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04/01 Direct Link
[Note: Making poems fit 100 words will be difficult.]

here, more

my mother flies cross-country to see new things
here the grapes are larger, greener (redder)
more seedless

here the roasted chickens are larger
better cooked, lemony (garlicky)
more roasted

cross-country rose-colored glasses
mask her unsettled, unsettling anxiety
about cross-country life

my mother flies cross-country to see new things
here the children are larger, chattier (older)
more childlike

here her son is larger, bolder (older)
more experienced

cross-country mother-colored glasses
mask her unsettled, unsettling anxiety
about the reach of a mother’s love

my mother
she flies cross-country
not too often
04/02 Direct Link
Whenever my parents visit me, they end up taking over my place. My mother will cook every meal, as if she flew here specifically for that purpose. I take her shopping every two days since she only shops for the short-term. The funniest part about grocery-shopping with her is the running commentary she makes about how much more fresh and wonderful groceries are on the East Coast. I don’t know who’s she’s convincing: my father or herself. The urge to nurture never dies, and when it bumps up against long-distance boundaries, the best it can do is be hopefully optimistic.
04/03 Direct Link
Lawrence Ferlinghetti Has a War On His Mind

lawrence ferlinghetti has a war on his mind
all the kids chase him

through activist Springs down souvenired streets
while representing nonexistent majorities
though reality silently whispers twice

through masses of discontent
not content, disconnected
more from common cause than cause
and what’s left is all that’s left

fame throws a donkey’s wrench
across rippling headlines
ripping headlines from truth
to sensational sensations

and bandied chants and brandied chants
and branded chants and blanded chants
hide ignorance behind rhythm

lawrence ferlinghetti has a war on his mind
all the kids chase him
04/04 Direct Link
Recently, I was sent two poems by Ferlinghetti (and one by Alice Walker) crying about war with Iraq. They’re entitled to their opinions, as are celebrities who’ve publicly whined about US military muscle. This poem is a tribute to Johnny Nolan has a Patch on his Ass, one of my favorite Ferlinghetti pieces – before he got on his high horse and decided that trite political poetry was a better use of time than original, pointed poetry. All the liberal kids (mentally) reflexively chase him. More out of reflex than common cause, while the two-to-one silent majority ignores the leftist media.
04/05 Direct Link
Resting from the Joy of It All

Glassed over eyes and lost thoughts
Homesick longing, silent visions played
Reuniting with a daydream wrought
Push aside fatigue for answers well-made
To desires obeyed

Pleading wide eyes and clasped hands
An angel’s look, a devilish grin
Succumbing to her well-plead plans
Push aside desires and give in
To repetition

Exhausted minutes and passed past will
The cheer of a toy, the scream of a glee
Fought-over yearnings, individuality still?
Push aside self and punish the me
Either way you see

My watch stopped at
a quarter to now
and half past
later
04/06 Direct Link
I spend my days at work dreaming about my family. But if this longing exists, why when given the opportunity to spend time with them, do I sometimes turn them away? Why will I chase my daughter around the house for ten minutes, but then tell her I’m too tired to continue? Why the need to play online Spades for a bit on the weekends instead of spending every minute entertaining my children? Why the need for time to myself, if I love my family so much more than I love myself? Why do I feel guilty, and should I?
04/07 Direct Link
in shadows, in

chasing after insanity like it was the sport of
kings crowned at my expense
sun behind me
chasing after shadows
like a favorite pastime played
in my defense
the shadows began this charade

i’ll jump just jump
and see how closely I can come
to landing on my own legs
and run just run
and wonder if shadows like me
ever fade

and when i miss i find myself
still chasing misty-eyed memories
but then i turn against the sun
now chased by misty-eyed memories

but at least i’m still standing,
shadowed legs extending into the light
04/08 Direct Link
I have a terrible memory, meaning I actually have a fantastic memory – but all too often my thoughts have trouble removing themselves from thinking about past incidents that can’t be changed, chasing insane shadows. I used to dwell on the past, not wanting to turn my back on former feelings, wondering if fading emotions somehow made me less human. Now I consciously avoid thinking about the past, but the voices in my head don’t let me sleep, breathing memories into my conscious mind, shadows chasing me. But I am still standing, my past behind me, human no less but more.
04/09 Direct Link
Decisions

Sixty degrees, give or take
And time to decide: umbrella or not;
My decision to make:
Shall I be cold to the office,
Or walk home desperately hot?

