Thursday, June 09, 2005

Kansas

My father looked through the glass and drawled, “Well,
It looks as if though there’ll be rain,”
And I thought, No kidding, the sky is black
Like those nights that used to frighten my little
Self, lit up every so often by camera flash and
Given a soundtrack of the earth mumbling words

Too full of ancient mystery for us to understand, words
That were more like groanings, the earth knowing nothing is well
As long as there are still grief and poverty and
Heartache. But that’s neither here nor there: For now, rain
Is coming and my dad’s just looking out through the little
Slits of his squinted eyes at the deep dark black,

Worried about soil erosion, the once-brown earth going black
With heaven-water coming down to feed it. Words
Can never explain what goes on in my dad’s head—as little
As I know about him, I understand that the well
Of his imagination gets full during storms with worry-rain,
Concerned that he won’t be able to feed his family. And

That’s a noble pursuit, I think, especially for a farmer and
A husband and a father, whose nails are now black
With his vocation, from bruises and dirt that rain
Could never wash from his hands or his memory, his words
Always being tinged with them, of course. And, well,
I guess it’s worse now that he’s paid so little

For his crops--big companies care pretty little
For the personal lives of farmers, as long as they grow and
Produce decent merchandise to stuff their pockets well.
Not exactly fair, but subsidies are fine, but Dad’s mind goes black
With frustration and worry every so often, but never expressing in words
Just what he’s thinking. And the everlasting rain

Of common grace comes down outside our window, rain
Spattering the window, giving water and wet to the little
Wheat sprouts outside, telling my dad in its liquid words
That there’s nothing much he can do except wait and
Watch for the deep rich musk of that black
To give up its harvest—all shall be well

And all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
So now I shrink up little beneath his arm, no words
To say, and watch the black clouds pour out their load of rain.

clove cigarettes

So my sisters and I went out on the roof
To watch the rich, heavy smoke
Rise from our lips to the guilty night,
All the while meditating on our collective life
In these two clean, well-lighted rooms,
Surrounded by words and paper and song.

And I was singing the same old song
I wanted to tell you when we were out on the roof
By the beach, outside our little rooms,
Except it hadn't been written yet. So now we smoke
Our cigarettes, shortening our already-brief life
Spans, but that doesn't really matter this night,

So I'll sit beneath the blue-black haze of night
And play for the moon the melancholy song
That makes me remember when my life
Was still wrapped up in you; I'll sing it from the roof
Of my building so it can waft to you like incense smoke...
Or maybe we can be content to sit in our rooms

And try to forget when the broken down rooms
Of our young hearts fell into endless night
For months; they burned down into ashes, the smoke
Rising towards heaven like an angel's song,
But never quite getting past the roof...
We both took a different turn to get to life

As we now know it, to get to life
As I guess neither of us want it to be, in little beds in little rooms,
But tonight I'll sing our story from the roof
To the empty air, the empty streets, the empty night,
So I can burn the pieces of this manuscript to smoke,
So maybe for once I can sing a new song.

So my sisters and I, we're singing a new song,
Inside this autumn of content, inside of my new life,
Going out on the sundeck to breathe in the smoke
Of bad memories being burned, returning to our rooms
So we can read ideas and speak them in the night,
And let them fall back and collect in piles on the roof...

And in the night I'll think of you and let the smoke
Rise from my lips again to the roof and to the rooms
Where God dwells in His life, and sing you a new song.

Letter.

I have no doubt that you, who are in the presence
Of the most lovely and most beautiful, are paying
No attention to the dealings of us mortals here below,
But I still need to direct this to you, a man I never met
Except through that part of yourself that was
Dealt out through your genes to your children.

I'm sitting here in this room full of grey and black
With the occasional burst of color amidst the clouds,
And I can't help but think that there's so much life in this room--
People that knew you, loved you, our warm bodies
Filling this space, breathing in the oxygen we need,
And just once, for today, we're reminded that we
Are very small, very fragile in this universe that
Will destroy us one day--but you, sir,
You are more alive than any of us now.
You have come out of this darkened cave
To the very paradise of the real,
And as you wait for Jesus to come redeem your
Fallen, broken tent that the cancer destroyed,
Will you figure out the mystery of mercy you tried to understand?

I don't know. I just know that here below
We creatures will praise Him with the heavenly host
As we mourn, and remember, and rejoice.

wedding song (an excerpt from dialogues)

You’ve been my best friend and now my best lover
And now at this altar the road now unfolds
There’s so much about you I’ve yet to discover
But I promise to keep your heart warm in the cold

Can’t give you perfection, but I’ll give you a song
That can serve as your shelter when the world falls apart
And in sickness and health, and in right and in wrong
And in poor times and in wealth, dear, you’ll still have my heart

Beneath the shade of heaven’s wings
This holy day my heart still sings
That I will always love you to the depths and heights
And as the Lord our souls unites
May He be glorified tonight
For His love runs to the depths and to the heights

Midnight running.

We fell to escaping from the city lights of Waco where my heart was left behind, along with another ten miles, another twelve months of my solitude and despair, and what she said went to my head while we bumped and grinded all the way down 35, the tires rumbling down the highway like a growling hunger in our stomach, and in our souls, and we lost control of time and space, just tumbling through this tunnel to the middle of this state of lonely stars, these holes in our ceiling through which we can see a glimpse of God's backside light. This car may as well be the Delorean for all its power to drive us (no pun intended) to find a different point, to escape the beginning-end zeroes for another era, while the beauty of another fifty-two weeks, another three hundred sixty-five days, another five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, another year in the life lies ahead, and all the quickly fading photos we put in the book of scraps from eternity’s table sit behind, but for now there is only now, there is only here, and there is only us, and the glory of the sky. Have you ever transcended space and time? asks Lily Tomlin on the silver screen, and all I can respond is, Tonight, lady, there is nothing else but that.