My friend on the corner…

streetI have no idea what his name might be,
not one idea at all,
my children mocking me when I called him,
simply, My friend on the corner,
giggling that it sounds seedy to say it that way,
but he had to have a name
and it would be an insult to suppose it was
Bob or Steve or Gary
when it wasn’t; his mother named him once
but she couldn’t have
imagined he’d be homeless, begging silently
on Chicago’s streets,
borrowing a cup from the garbage, shuffling
from car to car to curb
as the light turned green and we sped away
leaving my friend on the corner
grinding his toothless grin, shaking the cup to see
if there was enough for food;
he never spoke, never a word, not even the
‘God bless’ others said
obliged to acknowledge God’s greatness as
they starved through life
just to make their philanthropists happy;
until he wasn’t there
one day and then another and then another,
and I worried I’d never
learn what his given name might have been
as if that was the problem.


collarIn a fit of frenzy

(is there any other kind?)

I gave thanks without pausing

without ceremony, without stopping

to smell roses, coffee or spring perfume,

because unlike the behaviorally manipulative

life is my sacrament and no priest slows me down.

Such is life…

rabbiIn the Talmud, so I’m told,
there’s a how-to about how to
control impulses which get
the better of us all, ever day;
it goes something like this,
build a fence around it,
that impulse which distracts
and makes us forgetful
of the right ought of duty
in pursuit of the wrong ought
of desire and appetite,
and when that fence
doesn’t work, which it won’t,
build another fence around
the first fence, and when it fails,
which it will because all
fences fail, look at the mess
of fence-building you’ve
made all for an impulse
that was probably harmless,
and now build a fence
around fence-building
before you forget
what’s truly important;
for such is life, my friend.

Sin is sin when it’s sin…

History is a tale of fallen’s friends
giving account of what had to be,
fixed by a sovereign who sees the end
saddled with a desire to be free;

lost to be found, but only through Rome
intrude on our lust, our passion, home,
named ex opere – the lusty lie
sprinkle the babies lest they all die;

create the fright, threaten what’s scary
touch our babes, but still necessary,
triumph assured, all wars justified
feelings condemned not capitalized.

Who erred that all are born this way
simply answered, we all come astray,
it’s sin, not hunger, that babies cry,
and not biology why we all must die.

Invitation to Prayer – A Tutorial…

Instead of reflecting on all those times
you’ve missed the mark,
ignored what is good and right
fallen or failed or f-ed-up
being all that is normal and wrong with us
and life and me,
this invitation is an explorers call
to the strange and distant lands
of ‘because it is there’
a quest you are rarely begged to risk
to search for that exception to Augustine’s rule
that makes a moment sweet
when an embrace longed for is now,
a miracle realized, a gift from God
who must favor tears of joy,
and laugh aloud with us or go about
with a silly, uncontainable grin,
or pause to remember the aroma
of childhood and cookies and bread;

so today when you pray,
hunt undistracted because what you crave
is the kind of love you’re only given,
rummage the haystack
eager to feel the sting of needle’s touch,
trace the patchwork and stitch
quilted from everything gathered,
fight through the conflict forced upon us
by those who celebrate sin
to win the role of our deliverers to whom
we must allocute lest we be damned
and laugh because they will lose;

pray as if your life depends upon finding
the beauty that is living,
the gladness of exhaustion at the end
of a summer’s day,
the contentment of wonder
which needs no explanation,
and you are not broken,
you need not hide in a safe place
because entropy is there too,
and the only secret is that you
will live forever, you will always win
because you played with life as a toy.

It’s that time of day…

Just imagine it’s that
time of day; the sun still
glows with shadows
soft, soft as her hair,
her arm, her hand as you
reach for her but she smiles
and shrinks away from,
still there, smiling but
elusive, not coy but beyond
reach; her perfume lingers
quietly, the warmth she
cast remains softly as a
shadow, and she’s gone
but always there for you,
always just out of reach,
always beyond you, she’s
yours, her hair to smooth,
her arm to entwine with
yours, her hand to caress,
her smile for you, just
imagine it’s that time of day.

What are those things…?

City born and bred, our first a wonder,
teaching us to be parents, she the scholar,
reading and seeing, loving and eager,
and always with a song, ever singing,
it seemed she risked everything she could see,
and we thought she saw everything,
I’d like to think that an inherited acuity,
living in the bright lights of life;
tonight wading carefully across a farmyard
in the middle of nowhere
she stopped, arms dangling, mouth open
chin up, eyes wide, looking
and asking “What are those things?”
the perfect darkness of a farm’s night
lit by countless luminaries
this daughter of Abraham
had never seen so many in our Ur,
innumerable pops dancing stilly
above our small world as her universe
expanded, again, wide and big.

Object permanency and life…

Object permanence is
my greatest enemy;
it teases with the hope
that what I once had
remains, lingering
somewhere behind
the back of time past,
sleepless nights, empty
days, memories dancing
across a screen in my
heart; hiding from
troubles doesn’t make
them disappear, but
the love lost fades
and the only remedy
worth remembering is
I refuse to remember.

Plato’s Plenitude…

platoI’m not one to believe in it – that
there is a fullness that aches to be so
and all possibilities must and will become real
with time a self-contained, single story
moving from point A to point B with no Z
and everything is as it should be and this
is the hero’s story we call history where
every mother’s cry for child lost is akin to
the happenstance of a good parking spot,
longing and impatience are virtue-less,
love is shortsighted selfishness which is
but a cheap imitation that mocks us
and every accident is only so to those
who aren’t God and therefore don’t know
these are the mistakes we call life
for which we must ask forgiveness.

So this is life…

Imagine a time
when all’s quiet and loud
at once,
the children’s cries
of laughter crisscrossing
the air, scattering
and careening here
and there,
bills are due, money’s not,
work’s always waiting,
sleep is fleeting,
window’s are drafty,
weather adverse,
news is bad,
oil always needs changing,
and not every I love you
can be trusted,
but all’s quiet and loud
at once
and I wouldn’t want it
any other way.