NPM: Garden of Fear

We all live in a garden
Tended and cultivated by a specialized class
Of gardener—the media
Tells us everything about everything
Or at least something about everything
If not the entire truth
And for some reason
In these last days
The gardeners have decided
To cultivate fear
To sink its roots deep into our soil
Its tendrils to cling to every structure
To climb its way up the lattices of our homes
And of our hearts
Fed and watered by the daily reports
Of violence and terror
Nourished by the idea of those who are Other
That anyone who is not Us is Them
And They should not be tolerated or trusted
We smell the fragrance of those flowers
We breathe it deep
Until we no longer recognize the heady perfume
Of paranoia and hate
But I swear to you
That I will sow a new seed
Among the fear-flowers
Clandestinely scattering here and there
The small mustard-seeds of faith
And from them will sprout the tiny bell-like
Flowers of hope, that when crushed
Release an aroma stronger than fear
Lovelier than hate
Because I will no longer live in a garden
Where I have forgotten all that is good
And pure and true. We have not lost it.
I will not lose it.
Hope is rooted deep in the soil of my soul.
I will not let that flower wither.
I will not.

NPM: Writing Advice to Myself

Speak simply

Write plainly

Think clearly

About what hurts

What frightens

What elates

Gaze unwaveringly

Into the molten core

Of who I am

Do not look away

In disgust

Or revulsion

Or terror

Look on with outward calm

And write with poise and clarity

Set down with finite words

The infinite complexities

Of being human

It’s simple.

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]

Spun and Spent


How quickly our days are spun and spent

like the string of a kite

caught on an updraft,

the spool held in loose hands,

spinning fast and faster.


To slow the spinning

is to stop the climb–exultant, liberating.

To wind the string back onto the spool

is to move backward, to sink, to stunt.

How should I live these unraveled days?

How can I rise and yet

come back down?

The spool, its frenzied turning,

burning my hands.


I am afraid.


The days spin on, uncounted, uncontrolled,

but soon, before I know,

the string will catch,

the spool will slow.


Oh help me live these kite-string days!

Truly live them, spinning and wild,

and I, a breathless child

with burning palms and

racing heart,

will hold on lightly, lightly.


I will trust the wind that carries me

to the place where earth and heaven overlap;

knowing the string, however long, is short,

and, once spent, will surely snap.