May 18, 2019

This Whiteness

Grandfather could so smoothly
pour his evening whiskey and slur
an n-word or five during Lawrence Welk
before the gentle nod off
in his 1950’s recliner green

Aunt would teach school children
and love them so, she said,
even the little black ones,
she said, and still speak of them
diminutively, and of their parents
dismissively, and end the day
with a refreshing front porch lemonade

Some ancestor in Massachusetts
fought for abolition and justice
and spoke of prophets Amos and Jesus
but never imagined in her
white mind wrapped in razor wire
a fullness in blackness,
a greatness, a she and he empowered,
a liberation of herself from her white self

And here I am attentive but in white fog
of my own insolence and actions
my crossing the streets of Chicago
when young black men approach
when I see the protests and riots and think
if you would just…if you could only…
when I make every effort for my white sons

and even writing this poem
and even writing that previous line
cannot end it, this whiteness,
this inherited shame and shamelessness
this enfolding in my brain of what
we ourselves, by our fault,
by our own fault,
by our own most grievous fault,
have wrought, have clung to white-knuckled,
have ignored in our beloveds,
have so blithely pruned from family trees
and cannot prune from ourselves

May 15, 2019


Three Musicians. Pablo Picasso


I want to write a melody
that will ache your heart that will
sing the shards of you together
mismatched and misaligned flawlessly

aesthetic phrasing fashioned out
a buoyant sixth reaching up
a minor third dropping down
major sevenths harmonizing with you

lovely, more gorgeous than you thought
your musical life to be and then may I
beg, please sing it back to me
to my ache to my beauty to my dissonance

in our jazz I might discover why
God inscribed every
crying, awful, wondrous,
uncomposed note fixed in me

April 25, 2019

Resurrection of Jesus

Resurrection of Jesus

What it is not:
Jesus' dead body getting up and walking around
Jesus' dead body still in the tomb
Jesus' ghost haunting people
A hopeful wish in the disciples' hearts
A psychedelic mushroom trip from bad stew
An unreliable tale from women
Something to believe in
Something to rationalize
Status quo of human power

What it might be:
God’s disruption of everything you believe and doubt
Jesus alive beyond death
Eighth day of creation
Love that will not die
Justice on the move

April 18, 2019

Eucharistic Prayer for Easter

A eucharistic prayer I wrote for Easter, offered to the church:

Eucharistic Prayer for Easter

Holy God, Holy Love, Holy Wonder,
      out of silence and emptiness
      you created the heavens and the earth.
            The oceans sing your praise.
            The rivers chant your glory.
Out of Abraham and Sarah’s dead end,
      you made promises, you granted laughter,
      you brought forth descendants to continue your story.
Out of the deathly power of oppression and slavery
      you liberated your people
      and blessed them with water, bread, wine.
Out of their lifeless wandering from your justice and mercy
      you sent them prophets who sang poems
            that serenaded them back to you.

In your great compassion for every tribe and nation,
      you sent Jesus,
            to bring everyone out of the tomb of hatred and sin
            and into the life of your love.
He fully embodied your compassion,
      lifting up the poor,
      raising up the lowly,
      forgiving the sinner,
      suffering and dying
            so that no one need suffer
      injustice and fear any more.
Out of the death of his own tomb,
      you raised him up
      so your story of love will not end.

In the night in which he was betrayed,
      our Lord Jesus took bread,
      and gave thanks;
      broke it,
      and gave it to his disciples, saying: 
      Take and eat;
      this is my body, given for you.
      Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup,
      gave thanks,
      and gave it for all to drink, saying:
      This cup is the new covenant
      in my blood, shed for you
      and for all people
      for the forgiveness of sin.
      Do this for the remembrance of me.

Together with one voice, we celebrate the paschal mystery of faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Send your Spirit to fill us with the joy of the resurrection.
      Grant us hope beyond our comprehension.
Bless these gifts of bread and wine,
      so that the endless life and love of Jesus
      may dwell in us, and flow from us
            through acts of love for our neighbors.

Holy God, Holy Love, Holy Wonder,
      we give you more praise than we can utter,
      as we await that great day
            when the feast of your love
                  has no walls, no exceptions, no end,
            when we gather with Christ, by the Spirit,
            and know life in you:
                  love that cannot die,
                  love that enlivens our weary bones,
                  love that exceeds every hope and dream,
                  love, now and forever.