Category Archives: Poetry

in the heart’s own wax

One book, printed in the heart’s own wax
Is worth a thousand in the stacks.

~ Jan Luyken (Dutch poet)


O heart, too much like stone, you,
and chisel dulled;
or, better, a hard drive,
with too many hurried bytes.

A tablet of wax
beckoning the fresh
of lettered treasures old and new…

Too many in the stacks;
Move, O bookish stylus, to the wax!

stylus on wax

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Posted by on December 7, 2015 in Poetry, Quotes, Uncategorized


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a single brushstroke down

Light dawns, and any talk of proof
resembles a blind man’s cane at sunrise.

Remember the passage,
We are with you wherever you are.

Come back to that.
When did we ever leave it?

No matter we’re in a prison of forgetting
or enjoying the banquet of wisdom,
we are always inside presence.

Drunkenly asleep, tenderly awake,
clouded with grief, laughing like lightning,
angry at war, quiet with gratitude, we are nothing
in this many-mooded world of weather
but a single brushstroke down,
speaking of presence.

*The word Allah in Arabic begins with a strong downward mark.

Excerpt From: Coleman Barks. “A Year with Rumi.”

This is what Proverbs calls “a word on its wheels” – what we call a “timely word.” I simply can’t quite get enough of it.

All talk of proof is like a blind man’s cane at sunrise. Positively exquisite.

Always inside presence in this many-mooded world of weather. Yes.

How desperately we need this truth as an ice pick when heart and hearth freeze. Where are those Ezekiel eyes? Those roomy eyes that can see through our barren Chebar landscape to the whirling of the Wheels, to the indescribable presence we thought reserved for holier, happier climes.

And the single brushstroke down speaking of presence. Exquisite doesn’t even begin to capture how it fires my soul to know that the Muslim word for “the God” begins with a single brushstroke down. Some see only sword, but it’s Immanuel hidden in a stroke. Immanuel everywhere.

In this many-mooded world…




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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Poetry, Uncategorized


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I’m not ready for the friends of my youth to die.

I just told, again, the story,
the story of you,
to another youth,
to another generation,
the day before you died.
I can’t tell my story without telling of you.
A lost, hidden youth I was,
trying to be a rebel
but failing to even look the part
with my scraggly hair
and untucked shirt.
But you saw me.
You loved me in.
You opened the Book.
You taught me to sing.
You made me believe in me –
pathetic, rebel, hiding me.
We’ve lived apart for the past three decades
and more,
so why does it pierce me so
to know that we no longer enjoy
the same sun
rising and setting
that we no longer feel the same breeze
or wonder at the heavens above?
But it does, to the core of me, it does.
Where is your sting, O death?
Why, here. Again. And again.

I’m not ready for the friends of my youth to die.

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Posted by on October 10, 2015 in Poetry


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O, Pain

What do I do with thee?
I can
and generally,
scorn thee, O Pain.

But then what would I be?

Little more than a limpid,
pissed off puddle.

Such waste of space,

So how about
I welcome you,
I, your reluctant,
often resentful,
and kiss your brow
as the brow of
my Christ come to
teach me

courtesy of Anna Shukeylo

“First Embrace” courtesy of Anna Shukeylo

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Posted by on September 9, 2015 in Poetry


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What a remarkable thing.Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 9.54.05 AM
Thankful for a shard.
Feeling them all week in these
neuropathic chemo
Invisible shards

sleep stealing
walk stopping

So how surprisingly marvelous

to step
to feel one
but to actually see
O exquisite pleasure!
Finally here be one

Neuropathic chemo
grappling with a shard
that can finally be
to the sounds of reverberating

Never thought I’d be so
for a shard.



Posted by on August 30, 2015 in Poetry


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oh impetuous procession

Oh impetuous procession!sickles advance
Oh splendid advance!
Placed, you were, on that gentle slope
good ground
linked, connected like
interlocking shield.

But rising before you,
from that orchard stared down
in imagination fired by roiling memories
unlimbered guns
and unleashed furies
revealing a devil to pay.

No time to consult,
No time for orders.

They marched
bugles blaring,
banners waving,
forward to higher ground
in their thousands they marched
shield unhitched
line undone

in the air.

Do we march out too?
Do we join them there?

No, the magnificent voice intones.
Tumble back, yes, they will,
and soon.

