Friday, September 25, 2015



At Ellora, they started with a stone hillside;
carved out everything that wasn’t a temple.

A poem should be like that –
from a vast vocabulary, an eliminating

of words unconnected to one another
until the secret combination is found,

unlocking glimpses of Oneness, the inter-connection.
Words that tremble and hum

when placed together
belong to the realm of the Infinite.

The truth of a poem is in its transparency –
columns of words, sturdy as stone ... clear as glass. 

O Lord, take my life.  Make a poem from it –
chip away the awkward, the unrelated, the oblique,

the dissonant and obscure.  Leave me ...
sturdy, connected, crucial and transparent.

O child of God, the Masters say Truth is not
an accumulation of wisdom but a paring away of the false.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Grace intruded

                                                                            (photo art by Suzy Sue Smith)

Grace intruded                                                                                                           

Grace intruded upon my habitual sorrow
and marked me for its own

like a pattern of ink under the skin, 
like an imperfectly minted coin,       

a misprinted postage stamp
or a raw diamond selected for its flaws.

Plucked like a flower
for a vase on a bedside table;

like a wild colt culled from the herd –
lassoed, corralled and broken;

like a shell found on the beach
or an injured bird unable to pursue
its migratory route,

I left the broad path
for the narrow and the crooked 

and now – no path at all ...
making my way as everyone must

who tramps toward the gates –
without precedent,

yet, with a Companion who by turns comforts,
inspires, fortifies and illumines the way ahead.

O child of God, Grace is beyond your ken.
To whom much is given much is required.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Stringfellow - an excerpt from Rare Birds

            Jim dreamed of the ibis, pure white and graceful, crossing the clear brown creek, flying directly over the Stringfellow house.  In its cry, Jim heard his name and awoke.  
            "Preacher?”  Jim spoke softly in the dark of the room.  
            “I’m here.”
            “Where’s everybody?”
            “They’re asleep.  It’s a little after one.”
            “I see.”
            “Do you want anything?”
            Jim managed a weak smile.  “That’s the question, Preacher.  I been thinkin’ about it.  You know, I . . . I don’t want nothin’ at all.  Not even to live any longer.  Not to have somethin’ I never had or I don’t already have.  I’m completely empty.  Washed up.  I want for nothin’, Preacher.  No regrets. Oh, I could’ve been a lot better man in some ways.  A better father.  Hindsight’s twenty-twenty.  And maybe you were right.  For yourself.”
            “How’s that?”
            “How you never considered this world your home.  All your life lookin’ for a way out.  And for what’s comin’ up next.  I made myself at home in this world.  For fifty-four years, I settled into it right comfortable.  I know there’s more to it.  But it never was my concern.  The other parts of it.”
            “You lived well, Jim.”
            “I did what I did.  I was who I was.  I took what came as it came.  I can’t imagine it bein’ any way other than the way it was.  The way it is now.  Can you?”
            “It’s still a mystery . . . after all these years.  Like it was when we’d sleep out on the dock and watch the moon rise against the stars.  Like when we’d skin a cat or slit a deer’s throat to bleed him ‘fore we dressed him.  Like how the mallards sit in our front yard, same time every fall, sunnin’ themselves before they move on to Mexico.   A mystery.  I ain’t learned a damn thing.  And that’s all right.  It’s good.  It’s good.”
            “Good and faithful servant.  Your faith was always bigger than mine.  Still is. Never hesitated; never questioned.  You’ve been right to live like that, Jim.”
            “You talk that way at my grave, Preacher.  You tell ‘em.”
            Jim was silent after that, drifting into a light sleep.  His labored breathing, the hum of the box fan and the distant night sounds.  It struck Amos eerily – maybe this was Jim’s last night on earth.  Last night in the body.  With the holy stars around and the dark woods and the deep black creek.  If Jim meant nothing to God just as he was right then, that little speck of a body in the great universe, if Jim’s life wasn’t good enough, right then, we are all orphans, thought Amos, without a Father, a purpose, a faith.  And I am a great speckled bird surrounded by enemies.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Of resolution and resurrection

Of resolution and resurrection                                                                

Beauty becomes a quiet comfort
in the latter years, giving of its depth

and essence without intentions or purpose,
earning our honor and attention

by virtue of its mere existence.
One day Truth will be like that.

We’ll cling to it even through
the most bitter of circumstances,

the most fearsome grief ... because it lies
so purely, so resolutely beyond our grasp.

It will taste medicinal by then –
of resolution and resurrection.

One day Truth will come to our door
so pure, so vulnerable, so lovely

it will be beyond us
to ever deny it anything.

O child of God, pray for the day truth, love and beauty
all are expressed by the same silent word.