Tag Archives: Poetry

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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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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what we want

In a poemtumblr_ndfshdGueC1r5l2jyo1_r1_500
people want
something fancy,

but even more
they want something
made plain,

easy to swallow –
not unlike a suddenly
harmonic passage

in an otherwise
difficult and sometimes dissonant
symphony –

even if it is only
for the moment
of hearing it. 

~ Mary Oliver, Blue Horses
“What We Want”

It’s true of sermons too, this.
Sermons should be more poem
than point parade,

More parabolic dance
than propositional entrée.

it’s those words crafted in and for
the moment
that go deepest,
that live most
rather than the ones we so carefully



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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Poetry


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viewing death through a banister rail


That’s how it felt.
Viewing death through a banister rail,
hovering around it like an invisible presence.

yet hot
anticipation like
standing on the verge
of beginnings yet untold.

An intersection of reality where
breath ceases
time stops
and it’s we who live whose hearts
are flat lined
as, unbidden,
the windows of heaven
are opened.

And then, with movement forced,
the walking dead step out
into sunlight
into bracing, frigid air,
into the great swooshing world
and the ceaseless second hand.

How surreal, how utterly odd thus to stand
like Aaron,
between the living and the dead
only this plague won’t stop.
Like Phinehas I look for something to stab
to halt the spread.

But the dead keep dying
and the living keep

As I gaze upon the moving I wonder
“how many truly live?”
as in remembered gaze
I look upon the motionless
and know how much he did.

And does.

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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Poetry


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who am i?

“I don’t know who you are.”
A repeated question in the current series of Doctor Who.
Put to me today by one of my favoritest people.

Of course, I responded through stumbling verse
the medium being the message too…

“Who are you?”

Half the time I don’t even know…
Awkward, clumsy man
Silently backing out of noisy rooms
Or hoping to move unnoticed through them

And yet flitting about the room
distributing hugs and cradling faces
and dancing publicly in bars
…and sanctuaries.

Uncomfortable with men
Terrified of women
and yet married, with four daughters
and surrounded by sisters.

Confident yet second guessing
Recognized and called out everywhere
yet rejected by family
and in the long term quite alone

Tender hearted and yet
so excessively acerbic.
In love with life
and yet the pastor of death.
Unquenchingly optimistic
and yet encompassed with pain.

Who am I?

What a fine question…



Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Poetry


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