When we need heroes but there are none…

Heroes, Unsung

Finding little worth fighting and little worth life
leaves heroes undiscovered and thus unsung.
Cautionary grace notable amidst strife,
languishes anon with venom stung.

Ignorant to fault, unknown whom;
blithely ashamed, subsist entomb.
Finding little worth life and worth fighting for
leaves idols disguised and easy to ignore.

Whence will they rise and might they appear;
what the occasion and for whom will they ride?
Preferring paladins whom we may revere
charging opportune our reprieve to provide.

Grand their entrance, hastily depart;
hurried the glory, thankless heart.
Whence might they show, when will they arise
whom will they rescue and what the surprise?

Pretenders needn’t apply nor propose a name,
no compensation and not a single holiday.
Reference unnecessary, experience the same,
recompense a single and collective hooray.

Fleeting is glory, blazing abright;
modest the way, countenance contrite.
Pretenders resign and willingly profane;
little appreciated and splendor’s shame.

Grandeur appropriate and fit for these times
must go begging and decline its excellence.
Serving the character of accomplished climes
demands mean customs befitting indulgence.

None the better, all assonant;
shun the single, solely temperate.
Grandeur suitable and easily held
meager in merit and plainly felled.

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I’d prefer not to die…

Ode Not to Dying

In this poem no one will die
no one is sick or will grieve
it’s not that everyone’s blissful
for that would be a silly lie
but we could use a reprieve
from the funereal hymnal.

This could be about life or joy
pleasant parks, a May flower
yet some don’t love Spring
allergies and rain may annoy
for some it’s love turned sour
or that they’re denied a ring.

Can-do bravery is pleasing
psalms of life, into the valley
when others perish bravely
we’re moved to day seizing
coup de grâce to de foudre
lifely lived, lively not gravely.

But I’m Irish – death’s our theme
the grave the cradle’s twin
gentle Lady silenced by Joyce
Heanley’s Naturalist midstream
Yeats killed off Paddy Flynn
Wilde at the grave’s lost voice.

But I’ve promised no decay
disease, mortality or demise
instead we’ll think of the morn
and life as a grand parfait
beauty we will not despise
nor emote so as to mourn.

So here is the happy end
ever after, fondly, cheerful
hoping you feel better with this
and sleep better, life commend
laughing instead of tearful
and not dying (today) is bliss.

Then there is the miracle
when death is itself done in
but how often does that occur;
hope is fine, gullibility satirical
and none escapes original sin
for death one may not defer.

Yes, that’s me drowning…

Help me, I’m drowning
in a shallow pool of witticism,
slogans capturing paranoia of
the other, this jingoism without
cloaks reinforces the lowest of
common fears, and heads nod
in faith’s assent bravely denying
all that’s true in favor of Truth
and say it with a capital T or else,
unchanging, everywhere and
always for all; and now we’re all
instructed to repeat a word,
Impossible, say it, again, Im-
poss-i-ble; impossible not to
have it any other way or
the world will fall apart
for those who are admiring
the Emperor’s beautiful clothes;
and I’m sinking and cry out
for help – I’m in the second
pew from the back on the
right – and please hurry.

Renting my way through life…

Renting, Just Renting

I am a tenant
but with roots,
a wanderer
but with reason,
a renter
but with gladness.
This was not always so,
the pleasure
of residing nowhere long,
the inconvenience
of constantly forwarding,
the uncertainty
of where to lay my head.
I was raised in a house
and moved just once
taught to buy, not rent,
to earn and possess,
to save, store and spend
only what was saved,
that credit was a debt.
But somewhere
along the path I chose
I became a lost man,
never to be found;
somewhere became
nowhere and that
was fine, just fine.
This earth is my home
but my addresses
are only where I’m found
at one moment or day;
and since I cannot
be found
I must never be lost.
I am home
wherever I am
a friend
to all who wander
a companion
to all who dream.
I am a renter.

