Bright Light

lights  The writers group I co-lead occasionally takes on special assignments to break up the routine. Believe it or not, even the creative process brings its own drudgery every now and then.

Recently, we tried our hands at “Flash Literature.”

We picked a completely random “prompt” from a batch of ten, then wrote whatever came to mind in fifteen minutes. As usual, the range of creativity in our group amazed and astounded me. 

The second prompt — “Did you see that bright light in the sky last night?” — produced this short poem.

Not the best thing I’ve ever done, but not bad for fifteen minutes of work, plus a smidge of post-deadline polishing.

BRIGHT LIGHT

I saw it, did you?

The light in the sky

Last night, so bright

That the moon shaded

Its eyes

The light so bright that

lovers stopped loving just to take

A peek,

Unsure if it was

A beacon of their

Passion

Or the promise of

A new dawn at the

Night’s end

I saw it, did you?

The light in the sky

Last night, so bright it burned

My soul

Purple and green, crimson and gold,

Some say it’s just pollution, but to me

It looks a lot more like

Glory

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The Flower

flower

THE FLOWER

I will plant a flower

to show what I

have learned from your love.

I will push the seed deep

into the warm, dark,

moist, living soil.

I will feed it, nurture it

to coax its fragile stem

from its protective shell.

I will open spring’s window

to help the bud find the

sun’s warm, strengthening glow.

I will muddy my knees

to remove all that

would choke its growth.

I will gently pluck away

the browned, curled petals

to let out the new.

I will do everything I can to

help this flower find and

show its sweet, colorful glory.

I will sing only of its beauty,

hiding my dirty hands,

and never blocking its sunlight.

I will cherish this flower

then give it to you,

a treasure from my heart to yours.

I will, for I have learned that

words alone can’t bring

and sustain life, but only love.

Close Enough

49758-Jesus-crucifixion-1200x627-thinkstock.1200w.tnSo, what’s so “good” about Good Friday?

It’s one of the most common, confusing, frustrating and foundational questions in Christianity.

After all, this is the day when the man called Jesus died as an enemy of the Roman state. A common criminal. A political agitator and potential adversary. 

Though not unexpected — Jesus himself predicted his coming death — his crucifixion was nonetheless terrifying and heartbreaking to his followers.

More than that, it was embarrassing.

After all, some of them had invested years of their lives in this man. They knew him as a powerful leader. A brilliant, if somewhat radical teacher. Possibly, a king and savior, even. They’d seen him leading a world-changing political, religious and social movement (perhaps with one or two of them maybe sitting at his side and wielding some of his authority.)

Yet, now, they could only see his brutalized body hanging from a bloody cross. 

What had happened? What had gone wrong?

History tells one story.

Faith tells another. 

Faith shows us that the movement did indeed happen. And the world did change.

For out of Jesus’ horrible death came eternal life.

A mere moment in time redefined Time itself.

And the angry screams of hatred became the soothing whispers of love.

We just have to be brave enough to listen, closely, with both ears and hearts. 

And hear.

Happy Easter.

CLOSE ENOUGH

Yes, Lord, I hear you

calling me to the foot of your cross

I love you, I want to carry your burden

but I see your pain–

The salty tears in your eyes

The rancid smell of your dying

The sticky blood knotting thorns and hair

The slivers buried deep in your palms

The shame of your broken nakedness

–And I am a sparrow in a storm

Yes, my child, I know your fear

It bows my back and stills my spirit

Yet, where else but at the foot of my cross

Can you be close enough–

To feel the soulless metal that stole my life

To see the gnarled wood through my wounds

 to kneel in the dirt,

moist with my sweat and tears and blood

–To know, truly, finally what I did for you?

Where else, but here, at the heel of my suffering

Are you close enough for me to touch and hold you,

And whisper, so softly that only your heart will hear,

“I love you.”

