Head in the Cloud

White eye brow raised

to open an iris of patent leather sky.

The wisp hung over thoughts

tossed as hard I could.

Dark thoughts, big as chestnuts,

became smaller and bluer the higher

they flew.

 

Mental blocks hewn under sun,

and weighed down by gravity.

So heavy one moment,

and lighter as they ascended.

Black diminished into blue.

They flew.

 

I’m serious.

They are Cirrus.

Wispy, laid out on a whim.

High brow attitude

absorbing mine.

Altitude lay across thin air

where thoughts can no longer breathe.

 

Hold my breath of prayers O Lord

until your face turns blue.

 

Psalm 8, Psalm 19, Isaiah 55,

 

Pink Teddy Bear

She had flushed pink cheeks and her eyebrows wouldn’t sit still. Emily’s eyes, fixed on mine, wore anxiety and a shade of sad. Their teddy bear was dead, the one that connected my dying mother to my living six year old child. She couldn’t look at it. The bear she had covered with some of my work uniforms in our walk-in-closet. Emily’s guilt and grief were bound tight. Emily had forgotten to put the bear back up on her bed and Charlie our dog mangled it. Another loss.

The bear had been in the care of my mother until she passed away last year. The shaggy pink bear was looked after quite nicely by my mother. She made sure to send messages through me to Emily about how the bear was behaving. I told my mother how Emily was behaving.

IMG_0005

There is an album on my desk filled with written thoughts and poems and stories about my mother. On the cover is my mother holding the bear. It is one of my favorite photos of her. Emily sees the photo whenever she passes my desk. I reassured Emily that it was going to be okay. Her sadness awakened in me a sleeping grief. We shared it for a while.

I sat on the edge of our bed as Barbara spoke tenderly to Emily.

“I’m sorry you are so sad. It hurts doesn’t it? You know what? Grandma is babysitting the bear now. They are together.” Barbara, mother, kept speaking comfort and assurance to a little fractured heart. Mine.

Her words came from a mother place. Emily was comforted and I was too.

*

A year has passed since my mother died. It was early on a Monday morning. The all night vigil had taken its toll and I had fallen asleep. My head rested on the edge of the bed next to her womb. I woke to find her birthed into a greater light. One day I will awake and see her again, but not yet.

Blue Spruce

Huddled, they hold spring in

the bending.

A strength they give without giving way.

Lake effects of layered white

perch over and again.

The weight of the world, speechless,

rests on winter green.

The equinox of forgiving

will send its mercy and grace

and warm the bitter branches.

Snow will cry again

into the soiled.

 

Open

It choked me.

 

My mother told me close my mouth.

Dennis’ father used to sit in the corner,

legs crossed, reading the Gazette

with his lower lip dangling and pudgy.

Old people gape at nothing.

Maybe nothing is gape worthy

when white flurries crown them.

 

The snowflake melted down into me.

 

She Is Flat…”Oops,” said the scientist.

Pancakes for breakfast,

resting, spreading on oil.

 

What if scientists recanted?

What if the sphere was a sham?

What if science was ashamed?

 

She is flat after all

and done on one side for sure.

A solar flare spatula slides under.

Talk about turning the world upside down.

 

I wonder who would live on the edge

and dangle their feet in the deep blue ocean?

I know some people who are afraid of heights

and some who are afraid of depths.

 

Vincent stepped off into the starry night.

Einstein’s theory was thrown like a Frisbee.

Apollo 13 had another problem for Houston.

Mark Heard’s Satellite Skies wouldn’t be.

Grass would always be greener on the other side of the universe.

 

Spherical, severe it all is.

Earth, like a curve ball, draws circles around the sun.

Our linear conscience rides its precipice free epidermis.

Gravity keeps us grounded.

Gravity keeps us orbiting subconsciously.

 

I would rather be pulled than flipped.

Psalm 19:1-6

When God Speaks Love. Listen to this.

The memory of a cold, windy, raining day resurfaced today.

