Keeping up with slowing down…

Grandpa always yelled
the same thing,
no matter what:
“Slow down!”
was his universal
call of caution,
for running or walking,
talking or eating,
skating or riding,
corners worried him
as did sidewalks,
aisles and open fields,
and I never asked why,
or even how
to “Slow down!”
as if it was possible;

I never heeded
his clarion call
because it was all
too exciting to wait,
too close not to reach for,
too far not to run to;
he was dragged along
as I tugged his hand,
calling my own “C’mon!”
to him over a shoulder,
urging him on,
to not hold us back,
and I always thought
I was living dangerously,
going much too fast
for my own good;

but maybe he was
just trying to keep up,
and his ‘Slow down!’
was a plea
so we could see it
or, at least, a prayer
to see it, do it, be there
at all
because his time
was running out
and he was just
trying to see what
was so exciting
it couldn’t wait,
and he needed my legs
to get to wherever
it was life was going.

Thinking about thinking…

How people think in the bathtub
is beyond me, I just don’t know how they do it;
the water is warm enough just so long,
until about the time I think of something
worth thinking about,
then I wonder if it’s okay to run more hot water
and how full is too full
and if I have to start the thinking
all over again from the beginning
or if I can pick up where I left off,
but I give up,
nothing important comes to mind,
except that I have nothing important
to think of and how a bath won’t
make it happen, and I notice
my fingers are pruney, the water feels slimy;
I can’t wait to get out, dry off
and see how long it takes until I decide
to try to think of something
worth thinking about again.



Not many isn’t enough…

salvation“Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.”
1 Corinthians 1:26

Not many isn’t enough
The apostle said, Not many
with a note of humility to make
me wonder who they are and
why they’re not in church.

The clothes angels wear…

StairsThe Clothes Angels Wear
I dream of children walking up and down stairs,
up and down, up and down, in brightly colored
clothes, deliberately and unlike the way they
do when on stairs, but it’s not a dream at all;

when Jacob dreamed his dream of angels on
a ladder ascending and descending to heaven,
not from heaven as I’d expect, he thought
nothing at all – no decoding repressions, no,
he wrestled an angel and lived, dreamless;

the couch tells us they’re divine messengers
and always from above where they live
because we incurably desire a god, a message
we call truth, but it’s all wrong because
they’re just like us, always from below
climbing up and down; then the children stop,

then the children stop,
and laugh out loud, the bright colors of the
clothes we dress them in melt together
like rain is washing away a disguise, melting
into earth’s brown–dark, so dark it’s blinding,
they lift their eyes up into the nothing and grin
in a pure gratitude which embarrasses me;

and when I look down at my own clothing it’s
bright and colorful and new; if this is a delusion
I can’t explain it because I don’t want to.

Finals week at Oberlin…

imageIt’s the quietest of quiet afternoons
with a day to read (again)
for an oddly scheduled final,
as a wisp of Lorain air trindles
through pines that have seen it all;
a painter dressed in white from
head to toe erases smart graffiti
from a STOP sign without caring,
a girl sits in her car
crying over something worth crying over,
and a professor walks her equally aged
canine across another lawn until it
stops and sits for the very good reason
of looking at nothing at all
in the middle of everywhere but
there is no complaint of better to do
and this professor waits as happily slowed
to another stop today at Oberlin.

Grocery shopping alone…

old-ladyA Lady
An apple, carefully chosen,
two small bananas
picked from others’ bunches,
one ripe and ready to eat,
maybe half of it will be cut-up over
bran cereal in the morning,
the other is green – at least
two days from ripeness; no bread
because the loaves are too big,
too wasteful, but one Kaiser roll
will do, and then
to the meat counter for two
chicken breasts, individually wrapped,
a lot of time in the freezer section
for just a small bag of green peas
good for two meals at least,
a pint of skim milk, and a single vanilla
yogurt that will be dessert,
all in a cart pushed by a woman
who is alone; her fingers
have rings on them,
gifts from someone, her nails are done,
she wears make-up and
her hair has been set
because she still cares, out of pride
or it was how she was raised, or
it was the way he liked it,
and now she’s in front of me in line
and it’s sad because she seems so,
or at least her groceries do.

More, more, more…

There Isn’t Always

There isn’t always, always more
to season’s joys or love’s embrace
to mothers’ love or men’s wars
there isn’t always, always grace.

When what’s lost is lost indeed
not misplaced but put away
not forgot but must concede
when what’s not stolen is stolen today.

To do what’s asked, asked of one,
with true design, the studied course
with stoic aspect, end undone
to do without will, without remorse.

Life entombed, entombed unbound,
this coward bent and now crushed,
this hero followed and not crowned,
life unearthed, death hushed.

There isn’t always, always more
when the promised one, the only one
when none are left, left but for
there isn’t always, always none.