Pop Quiz

Let’s flip our pencils

and pray for erasure

of our projections

and scribbled premonitions.

 

Let’s put our pencils down

and face to face each other.

Let our ears understand twice.

Let our mouths grace once over.

 

Let’s stop passing notes

folded like footballs.

Let’s hand in hand be

vulnerable respectfully.

 

Let’s close our test booklets

and study each other.

Let’s not worry about grades,

but graces to pass before passing.

When We Take Our Leave

If a leaf fell in the forest

would you hear the sound of it?

Would it’s still small voice

turn your ear to its descending color?

 

Before the fall, they hung in piles

upon the air, green and greener veins

sipping life out of the twig tips.

They clapped their hands upon the wind.

 

Now burnished and fainting, they blush

and leap on breezes that speak

of new seasons, changes that come

when they lay themselves down.

Split Infinity

My body isn’t speaking to me. Last night I told it to play capture the flag with a thirty something, a twenty something, and a dozen eighteen and under caffeine like humans with legs made of rubber bands. My first brainy thought was that I could deke and juke with bare feet on wet grass.

“Hey hips, you can out maneuver these voice cracking pubescent boys and win win win,” I said.

“Hey fifty five year old, watch this…” I said.

And it was all over, one leg straight out extended to the north, and the other splayed toward the Southern Cross. I’ve never done the splits before and I wasn’t sure I could stop doing the splits now. My legs were locked as a young lad looked down on me. “Time out,” I said. “Help me up,” I begged.

As he pulled me up I could feel the sockets big and burning beneath my pride and prejudice. I thought I pulled one over on these punks, flag in hand. (Actually it was a pool noodle, which represented my condition quite nicely.) I stood like the Marlboro man, my legs a parenthesis as if I just dismounted from a two thousand mile cattle drive.

I gave the noodle to the punk and tried walking, but it most likely was seen as a wobble wanky, tippy tunky, swaggery slink. Scenarios rose in my imagination. My Forrest Gump braces from the hips down to my special shoes. My children pushing me through the Wal-Mart in a wheel chair singing The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.  I could hear random people at the park asking if they could sign my lower body cast.

God bless my wife for going into another room before spewing out laughter at my adolescent dream of being a college running back attempting to pivot and dodge with a blue noodle tucked in my Jello gut.

I eventually found my stride again, my bow legged pride again, and laughed at me self. It helped me forget all about losing my swimming trunks while tubing behind a pontoon the day before.

 

God in the Dock, Again.

“Just who do you think you are?” I demanded.

“Who do you think I am?”

“You are the God in the dock, often under investigation, especially when things go awry.”

“For example?”

“When plates under the ocean slide, causing a wave to morph into a wall of destruction on innocent people. When tornados twist through towns and suck the life out of them. When land dries up and fails to give sustaining crops to families. Anytime Mother Nature gives humanity a swift kick.”

“Natural disasters.”

“Yes. I struggle with them. Why don’t you give Mother Nature a stiff lecture ending with ‘God so loved the world?’ Sometimes it would be easier to be a deist, believing you set the world spinning and then walked out the door.”

“There are many easier ways.”

“Do tell.”

“You may not like them.”

“Well, right now I don’t really care for what you’re not telling me.”

“Atheist, agnostic, pantheist, materialist, naturalist, determinist, fatalist, spiritualist, —are these enough?”

“Are you suggesting I be a pluralist?”

“Not really. I just thought of some options, in case your free trial of deist doesn’t pan out for you.”

“Free trial. Heh, I get it. Not only do I put you on trial, I lump you in with all the other court room drama defenses of worldviews, philosophies, and spiritual leanings.”

“At least you’re trying. Please understand that I care for every person who walks these different paths. At the very least, they’re trying. I am saddened they feel I am not enough or worse, less than. I am also saddened many lose their lives needlessly, tragically.”

“Yeah, where were you when thousands were swept away, yanked away from their loved ones?”

“You are raising your voice.”

“You’re damn right I’m raising my voice.”

“Jerry, I love you.”

“What?”

