Growing Silence

For six years
From 92 to 98
My mother lived with us


I have paused now
After writing those words
Because to give true texture
To that simple declarative
I have to reveal
Our ragged raveled family
Cut to pieces too often
By jealousy and illness
Alcohol and abuse

You see?
Already to write just that
Grows a weed in me
That offers no shelter
Even before the worm destroys it
And I sit, burning and cursing
And feeling sorry for myself

That is why my words stood still
A minute ago
Because what grows in my now stillness
Is just simple stillness
Sweet sweet quiet

But to appreciate what it means to me
To snuggle with Woody 
Within this tightly woven
Wide warm quiet quilt
For you to appreciate that
I would have to show you my family’s rags
And I would rather not

Or maybe, all I need tell you is this:
My mother
When she lived with us
Got up early, went to bed late
And kept CNN on her TV, loud, louder, loudest
Despite hearing aids and surround sound
So that even in my bedroom
A floor and a more away
I could hear the words of the talking heads
Louder than my own thoughts

Maybe I don’t need to tell you
More than that
For you to glimpse
The gorgeous flowering
Of silence in my home
And what it means to me

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

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


With bows to Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins

If hope is the thing with feathers

– And, ah, bright wings –

Then faith is the greening leaves
And nest-making twigs
High in the branches of love
Rooting down deep
Into my soul’s soil

Hope nests like the robin
Waiting patiently
Knowing beyond knowing
Sitting in her nest of faith
That eggs will hatch
Fledglings will fly
Finding other trees
That need hope
For awhile
Before autumn’s onslaught
Fells the leafs of faith
Then yields to winter’s freeze
That ices over even love
As my soul struggles

Yet always
Sometimes sooner
Oft times later
Spring’s resurrection
Alleluia arises
Freeze yields
Bare branches bud
And hope wings back
To build a nest of faith
In a tree of growing
Living love

The Kingdom of Heaven

The church’s Sequoia 
I cannot climb

Its towering branches
Block the sun

Its massive trunk
I cannot hug

On the dry ground beneath it
Nothing grows


The Christ’s mustard seed
I cup in my palm

Careful not to blow it away
I cradle it

Trusting not to lose it
I bury it in my soul’s rich soil

Soon, by the grace of God
I nest in its low branches

What God Wants

I spend my life
To figure out
What God wants

What does God want me to be
…to think
…to feel
…to do?

How does God want me to worship
…to live
…to love
…to die?

What does God want me to believe
…to know
…to let go
…to learn?

I keep asking myself
What does God want?

Because I keep doubting
I keep forgetting


All God wants is me
Just me
However I am
However I am not

She just wants me.


My heart sings
With the ordinary

I hold his hand
As I wait for Word to load

He watches an old western
Texas Rangers
With the sound turned off
And closed captions on
Because he is deaf

My eyes fill with tears
Because they are tears of joy

No need to water my cheeks
Just fill my eyes
As my heart fills with his love

Nothing extraordinary about tonight
Except everything

As always.

Christmas Eve

Dark-skinned baby Jesus
Lay quietly in the manager
Atop the three year old’s
Mondrian lego dump truck

Wise men watch
Too wise to intervene
In a child’s over-excited

Macaroni and cheese
And sweet potatoes
Insistently eaten after
Boston cream pie
But before the
Made by himself
Cookie dough cake

Crumbled wrapping paper
Carpeting the floor

Neighbors bring
Christmas greetings
And – oh blessed gift –
Their three children

Five adults talk
For over an hour
As four children
Inside and outside

A Christmas miracle
Worth celebrating


Hope speaks in silence
When I let my mother tell
With yet more exaggeration 
Some never was version of our past
Happy family
Happy father

Hope speaks in silence When I let my sister-in-law praise her God Her very personal god Who answers her prayers And saves her family Always Even when they are hospitalized Because they didn’t vaccinate (Prosperity gospel? Pre-election? Inerrancy? Prayer warriors?) SSSHHH
Hope speaks in silence When I ignore that Facebook post By a friend who applauds So many things I despise (All lives matter? Pro-life? Homophobic? Sexist?) SSSHHH
Hope speaks in silence Hope that I will learn better How to love Those that I would Too easily Make enemies of HUSH!