Saturday, April 30, 2011

THERE I will be

I miss that house
Its backporch view
The double-car garage
The patio cookouts too

I wish I was there

The winter nights we went
without any gas
We slept in one small heated room
while Oklahoma Natural Gas #&%@ed us in the...

I wish I was there
Oh I wish I was there

And it’s been prayed for me by a dear friend who knows these things
That I feel lost because maybe I am
And that it is G-d that finds us on our way
We need not look

And I wonder what this recovery will look like
What will be these ramifications
What will be those repercussions

Will I be walking at Colfax and Grant
    when a wayward used Hemingway book knocks me on the head?
Because it happens
But what if that’s what it is?
What if that’s exactly what it is?
When G-d finds me
    I do not want it to result in any significant brain trauma

I just want to be there when it happens

    I don’t need for my life to change that much
    or yours either

I just need to be there when it happens

Just really wanna be there when it happens


It’s important to name injustice where you find it
It’s essential to point out its damages

We grow dull should we stand too idle

It’s important to stand by
It’s important to feel the ground you walk
    to heed the rhythm and flow

Even if you seem to be in the midst of a time-lapsed video
The traffic lights swirling around you
The moon completing a perfect 180° arc before you can get only a few feet along

Call a spade a spade
Call me out where I have wronged you

    But do forgive me

    But do give me the benefit
        of the doubt
        of the confusion
        of the suspicion
        of the dis-ease
        of the question

    But do let me help you to look for other tools to dig our way out

    before soon all we see are spades
    they’re not all spades

I don’t want for all you to see are spades.

Junkyard goats and a one-eyed cat were our hosts...

    ...myself and the Sledge

    but there was Terry too.

“Would you be trying to fuck me...?”
    he recounted to me his conversation with the internet service
    that wanted, for a small continuous fee, to list his automotive repair shop
    in an online local business directory

Local being Eads, CO
And had the Sledge and I counted on her Isuzu breaking down on a Sunday afternoon pilgrimage
    to the remote plains
    where Col. Chivington had once proven himself to be
    a madman, an idiot, and a murderous sonofabitch forevermore
We would not have been graced by this robust slice of Americana

Journeying city pilgrims can only find such
        riding in style
            atop an on-call tote truck
        into a village closed for the day

But the goats
    the eerie
with their junkyard habitat

so content to stare at us
all the while instinctively maintaining pace with us as we moved casually

    the grace
        the choreography on their part

    safe to say we were one with the goats in that moment

“We don’t get many visitors out this way,”
    I was convinced I heard one of them say in our language
        (because make no mistake: they had their own)

    but it might have been the cat
    who was well-cared for save the fact that one of its eyes was
    and only recently
    Never mind how we could tell how recently
        nor how we knew that it wasn’t much longer for this world
        despite its personable demeanor
        and apparently insatiable wish to just touch us
            (which sadly was quite unacceptable to us)

As I called home to warn that I would be home neither for church nor the Lost series finale
The former Col. Sledge did her best to accommodate and confirm Terry’s UFO concerns

This slice of Americana was
    in the end
        quite good to us
    as we of the city all imagine and hope in such situations

    trading in the same currency as us
        the fiscal kind and
        the humanity kind
    But that they took an out of town check was especially appreciated

Repairs completed, we gave our thanks and made our way
The Sledge urging me to make some last minute covert photography
    as if we would ever forget
but just so we would be believed
and so we would too

The distance we made
    did not diminish the weighty stare of junkyard goats

Friday, April 29, 2011

Awkward white prayer in an awkward awkward place

God be with me

in the nervous pounding of my heart
in the shortness of breath

which I don’t really mind so much--
    courage is a cardiopulmonary exercise after all

God be with me

in the difficult conversation ahead
in the admission I must make
    that injustice is still a very nerve-wracking matter
    no matter how much you talk about it
    but my complicity within it
    is a terrifying one

God be with me

Let me speak nothing but the truth
For I don’t think my brother from the margin is very interested in hearing about things I don’t really know about
    and other speculations prompted by my ethnic guilt
He grants me audience that I’m not sure I deserve

Thank you God
    that there is still
    he and I
    both of us who we are
    where we are
    and all that makes us

    after all that
    somehow able to speak to one another

God be with me now in the hearing

Thursday, April 28, 2011


We were trapped
    caught in that horrific purgatory for night owls
    captivated before paid programming
        That guy that once sang for that marginally successful band
        and that woman that...
            appeared to have some connection with what they were talking about
        convincing us that the power rock ballads of the 70s and 80s
        were the absolute apex of human creativity

            more and more so with each successive loop

            (Whitesnake and Night Ranger in the same collection you say?)

    and Dazzled
    by the nostalgia of a youth that...
    wasn’t...really ours...ever
But nonetheless titillated
    and tantalized
        they mean the same thing
    by the rolling credits
    by a series of endless promotional clips from yesteryear
        unearthed for this
        sewn together in a rock-ous montage
        of hair
            light headbanging
            emphatic fist-pumping
                and a meticulously edited orchestration
                of cacophonic climax

Yes, we could pay the $119.96 for all 9 discs in the collection
That would be better than the infomercial how...?

