In The Car

Baba, can you swim with me for twenty-six nine twelve minutes?
I can swim with you for twenty-six nine thousand twelve minutes.
Baba, is that longer than yesterday?
Yes it is.
Baba, is that longer than tomorrow?
I don’t know.

Baba, how old is Mawsy?
Mawsy is almost 100 years old.
Baba, is that very old?
Yes, for a human that is very old.
Baba, is that even older than you?
Yes, that is even older than me.
Baba, is that older than Boppy?
Yes, that is older than Boppy.

Baba, will Mawsy die?
Yes, Mawsy will die.
Baba, will Mawsy die soon?
I don’t know.
Baba, will you die soon?
I don’t think so.
Baba, will Boppy die soon?
I hope not.
Baba, will Mama die soon?
No, your Mama will not die soon.

Baba, where is heaven?
Heaven is inside a mystery.
Baba, what is that?
I don’t know, no one knows.
Baba, but where is heaven?
No one knows for sure.

Baba, when Mawsy dies will she go to heaven?
Yes, Mawsy will go to heaven, we will all go to heaven.
Baba, will we see Mawsy go to heaven?
No, because Mawsy’s body will go back to the earth.
Baba, why, Baba?
To make new life for the earth.
Baba, when I die, will I go back to the earth?
Yes, we will all go back to the earth to make new life.
Baba, will the earth grow a new me?
No, that is not the way it works, but the earth will grow new plants and trees.
Baba, but then what goes to heaven, Baba?
Our love goes to heaven, and our thoughts

Baba, will I be happy in heaven?
Yes, we will all be happy in heaven.
Baba, will there be food in heaven?
No, we will not need food in heaven.
Baba, then I will not be happy; I will be yelling for a hamburger.
I bet you will and you know I will want cheetos.

Oh, look, Milo, we are home.
Let’s go swimming.

August Day

Early morning
Quiet expectations
Lulled by birdsong
Purple morning glories
And soft light

Rising heat
Morning glories close
Ever valiant impatiens
Meet the rising heat
With patient persistence

Now impatiens
Begin to droop
Longing for
Life-giving water
A small garter snake
Submerges itself
In our small pond
Air heavy
The day’s breath stills
Still as unwanted death

Distant thunder
Moves closer
Heavy air
No longer still

Reviving rain
Thunder and lightning
Life renewed

House lights blink
Thunderous lightning
(lovely word that – thrice)
Reliable electricity holds

Rain cascades
Leaving behind
Triumphant impatiens

Evening approaches
Heat dissipates
Quiet returns
Weary world now
Anticipates sleep
“perchance to dream”
This day
This night

Mining Gold from Dirty Dishes – A Golden Shovel Poem

“Now everything is easy ‘cause of you and our house”

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Now comes the wet warm soapy cleaning
Everything that was dirty – dishes, pots, pans, cutlery
Is soon clean – not ad sparkling clean but
Easy to call clean, easy to feel pleasure
‘Cause what once was unusable dirty is now, as happens so
Often, clean and usable, a source and promise of pleasure like
You yourself, your presence, your love
And your willingness to make your home
Our very own together

Balancing Acts

Have we, I wonder
Made of God
A divinity
Entirely too cozy?

Do we, I worry
Wrap ourselves
In an Almighty
Snug blanket?

Balances, balances
Are such tricky tightropes
A little too far
This way or that
And we plunge headlong
Into some abyss or other

Do I write for myself
Or others?

Do I focus too much on form
Or content?

Do I live the life examined
Or merely self-conscious?

And is my God too comfortable
To be holy and wholly powerful?

