folding.

A symbol of so much
Life and body.
Breaking it together.

I have been watching my brother
folding in grief
by hand
into the bowl of his life.
The oxygen tucked in and again.
The sorrow hidden like yeast to
become the very emptiness
that causes rise.

It is a slow deliberate rise.
A waiting,
living on with hands covered
in life dough and
flour snowing like tears
to the floor.
He folds in
standing almost alone
with the Bread of Life.

For Peter
June 2010

This was for my brother.  In January his wife lost a twenty year battle with cancer.  After reading a blog on death tonite and having breakfast with him this morning I remembered this.  His wife's favorite idea was that of hope.  She was full of hope...right up to the seam she slipped through to the God of all hope.  She set it down next to Pete when she left.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Give Me A Bite Of That Apple for Theme Thursday

Give Me a Bite of That Apple

because I’m definitely outside the garden.
I’m out in the carb jungle and it shows.
Where can I buy fig leaves with spandex?
I know why A and E hid.
I know why I want to hide.
My pants don’t fit right, I mean,
I don’t mean to sag, that’s not how I
usually roll, but now I have a roll and
it sags and my buttocks are packing
their bags and heading northeast.
I used to have a button on my belly and
now there’s just a button hole.
I have to think about where I tie my shoes.
A short chair is best or
I come up with no air in my chest.
Hand me that apple so
I can bite it to the core.
I’ll have it bronzed and stick it
on my dash to remind me
of my core within.
Maybe an apple a day
will make my belly go away.

Help! My midsection is stretching!

Holy Tension

Holy Tension

There is a tension between
work and Sabbath.
Outer and inner.
Doing and being.
There is a band of grace
which keeps life lucid.
Too much sweat
and the heart shrivels
and cracks like drought
on our spirit’s skin.
Excessive rest and
heart soaked rain
will grow mold
like a cataract
on our spirit’s eye.
May we work the rest
and rest in the work.

Someone mentioned this one to me yesterday.  Today is sabbath for most beleivers.  I know I have a hard time shifting down to be still and know.  May this be the day we mend God back into our spirits for the upcoming week.  I don't know about you but by the end of the week God seems to be a loose thread dangling. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Luci's Shawl

Luci’s Shawl

Prayers of thanks as I wrap
the wholly crocheted words
around me. 

It’s cool in this writer’s
cave under the stairs.

Your tight and lose knots
rest easy on my cold shoulders.

It was back on May twentieth,
early in the morning that I
was invited into moving
words with needle swords.

You wield the points together,
changing the colors as needed
until floats cascade down
in mischief on the underside.

Then flashing would rise like an
Easter morning as you knot and
unknot the fibers of vocabulary.

Any time I can pull out a poem
of yours like a loose thread and
it unravels me. 

Thanks Glynn for the link to the review of harvesting fog.  I can't help myself, so here is another one I wrote a while ago to celebrate Luci's gifts to me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sleep Number Bed

                Someone once asked me what my sleep number was.
                “Twelve,” I spurted.
                I threw it out there.  It sounded mediocre to me.  The reality was that I didn’t know my number.  I didn’t know what the numerical range was on that bed.  I guessed it might have been twenty.  That was me, again arriving at a slightly above average underlining of myself.  I think it started in Jr. High when I hovered around lower B’s and C’s during puberty.  Some sort of chemical fusion must have etched “average” into my genetic landscape.  Anyway, I felt I needed an immediate answer to this young lady, so twelve it was.
                “You like it really soft then,” she said.
                Then I wondered, embarrassingly, what the range on this Cadillac bed could be.  So, back at the hotel I messed with the buttons to see how ignorant and/or arrogant my answer was.  The number quantified a part of my personal value after all.  I mean, we sleep one third of our lives, so a third of who I am rests in the horizontal position.  I kind of wanted to know my guess was at least close to being honest with her (assuming she actually gave thought to the brief interchange that lodged itself into my self-i-ness).  The beds max was one hundred…Wow, in Jr. High twelve percent would have represented bad guessing on a quiz at best.
                I then wondered what twelve would feel like.  I sat on the bed while it exhaled, stopping at intervals to check the number.  “Sheesh, will I ever reach twelve?!” I whined quietly as my butt cheeks slowly descended.  Then I realized, as any Sleep Number owner knew, that twelve wasn’t a possibility.  Fifteen or ten was reachable, but not a dozen.
                Why not a dozen?  What if my sensitive lower lumbar number five was overlooked because of some engineer’s fascination of counting by fives?  Maybe the marketing strategy was to give consumers the option of a plateau of one hundred, (bed of nails) so they could sleep in peace knowing they are a 4.0.  The think tank developers probably sat in the board room with charts and dry erase swords and thought…”Let’s go after the mid-life crisis group.  Their backs are starting to fossilize.”  Or maybe they were after 40ish types like me who wear their Jr. High grades like briefs that expose the color of the elastic band every time they bend over.  The one(like me) who thinks to himself that if his sleep number mirrors his Jr. High grades, at least eight hours a day his mind and body are one.
                It’s funny how the answer of twelve has led me to feel like I am twelve again.  How can a sleep number ascend to my conscience a pubescent genetic altercation?  Garrison Keillor, how can you and your Prairie Home Companions endorse such an emotionally damaging sleep aid?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The other night the wind and the rain
slapped a lot of beauty out of their canopies.
The rain fell on the leaves,
the leaves fell like rain.
The colors lay dead.
I tried to rally my kids to pick them up.
I gave them Elmer’s glue and a stapler.
I had a few ladders too.
The suns out now and how much
I wanted to see the colors against
a cool blue sky instead of faded green
and asphalt and gravel.
I almost prayed for the resurrection
of these expired tree totalers.
But then my kids dropped the glue
and staples and the disbelief
their faces were showing me.
They ran for rakes.
Their faces flush with autumn air
they piled up the colors on the runway.
They carelessly overlaid color on color,
like when they were much younger with crayons.
Their excitement rose as did the pile.
Then I saw the clear blue sky in their eyes
as they lay laughing in the colors.
I smiled as their redemptive act
fell on me like cool rain in the night.

