Wednesday, February 1, 2017


We have Christ's mind--we shut it up in a box.
Made a test for the rest--is their doctrine pure?

(Do we even understand what it means any more--
or what do we think the traditions are for?)

We preached the whole counsel but we slid over James
(an epistle of straw-- he went up in flames)

We didn't like listening. We didn't like weeping.
So we hugged our own selves when we felt we were suffering

and kissed our own boo boos. We sat still in our pews
and lived quiet lives.

The world hated you,
unbearable Love,
and it casts its stones at us--

Are the stones true?


God draws straight lines with crooked sticks:
it doesn't get much more twisted than this,
halt leg limping, sin dragging my ankles,
trying to keep my eyes on my Righteousness--

Old sin casts long shadows. It's dark in this heart.
There are times I feel blind, stumbling in darkness
tripping over old loves I thought I'd left behind,
stealing kisses. Oh, you children of light!

Walking through the valley of the shadow of hesitation--
can't feel Your Spirit with me when I hear that temptation:
A little sleep, a little slumber, fold my hands up to rest: 
You can stop and rest a while here, in Unworthiness.
It's a quiet town, everyone keeps to himself.

There's a house to lie down in. Pull my knees up. Say
I'm an unworthy servant. I'd better stay
by the roadside, silent, and not harm the witness.
A little time to lie down, let my weak knees rest.

Boards over the windows. Count the specks in my eyes.
Lie down in the darkness to listen to lies.
Lullaby, sleep now, close your eyes
on goodness and glory-- they burn like poison--

There's a crack around the frame though,
a crack around the door
it lights up my eyelids in crimson and gold.
If I wait till You straighten me out all the way
I will stick here mud musing till the last day.

Halfhearted, make me faithful--stick my feet to this way--
So the old man's got my ankles. I was made for daylight.
Don't let me turn backward, or twist to the side.
You can use a bent stick, Lord, to make a straight line.

You broke up stone with a stick and frustration
and gave sweet water to a desperate nation.
You hung, Atonement, on a tree and some nails
Your promise: sin and death shall not prevail.
You are making me holy. I must walk down this track

and love your Church, imperfect:
I cannot hold back.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

introspective. ironically.

When grief grew too great, a grey weight on my chest
that crowded out first gratitude -- then hope -- then breath --
I buckled. Grey pavement scraped my knees. Blind,
I lived alone with the grey weight on my back, the cloud
crowding my mind, seeping to poison all my bones.
Crushed there I took your trade: new heart for stone
 (I could not pay).

This heart, I thought, receiving it, is strange--
not crushed to coal, to diamond, to blank inturned rage
but crushable. You could scrape this new, soft heart
on toast -- strawberry jam -- You wouldn't even have to chew
to eat this heart. So permeable, April-full. It felt
like the pink space when your tooth came out,
in second grade. It didn't hurt (not then), but it was tender,

It is a heart, I thought, for rest. For joy. For peace --

Oh, it is scraped and sore. Pinned onto promise and belief--
raw, nailed to someday rest and peace.

My own stone heart locked up my private pain
my own walled world. There is no lock on this You gave.
There is no skin. I might be changed
into a sponge. My eyes are lidless, wide. I drink
more tears than I can count.

Yet soaked, this heart grows broad with sorrow shared--
and grieved hope grows its roots deeper in God.

Drowned, then pulled up, I thought to gain relief,
but find a heart enlarged holds larger grief.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


While you, gray clumsy duck, swim and dream
through my big bellied days
I am not idle. I twist and twist the thread
(What swanwings some mothers dream)
Await with dread your hatching into
this marsh of imperfections.

Sorrow enough to be a refugee--
How can I bring you forth? What prince,
with what brief day's skin-inclination
will cover, too, you (angles
and wet feathers, eager maw,
mad demanding eyes)
With the thin gloss of lust unsatisfied?