(For Kit)

Monday, April 25, 2011


There is an old myth I got into my head a long time ago
    About how a sandstorm whipped into West Texas
        on the day I was born

I don’t really know how true it is
If my mom is to believed
    the storm was not that remarkable
but as she was preoccupied in a delivery room
    for more than a few hours that day
I tend to take her interpretation with a grain
    (it couldn’t be that giving birth for the third time
    made a sandstorm pale by comparison)

What better credibility can one’s own genesis get
    than being heralded in by the wind and the earth?
Maybe this is why I feel so at home with severe weather
Maybe this is why I want to be outside in the springtime
    when the air gets thick with a lukewarm stillness
        clouds mount

        sky turns peach
        sky turns green
        sky turns the alarming color of a deep bruise

But for better or worse, I’m not alarmed
And I have to fight a mighty urge to go out and greet it
Because maybe I brought it here
Like a pilgrimage of remembrance
    it makes its way back to me

Don’t misunderstand:
I don’t think I’m the center of any universe
But perhaps this storm and I are old friends
    and maybe it heralded in a few others in its time
    and it now has lots of friends it’s come to see

I could wonder why a storm would have any such attachments to people
But I can well imagine that storms aren’t as choosey about their friends as I am
One Creature is as interesting to it as another

Maybe the storm’s a complete asshole
Bent on nothing but wreaking havoc on our churches, our airports,
our trailer parks   
    but I doubt it
Were it one to process and respond to complaints
    it might point out that it received none
    not ‘til we started covering the ground
        (and I mean covering)
            with all our shit

Maybe it just comes back to check in occasionally
Bringing with it whatever elements it meets along the way
Just to remind me
    You were part of this from the start
    And you still are

    To this you all return

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Abraham: Close Call - (response for Easter 2011 liturgy)

When the boy asked me
    “Where is the lamb?”
I almost felt like chuckling
    because there was a punchline here
    so morbidly profound
    so unbelievable

and I knew it would turn out how...?

I didn’t know.
I doubted.
I doubted as I cut the wood.
I doubted on the first day
I doubted on the second day.
As I looked up to the mountain, I doubted.

The entire distance we set out...?
    Every excruciating inch of every torturous mile.
    I doubted.

Do you suppose that it was easy to worship with the boy?
Do you imagine that it was easy loading the wood on the boy’s back?

“God himself will provide...” I said to him--as his parent
     but I didn’t know.
Then I realized we still had yet more of a walk ahead of us
    and so much more doubting to be my companion.
And I think it might have occurred to the boy somewhere along the way that this was actually a trail trodden in our time
    by many firstborns before him
From which they usually don’t return.

Most gods we find ourselves worshipping require such things.
Most gods we worship don’t bat an eye when the blood of innocents is offered
    and they certainly never stop once you’ve offered just one.

But then most gods aren’t much for the outlandish promise
    of a child to a couple in their old age
Most gods wouldn’t bother allowing me to negotiate and haggle
    how many righteous people among the wicked it would take
    to demonstrate an all-consuming redemptive grace
    for a people so seemingly and completely lost
In fact, whenever most gods are asked to establish a precedent for their justice
    I’m pretty sure the answer does come in the way of
    the shedding of more blood

Wouldn’t we all prefer silence in that case?

And so, because I had some intimate clue about this god
    that this god might somehow be different than the others
        the ones that don’t take as kindly to things like ‘doubting’
    this is why I even bothered doubting at all.

But I didn’t know.

And I doubted to the very moment that I reached out my hand
    to take the knife
    and the angel told me to stop.

