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Ash Wednesday 2019

All our roads go wrong;
All our highways ever bending
All our shortcuts never ending
All our roads go wrong.

All we make, we mar;
All our weaving ever rending
With disaster ever trending
All we make, we mar.

All our towers fall;
All our heights ever descending
Our facades so well pretending
All our towers fall.

But there is one who

Takes the bent and keeps on bending
Takes the rent and keeps on rending
Dies with us and keeps descending
Till we reach our never-ending.


Transubstantiation

I sat with her today

In that last awful place

Counting the bones between

The lines upon her face.

 

Now I don’t know what happens

To the bread or to the wine

But You were with her today

And with her You were dying.


It’s Human

It’s human to be tired

It’s human to be cold

It’s human to be lonely

It’s human to get old.

 

It’s human to be losing

It’s human to get lost

And it’s human not to have

What being human costs.

 

It’s human to need saving

It’s human to be saved

It’s human to be carried

From the cradle to the grave.

 

It’s human to be dying

It’s human to be raised

It is human not to be

Who is worthy to be praised.


Desert Children

They raise up their walls around me

Thick and high and silent

A monastery so remote,

So removed from the world.

 

The Desert Children’s rule is strict.

The day is long and hard

There is nothing here not simple,

Nothing here that’s easy.

 

The day begins before the sun,

Ends after its setting.

Every minute in between is

A rough and holy thing.

 

They teach things I do not know

How to need, how to ask

How to accept, how to enjoy

How to receive a gift.

 

It is a long and lonely way

That some nights I can’t walk

So while the Desert Children sleep

I slip over the wall,

 

A stranger to the world outside,

Speak strangely of strange things

Speaking nursery rhymes to power.

Occupied with smallness.

 

But long before the sun comes up

I’m longing to return

To seek their sacred littleness,

The littleness I’d learn.


Supported Vacation

“I know myself” he says to me
Every time I try to guide him
He cannot think of any need
For anyone beside him.

I can think of hundreds,
Thousands, given time:
Murder, theft and multitudes
That can’t be made to rhyme.

For he may know himself, but not
The city, state or nation
Mostly blind and mostly deaf,
Hence “Supported Vacation”.

He could be made a victim
In a dozen different ways
But of us two in Central Park
I am the one afraid.

But I saw Times Square divide for him
And 30 Rock bow down
Before his perfect liberty
The Statue cast her crown.

“I know myself,” he says again
And we are silenced by his claim.
For neither I nor New York City
Would dare to say the same.


A Secret

Down by the county road

Playing little boy games

Waiting for the school bus

My son looks up and says,

 

“I want to tell you something,”

I lean down so he can

whisper it in my ear:

Then, “I hate you, Daddy.”

 

Just to taste the words come out

Just to watch the knife go in

Just to watch my face change

As I feel it.

 

So don’t tell me that we

Can make it if we try

Because he’s just like his daddy

And his daddy’s just like his.


Snow Day

I am given silence,

For a moment.

snow comes down this morning

Steady, heavy enough

 

To mute the trucks on the County Road

To stop the bus from coming

To wake and whirl the kids away

And so they are sleeping still.

 

I sit here and soak it in

The silence I so often seek

But soon enough is soured

By the empty noise within me.

 

Up the stairs I hear begin

The music of their wakefulness

They are coming to transfigure

The silence, and the snow outside.

 

I was given silence

And it was good and blessed

But now I am given sound

And I am grateful for it.