The One

What will my great tragedy be?
The one that will knock on my door
and demand all my mettle.
God knows there have been plenty of
lessers, and I could think they all add up
to cut a tragic figure. But I don’t.
I still wait for the one, the definer.
I don’t obsess over this, I’m committed to
enjoying each fresh day. But I do keep
my third ear cocked for the door.
Maybe I read the Bible too much early on,
then too much Joseph Campbell later on.
Both texts cast quite the vision. And some
scripts are quite impossible to shake.
 
 
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All I Need

Some nights all I need is the
neighbor’s porchlight to dance
through nervous aspen leaves.
Seeing this morse code causes me to
fall asleep with hope as the
last thing on my mind.
Thinking that jim-dandy word causes me to
dream of my children’s future,
and of my place in it.
 
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Telling

He told her she was so lovely.
No sooner had this honesty left his
lips than a mob gathered grabbing
hammers and nails to crucify.
     Tell her she’s smart.
     Tell her she’s strong.
     Tell her she’s brave.
     Tell her anything but she’s lovely.
 
He outran them, this time, and
found a park bench hidden in a
pocket of pines and scrub oak protected
by the voices of a thousand birds.
 
He told the pines and the scrub oak and
the birds they were so lovely for that is
what his only eyes told him was true.
And their happiness seemed transparent.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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THAT MOMENT

There is no way to plan for it.
It comes suddenly, THAT MOMENT.
And you are then rendered fragile.
The surprise is much like a man
 
cutting himself after years of perfect shaves.
I mean, what man plans to do that?
Exactly. But suddenly the taste of
mortality runs red down his
 
neck and in THAT MOMENT he knows,
even if he is commonly dull, that his
footing in this world is no longer sure.
THAT MOMENT, while shock,
 
can be salvation if he’ll swallow it.
For it holds sudden forgiveness, not only for
himself but others. Then he can descend.
He is not a god. He is vincible.
 
 
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Dear Winn – 15 May 2016

Dear Winn:
In your last letter you mentioned we would write again when the urge strikes. Well, it has struck, and I write to you on this Sunday morning in Colorado that resembles something from a postcard of Seattle, all fog and gray-drear. I’ve felt that way lately about life in our country – all fog and drear. So I was glad when my parents (I visited them this week) told me a non-fog-drear story, a true tale of goodness that righted my sights.
 
There is a man who is a dear friend of my parents, let’s call him Barry. And he has ALS. Barry’s condition is growing worse by the day, his body simply withering away, its to the point where he can’t feed himself. He is still living at home though, his wife is caring for him, staying true to those old words: for better, for worse. And just that would have been enough to remind me that this is a good country, filled with heroes on every block. But the story got notched up a bit because there is another man who is a dear friend of my parents, let’s call him Huck. And Huck is a bit impetuous, he’s often referred to as “that Huck” (don’tcha love that?) Well, the story goes that Huck showed up at Barry’s house last week, walked right in and announced, “We’re going on a road trip.” Huck gathered what Barry would need, then manhandled him into his vehicle and they drove the two plus hours to the lodge at Mount Magazine near Mena, Ark., and ate lunch. These two friends then spent a little while looking at one of the most gorgeous views in the state, then turned around and drove back home.
 
Winn, regardless of who ends up in the White House this year, its the people of this country that make it grand, people who practice fidelity to the land, to one another, and to themselves. Some of that fidelity is daily, like a wife being the hands that feed her husband morning, noon, and night. And some of that fidelity is rash, like a friend showing up on your doorstep with a harebrained idea that just might work. Its sorta like that scene in It’s A Wonderful Life where George stands up to Mr. Potter, and describes the people “who do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community” –  those people will soldier on regardless of the whims inside the Beltway. Anyway, I thought you’d like that story, maybe even need it. I know I sure did.
 
I was in Arkansas to bring Will back to Colorado for the summer. Its so good to have him home. Abbey has a “continuation” ceremony on Wednesday, next stop – high school. My lord. And Sarah graduates from high school on Friday, next stop – Pepperdine. Dear lord. My friend, these are days in which my heart swells one moment and breaks the next, then swells again, then breaks again. But that voice in my head (one of them) remains faithful: “Just keep breathing, John.” So I do.
 
Thanks for listening, pard.
Coraggio.
John
 
 
         
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Look At Your Hands

Look at your hands.
What do you see?
Make something from that.
 
Those were the simple instructions.
So I followed: two dried pinpricks of 
blood from hangnails I worried, dog hair,
a scab that’s taking its own sweet
time healing, the gold band from
my sweetest friend, and blue rivers of
vein that render my hands topographic.
 
Look at your hands.
What do you see?
What in the world can you make from that?
 
Maybe a corny poem about how I long
longed to possess my father’s hands.
But I’ve come to see I have my own.
Twin fields formed from the plows I’ve chosen
and the particular affections that flow
from my heart down their blue rivers,
then back upstream.
 
 
 
 
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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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