22 December 2008


He took me to dinner
for steaks
and wined me
and wooed me
and told me these things.

that I was always

that if people didn't agree with me,
they were wrong.

that life
should be fair.

that I should believe
what people say about me.

that the only authority I should honor
is the authority with whom I agree.

that my beliefs are based
on my feelings.

that it is easier to avoid problems
than to fix them.

that love
is a feeling.

that my parents were
always right.

that I was always

that I shouldn't have to wait
for what I want.

that I'm better
than everyone else.

that love is
a chemical.

that all my problems
are caused by my sin.

that I'm worse
than everyone else.

that I must get approval
or else I am worthless.

that my parents were
always wrong.

that none of my problems
were caused by my sin.

that people are
basically good.

and, pushing himself from the table,

that there is
no devil.

21 December 2008

Coffee Boy at Starbucks

The center of attention....
every sip of his coffee deliberate,
every witty dialogue rehearsed
when he chose the t-shirt that morning,
the one that fit him to the skin with no room for mistakes.
"I am an open book."

But now he watches the new one...
move through his friends with casual, impromptu charm,
with no anxiety,
flicking a cigarette butt,
trying them on one
by one for size.

The Attack

And the sharp pains
knifing my chest
were from You,
Lion of Judah
as Your teeth gripped
deep into the meat of my heart that
You shook relentlessly,
splattering the sin from Your prey
across my burning eyes
as I adoringly stroked Your mane.

20 November 2008


"If God is listening..."
she murdered the cigarette in the ashtray...
"then perhaps he'd like to explain..."
lipstick mark on the tip...
"...why something so good came to such a screeching halt."

And I didn't know what to say.

A tree strong enough to sit in is strong enough
to shake.
But I wish I could be stirred instead.

"Perhaps, he'd like to step forward and be held accountable..."

and I wanted--
with empathy for her
and malice toward none--
ok, malice toward her--
to defend Him,
my nonAmerican
sexless God
of many colors

and He laughed

as I played with my straw paper.

19 October 2008

These Thoughts and Feelings

And I will line my glasses in a neat, straight row on the top cupboard shelf,
and I will close the door and hide them safely behind white lacquered wood,
assured that they will not fall out to the floor
crashing in a million shards on the linoleum.
And they will not be seen by anyone but me
if I choose to use them.

They will never get dusty,
and, sadly, they will stay as new.

24 August 2008


originally published in Clockwise Cat

It is the stuff we buy.
It is the need that is not quite a need.
It is the hollowness filled with chocolate.
It is the landfill on which I build my playground.

The plastic bag reads,
"Caution: Keep away from small children.
The thin film may cling to the nose and mouth and prevent breathing.
Atencion: Mantener alejado de los ninos pequenos.
Se puede adherir a la nariz y boca e impedir la respiracion. "
But the Spanish version adds,
"Esta bolsa no es juguete,"
a fact not given to English speakers.

No es juguete.
No es un chiste.
Se puede adherir e
impedir la respiracion
even for adults.

17 August 2008

Just a note

This is just a note to those of you who read my blog. Thank you for keeping up with my poetry, published and unpublished, and for leaving a message now and then.

Bottom line: I need your prayers. I can't go into a lot of detail, but a lot of very stressful things have happened as of late, and I'm sinking fast. Your prayers are greatly appreciated. I am determined to keep my head above water, but sometimes it would be nice to see a boat in sight.



10 August 2008

To Find Words

There are unspoken utterances here:
the choked half swallowed indefinable emotions,
the “I have no more money left and may go bankrupt”
or the “she was five years old only yesterday”
Perhaps the “you are too beautiful to even be near”
is the hardest for which to find words.

20 July 2008

Black and White Haibun

He channel surfs though the photographs in his mother's shoebox that he keeps on the top shelf of the closet, the black ink of her static memories projected on a yellowing white glossy cardstock screen. Aunts, sisters, cousins, classmates in one roomed elementary schools and small county high schools with malt shops down the street and barbershops where men with hats and ties worn in the middle of the day would go and discuss politics and morality. The names of the suspended strangers don't matter. He doesn't need to know them; he only needs to nurse on the comfort that they are always in the same poses, always in the same box, always accessible on that top shelf. He can be certain that black will always be black and white refuses to be anything but white.

