That Couple…

You know that couple you see and
they make you wonder, ‘How in the world
did you two wind up together!?’ but
not because one is beautiful and the
other sloppy and ugly, not an obvious
one who could eat no fat and the other
no lean pair, but just because in a world
of almost seven billion of us these two
somehow found each other and love
or comfort or even settled for, someone
who would listen or talk or smells and
sweats in an attractive way that only
this other could want; you know that
couple in the grocery store, buying cereal
and tea bags, apples and chicken thighs
and you know they’d always thought
they’d be alone if it wasn’t for the other.

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6 Kinds of People

peopleThere are six kinds of people in the world,
and while that seems a few too many, it
really is just about right; most tell the story
in binary terms of thin or fat, tall or short,
boy or girl, innie or outie, lefty or righty,
black or white, but the either/or’s miss
the point that they’re there to make life
easier, remove fear and create it at the
same time, in the us/them of good or
evil, on or off, East or West; six kinds
of people is too hard for thoughtless
assumptions and is never divisible the
same way every time; the first kind of
person needs drama, enemies or gossip
to feel important and alive, the second is
passive-aggressive in an adolescent kind
of way, like adolescents are, rejoicing
in not liking much as in nothing much,
the third are the lovers of any and all
in a genuine need to love whatever
it doesn’t matter what, no matter who,
and the fourth just don’t understand
what the problem is but are unsure why
everyone seems so uncomfortable all the
time, the fifth are saddled with guilt and
consternation over what must have gone
wrong and are eager to serve as the
scapegoat of life’s troubles and unsatisfied
desires, and the sixth kind are very, very
needy but there’s nothing that will satisfy
whatever it is that may be needed; and
there is no seventh kind or perfect balance
or exact blend of all in just one, no
superhero or Mary Poppins of practically
perfect proportionality to frustrate everyone
else and solve the puzzle; all in-between
are tints, hues and shades creating
landscapes of families and clubs,
churches and schools, homes and
aways that struggle over who to admit,
to welcome, to evangelize, convince,
convert, or date or marry, love and
hate, ally with or against in this circle
of surviving constantly being twisted
into squares but refusing to hold
the edges and always opting for the
three-hundred-sixty degrees that
breathing requires; this is no
anthropology or divinity but strange
anecdotes of funny stories with punch
lines and laughs to be shared or
explained as we search for an audience
called friendship in the theatre of war.

Faith without fundamentalism…

I wish there was a way
to have the love without the guilt,
fun without the fight of heresies,
desire and passion without shame,
the comfort of the known unknown
bedside for my friend gasping
and hoping along with every tear
for a sweet bye-and-bye without,
for faith without fundamentalism
because I need life to beme more
than this, only this, I need there to be
something instead of nothing, a reason
to live that’s more than a worthy death,
no more martyrdom of cowardly
necessity to prove worth to grace,
and no more pissy, angry divine
overseeing unquenchable Gehenna,
and more whimsy and irony and
more of what we make less, please.

Quiet and loud…

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,
the windows are drafty,
the weather adverse,
the news is always bad,
and not every I love you
can be trusted,
but all’s quiet and loud
at once
and I don’t want it
any other way.

Is heaven supposed to be a lovely place…

Heaven has become a parody
A lampoon of itself somehow
Beulah land made a game show
Answers in question and you’ll know

Why? is answered with clarity
But why? receives a rationale
It’s better, and it’s a better place
Spared this life, saved disgrace

Priest consoles parents bereaved
Much suffering babe’s been spared
And preacher of dear Emily’s fallen life
Remembering all Lot’s wife

Why face it true while dance macabre
Baptism the pyre for faithless bourgeois
Gnosis the alms of this shangri-la

The deserved grave of richly aged
Welcomed passing when well passed
Only then is rest the Bard’s silence
The grave deserved comeuppance

It is no longer God’s cemetery
Adoration is drowned by homily
But in this veil the last enemy prevails
Mocking clerics spinning tales

We gather because we must
To speak dearly of the departed
Doubt given sense, answered pence
Death is living in past tense

Rejoinder due this bare pain
Fear that nothing wounds as nothing
Ignorance defeats death’s diffidence
Banqueting with wink and wince

Welcome must a proper death
Blessing one’s own Golgotha
Barn sour is requiem’s pale horse
Pall bearing a tour de force

Through hallowed valley I charge
Lively in my step, brave of heart
No Ilyitch be I, ending friendless as he
Receiving viaticum finally and finally

Selling something to a rich man…

Sell Me Something

The man pulled up slowly in a new Jaguar,
the more expensive one, which was obvious,
and I greeted him and his young son,
pointing out the table
of twenty-five cent items
and the other with dollar items;
he smiled and said,
sell me something; so I asked,
do you fish;
yes, a little;
and I showed him a plastic
device shaped like the body of a fish,
to grip an unruly catch;
you may not mind baiting the hook,
but who likes the lingering smell of fish
when you’ve landed your lunch;
I pay someone to do that for me,
I have that kind of money;
well, besides the argument that
that might not be true fishing,
does your son here have
that kind of money, or are you
going to let him go through life
never knowing what he’s glad
to have enough money to pay
someone else to do for him;
sold, he said; and
paid his twenty-five cents,
handing the device to his son who
threw me a disgusted look, he called out;
thanks for selling me something
worth more than twenty-five cents
my friend, you’re a good salesman.

Can’t eat it on the cob like I used to…

Corn Off the Cob

Before she moved into the home,
before she couldn’t dress herself anymore,
before she stopped writing out prayers
for her children and grandchildren on slips
of paper she tucked into her Bible from
1944 with those colorful plates of Abraham,
Moses, Elijah and Jesus doing amazing
things, and before she stopped eating
altogether, we would bring her dinner
to her in her room – all cut-up in small
bites, except the corn on the cob
she loved most of all, she always said,
and then she said she just couldn’t
and asked me to cut the rows off the cob
for her and I asked if it was now
corn off the cob, and she said it was.

My little girl’s question…

The Hardest Part

My daughter asked what was the hardest thing
about… and I braced myself for her question, doubting
my ability to answer as I ought, hoping it was answerable
by her mother, that I would reply tactfully, and she
would know my love even when wrapped up in mistakes;
she had to repeat the question for me, about the hardest
thing about…learning to ride a bicycle, and as soon as
she said it I stopped myself, thought carefully, and said
it had to do with steering into the falling sensation – no one
liked that but it was the only way, along with continuous
peddling (you gotta keep peddling) to stay upright; she
had her own answer and blurted out, the hardest part
was the pavement and skipped haplessly out of the room
giggling, leaving me speechless and smiling in relief,
wondering why can’t all her questions be this much fun.

Why it’s all Plato’s fault…

Plato’s Plenitude

I’m not one to believe in Plato’s plenitude,
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 virtueless,
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.