Rain Rite

I wish I could write the rain
Sprinkle lines with fat drops
As thunder rumbles in my heart
And skies darken my eyes

I wish I could release the torrent
Cascading down the rain chain
Tap dancing a Fred and Ginger routine
Faster and faster 
On the corrugated tin porch roof
Page of careful lines

I wish I could sit inside my rain poem
Snug and dry, safe and sound in my rocker
On my tin-roofed porch page
Grass and leaves bow in worship
Once dull rocks sparkle and shine in their Sunday best
My herbs offer up their sweet aroma
To appease the rain
Soaking through my fragile page

I wish I could write the rain
Hurrying to its next appointed page
As my page drips its sweetness

Daily Communion

I taste garden green-ness
I sip summer showers
Breezes kiss my skin
Soil comforts me
Rocks challenge me
Sunlight blesses me
With the true presence

But also
Reverence finds me
As I hang out laundry
Fix dinner
Wash dishes
Watch TV
Work on a puzzle
Return a shopping cart
Make our bed
Answer an email
Quell my impatience

the mundane is extraordinary
it is just mundane
Always it is
! God’s body !
! God’s blood !
! God’s love !

The Spirit Groans

the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

Can you hear the Spirit groan
Through my inadequate too empty words

What shall I write
For what shall I pray

For the families of dead children
For the grandmother of their killer

For our nation
For our souls

“We shall not all die
But we shall all be changed”

Once I read those words
As describing mystery

Life after death
A new creation

Now I read them as a prayer
For this life here

For the no longer United
States of America

Now I read those words
And pray

God of compassion
God of mercy and grace

God of love and grief
God of power and might

Please, God, I groan
Change us

Before we kill

Tough Guy

Tough young guy
In a big shiny SUV
Demonstrates his fearlessness
His masculinity 
His God-given superiority 
Engine roaring
Wheels screeching
Peeling out 
A suburban grocery store parking lot

Fall down and worship, ye mere mortals

(I bet his mama sent him to get bread)

How I Responded

A Facebook friend posted: “…last night we were challenged ‘How can we share our gifts? What gifts can I bring to our church in our passionate desire for change?’ I’d love to read your responses.”

I responded:

How can I share my gifts?
How can I bring my gifts?
to a Church that does not
want my gifts
at least not when those gifts
are wrapped by God
in a woman’s body
Nevertheless I shall persist
and bring my gifts
to my sisters
and even my brothers
who are willing
to be gifted
to be blessed
by a woman.

God of Chance

When all other faith fails
My faith in the God of chance

It’s hard to pay attention
Driving the familiar route
But the unexpected sign
Brings me fully alert

“Emergency scene ahead”
Warns the red diamond sign
On the median

I’ve never seen such a sign before
In half a century of driving
In five countries

The traffic slows
As we approach the flashing lights
The seemingly random
Scattering of police cars
And two utility vehicles
Many yellow vested uniforms
The sirened ambulance
Speeding past in the opposite lane

And the metal
Twisted tortured metal
Strewn across the road
Two wheels
Separate and lonely
Disconnected forever
From their only reality
The only reason
For their existence

No recognizable vehicle
So a motorcycle
Was slaughtered here
Most likely
By a speeding car or truck

My stomach clenches
My forehead tightens
With the start of a headache
My breath comes fast and shallow

Just yesterday
A cousin posted an old picture on Facebook
Two of her brothers
Mike, bearded, handsome, 20-something
And his little brother Chris
Probably about 6 years old
Towheaded confidence
Sitting in his big brother’s lap
Mike the oldest of nine
Chris the youngest

Dead in a motorcycle accident
These 50 years
Killed in a motorcycle accident
20 years later

I follow the policeman’s gesture
And turn into a subdivision of townhouses
Thirty years living in this city
And I have never turned here

I follow the car in front of me
Following the car ahead of it
Following the car ahead of it
Following the car ahead of it…
The long line
Stretching ahead in this
Blind man’s bluff game
Of follow the leader
Our dance macabre
With death so very near
Through the twisting tarmac turns
Past towering townhouses
Until I know where I am
A familiar road
A red light
A panhandler
Who wears a bandana mask
And a baseball cap pulled low
No threat intended
Just COVID and sun wise
On this sweet spring morning

I don’t even read his handwritten
Cardboard sign
I just roll down my window
Ask his name
Tell him mine
Hand him a 20
And chat with him until
God turns the light green
And encourages me to move on

I am no Pharaoh
But the God of chance
Led me here
And softened my heart