In his world, how can he know for sure that the red he sees on the ambulance light is the same color that someone else saw on the cola sign? Colors are far too subjective. Black and white are monochromatic absolutes. For this reason he sits for hours watching the same black and white comedies on television, holding close the sketched images as the winter roars outside.

snow dancing festively
silhouettes of darkened trees
against a charcoal sky

Around the Square

A vampire walks every night past the inns in Savannah's Lafayette Square, rumor says, down the sidewalks looking for its prey.

"Pray each night before you go to bed," the nanny tells the pajama wrapped boy," that you are forgiven of any darkness." She turns the nightlight on and looks out the window over the square. "You must be filled with light."

"Light weights can't be balanced any more than heavy ones." The student is sipping his tea when he should be doing his homework. He looks out the coffee shop on the square and feels metaphorical. His eyes play with the cracks in the pavement. College restrictions fit tighter than black plastic bracelets. "We all do our best to walk the line here."

Hear the sounds of the man with the briefcase as his Italian leather footfalls click on the sidewalk. He works at the courthouse. He thinks over the face of the little girl victim he saw today, and thinks of the eyes of the woman he is defending. On days like today he wonders if he is a vampire.

spanish moss shadows
dance across the gray pavement
worshipping the moon

19 July 2008


If it can be done
over and over again
up to
four hundred and ninety times,
I should become well practiced.
If I am bankrupt to
her and him,
clearing the books
of debts owed
should be easy for me.
But to each offense I tie
a rope as it goes into the Holy of Holies,
and each time the slaying begins—
each time it has been in there longer
than I feel safe—
I pull it to its rescue,
before the smiting.
So familiar it is,
so uplifting,
so warm
to the touch.

21 June 2008

Paraklausithyron: a triolet

Never wanting to shut the door,
he merely wanted her to see it closing.
So he stood there hoping she wanted more,
never wanting to shut the door.
He felt the sinking in his core.
He felt his hand push. His side was losing,
never meaning to shut the door.
He merely wanted her to see it closing.

The Old Woman and Her Son at Walmart

She is at the end of the aisle. Her grown son is patient for awhile as he speaks to her, occasionally glancing at his fellow shoppers. He begins to shift his weight back and forth from foot to foot. “You don’t need children’s folders,” he says as she flips from puppies to kittens, to teenage pop stars.
“I need them,” she says. “I need to put things in them.”
He walks away as if he is moving toward the checkout, but he returns. “You don’t have anything to put in them.”
“Where are the paperclips? I need paperclips.”
Both of his hands are on her shoulders. He tries to calmly push her along, but she is bolted to the end of aisle 19. Exasperated he raises his hands and drops them. “We didn’t come for a stuff on clearance, mother.” His voice narrows to a hiss.
“I have things I need to put in folders,” she says, tottering involuntarily to the cashier.

folders from display
falling to the retail floor
knocked under the shelves

13 June 2008

Youthful Arrogance

I am their teacher, and they are arrogant.
I notice first when they state their opinions
as high school juniors:
Whitman is a poor poet,
Dickens doesn't know how to plot,
Cisneros can't create character,
but Plath touches the soul.
They are so sure of their opinions,
and each one is a young professor grading.

They return after a year at college,
just for a visit with the high schoolers,
full of information on the solutions of life,
how they see through the authorities
They continue to grade.
Sharing with the youngsters the secrets of
whom to listen to,
whom to ignore,
what freedom is really like
which sins can and have been secretly performed.

And I wonder, as their attitudes repulse me,
at the mercy of an ageless, eternal God
who tolerates my youthful arrogance
as I place on them my presumptuous grade.

