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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Remember?

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.
Remember?
I could hear you in the wind then.
But this, this is not then.
Hearing you always gave me
the courage to love.
Remember?
 
 
 
 
 
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It Hurts To Be Present

It hurts to be present.
 
The robin lighted on the faded
fence her back to me and raised
her skirt and shit then flew away
fast.
 
The robin wasn’t like or as
anything. The robin was a robin.
So too the fence a fence and her
skirt of feathers and her shit.
 
I died a little more in the time
it took to see her. We are all
living and dying – me, the robin.
And you.
 
It hurts to be present.
 
 
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It Is Not So Much

Its not so much that I do not do the good
that I want to do as it is I sometimes do not
do simply because I am unsure what to do.
Some would label this passivity, the same
some who hold assertiveness as a virtue
although for the life of me I cannot find
that in any sacred text save the american bible.
 
This same some (apparently) forge through life
with a plan, a map they chart by bolder stars.
I on the other hand wake to mild confusion most
days not about the tiny aspects of self-respect
such as brushing my teeth and paying my bills
but more the big things like my destiny, etc.
 
Oh this mobile home of flesh that is me!
Who or what will rescue me from, well, me?
 
Thanks be to God that best I can tell my calling
is to life, the specifics of which have a tendency
(so far) to work themselves out. So I press on
honestly trying to do the next thing in love.
And while that does sound poetic it at the same
time I must confess sounds awfully flimsy when
presenting myself to those who swear to have
the world on a string, this life by the tail.
 
 
 
 
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So Let Us Run

As a boy I’d heard my father preach a hundred times
of being surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses.
Yet it was not until finding myself a man on a New Jersey
summer afternoon that I felt thwarted by the clouds
accentuating the peculiar and insistent nature of the sky.
It was then my father’s words were born again as
something more than letters to the scattered Hebrews.
 
I remember the clouds that day holding no impatience,
no indifference to my imaginings of myself as a writer.
In fact they colluded together to ensure I would spend that
summer afternoon inside my room furiously reading every
word in the book I found surprisingly face out in the petite
bookshelf on the landing of the victorian Spring Lake Inn.
There were no voices telling me to take, read. But there was
 
a cover the color of tired lilacs upon which was drawn a
great mountain rising above an equally great lake split by
a bridge leading in and out of a town, and resting above it
all were clouds exactly like the ones outside my window.
So I obeyed and lost myself in the lives of Ruthie and Lucille and
the tragic Sylvie, but even more so in the vast predestined
passages birthed from the mind of a woman named Marilynne.
 
I read Housekeeping in that single afternoon and emerged from
my room stumbledrunk on its aged prose and reassured in the
human enterprise. Later that evening I sat alone in a bustling
steakhouse surrounded by great gobs of people I felt I now knew
better than before due to my time spent in Fingerbone. When my
food arrived I bowed my head to thank God for my father, which
I always do, and for the witness named Marilynne, and the clouds.
 
 
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