Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sing a plainsong

A sailing leaf turns in circles a clear sky
mocks the dark outline of a hawk 30 feet up

I enter the magic of silence:
my eyes transfixed--glassed over
the heart, soul, mind and strength--pulled along on funneling thermals
sink down through whipping, winding trails in the middle of swirling logic


I remember what one man said about the woods:
how dark and deep and still with solstice winter's chill and pall
I linger sirened out of mind in isolation
too long, too still, too deep, too dark
the way I came too far back--

I lift my head, my swimming, prodigal head
to find the straight path--the narrow way
marked well
with Humility's warmth.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This is the way I see it going down

December starlight--frost and snow and clear black sky--
ruthless magic steals away the logic and reason;
beguiles innocently
broken down thought covered over in plastic empirical science

a wrapped mystery
an intoxicating, outlandish and ancient idea;
no, a story, no a person
yes to all of those

strangely grateful and foolish
not to have believed
but to have waited so long in a cold, deep deception

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


My melancholy has burst out into full color
full out in strong autumn sun and dances
in a crazy blue sky to see a white birch in a muddy field
followed along by a white fence guarding a milk-filled cow.

Withdrawing into winter's heart; residual joy gleams the veins of leaves wrought amber in my eye--purplish and red: painfully bright in a green lawn next sharing space with a gravel road, brown and wet and gray

These pieces fitted
make changes, once reviewed,
congruous--dripping with purpose and hope

Thursday, November 01, 2007


White paper morning--crispy shavings of a backlit moon
I find myself praying in sign language

Newly deaf; newly mute—other senses not yet adjusted to compensate

I am boorish—spitting crude assertions from published works onto awkward, stumbling prayer; muddling as though my vesture is sepulcher

—I’m glad to go down, to burrow deep allowing waters to close over;
not sure when the moon will change again and allow me up.

Oh sweet, dark, change--husky sheath and cosseted
Dry and cool, I do the work of life.

I am hidden, in my own mind, at least.
Protected by the confidence that things change—things always change

Monday, September 17, 2007


On Wednesday You winked at the evening sky
and made it blush a tangerine candy floss
just about the time I was looking over Your latest blessing.

I stood across the street from the house with an open yard
that shares it's border with a green belt tree line.
This is just the beginning of Your plans or maybe this is the middle--my heartbeats are deep, stretched out with praise feeding the great gray swirls You tied
like a bow on the gift of this day and the rest of my life.

And Rockabye Sweet Baby James

Today we heard the Banez baby was born--
what sweet grief, his father with You, his mother with us.

As we pray for her, waiting in frantic surrender--
the pressure of Your Grace; the light I hold in my hand--falls over my own broken head.
With no more resolve to stand or step, folded; bent low,
my shoulders shake, my throat rubs out a low cry
and swoons with a rhythm; I hear You, I hear You; I hear You.

My words are stilted, but Your oil, Your presence; Your joy and glory;
Your Body marvels at sweet Baby James.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Shoal Lake

Laura and I stumble down well after dark to sit
on the dock at Shoal Lake.
As the quiet settles around us, we listen to the frogs call the late evening moon
over the trees.

I bring a bag of Ranier cherries and plunk the pits into the black water.
Laura holds a blanket and a sheet.
Together we bring a good night to a close
and memories to the surface.
It was a hard year for me, and I say this more than once.
With so much in mind: Philippines, Thailand, India, Korea, Coaching and our Monday nights.

We talk of men in general and some in specific.
Just as we begin to admit our mutual frustration,
a loon, long and desperate howls out from his hidden nest on the dark shore line.

Laura loves that sound
like I love to see the city lights come on in the evening.

I tell a dumb joke and we break down in fatigued giggles
just for the beauty of laughing uncontrollably again.

You are my ttong-sang and I am your uhnni.
You are golden; you teach me in so many ways.
Your friendship, like a sound or a light reminds me that God is personal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

House of Prayer

Muted voices
not allowed to
cry out; hushed
up to honor
order--we repent.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


It is the first week of July
and the June bugs know their
numbered days are moving inevitably toward oblivion

I spread my sarong on Bermuda
wet with early evening dew
and because I do they swarm
their floundering amber bodies around

Wing chased wind the air sits
a few feet from a tall sodium
safety light.

With the summer insects I feel
a closing approach from the West
and then from the East so that a single
light is the focus of the whole world.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Afternoon thoughts

Tonight as the sky formed and shifted
around thunder heads crossing the river 20
miles away a bit west and north of here,

the trees formed the green of my thoughts,
and I found a blue, lovely and deep like
the words I search for even now.

