Some Angels

Some angels are very necessary.
They keep you alive long enough
to tell yourself the truth.
Then you can decide to shed your
unshed tears, or not. To live then
one-eyed, so to speak, or not.
Should you choose the tears you won’t
be alone. The very necessary angels
will tarry and minister to you as
they did the Savior in his desert.
Their honest affection for human
triumph is extraordinary, like its
the singular reason they were bred.
Such angels deserve our tears.
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In A Word

Struggling toward ambiguous
ends, our lives plaided with exposure
then sanctuary (the pattern of survival)
we script hoity vision statements that 
toity company walls but have no
desire on their bones so we stay starved
searching half-awkward half-willing
tentative to simply come out and
say what it is we all want: a people,
a place, a peace. In a word – home.
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I’m Afraid of Dying

Are you ever afraid of dying?
I’m not talking about
the dying that will deposit you
directly into the Lord’s presence (as some hold).
But the dying that will tear
you from the fabric of here,
here where you’ve seen wonders.
I don’t believe I’ve ever told you I fear
that second kind of dying. But I do.
I’m telling you now because I’ve recently
seen how life changes in an ordinary instant,
reminds us we live in a game of gossip,
whispering our stories to the next in line.
We die. Then we’re passed along in
another’s tongue, and I’m afraid they’ll
edit a crucial detail.


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Dear Winn – 18 April 2016

Dear Winn:
Thanks for the reminder that Lent may be 40 days but Easter’s 50. I don’t like to give a season too much power, but this Lent felt relentless. There have been some brighter spots since Easter broke, and I’m mucho thankful.
The big news around here is that Sarah has decided to go to Pepperdine in the fall. It was strange, Winn, for the usual w0w-factor at Pepperdine is the beach which is directly across the street from campus. I mean directly. But the weekend Sarah and I went to visit it was raining and the place was socked in fog. The only water I saw was that dripping off Sarah’s umbrella. I let Sarah have the umbrella, sacrifice ya know. But even in the rain, I was wowed. I just kept having a feeling that this was the right place for Sarah. In fact, at one point I texted Sister Meredith and asked her to light a candle for me because I was afraid I was gonna lose it the feeling was so strong. I kept it together, for the most part. Well, there was one moment when tears started leaking out but I just looked up, and they got mixed up in the rain.
Somebody asked me about the “sacrifice” of having two in college this fall. Such a strange question to my ears. I get it, but since the days our kids were born there was never any question I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice for them. I was all-in from the gitgo, whatever it takes. That doesn’t mean its easy, but it does mean I’m not spending a buncha time deliberating over sacrificing. If you don’t want to learn to sacrifice, don’t have kids. That’s what I say at least.
I wrote a poem the other day about the Gadarene demoniac. Remember him? I’m not sure why he was on my mind, but he was. In particular about the days after his miracle became old news and everyone went back to their usual lives and he became blended in once again. I wondered if he stole away at night, back to the tombs. My hunch is that there were spots of time, when the demons weren’t badgering him, when it was quiet. In those moments he talked to the dead, and they listened. I don’t believe his missed the demons by any stretch, but I do wonder if he missed the conversations with that captive audience, and probably also with himself. After Jesus left him, I believe that man carried the burden of his healing for the rest of his life. We so want to believe it was clean, happily ever after. I don’t know, maybe it was. Maybe I think too much.
I know we said we might ease up on these letters after Easter broke. And I probably will, ease up. But I’m still going to write from time to time. Because you are my friend, and I think you feel the same way I do about some things. Not all, but some. And sometimes having a friend who understands some is, like grace, sufficient. ‘Nuff.
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Opposite Galilee

Our Sunday hope is you never slunk back like a
dog to its vomit, no turning back, no turning back.
But you did, didn’t you, after your miracle aged?
You slipped away as the city snored
to the garden of tombs you could navigate blindfolded.
Maybe you even stripped down 
naked as you once ruled in your madness just so your
skin could lick the stones and grass, this
homecoming all your sleeping family and friends
clothed and right minded would never understand.
Legion went and left quite the hole.
Oh, by all means good riddance. But what witnesses
failed to grasp was your collateral loss – those who would listen.
You went back because you needed the dead.
There were times, weren’t there, when you sprinted
for the edge where the swine rushed over? 
But you always stopped short, those stiff voices pleading
Turn back. Turn back.
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Dear Ones,

Some days I don’t know
what’s more of a threat –
Isis or the Twitter god.
One’ll behead you while
the other’ll besoul you with
140 pecks of loopydoop spirituality
or of course, scripture porn.
How to avoid these hidden reefs?
I don’t know, I’m afraid the
bird’s outta the bag and
have you ever tried to get a
bird back in the bag?
Dear ones, just watch for eye-dolls.
Love, John.
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Keep It Going

We drove to Denver, just the two of us, because I’d promised.
She had birthday money burning a hole in her ever evolving brain.
We spent significant time in American Eagle where I stood beside the
entrance to the dressing room which is guarded by perky butted
mannequins in bikinis, or underwear (I can’t tell which).
I tried to think about hamburgers, and was almost successful.
Next stop – Sephora – where we waded through a sea of girls and
women, the air burdened with perfume and performance.
My youngest daughter is drawn to this oxygen, I see this.
Checklist checked, we motored home and I opened the
sunroof so we could listen loudly to Meghan Trainor’s “No”
plus that song about cake in the ocean, and several others.
I sang the words wrong to them all, which she corrected with grins.
She knows this game I play with her, called Keep the Conversation Going.
So far my youngest daughter gladly plays along, I see this.
The last song that spun was one of my new favorites, about
that boy who once was seven years old. Aging man tears accompanied
those lyrics, like they do every single time. She sees this.
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