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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.


Residents

I awaken in the night

Fifteen years and far away

With your face before me

And that song playing in my ears.

 

I see your face but I know that

You don’t look like that anymore

Or listen to that music

And I guess neither do I.

 

But I awaken in the night

And for just a few moments

All the distance goes away

And all that came between us.

 

The years of madness come and gone

The years of marriage and divorce

The years of confidence unshared

Ellipsed, eclipsed and gone away.

 

And for a moment you are

As close to me tonight

As when we lived all of our lives

In those same shared stories.

 

When we wandered the same halls

And found each other in the night

To share the possibilities

Of our brand new lives.

 

I awaken in the night

And think that I am there.

But they tore down the old residence

Two years ago.

 

But if the Finder of Lost Things

And if the Mender of the Torn

Is what we knew Him to be

In those lost days, than

 

I will awaken in the night

To make my way to a

Bright and common room

And find you gathered there again.


Palliative Care

Dying is a cold white room

Where we sit and wait,

Undisturbed by life,

While every voice falls silent

And every movement becomes still.

 

I leave the room because I can,

And the person lying there.

To walk down the fluorescent hall,

Open the door I am allowed

And find that it is June outside.

 

The evening there is soft and warm

The air pregnant with thunderstorms,

Alive with the voices of spring,

The peepers and red-winged blackbirds,

And the scent of the lilac trees.

 

I return to the cold white room

And find the room is empty now.

But if there’s one thing that I know

It’s that wherever you have gone

It’s on the June-side of the door.


First Day Of School

Four years is not a long long time

But it’s all the life you’ve had so far

And so far I have got to be there

For all the life you’ve lived.

 

Seeing each new thing you saw

With you as you saw it

Hearing each new sound you heard

With you as you heard it.

 

When you were born

I could hold you in one hand.

But you grew and grew until

No strength of mine could keep you here.

 

Now your long strong legs

Will carry you, out the door to where

Red lights flash on a yellow bus

And the glass door comes between us.

 

Now you’ll live, and I won’t see it

You’ll see and I won’t share

You’ll sing and I won’t hear it

But you were never just for me.

 

Four years is not a long long time

But I got to be there

For all the life you’ve had till now

And so I will be grateful.

 


December Turns To January

The winter sings a song

Called There Is Not Enough.

 

Not enough propane in the tank

Not enough sunlight in the hours

Not enough numbers in the bank

Not enough mercy in the powers

 

Sing to me the silence

Called What Is Then Required?

 

Only a laying down to die

Only a raising from the dead

Only a mouthful of the wine

Only a mouthful of the bread.


Time’s Soon Up For Time

It’s the dark of the year but it won’t last

A difficult season but soon to pass

A shitty year but the years run fast

And time’s soon up for time.

 

They’re at a hard age but soon they’ll be grown

And the nest sure is quiet after they’ve flown

The harvest can’t come till the seeds are sown

That can’t live till they die.

 

The kingdom is coming but the kingdom is here

My battle’s been won but my enemy’s near

So much to be killed by but nothing to fear

“Rest” says the mountain, “But climb.”

 

Living is hard but soon you can sleep

Tread for a while, then commit to the deep

All that is mortal and all you can’t keep

Cause time’s soon up for time.


Signature

I find it written everywhere,

Your name in your small hand,

Careful scrawls on books and walls

In paint and snow and sand:

 

The Double You

The careful Aye

The double Em

Before the Why.

 

It used to be a pictograph

That I could not translate

But every signature I find

That’s of a later date

 

Becomes a little sharper,

A little clearer than before

Coming into focus,

Every day a little more.

 

Like the features of your face,

(All babies look the same)

But yours are written on my heart

And so too is your name.


Ash Wednesday 2015

One Wednesday when the world is grey

And the wind is calling

We leave the covers and the bed,

To let the wind come in.

 

For ancient reasons, half-believed

We trade the warm indoors

For the howl and the flying snow.

To be clothed by the gale.

 

We go forth in just these bodies

too fat, too thin, too old

Calling with our mouths full of dust

And our eyes full of ash.

 

The wind blows where it pleases, and

It tears our shrouds away

Until we see what we’ve become

Beneath our winter things.

 

Now forty days is far too long

To live so, in winter

So they bury empty caskets

And give our things away.

 

Till one Sunday when spring has come

They find us on the porch

Fast asleep, finely dressed, faces

Full forgotten by Death.


Advent 2018

Sing a song of solstice

Sing a song of SAD

Sing a song of darkness

And the night we’ve had.

 

Sing a song of empire

Sing the poor man’s song

Sing a song with those who’ve

Sung it all along.

 

Sing a song of hunger

Sing a song of want

Sing a song of wandering

Sing, and let it haunt.

 

Sing of a song of dissonance

Of what is and what should be.

Sing a song of longing

For the end of entropy.

 

Sing a song of Advent,

Of waiting in the dark,

Sing a song of Eschaton

For those with ears to hark.


Christmas 2018

It came out of the longest night

When we were full of fear

Riding flame and feathers out of

The dark end of the year.

 

It could have come with fury, come

Down like a hammer blow

But it came in like a carol

And landed like the snow.

 

It could have come bearing judgment

The sword upon the wing

But it came instead with music,

And news that made it sing:

 

That our weeping was not wasted

That all our cries were heard

That the wandering of our planet

Had been towards somewhere good.

 

That the oldest war was ending,

The dreams were coming true

Of peace between earth and heaven,

Peace between God and you.