A Holy Moment

I lay in the hammock,

Limbs heavy and sluggish in the

Cloying heat,

And it is a holy moment.

The slow summer breeze

Carries pollen as incense.

Above me rises the blue dome of this cathedral.

Solid oak branches form

Criss-crossing arches,

And in their upper reaches,

Angels perch and sing like swallows.

Amid their chorus,

I hear the low whisper,

Soft and gentle and desperately dear:

The reason for the vault of sky,

The angels’ piping strains,

The incense of the flowers and trees.

His whisper, his voice,

So quiet you could miss it.

So small you could mistake it,

And think instead that

He was in the wind, the earthquake, the fire.

Mostly Water

We’re mostly water,

You and I.

And I wonder if,

Like the tides,

We are pushed and pulled,

Bullied by the moon.

I wonder if its gravity

Draws and repels us,

Causing us to act

Or hesitate.

Are we as relentless and determined

As the ocean waves?

Throwing ourselves again and again

At our boundaries

Till they wear down to sand.

Or are we as fickle and fleeting

As a summer rain?

One moment, gentle and light.

The next, tempestuous and raging,

Then just as suddenly, gone.

We’re mostly water,

You and I.

I know because

There is no end

To the tears we cry.

Know Thyself

“Know thyself,” the Ancients said
as if it could be done
I lie here in a stranger’s bed
and dream within a stranger’s head
The battle’s just begun

And as I dream, it seems to me
It would be just as well
To know the bottom of the sea
Know all of every mystery,
Heaven’s heights, the depths of Hell

I look into the mirror’s glass
And see a stranger’s eyes
Where doubts and dreams and shadows pass
Too swift to count, too full, too fast
Each blazes as it dies

Impossible to know my way
When I change constantly
Her mouth speaks words I’d never say
Her heart is quick to go astray
She is so strange to me

A Broken Gate, A Stolen Key

Hell, you once had the power
To make your home in each of us
To smolder in the pits of our souls
And make us wretched

Hell, you once grew like a flower
Roots tangled through our thoughts
Poisonous blossoms making our air
Thick with sulfuric fumes

Hell, you once stood like a tower
Proud and vicious against our skies
Looming over us, a constant threat
Keeping us in terror and tyranny

Hell, your power is broken
Your flower withered
Your tower shattered

You’ve been plundered, ransacked,
Emptied by the one
Who went willingly through your gates
And obliterated them as he came back out

[1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 1:18]

NPWM Day 30: Coffee with Sadness

I finally sat down to coffee with Sadness.

Too long had I ignored him,

Screened his calls,

Looked past him on the street,

Filled up my calendar

With anything and everything.

I am a master of avoidance.

But Sadness is relentless;

He will not be put off.

So I met him in a bustling coffeeshop,

Surrounded by the murmur of conversations

And the whirring of espresso machines.

And for the first time in a long time,

I looked him in the eye,

And I didn’t look away.

I didn’t run

Or change the subject

Or pretend he was anyone other than who he was.

I made myself sit with Sadness,

Listen to the soft cadence of his voice,

And hold his gaze with unwavering eyes.

He is no easy companion,

But there is value

In facing him,

Resting in his presence,

Knowing him.

And when I finally looked at him,

When I let myself really see,

He started to look a bit like Peace.

NPWM Day 29: Walls

The first line of this poem is borrowed from Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall.”

 

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

but it is not the human heart.

No, our hearts build walls

without conscious thought or hesitation.

In a desperate bid for 

self-preservation,

we throw up defenses

miles high,

meters thick.

After its first taste of pain,

the heart reacts the same way

again and again,

to keep others out,

to stay safe and untouched.

Walls within walls,

and behind them,

corridors and halls

ever twisting,

labyrinthine,

and somewhere inside

hides

a fluttering, frightened heart.

And yet,

from its refuge,

its self-imposed prison,

it gazes out,

hoping that someone worthy

will scale the walls

and search the halls.

It longs with such desperation

for someone to seek it,

see it, need it,

know it.

The walls it crafted over years

suddenly become confining, isolating.

And protection is not so important now.

If only it could feel again

somehow.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

and perhaps that something

is the heart, after all.

NPWM Day 28: Whiskey Streams

Down in the valley,

Deep in the holler,

the whiskey streams

babble and murmur

as if intoxicated, themselves.

The air is redolent with

the fragrance of wildflowers

and moonshine stills.

Time slows like honey

dripping from the comb.

And if you laid your weary head

down on the loam

near that stuttering, muttering

white-lightning brook,

you might wake up

a hundred years later.

But nothing would have changed.