When I am old…

The Business of My Business

One of those fascinating oddities
I find so thrilling and my family mocks
blurted out of the radio the other day;
it’s about the paper-products industry
and real life all at once—announcing
its fastest growing and largest segment
is no longer bags or cups or even
plain-old-paper, as anyone would imagine,
but incontinence products, as in,
adult diapers, and much to the enjoyment
of my family, I can’t contain my excitement
over this development; it’s because
we’re getting older, not younger, I say,
and they laugh at me, again,
so I remind them (because I still remember
enough to remind them of certain things)
that when they were children we played
a game I called ‘When I’m old will you…’
as I pushed them on the swing, asking
in a serious voice, ‘When I’m old will you
bake me cookies?’ and they’d giggle
and promise, ‘Yes,’ and I’d ask, ‘The ones
will little chocolate chips and nuts?’ and
they’d agree, ‘They’re the best!’
and I’d go on, ‘When I’m old, will you
cut up my meat into tiny little pieces
so I can chew it when I’ve lost all my teeth?’
and they’d laugh harder and promise,
‘Of course I will,’ and then would come
the best one yet, ‘When I’m old, will you
change my diaper?’ and they’d belly-laugh
and gasp for air just to swear, ‘I will,
I promise!’ and I remind them today
that I knew what I was talking about
when they were just little kids.

 

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.

Words are good enough for me…

words2Words are good enough for me…

Living this way is more than a creed – it’s like air to the lungs… like air to my lungs. But bad words – the bad use of words – seems pure evil to me, and I can’t get beyond it (that’s my burden to live with, or die with).

Words are good enough for me, so I play with them.

Words are good enough for me, so I let them play with me.

Words are good enough for me…

Workman by Day
A nobody to professors, a workman by day
this subtlety ordinary man said we write
(if we do) for others and not ourselves;
a simple diversion for the wordy perversion
making things fit snug like a girdle once did,
hiding things curvy, restraining and deceiving
the favors like adverbs for our great, untidied
neighbors, their reading a passion for our
weakened fashion of night’s haunts which
scare us awake and forced to contemplate
the nightmares of failures and adult scares
which only verse hides what sunlight chides.

Thoughts and Thoughts
A thought that can be thought
without something thoughtful to be done
is no thought at all, but a mere pretender;
thoughts which generate no ideas
and make the weak weep, the simple
comfortable, and the frail cringe at whims
like wishes so all beggars ride. Puzzled and
rancorous ideas are harmless excuses of
unexamined life, a sermon looking for life
in the service of paranoid, naval-gazing
called spirituality, pharmacology without
diagnosis, life without death,
desire without lust, and obedience without
ignorance. Ruined lives litter the path of
thoughts, bitter disciples
are casualties of this pedagogy,
angry tears are learners’ lovers, hemlock
cocktails mixed by the bartender of the many.

And I Quote
What is a quote to be quoted
and to whom does it belong?
those marks somehow borrow
what I wish was my song;
what I want as my own
but someone found before,
almost perfect way of words
I must have, and I adore;
sometimes because of who
but I prefer what is said,
the world is but objects,
not facts’ means instead;
picture what is or is not,
but what is written is read
stop asking what it means
or you’ll always be misled;
while I will quote as I wish
call me a plagiarist as well
all’s words and other words
not things we jsut misspell.

 

Is it Easter again?

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz tastes a cup of coffee as he attends a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the opening of the first Hong Kong Starbucks in Hong Kong April 15, 2010. Starbucks sees the potential for thousands of stores in Greater China, where it currently has around 700, and is also keen on expanding in India and Vietnam, the head of the world's largest coffee retailer said. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS)

Howard Schultz is the new pope of the new church.