She said in her blog God doesn’t always speak to us in a booming voice. It seems in these times God would only be heard in such a tone. It’s loud down here with all the news networks, overloaded stadiums, earthquakes, wars, scandals, overzealous weather, and the body politic. Can God get in a word edgewise?

Then there is the religious banter. A mixture of clanging cymbals and pundits with orchestral wands trying to direct every butt splintered pew sitter. There are thousands of good willed religious folk though, speaking truth through the cracks of the cacophony of mass market manipulation. Mustard seeds are handed out on an individual basis.

Am I talking too loud? Booming?

Ahem, back to the cold rainy day… It was about a decade ago when I had breakfast with a mentor. I questioned him about his dream become reality. He, retired, raised organic cows. He told me how relaxing it was to go to his farm and work his tail off. Financially free after a life as an accountant he counted heads of beef. The telling of it had me drifting off into a dream of my own and when I came-to, the reality of my dream seemed eons away.

I went to work that day feeling dumpy. The weather appeared to play into my depression with a thick blanket of clouds and gray Eeyore tones were in the air. The blustery rainy day reminded me of my state of mind with each delivery made. Long walks to doorsteps gave heavy drops opportunity to soak the brim of my hat. There was no ‘sense of urgency’ in my steps and as I gazed on the blackness of asphalt it became the mirrored darkness of my attitude.

So dark I entertained any thought that strolled through my mind. What’s the point? Who am I kidding? If I were a rich man, badadeda deda badade dah deda dum. Ah depression, my man, thanks for keeping me company…oh how I have missed our talks. Dream all you want Jerry, but eventually you wake up.

Geez, how easily I forgot all the good things in my life. All the good people too. A good God who spoke to me in the past of his love for me and the Jeremiah 29:11 words. God spoke? Past tense? God has been kinda quiet lately. Does God still love me? Is God still around?

Then I asked. Just asked. No seeking. No knocking. Just a question. I asked it loud and clear all by my lonesome. All by my lone so me.

“Do you love me?” came out like Tevye to his wife in Fiddler on the Roof. I honestly thought God’s response would be “DO I WHAT?”

Just then a gust blew through the line of pine trees I hadn’t noticed. A sound which brought a peace beyond measure beat gently on my ear drums. My favorite sound in the whole world hugged me. It took me all the way back to the huge spruce I climbed and sat in for long periods and listened. As a boy it was like a prayer shawl as I sat on the highest branch which could hold me.

That day it was as if God pursed his lips and blew across the line of pines to say “I do.”

I am thankful that God isn’t limited to shouting at us like a worn out mother to her kids in a grocery store.

Thank you, Alyssa Bacon-Liu, for igniting a memory which I hold dear.

http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com/  This is the link to Alyssa’s post entitled “When God’s Voice Doesn’t Boom” at Grace Biskie’s blog.

Just for reference…what a great song!

 

What is a way in which God spoke to you?

Wish Upon a Stare. Stars and perspective.

Have you ever stared at a star, not for its brilliance or beauty, but because you thought it might not be a star? You get an inkling it might be moving. It is set so far off in the expanse that you can’t tell if it is twinkling or blinking. You star stare not to wish on it but to confirm or deny it.

Does your mind wander off into deep space? Do you imagine each light as if it were strung around an infinite Christmas tree? Do you wait for God to throw shooting stars like tinsel?

Does the thought of a universe with no walls or ceiling scare you like when you were a child looking up and out? How does a ten year old brain contain the idea of never-ending? How do I now? I was scared then.

Do you wonder how many other cooled off orbs circle each gravity rich light? How many planets orbit our puny system? How many more systems are out there circling the lights?

Do you think there are way more than a thousand points of light? If each of your 100 billion brain cells were assigned to a star you wouldn’t have enough. Imagine if each star was a brain cell and we were only synapses in the mind of God.

Your staring stops as you find the bright light blinking as it gains size. The plane is probably heading for Detroit. You turn and walk in the house.

Psalm 139:17,18

Psalm 8:3

 

Siloam. We can’t see through the tears. Prayer poem for those affected in Conneticut.

Siloam

 

Lay these tears

over each other.

 

Let them roll

and fall on down

like a five year old.