“I love you.”

“Did you love them? Were you present when the lightning struck? Did you see when their lungs inhaled water rather than air?”

“I love you. I am present. I see you.”

“You’re avoiding my questions. You’re doing a Jesus redirect lawyer thing. You’re leading me.”

“Yes.”

“Yes?”

“I Am.”

“You’re what?”

“I am leading you. I am love, and love is leading.”

“Did love lead those people, too? The Haitian earthquake, how about that?”

“I knew each and every one of those precious creations of mine. Some left their bodies to be with me. Others already made their decision to go it alone. I am God, but I am not a dictator. I desire loyalty not slavery.”

“Wait. Wait. What about the natural destruction? What about the shifting plates? Cause and effect, was that your idea? Why didn’t you stop these events from happening?”

“Jerry, why haven’t I stopped the sun from shining or the moon from manipulating the tides? Why haven’t I sipped all the oxygen out of the atmosphere? Why haven’t I shriveled the bellies of every cloud around the globe? When my big banging voice said ‘Let there be’ there was and was and was and is and is and is. Much good came from my words, and I smiled. Don’t you smile when words come and deliver good?”

“Yes.”

“The earth is still full of My glory. Mostly its surface and underlayment are holding together nicely. Yet all things pass away. Time passages mixed with the pressure of gravity have a natural course. That course is part of My plan.”

“So, let me get this straight, are you owning the natural disasters or not?”

“Of course. In fact, as a matter of course. The course of matter over time leaves a trail of historical proportions. The story is still unfolding under the laws of nature which I established before the foundations of the earth. Remember, I know the end from the beginning, not to mention that I Am the beginning and the end.”

“I remember, but I am in the middle, a tiny phrase in a run-on sentence as it were. We humans come and go like the tides. We wash up on shore only to be pulled away by the undertow.”

“Yes, all are like the grass that fades in the noon day sun. But that’s not the whole truth. Humans are the pinnacle of all My creation. You all weren’t simply good, but very good. You are far and away more like Me than any other created good. I long for you to turn to Me and find life and meaning. That is My way, and to entertain an answer to your question, the natural disasters work together for good.”

“Okay, I know what that verse says. Romans 8:28 is the exception clause for the weak non-thinkers.”

“Let me ask you this…how long have you been struggling over this natural disaster conundrum? How often have you looked to the heavens with an attitude of ‘what are you going to do about this one God?’ Where has all your thinking led you Jerry?”

“Here. Again.”

“We’ve met here before. I don’t mind, really. I understand you completely, even when your logic breaks down and you throw me under the bus, as they say. I would prefer the argument over apathy.”

“Apathy wears off after a while and I can’t live with myself. Arguing is exhausting, and I wish you would just give it to me straight.”

“And you think natural disasters are tough. If I gave it to you straight, the whole of it, the noise would deafen you, the light would blind you, and my love would melt you. Believe me, I don’t want apathy tucking you in every night. Neither do I want you to feel you have to be in control by winning arguments. By the way, I don’t argue, I discuss with the motivation of love and the journey’s end of Truth. I field questions with the freedom to answer them or guide the questioner into the mystery of hope and trust.”

“You are leading me, aren’t you?”

“I Am.”

Point of Sail

I had trimmed them.

The trolling motor

ran silent as I entered

the channel.

Milky Way’s to my right

and Star magazines to the left.

I wonder how a seventy million

dollar divorce is worked out.

I mean, really–seventy?

The peanut butter cups

my ears and my mind

lets go of the rudder.

No longshoremen to help

with the catch of the day.

I sidle up to the dock,

place the stick of separation down,

and begin emptying the hold.

A gallon of milk,

snap peas, Gala apples,

shredded cheese, minced garlic,

Eggo’s, chicken breasts,

salsa verde, ice cream,

onion, wheat bread,

Where’s the fish?

No fish. The closest thing

is a box of Capt’n Crunch.

No real evidence I was out to sea.

“I don’t know if I’m floundering or

foundering.”

The clerk just rolled her eyes

and spun the bag carousel.