Contra Gratitude

((h/t Amy Schumer’s Gratitude sketch

Thank You God for Most This Amazing
poem by e. e. cummings

I don’t want to write, inspired by it,
But rather to read it again and again
Until I sink, completely, irretrievably, into
The quicksand of thanksgiving

I want to smother in thanksgiving
Forcing the air of trite, culturally now gratitude
Out of my reluctant lungs

Smother until I am forced to breathe in
The gritty moist sand of thanksgiving
The sand that drowns my lungs
Forcing out the last molecules 
Of easy gratitude

I want to kill myself
Reaching reaching
For the unattainable
Illusory total gratitude
Even as I sink further into
This quicksand reality
Leaving above facile gratitude
Drowning in thankfulness

Though there be no bottom
No slide down into a starlit
Infinity of universes
To then whoosh through
With all the skill of current CGI

I will live
I will learn to breathe in
Tearingly gritty, tearfully moist


“The substance of things hoped for”
As the garden sleeps
with tender plants surrounded
by piles of mulch
He plants the bulbs
that will bloom in the spring

“The evidence of things unseen”
Long after the flowers wither
under early summer’s sun
the tall slender leaves
of daffodil, iris, hyacinth and tulip
bear evidence
of next year’s flowers

THE Soul

I often try to think,
Is a felicitous marriage
Of perception and thought
For better or worse
For richer or poorer
And not even parted by death

Capital T, Capital H, Capital E
THE soul
Not yours mine or ours
Not even gods or goddesses
Just THE
(please, in your mind, always see THE capitalized)
THE soul of everything
Infinity in a grain of sand, to borrow shamelessly
From one of those old dead white men
Who were assumed for generations to be the only ones
Able to express THE (all caps, remember) soul

THE soul is so very different from a soul
And yet, of course, a single soul is 
Every bit as much
THE total soul as 
THE total soul is each single soul
Which bring us squarely into the realm of 
Quantum physics

Next stop, surely, is the illusion of linear time
But the individual soul animating these fingers
Feels the need to stop words and rest
In awareness of THE (all CAPS, remember) soul.

Memories of Music

The poetry prompt “What words of love surround you”
Leads me quickly and inevitably
(unlike John I love the unfashionable adverb)
To “Words of love
Soft and tender
Won’t get you where you want to go”

And soon I am not writing poetry
But dancing in the streets
With the Mamas and the Papas

Even though Christine McVie
(she of Fleetwood Mac,
Not Mamas and Papas)
Died yesterday

Sadly and inevitably
To dance no more on this earth
Except with worms, maggots and other bugs
Until she dances again as a blade of grass
Or a tree root or just rich dark loamacious earth

Impossible that Christine would want 
A dirge: dance-free, song-less
No, not that, but
Perhaps a second line
With colorful umbrellas
Jazz dancing down the street
Behind the brass band

Memories of music
Merge and twist together
As though choreographed 
By Chubby Checkers

Wrap me warm
Bless my rhythm
As my now old body
Continues to dance

Gracelessness, Please

Dear Goddess, God, Divinity, Higher Power, Whoever
I would like a favor, a blessing, a grace, a whatever

I would like to do things badly
Well not quite
What I mean is
I would like to not have to do things well

Grant me satisfaction with imperfection
(since that is all I can ever achieve, be)

Let me enjoy the doing more than the done

Amen, Namaste, Shalom, Blessings be, Whatever

Oh, and thank you


Certainty has become a weapon
Sharp and deadly
Strident and unyielding

Ah, I could fill the page
With the certainties
Of this, our time, our world

But instead I think I will go lie in the shade
Listen to the breeze in the trees
Lazily let my eyes follow a falling leaf
Yawn and stretch
Close my eyes
Enjoy my body
And maybe even twitch my tail

Lost and Found

I found God
rocking on the back porch
as water fell
from pitcher to pitcher to pitcher
into our small - micro really
rock pond

Across the lawn
I glimpsed the infinity
of God
in blades of grass
burning bushes
Carolina jasmine
daffodil bulbs
waiting to be planted
Japanese maples
old and new
upright and weeping
tall and small
and our towering Norway spruce
keeping careful guard
as robber squirrels
raid the garden

There sat God
with my husband
so I quietly joined them
to worship at the feet
of our world


To learn the unwanted lesson
To walk the uneven path
To seek an unknown destination

What lesson must I learn
From estranged children
Seeking their own world
Needing freedom from mine

I learn the hard lesson
Of loving more
And holding less

What path must I walk
Through light and dark
Seeking my own God
Needing freedom from others

I walk the hard path
Of believing more
And knowing less

What destination lies ahead
As I stumble onwards
Seeking my own divinity
Needing freedom from depression

I seek the hard destination
Of accepting more
And trying less


My childhood was lived in awe
Awe of God, 
our Father Creator
Awe of Jesus Christ,
His only begotten Son
Awe of the Holy Ghost
Three Persons in one God
Awe of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church

Mostly awe of the Church

Each parish church 
Cathedral-like, darkly quiet
Each daily Mass 
Celebrated by the robed priest
In millennial choreographed Latin
The host, True Presence
Received on the properly prepared tongue
(By which I mean a tongue that belonged to someone who had gone to Confession on Saturday)
No wine then, except for the priest

The buildings
The statues
The candles
The incense
The pews
The Communion rail
The Repository
Everything bejeweled

Awe everywhere
Awe enough to shout down questions
Awe enough to shut down mouths
Awe enough to wound, again and again

And always, all around
Just outside the triune God
And His church
Just outside
Was awe enough for anyone

Leaf Rain

“It’s raining leaves”
Mom is beyond the autumn of her life
Living through the deep winter of loss
Even those of us a generation younger
Are now old ourselves

Her world overflows with bad news
Sometimes a drizzle
As she learns of a younger relative
Entering assisted living
Sometimes a torrent
Death, disease, disability
Drumming a sad song
On the roof of her mind

Born and raised in steadily green
Southern Louisiana
She reacts with a child’s glee
To Virginia autumn

I thank Mother Nature
For small blessings
That make a 98 year old
Sound young:
“It’s raining leaves.”