Rumbling stomach, and dinner’s a bit away --
I could snack on some candy or refrain.
Not black or white, definitely gray
Is this decision. I choose candy,
And now what -- M&Ms, peanuts or plain?

Lifechanging move, no firm resolution in sight
And time to decide: East Coast or West?
I want to walk in the Light –
And not stumble in potential shadow
Tell me, please, which decision(s) is best?
04/10 Direct Link
Making decisions for me is painstaking since I weigh not only the probable effects of the decision, but also every single potential (however remote) effect. Even when critical decisions need to be made, I’d almost rather wait and see what happens – where the effect is at least definite – rather than make a decision that potentially might hurt me or those I love. For the past month and a half, I’ve been wrestling with the decision to move back to the West Coast or to stay in NYC. Finally, a decision: We’re headed home.

Also, I meant jacket not umbrella, alright?
04/11 Direct Link
soar

in arcs of blues and greens
above faces of yellow and white
and brown and hues between

pigeons hook
in right angles sharp enough
to carve a book

scattered flocks still soar
above historic blurs of blacks and whites
and greys and grays still sore

pigeons hook
in right angles sharp enough
to blind a look

beauty’s flight above tethered clouds
cast shadows that aren’t alone
when shading flattering crowds

pigeons hook
in right angles sharp enough
to create a nook

from afar their flight
seem farther ahead
because reality’s masked by light

but pigeons hook in right angles
04/12 Direct Link
I read a column about how Mike Tyson watches pigeons fly for hours, enamored by how they’ll “hook” sharply and head in perpendicular directions. I like the metaphor that sometimes our lives are like pigeons’ flights. Our decisions seem decisive (sharp) when we’re making them, but they’re often blurred by our histories (blacks, whites, greys). Or they’ll seem like positive steps because the people around us think so (flattering crowds). But mathematically, four right angles can form a square, and really, we’re merely hooking around and around and going nowhere. Our progress seems farther ahead, reality masked by action’s light.
04/13 Direct Link
Palm Sunday, 2003

Triumphal

tambourines, drums, tambourines
fronded leaves spread
drums, tambourines, drums
a festival misled

The head borne proudly,
The stuttered gait nonstop
And the donkey’s hooves go clop, clop, clop

in raucous celebration
victorious crowds escalate
in quiet glory
death awaits

The head borne proudly,
The stuttered gait nonstop
And the donkey’s hooves go clop, clop, clop

specially chosen for this moment’s ride
carrying the groom, bearing the bride
plans set in motion by an unseen guide
the sting of victory espied

My head borne proudly,
My stuttered gait nonstop
And my hooves, they go clop, clop, clop
04/14 Direct Link
Yesterday was about Palm Sunday, Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The poem seems to focus on the donkey who bore Him. To the donkey, maybe the raucous crowds and celebrations were for it. All its life this donkey has lived a life of toil, and for this one moment, the people are cheering it. The crowds were as misled as the donkey, as they celebrated what they thought would be a military or political victory of some sort, when the victory that awaited Jesus was the sting of death. In the end, our misunderstandings about Him make us the donkey.
04/15 Direct Link
forgiveness

in my mind’s eye
time is not
a stopped watch on a crushed morning
but a moving target
that somehow turns minutes into decades
and lifetimes into 100-word elegies