Unborn, already, your wings grow
twisted: uncovered they will outrage our eyes
like skin scraped off
and if you fly--
                           (poor bird, you will not fly)
I sit sewing tiny shirts to wrap you in

Nettles and thistles:
I will wrap you tenderly, in prickles.
I have been saving thorns my mother gave me
and thorns I sought out new.
For you, little bird,
for you:
Oh, I will prick scars in your new skin.

The spinning bites my fingers.
I do not stop twisting. The shirt is oddshaped,
I work, and wait. I know
this garment I make,
rashing my hands,
it cannot make you
(Sweet crooked bird)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


In spring you shared good news--
two babies! Due November --
like a plate of freshbaked cookies.
New life is sweet in the mouth,
brown sugar and vanilla.
A taste to savor--
God is good
Taste, unseen, eyes built,
fingers unfolding,
the knitting of new bodies with new souls

Summer brought figs and wasps.
Untwinned, too, one twin
One sister, to be born
half of a pair--
What memory of sister cells long melted?
What redseamed and burning loss
sewn up in every stitch of joy?
May I beside you drop my tears
for these dear twins
Purl tears, still, for that pearl
that little lump of cells
they took--
unfingered still, and unfarewelled--
in glass

The birthday--Ruby Mae!
Born in November
in a cold far place,
a white gray winter
To know you hold, at last, the small bright crown
to nine months' long ring of grief and hope
Touch her fingers.
Hold her curled into your shoulder--
We unwrap your news like early Christmas
bright with red ribbons.
Is God not good? 
The tears we paid seem guarantee
of days and years thick with sweet memories--

Till an imperfect heart's small raveling
surgeon stitched, still opens
and opens, and opens
its unstoppable switch: breath
to emptiness.
We watch ribbons spin and shred in a black sea.
Was one not enough?
Something beside you--faroff
in my own gray home
I share the indignities:
mucus, tears, acid
puncturing the days with its
unbearable taste--
Dear friend,
Let me sit down with you
at this bitter plate.
To weep
and hope
and pray.
God is good --
To believe, together,
that promise,
that unshakeable one day.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tell you a story

It was a long time winter when you were born,
redfaced and reaching
squawking--sure of clutching
some sweet something--

it's still long winter.
Burrow down. Hide in your caves
from the long dry drowning,
snow on snow on

a bleak midwinter--
The world's long winter bites
our bones grown weak with cold
grown weak with grief

Beneath, earth cracked
seems a myth--
no more-- we told
to strike a sputterhope into this cold--

Sputter hope--shiver
like muscles, jerk and tremble
teeth chatter
inside your ears aches,
deep inside your brain
and lips crack like riverbeds.
To breathe this cold,
you know,
is pain.

Tell you a story:
green trees. Peaches.
Halo sweat slicking your skin.
Squash thick.
Mosquito rich.
laden with tomatoes
tender beans
sweet milky corn.

You came out widemouthed,
made for thriving.
Learn surviving:
Set your teeth hard.
Set your shoulders.
Bow down like long winter
sits burden on your back
The weight of years--

Been waiting years.
Keep your guts clenched warm
around that memory/

You might see (some days) redbud fuzz:
too hopeful trees--

Tell you a story:
Summer. One day.
One of these days,
come and upsprung.
The whole globe goldened
Black dirt,
green promises unfolded.
Tell you: Peaches
drip sweet juices
down your chin.

Friday, November 4, 2016

in jerusalem

Beneath cracked skin i feel the slow itch
the creep and prickle
in bones grown thin and brittle--
unseen, marrowdeep, dividing
a new, glad blood

it is humming to itself
it will be singing

This dampened buzz, this
bonedeep itch,
is this flourishing?

Does empty earth, drummed up and soaked by rain,
crawl so minutely
into a new, glad green?

Is this the itch of unfamiliar joy?
I have seen marvels.

What new astonishments appear
when bones (my bones) unfold
and rise like grass--