Dark Light

We are mere sparks in the night sky

Our true light twisted

By pollution, philosophy, religion, politics, greed

Lies cloud, sliver, amplify

Until our fire is something

Unseen, unknown, fake

Smothered, choked into submission

Yielding only the picture

Expected by the world’s eyes,

Blinded by ambition, ignorance, arrogance

Deceived by the irony of dark light

So, we hide,

Understanding you don’t want to see us truly

But only through the certainty of your contempt

Rather, we gather

Collecting, creating flames

Invisible, but no less hot

Capable of burning all you don’t see

And everything only you see

When we radiate the universe’s glow

When your eyes blaze with our light

When your heart burns with our love

That’s when Us, you’ll know

That’s when Us, you’ll see

Dark, no more

Hard Times

War, Civil and Cold and World (both I and II)

Red ribboned black flesh

chained to trees

Spirits destroyed one step at a time

Along a never-ending trail of tears

A legacy of land stolen by

Loud guns and quiet disease

Death by religion

Begging a deaf god

Hiding in ghettos, unknown to all

but the gas

Ash-covered souls rising through the chimney

Accepting a bullet in trade for freedom

Long promised, hard earned

Only to wait

And wait,

And wait

Listening to Crow songs for another 100 years

Vomiting from the smell of Strange Fruit

Sex, the only currency of real value

Taken at the end of a fist

Purple bruises the lasting receipt

Nail-pierced skin

Bones smashed

For daring to proclaim peace

For trying to break through walls

For putting heaven at our fingertips

And love in our hearts

A want-to-be king

Who blames the wood he cut

The kindling he laid

The gas he poured

The match he struck

For the flames consuming the castle

But if you think that was bad,

Oh my God!

Try having to wear a thin, cloth mask

Forgive Us Our Sins

Please forgive us our sins

For only a heart of light such as yours

Can cleanse souls so black,

Our Father in heaven

Whose holiness demands we

Bend our knees and

Bow our heads and

Still our spirit

In supplication and deference

We pray, hope, plead, beg for the day

When our world will someday look like your kingdom

But until that morning breaks, we ask you to forgive us

For failing so completely

In our obligations to each other

Breaking bones and the spirit they protect

For the glory of a blood-spattered crown

Stealing everything our covetous eyes

Can see just to raise the ante 

Prostrating before false gods who promise

Endless riches but deliver less than a single piece of silver

Carving “What’s yours is mine” with the tip of a cracking whip

Into flesh daring to seek only its daily bread

Boundless arrogance

Limitless hubris

Shameless shame

Miserable with petty envy

Consumed by lustful greed

Pathetic creatures groveling

At the feet of monsters of our own making

Willing to wade through mountains of trash

For the chance of finding a kernel of approval

But worst of all, destroying the slivering light

Daring to shine faithfully from the hope for  

A better day

A bigger world

A brighter sun

Because it might reveal the dark truth

Of our human nature –

That we are made in the image of our Creator

And so what are we to make  of this cracked mirror

That we desperately avoid, but whose broken image beckons

Is it that you are like us?

Or us like you?

Which is worse?

A creation that revels in its own chaos

For the puerile thrill of crushing those deemed 

More Than, Different Than, Better Than

Eons of false warnings assuring its demise will never come

Or a Creator who gifts the majesty and awe of the universe

But abandons its creation to the demons sleeping at its side

Cynically absolving itself, wiping its hands with Free Will

A child who mimics, mocks, or ignores its parent

Or a parent who indulges and allows such behavior

Hoping its child will learn for itself the heat of the flame

Trapped by the rising tides of narcissism

Vainly peering through webs of complicity and conspiracy

We wonder –

Where to look

What to do

Who to blame –

Until we know, then we must ask again

And again

And again

Please forgive us our sins

And we will forgive you yours

A Really Bad Morning

The writers’ group to which I belong recently took another swing at what I call “flash fiction.” We get a surprise prompt and 15 minutes to create something in any format. This time, the prompt was “Today I woke up in hell.” Here’s mine, with a little extra polish:

hell

Today I woke up in hell

In a room of doubt

A house of pain

A world of tears

How did this happen, when

Only last night I fell asleep

In a room of love

A house of joy

A world of peace?

The answer, like so many is

Painfully

Palpably

Shamefully

Clear

Nothing changed overnight

Nothing ever does

Just as the day becomes night

One ray of light

One drop of rain

One crease of dusk

At a time,

No one charting

The moments for themselves,

Until they form the mass of another moon

The world changes

Second by second

minute by minute

Hour by hour

Quietly becoming something we

Did not seek

Did not want

Do not like

Until its changing cannot be ignored

Or excused for our lack of noticing

Or failure to act

Small Things

gray skies

It seems like little, I know

Nothing to make the earth shake

Only three more pounds, you say

Yet three might well be thirty or three hundred

For it’s not the number, but the weight of its counting

Every now and again

Thick clouds suffocate the sky

Gray is just another color and doesn’t last, you say

Still, it’s not the dark that bothers me so much

As the loss of the sun whose palette colors the light

Call me a fool, I suppose

For failing to hear magic

In the evening’s solitude

Peaceful silence may calm the troubled spirit

But its empty voice also sings of the coming death

These are small matters to most

Grains of sand on Life’s big beach

The heart knows that truth as well

Yet the head still trips over boulders pitting

reality’s road, whose craters cannot be ignored

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

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