God
paints pictures on clouds
that below rain down
beads of colors that blur sight
in searing reds and blacks and whites
but above is more planned than panned

i believed in blood oaths
and thought maybe you’d leave me
something more solid than a memory
and less expensive than a wound

now i’m longing for the day when
regret
is the memory
and forgiveness
the option

i’m looking for
04/16 Direct Link
A decade ago yesterday, I lost my closest friend in the world. I look back on ten years and wonder if there were a single second in it where my soul didn’t ache. After a loss as devastating, there are three levels of forgiveness. The first is to forgive God, who seconds after tragedy receives blame until you realize blame is reserved for accidents, not greater plans. Secondly, you forgive the victim for leaving you alone, all alone. The third forgiveness escapes me, and maybe always will; will I ever forgive myself for never appreciating every second I had him?
04/17 Direct Link
Shattered

ahead a tree, behind the mass
a thousand angels pinheads away
behind the shatter, ahead the glass
the life, the truth, the way

beneath the curse
of one purpose
at the bottom of the earth

above the wounding, below the grave
a thousand voices confounding the hate
below the sentence, above the save
the Shepherd, the vine, the gate

the right a robber, the left a thief
a thousand desires becoming the one
the left the mourning, the right the grief
the earth(quake), the star, the Sun

beneath the peace
of three trees
at the top of the world
04/18 Direct Link
Today is Good Friday. My daughter who’s only two and a half already knows the great eternal truth about this day – that today is the day when Jesus loved us the most. I recently cut my knee deep enough to require stitches. When the ER doc cleaned the wound with hydrogen peroxide, I almost passed out from pain. It touches me that God – an all-powerful deity who owes me nothing – would voluntarily undergo pain much more severe than stitches because He loved me. The imagery of three trees at the top of the world (see: Golgotha) fills me with peace.
04/19 Direct Link
passed over

like a stranger in a stranger land forty years sans seven awandering amidst the golden sin and sand to live beyond desires’ reach but end beneath a tree-shadowed command this single doorstep not crimson-marked as planned but crimson-marked along a greater plan so grand no end beneath but arisen arisen arisen! and from that glass-sea clarity no further banned the back turned away from nature and not from man and from that empty tomb of death we ran no longer stranded in a reptilian rock’s cleft’s span we stand we stand and always before us that gentle hand
04/20 Direct Link
Where Good Friday was when God loved us most, Easter is when He saved us by conquering death. The sacrificial love shown by Jesus on the cross reminds me of two Old Testament images. One was the original Passover, when God allowed the Israelites to mark their houses in blood to spare their first-born children from death. The second was when God covered Moses with His hand while Moses hid in the cleft of a rock to protect Moses from dying in His presence. Easter is the victory celebration of a God gentle enough to shield us with His hand.
04/21 Direct Link
[Dear Angie and Zachary, I love you from A to Z]

Tiger Cub and Baby Bear

Once upon a springlike morn
The kind that makes your legbones ache
To run and jump and grass your knees
And see how much noise fun can make,

A tiger cub and a baby bear
Went looking for love and joy.
Were love and joy as easily found,
And in the same places as a lost toy?

So they began their search together
Hand in hand, and grin for grin
By checking in the tiger cub’s den
And inside the rattly baby toy bin.
04/22 Direct Link
I have as many pet names for my daughter as I have different reasons for loving her. She is Poppy’s Little Girl, Princess, Huggle-Buggle, Bumbleebee, and Baby Bear, and a dozen names beyond. I almost feared I’d run out of an equal quantity of names for Zachary. But no: Poppy’s Little Man, the Little King, Cuddlebug, Bullpup, my Tiger Cub was able to find as many names as ways to be loved. In the beginning, God let Adam pick names for the animals of the world. Fortunately, God let me do the same for my children without lacking imaginative love.
04/23 Direct Link
[Bumblebee and Bullpup, I love you from Buzz to Bark]

Cub and Bear (continued)

They threw out chew toys and colorful keys
And mirrored and bellringy blocks
And penguin gloves and stuffed teddy bears
And multicolored animal-head socks

While joy was exhibited in drooly abundance
No love could be seen beneath tiger cub’s crib.
So baby bear carried tiger cub out
And wiped the abundant drool with his bib.