10 June 2008

Matthew 1968-1970: A Haibun

originally published in Contemporary Haibun Online

The brother is five and in kindergarten, and by the next morning Matt is gone with no chance for the brother to say, "Thanks for hanging out with me, little brother," or "Catch you later." Just gone like the summer or the circus or lost change. And his father tells him Matt is gone to be with Jesus and he loves him as he carries him from his grandparents back to his house where his mother tells neighbors none of it seems real. He hears cats underneath the house that day, crying in that moaning, chilling way wild cats do, and he thinks it is a baby crying, and he thinks they have hidden Matt somewhere in the back of the house. His friend's parents bring him a giant box of crayons, and he goes outside.

swing set abandoned
wind driven motion
creaking without child

The brother is forty, and he finds Matt in a dream. They stand on a grassy field underneath an oak tree, and they are face to face. Matt is in his late thirties with his hand on the tree, and he is leaning in so much like their father with his round face and full pouting lips, smiling at the corner.

oak tree summer breeze
wind driven motion
creaking without child

The brother apologizes then--in words as cheap and hollow sounding as pennies falling in the washing machine-- apologizes for living, confessing his guilt of survival to Matt as they stand, two adult men, one living, one dead. He will never forget what Matt says to him. "Why are you sorry for me? For over thirty years I have been in the presence of God. What have you done in the last thirty years?"

oak tree summer breeze
wind driven motion
creaking lullaby

08 June 2008

A Note to Badger's Parents With Enclosed Check

We are sorry that our dog slipped away from our daughter.
We are sorry that our dog is a better fighter than yours.
We are sorry about the damage done to your dog whom you love as a child.

But most of all
we are sorry that at the end of the night you have nothing more to love
than a dog.
We are sorry that you can't be loved by a little girl who feels guilty about letting a dog escape her
and who wants nothing more than to curl up between her parents
not at the foot of the bed.


Fred's Owners

04 June 2008


When the band Ocean is Theory put out its first CD, Into the Mouths of Lions, Nick Novak, one of the band, told me that the title was taken from a line I said in class when he took Psychology from me. I was honored. Since the first poem "Out of the Mouths of Babes, Into the Mouths of Lions," leaves the speaker upset and angry with a postmodern world, I felt the title was appropriate. The speaker is young and feels thrown to the lions. In the second poem the speaker sees the sovereignty of Christ, the Lion of Judah, so I felt as if the words of Christ had inspired the speaker so "Out of the Mouths of Lions, into the Mouths of Babes" seemed to fit perfectly. Thanks for asking.

03 June 2008


Have you ever questioned--
a game show host waiting for buzzer--
or whatever drives us
the engine in the old pickup truck
coughing asthmatically

Have you ever wondered--
beatnik traveling searching yage--
if the sides were clearly defined
or stood rejected in PE
socks askew and shorts dreadfully too long

Have you ever feared--
blank page glowing white traffic sign--
or walking on the beach by the ocean
shaking unfinished?

28 May 2008


This is a private conversation
my Maker and me.
Please step back out and shut the door.
When He is finished
the door will open
and you may have your time with either of us you choose.
But for now, I have things which would embarrass me if you knew,
but, oddly, seem just fine for someone like the Creative Director of All to know.

Perhaps my revelation
depends on His expectations,
and since He knows I am nothing but pretense,
sharing with Him feels natural.

24 May 2008

Getting it

For those of you who want the full effect of the Dominion poem for this year, read "Out of the Mouths of Babes, Into the Mouths of Lions" and then read "Out of the Mouths of Lions, Into the Mouths of Babes." This will allow you to see the main persona travel through his/her character development.

Out of the Mouths of Lions, Into the Mouths of Babes

Over this poetry, anyday.

I figured out I was driving to my high school after that [sometimes I drive all over the places]. And the next thing I know I was sitting in the woods behind the building. I was sitting there, somewhere before Dewhurst Dip. I was actually sitting on the ground, my hands grabbing in the pine straw like pulling the hair from Gaia herself. And I realized how old it felt to be so young, and I was tired to the root of me.

And I was thinking, "If a tree falls in this wood, and no one is there to hear it, would it make a noise?" And if I were to go, if I were to leave this place and move on, if I were to do the grownup thing, collegiate thing and move on, to pack up my things and move out would anyone hear...

I sat under a tree [a tree, not a vine; vines dry up], I think it was juniper, and I said, "I am not better than my fathers" [or at least those graduates in the pictures in the hallway]. All I wanted was one angel. Elijah got an angel, and for four years I have prepared to kill my professors of Baal. I'll even take a side of wind or earthquake.

The Greeks had a God, Agnostos Theos.
Agnostos Theos, be known to me now.
For I face a battle and I have misplaced my sword
and I cannot see the forest for the trees falling with no one to hear them,
and I cannot make a noise.
And I cannot get past...

