At Times

Here. Take this makeshift poem.
Copy the lines on a sheet of paper
then cut them into tiny strips.
Find a shovel and dig a hole.
Bury the ribbons of words.
Water that spot for seven days.
Watch. Nothing will flower there.
This will teach you something about love.
How it begins with words that at times
cut and get jumbled and buried away.
How at times it appears unblooming.
How at times it feels foolish, like watering
paper in the backyard before dark.
Love is the essence of things hoped for.
The tending is evidence you believe.
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An Older’s Tomorrow

Years after the break that broke
our father’s heart, he came back.
He hadn’t come to his senses as
much as he’d grown deathly sick,
some wasting disease contracted
in the country far away from us.
I’d buried our father in those saddest
years, dug his grave all by myself.
The servants were let go by then.
I’d also buried my wife and our son.
Only the wind and ghosts remained.
He said I didn’t know where else to go.
I said Its right that you came home.
So we attempted to bridge the time
though we were older men by then.
We hoped to find ourselves again as
boys who were also once brothers.
I cared for him like he prayed I would.
He wondered whether this was out of
duty or due to love. I said I cannot say.
Such categories lose their meaning after
so much is lost and poorly grieved.
I told him I’m glad you came home.
When he died I wrapped him in our
father’s faded robe and buried him by
the others out back beneath the oaks.
I left the next day with my inheritance
of memories and our father’s signet ring.
I saw tomorrow from still a long way off.
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The earth is stained with an unyielding wildness.

Older believers know this. So we take childhood verses
or quotations from dead mystics and wrap them over
pastoral scenes of wildflowers along the highway.
We do this all the while shuddering deep inside because
despite our best efforts to cast a more Christ-like God,
efforts I applaud, there remains the God-like Christ
who may without consulting us give permission for us
to be sifted like wheat or live despised and rejected of men.
This is the chill older believers know, and cannot shake.
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Summer Rain

It was the sound of summer rain
that woke me this morning.
And for an instant I was a boy
again listening to the rain through
a bedroom window slightly raised.
My brother, younger, in the twin
beside me breathed quiet as death.
Our parents down a short hall
murmured the things permissible
only when its dark and later. 
And I lay awake selfish, as usual,
dreaming of how I the first-born
hero would always save the
people in that red-bricked rancher.
But time tumbles and we grow flesh.
I cannot even save myself.
The only heroics, then like now,
is being still enough to know
the sound of summer rain.
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There Used To Be Voices In My Head

Oh who am I kidding. There still are
a few stubborns who refuse to yield.
But more so these days there are scenes
seen over the seventeen thousand odd
days I have been becoming John.
They all play now in my head, the silent
movie of my low-budget technicolor life.
I know it is now time for my voice
to put words in other people’s mouths,
to describe the pain on the walls of the
only past I’ve ever known.
How do I know this? One of those few remaining
voices keeps droning on and on about it,
has for years. I’m almost certain it’s God’s voice.
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My Mother’s Grit

I took piano lessons for many years,
something my mother never had as a girl
but made sure was possible for me her boy.
Although I learned the notes I preferred to
play by ear, a talent my grandad had as well.
It was magical to hear a song on the radio
then go piece it together from all those keys.
But such a flair can make you proud if not lazy.
I believe my mother knew this, knew the gift
had to be accompanied by a certain strain if
the music was to last beyond my youth. So
while I may have inherited the ear from my
father’s side of the bench it was my mother’s
grit that caused me to grow to play by heart.
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I know its an evil generation
that seeks for a sign.
But I’m not a generation, Lord.
I’m one man asking to know if
you’re still pleased.
My sign doesn’t have to mimic the
miracles from your heyday.
I understand that was then
and this, this is not then.
I’m willing to take anything,
anything except this boiling silence
in the center of everything.
I simply want it to be like it used to be.
I could hear you in the wind then.
But this, this is not then.
Hearing you always gave me
the courage to love.
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