“Let’s go downstairs for a little second”
Said Baby Bear, holding the tiger cub’s paw.
Maybe one of the stuffed animals hid love
In kangaroo’s pouch or even in crocodile’s jaw.
04/24 Direct Link
In the poem, the bear and tiger get along well, and that’s true in real life. My daughter adores her baby brother and asks to hold him and hug him all the time. She is quite protective of him; whenever he cries she begs us to pick him up right away and get him some milk, or she’ll run and stick a pacifier in his mouth. Parents are always concerned that the second baby won’t be accepted by the first child. I think that only happens when the first child can’t see that the parents’ hearts have doubled in size.
04/25 Direct Link
Tiger Cub and Baby Bear (continued)

They went through her toy chest, discarding at will
A dachshund that talked, a farm-covered ball
A firefighter’s helmet, a bright bushy fox,
And a placard of an angel that once hung on a wall;

But alas, to their great button-nosed dismay
Love and joy were nowhere to be found.
They even searched twice, examining toys
And animals, and squeeze toys that lay all around.

Maybe they’d never find love/joy downstairs.
Maybe they’d never find love/joy today perhaps.
Maybe they’d never find love/joy for weeks.
Maybe they’d give up and both take their naps.
04/26 Direct Link
When my daughter was an infant, I could always count on one thing when I came home from work: to be spit up on. It didn’t matter how long ago she’d eaten, she always saved it for me. She NEVER spit up on anyone else holding her. Just me. Apparently she’s been speaking to her younger brother and teaching him a few tricks. Zachary now spits up on me everyday (again, no one else gets this lovely gift). I love the genetics of emotion – how infant love for one’s poppy (and how it is shown) can be seen across siblings.
04/27 Direct Link
Cub, Bear (continued)

Tiger cub squeaked; baby bear sighed.
This love and joy hunting had tuckered them out.
Still they weren’t able to find either one;
But rather than tantrum, whine, cry, or pout,

The baby bear jumped up and took a deep breath,
With all the love in her managed to yell
“Mommy! Poppy!” and then took a seat
Knowing completely that all would be well.

Mommy and Poppy came downstairs quickly
Picked up cub and bear in a single loveburst
The bear realized that love and joy needn’t be chased;
Love and joy always looked for them first.
04/28 Direct Link
The inspiration behind these Tiger/Bear poems is one of my favorite hymns “I Sought the Lord.” The first verse goes “I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me. It was not I that found, O Savior true; no, I was found by Thee.” The secret to finding God is allowing yourself to be caught by Him because He is already seeking you. I feel that way about my wife and children. I hope they never feel the need to search for love, since I am always looking to love them completely.
04/29 Direct Link
breathless

lying there still and alive
when I took that first breath
I suffocated in anticipation
of disappointed expectation
wasted breaths
reflexively exhaled
collected in frozen vapors
before the chapped skin
of indifference

in that next breath
when under the sea
of unexpected
labored breathing and misery
I found my lungs searching
for a single taste of air
unbreathed
and found a breath complete

now when I take this breath
the air whispers in
whispering
on its way to becoming
eternal wisps

and when I take that last breath
I’ll be finally exhaled in ever-pleasant
effervescence
flying there still alive
04/30 Direct Link
I spent much of my life thinking life wasn’t that much. As a child and as a teen, there was always this running undercurrent of unhappiness in me – that I was living life more as a reflex, like breathing, than as a purposeful occupation. At a cost I knew I couldn’t pay, but at a cost God knew I had to pay, my life has stabilized. I have stabilized. Now life for me is the means and not the end, and like coming out from under drowning’s embrace, every breath is a joy and not a reflex.

I am alive.