 

May they collect

and form a pool of Siloam

while we wait for angels to stir.

 

Lay these tears

over each other.

 

Let them magnify

our crippled hearts

in the reflection.

 

May Jesus help

us into the salt water

of our own weeping.

Come Any Other Way.

Oh God,

come any other way,

but not as a child.

 

Come in a space ship

so we can call you alien,

and just a figment.

 

Wash up on shore

as a castaway, an unknown,

scraggly and salt soaked.

 

Walk into town as a vagabond

so we can look and call authorities

to distance us.

 

Stand by the side of the road

with a cardboard sign

so we can hand you a twenty and drive on.

 

But please don’t come as a baby.

Don’t come and coo and cry

and take our breath away.

 

Don’t come as we did,

dependant and humble

and wrapped up tight.

 

Just don’t, don’t be so vulnerable

as a wonder from a womb

bathed in the liquid of humanity.

 

Don’t come as a child, please.

For then we would need to

hold you in our arms.

 

Don’t come as an infant

so innocent and small

for we might get emotional.

 

Don’t come as we once were

to become as we

should be.

 

Don’t come in this mysterious way

for then we might come

and adore You.

 

Thanksgiving 2011…Last Years Memories.

 

The folding table still stands with the acorn-autumn print under half consumed soda cans left like Stonehenge. The horseshoe shaped counter lies it wait for a Ferrier to come and scrape off the travails of a Thanksgiving feast. I am a little afraid of picking through the casserole and sweet potatoes for fear the cats over-night pawed and licked some calories which were left unprotected. The fridge was stuffed like a turkey and hummed and groaned like my mother did when she left last night. She ate a little too much, and thank God Tums were available which she ate like Sweet-tarts.

It started yesterday when I rolled out of bed and on my feet as I swaggered to the walk-in closet. The Christmas rush had already started at UPS and I shuffled through the clothes which mysteriously separated from my body the night before and lay like a mud puddle next to some crusted socks. I slipped on a t-shirt and some dungarees and headed for coffee. Thanksgiving morning it was and I reached for a Bible and some poetry by Wendell Berry. The early on-set of numbness from on-line shoppers had me trying to fill an empty soul tank again. I soaked in some psalms and read again about the Blue Robe Wendell beheld his bride of decades wearing. I pondered what color of house coat my wife would be wearing years from now as grandchildren would hover around her like a merry-go-round.

I got up and looked out the back window which I imagine doing religiously for the rest of my days.  The view brings perspective and solace.  A God-gift was waiting for illumination of solar dimension and depth. Sometimes the beauty would invite a heart murmur and tear running over a cheekbone.  Seriously. A view can rivet my brain cells for hours. The day we moved in, the autumn colors were climatic and as we stood on the back deck I rhetorically asked my wife if we could just stand out there all day and allow the beauty to overtake us.

I headed over to the sink where two humble turkeys lay wrapped tight like Leader’s Marine wraps the boats for winter storage. They weren’t too big and I imagined taking the boys out back to play rugby with them. Maybe that would be considered organic tenderization… I wondered also if the gobblers were siblings or best friends. Like high school buddies joining the marines together, they paid the ultimate sacrifice for a human holiday.

It was then I started to hear vague sounds of children waking up. Whispers and coughs and creaking beds and floors were synchronizing with the sunrise. We established a rule long ago that there was to be no child up and or talking before 9:00am. It’s true. Call CPS if you want but no harm is done for allowing our children to “sleep in”.  I invite anyone, or will pay anyone to spend a few daze over up in here with twelve children of various ages and intellectual capabilities. There are more days than not when I arrive home to find my wife mumbling to herself, finger pointed into to the air, rocking back and forth in the overstuffed chair with one arm hugging the throw pillow. I figured out that asking her how her day went was an invitation to a monologue that would secure her a late night talk show host position right next to Letterman and Leno.