What Time Is It?

time

Time after Time

Time out of mind

No Time like the present

Time flies

Time waits for no one

Wasting Time

Making up Time

Who’s got the Time

Time’s right

Time’s wrong

Time’s up

What is Time

anyway

But a tool

To say where

We are in

This second

This minute

In this day

A way to assign

Value, to

Know what is new and

What to get rid of

As fake as Splenda

And not quite as sweet

Each clock’s tick

A new brick

Trapping us behind

Walls of fear, sloth

And arrogance

 Each cry for

More Time a

Reflection of

Self-deception

As we vainly refuse

To make Time

For Time

Yet still we honor Time

With the fear and awe

We once saved for our gods

All now lying at the feet of Time itself

Weak, irrelevant or dead

We have faith in Time

In a world where belief is belied

By the reality of fake news

Where Truth seems only to exist with a Capital T

Time is the only thing

Worth the effort

Promising a new day

A new hour

A new minute

A new second

Of grace

Time…

Real as a

Beating heart

a first kiss

a last breath

…is a

Door always open

To the possibility

of HOPE

It’ll come

Just give

It Time.

Boots

boots 3

 

This is about boots

Literal and metaphoric

Modern and historic

Like the ones you wear on your evenings out

Walking happily arm in arm to a nice dinner

Together with the one you love

Your boots, comfortable from years of wear

So soft, so warm, so rich, so You

Supple and shining with the polish of countless dreams fulfilled

But they pale in comparison to hers

Brown fringe flirting with every dancing step

Bedazzled with diamonds – only the best will do! — sparkling

In the streetlamp’s glow

Miniature moons splitting the chilly night

Lighting the path one step at a time

Toward my shadowy suffering

I pull newspapers around me

praying the ink is as warm now as the words once were

The merciless night mist dampening

My cardboard couch – the only thing between me

And concrete pneumonia

I watch your boots walk by, only raising my eyes

To silently meet your sneer

The blinding glare of your shimmering hypocrisy

Swallowed by the black hole of my reality

Of course, you are right

I should “Pull myself up by my bootstraps”

As (you insist) you did alone, no help from

Anyone! Anywhere! Anytime!

I swear by everything red, white and blue

If I could, I would —

After all, as the song says,

some boots are made for walking

Then I’d spend my evenings just like you

Stomping on and over and around

Everyone who is not Me

Yes sir, Mister Man, I absolutely would —

If only I could afford a pair of boots

December 7, 2018

Apologies

Apologies 1

So, you ask,

Which is worse?

Filling the sky with lies so thick that

The very air turns to concrete,

Cutting hearts still beating from their chests

With mocking words sharp as shrapnel,

Dousing dignity with graceless shame

Until it hides in the shadows,

Pounding truth as if on an anvil

To fit the twisted shape of your greed?

Or

Ignoring the stabbing pain that comes

With breaking hearts, minds and spirits,

Refusing to lift the burden caused

 by pathetic, selfish failings,

Denying a few small words that could

Reflect the error of your ways

And prove the humanity

Deep beneath the shallow surface?

How can we

Be clear when

Bullying, once a black mark on

A cowardly, pitiful soul

Is now celebrated, held as

The golden hammer of the gods,

Bludgeoning decency, until

Life’s road glistens red with its blood

As so many look away, the

Cost of their conscience paid-in-full.

To be sure

It’s hard to

know which is worse in a world where hatred

Is hailed, pain is policy and

Ignorance, hubris and apathy mean

Never having to say, “I am sorry.”

October 2018

God Bless America

God bless

GOD BLESS AMERICA

We measure ourselves

With decimals and dollar signs

Yet we’re surprised

That everything is worth nothing

We take love out of Love

“Hooking up” masked as connection

Then get mad that

Condoms sit next to cough syrup

We slice Belief from

The greatest mysteries of life

But can’t understand

When faith sits in an empty pew

We scream I, Me, Mine!

Spitting on the very notion

Of owing something

More Than to they who are not us

We water down thought

Waving ignorance like a flag

 Then wonder why some

Don’t sing God Bless America

                                                                                                                                    July 2018