Simply an accessory…

I feel famous on days like today,
plucky and serene, unhurried by
a schedule everyone else rushes
to keep, naturally pausing to look
into a mirror, chin raised and
finger tips guiding aside a wisp
of hair that falls back lazily,
attractively; exiting into a calm
day to match just me, stepping
onto the bus without a pause or
breaking stride, smiling in response
as strangers try to get my attention,
nodding and turning toward the
window as the sun itself brightens
while other squint uncomfortably;
my uniform hiding behind my
overcoat and scarf which is so soft
and flimsy it’s simply an accessory.

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Mom’s victory…

‘Everyone’ is such a rich expression,
so powerful, persuasive, intimidating,
but it was no match for my mother
who could make its effect conditional
adding a simple ‘if’ and all would fall
off a cliff, as in ‘If everyone jumped…’
her artless and shrewd play ended
debate with a victory she deserved.

Sacrosanct happenstance…

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, 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 it taught me reverence.

Inescapable eddies…

eddiesI am a stone tossed into the rushing river

ready to be hidden and forgotten

disappearing where there is no memory

 

and late at night when everyone else

is calming and secure, the waters rushing over me

won’t be enough to wash away my sin and sediment.

 

I am a stone thrown by the child’s hand

aiming to skip but gouging at the water

and briefly, just ever so briefly, struggling to fly

 

my splash is of no consequence, no ripples

my wake succumbs to the silky churn of the waterway

where no thoughts can compel another end.

 

I am as a pebble in a strongman’s hand

no connections or care slow his effort to govern

fears and ways so he’ll be remembered as great

 

and when I sink obscurely along with many others

we are useful to his ends, his dream to be remembered

resistance is futile, will and passion only frustrate.

 

I am a stone once here, then nowhere

once sinking slowly, now nowhere else to go

so promising, so imaginative, so hope-drunk

 

my dreams linger as reflections on the underside

of eddies you see but ignore as fanciful fits of nature

as my story plays on above me, out of reach.

 

 

 

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.

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.

Weeds of War

After each cool night
and every warm morn
dew drunk and eager to mock
my weeds are waiting for me.

From my kitchen window
across the greening lawn
they choke my fruit blooms
mocking my efforted rows.

Uncultivated, unrelenting
stubborn to their roots
I’m left to battle my nemesis
with these bare hands.

Too swiftly they recover,
too eagerly they convalesce,
and shoot past stake, pole and string
to race toward the sun.

I have failed my training,
become trapped in this war,
as Sun-Tzu mocks my ignorance
for weed is but wild-flower.

In a Good Story…

In every good story someone dies
(sometimes, but more frequently,
in bad ones as well); not always
tragically or poignantly, not always
sadly or in a timely fashion, usually
importantly a death is required.

It may be that it’s a way to make
tales more authentic, but it ironically
renders death’s severity a mere ploy
in the hands of desperate dramatists
longing for gravitas yet in failure;
simply turn dust back to dust.

Occasionally it’s accidently but
unexpectedly; and if the desire is
manipulative – the death of a child,
boy or girl, either will do – to tweak
the emotions of even the hardened
with an appeal to the weak.

Now multiple deaths are a waste
to an author and thus school bus
fatalities (a kindergarten field trip
tragedy) are typically avoided
and mass murders’ victims aren’t
the story in the first place.

Too many tales are funereal,
too many yarns come undone
and too many wakes begin stories
of too many things gone wrong;
dramas of dads and mamas
until death do everyone part.

Narrators, of course, play God
knowing, seeing all, all at once
what’s in heads, hiding from light
but telling us only part of a story;
this or that reason for lost life,
providing knowledge we lack.

The human story’s author
has wasted over a hundred billion
anonymous deaths littering lands,
mocking prophet amidst dry bones;
the deity’s wonderful plan for life
trumps all novelist’s narratives.

Da Yu

Yu-the-Great_proj-copy-700x420

This is the story of Da Yu, who we saw walking along a roadside on the early evening of one Sunday – Easter Sunday of all Sundays – and a child asked “What’s that man’s story?”

So this is Da’s story.

Yu the Great was the founder of the Xia Dynasty over four thousand years ago. Yu’s father attempted to control a great flood that threatened land and life. He built dikes and damns of soil and rock to hold back and contain the waters. He failed.

The great flood continued. Yu was conscripted to do what his father could not. Instead of restraining the great flood, Yu dredged deeper channels in rivers and valleys to carry the great flood to distant rivers and distant seas.

He opened waterways, unearthed damns and removed dikes with hard labor in long days. He was covered with the same dirt and mud his father struggled to amass, but Yu was washed clean in the rushing flood he did not resist. Yu succeeded in the task his father failed, and he was given the name Yu the Great – Da Yu.

Today Da wears his suit. The blue one He has just the one and he’s only ever had just the one. So, Da wears it. As dusk begins to cover this late April afternoon, along a road he’d built, Da Yu walks in his blue suit and white shirt – his shirt as white as his full head of thick hair – he walks home, alone.

As a young man Da Yu was pushed in one direction and pulled in another – he didn’t want what his father demanded for him and yet would not refuse what he must do.

Mr. Yu – Da’s father – insisted, “You will not be like me.” The hard life of manual labor had strengthened the father’s back and his resolve as well, and he was determined that his son would not live such a hard life because he didn’t have to live like his father had to: “I work so you can learn to do better work; not so hard work, and you will be happy and not tired like me.”

