Monday, November 23, 2009

November 15.

there is no word that I can say
to fill the breach that has been made

because he was strength in weakness
stability in tempest
kindness in time of need
he was the one who held you

and now he is where you cannot follow
waiting for the end and beginning of all things

and as much as we know
there is now no pain for him
as much as we confess
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting

there is no word that i can say
that doesn't feel like empty air
so i'll let the silence speak it plain
that we all mourn with you now

the Boss.

(written one day purely on a lark)

We all call him The Boss at end of day,
This Jersey-born rock singer from the shore--
He walks the road of fame in his own way.

Though why we call him Boss, no one can say,
But that shall be his name forevermore.
We'll all call him the Boss at end of day.

When he plays his guitar, we shout "hooray"--
after all these long years, he does not bore.
He walks the road of fame in his own way.

It sounds like booing when we shout his name,
But it is love that fuels our cheers galore--
We all still call him Boss at end of day.

For he was born to run; he walks away
From triteness to sing songs about the poor.
He walks the road of fame in his own way.

Bruce Springsteen, Jersey poet, going grey,
But long shall be his reputation sure.
We all call him the Boss at end of day.
He walks the road of fame in his own way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

for martin, on his birthday.

I had a dream once, too, Dr. King, and you
Were in it–only, and here is the miracle,
That early morning, April 4, had never happened,
And you had lived on to a venerable old age,
A silver-tongued, silver-haired preacher of peace.

And here’s the thing: You walked into Cricket’s
With all those Southern gentlemen you wrote from your
Birmingham jail, just like the beginning of a bad joke
My subconscious was telling me (some preachers
And a rabbi walk into a bar, and…)

And even though you were all men of the cloth
I brought you a round of drinks and proposed
A toast unsolicited but welcomed: “Here’s to the
End of all things not eternal.”

Then all you old men dreamed your dreams and
Saw them come to pass–every gesture of
Reconciliation, every brown-skinned boy with
A blue-eyed girl–no longer apathetic, no longer
Afraid of what was behind your fences.
So I brought around the bread and wine like you asked
And you feasted the feast of deliverance.

Then I woke up–winter morning, January 15--
and I remembered, and gave thanks.


I have been extraordinarily tired so
Far this Lent. Ash Wednesday was three
Days ago, and already I’m waiting for
The resurrection, not so I can rejoice
In the greatness of the Lord, but
So I can have a cup of coffee, something
To wake me up from my lethargy.
This somehow feels appropriate.

So while I drink down water from
My pink plastic bottle to satisfy
My dry bones, I will wait for the Spirit
To come bring me life again.

The Easter Cycle: Cleopas and His Friend

three days ago
they broke His body on the hill
for the sake of expedience

and now we run back from
the village having watched
that body break the bread

of presence, the sacrifice
made priest, the prophesied
made prophet, the king of the

Jews made the Lord of lords
we fly back to Jerusalem
with hearts aflame

three days ago we too were
slain. and now today
we also rise again.

The Easter Cycle: Mary

if you had been writing this story
he would have looked like an angel
or a king or a god, would have blinded
the eyes of his enemies, would have
come in pomp and splendor,
not walked up to me and asked,
“ma’am, who are you looking for?”

like he didn’t know, like he couldn’t
read my tears like he knew my name.
i thought he was the groundskeeper,
the gravedigger, and i almost ignored him.
and then he spoke, and then i saw him,
the glorified gardener, the king of eden,
who had crushed the serpent’s head.

i ran back to the others, sowing
gospel seeds in my wake. he called my
name. he calls it still. and every time
i still can see his face.

The Easter Cycle: Peter

three times he asked me–why’d it
have to be three? three times i had
sworn i didn’t know him, three times
i had cursed his name, and then
run away into the darkness like a
child trying to hide from the monsters
in the night. three times, and then
the rooster crow.

so he had to ask, didn’t he,
three times: peter. do you love me?
and i had to ask: do i? do i even
dare to presume such a thing?
and he kept on asking, do you love me?
you know i do. why do you keep asking?
what are you trying to do?
and he said, feed my sheep and follow me.
he gave me the chance to take up
my cross, like i could not, would not
do before.

and so i have carried it,
all the way to this roman hill,
and i too will rise again.

The Easter Cycle: His Mother

I remember the angel–
I remember how he came to me
One morning, told me of the
Coming favor of the Lord,
The coming deliverance He would
Bring. And I remember wondering
At the absurdity of it all, a virgin
Girl raising a carpenter boy
Whose name would be salvation.

And I watched that boy of mine
Being torn into pieces by the very
Powers I thought he had come to
Save us from–his body broken
Like so much bread,
Giving me another son in his place
While he gasped his last breaths,
This boy I had seen breathe his first.

And then the angel came again,
This time to his tomb,
And now my boy, my eldest boy,
Is here, no longer my child but
My Lord, and now I ponder
The foolishness of it all,
The horror of the cross become
Our true deliverance and power.
These days I wait for the angel
To come one more time and blow
His trumpet–when my body shall
Be raised, and I shall rise to meet
The King, the Son, in the air.

in memoriam

My grandfather–
My mom’s dad,
Hearty German stock,
Youngest of ten–
Served on a Marine ship
On a Pacific tour
During World War II.

And when I say “served”,
I mean that he
Served potatoes and hash,
Biscuits and gravy,
Beans and cornbread,
To all our boys
We’d sent to fight
The Japanese,
In need of a good meal
And a reminder of home.

My grandfather was a Marine cook,
And then came home after V-Day
To marry his sweetheart,
Raise their two children,
Work construction.
He did not die in action,
But he gave his life for
The stars and stripes
Every day of his seventy-three
Years. He served his country,
And he has been rewarded
By the One who sees what
Is done in secret.

Comments (2)

a brief meditation on luke 18:16

The servant came into the courts of the king
carrying a wailing child,
a royal daughter wanting nothing more
than to see her daddy–
not the trinkets, not the playthings,
not her companions, not the beauty
nor the trappings of a kingdom,
but the warm embrace of a great lord
who loved her.

And all guards and courtiers,
dignified and mighty in power,
stopped, silent, as the father
took his baby, who needed him most,
in his arms.


I spent the afternoon in a crowded room
and watched as the towers fell from heaven.
Something shifted in space and time,
though none of us could say what:
We were fifteen, sixteen, seventeen,
with very little knowledge of what would make
a man offer himself on a fiery altar
for his faith in the god of vengeance.

And now every autumn we rewind the tape
to watch over and over again
the formation of the wound
which only the God who sought justice by
His own death
will ever fully heal.

Deadly, or: What Will Eventually Kill Me

if I were penniless
and you owned the whole world
I would not beg you
but would spit in your face instead

I can only mourn for
what I will never have
and will only be comforted
on the day you lose instead of me

it takes too much work
to inherit the earth
when the man comes around to collect the meek
I might sleep through the trumpet sound

hungry, I try to absorb everything
thirsty, I drink down the spirit of the age
and like alice’s tiger I get caught by
desire again and again and again

I would rather be shown justice
as long as I get to enact my own
vengeance is mine and I will repay
even if i burn along with my enemies

if this be blindness, I don’t want to see
let me keep my eyes and gaze
on the prey I will always be trying to
catch and show off with the rest of my trophies

trying to satisfy the god that growls at me
every time it demands sacrifice
i have no peace to offer you
just my own restless need to be full

a kingdom, comfort, the whole earth,
satisfaction, mercy, a vision, a family:
these you would offer me, if only I would come and die–
but i would build my own puny empire instead.