In Between

I often wondered what my daughters experienced
while away from the home visiting grandparents.
Now, I wonder where they are, now that they are away.
When they return will each bring a little note of love
filled with x's and o's like they wrote when they were young?
"xo I miss you very much.  But I'm having a blast. xo”  These
words fill the space in between the longing to have time
for myself and missing them so terribly, like I often do now.
The mystics claim that the soul finds its perfection in 
what is absent and, uniting with absence, somehow
the magic of soul-filling happens.  I have yet to see that magic.
I was once a man of faith believing that all things are possible.
Now I try not to spend so much effort understanding the 
ineffable mystery so often fallen back upon by those in the know.
Unmoving, I move towards the ash tree growing outside
my window where years ago a seed dropped to the ground.
I do not ask for it to fill me with wonder.  I do not desire 
to place a swing around its largest limb.  It is and I am.
My daughter sat up straight in bed one night crying out
after a large crack of thunder as lightning tore the tree
apart.  I spent the next day picking up pieces of bark
from my neighbor's yard.  Some believe that fences make
good neighbors.  I apologized for the mess my tree had made.
I guess meaning depends upon whether or not we believe
stories must have a beginning and an end.  One implies 
the continuity of life; the other, the inevitability of death.
I try to live in between where often the space is small
and sometimes crowded with memories.  There, there,
is the place where I have a chance to be taken by surprise.

A Birthday Present

It's not like I need to begin again.
So many years have already passed,
full of burdens and bursts of possibilities.
I should applaud myself for no longer
falling into the trap of substituting
new illusions for the abandoned ones.
And, yes, there remains a sublime madness in the soul.
In this birthday season of ice and cold
when the wind blows with an edge,
the amaryllis blooms, sending color
to the outermost rim of consciousness.
Now, I am more and more sure of grace.
I have watched those most close to me fall
and then get up to brush off debris from their knees.
Some have chosen to sit for a while
and I often think, Should I have joined them?
Is the rim too fragile to hold both of us?
But, there I go again, something I have done
throughout my time alive, asking the questions
which envision some sort of answer that ties
a birthday present up with a bow.

Perishing

"...the bourgeois individual perishes ingloriously..." - Reinhold Niebuhr

Nothing like going down in flames to warm the soul.
Or, perhaps a slow decay should draw more attention
as atom after atom zip off into the realm of the ether.
One eternity becomes another in each moment in time;
one particularity an opportunity for the next.  We study
some moments as if they were more eternal than others;
points in time where death visited with fanfare and fingers
pointed, astonished, like death had never happened before.
The last act of God in history may very well be a fizzle but 
that does not mean that nothing in the here and now
should not make some sort of sense to the ones perishing.

On Burnt Paper

I am a desert stranger 
filling the rooms of my house 
with my wandering presence.

Standing naked under the stars
once held an attraction for my eyes
but too often starlight blinded me.

I have been held in the arms
of nightmares of old where the winds
shook the branches of my life.

No longer do I cede such power
to the elements created by chance
at the very beginning of time.

The feeling of being complete
fills me as I write these words 
from my past down on burnt paper.

The Upcoming Day

A myth and a symbol trade places
on the pages of history.  The absolute
moves to the margin to create more space
for the relative.  Interpretation surprised
everyone not familiar with how the words
became written.  The dance between simple
and complex astounded all onlookers
as one bowed to the other right before
the music started.  There was one who sat 
in a corner looking in at the grasping play
exasperated with the showiness of it all.
Most left early determined to get a good
night's rest before attempting to take
what was learned and form the light
for the upcoming day.

Make the Way

The plum bonsai sits in the window
not asking for the sunlight to wrap it
in any treasured way nor to be special
like the sailboat in the bay requiring 
wind to move across the water.  To be
on the fringe of things is not about 
being accepted or not accepted but
requires a certain type of movement
like the boat riding through waves.
There is nothing forced about the prow
separating the path it must follow
through the water.  The water parts
to make the way.

Turning Hope

I turn the thoughts and prayers of journals
written decades ago into these poems and 
hope with more attention and accommodation
I do not wander off into the despair always
waiting at the end of the previous evening's talk.

The piece of learning I always hope for
comes from the awareness that toes 
will always be stepped on even in the midst 
of the dance where everyone knows
the next turn is to the middle.

I am reminded of the paradox of fire 
where bringing life whirls in the midst 
of the turning of what is alive to hopeful ashes.

Fall Days

To return to the books of prophetic doom
seems extreme on lazy fall days such as these.

Don't worry about proper lunch companions.
The messiah will return when we are ready.

Too many ransom themselves to the futile
ways inherited from their fathers and mothers.

Honesty comes in many forms of complexity.
Be the fire that raises beauty from the ashes.