All I wanted was one angel, not even a pretty one like at Christmas, one angel to tell me to wake up and eat. The woods were growing dark and deep, and as I looked, through my teary squinted eyes, I saw a light, a glow, a godly triangle hovering.

We all have at least one memory in common. I think its kind of like a heaven. Remember smooth,
clean sheets,
crisp cool,
tucked in,
smoothed down by a mother's hand.
Remember the inviting freshness of new.
I do.
When I was young before the internet was born,
I drew Jesus with my eight crayons.
Not Arian Jesus like the flannelgraph,
or even middle eastern Jesus,
but sienna stick figure God became flesh Jesus,
my first graven image, my first attempt to simplify
Someone so complex and simple.

Oh, so the light,
my seraphic light,
was the light in the hallway of the school in front of me.
And when I cleared my eyes, I saw them:
Two adults,
one kid,
sillouette etched on the glass of the door.

They were, I think they were, praying. They were together. Maybe a teacher and a parent, or a parent, and administration, or two parents, or I don't know really, and I'm not sure I care because I got it.

And I fell awake and fed on this.

So thank you my Savior,
Your sovereign behavior
taught me the hope of fresh starts and new beginnings
the totality of morality,
the fidelity of humility,
the exaltation of the Known God in whom I place my trust.
Give me stability,
my gracious deity,
over this poetry
any day.

15 May 2008

Basic Rules of Christian Creativity

1. God uses emotional extremes to create art.
2. Prayer increases creativity in that it feeds the Spirit.
3. Art is a reflection of the Creator.
4. Art may not always be attractive, but it is always aesthetic.
4. Art made by Christians should edify the Body of Christ.
5. Because of the lack of cultural and artistic awareness in our present society, art will often threaten, anger, or confuse members of the Body of Christ.
6. The Christian artist should be patient in communicating art to the Body of Christ.

Memories of Death

And then death came to the door
and stood outside
looking in
and laughed from a distance.
The host looked him in the face
and wanted him to enter
wanted him to stop
wanted the carriage to race
to the cornice but a mound.

But there was more in the house to be done.
There was a closing of the door
and the would be guest
drove on
and the period became a comma...
or maybe an ellipsis.

08 May 2008

Haiku for my mother-in-law

Had she been Hera,
Or at the least Endora,
I would now be dead.

04 May 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes, Into the Mouths of Lions

originally published in Clockwise Cat

So I'm driving from Town Center to the Square when it hits me [my mind races when I drive, maybe it was too much tea or maybe too much studying for exams, or maybe it was seeing my pastor flirting with the barista at Starbucks™]. All of a sudden every turn in the road-- every casual, causal, conclusive, concave decision, every left turn right turn choice-- feels like a moral dilemma.

And if every choice is a moral one when a tree falls in the forest on my head which hurts from staying up all night with my books open and my mind closed [shut tight], won't nothing get in, and I let all my windows down.

The fifty year old hippie driving the car next to me [doughy men should not wear t-shirts as fashion] seems to make me think of Jason's father who works out and has a fauxhawk because he's scared of being forty-five and who says, "we all have our agendas" as if being seventeen and naive is something we need to set outside for the garbage man like the broken springed sofa with the scratchy fabric. "One man's casuistry is another man's clever argument" even if it's up a tree in the forest.

Forgive me if I'm inappropriate, if my flipped tie and skirt plaid pattern is askew, but when I drive along and see the jeep parked at Walmart™ with the door left open [rushed to a sale on flip flops, I guess] should I stop and close it? When I'm outta here are there people to hear the noises in the forest?

I told you my mind races and is all over places.

I saw a cute cartoon on a graduation card with Snoopy and his graduation hat [I mean what do they call it--something mortar] anyway, he was carrying a suitcase, but I don't remember the message cause I got distracted by the "Hang in there, Baby" kitty card in the get well section. Funny, the get well section right next to the graduation section. So the stories blur, and if a graduate has an idea and there's no one there to hear it will it make a noise?