And then, on cue,
rebel yell shrieks
blue line braces
and amidst shot and shell
the stubborn tumbling starts.

We do this.
Disregarding good ground
forward we fly!
to imagined higher ground;
caution flies too, other voices be damned!
forward we fly!

‘til we find our own devil to pay
Oh impetuous advance!
More than a leg
will we perhaps this time
as our own stubborn tumbling starts. . .


On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, Daniel Sickles, in command of some 12,000 men in the III Corps of the Union Army of the Potomac, without orders advanced his men a mile forward of the Union position just prior to an all-out Confederate assault. His exposed corps suffered close to 50% casualties and Sickles lost his leg.

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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Poetry


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to the states

to the states_Whitman

Good reading for the Fourth, methinks.
I love to toss this at government students.
Interesting to contemplate within Whitman’s time and context.
Good to contemplate within ours
or any.

Resist much, obey little.

O the implications, applications.
The manner and temper of each is perhaps key.
From a biblical standpoint,
I would see the entire book of Romans as a dissertation on “resist much”
And in the first paragraph of Romans 13 the admonishment to “obey little.”
Like we do with the injunction of James
“Be swift to hear, slow to speak,”
We tend to reverse the order.


Posted by on July 3, 2015 in Poetry, Quotations


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wandering at morn

A friend recently turned me back to Whitman.
It has been awhile.
Rhythms of Writ, Rumi, Rilke and Rohr always leave me ready to roll.
Dusting you off this morning I see that truly have ! missed you, Uncle Walt,
my eyes first with you wandering at morn.

It’s curious how, depending on which way winds blow, we can sour on country
as quickly as fans over a poorly performing team.
How quickly we can sour on people, period,
screaming “Liar!” until kindly escorted out.
Oh yes, we all could use a bit of wandering at morn…

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 6.31.30 AM

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Poetry, Quotations


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Fury Road and faith healing

The tiny silver crucifix she woreScreen Shot 2015-05-20 at 12.12.11 AM
enacted what it seemed we did to her.

She rested in the bed, not at peace yet,
she said, but trying to forgive. The dead

moved quietly around the room, unseen:
last week, a man with liver cancer keened

where she did now, before he passed; then
another woman whose lymphoma drenched

her in cold sweats, her lymph nodes thick and massed
wherever I had pressed. “Dear Lord,” I said,

attempting what I thought was prayer, “—Lord
forgive me for not healing them.” Unsaid,

the words of her forgiveness came to me
like kindness, like a sudden memory.

The tiny crucifix refused to bleed;
instead, it shone there like a misplaced need,

a way to understand the blameless night.
Adjusting my ophthalmoscope’s light,

I peered inside her, seeking what we may
of pain. I saw what she had tried to say:

the pulse of blood, the silence of my heart;
forgiveness, not impossible, but hard.

~ Rafael Campo from Alternative Medicine

Few poems have stopped me in my tracks.
Physically. Emotionally. Viscerally.
This one did. does.
What a fascinating juxtapose.
Campos and Rockatansky.
Fury Road and Faith Healing.
Max haunted by the faces of family he could not save
The haunting driving him to keep moving moving moving
to ultimately at least save
I know this.
I’ve never successfully left the room
still there
still seeing the serene face
of the Girl.
Lips now still that should be pursed in a taunt.
Now they just haunt.
You didn’t save me.
You didn’t say the words.
Could I have said them?
And he came and touched the bier
But I let it pass
The bag not yet sealed
But I let it pass
The body now dust on the shelf, waiting
But the face, it haunts, it tauntsmad-max-fury-road-trailer-343x215
You didn’t save me
The face driving me
keeping me moving moving moving
to ultimately save



Posted by on May 20, 2015 in haverings, Poetry


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alternative medicine

Brought this in for a friend.alternative medicine
Can’t carry it in the bookstore.
Language issues, among other things,
the kind you hear in hospital corridors
and church parking lots
or wherever else
I find people leaking

Alternative Medicine by “celebrated physician-poet” Rafael Campo.
His sixth collection of poetry.
Examining the primal relationship between language, empathy
and healing;
the balm of song
the salve of imagination.

Good medicine. Hard medicine.
Who would have thought:
Poetry can hurt and heal at the same time.

Primary Care


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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Books, Poetry


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