Than We Knew

It was a world sweeter than we knew.
Back then. Back when
we tried to soothe babies to sleep in that
rocking-chair built just like JFK’s.
 
We were half-dead most days
until we discovered the Exer-Saucer and
Winnie the Pooh on VHS.
Bouncing to that bear’s untamed cheer
 
kept them glued while you and I napped
or unforgot the pleasures of the flesh,
or some days both. We had to be
quick though. So we quicked.
 
It was a world we thought would never end.
Back then. Back when.
And then it did.
All those living-in-the-moment
 
sermons are for suckers. We live
moment-to-moment, each measuring
another acre in the wood,
a wood sweeter than we knew.
 

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Dear Winn – 18 August 2016

Dear Winn:
Its 5:30am, and I’m sitting here with the sliding glass door open, looking at a moon completely full of herself. The air is cool outside, fallish. If I could halt time right now and hold it all in the palm of my hand, I would. I sure would. But like that Supertramp song says, “I must be movin’ on.”
 
The dominoes start falling today, man. I leave this afternoon to help Will get some stuff back to Arkansas for college. I’ll turn right around and zoom back here so I can leave early Monday to help Sarah get some stuff to California for college. Actually those dominoes started falling yesterday as Abbey started her first day of high school. Yeah, they’re movin’ on. I told Meredith if we can just get to that first week of September, get everybody where they need to be, pay everything that needs paying, then I plan to take a good long nap. Yes, like that line in Rosanne’s sweet song – “when September comes.”
 
I know you’ve got falling dominoes out your way too. I pray for you and your good family, that you’ll all be safe, and you’ll all keep loving one another. This’ll be your first fall in the new old farmhouse, right? My, my, a chance to see the good earth, from a fresh vantage point, hike her skirt and dance autumn’s steps round and round and round. My, my.
 
Well, compadre, like Willie sings, keep your “hands on the wheel.” Lord I sure do love that song. And this precious, precious thing we call life.
 
Coraggio.
John
     
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Hilarious, right?

Come, all you bleary-eyed grown-ups
worn down to the nub of love.
Come and (and) (and) you put the load
right on…well, you know.
Come and I will give you jest.
Seriously, step right up and take my joke
upon you, the bon mot that its not up
to you to save your world much less your self.
Hilarious, right? My side-splitting
payoff about weightless responsibility?
Come and get it. But come like a child,
because of such is…well, you know.
 
*Matthew 11.28-30 – the gospel according to john
 
 
 
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The Olympic Poems (3)

She came in late, having been out to
dinner with a friend. She is soaking up
these final days before leaving for college.
Her mother and I were in bed watching
five tiny girls and their quest for gold.
Her mother had already surrendered to dreams,
so she asked if she could watch with me.
Only a fool father would deny such a request.
So she sprawled across the bed’s foot while
I tucked my knees to make room, my
motions the olympic event of fathering,
allowing her to grow beyond my reach.
As she focused on those tiny five girls, I was
spellbound at the blossoming young woman
at my feet I used to carry in the crook of my arm.
How does time fly so high, so fast? Practice, I guess.
The breathless commentator finally said
“Right now every little girl wants to be one of the final five.”
In that golden moment’s wake I could have
crumbled, but I kept good form. Practice, I guess.
She stood tall, told me good-night-I-love-you,
and we then joined her mother in dreams.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Olympic Poems (2)

Its surprising how fast the old cold fear reared its head.
We insist we’ve progressed yet what American
can resist a good old fashioned Us vs. Russia story?
King was Balboa, trained country-clean her pure
heart pumping nothing but red, white and bluest.
Efimova was Drago, clearly having stolen fire from
the gods to evolve even more diviner.
The battle ended the way we wanted it to, the way
I wanted it to, cinematic-Americanly ever after.
But let us not forget that earlier moment when we
the audience booed Efimova. We booed her.
Shame on us. We are stern against grace until we need it.
And there above it all, above us all – Christ the Redeemer.
Its chilling how fast the old cold fear rears its head.
 
 
 
 
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The Olympic Poems (1)

He remembers a book advertised once 
– What We Think About When We Run –
but he already knows his thoughts
and his library shelves are fat
so he decided to save his meager funds.
Last night he went out for a quick run
to blow off the stink, as they say (who is they?).
He reasoned if he didn’t think too much
when running but simply ran he could
make good time and get back to see
that Phelps stroke for more gold.
He made it, and so did that Phelps.
And so did that Ledecky, God bless her. She sang
along to the National Anthem as the stripes
and stars rose, and he got teary thinking about
how beautiful she and that song are.
He wished he felt such American pride when our
presidential candidates take to the podium
but he doesn’t. But he wished he did.
He stayed up too late watching those high-flyer
gymnasts who are clearly part girl part bird.
But feeling that burn of pride in his chest
is worth a slower-paced Monday morning for
he’ll be able to compete in today’s talk.
He’ll be able to add Oh say, did you see?
 
 
 
 
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The Smallest Commandment

After the expert in the Law was sufficiently
schooled and the tight-sphinctered Pharisees
had had all they could stomach for a day,
a young woman came to Jesus in the late afternoon.
At first he was taken by her bold approach.
Then he divined that was actually a face
she had long learned to wear to survive.
He smiled. And his heart melted for her for he
could see that, unlike his earlier audience, 
her eyes were not matted with guile.
 
Teacher, what is the smallest commandment?
 
In the time it took for the meaty God to catch his
breath, somewhere a quilt of lilies refused to spin.
Jesus answered her, softly and tenderly off-script:
To be beautiful briefly to yourself.
 
 
 
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