The spotted paint horses hang low
and smooth in my mind staged
in the pale pasture with trees behind.

I am lost. I want to be in the dark brown
sheen of the animals and the quiet of their eating.

The stallion is taller than the rest, and I feel tired
to think of his strength.

Then I finally see it; a rainbow hangs over the southeast.
I can see where both ends met the horizon
and now the wind
and now the slow drops to wash, refresh,
and make new my ragged hope.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

mango, pomegranate, guava, star

The grief and joy of Presence
is an exotic fruit I have just
discovered in my hand as
I sit weeping in the Thodapuza
courtyard; all my brightly
colored sisters sing just yards
away through a concrete
wall, over a river of shoes.

It is the song in my mouth
as I surface in the lagoon
near Naweni Koro
Praise God from whom all blessings flow...

It is the unprecedented
snowstorm howling gray
and brown over the
weh guken hahkyo in Pyongtaek;
I shoot a video; breathless giggles.

It is the sensation of the rise
and fall in Phuket's waves
and later in my dreams.

It is the sari dripping down
from my head and playing
around my feet; I hold a
little brown hand and hope.

It is this moment: my friends
have gathered around; a soft brown
dog sleeps under the table;
the Word is open and speaks all of us
into the Presence of God.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The moon is pasted over in cloud tonight--
my thoughts crouch behind avoiding notice,
secretly hoping to be presented
brought out of hiding with upturned hand--

but wait, it is patience's cue;
she must come first; must always come before;
she and prayer must lead the way into the irresistible.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Dear James

Your death did not make the headlines
but it's all we can talk about here.

Yours was not a single death because death never is single
Layers of people, roles, regrets and sorrow always mix about and crisscross.

Today, when we met with God together, I couldn't say
that we wished you were back with us because then I would
have wept beyond what is reasonable.

I don't know exactly how it's done, this shared suffering, this shouldered up burden but it's here among us and our understanding and our prayers and our lives.

Our praise for your life remains--I want to stretch that praise into a covering, a banner
over your wife and children, over your mother, your sister and brother. It would be a red doorpost, the red scarf of Jericho, the brilliant wedding canopy, and the Passover which is all our hope.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Vaya Com Dios

today the clouds came in and staged a Monet right in front of my eyes
sprawling bungalows, tile roofs
palms and purple majesty
big sky, tall green hills

and for a moment I realized how complete God is in the follow-through
how each detail knows it's position and cue
how the trees and shrubs looks so green against the clouds stacked on each other
how the wind knows just so to move the hammock
how the sun lines up behind "Edgar" every morning on the Barra beach next to the seaside dive and shrimp and rice and sucre de limon.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thoughts from the casket

It's always cold on Easter in Mississippi,
and I felt it all the way through this morning's run.

Afterward, I swaddled myself in a blanket and let the strong sun hit my face and
the unopened Bible on my lap.

Sometimes that's all I can do when the whirlwind steals my breath,
and the fire crisps my lips. Sometimes all I can do is listen and think;
squeeze my grave cloth wrapped body into the cleft and hide.

I feel like dying because I'm dead and sloughing off as Christ,
who laid aside His grave clothes, lives for me.

So as I run and my grave clothes flap back in my face like a flag or a banner,
I pretend they are really Christ's standard signaling that He is in the lead.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Such a bittersweet day

this morning began cool with a steady climb to the mid-80's
and I talked a little with Jesus while I pulled the sheet closer

when I reached the entrance to the stairwell, the sweet grapesicle holly trees
ran a river scent trail that stopped me

mid-morning frustration--patronization
I wondered why I was called
why I had to be the one who made nice; who gave a fair chance

I picked a holly branch filled with lime green buds and deep green leaves
I looked closely to see the drops of sweet grapesicle
the station bridge road; the grain mill
how many times did I pass that place and stop to smell more deeply the grape candy scent

I was afraid of tonight; afraid of the awkward moments
afraid that my too nice would not hide my too nervous

Then God dipped into and poured over cupped handfulls: laughter sweet and rich like grapesicle and the bright moon from the Walmart parking lot.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

to not embarrass you

I've been sitting at my desk working on things that suck me dry.

I want to do great things.
I want to do good things.
I just don't want to embarrass you.

I have the chance to be burnished brass or crude;
to be washed away by the culture and the flesh; the pride of life my decision-maker.

I want to do great things.
I want to love big and long.
I want my life to stretch out in beauty like the morning sky.
I just don't want to embarrass you.

