Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree (Poems)

Giving Up Air

i wonder if i could be so gracious
if i could stare without fear into the unknown as my lungs cry out for oxygen
like my friend on the phone
who says if he was sick
he would let another have the ventilator
and move on into that other place
where there is no shortage
of breath

such are the choices that may
loom just over the horizon
while some discuss compensation
and the guns they possess
and others make soup and bread to share with those on the edge
i think of my loved ones who may not be with me in the coming days
the sadness that may await on the morrows

and yet i know that the spirit
blows where ere it will
the tops of the budding trees
gently sway before the
brightening sky
and now this morning at least
i feel a sense of peace
my heart expanding
like opening lungs
as the one who holds this
groaning world in her hands
breathes new life
and a love for all
into me


Perhaps It’s Not About the Prophet

“There is still one prophet through whom we can enquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”

Such is the complaint of one King Ahab to the inquiry of King Jehoshaphat.

Which sounds eerily familiar to the complaints of one current “king.” And to those who are unable to, or refuse to, pause for even a brief moment of self reflection.

Rather than change one’s behavior in light of the truth, these “bad, very bad” prophecies are conventiently labeled fake news.

As the hawks squawk their tiresome calls to war, we might want to listen carefully to the still small voice of peace. And to the consequences of mistaking affirmation of one’s intention as validation from God.

In the words of Micaiah,

“So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

I’m not making this up. You can read the full story in 2 Chronicles 18:1-19:3.


Posted in Longreads and Essays

Freedom and the Fear of Death: Words from Dr. King

Dr. King once said “Until you conquer the fear of death, you don’t know what freedom is!”

I must admit that I am not free and have not been free for a long while. I have allowed Death to keep its sting. On this anniversary of the assassination of this great man, I am reminded that there is still a long way to go in this country and the world before we achieve the Dream. On this day with this faith I commit myself to change beginning with myself and with my fear of death. In other words, in a paraphrase from Gypsy Smith, “If you want to have revival, draw a circle around yourself and have revival in that circle.”

So I am drawing a circle around myself. I am stepping out of my comfort zone beyond talk into places and experiences that make me uncomfortable into an engagement with people different from me. I am not expecting people to come to me. I am not expecting change to knock on my door. I am going to change. I am opening the door to difference and walking out. I am going to face my own mortality and cease to be afraid of what might happen if my changing causes others to change, to be uncomfortable, and so strike back against that change and me.

Who am I to think that I must not suffer when I do anyway if one person in this world is suffering? Who am I to think that I must not hurt when I do anyway because one person in this world is hurting? Who am I to think that I must ignore death when my brothers and sisters the world over are giving their lives day in and day out because they cannot live as I do?

I do not know where this path will take me, but I do know this:
I am not alone and
I will not be afraid.

January 21, 2008


Monday Monday Song 79 – A Body Was Found Down By The River (Final Mix 1.1)

“I read the news today, no, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away…”

The news can seem so cold and inhuman when an unknown person is discovered dead somewhere…a brief line or two in a small column in the newspaper is all that the loss of a precious life illicits.

Never lose your ability to mourn the invisible…

My response:

A Body Was Found Down By the River (Final Mix 1.1) by PeaceGroover

Posted in Longreads and Essays

Jacob’s Ladder

The man lying at the foot of the escalator was dead.

I would not have seen him if I had not been misdirected to my seat and even then I caught only a glimpse of his still form as the medical personnel worked feverishly over him as I walked past.

In the distance I could hear the game beginning, the echo of the announcer introducing the teams, the roar of the crowd calling me to join them for the opening tipoff.

A quieter voice called to me as well.

Stay, the Spirit said. Stay here and pray.

So I turned back towards the entrance and the group of university staff, police, and first responders trying desperately to save a man’s life. Medical personnel applied CPR to his chest. Another gave him oxygen. A third person attached electrodes to his chest. I bowed my head and began to pray.

I heard a woman nearby crying. Another woman comforted her. I know, I know, she said, Believe me, I know.

I lifted my head and glanced over. They triggered the AED. I saw him move. He began to breathe.

But it was only for a moment. Then he was still. And they began to work over him again. His wife became even more distraught.

I continued to pray. I kept glancing up to see how the man was doing. He was not responding. The situation looked bleak. They brought a chair for the man’s wife. The other woman continued to stand near her, her hand tracing gentle circles on her back. I noticed her lips moving. She was praying too.

I stood with my back against the side of the escalator, head bowed, praying. A staff member asked if I was a family member. No, I said, I’m just here . . . my voice trailed off as she moved away.

She did not ask me to leave. No one did. I was left alone to pray. I tried to remain inconspicuous, yet I am sure those in area noticed. I made eye contact with the other woman. We nodded in mutual recognition. We continued to pray.

My stomach began to knot. Would the man survive? Your will be done, Lord, I prayed. I thanked God for the efforts of the medical staff and asked God to bless them, regardless of the outcome. I asked God to minister to the man’s wife. I simply asked God to be present.

How far away is the ambulance? someone asked. There was worry in his voice.

A few minutes, came the reply.

Then they were there. The EMTs began working over the man. He seemed to respond. Was he breathing again? I could not tell. But a weight seemed to lift from those gathered around as they lifted the man onto the stretcher and began to wheel him away.