Well, the story ends when I get pulled over by the County cop, and I don't even beg for grace cause I'm kinda glad that there are things like the law that stand up and fight for principles. And if there was a speed limit in the forest and no one was there to see it...The red lights and green lights and speed limits aren't up for negotiations or relativity. When I speed I can bet on that little slip of yellow paper, and when I sign it, I feel, well, almost spiritual in my guilt, but he says it really doesn't mean I'm guilty. And I remember a man in an interview on death row who said, "Baby, you can't have a pardon if you don't know the law."

So thank you, my brothas,
my artistic mothas
who taught me of disposable Bic™ morality
the fatality of fertility,
the futility of purity,
the expiration of fidelity to God in whom we trust.
Give me stability
over this poetry
any day.

02 April 2008

Sometimes Morality

Sometimes morality seems like a fashion,
A tie too narrow
on the fat man's neck
at the gallows.

Or the fine print at the bottom of the ad.
So microscopic it looks like a steady line.

He may be an arrogant old man for judging people's motives,
or maybe he's merely a farmer picking fruit.

When will the deus ex machina
appear for the resolution?

When can we move from this cycle into the next?

When will the whimper call us gently through the garden
to the one flower

And Beatrice feed us from her kitchen?

23 March 2008

Easter Sunday

men tip their hats

women smile demurely

and children high-five

the risen Lord

in passing thanks

for the egg-grace

hidden in the grass

Sunday morning

the chocolate God love

found on the church playground

or at brunch in new poplin

or at golf

in appreciation

for what happened on a hole in one-less hill in Israel.

I sit and judge them,

but is this day so different

from each day I

assume His grace was cheap?

09 March 2008

How a Man Writes Poetry

Brutal, barbaric,
twisting beams of language, syntax, and blood
into iron crafted metaphor.
over the precision of delicate syncopation.
Fueled by passion,
savage, primitive,
thrusting the seeds of meaning and diction from cradled warmth
where he holds life outside of himself.

Or sometimes cautiously seductive,
careful, tender,
exploring with prayerful lips
and sculpting touch
each ironic curve of stanza which
swells to the touch
in response to his worship.
Selfishly coaxing with his tongue each
letter to perfect form.

Or guiding gently,
large calloused hands
embracing the tiny fingers
of his creation
as it lies in sleep next to his heart.
This is why only real men write poetry.

24 February 2008


When he was a little suburban magi,
swadled in a hand sewn hair shirt of grade school worry,
he listened to the train coo to him in the distance
as it moved, camel-like, brooding with worries of its own,
leaving him to wish upon the stars that glimmered just outside his window,
little silver sticker stars waiting for first grade wishes.

This modern, noiseless world
is not dark enough for wishing upon those stars.
He cannot see them.
He is thankful for the bright city lights of adult joy,
but sometimes he longs for cherished childhood pain
to show him the pinhole beams from infinity.

01 February 2008

Sanitized Christ

Give me the sanitized christ
the hands clean christ
the Arian, pretty
not dirtied christ
who smells of clean baby beds
no crying he makes
and starry angels
the flannelgraph christ with his Roman nose
and the palms not showing

because the love
is too painful
the surgery necessary
by hands rough and soiled
is anesthesialess
and I cannot accept
the truth
be told
or swallow the elemental medicine down.

31 January 2008


"They eat each
I heard the whisper bouncing off
sterile walls,
the sacred walls of orthodoxy and
contempt, and I thought they meant
something like the Lord's Supper or
the Eucharist, if I weren't so better than they,
but that wouldn't be right
--not eat each other, that would be eat Him,
but I distinctly heard "each other,"
and I'm not even sure who whispered it, because no one was looking at me, it was just there, ready to be absorbed in the carpet going down the aisle.

from Spanish Canibalis, name (as recorded by Christopher Columbus) of the allegedly cannibalistic Caribs of Cuba and Haiti.
Oral Sadism

Vultures feed on the dead,
but the God's children feed on the living.

I took my seat, ready to bend my knees
sure to become one of them
who craves soul, and blood,
and a bit of reputation.

24 January 2008


Clever culinary sanity and I
add events slowly to balance
and soul,
seasoning my thoughts
with lithium salts,
wondering how much is me
and how much is added
when stirring the mixture
and how much of it taste can tell.

I race against madness
the woods
of doubt,
unsure which
victor would be the most worthy,
wondering if there is a difference,
and afraid
that the man-made me
wins over the natural me
everytime or
that I like it that way.

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