Thursday, April 30, 2020


how do you know when something’s over?
is it the silence? or the constantly raised voice?
is it the lack of touch?
absence of flowers?
all-too generic cards?
does it happen over the course of years?
months? days? hours?
or does it only take a moment?
i never know. i only know
when it’s over i am lost.
i wonder then what seed was planted,
and how good the soil is.
whether i should dig it out, or
watch it grow.
whether I have the correct tools.
whether I have the resolve.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


to be honest, i’m tired 
of your bravery.
i’m really not impressed.
you fuss and preen
and squall like a child
who only wants more.
so let’s call it something else.
bravado, perhaps? fear.
let’s unpack that
privilege. peel away the skin
and poke around at the exposed
meat of your weakness.

these days we must all
be more brave.
we must find those
courageous few –
the helpers
someone once said.
we should ask them to teach us
how to lift stones
with a different purpose,
how to engage in conversations
with an open silence, how
to sit and wait with brokenness.
remember whose you are.
who are your people now?
they will not look like you.
find them quickly –
hold them close.
tell them all your secrets.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


they closed the road today.
there was no warning –
they simply closed it.
i went outside to get the mail
and the road was open.
i went inside and read,
wrote, listened to music,
and when i went back outside
the road was closed.
this is not a metaphor.
it wasn’t overly inconvenient.
they left one lane open after all.
now you can only travel one direction –
which isn’t so bad
once you’ve determined
where you’re going, and
how you want to get there.
admittedly, it feels like
i’m constantly driving in circles.
which is not a metaphor.
it is merely how we must travel now.
arriving from one direction
and leaving in the opposite,
remembering which view
is the one we leave behind,
and which we keep before us.

Monday, April 27, 2020


i thought i had gotten used
to distance. i found myself
far too practiced at removing
intimacy; a determined body
that moved at my bidding,
created shallow vulnerabilities
words would reveal while
really only hinting at pain.
or fear. we can walk alone
inside the shell of our lack,
trust only the rhythms
we can control ourselves
and hide from every desire,
hope an intrusion piercing
the skin. bounded by this
decision i found myself in
a valley, i found myself walking
in circles, i found myself
wandering too close to you,
lost in wonder as you close
the distance between us.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Kobe smiling

I had a dream 
in which I played 
Kobe one-on-one. 
King’s Court
one shot only.
He lets me start.
I back him down
on the post, pull
a dream shake,
use my body
to make space,
go left hand 
off the backboard.
That’s the thing 
I love about basketball.
And dreams.
Anyone can score
at any time.
I back him down again, 
right post this time.
turn to the inside,
roll back to the left,
fake the fadeaway,
then up and under
with the right.
It’s not the first time
I’ve played someone
6’5” or 6’7”.
I’m not afraid.
It's all about fundamentals. 
Okay then, Kobe says,
and passes me the rock,
gets low.
I go left again,
spin and cross the key,
put up a shot.
Kobe shoots; scores.
He sets up again 
at the top of the court.
Without hesitation,
shoots a three.
I can’t stop that
You afraid? I say, 
Meet me on the block! 
So he does,
200 pounds pushing 
200 pounds down low;
I give him a shove or two –
hand, forearm, chest.
He makes his move,
fakes inside.
I know he’ll spin back –
I’m ready for it, 
smack my hand downward,
strip the ball and
turn and shoot. 
I turn to look at him,
and first he looks angry,
then incredulous.
He shakes his head: 
Old Man Mamba, 
he says,
and smiles.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

(my oh so covetous heart)

my oh so covetous heart
longs only after you
only after it’s awakened
again and again
all atremble
with memory’s rumble
and headlong fall

Friday, April 24, 2020


Write down the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. – Habakkuk 2:2

I remember the last time
this happened. Will we learn
how to be patient, or anxious,
scry all manner of surfaces,
the eye flickering upon
multiple screens flickering
their parade of facts
and opinions spinning
across time; what
history has to tell us
or what we might tell
history to tell us we are
reasonably unsure or
unreasonably sure,
and will we plunge blindly
into our certainties, all
huff and puff and plunder?
Will we empty the future,
remove the furniture
from all the rooms
we used to fill
with our bodies,
the dishes and the cutlery,
household goods, clothes?
Will we be left naked
and huddled in the square?
Will we build memorials
for the ones we lost,
invent new ceremonies
to commemorate the dead
and assuage our shame?
Will it matter?

