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.

Pages unturned…

This is a room in which all of life fits
soaring arches of stone unearthed and shaped,
draped in heavy, old wood, dark with age
from the Garden of Eden but untouched,
with all of everything bound and shelved,
rows and rows in some divine order
not worth arguing over, only to enjoy,
spaces for reading, seats at tables,
paper but only pencils for taking notes
shafts of light crisscross and dust dances
in the show of rhythmed, unhurried air,
in perfect quiet only small sounds heard,
a turning page with tender respect,
signs of satisfaction or stifled laughs,
but in the shadowy recess of the isle,
before a skewed chair left untidy
it an open tome, heavy and solemn,
resting readerless with tear-stained pages,
unturned.

Confessor cat…

There’s a black cat that visits my home every day,
walking carelessly toward my door, toward me
looking at it out my window, with eyes that flash
bright when lighted, then quickly darken again.

And when I see it, I count my sins, unprompted,
rehearsing the errors of my ways while the cat
slows and gracefully sits, staring like it knows
what races through my mind, and how I’ve erred.

It isn’t hurried, nor is it asking anything of me;
there’s no deep-seated memory from my youth,
no intuition of the deities of ancient Egypt,
just a feral beauty at ease without need of home.

My mind races through the rights and wrongs
without a tally, and the black cat waits just long
enough for my silliness to end; and because
gifts are exchanged, I now feed my confessor
in sacramental pâté, but first returning thanks
for the privilege of a conscience assuaged
by the simple act of being seen by a black cat.

Let’s try a morning prayer…

Good morning, God – well
at least for me; since you
neither slumber nor sleep
and never get tired (I’ve tried
that but it doesn’t work for
me), and you’re constantly

observing (what we like to
call stalking, but that’s a harsh
word), and eavesdropping
(again, our word… sorry),
on your creation, it’s hard to
know what’s the appropriate
greeting, but since you know

all things and I don’t I’m
assuming it’s okay to just go
with what I know and you’ll
be understanding; and that’s
why I’d like to talk about with
you – some understanding,

but you know that already,
and I’m tired so I’m going to
take a nap soon (but that’s
something you don’t get
to enjoy and I feel bad about
that). Amen, and amen.

Tell me again why…

History a tale of fallen’s friends
giving account of what had to be,
fixed by a sovereign who sees the end
saddled with desire to be free;

who erred that all are born this way
simply put, we all come going astray,
it’s sin, not hunger, that babies cry,
and not biology why we all die.

lost to be found, but only through Rome
intrude on our lust, our passion, our 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.

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.

Every time I look at the moon…

Now we lay them down to sleep
with soft words and
warm water to wash away their day’s
fun and soil, and our toil;
and pray as if to
capture what shouldn’t
be washed away – the day full
of family and friends,
walks and flowers, breezes
and sun, falls and laughs and food,
with gratitude – always – we
each begin: ‘Thank you, Lord Jesus
for everything,’
and everything we rehearse,
is good, in detail,
as if the Almighty
was enjoying this as much
as we; the sun
has retreated slowly and
warmly, the moon
is rising outside the window
and we all need to see
it waxing or waning and
tell each other to look, ‘The moon!’
we each say
as if it’s always special,
and somehow it always is.

Prayer, and other ways to cry…

prayer-blocksHow many sayings about prayer have you heard?

Sayings like: We should pray to live, but live to pray. (Kind of hate that one.)

Prayer changes things. (Or it’s opposite: Prayer doesn’t change things, it changes the person who prays.)

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools. (The culture wars are good for pissed-off prayer quips.)

Prayer is not talking, it is listening. (Wow, that’s deep – too deep for words.)

Prayer requests should become our to-do list. (i.e. Get up and do something.)

Prayer is a steering wheel, not a spare tire. (Guilt reigns supreme, even in prayer.)

There is no such thing as too much prayer. (Except when dinner’s getting cold.)

The irony, of course, is that all the sermons and sayings about prayer are sermons and sayings and not prayer.

But poetry and prayer are closer than siblings.

Two Kinds
There are two kinds of prayers prayed
at the end of each and every day,
one from the naive filled with hope
on hope on top of hope of tomorrows
that will always come and keep coming,
forgiveness is similarly unending,
and everyone and everything will be
there because it can’t be any other way;
the other is for mercy with revenge
or some karma (if that’s on the table),
maybe no tomorrow if it’s the same
as today and yesterday and yesterdays
that chase them deep into the night,
while dust crumbles back to dust
and there is no more pride. Amen.

Careening Through Life
Do trees cast off their leaves,
eager to be free of those parasites
drawing more than they offer;
do they cure and fall themselves
as birds leave nests never to return again;
or is there a romantic but exhausted grasp
which simply but reluctantly
fails in the cold of November?
Do the vivid colors of toys
cling to pathways cossetted in the
soft tissue of my memory;
a red fire truck of tin metal
and sharp edges that cut
my tender fingers as I played
the role of rescuer in the midst of
a horrible blaze; and what of the smell
of Mom’s cookies – unmistakable
and gone forever except in words
put together in strings
without sentences; is there a way back
to those sunny afternoons
with powdered sugar floating in the air
and me praying for a broken sample?

When It Rains
It’s raining on the prairie, but not in answer to prayer
as we huddle inside a dusty museum wondering
at the recreation of a settler’s life, determined by
weather and wind and rain on the cut fields of earth;
if we shiver in a sudden summer storm and wonder
at the musky air it’s best to recall that people died
here – in this room probably, because they did
everything in this one, dark room – but we can’t
wait for the storm to end and go on with our fun.