The New Church
It’s too early for this, for most,
for the man tying-up his big dog
to the bicycle rack being
scolded by a woman who was
slowed by his pausing, and
he just shrugged, entering through
the door held open by a man
staring at the chest of a passing
woman as would any gentleman;
a couple waiting in line together
as if they were strangers
and couldn’t’ care less the other
was alive, another couple sat
too close and too obnoxiously
plays with a shared muffin, a bit
distracting to the two Bible studies
going on in dueling corners of
seriousness, both one-sided
lectures filling empty vessels
with pious clichés, nodding and
sipping – I can hear them both,
one about a Gospel and how
down to earth Jesus was, the other
in Leviticus about punishment
for sins that Jesus would be nice
enough to take care of for us;
and I’m sitting in my favorite spot,
back to a brick wall, legs
stretched out to hold my laptop
and I see through the window
the dog is staring at me, just me,
so I smiled and it sneezed to throw
off the accumulating snow.

Going too fast to go faster…

CP9PMK_2332698bHindsight is such a funny word (you can quote me on that).

A Good Fit
In a fit of frenzy
(is there any other kind?)
I gave thanks without pausing
without ceremony, without stopping
to smell roses, coffee or spring’s perfume,
because unlike the behaviorally manipulative
life is my sacrament and no priest slows me down.

Permission or Forgiveness
If only, if, if, “If I knew then
what I know now” I know I’m not
smart (or good) enough to do
anything differently; I know that I
don’t know how to know
differently, I know that even
with 20/20, clear as day,
sharply focused and contrasted
lines diagraming right and wrong,
touch and don’t touch, walk
and don’t walk, buy and sell,
I would still act stupidly
and need forgiveness
instead of permission;
because it’s only later and
not at the time that I know
what I should have known,
and I’m fine with that because
I’m enjoying forgiveness.

 

The worst missionary ever…

samuel-zwemer460Samuel Zwemer – missionary to Bahrain and Egypt, founder of Arabian mission and editor of The Moslem World for 38 years, professor of missions at Princeton Theological Seminary and internationally popular speaker and advocate of missions for over 60 years, famous for his quote: “the history of missions is the history of answered prayer” – was arguably one of the greatest failures on the mission field with less than a dozen known converts to Christian faith.

Whether it’s defensiveness or faithfulness, Zwemer is still regarded as a hero. Hailed as another example of Hebrews 11:39, “commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” It’s easier in hindsight to champion Zwemer’s cause of hand-wringing in the face of the insurmountable, but it’s hard to imagine funding his ministry today, or raising support for 40 years of work on the field with fewer than a dozen success stories.

Zwemer embraced the debate over differing measures of success, complaining often of inefficiencies even while heralding a career of relative fruitlessness. Toward the end of his teaching career, he mused: “The printed page is a missionary that can go anywhere and do so at minimum cost. It enters closed lands and reaches all strata of society. It does not grow weary. It needs no furlough. It lives longer than any missionary. It never gets ill. It penetrates through the mind to the heart and conscience. It has and is producing results everywhere. It has often lain dormant yet retained its life and bloomed years later.”

Regardless of Zwemer’s own stewardship message, his biography does show what is the most compelling feature of his ministry – the alignment of his ministry and message.

And what was Zwemer message? This son of a Reformed pastor, young Zwemer unapologetically proclaimed that the task of evangelism was to identify the elect, and the chief end of missions is not simply the salvation of people but the glory of God (or the glory of God in the salvation of sinners, as he later said).

Late in his career, he wrote an essay titled, “The Glory of the Impossible,” in which he portrayed the discouraging, prohibitive and insurmountable obstacles to Christian mission among Muslims. He said, true faith is that “which enables the missionary to look upward with confidence and see by faith the future result of…toil; a world where statistics are inadequate to express realities, where finance and budgets have lost all significance, and gold is used for paving-stones.” (Zwemer, “The Glory of the Impossible,” The Princeton Seminary Bulletin, 1949, 16)

But Zwemer didn’t mislead anyone it seems. His message of God’s sovereignty-explains-evangelism was his response to detractors, and his dig-in-your-heels-because-God-is-sovereign approach motivated generosity, and some fame. But the question remains, after you’ve exhausted deep Dutch pockets from Orange City, Pella, New Holland and Grand Rapids, where do you turn?