On his eighteenth birthday Da received just one gift from his parents – a blue suit. It was as expensive for Mr. Yu as it was important, “You will wear a suit and not dungarees.”

But this changed the day Mr. Yu came home lame.

Mr. Yu would not cry in front of his wife and son – he would yell and stomp and curse, but Da knew his father cried when Da was forced to give up on his father’s plans and dreams. The boss of the road crew Mr. Yu worked said that Da could have the work until Mr. Yu was healthy. Mr. Yu barked “Never!” but he never was healthy again. As a man of hard labor, he withered each day he was lame, and willed from his bed – fighting back the inevitable – the victory that eluded him. Mr. Yu never worked again and Da worked every day for forty years from that day.

Not long after Da wore the suit to his father’s funeral.

He wore it when he asked a sweet girl named Sarah to marry him, and he wore it when they married in her church.

He wore it when his boy Sun was christened for Sarah’s sake, and he wore it the Sunday he went to church each year on Easter. She didn’t ask much and he knew this was to please Sarah’s family because they were concerned about Da, and that Sarah was settling for a man who lacked dreams; a man who did not fight back, a man who simply nodded. All this Da knew but it was never spoken of – there was nothing to be gained and little that would change if he protested. He would work his hard work and wear his dungaree, and save his blue suit for special days to be remembered.

In his first years, Da’s skin became tanned and leathery from summers and winters, the cold, rain and heat of long, hard days. His hair was black and thick and covered his head, and a cap only made him sweat so he avoided his. The crew chided Da that he yellowed in the sun. Sarah worried that he worked too many hours, but a was happy to work and he was healthy and would do whatever was asked and he worked hard. When asked he would simply nod; he was glad to work. He did not refuse hard work.

Da didn’t get bigger or fatter or stooped like the others with whom he worked. Younger men took their places and the next generation took up the same lament – work is hard and the best work is no work.

But Da was healthy and quiet and bosses wished they had a dozen Yu’s but hired more of the others instead. Da’s hair did turn white; not gray – white and pure.

When his child, Sun was a young boy he would asked his father what he did, why his skin was so dark and rough, and why his hair was white like snow. Da always answered that he worked in the sun and rain and snow, so his skin showed he worked hard, and his hair just showed outside what was inside. But the boy didn’t understand.

Sarah was kind to Da; gentle and affectionate – she called him Yu-Yu, lovingly, and she was understanding of his labor. What he earned he gave his family and took little for himself. She worked herself when Sun started school, and she’d ask him to take a day to rest, but he’d always refuse, “What would I do if it wasn’t working?” he’d answer.

When they had time they’d take walks together, with Sun in a stroller, then the three on foot; always just walks that took different paths, along different roads and streets and returned them to their small home. It was the home Da’s father and mother had, the home Da had grown up in, the home Sarah and Da moved into after they were married to care for his mother, and the home she died in one night and their home since the day Da wore his suit to his mother’s funeral.

Da didn’t dream dreams of a different life, and he refused the nightmares of his own son’s life. There was only discontent in such dreams, and Da’s way was a nod and not a dream. He never bought Sun a suit – he could afford to, he had the money, but the thought never occurred to him.

When Sun grew, his mother and father helped when they could with clothes and books and papers that proved their modesty, but Sun grew embarrassed. The very things that showed their love were too modest for their son. Soon Sun was off to school, but Da and Sarah didn’t visit their son until his graduation when Da wore his suit and Sarah coughed through commencement. It was a cough that came one day and stayed, keeping her away from work, in bed eventually being cared for in the evenings by Da who stopped taking the walks.

The next time Da wore his suit it was to Sarah’s funeral.

Sun moved away and stayed away, but Da kept working, now less with shovel and more with a sign that read Stop and Slow. And he again walked at the end of each day, retracing the same paths and same roads and streets he’d walked with Sarah and Sun. He lived in the same home but it became more of a house. He washed his clothes, his own dungarees, made his rice and worked only his own hours until they told him he’d worked enough and not to come back tomorrow.

And then he’d wait each day until it was time to take the walk at the day’s end, walking the same paths and same roads and same streets he’d walked with his Sarah and Sun. And on Easter Sunday each year he’d put on his blue suit and leave it on all day, until the day’s end and he’d walk along the street he’d paved.

The Truer Truth… to begin…

Begin

“There are few nudities so objectionable as the naked truth.” – Agnes Repplier

It’s time.

It’s time to transform our lives—from the ordinary that shouldn’t have become normal for people like us to the life we’ve hoped for.

It’s time to live our hopes.

Solomon said there’s a time for everything.

Everything.

That means we always live in the time for something.

And now is our time.

No more excuses, no more delays, no better-things to do. In a voyeuristic culture, in a voyeuristic world, and in the mind-game of ‘I like to watch’ it’s time to do something worth watching.

And we are ready.

It’s our time to do something worth watching.

We’re ready for whatever is next because what’s next is all we’ve got.

The past can’t be changed. We can play with it, or twist it, but if we try to ignore it we will be haunted by it. It won’t go away.

The present—our now—is ephemeral. It’s worse than brief, faster than fleeting; it’s timeless and seductive. And it’s gone… just like that. If we listen closely we can hear it laughing at us, mocking us.

What’s next is all we’ve got.

And what’s is next is up to us.

It’s time.

Our time.

Our timeThis is the truer truth.