Barely Grown

I couldn’t have known then
Dirt roads get paved
Feet fell on earthen grooves
Before Rome’s single day
Of wide lanes of stone.
The dusty days we saved
Laid a language of soul
My feet alone still obey
Through the underbrush
We spun new wheels,
Laughing at sudden freedom
Wild children, quick to feel
Slow to reconsider
Cannonballs in murky lakes
We came, we saw, we conquered
Tiny moments of immortality breaking
Like endless sunrises
And ever incoming tides
These optimistic assurances
Weren’t born from pride
But blind faith
Followed by organic baptism
Amniotic waters watch no skies,
They see no future cataclysms to deny,

And our sun-drenched youth
Walked bare roads in bare feet
Towels and clothes over a shoulder
Stopping in the street
To giggle gratitude to a tinted sky.

A Stitch in Time

My life is a patchwork quilt.
Borrowed bits and loose threads
From unexpected alliances
And found familial homesteads,
We sewed together in passing circles
Loyalty in the Sunday hymns
Sewing memories we knew
We wouldn’t wear again.
Stitching laughter, sipping lemonade,
Closing our eyes in the welcome breeze
Every new remnant represents
A new family tree.
Every limb gets a showing.
Nothing is lost in the seam.
My life, the patchwork quilt,
Sewn by sun and moonbeam,

Redeemed by stitches.

This Tender Life

I’ve always felt it radiating
Some residual heat from the core
Our warm planet
Stretched on the dirt floor
Beneath a humming sky
Grass feeling through the dark
Soft soil spreading in birth;
We all gasp and embark
Breathing and squinting
At the sudden light.
We feel the joy, the fear,
Something here is right,
And something is wrong
An echo of goodbyes
Our Creator cradles us,
He whispers eternal lullabies
And when it gets cold,
The warmth never dies.

It only hurts if it’s alive.
Cold death cannot feel,
But it’s a warm earth,
And the bleeding is real
Because the heart beats,
But its worth every strike.

Passed On By

Death stalks nameless
Through the throngs at revelry
A fingertip touch
A game of devilry
Tendrils extending
Through daily frenzies,
Illness crouching hidden
Expounded by the tendencies
To mock the threat.

But Death stops in its tracks
At the blood above the door


How can I begin
Dissecting this complex mass
Of blood and bone and nerves
I am human
My identity is formed
And forming
My refusals shape my abilities
My resistances mold my persistence
Is the past breaking the hull,
Or am I disguising the hole
That’s always been seeping?
Did Ruth betray her family,
Or forsake the godless,
And what’s in a name?
If the golden cow is lifeless,
Can the dances be for Yahweh?
I feel the sin in me
Interrupting the gift,
But is it sin to indulge,
Or sin to flee?
And what if the real sin
Is me avoiding me?
I regret every finger I’ve ever wagged,
But the one pointed at myself.
I feel sincere remorse
For allowing tender hearts
To invest their tenderness in me.
I was bred to disappoint
Anyone foolish enough to care.
I’ve paddled against that tide so long
But my arms are tired-
I can no longer hold them high.
Why did I come home to homelessness?
Was it to be well-behaved,
Or prove I’m from the lawless seed?
There are parts of me
That are fundamentally broken.
I don’t yell at my kids.
I respect my husband,
And I fail.
It does no good to comfort,
To say the abuse was not my fault-
What could it matter now
Whose serve it was,
When the ball falls limp in my court.
I want to speak plainly.
I must speak plainly.
I devolve
And I cannot cry for help,
And no one reads these letters
I throw into the abyss
Like coins in a fountain.
I know
I’ve always known,
If He isn’t real, and strong,
Capable of palpable forgiveness,
And for me-
In His gut, for me-
Then I’m falling backwards
Into the blackest darkness.
I need to weep,
To pound the earth,
And stand up again,
And walk again,
But can I?
Who will scoop me up this time?
Did they entice me,
Guilt me, pull me off course,
Or did I derail the passenger train
For a cigarette?
Did I go all in
For a quiet smoke break?
How do I again focus
On what’s good, and true, and noble,
Even lovely?
Everyone is dying.
Is it my sin,
Or my stubborn empathy
Clinging to my skin
Like smoke from the foregone blaze,
That urges me
To die with them?
I must stand again,
Everyone waits impatiently,
For me to find my legs in the ashes-
But the ashes are my legs.


“He almost killed me!
Left us all to die-
You pine for that monster!
Don’t speak! Don’t sell your lies-
Not here, you never could to me-
He didn’t care for you!
He abandoned you without a blink,
And what do you always do?
Chase after him like a little fool!
I’m the one who slaves,
Who sacrifices- you’re an ingrate
Like your father, selfish, depraved-
Where’s the respect I’m owed?
You’ve never tended my needs,
Never took care of me when
I was literally bleeding
You just flip your hair and flit around
Thinking all the world eats your smiles-
Wake up! You’ve got a shock coming:
No one buys into your wiles.
They’re too polite to say outright
What they’re really thinking-
You miss all the cues!
You keep sinking and sinking
Further into your own humiliation,
But you have no shame!
Your brazen arrogance embarrasses me,
Keep wallowing in the mud with my name
Thinking everyone just beams
And thinks, oh wow, she’s grand,
But they’re horrified by you-
You just cannot understand:
They know exactly what you are.
A mile away, they see the filth you’re made of.
You think you’re so adorable, so special-
You’re impossible to love!
Sit still now, be quiet!
You’ve got me so overworked
With your snide face-
You intentionally drive me berserk.
This will redound on you!
Little Miss Perfect, you’ll see-
You think nothing bad will befall you?
You think you’re immune to tragedy?
Time will teach you- I can’t wait for that day-
I’m through with you- useless- how I tried- sit!
You can’t learn- you’re killing me-
You’re hopeless. Be quiet.”

Cascades and Cacophonies

How calm the river runs,
Smooth like a motionless whisper,
A solid body feeding the banks,
The floating ducks, the fish for
Generations of serenity
Washing the world clean.
Gently it carries its work within itself:
An effortless home to the unseen
Moving forward to the rocky ledge
Gray stones cutting into tranquility
With immovable sharpness
Razor ridges slicing instability,
Chaos, and unrest, forcing commotion
Falling, tumbling, weeping down the face
Of mineral declines, splashing and gasping,
Losing its stillness, finding its place
In turbulent paces somewhere
Beyond the struggle.
Mirror surfaces giving birth
To the waters troubled,

But the ancient stones erect,
Surrounded by their daughters,
Overgrown with algae and inertia,
Purify the troubled waters.