To this time
    I don’t know which one of us was testing the other more.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

30 pieces

30 pieces for every kid put in the system
    their parents not quite grown themselves
    so like Frankenstein with his own baggage
        but possibly we even more careless with our roles in creating

30 pieces for every girl and woman
    forced to make a choice
    because we were too embarrassed to have “the talk” with her
    and gave her every impression other than that she would still have
        a place at our table
        no matter what
                what have we chosen...?
(it’s never too late to start, by the way)

30 pieces for every immigrant jailed
because his family could no longer make a living from the corn
    that NAFTA could sell for a lot cheaper

(is it really “free” if it’s not working for everyone...?
    ...because it’s not)

30 pieces for every indian killed
    assimilated by greed and displaced
    their families and their stories all lost

(many of us are the descendants of foster children)

30 pieces for every white person
    driven to forget all of that
    the bloodshed that initially got his land deeded
    the slave labor that got it ‘developed’
    the relationships that it made sense to sacrifice 

(the feel of the ground under his bare feet
        still crying out that you don’t have to do that
            and I really wish you wouldn’t
            all that

30 pieces
    for all that

    Four bucks a gallon is a small price to pay

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


can happen any Spring day in central Oklahoma
    -and that’s what I thought it was that morning that my mother very well might have gone to the federal building to get a new social security card, though didn't-

    God willing
is it actually a downtown-ravaging bomb
only once
in my lifetime
or anyone else’s



There is something about which
    a group therapist in training camp is always warned
        -whether it be with teenagers
            or adults
                almost all of whom
                turn into teenagers when they get together
                    usually always-

            All of them)

There is content
There is process
Take care not to be too fascinated by the content
    lest you are so absorbed by it
    that it informs you
                                        of nothing

There is a prevailing theology
    proffered by Western Individualist common sense
    and championed by unscripted dramatic television
    infiltrating even the most well-intentioned

                                of imbalanced dogmas

    that says, “Fuck the process.
            Did you see what that content did to me?”

Neither’s altar
should we spend too much time
    kneeling down

For my own part
    concerning my own expensive
    and accredited indoctrination
                                    of the content:

I can’t say enough about the content
    for the content!

I say with no pretense:
I loved every bit of it
A hundred percent
Wouldn’t change a thing
I love everything that school
    and its content
did for me

It was rich
It was transformational
It was nothing I wanted
    and everything I needed
It was instrumental in informing me of everything I find


                about the content

And the process
        (i.e. lack thereof)
    left everything to be desired

I’m still working this one out.

Friday, April 15, 2011


The problem with reading Dylan Thomas
    is that any two consecutive lines of his stanzas
        could themselves constitute a poem

The problem with reading Mary Karr
    is that I’m afterward somewhere internally bleeding
        and must first tend the wound before I can process

The problem with reading Wendell Berry

    (not unlike being a guitarist watching Tommy Emmanuel play)

    is that the bastard already said it, and oh so much better
        what now?

And Rusty told me
    keep reading Eliot whether you understand him or not
        because he has a way of getting into your unconscious

The problem with reading any or all of them
    is that I wanna keep reading and reading
        to the point I almost
        don’t want to let their work do what it’s supposed to do for me
            which, I think
  rather than just reveling in the experience of their gift

            is to pay something forward
            is to get the hell out of the way
                and let the new thing do its thing

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


    And my hand lunged out
    reaching for a surface to grab
My head emerged quickly once it did
The air forced its way back into my lungs with a quite violent gasp
    My heart suddenly aware, as if not before, of its relationship to adrenaline

Winter day Y2K and 1
I was daring the ice to support me
(I was daring everyone and everything to do so)
    when the footing gave way beneath

    Was I...
    having faith enough to believe I could walk on water?
    age twenty-one?

My eyes beheld the surface about
It was the same as a moment before when I dropped
But I was not

    and so it looked a little different

I do not advocate such a radical communion with the elements as this
    for anyone else
    This was my foolishness (the understated kind) to bear
Nor do I deny what almost happened
    and what did happen

I went out to the dock really just seeking a reed shaking in the breeze
I came out with an instant baptism-resurrection cocktail

I crawled off the dock
I returned to the earth
Gradually relearning breath and footsteps, all the way to the hot shower several yards in the distance
    myself and the ground I was to walk thereafter with a new understanding

Monday, April 11, 2011


The guitar presented itself to me when I was 15
    with a challenge
It had no investment in me one way or the other
    I was free to take it up
        or not
But the guitar didn’t make its invitation lightly
    And it asked only that I take it seriously

Now, this is a rewarding partnership
    I’m no prodigy
    The guitar never promised I would be

Years on
    I’ve worn it in
    And it has changed me as well
    I clip the nails on my right hand in a very specific way
         whether I pick up the guitar to play that week
            or not
    To clip them indiscriminately feels like dishonoring a covenant

I think in chords
    and chord shapes
        and alternative chord voicings
             blues licks
                     key transpositions
                         vocal accompaniments
                            and bass lines

    I feel in sixths
         major 7th’s
                and resolving relative minors

The calloused tips of my left hand are badges of honor
I think this is what a vocation is supposed to be.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ode to that couple on the couch at Stella’s making out and on the verge of heavy petting...