There will be choices
of erasures.
We will wipe
our faces clean.
We will sit in silence,
Made dumb by our grief,
undone by our pride,
or someone else’s.

We will be told that
history teaches us nothing,
or maybe history teaches us
how to resist.
If only we knew where to look.
If only we had raised our voice.
If only we had looked up
from our screens
and seen each other,
and bound ourselves
to human need,
and let our hearts be moved,
until we moved.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


once again we find ourselves
at the end of words.
we sit by the shore,
or walk along it;
listen for birdsong
but receive instead
the gulls’ insistence.
waves crest and crash
and roll and foam
and deposit more
sand, rubbed smooth
by pressure and repetition.
perhaps a grain is forced
into a clam, alchemically
becoming a pearl.
perhaps precious;
or else a curiosity,
until it is snatched
from its fleshly bed
and offered as gift
or commodity
like words –
an irritation
in their ubiquity
or their absence;
how they scour the skin,
reveal the pinker tissue
beneath, thrown into relief
by their careful arrangements:
adornments or adorations.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


I wish I had more to say 
about loss and grief, 
that I could convince you 
they didn’t suffer, 
they’re in a better place 
now, that they’re gone 
but not forgotten.  
The photographs 
will never be replaced,  
future plans  
never made, holidays 
and vacations kept 
separate. The children 
will never know each 
other, what those late 
night conversations 
meant to us both, 
what dreams dreamt. 
We may never see 
each other again. 
What would it take 
to move past 
all this waiting, 
what gesture 
would release us? 
I have nothing 
to gift you: 
no flowers, no 
book or poems, 
no letter scrawled 
in broken script, 
a tear-filled hello
abject apologies, 
a swift defense, 
repentance real 
or feigned. Weakness 
is my greatest fault. 
Consider this 
a gauntlet thrown.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


so is this when the new habit begins? 
has something yet changed? 
i keep waiting for a letter in the mail, 
a phone call from a friend, 
emails from relatives, 
anything from my father. 

distances are still distances. 
words remains fragile things. 
i still don’t regret the arguments. 
i regret we never found a conclusion. 

i still have things to say 
but i do not think you will hear them. 
i wish you would hear them. 
i wish there was a way to bring them to you.

Monday, April 20, 2020


we were hiking down by the river 
and turned left onto a footbridge 

two young women were taking turns 
taking topless photos of each other

they stopped when they saw us 
and quickly took off on their bikes 

when we saw them later on the stairs 
we pretended we didn’t recognize them 

i guess we all have different ways
to capture a moment, or share it

Sunday, April 19, 2020

thomas sunday

I, too, wish to see you for myself. 
Your smiling face. Your hands. Your side. 
I want what all others want. 
I wish I was there to receive the peace, 
and to receive the peace. 
You appear in the midst of us. 
The doors remain closed. 
I keep writing until they are not.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

21 days

i won’t tell you 
it takes 21 days 
to form a new habit. 
it’s simply not true. 
it takes 21 days 
before the phantom 
pain subsides. 

i will tell you instead 
it takes 21 days 
to break a habit, 
to pin it to the wall 
until it stops twitching. 
it’s a slow death. 
it takes much longer. 
one never can tell. 

it might take 21 days 
for you to recognize 
your new face. 
it might take you a lifetime.

Friday, April 17, 2020


how to achieve an impossible goal: 
first, plan in two week installments. 
the timelines are bound to change – 
it shouldn’t surprise you. 

so make a list. be specific. 
who cares about becoming rich? 
find ways to change the world  
one word at a time. settle in. 
measure your worth. 
let them feel the weight of you. 
i want to feel the weight of you. 
there will always be gaps. 
let your lack fuel your desire. 
fill the emptiness with intention. 
there is something needs doing 
and who will take up the charge? 
there is only this moment 
and the next moment and the next. 
there is only yes and the work. 

prepare the soil. 
plant the seeds. 
gather your tools. 
pull the weeds. 
hope for rain. 

