Let’s go west… what do you say…

The highway sped away
behind us in our brown Chevette
as we chased the setting sun
toward the Mississippi; it’s a
race we won and lost so
often we ignored the score.

A thermos of coffee in the
cold, a Coke in the heat wedged
between our feet because
cup holders hadn’t been
invented yet, but we deserved the
convenience of refreshment.

Everything West was ahead of
us, everything East past; we’d
follow closely those who braved
the limits, wondering at the
listless, lifeless dodderers
with no place to hurry to.

How many little, sleepy towns
did we cruise through along the
life we called our highway as we
talked out our dreams; this
happenstance was sacrosanct,
and you taught me reverence.

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How to ruin a fine day…

 

 

 

 

Chili on a Fine Day

Today a man in a brown coat
sat at the counter
and ordered chili
even though the server
recommended he shouldn’t;
anyone of the regulars could have told him
not to order it here,
for while there were several fine menu items,
like the BLT, Swiss steak and even
a good tuna melt,
the chili, here, has never been a good choice;
but he wouldn’t have listened anyway,
he seemed like the kind of person
who was looking for something to help
ruin what was a fine day for everyone else
but a troubled one for him,
and the chili helped.

Death chose me…

 

 

 

 

Preoccupation

I am accused of
having a preoccupation
with death,
the dead,
the anticipation of dying
(which we call birth),
bereavement intrigues me,
hospice and palliative care
I consider bemusing,
even amusing at times;
death and what it means
and doesn’t mean
(everything),
who it involves
(which is every single
last one of us,
no matter how much
we ignore it, which we do,
we all do),
but death waits for no man,
or woman,
so before I could
invite it in for a drink,
a conversation,
it chose me,
when I was just a boy,
disguised at first,
but today bold and sociable,
yet never
on my terms,
and that’s how it all began
and that’s how it all will end,
and I’ll admit
the accusation has a ring
of truth to it.

Life without reason is reason enough…

For No Reason

As I stand in the doorway the air is
sweet and smoky from the hardwood
burning in a neighbor’s fireplace;
the snowflakes are larger now,
softer and unhurried as they cover
the twice shoveled sidewalks of my
city street; the house is quiet
and there’s just a glow from another
room’s table lamp left burning
as the day hides behind dusk again;
all is muffled by slush, and the horn
of a train which is obliged to blow
at the crossing, pausing for that
timely moment of transit before
heading again on its yo-yo path;
there was no reason for me to
open the door – no mail or paper,
no bell, no visitor, just the urge
to do something meaningless
that compelled me to enjoy this.

Learning how to pray, again…

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.

 

Sometimes I remember things like this…

How I Remember You, Regardless

I remember you wearing blue – darkt blue,
like a shadow of a clear day.
And that color makes your eyes deeper too.
It’s warm and there’s a breeze that flutters
the skirt or sleeve of what you’re wearing.
And your hair is down.
It’s chestnut or auburn (I never know
what to call that color). Sometimes you
pulled it back in a ponytail, and I liked it when
you wore a baseball cap
and just tucked it behind your ears.

But I like it best when it’s down and
the breeze makes you rake it back
with your nails. As you do you lift your chin
and close your eyes, turning your face into
the breeze. And then you turn again
and your hair flutters and dances
and you rake it back again – I like that.
Your skin is tan like girls used to
like their skin before they didn’t.

And it sounds silly to hear myself
say it, but you were tall. That’s not something
anyone could change.
And you’re smiling; you always smiled.
You weren’t always like this, I know. And
you haven’t looked like this for a long,
long time. It might seem shallow to think
of you this way, regardless. You changed,
and I changed too, I admit. I probably
never said ‘Why don’t you look like
that anymore’ but you probably knew
I thought it. You didn’t say anything
to me, but I never thought you regretted
how I’d changed. That probably wasn’t
fair of me. I’m sorry about that.

I’m not being shallow, I promise. It’s not
just that you looked that way. It’s the way
I feel when I remember you looking that way.

I’m happy and content. And so are you.
There’s no rush about anything.
We’re together.
We’re not going anywhere, but
we’re walking. Sometimes we tweak one
another and laugh and giggle and run playfully
but not from one another. We always
caught each other, didn’t we!
I can breathe and run and laugh. And
so can you. And we do.
We probably didn’t have any money
except what was in our pockets. And that’s fine.
It doesn’t matter; nothing else matters.
Too much matters too much now,
doesn’t it? No matter how we tried things
kept becoming more important – not just the
good things and great things we had, but
little things that seemed to matter
and they didn’t. I don’t like those things now;
I probably hate them. You never did;
you never hated anything.
I remember trying hard, and you trying hard,
but we didn’t succeed, did we. We didn’t
give up. We didn’t win, but we didn’t give up.
A lot of our friends gave up and I
wanted to, often, but you didn’t.
You never gave up. You never gave up on us.
You were never weak about those things.

Read it again, please…

Today is Just a Page

The marks have no moral,
they know no stories,
nor me or mine,
no memories surfacing
in the quiet of the day’s ebb
haunting and mocking what can’t
be changed by dreams,
they are carried along
as the wave of the page turns slowly
to the next leaving anyone
reading to wonder
who writes this way,
not how but why;
and the way the words go
becomes a prophecy
because it is a path
leading to another nowhere
ready to mean something,
to be noticed
and maybe even remembered
enough to justify
a child’s plea to read it again,
and again, and again, and again.

Something about opera…

Firestone Opera on a Saturday

I like to look over the steering wheel,
neck stretched out like a turtle exploring,
a child reaching with eyes to see ahead,
as my Dad’s strong, aged hands grip
our trajectory lightly even on the highway
while the world flies past in blurs and
he taps his fingertips on the wood and
leather of the wheel in time with the
Firestone Opera he listens to every
Saturday afternoon as we drive to the
bowling alley; everyone else wants to
drive someday, control their own
destiny or at least the radio station,
taking new roads, risking it all on
the hope of getting lost or just making
one’s own way in the romance of
adventure, but I still want to sit in the
backseat craning my neck over Dad’s
shoulder peering ahead, knowing where
we’re going but still curious as if
discovering the new world again
and hoping the fat lady never sings.

Playing God could be fun…

On Being God

When I grow up I want to be God,
capital ‘G’ – whole thing, just like you think,
maybe churches too, but that’s
not something I care about, like others;
I will listen to people when they talk,
do what I can, not what I want,
but not always when they want I’m sure,
good people will feel good about good
and not just for them either,
I’ll ignore pretty much most of what is
because that’s the way it seems best,
and my job will be to keep things running;
I’m sorry, but people will still die
because that’s what mortality means,
that, and thermodynamics,
and we’ll see if I can get people
to stop blaming themselves and others
for everything that they don’t like
because I won’t like everything either;
I’ll give gifts, but not on Christmas
so everyone else can feel special too,
but mercy will still be the toughest sell,
and I get that, but I’ll still try
and that’s the most anyone can ask.

 

 

Morning rhymes with nothing…

Too Early for Words

In the quiet of the morning
in the ease of rest refreshed
with the stillness stillness still
and the dawn God blessed

the spiders have spun a yarn
the dew has bathed it in peace
when all’s uncertain and true
and night has started to cease

there are no found words to speak
there are no new chores to do
verse has failed me yet again
and left me alone to stew

all is forgotten in fog
all too gone to pray a prayer
the unseen is left best that way
and rhyme is nostalgia there