I have the chance to be soothing song or brash;
to be carried along by the lust of the eyes; the carnival show my entertainment and distraction.

I want to do great things.
I want to glory small.
I want to see my life stretch out in moments of redemption.
I just don't want to embarrass you.

I have the chance to be transparent,
to relax in my own skin, the quiet, gentle, unbothered spirit.
I have the chance to lead others
into the unconditional love of God, but I have to go first.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Running under the sky

the clouds divide over southern Arizona near the Mexican border

the breath of Alaska--mountains--I stand in an exhale of misty ice

the beginning of Fall and my first 8 miles; I round the corner to enter the stadium and hear a roar and a song

I am singing with the sky--my feet fall in rhythm with my breathing

I take off

past the The Eye of the Tiger straight out into Elijah's freeway

Monday, February 12, 2007

Friday, February 9, 2007

The five o'clock birds have come again
to visit in the holly bush outside my window.

I am at peace to watch them grow their feathers out against the cold
to hear them talk their talk in tones and whistles;

to remember that all my anxious lists,
fretting breaths, fervent dreams
can stand behind me for a while.

I shake my hands away from doing;
away from conversation and demand
and lay them in my lap as I wonder in awe and worship in rest.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mary's Last Dance

Today in sunshine through stained glass
I listened.
I watched Robert Earle--the man who crossed the room for Mary.
I watched him say goodbye to her, and I have to wonder.

I have to wonder what will be when I'm in a
shiny casket. How far will my life stretch out?
I dreamed my death last night--or some version of it.
It was a warmth that spread from my middle out to the ends.

Then between Nesbit and Bridgeforth
I was befriended by endurance
to pick up the pieces of my last impatience;
to reconstruct with slow prayer what I have torn down in haste.

Bless this day of Mary's last dance, last song.
Bless the Delta and my mother who escaped.
Bless the Father, Son and Holy Ghost--through Sumner and Tutwiler,
past Clarksdale on the by-pass and back up to Walls.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Let it be for me
the body and the blood
let it be for me
the living word of God

wafer thin and hollow wine
my thoughts
ritual by man's design

but let it be for me
the sinner's sweet release
let it be for me
overwhelming peace

remorse is all i know
shame is all i see
but by God's grace and love
let it be for me

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Red ribbon; cut crystal hung to catch the light;
to increase energy across the spectrum; across the body.

Hard wood floors; beaded doorways--topaz, peridot
Incense, jade, scents, smells & breathing.

Deliver me, Lord, from calculated, dispassionate prayer.
Calculated; rehearsed & recited.
Deliver me, Lord, from incantations, methods and motions.

Release me only to the Spirit who indwells.

Monday, January 15, 2007


The Story:
When I wrote this poem, I had been traveling for two weeks and was looking at traveling for another two weeks. I do enjoy travel; but not alone. I was driving to my sister's house at sunset in Indiana, and as I kept passing farm houses lit up with either oil lamps or soft electric light, I longed to be home in both the physical and spiritual sense. I was tired and I wanted to belong somewhere. I thought of how lovely it would be to spend time with my sister and stay at her house instead of a hotel, and the grace of God descended into my thoughts and I praised Him.


My eye is drawn to the window light;
warm lamp of the resting farmhouse,
dusk safely moving toward a slow supper.

soft, soft.
A sleeping toddler,
conversation with my sister
and the real self I try to display along with
pamphlets, powerpoint and lights.

My caesura,
my gift of desperation
to step aside and breathe
to turn away and weep
to close my eyes, to smile in secret.

Breathe on me, Selah.
Spirit's logic my warm fire,
the knowlege of you exhales passion
over the cold, wet gravel.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hwy 304 West

Fogg Road knows it's name
and delivered a special note
in your hand, yesterday.

pink sunset, low mist over haybales

I had to stop.
I had to stop the car, risk the road and a barking dog

to spend a few minutes
studying the angles and strokes
and find your signature in the corner of this moment.

Winter 7:02am

Snuggled tight in down and cotton
linen thoughts and morning vows.

I find a sovereign God is waiting,
waving off my fearful doubts closed thick around my whispering lips.

I'm losing the faith it takes to be intimate
to do more than submit to power.

Watching the light grow on the ceiling,
I beat my chest, "Have mercy on me, a sinner."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Death; the spector,
shadows equally my logic and emotion.

Not so much the end of all things as the end of me.

Warm fire,
from my chair a view of the moon through branches.

In the morning I will wake
and find the turn row.

Frost under my feet.

I breathe; I am; I will be,
until the future is present continuous.