The walk and the wake of it,

The talk and the take of it,

This life is mine,

And filled with mines,


Yet Yours it is,


In the breathe and the breath of it,

In the deep and the death of it.

The grace and the grease of it,

The trace and the truth of it.


I lie down in it,


To rise and raise in it,

To prize the praise of it.

In the meek and the milk of it,

In the speak and the spilt of it,


On my knees in it,


To pray and plead in it,

To stay and lead in it.

The thank You and the Your of it,

On the dew and the shore of it.


Oh the gift of it.

Rite of Spring

Common Grackles rested

on the naked Maple canopy.

Like aneurysms waiting

to burst into flight

they bent the thinning branches.


They had every rite of spring.

Some of them loitered

through the winter

and saw their reflections on ice.

What freedom to stay.


Christ stayed on the tree

and burst unto death

and burst into flight.


Don’t Count Me Out

The pill I found

awakened me like

Robert Deniro.


The dancing unfurled

with you in hand

and spectrums rose.


Nerves had no end

and struck like lightning

and I was blind for a spell.


A forty year reverse

to when hiding and seeking

was just a game.


Jesus was counting

against the tree

looking for me.



“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” Psalm 139:1



3:58 a.m.

My bladder didn’t alarm me.

Thoughts pulled me out of bed

and I lifted the toilet seat anyway.

I then fumbled in the dark

and plucked a book off the shelf.


Wendell Berry started poeming me.


Old man thoughts strung

to the background hum of the fridge

and a faint ticking of the clock.


Wendell thinking in lines

and subtle turns of phrase.

Language was handled over and again

like a threshing toss in the wind.


He said what he meant

and meant what he said

like one grain of wheat.


“I know that I have life

only insofar as I have love.


I have no love

except it come from Thee.


Help me, please, to carry

this candle against the wind.”


How I long to mean like that.



Sips Through A Straw

Dance, song, laughter,

and tears of frosted glass.

In and through it I remembered.


There was ice water and a straw.

Our only duty was to keep vigil on her lips.

Her mouth would motion us.

Silent smacking and we would reach

for the cool cup.

She would sup and the arid places

were moist for a moment

until the cycle turned.


I remembered when we shared

our tears and held each other’s

in the bowl of our hands.

The salt water reflection

of Joy.


Yesterday I took little sips

through the straw set on my lips.

Thank you for giving me a drink.



The Verve’s first line in Bittersweet Symphony is one that underlined a day of celebration.

“It’s a bittersweet symphony, that’s life.”

I was overwhelmed with the joy of family and friends in celebrating life!

There were moments when I saw the people who were missing though.

The tides continue whether I hear them or not.

God, grant me the grace to keep sipping as the tides come in and out.

Under The Sycamore. A Place of Grateful Rememberance

It is tall

and stretches to the heavens.

It is solitary and strong.


The leaves unfurl late

and wither early

with fashion and grace.


They dangle around

the solstice

like light green earrings.


Its bark breaks

at the hips

and peels

to reveal a smooth

decoupage of earthy pastels.

Tan and light brown on ivory

are the shades of color

I long to climb.

Those branches are beyond reach

and slippery as silk.

I will look up through the freckled limbs though,

and see clouds passing

like time,

and sky, blue, unending

like a patch of eternity.


What remains of my mother will be placed deep

into the humus to compost

with shards of fallen bark.

Death on death will serve nutrients into the roots.

I am thankful for place,

this place.

I will visit

and till memories into the soil

and grow up

again and again.

Round Words

It was such a big room for a little old lady.   She had her glasses off and oxygen on.  Her eye color was hardly distinguishable from her pupils.   They were two special dark chocolates, with little distinction between the pupils and brown rings.  She almost smiled at me.  I asked her if she was feeling better today.  She said she wasn’t, but had no reference point to how she might have felt.  She rolled her eyes at her wayward memory.

Breathing therapy wasn’t something my mom liked to do, so I brought bubbles. Maybe recreational therapy would appeal to her childlike heart.  It was as if she was already blowing every time she exhaled.  Her lips would slightly part and purse as air gushed out like she was hanging with Virginia Slim.  It was the opposite of coming up for air, and instead of gathering square feet of oxygen, she dispersed it.  Maybe she was pushing the bad air out.  I thought of Lamaze training and how important breathing was in the natural birth process.  Maybe it was the same in the natural death process.  It had become a cadence, a conscious rhythm which supplanted her innate flow of air.  At any rate, her breathing was labor and delivery.  I opened the bubbles and started dipping and blowing.  My lack of skill brought cat calls from my geriatric audience of one, and after a minute or two I put a lid on it.

Our seven year old Zoe came with me the next day.  She gave my mother her happy-meal pink polka-dot bear.  A question followed a thank you.  “Zoe, what should I name her, Hmmm?  Pinky?  Polka Dot?”  Zoe smiled and shrugged.  Zoe was offered the bubbles, the only seven-year-old activity in the room.  Her skill was steady and true.  Her small mouth was a perfect circle which would focus air through the plastic ring.  The film of soap would stretch again and again and break free.  Little spheres would hit the warm air current from the register and rise to adolescent orbits over my mom’s bed.  Moments were strung together like bubble constellations and suspended above her discomfort.  And small round words would escape my mother’s mouth…”Oh!…Wow!…Pop!…Look!”

One settled on her bed and reminded me of how Glinda, the good witch of the north, landed in Munchkinland.  I asked my mom if she remembered that scene and she could not.  If only she had.  Maybe Glinda could have taught her how to close her eyes and click her heels together.  In the quiet I almost heard my mom whisper to herself,”There’s no place like home.”

I pursed my lips and began whistling “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

“For what is your life?  It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  James 4:14,15  King James Version

The name Zoe means “life”.  Life as a principle, life in the absolute sense, life as God has it.

Oh how much has been contained in the soap bubble that is her life!

© Gerald Allen Barrett and parentheticallyspeakingin3d, 2012.