Kernels of Truth

Kernels of Truth

Pass me some Jesus words please.
How about the ones lying like kernels
in the bottom of a popcorn bowl?
The little seeds hard enough to break
an ego like a tooth.
                                                                 “Come unto me.”
All the heavy butter glazed on my fingers.
The exploded grenades like cumulus
clouds have disappeared by the hand full
as I watched life like a movie.
                                                                  “Be not afraid.”
Sifting the bowl like a panhandler
more and more hard polished words
role around golden like a rule.
Butter fingers plucking tightly
one at a time.
                                                     “What do you want?”
Amaized at the possibilities
of these seeds falling into my soul
and dying, I welcome the broken
casing pealed back by grace and truth.
                                                                  “Follow me.”
GAB June 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Imaculate Reception

She snuck in between Lady Gaga and Boston.  Lisien, our special needs 12 year old is drawn to microphones.  They might as well be ice cream cones because when she finds one she eats it up.
Our family went to my nephews wedding over the weekend and at the reception Lisien had a special request.  It was not just for a song...she wanted to sing.  So the lead vocalist gave her a shot not knowing what the song was. 

The scene was well into the evening.  It was after the mariachis left.  It was after much Oberon was consumed.  It was after some line dances and after some dad embarrassed his kids.  The mini Red-Hot bottles were confiscated by Sammy and Bash, pockets full and a census taken.  The crowd was mixed like a drink. 

Then out of the volume soaked room came a perfect pitch.  "Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that I'm your friend..."  The "mixed drink" noise began to dissolve.  Especially when the groom boomed out "Quiet!...That's my cousin singing!" 

And she sang with a smile bigger than the solstice.  She knew all eyes and ears were on her.  She might as well have turned water into wine.  It was the wedding at Cana again and Jesus showed up.  She could make that song last forever and I was tempted to let her.  But I closed in to whisper thank you Lisien.  Thank you Jesus. 

The next morning she told me how nervous she was and went on and on like she just made the cut on American Idol.  In my heart I new she had already won.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spring Song Reprise. Thank you Luci Shaw for nudging me awake.

Back when it was May 20th, Very Early Morning,
I sat in the back row leaning in to receive
an unexpected poem.
It was more than a prayer.
It was more than a hymn.
It was an alter call to
step forward into childhood
It was an invocation to enter
into a great poem on the
edge of transcendence
where unknown weeds are
noticed in their green hues.
It was when Yarrow was
birthed into my vocabulary,
and brambles were seen
in a positive light.
Even dandelions raised the
glory of gold and silver.
I have many times been
haltered by a field of
This day rain ran down
my face like on a window.
It settled on the sill of
my heart to collect
and soak me.
I longed to brush the tips
of my fingers along the golden rod.
I wished to wade in the trillium
and be warmed near the white flames.
I imagined the arch of my foot
massaged by the mosses.
This field immersed in gravity
defying growth.  Green and glorious.
It let me know that out of the
soil came I, and green I shall be.
Whether an unnamed weed or a
wild strawberry I will join in
the hymn.