Oh couple on the couch
Don’t mind me
And the five other people in the room
    To be fair: I’m the only one whose direct field of vision you’re in

I was trying to decide which movie to catch later
But this is just as well
And twenty-five cents cheaper to boot

I’m trying not to be too callous
Certainly I’ve been compromised by a good comfy couch before
    I’ve been on that very couch
    I’ve also fallen in love there
    It’s that comfy
    If it could talk...
    It would probably learn not to

Watch that laptop, buddy
    It’s about to fall off her...
        Oh--!  He’s quick!

    But if the occasional and consistent awkward glances their way
        by those of us in the room without a date
    Will not deter them from hormonal stupor
        Why should the threat of a falling portable electronic device?

            Back at it

One of these days I will finally have the nerve
To continue gawking even after they’ve noticed
    that I’ve stopped everything that I’m doing
        just so they don’t have to

And in that magical instant
    they will know by my expectant facial expression
    and my motioning hand gesture
        saying let’s keep this rolling folks...don’t stop now...
that the creeper and the creeped are mutually edified by one another
and also quite indistinguishable one from the other in this context

    just a public way of saying “thank you” for their publicness

Thursday, April 7, 2011

HERE is where you are

says the sign
with absolutely no affect
FYI only
and I would actually prefer a more mocking tone, so I could spit back

That place
we try so hard to avoid
    between the courtesy emails of rejection
    or the phone calls that never come
that is the subject of so many human interest stories on public radio

The “winter period”
That though you are physically healthy
    and keep some semblance of a routine
That though you keep yourself in good company
    and know there are many elsewhere that have got it a lot worse
There’s a certain bitch subjectivity
    with which you can negotiate
        only so much
    Kinda’ difficult for a privileged white guy
Those two graduate degrees were worth it
But not for this

There are pangs in the morning
    Anxiety loves vulnerability
        First thing at dawn

There is labored breathing
That heralds a cycle
    Optimism and self-defeating thoughts

There is screaming at God
    for selling me on this American Dream
        (oh, wait...)

There is uncertainty
There is doubt

I will not get out of this without some sustained injury...(and blessing...)

I find scratching my head helps.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Chore

Once a week
Comes my night
And I approach it with the same trepidation
    regardless of the previous week’s success

Back in the day
    of self-imposed solitude
                nearly every night   
        some boiled pasta
        some heated mixed veggies straight from the can
        some chicken boiled straight from the frozen package
            would suffice

        (putting the opened can straight on the stove burner
            saves a dish from having to be washed, FYI)

            it sufficed
                    like crazy

Then seminary

Community called to reinstate me
I moved in with three fellow journeyers
    one of whom a package deal with two youngsters
        all with tastes a bit more discerning
        and with a premised intent
            of contributing to a shared meal
                once a week

I slid by
    on mom’s best of handwritten recipes collection
        bestowed and bound in an index card book
            when I moved out
        where would I have been without
        the Campbell’s tutorial of 15-min. preparations 
These applications were met with some acclaim

The raw culinary talents within my midst
        luckily including some mad asian attitude
    gave some implicit empowerment
    to learn the sacrament of the herbs and the spices
        to veer from the recipe just slightly
And when wanting for some new inspiration
    lamenting that I didn’t share my housemates’ genius
Sharitylee very matter of factly demystified the secret:


And unwilling to yield from my very public childhood feud with the bulk of the Onion family
I began a very powerful alliance with garlic
    And where the script calls
        for green onion...
            clove of garlic
        red onion...
            another clove of garlic
        yellow onion
            there is such a thing?

    I hear no complaints
        (Well...Jeff. But he hates garlic.)

    When it’s been long enough
    I revisit mom’s best of
        because this doesn’t work
        unless you bring everything about you
        into it

    Again, no complaints
        (Well...Marcy. But she’s from Minnes-oh-ta
            and not used to the Texas spicing.)

The chore is like community
The chore is community
Gets easier as you keep at it
Then it gets hard again
Then it gets easier again because you can’t not keep at it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Inspiration Commonly Overlooked

There are
    no doubt
        tried and true musical theater geeks out there
            who cringe
    at the sound of me and R.J. in the dining room
    trying to do work
    between pounding out a dissertation
        sending out another resume
    brewing the next pot of coffee

    comes a misremembered fragment of a verse
    sung to a vaguely recollected tune
        and consistently botched meter

            but oh the rhyme

        “She’s nothing like the rest of us
                  that Belle!"

