Is omneity even a word…

Imagine the memories of pain and hurt,
discomfort, disappointment and sorrow
didn’t just dissolve as they tend to, but
were stored-up, like a single collection
which stayed with you – a pool of tears,

embarrassments, losses, frustrations
and fears teaming with every dread,
every haunt of what has ever happened
and harmed the hope of comfort and
confidence that all’s well with the world

or at least tolerable; sure, some do
linger but the sting eases away somehow
and recollections fade, or else the
assemblage of broken bones, cuts
and bruises, stubbed toes and loves
lost would crush you, as poverty ruins
through an abundance of nothing;
there’d be no hauntless nights, not a

single pleasant day, courage would be
ridiculed and driven to despair by the
burden of history repeating itself
because our crimes against humanity
are as simple as living through it all;

so consider it a mercy to lack a sense
of permanence like an infant puzzled
by an object hidden, taunted with the
Where did it go? game we all play
and bless the benevolent omneity for
the freedom to forget, if not forgive.

I have this friend…

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.

Aeschylus watches…

AeschylusAt that opening of time when
slumbering dawn quietly overwhelms night’s hold,
and the soft glow of Mercy patiently plods
the moral-less darkness of her own anonymity,

light appears in unembarrassed windows
stained fresh with the dust of life
to greet curious strangers who will soon pass
spying how others might face the day,

and if all that’s lingering can simply be forgotten,
all that haunted and whispered and taunted
can be forgiven or concealed,

while inside Aeschylus stands, arm encircled
in his garment, bald but boldly bearded and
as Greek as can be steering every
tragedy in his constant effort to choose happiness
which we want to believe, we do, but

we choose to keep walking this street
looking for another answer in another window
and another choice that will be made for us.

Interruptions and stop signs…

Stop-Signs_iStockHurrying to meet an impatient teen barely surviving
the wait of five minutes,
avoiding pedestrians
assuming the right of way, and ignoring repeated texts
of ‘Where are you?’
‘Are you close?’
and ‘Are you ever coming to get me?’
I was forced to pause by the declarative instruction
of the octagonal signage

and there he was,
plopped down on a grassy patch, bag allowed to spill,
hunched and rounded shoulders,
chin tucked, head tilting and tracking
as if joined to his hurried penmanship
marking a tattered notebook,

the disconnect of head and heart healed in is hand,
scratching out something so important
it interrupts everything,
and I don’t think I’ve ever come close to
this level of distraction
overwhelmed with words, or by words,

a devotion disturbing my occasionally thoughtful ways;
but I wish it would happen to me,
and if this urge has tried
but I was too stubborn to yield,
I pray for just one more chance to feel the words
that can stop me like this,

and just then another text arrives
urging the rapid rescue of my dear teen
and that compulsion overwhelms me,
I must leave my hero
to the stares of others who notice and avoid
the brilliance of
such devotion and I reply to my teen, ‘I’m on my way’
and ‘Almost there’ and ‘I had to stop
for the Stop signs.’

As ears keep growing…

earWhen you get old you notice things
and that can be problematic if you care
like toenails (don’t ask, just notice if the elderly
ever expose their lower digits) or posture

that your mother always insisted was essential
in life but if so, life has taken a decidedly bad turn
and once again you must force yourself erect
which is another subject altogether too delicate

or hairs growing places they once didn’t or
shouldn’t or bushy eyebrows – have you ever
noticed that – I did once upon a time during
an office visit with my old professor as he
twisted and plucked his eyebrows insistently
to match his narration of Tell-Tale Heart,

I ran from his office to a mirror to inspect
my own, immature brow-décor and noticed
nothing unusually long or unruly… yet

but there’s another, unseemliness to growing
long-in-the-tooth about the ears because
they never seem to stop growing even as arms
and legs and necks and fingers stop on their
own, ears just insistently continue their merry
awkwardness as if to say we should listen
more and more.

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.

Lost manuscript…

manuscript

This started as the tale of a lost manuscript,

an idea that became a story that might have

become an enjoyable book but never will be

as it took a turn while contemplating what was

sacrificed to produce something that’s now gone,

consuming more time than good should

these years of distraction when everything pleasing

around me twisted, lovingly straining to keep

me in the middle as each new wheel began to spin

its own rings, feeding off the others,

once so close their energy sparked blindingly,

now bouncing in their own orbits here, there,

it all happened so slowly, so perfectly, and I

now know I missed too much that I hope they

each captured while I pounded out words

of a fictional life no one could possibly lead

as my own unbelievably wonderful one spun

in and out of days and seasons and states

that are now the lost manuscript of my life.

Walkabout…

WalkingI went for a walk
in the midday clear
without a care
I started here
first I stepped
down the way
looking to turn
and go astray
few set out such
finding one lost
choosing to remain
found at all cost
views first cleared
then went belief
next conviction
this path a thief
I trust no thought
that comes at rest
and make no vow
without a test
no crumbs to trace
no map to cheat
this losing way
made by my feet
I recall that once
it was très fictional
to banter such
so equivocal
for keeping all
enslaved in race
made wars of life
with power in place
until such time
as walks unrare
became a fashion
and tactless aware
question a question
doubt a doubt
avoiding tenure
enjoying the route
power is race,
race is war,
art is tactic
and strategy ignore
limping along
there are ways
for undoing control
and refusing praise
ignoring so much
of important voice
searching out stories
learning to rejoice
enjoying the noise
and lacking cares
following slaves
attending affairs
there is no way
no map to home
no loss of joy
and so I roam.

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.

The Spirit blows where it damn well pleases…

My Pentecost

I know what it is
to be lonely,
to be alone
because I know,
I’ve sensed,
what it is to
feel the breeze
of your Spirit
coming and going,
and going
(don’t go, please,
don’t go).

I hear the story
of morning drunks
(or so they seemed)
on a pneumatic
bender of fire
and language,
of languages
not their own,
that brought
smiles and questions,
and questions
needing answers.

Does your Spirit
come and stay,
and stay
and stay
and stay with sinners
who beg
and beg
‘take not thy spirit from me’
as David did
when he saw himself
as another Saul,
when he saw himself
as Saul should have
seen himself;
please Lord,
please stay,
please stay with me.

I want to laugh
and cry
in your Spirit;
I want to jump
and scream
in your Spirit;
I want to sit
and sleep
in your spirit;
I want to live
and die
in your Spirit;
in your Spirit,
in your Spirit.