Monthly Archives: August 2010

Dark night

There is no terror
In the dark night of the soul
For God is awake

And working in ways
We cannot in our human
Limitations see

Until long after
The icy shroud has lifted
And the morning come.

So take heart tonight –
The answer to your prayer is
Perhaps already sent.


Church of the blue heron

The blue heron stands
Still on one leg and summons
Its congregation.

Beside the water
We gather in reverence
To pray with our eyes

And ears – the morning
Filled with the creator’s best
Gifts for all who come.

This is our haven
Where the human tongue grows still
And the light speaks life.

Our dog grows restless
And is ready to pursue
A new avenue

So we leave this church
And set our feet toward a
Fresh day filled with sky.

Friendly’s, 6am

First light stumbles
Eyes half-closed
Through walls of glass
Three sets
Of long-retired headlights
Looking on impatient
As I race against the clock

A hundred strips of bacon
Sizzle aromatically
Upon the grill
The fryolator bubbling
Beside in eager symmetry.
Two flats of speckled eggs
Are cracked and stirred
While salad freshly prepped
Sits pertly in its
Ice-cooled chest

The ancient rolling toaster
Wheezes into life
Moaning as it coughs
The crumbs from yesterday.
Each register is balanced
Two rolls of pennies
One of quarters
At the ready

At five to seven
A final flick of
Cloth on counter
Then at the door
I pause in silence
In gratitude
For this
The best moment
Of the day.

Flying lessons

Whatever is the matter with you young man?
The stentorian honking of a well-heeled
Accent boomed across the aisle.
Here I was, my maiden solo flight
From New York home to London,
And already I was meeting destiny.
From books and movies I had learned
That single men on airplanes regularly
Rendezvous with sultry women sipping fancy drinks
Who offer to accompany and comfort them
On trips a mile high.

But me? I found myself confronted
Not by an ingénue or leggy blonde
But by a feisty white-haired spinster barely
Five foot two, returning from a conference
Of the worldwide Girl Guides and Scouts
[or WAGGGS as they prefer to say].
She had an eagle eye and vice-like grip
And in me discovered ample room to exercise
Her love of advocating health
And wellness in the young.

To quote: I noticed from the first the way
You hunch your shoulders when you walk
Your posture is abysmal – and what’s your name?
Now stand up straight, set your head high
And for God’s sake pull your gut in
Like a soldier!

Reluctantly, I acquiesced and found myself
Parading back and forth between the seating sections
Head erect and cheeks ablaze
Desperately wondering how I might escape
The ministrations of this geriatric Amazon.
All the while the pretty girls sipped their drinks
And smiled at me.
But not like in the movies.

It takes many hours to fly across the Atlantic…

One thing I will say, though,
That even after thirty years
I never take a plane without first
Standing straight and sucking in my gut,
Whatever is the matter with me.


When you are lonely
Choose an avocado
A ripe one
Open it gently
Remove the seed
Then take a spoon
And scoop out the
Soft musky fruit
One creamy bite
At a time
Do not hurry
Eat it slowly
And think of me


The melting pot is
Simmering here in Wrigleyville
Fans half-drunk from
Old Style and heat stroke on the
Outfield bleachers bobbing up
Against each other like
Faint-hearted messages in green
Sea glass now swathed
In Cubby blue.

The parking lot is crawling
An easy out for twenty bucks
Proclaims the looming guardian
Dreadlocked and baleful
We consider briefly then
Pay the toll as a giant
Rat as big as your arm
Stalks languid past the van.

Inside the bar the band is
Gathering sound checking with
Equal parts anxiety and irony
Two divas wheel on pointed heels.
One her feral mane tossed wild in
The colored lights. The other
Fairly bursting from her red brassiere
Flashing a tambourine as if
To summon the very spirits
Of rock and soul.

The short dark-haired leader
Of the band steps forward
Native shirt beads swinging
A furious welter of notes streaming
From his cheap imported guitar
An artful posture assuring us
That his sound comes from
Sweat and practice alone.

The drummer flails majestically
A drowning man taking time to
Fillet his catch on the way down
While the limping dude with the
Blue guitar makes circles around the
Mohawked bass player
Enjoying the spotlight afforded
By his preternatural calm.

This sea of joy and ego
Swelling as the lights
Pulse and dim
We stand and shake with
All the passersby
As the El goes over
The music under
The sun and the beer
And the women
Oh the women…

And I realize
I cannot remember
The reason I was never
Supposed to be out here
Floating in this ocean of
Rhythm sound and light
Alive and beautiful.

The Devil in the details

Here’s your problem!
Drawled the jeans
Protruding rudely
From the rear end
Of the copy machine
A crimson face
Popped up with
Jack-in-the-box élan
A smile of triumph
Painted slyly on its
Parchment skin.
Next came a finger
With a single
Jet black dot
Embedded in its tip.
See here?
This grain of sand
This single grain
This piece of dirt
… is all it took
To stop your
Holy print job
In its tracks.
Makes you think,
Don’t it, preacher?
Ain’t that just how
Satan does his work?
With the little things
That we ignore?
But say now here I’m
Preachin’ at you.
He blushed
Then like a sacrament
He placed that tiny speck
In my extended hand.
Much later when he had
Packed his things and left
I taped the Devil’s dot
As I had named it
To a piece of card
And placed it on my desk
As a reminder
Then turned once more
To making copies
Pondering the power
Of the Devil
And his details.


As I was saying
Goodbye and thank you
To the angular young man
At his warehouse door
I looked across the
Fading asphalt of the
Parking lot to see
A single open space
Beside the office door
Guarded fiercely by its
Small bronze nameplate
The patriarch of this
Extended family business
Gone before his time
Six months ago
But present still
In every careful movement
Of his care-worn son.
What courage would it take
What surge of necessary sacrilege
To peel away your father’s name
And replace it
With your own?

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