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Sharps

When I was young I asked to be
A spear in the hand of the Lord
And if I couldn’t be a spear
I asked that I would be His sword.

I’m older now and I have seen
Exactly what a spear can do
And what becomes of those live
By the swords they say are You.

So make of me a warm wet rag
To wipe the blood and shit away
And make of me a tourniquet
To keep the rush of death at bay.

If I must tear my brother’s flesh
If I must make my sister bleed
Make me a needle in your hand
When You the surgeon intercede.


Thanksgiving 2018

For the shape that things have taken
For the bending of our days
From the place we were forsaken
To the place our heads are laid

For what all the ravens brought
For the bread that wouldn’t last
For the water from the rock
For the wandering that’s passed

For the scroll that tasted sweet
Then turned to sour halfway down
For how we are made complete
By being buried, burnt, or drowned

For a tale we couldn’t write
The verse we can’t compose
For a love we couldn’t fight
For however this thing goes,

We give you thanks, oh Lord.


Evening News

When the kids are in their beds,

I sit on the porch and look

To where the gods are warring

Just over the horizon.

 

See their distant lightnings

Silent, scar the southern sky

Too far to be heard, but I

Feel a tremor pass beneath.

 

When the chill sets I turn

Back to book, and mug, and chair

To a house so deeply still

I can hear the children breathe.

 

But when I lie in bed at last

To surrender to the night

Lightning flickers on the wall

And the tremor follows it.


Seed-Hymn

Lay me down beneath the earth,

And I won’t care if I’m buried

Or sown,

So long as your hands hold the shovel.

 

Pour the rain down on me,

And I won’t care if I’m baptized

Or drowned,

So long as your hands hold me under.

 

Cut me down when harvest comes,

Be it for the burning

Or the barn,

So long as your hands gather me.


Sabbath Beach

I could see that you were tired

Though I knew that you would weep

I took you from your mother

To walk with you and make you sleep.

 

You break on me like a wave

Pitched between your grief and fury

Wailing out your love for her

Howling your hate for me.

 

Against your will I rock you

To the sound the breakers make

Cradle all your love and hate

Up the shore of this great lake.

 

I walk all your weeping out

Until you are sleeping in

The hollow place between my

Aching shoulder and my chin.

 

Just another year or two

And then I will not be strong

Enough to carry you

For so far or for so long.

 

Just another year or two

And then I won’t be able

To force you to take your rest

Sabbath bed or banquet table

 

And I fear that no one will

And I fear therefore you won’t

As I find that I cannot

And as then I find I don’t.


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.

 

The pain has not yet arrived

He is not afraid to touch and taste it

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 the word for it

But the meaning of the word

Is the meaning of the world

 

And I won’t teach him that today.

 


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 a part of it.

 

Cast the spells you have been given

The songs into the silences

The art onto the empty space

The names unto the nameless things.

 

And you can call it donkey-work,

The body moving through the day

But we do nothing on the earth

That is not grace, and magic.