Tuesday, May 18, 2010

on community

When I was a freshman in college—
Still new enough in the world
To take on projects that were probably beyond me—
I sat down and tried to make a list
Of the names of every person I knew,
From my first grade teacher
To the dreadlocked girl who lived down the hall.
I gave up once I hit about
Five hundred.

At least five hundred people
Whose names and faces I kept
In some corner of my mind,
Crammed together in some sort of
Baroque filing system only
My long-term memory neurons get—
And only a handful that I think
Dwell in my heart (a much
Cozier cubbyhole),

Whom I would want to invite
To dinner underneath the blessing of
A Texas sunset, with whom I would
Break some bread, pour some wine,
Gather around a table like a
Company of warriors after a long battle.

And when I think of that feast
Your face is there, your name is spoken
With affection by everyone around.
We look over the plates and the forks and knives,
Catch the other’s eye, and smile knowingly,
Knowing that we are known,
We are loved, and we belong–
Not a list of anonymous names,
But lives, storylines, family.

Monday, May 03, 2010

day pass

the wheels on the bus go round and round,
round and round, round and round
towards downtown, through the trees that stand tall
on the side of the road begging for
the pennies that are our thoughts
their arms outstretched toward the sky blue sky
we sit inside wearied by the summer sun
and texas’ heart still beats life through our veins
though we are sleeping the sleep of the uncommited

like love, i am a rebellious bird,
flown away from many a nest, still in search of home
trying to find that olive tree where i can land a while
but while the waters rise around me i will set myself in this
traveling ark full of priests and poets and prophets and pride
a rainbow of promise still unfulfilled
(the driver on the bus says “move on back”)

and wisdom raises her voice in the streets
“come and drink, all you drunk on the spirits of the age”
while she holds up a sign that says “will feed you for work”
children, she don’t want your coins, she wants your change
so she’ll sit a spell on sixth street and sing redemption’s songs
like an ancient liturgy only the deaf can hear
(and the mamas on the bus say “shh, shh, shh…”)

some stranger buys a day pass and plants himself
right next to me, a kaleidoscope of stories:
“darlin, don’t you know how lovely you look
this mornin?” and i look into his eyes full of
midnight wine, note the tattoo marks on his hands
(one says “love”, the other “hope”)
and smile all the way home.

the advent series (2009)

I am coming to terms
With the following truths:

That one day I will
Lose everyone I love

That the days are evil
That they are slipping through
My fingers like pieces of glass

That one day I will suffer death
That in the meantime I will suffer
Every day

That this happens to everyone
Who was born of flesh and blood
Those who are far off and those who are near

And that this was not meant to be

We were not meant for mortality
The world was not meant to be broken

And that this, all of this, every
Grief, every pain, every shattered soul
All of this too will be made right
At the trumpet sound, at the angel’s shout

But that we have to wait and fight
And mourn and groan along with creation
Until Emmanuel shall come
And we shall all rejoice

* * * *
God likes
apple trees
blue birds
and evergreens

He likes
hot chocolate with marshmallows
The Love Supreme
twinkle lights
and Mustang convertibles

God likes
raindrops on the roses
whiskers on lion cubs
mittens on three-year-olds
a long kiss good night

because, you see
God likes matter
enough to create it
enough to give us the
eyes to see it
ears to hear it
nose to smell it
tongue to taste it
skin to touch it

and the heart and soul
to play with it

and enough
that He became
a Jewish boy
a God with optical nerves
dirty fingernails
crumbs in His beard
bronchial tubes
a jugular vein

and He loves it enough
to have His body broken
His blood poured out
and rise again
to redeem the cosmos
and all of its stuff
all of our bodies that
belong to His Body
the earth and all that is in it
is His

* * * *
God is with us
in our suburban sprawl houses
in our high rise apartments
in our one-room shacks
in our sleeping bags on the church stairs
in our desert tents

God is with us
at the marriage bed
at the hospital bed
in the trenches
in the fields
at the factory line

God is with us
when we take our first breaths
when we breathe deep in the night
when we’re struck breathless by beauty
when we take our final breath
when we breathe in the air of heaven

He came and stayed
in a hostile territory
He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows
He is with us
He has been and will be
one of these days
we will be with Him