My prayer partner stepped over to me and held out her hands. I noticed she was wearing a small silver cross.

You were praying . . . It was not a question. I nodded.

Where two or more…she said. I agreed.

I saw the monitor on the stretcher as it passed by. Is he…? I began.

They have a pulse, she replied. But keep praying. I nodded. We squeezed each other’s hands in silent comradery and farewell.

I entered the arena and found my seat, the game well underway. The scene I’d witnessed continued to play in my mind as I strived to be present to the action occurring on the court. This was an important game. The winner would move on in the playoffs. Yet somehow the game’s significance had lessened somewhat for me.

And I could not help but be amazed at the subtle ordering of God upon my most recent steps.

My wife and I were to arrive together, but our plans changed at the last minute and I entered the coliseum alone. God’s schedule is different than our own sometimes.

The usher misread my ticket and I was given wrong directions to my seat. My seat was in the opposite direction of where I walked and as a result, I was able to see what was happening as I passed by. And be available when the Spirit prompted. It is a reminder to me again that on this journey with God, we are never lost.

I was not more talented or gifted than any other person in the vicinity. Probably less so, due to the overwhelming competence, experience, and capacity in the variety of people who worked together to save a stranger’s life. But God’s resources are available to anyone.

I had a role to play. God called, I was available, and suddenly I became part of something larger than me.

My team eventually wound up losing the basketball game, but the real victory happened earlier that night near the entrance of the arena when a group of strangers gathered around to help a man lying pale and still on the floor at the bottom of an escalator.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree (Poems)

Poet In A Coma: For My Friend Alan

When they cut out the tumor,
they took some of you with it.
But we were grateful because most of you remained.
You were still among us and we got to be with you.
They did not take your gentle spirit and the words tumbling forth
like a soothing stream after the rain.
They could not cut out the poetry from your brain.

So each year we listened and we were blessed.
Tomorrow never guaranteed,
each day and each new word from you a precious gift,
so quickly lost in a fall in the darkness.

Did you know we would find you in the night lying across the
broken sidewalk that brought you down?
Did you hear our songs and poetry as we gathered around your bed?
Did you hear us praying in a circle in the wooded place where you wandered and
where so many poems came to your head?

It makes me sad that I cannot hear the
wonderful words running through your mind.
But I know that they are there,
you softly whispering them into the ears of the Divine.

October 29, 2007

Posted in Longreads and Essays

The Not So Wicked Bible (or the Worship of Prince Baalberith)


In 1611, Barker and Lucas, the royal printers in London, published what was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible. There was one major omission. In one of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:14 which should have read “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the not was omitted. The printed passage read “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Needless to say the printers got into big trouble and most copies of the Bible were destroyed.

I find the story ironic in two ways. Based on current statistics, it seems that the mistaken commandment in the Wicked Bible is the one that is being followed. Polygamy is still being practiced, only now it is done so in secretive and illicit affairs. Pornography, sex trafficking, and prostitution continue to feed insatiable lusts. The Church continues to be so obsessed with sex that other principles are not emphasized with equal importance.

Which brings me to my second point. Would there have been as big an uproar if the printers had omitted not from verse 13 so that it would have read “Thou shalt kill?” I don’t know. But for all practical purposes in this day and age we act as though the “not” does not exist.

We continue to glorify killing through incessant media broadcasts of tragedy that feed our insatiable appetite for such. We justify killing through our continuous need to be engaged in one “Holy War” after another. The two are not unrelated. For when we approve of killing in any form we create an opening for that spirit to be present in our society. The murders and violent tragedies so prevalent among us are a direct result of our justification of killing through war and other “accepted” means. There are those among us who have more compassion for the unborn than for those birthed and living.

My friends, this must not be so. Thou shalt not kill. Period. We must close the portal that allows such things to invade our society. We must defeat the Red Horseman, Prince Baalberith, and his legions.

We can do so only through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Originally posted October 21, 2011

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree (Poems)

Prisoner of Pavlov

I know for whom the bell tolls
for it often tolls for me
yet it is a different daily death it brings.

I go towards the chime
when the chime calls to me.
My saliva runs every time it rings.

I have relinquished so much power.
The power once inside of me
is diminished beneath the weight of so many things.

The million tiny deaths I die
each day must be dead to me
til deaf I become to their subtle sting.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree (Poems)

Angel With A Broken Wing

Was life so unyielding
for you to fall from your office building?
Did you cry or did you sing,
angel with a broken wing?

What caused you to take that final fatal flight,
like a wayward broken and tattered kite,
storm-tossed with no steady string,
o angel with a broken wing?

What lies pounded inside your head,
that hounded you, said you’d be better off dead?
This life is such a fragile thing,
dear angel with a broken wing.

I know you only by what the newspaper said,
a few lines on the page that I read.
I wish I could have done something,
bright angel with a broken wing.

Though it is too late for you,
there are so many who wish to fly too.
I can only hope these simple words will bring
hope to other angels with broken wings.

For you see, my Icarus of shattered dreams,
this world is not as lonely as it seems.
It is a strange and beautiful thing,
but every one of us is an angel with a broken wing.