Red Stuff

Down by the river, my little son

Is snapping twigs and tossing them

To see the runoff carry them away.

I watch until my mind goes wandering.

 

“What’s that red stuff?” I hear him say.

I look down, absently, to see

His white star-fingers staining red

With a thing he has no word for.

 

He is not afraid to touch and taste it.

The pain has not yet arrived.

But I see the moment when it does

And I watch it change his face.

 

When tears are dried and wound is bound

I teach him you the word for it –

But the meaning of the word is half

The meaning of the world

 

And I won’t teach him that today.


Age of Anawim

Princess Anawim, four years old

You were born to overthrow me

Terrible in all your beauty

And endless in your energies.

 

Made of music and sharp white teeth

Hair that streams like banners behind

Blazing eyes fixed on tyranny

That you very nearly deserve.

 

Princess Anawim I’d throw down

The crown of my paternity

If I thought I could bear to see

My daughter rise a tyrant-queen.

 

But your prostrate future subjects

Would burn my bones and curse my name

As he who brought their doom to pass

The endless age of Anawim.

 

So I’ll hold the throne against you

And keep your glory in its place

Just long enough for you to learn

A crown is for the casting down.


Donkey-Work

Walk the path a thousand times

From the kitchen to the well.

Sweep until the dirt is gone

Clean until the chaos flees.

 

Tear down the old corrupted things

Raise up the new creations.

Repair the bent and broken things

If and when it can be done.

 

Put the values in their places

Make the numbers tell the truth

Make a right accounting

Of what was gained, and lost.

 

Cause the little things to grow

And keep the great from tyranny

Make a garden in the wilderness

And a city in the wastes.

 

Feed the humans in your care

Keep their bodies clean

Let them see the world and know

They are the best part of it.

 

Cast the spells you have been given

The songs into the silences

The pictures on to empty space

The names unto the nameless things.

 

And they may call it donkey-work,

The body moving through the day

But we do nothing  on the earth

That is not grace, and magic.


Daylight Savings Time

I thought that time was on my side

The ticking progress of the clock

The westward passage of the sun

Every minute brought me closer

 

To naptime, bus time

Screen time, bedtime

When my time

Would be mine again.

 

But there are things that I forget:

That time goes one way only

That ticking clocks are counting down

And after day comes night, and endings.

 

The end of play for its own sake

The end of eyes-wide wonder

Of when my arms could carry them

Of when they called me Daddy.

 

And one day I will watch the clock

In the twilight of a silent house

When all my time is mine alone

Though I’d give it all to share it.


Ash Wednesday 2018

Lay me down in a winter grave

It need not be very deep

Just put some stones on top of me

So the coyotes won’t disturb.

 

Lay me down in a winter grave

But let it be a shallow one

For though I’m marked for dust with ash

I won’t be dead for very long.


On The Last Day Of The Year

Jesus come and find me

On the last day of the year

Ragged, worn, tattered, torn

Older now, and full of fear.

 

Still the racing of my thoughts

Ease the terrors of my heart

That have hunted, haunted me

To the ending from the start.

 

Come and count my hairs again

Count the bones beneath my skin

And knit me back together

Where the seams are opening.

 

Jesus come and find me

And make your dwelling here

In the empty place carved out

By the passage of the year.


Advent 2017

Every year it is the same

In November I begin

To stumble out in search of

A feeling that I once had.

 

I search the mud and dead leaves

For something colourful and

Warm and bright and sweet enough

To get me through the dark days.

 

For a message in the lights

For the song behind the song

I give until I feel good

But it every year eludes.

 

So it is one mad, cold day

That I search, frantic, through the trash

Of Decembers I have known

For a Christmas I can feel

 

And feel, instead, a hand placed

On the shoulder of my heart

And it breaks, and is remade

By the person Christmas is.