Saturday, December 25, 2010

Advent Poems

Five Christmas gifts follow: a sampling of the twenty-four poems I wrote--one each day--for this Advent. Starting with the stocking stuffer . . . .

Harbor hopes as big as ships

equipped to cross worlds.


Fog rests in the forest, hiding

a world between grass and branches—

a world so soft and molecular

that breath would end it.

Once I was invited to a back room.

A man opened a drawer, then a box.

Then a folio with a spine thick as my fist.

He opened to a page illumined in gold leaf.

I could see my face in the burnished

brightness limning a birth.

I leaned over it, “Oh . . .”

The man shook his head.

That brilliance I could dull by breath.

Oh, fragility kept pressed

behind pages, boards, box, drawer

robbed of light. How can such beauty

shine if not exposed to the elements

that could destroy it?

How like its subject, deity turned

mortal to show us light.

Walk in this winter.

Wave your arms and holler

until you see your own breath.


Inspired by a vision of a ship’s figurehead turning outside in, as if she were looking to see if she had a heart.

My ship points inward

like a sleeve stuck

inside a shirt. Any

limb will reach core.

My cargo is heart,

heaven. The weight

so light, it almost

flies, this vessel.

Yes. See beneath me?

Stars. Here I plot

course, planetless.

Orbit with me. Hold

the north-pointing compass.

Tell me when it’ll be

to bright to read,

then kiss me with sleep.

I wake, seams back

inside, sleeves filled

with reasonable arms

holding reasonable things:

A bowl of stars

as souvenirs.


Inspired by the Celtic belief of “thin places,” where the veil is thinner between this world and the next

Love, sweet alias for the world

we wish to see, come rest

on our heads, close as hair.

Be the reason for the scalp’s

work—to grow strands that lift

with the physics of angels.

Love, watch the hair thinning,

guide the white. Give

us the wisdom we cannot reach

but which reaches us—

like a mother bending down

to lift up her child.

Her touch is tonsure,

marks us as those

who walk between.


The candle’s second end

is meant to rest, deep in white,

held curled asleep.

It is light’s tiny fly

stilled in waxen

amber millennia past.

That moist wick, not

meant for flame,

is signal—will

sputter and snap at fire.

Burn everything else

in the long line of life,

but leave yourself

a remainder of what

you’ll be remembered for.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

To Fear & Love

Irony may be on his deathbed, but now and then he sits bolt upright and wide-eyed, scaring the mourning relatives. He did this the other day. I jumped, and my heart raced when he said: “Fear of love keeps you from love.” And then he slumped back into his pillows and the doctor told us to go home and get some sleep.

If fear is my worst emotion, then love is my best. But trust the worst to try keeping me from the best. Fear is the proverbial pot of crabs, set on the stove to boil. If one of them finds a way to reach the rim, the others will pull him back in; if they can’t escape, they don’t want anyone else to. Fear doesn’t want me to know that there’s a way out. Fear is afraid of Love, so it keeps me from it. Oh, the times I sat, turning red, in boiling water!

Perhaps the deeper irony is that true Love took away all fear on the Cross, and yet I still yank fear back and hold onto it. Ridiculous.

So I decide to let ill irony die, and fear with him.

Love is living water. Love is refreshing, restoring, resplendent. Once in its wide and lovely waters, there should be no hint of a desire for that pot on the stove.

I am writing an obituary for fear and a “thank you” card for Love.