Anyway, it was time to wake her and she again was up late making preparations. So when I walked back into our room there she lay as though an angel sprinkled gold dust on her brow. Her arms were outstretched on the sheets as though ready to hug a brand new day.  Her lips would part just enough to let air exhale and then would seal back up to take in a draught through her nostrils. My queen asleep upon her dreams of me…her once frog turned prince through the magic of a kiss. So, turn about fair play, I set a kiss on her lips gently and quickly and stepped back for the results. Her eyes opened slowly like in an eighties music video. She smiled as I whispered “Happy Thanksgiving”. I received her smile and put it in my pocket to retrieve it throughout the morning hours…for I knew the drill…

It happened before every major event where guests were to walk through our front door. My wife would slowly rip out of her chrysalis between the night stands. A strange phenomenon would occur.  Reverse metamorphosis would translate her from her butterfly essence to a caterpillar in arms. Her wing-ed grace would become a hundred feet marching from room to room. Her voice would play leapfrog between her unrequited smoothness (The one I could listen to for hours on the phone.) to Darth Vader from the Star Wars Trilogy. She would remind me apologetically that she must adorn this particular voice if the results she was expecting would materialize. I recalled my mother’s special voice too. She would adorn her “Captain Kirk-space-between-every-word-commands” which meant she could pull out her phazer at any moment and stun us. Sometimes strange thoughts would pass through my mind like “Did I marry my mom?”

The morning became the re-enactment of the preparation of D-day. Staging areas were set to defeat the enemy…disorganization. My wife analyzed a Turkey breast beach head and Green Beret bean casserole set in tin landing crafts.  Nuts and their crackers were set out strategically as refueling stations.  Cranberry sauce, as red as blood, lay pooled in a crystal bowl. Ok, ok, it wasn’t really that graphic, but the “feel” of the pressure was in the air along with the aroma of rotten eggs getting their devil on.

Then there were the turkeys. One Tom was for the roaster and one Tom was for the oven. Could it be that the Indians at Plymouth Rock were beating on similar “tom-toms” as the corn bread began it ascent?  The head count for the day was 36. I kind of wished we could have reached for 42 (Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy.) so an answer would come as to how to settle all the day’s settlers into our home.  The turkeys were only 16 pounders so twin wishbones would top off our day together. I peeled off the plastic from the first turkey like a latex glove and reached into its bowels to find the neck and the gizzards frozen!  I started mumbling cartoon exclamations…”Rut Roh!”  “Zoinks!”  “Wilma!”  “ Jane!”  “Holy turkey popsicle Batman!”  Enter plan 2 or B or infinity. Baptize one in the sink with warm water, and nuclear react the other in the microwave. It was now T minus 6 hours and I had a fleeting thought of ending up at the Chinese restaurant with the waiters singing deck the halls to all 36 of us. My friend, who was bringing his family over to share the holiday with us, texted me at 5:30am with a tale of similar demise. His foul of double proportion was 50% icicle and was indeed fouled out. It would be carved the next day at the earliest. So when I found Tom and Tom with frost bitten gizzards I thought of the power-play in hockey. More players on the vegetable team would skate against gaping holes in the meat defense.

Ah well, we carried on with Darth Vader calling the shots. She was, after all, the “desktop of the oikos.”  (A little Archie Bunker word mismanagement…A Sunday school class years ago taught about the woman of the home being the manager of the mood and flow of what happens within its walls.  The original phrase was the “despot of the oikos”.  The use of “desktop” softened the philosophical and political inferences of despotism.) Every now and then she would turn to me and smile and I felt my pocket to see if the first smile she sent was still in there. I knew under that mask and deep mechanical voice was a mother and wife and friend extraordinaire.

Eventually the little plastic thingy popped up from the Tom’s pecks. We all found enough room to connect with hands in hands, or arms over shoulders, and we sang “The Johnny Apple Seed thank you song” to God. I saw my mom’s eyes well up and I saw my wife’s eyes sparkle and I couldn’t sing for a moment. I had to pause and swallow the lump in my throat and prayed that somehow it would rest in the chambers of my heart. Thanksgiving, as a holiday, truly is my favorite because of its relational centerpiece.  I thank God for all the remarkable people in my life, including you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I pray grateful hearts will be present as we prepare and partake today.