The H.D.L.‘s new Home Theater in a Box
Wedow’s latest Blue Ray DVD acquisition
        (Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
            if you must know)
    Coody and Dave bring the enthusiasm
        for the trivia game included on Disc 2 of Special Features
Grad School residential community activities are truly a team effort.

‘Tis no imposition
    to have the opening number
        stuck in our heads these three days later


Half the fun now
    is allowing the lyrics to be misremembered
        (a commonly overlooked form of inspiration)
Consequently, we now have half of the Iliff Spring Follies written.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

h & b & i

to me
    they give the gift of themselves
        friendship borne
            across culture
            across orientation

does it sound difficult?
you might be amazed how much the contrary

we and they
    lived a year together
    quickly picking up
         on all my delightfully eccentric predictabilities
            and extending every invitation of fellowship
                in exploration of community
                    music jams, sing alongs,
                    painting with bob ross
                    and the foothills of the rockies
        from their authenticity
                --a regular haircut from h--
                and model of reckless
                    selfless love to one another
    which couldn’t but help to spill over to all around them

now then--

to them
    the state of colorado
        where they currently happen to reside
    owes the right
        for their relationship to be legally recognized

    because they honor the “institution”
    with more integrity
    than the “institution” ever could know how

for it is not so shallow a description
    as an “institution” for them
so much as a very fact of their joined existence

and on the day
    that six individuals of an unnamed political party
        deemed such a measure
            to “end this most successful civilization”
    we celebrated b’s spring break
     and completed preparation of a student art show
        with successive trips
            to schlotzsky’s, bonnie brae, stella’s,
            denver folklore center, and the pearl st. grill

while not exactly a ‘non-issue’ for them
it’s not a question that would distract them
from an otherwise beautiful day
    for which they’ve seen fit to include me

and so
    for me too
        there is no discussion
        there is no question

    there is no legislation
    adequate to reflect the complexity
    of how good it is not to be alone

for god created them
male, female, and everything in between
    and it is good

and you will not
        -i do not say this lightly-
        convince me otherwise

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I was naked in the mirror just yesterday
and I was suddenly reminded I was born with a congenital defect.
I hadn’t thought about it in sometime
Generally not thinking about it that much at all anymore.
    (It doesn’t bother me to take off my shirt as much
    as once it did.)

So, I did what I do a lot lately when I rediscover something from childhood
    that I haven’t thought about in a long time:
I googled it.
What should I find
but Q&A Forums
    You Tube videos
        A Facebook page
            (It has a Facebook page)
some photos
of some very severe cases of others with the condition

It has a Latin name
Of course it has a Latin name

        and oh the factoid repository Wikipedia
And all these symptoms I might otherwise never have known
    But one of them does seem a likely enough story in my case:
            the words “diminished” and “capacity” beaming out
                with white hot intensity

And just enough of one You Tube testimonial resonates
            ...just enough...
                to make me think
                    son of a bitch

So this is why I occasionally get lightheaded when I get up too quick
So this is why I oversleep
So this is why I have ADHD
    without the ‘H’
So this is why I have to put in just that tiny little extra effort
     to make sure my voice is projecting well enough
            I do hate to be heard mumbling

Sure I remember the trip to the kid hospital
    and the x-rays
when I was little

        I didn’t wanna go to school that day anyhow

The doctors seemed unconcerned by the results
    sent us on our way
        I think I got candy out of the deal

And my common sense and moral compass
    which always come in the form of the company I choose to keep
    remind me:

Yeah, but don’t you oversleep because you’re a night owl?
    Don’t you just really like sleep?
Whenever you mumble, we presume you’ve just slipped back into your native Texan dialect.
Don’t you do cardio like everyday?
    Didn’t you run that 12K last spring without any incident?
So what if you’re a little ADHD...

    ...okay, yeah, actually maybe you oughta’ have that one checked out...

Perhaps and Perhaps Not
Definitively certain on that one
    and not so much on the other
As we all know
    there are known knowns and there are known unknowns

But to those who can live life abundantly
    with the corrective surgery
        (and as have the means)
            then by all means
But to those of us who can do without for the time being
    be reminded of what we should all be reminded:
        Every now and then stop
            and take all the air you need
                    while you can.


April is national poetry writing month, and I've taken up the challenge from my friend Richard Russeth (I'd tag his blog here, but I don't know how to do that yet) to write a poem everyday.  I figured that's something I've wanted to get back into and, as my other lenten disciplines are a bit lackluster this year, why not...?  It's my understanding that posting them is optional.  As I'm a bit out of practice in both poeming and blogging, I may exercise the option not to some days.  We'll see.