Awkward Love

For me, my daughters are as ghosts—
Invisible, they do not speak,
They only haunt the house,
Sometimes as unwashed shirt
That settles onto heavy chest at night.

Each day my heart takes a trip
Toward them once again—
Yet they back away with threats to
Bruise again with unquestioned lies
They think are only truth.
Oh woe are they and woe is me.

In my living room there stands
Empty high chair made of sturdy oak,
Once used by my mother,
Then my sister and myself—
Finally by my daughters, two.
Every day, I wonder
What is held within their minds.
Each day, I briefly live in horror.

Soon, like the heirloom high chair,
That will be taken to the consignment shop,
Sold at heavy loss and they will bear the price
As I move away, rhythm of my feet
Faintly fading in the dust.
There is only so much time to spare.
How many ways can it be divided?

With every conversation, every deed
We compose a song. I choose today
To play on white keys of the piano.
If others prefer black keys and sing in minor
Grief and hate— they are free to murder,
Live in grooves of sorrow and shadow.
I will welcome strangers to my home,
Feed them with an open heart.

Sometimes at night the thunder cracks,
At other times it comes with dawn,
Lightening strikes a stalwart tree,
Strong wind or fire brings it to the ground.
I watch and make sign of the cross,
Bless again the dust of Earth.

Today, great white polar caps of ice
Slowly melt away to flood the world.
In Africa, drought turns lions to
Attack rangers hired to protect them.
Such irony becomes the world….
Ancient Heraclitus who long ago transformed to dust
Believed he saw in nature and the universe
Constant tension resolved in transcendent harmony.

Imagine, he wrote, the lyre and the bow—
Both stringed instruments drawn taut,
Each allowed to pierce the heart,
To heal, to wound— but without the wound
Can there be deep healing in the world?
Every judgment offered may be
Followed with forgiveness. Maybe.

How often can you ask a ghost
To turn to seek a deeper truth?
How often must they go to the riverbank
Before hearts flow as water flows?
I pray they learn to swim,
To heal hearts and minds
That now seem as thin tin lids,
Blood drawn by sharp edge of mother’s tongue.
Forgive, I remind myself.
Move on. Move on. Let go.

You cannot walk the walk
Even of those you love,
Follow at their pace, pay their cost.
You must walk your own walk,
Run the race before you—
The only light upon the road
Shines as awkward love.

Wild Darkness

For Gerald

Last night the fire went out,
Slowly died down to remaining embers….
This morning the coals were cold.
Final whisper of smoke has dispersed
Out into wide wind of the world.

Here, within the human heart,
I lie in uncreating darkness—
Only silence in the empty space,
Once so warm with love.
In sleep comes dreams of stars.

In dream, I see myself so far away,
Crawling on knees as though I’m begging,
Find rest upon a weary scarp further West—
Plateau wide above lush valley,
Hidden where loggers cannot reach the trees.

One day my eyes will be open
As soul wakes to join the greater Soul,
Forgets the life I leave behind,
Completely free and at peace,
Belonging to wild darkness at last.

The World Wounds Us With Beauty

When Sun sets and dark comes early,
I walk outside to find the Source—
Now hidden, indistinguishable,
Lying still upon dark water of the lake.
Blackened Barlow Mountain haunts,
Stands upon horizon, outline veiled.

Whatever knowledge held in daylight hours
Now gone along with light.
Yet surely grace remains, burning alive.
Where is Stephen tonight?
Is he swirling among the stars?
Does he now float closer to God’s Love?

Here, it seems at best we live half-blind.
Tell me, friend…. Is it foolish or faith
When you pray and get no answer
And keep on praying from the heart?
Do you not yell at God in dreams
To leave you alone so you can sleep?

This morning there was an early frost,
Sparkling crystals gathered upon the grass—
I touched and burned my hand.
Blind to the fire inside the dew—
Forgot the lesson that the world
Wounds with beauty every day.

Heaven Lives in the Light

Though most trees have lost their leaves,
One still brightly blazes as a flame
As though reaping its own fire from sunlight.
As I bend to retrieve one of its leaves,
Panic of birds takes flight,
Up, up higher into turbulent light.

But even the amazing blue sky
Has not quite appeased one of the birds.
It breaks from the flock,
Flies southward alone, desolate—
It turns, catching the wind….
Soars as it seeks a singular voice.

It cries, it sings as though fed
From the source of its small heart,
First circles on the curve of its wing,
Then finally returns to perch in the branch
Directly overhead in the fire of the tree,
Finding, as I do, heaven alive in the light.

When We Gain An Hour Tonight

Losing an HourTonight we set back clocks an hour,
Gain an hour in early November
While also have first frost of the year.
Last chance of Indian summer is gone
As darkness looms earlier in afternoon.

There is a gravitas in slow approach of winter—
Wondering who will come out of great ordeal to come.
What soon will cover the ground will not be cloth,
Not bleached though it scours with frozen hours,
Bends the knee of the strongest to secret prayer.

Waiting in bright sadness of late fall,
It’s easier to find deeper lightness
In the second half of life— a delicate place
Where unfathomable suffering and spacious joy
Co-exist together in intense relationship.

Stay with me tonight as together we quietly
Breathe without asking for breath this night.
In the very instant of advance to extra hour
We’ll share a prayer without knowing
We notice the full experience of either gain or loss.

The Haggard Face of Sleep

Haggard face
The face looks out of the mirror on the wall,
At first haggard from brutality of restless sleep—
Puffy eyes, wrinkles on morning’s brow,
Mind wonders if the vintage heart still beats.

I stand there staring, growing older by the minute,
Bones creaking from aging, soft decay of ligament,
Tangled memories leaking salt, dehydrated sagging flesh.
And all I can think is that my hair’s a bloody mess.

Where is the man I was not many years ago—
Before complexity, able to endure the dancing night?
Hot feelings of the groin seem lost, washed away
Like topsoil eroded on the farm back home.

Will ever again I stand before a burning bush—
Sense the warmth of God, hear the Voice
Calling yet to greater things, wild eternal dreams—
Or only thorny rose, lonely cross, and healing grave that waits?

Now I pause, walk to shower with folded wings….
Trust hot water will restore a breath of rising hope—
A lark, a dove, some Spirit now absorbed,
Then walk again with head held high into a wider hour.

Ask Not for Holy Explanation

Years ago, walking the streets of Assisi
I followed footsteps of St. Francis,
Prayed in places where he prayed,
Picked flowers in the same fields.

I did not see him in any vision—
No voices heard within the silence,
No dreams that urged me closer,
No intervention that came as blessing.

I still believe in heaven—
Here surrounding, patient, loving presence….
Some say that when you love the world
You can hear music in the wind.

If you’ve not seen something moving
When you glimpse the Whole,
Do not ask for holy explanation.
Just love the stillness of unknowing.

Tonight, sitting in peaceful contemplation
I’m grateful for Francis now in Rome.
He knows vital truth that without mercy,
No song of Earth fully sounds its worth.

Suddenly I feel a twitch, blink three times—
Think perhaps I see glimmering web
Intentionally cast over Earth.
Now I can let go and welcome sleep.