Written for random acts of poetry.  It was the door hindge which opened up a world that I had set to the side for quite a while...creativity.  The original poem was titled May 20th Early Morning by Luci Shaw.
It is now found in The Green Earth, Poems of Creation by Luci Shaw with the title of Spring Song, Very Early Morning.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ear wax/heart wax

I am finding over the past few months that I am reading more lips, leaning in more to diffuse background noise, and the word "what" comes out of my mouth quite a bit.  It's hard enough to decide to fully listen but to get out of the doorway and enter in to conversation only to say "eh?" half the time is frustrating.  With all the many voices in my own house let alone the ones in my head, it takes me more energy than I have sometimes to completely listen to the thoughts of another.

It got me thinking again this morning about reception.  A few years ago I felt prodded to meditate on what it means to receive.  For a while "moments" were taken as such.  "In the moment" graced me at times when I was with someone or out in the fray of work, errands, play, writing, etc.  But over time these moments were nibbled away by worry and stress and just plain busyness.  This is a heart issue.  Just like when I don't give my wife my full attention on a regular basis a distance grows between us, a heart can be neglected to the point of waxy build up.  It's a separation of heart and it's engagement with the life it finds itself in. 

The bible tells us to guard our heart with all diligence.  D.H.T.'s song beckons us to listen to our heart.
I really don't want to be just another "talking head".  I want to be able to receive you and life as it comes.  It really is a grace to live in the moments.  Aren't they all we have when we boil things down?
Even God said that His name is I am that I am.  Not I was.  Not I am going to be.  If I am created in God's image my essence is to be.  It is in that vein that I am able to receive the beautiful grace of life as it is and you as you is.

God, give us the grace to be still and know who You are so we can be who we are.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quick Decisions

There be it.  Another one. 
Snooze button or off and up?
Read a mind stretching item?
Sit and spread out the sleep sap
from my eyes or make the coffee
in the fog with my low beams on?
Micro manage kids as they flit
about gathering school stuff?
Shower first or see the stubble
trouble in the glass as I comb
through my teeth and put Crest
in my hair?
It's only Tuesday and disheveled
is the word of the day.
Nora Jones just told me
to come away with her.
Not today.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I remember 30 years ago something my youth pastor told me.  "Whenever I have someone in the car with me the radio is off." 

Now, just yesterday I had one child with me while I went to purchase a suit for a wedding.  In the van while on I-94 I turned the radio on.  From that point on the attention deficit began to subtract from any real connection with the chirp er in back.  Right ear on a four year old, left ear on the Kim Commando show.  Both talking, both pulling on my self centered suspenders.

My wife has affirmed me in the deep thinking arena.  It's the "now" moments that often usurp any reason and logic.  So idio-consciously, instead of realizing if I turned off Kim she won't be offended, I "felt" she would write in her diary that night how many people turned off the radio on her and how her therapist is definitely gonna hear about it on Tuesday.

And there sat Emmy with her little round face and bouncing blue eyes with her mouth running like a motor boat.  For a second I imagined her as a World Cup play by play commentator.  Her sentences made up of one long word.  Words melted togetherwithnopauseorcommaorbreath.  Then I caught on that if I turned her off she might have a dairy entry someday about the dad who was more interested in computer glitches than hitching up with a four year old conversation.   

Sunday, September 12, 2010

If a tree falls...

Will it be heard? I lean on a ring of a tree that has fallen. I wasn't there to hear it fall but here it is holding me up in moments of decision. So the noise it made is in my imagination. So What.?

Last night a friend was telling me a story about a black forest and a battle that ensued there. It was so dark the warriors were getting lost and confused. I often feel like I have wandered into the Black Forrest or Sherwood Forrest or Forrest Gump. Either I am bumping into enemies and shaking their hand or I am slitting throats of comrades. Then there are moments where I sit on a bench eating a box of chocolates oblivious to any positive or negative impact on those near by. So again I lean on the egotistical frame with my arms crossed.

Behold, I stand in the doorway and rot.

Yeah, you can laugh. I laugh at myself all the time. I am here to invoke those who struggle with going through doors. Would that make me a door keeper? Well, maybe a little. The pluralism on either side of the door would make some hang underneath the frame in the paralyzation of analyzation.  Which has been me quite often, sometimes to the frustration who have no problem walking through doors.

Red pill, blue pill
caff, decaf, half caff
elephant, donkey
episcopal, evangelical
college, pro
facebook twit
two kids, twelve kids
in out

"We don't yet see things clearly.  We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.  But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!"  The Message

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bump my head

Often I don't even realize I am under there.  I am not tall enough, like my brother-in-law, to hit my head when walking through door ways.  So I am unaware at times I am leaning on the door post.  It's not until someone(usually my wife, bless her)gives me a topspin whack to the back of head that I realize I am parked in indecision.  So this begins a tracking of those door frame seasons, moments, lack of knee jerk reactions under the in between spot.  Jesus said: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." Often my forehead is bruised.