now imagine it’s completed. 
don’t give up hope. 
write it down 
like it’s poetry. 
a celebration. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

the hours

today the hours are thick, my tongue foggy.
words flow like molasses, or tar, stuck on my teeth.
i would chase after them but they have nowhere to go;
they won’t get far in this lazied moment
without direction, a misallocation of effort.
i hoped they would run wildly skeltered without a leash
but they sniff the air, turn in circles, and drop to the floor.
i thought if i took a walk it would help clear my mind
but i walked too far; it took too long –
now i’m too tired to think of playing fetch,
grooming your coat, speaking discipline or encouragement.
i don’t even care if you hop on the couch unannounced,
though i suppose that would be fine, and we’d fall asleep and dream.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


it’s been such a long day 
this week     everything changes 
so quickly we forget 
how it feels to smile at strangers 
say hello in elevators     ask 
how is your day?     and 
is this too small?     it isn’t 
enough walking outside 
we find the loneliest places 
to wander as families     as couples 
or whatever human unit fits 
still the turned faces     all eyes 
suspicious or perhaps fearful 
faces now     rarely full 
of hope     we hear little 
conversations circle around fear 
this little thing eats at the edges  
of every good thing     a shared meal 
the laughter of friends 
the excitement of your lover 
a song that that makes you want to dance 
even if you’re not     a good dancer 
lose yourself     in this body 
given to you     and all of us 
in blessed remembrance

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


i too often fail 
to pay attention 

there are too many distractions 
so much to do 

but i’m getting better at resting 
the trick is one of balance 
the way one places their feet 
just so 

i know only to make 
myself available 

i just keep walking 
i rehearse the words 

try to remember how it felt
when you touched me 

make note of when the season changes 
the quality of light 

the shift in birdsong 
the way the air moves 

i forget how little changes 
and how much 

how often i discover 
beauty when I least expect it 

how beauty is a gift 
my hands sift 

i miss being awake 
late at night 

i miss when everything was 
less insistent 

i want to be asleep 
before the storm comes

Monday, April 13, 2020

bright monday

let’s take this outside 

keep the singing going 

repeat the songs 

wave the flags 

throw the flowers 

take the day 

take two days 

take the week 

repeat the songs 

invite someone 

join the dance 

wave your arms 

stomp your feet 

raise joyous shouts 

open your eyes 

everything is singing 

repeat the songs

Sunday, April 12, 2020

easter sunday

you never asked 
us to do this
you only asked 
we break bread 

we hold the vigils 
we fill the baskets 
with eggs 
we buy lilies 
because of 
the beauty 
this moment 
that is only 
a moment 

now we take 
the next steps: 
the tomb is empty, 
He is risen! 
echoes mouth to mouth 
everywhere we go 
we keep meeting you 
in gardens
                 on the road
                                    in our rooms 
sharing meals 

you bring us up to the mountain 
and leave us 
to walk back down alone 

you make us promises 
and we wrap ourselves inside them 
until they become our skin

Saturday, April 11, 2020

black saturday

i’m not yet ready 
for any hallelujahs. 
i am preparing 
for burial. 
we are still 

we hold our breath. 
there are still songs 
but they hold 
no celebration. 

each day is 
always a day of 
or watchful 

we are told 
good tidings 
to the dead. 

we bring our 
our ways. 
take time 
for blessing, 
baskets full: 
bread, eggs, 
lamb, salt. 

the floors 
laurel leaves, 
flower petals.

our hands empty. 
and then we wait. 

victory today 
though not yet 

Friday, April 10, 2020

black friday

1. bookended by gardens, each hour of this day is the new suffering
2. bound by the promise of a new horizon, the different ways we kiss each other: 
3. blessing or judgement, even betrayal. we mouth our authority in silence 
4. banded together by despair or indifference. we know what we ought to do 
5. but we wash our hands of it, gather distractions and pass them off as gifts. 
6. buffeted, we storm forward. we mistake stumbling for dancing. 
7. bearing the weight of others, we lose our sense of direction. just choose a path. 
8. brothers and sisters will find you in this press of people and bear you along. 
9. breathe. you may yet find the words. you may yet find comfort. you may yet find righteous anger 
10. beyond this emptiness. find a way to clothe it and bring it into the light. 
11. bring it into the light. position yourself in the center of grief and hope. 
12. bind yourself to another body, soul, spirit – find fathers and mothers to father and mother. 
13. bury everything. it’s really not about you. do you know what you have lost? 
14. blanket yourself in the questions. the quaking heart. this tomb of not knowing the end.

* Bulgakov, Sergei V. Handbook for Church Servants. (1900).