Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Category 5

i have rarely been gentle with myself

at times my inner storm bursts forth and i lash out at those closest to me

it is a cyclical pattern as predictable as the spinning cyclones birthed upon the waves each hurricane season

o for the calm that resides in the eye
to trust that change will come in its own good time
that the divine does her work with or without my help or obstruction

o for the will to simply stop spinning and listen
the patience with my broken self and the brokeness in others
whose perceived stagnancy
reflects my own
and spins the inner rage
which so often overflows
in word and deed

o for the silence
that follows the whirlwind
that calls me forth from
the cave of my
skewed assumptions
into a spirit
of deep love and
quiet grace

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Community

I am a man among a sharp-edged people
with corners like the rocks
that made this
mountain,
scattered on the slopes all the
way down past Hog Run,
tumbling through the
baptismal silt
to the Shenandoah
and beyond.

They are smooth by then,
worn by water and
collective abrasions,
banging,
bumping,
knocking against each
other on the
journey.

I am not enamored with edges.
I prefer more subtle curves with their
laughing reminisces.
I want the joy of the end
without the pain of the
sharing that makes
stones smooth.

O for the grace to be content
in the midst of this angry splashing of
love where I am learning to be at best
an awkward swimmer.

(Written January 14, 2006, reposted from July 2011)

Posted in The Sunday Driver: Life in the Slow Lane

Jacob

I used to believe that I wrestled with God.

I do not.
I wrestle with myself,
my Geminian twin.

God is a bystander.
Until we separate, make wide the circle, and
let her in.

I am still a card-carrying member of original sin.

(Originally posted here in July 2011)

Posted in Longreads & Essays

This Morning A Gift of Song

I do not believe in coincidence, yet I am still awed when the world outside of me seems to respond to the inner landscape.

This morning, when I open the inner door to step through the closed-in porch and outside to retrieve the paper, can you guess what greets me?

It is the song of a cricket, singing for all its worth, from a hidden corner somewhere in the room!

It is so loud that our dog, who is not a fan of thunder, smoke alarms, or other loud and strange noises, has to be coaxed out for her morning walk.

I am stunned.

Yesterday, I gave my offering to the world and to you, dear reader.

Today, I am graced by the presence of a visitor I have never heard in all of my years in this house.

Coincidence?

Perhaps.

I choose to accept the gift with wonder.

The cricket is silent now, the gift given.

The recipient begins his day with his heart filled with the song.

Posted in The Sunday Driver: Life in the Slow Lane

Struck Dumb

there is still so much i want to say
so much i want to share
the conversations
lessons
sermons
stories
play on endlessly in my brain

yet my fleeces remain dry
the venues i sang in have all closed
my phone calls are not returned
my inbox remains empty
the podium is occupied
the microphone given to another

my words are thrown back in my face
and suddenly somehow i am the one in the wrong
my stories remain unfinished
while others form within the maelstrom within

i see what is incomplete
rooms in the midst of renovation
the refuse of life
projects left undone
art that i must pack away because there is no place for them here

unseen
unheard
my body left weak from a week of sickness
my mind ravaged by another betrayal in a long line of them

why i must work quietly here
unknown
i know not
but that is what i am being told

to be silent
to wait
to feed on the bread of life
to let that be my work

out of that labor will come my voice

Posted in The Sunday Driver: Life in the Slow Lane

Renovation

yesterday
I walked through the warehouse
pieces of a border in my hand
seeking matches in the scattering of wood along the walls
this was not the first time I had been here to try to find a few more feet to finish a project
but though I looked through the offerings again and again
hoping that behind the next piece would be the one that I needed
I did not find it

I did not leave empty-handed
in one hand I had my tape measure and
in the other the two pieces of border I brought with me
yet I knew that I would not return and that my search was hopeless
I would need to try to find another place to match the border
or I would need to simply start over
I have been searching for awhile and
the project has languished
unfinished like so many parts of my life

when does one continue to seek the parts necessary for the completion of a project or simply choose to tear the whole thing out and start over again?

I am of course speaking of something deeper than simply finishing the border around the ceiling of a living room
sometimes I wonder if the project that is me simply needs to be completely redone
then I realize with gratefulness
that is not the way of the Divine

I am the sum of all of who I have been
I am incomplete
unfinished with a mishmash of parts and pieces
that don’t always match
yet God chooses to use every part of me that I make available
broken ugly beautiful
all together

this reconstruction of my soul is a wondrous and strange thing and I am impatient at times with the work that is going on in me
I am not wise enough to see the final product or how I am going to be used tomorrow
I simply want to know
I want to be done
but this is about trust and giving my life over every day
to the Master Carpenter
who gently
but not without some pain
works on my renovation

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

A Theme Park In My Head

I have spent the days of your absence visiting a theme park I have gotten tickets to before where the rides, instead of helping the visitor to blissfully forget, tend to harp on the old themes of life.

The man at the ticket gate smiled when I gave him the money. I keep him in business and he hopes I’ll be back again. The roller coaster of my emotions has no choice, moving from happiness down to fear and back up again.

I have avoided the tunnel of love like a plague, preferring to leave old lovers in the boat floating away through the darkness with whomever they have found to accompany them on the journey. Though I must admit that I cannot glance at the cluttered side seats without a tinge of regret.

In the haunted house, the skeletons burst out of the shadows, jaws clacking with doubt that you will be loved by someone other than I. Ghosts, created by my fears, move before me through the rooms. I recognize them for what they are and at the exit I find they fade away like smoke.

Then I am back, sitting in my car outside the oil lube place watching line after line of Canadian geese fly south along the Blue Ridge to the east, thinking of you in a plane flying home back to me.

June 2002

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Id at Fence

i stand at the fence and grip its upper rail
my knuckles turning white
stare across at the figure
i approaching me
shivering in fear

and then i stand before me
i can feel my chill breath on my face
i place a cold hand on mine
smile mockingly
numbness creeping in

so we stand and time will tell if
my cold enters me or i receive my warmth

or neither

who is this one
myself who i face across
this fearful fence
my face such a blur
blurring mass
blurring fast

coming clearer
closer
who am i

will i remain so when i know

i am afraid yet still i stand
trapped by my own cold wintry hand

December 20, 1989

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

The Road Well Traveled

In the darkness, one cannot see the fire of the fox.
A shadow runs before the light of the opening door.
There are no straight lines in nature and tonight
is no exception. The ground warps the bright square
and the figure framed for a moment in its perimeter.

Tip of tail flames briefly in the flash and the fox
flees before discovery like some diminished sun,
across the snow over the wooded crest down to where
the great oak lies in perpetual decay beside the spring.

On the morrow, the figure revealed as human in the light
of the sun will discover scat in the middle of the trail
and be reminded that this path, contrary to the scratchings
of Frost and Peck, is like all of the others, not less
traveled, but rather well worn by the fox and the unseen
scurrying feet of nature’s countless millions.

1997