Parental life cycle

Parental life cycle

Jan. 25, 2010


We are saturated, filled

to the full measure of fullness,

our very substance

bearing in its warp and woof,

the life and the love

of those to whom

we have committed

our lives.


We have lived;

and we have been loved.


There’s no other way

to be used smooth,

worn to a surface

that even though

scuffed to the very nub

of its fabric, is complete.


We are — short and simple —

a pair of velveteen rabbits.


Snowmen Series:

February 6, 2002


Snowmen Series:

“Cross this line and I’ll melt you!”

Straw-covered snow men

stand in opposite front yards,

frozen sentinels.


Guarding Grassy Yards

Past carrot noses

stark sentinel snowmen stare,

brooms at parade rest.


Each One Handicapped

Head with carrot nose;

abdomen with buttoned vest;

round snowball for legs.



Gussie’s love

Gussie’s love

Sister Gussie’s gone.

Opinionated, loving,

saintly Gussie’s gone.


Crowding at the gate

waiting for her arrival

were those she had helped.


Must have been a lot

of the young and the old there

eager to greet her.


Since she was ninety,

those of us who remain here

cannot fool ourselves.


We grieve not for her,

knowing she is dancing now,

out beyond the stars.



The brimming moon

The brimming moon

Jan. 12, 2010

The brimming moon,

a bowl of cereal,

full to the rim


Succeeds by a week,

the slender cusp

that forms the horns

of a bull,

white albino hair

stiffly strung

between a pair of

bony, symmetrical

protuberant, pointed horn ends.


All headed toward,

the pitted, milky platter

of its fullness,

with its mouth and eyes

that have always

mocked us, assured us

that all that roundness

would come around again.


Cultural display of Kingdom (Note: set aside large table)

December 6, 2000

Cultural display of Kingdom (Note: set aside large table)

Cultural display

to encompass God’s broad reach

and his great riches


would only start with

wine and bread and altar cloth,

candle sticks and such.

But streams and valleys

and stars to light the dark night,

a baby of course,

held by her parents,

held in turn by numberless

bright generations,

herds of animals,

golden grain and red poppies,

minerals, jewels,

golden glow of dawn,

azure skies and thunderstorms,

white of snow and hail,

yes, the Word of God,

not just the book, but with large,

dancing, living words,


lively words of God

in ink and flesh and being,

transcending all else,

but binding, weaving them

into undreamed of wholeness

to praise the Creator.



Quieter than a Mars Rover with dead photo cells

Quieter than a Mars Rover with dead photo cells


The atheist’s prayers

have to pierce through the layers of

his own disbelief.


But the ears of God

are especially tuned to

his hurting children.


With stealth they can catch

and magnify the whispers,

bouncing off barriers.


So even those prayers

inaudible to others

are decrypted by him.

No silence so deep

that the heart of God cannot

hear the cries within.


Previously published in St. Anthony’s Messenger.


On the cusp of a new year, dreaming of a time before time

Dec. 30, 2002

On the cusp of a new year, dreaming of a time before time


We sat on the curb

and sought to speed the clock’s hands

as 10-year-olds will.


Childhood’s timeless time

seemed to stretch to forever,

time’s sands, molasses.


Oh for a day when

time’s supply was infinite;

snails raced the clocks’ hands.


Seeking to document Salvation Army assistance at Delta crash

Dec. 29, 2002

Seeking to document Salvation Army assistance at Delta crash


Fireman glared at me.

I dared not take his picture

at airplane crash site.


I’d watched the bodies

wrapped in black plastic pour from

the burned-out plane’s shell.


Workers like this man

had delivered the crashed jet’s

stillborn children.


I didn’t seek to

exploit his traumatized state,

just doing my job,


seeking to capture

him taking sandwich, coffee

from SA canteen.


The look on his face

is one I’ll never forget,

one of pain, anger.


not to be messed with,

not to be captured on film,

not to be displayed.



Along a rutted Ozark woodland road

Feb. 18, 2003

Along a rutted Ozark woodland road

The woods, foggy, deep,

yielded the long-maned horses

moving beside me.


The horses transformed.

Barking huskies replaced them.

Loud, threatening dogs.


It seems a dream now,

but then it had such substance.

Fog, then hooves, then paws.


The sound of his voice

stilled the pack, parted the herd.

I emerged from car.


My quest had ended.

The woodcarver owned the voice,

and I had found him.


He greeted me there

beside airy, windowed house

he had built himself.


Inside buffalo,

coyotes, and wolves on shelves,

the work of his hands.


Buffalo he’d carved

he rolled on his palms, showing

its rounded belly.


Collector had sent

it back to him for trimming,

asked him to slim it.


Work never finished,

constant tinkering and striving

for some perfection


that always eludes,

always just beyond our reach,

like spring’s first firefly.


I found the woodcarver from a description of where he lived in an article on him in National Geographic. His talent had been nurtured during the Great Depression by Clara Muxton, the founder of what became the Ozark Native Craft Association,  with which Susan and I worked in 1971.