December 31, 2012

Epiphany One Way or Another

For you it might be a magic light
appearing in the beckoning western sky
you follow it despite the peril and ridiculous cosmology
find what you were looking for in a backwater town
and rejoice in your bones that for a moment
you were breathless with holy hope
and then when a dream tells you to turn left at Jerusalem
you turn left and never look back or reappear or question
but still, you found it, you felt it, you lucky star-gazing fool

For me it was a slow mystery emerging from darkness
a sliver of silver working its way through
the hairline cracks of my life –
my father’s young death and the family shuffling
the unfulfilled longings of home and stable ground
my mother's short cobbled path and leaving me a 28-year-old orphan
the broken promises I can never unbreak
my sons’ beautiful and unbearable limited reality
the day I found our cat dead and bloated under the deck
the midlife falling into bottomless blackness
and the unforeseen and unknown father’s strong catch
and then, emerging like Venus through January clouds,
the Epiphany, the star, the shining that only comes in the night

December 27, 2012

Indigo, Saffron, White, and Lovely

As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 
- Colossians 3:12-14

Clothe yourself with patience like your
Indigo linen pants flow down your legs
letting every wrinkle stay beautifully messy
cuffs caressing the floor just behind

Clothe yourself with compassion like your
saffron sari hugs your midriff
and moves with your belly each inhale-exhale
one with your breath your laugh your cry

Clothe yourself with kindness like your
white guayabera lightly hangs and breathes
reflects sunrays away so your skin
feels cool with the breeze and free

Clothe yourself with love like your
lovely skin drapes your bones protects muscle
sheds itself liberally when its time is spent
ever dying and renewing the body beneath

December 20, 2012


After the horrifying and gut-wrenching violence in Connecticut last week, a lot of news reports refer to the killer as the "gunman."  This bothers me.  It implies that he was a man.  He wasn't.  He was a 20 year old boy with way too much power at his hands, and way too much darkness inside him to handle on his own.  He wasn't a gunman.  He was a gunboy.  And anytime we give boys such power without guiding them into the burden and responsibility of adulthood, of manhood, we can expect they will mess it up, in either small ways, or tragically, in ways that wound a whole nation.  You can be 16 and be a man, or you can be 53 and still be a boy.  It's not about age, it's about the hard work it takes to mature, grow up, face your demons, and let your ego die.  But for God's sake, let's not put assault rifles in the hands of another gunboy.

December 18, 2012

Magnifying Glass

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country,  where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit  and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?  For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
            And Mary said,
           "My soul magnifies the Lord,
  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
  for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
           Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
  for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
           and holy is his name.
  His mercy is for those who fear him
           from generation to generation.
  He has shown strength with his arm;
           he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
  He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
           and lifted up the lowly;
  he has filled the hungry with good things,
           and sent the rich away empty.
  He has helped his servant Israel,
           in remembrance of his mercy,
  according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
           to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
- Luke 1:39-55 

We hear that down is up and up is down
rich empty and poor, poverty steeped with riches
and nothing will ever be the same

Our pride is exposed as shame and
shame inverted becomes pride
and nothing will ever be the same

The kings beg in the street for coins and
the street junkies take eucalyptus steam showers all day
and nothing will ever be the same

You come into this gunning, shot-up world
Mary sings of your power and peace
and your only weapon a willing womb

You magnify us with your round looking glass
and see our microscopic lives as large
and our greatness you smoke out with focused light

In turn our souls magnify you, you unexpected world flipper,
as we look up through the lens of goodness and mercy
and just your eye fills up the monacle of the sky

December 15, 2012

Child Sacrifice

her hand holds up her heavy head
with hair pushed back and eyes drawn downward
as if gravity were tugging at her seven times harder
as if her bones were twice as thick

do not ask her for words or speech
her only utterances are guttural and gibberish
mixed with wails and weeping and water
intelligible only to the grief-initiated

she is now drowning in the dark mystery
that any wise mother or father runs from shrieking
these gorgeous, fragile children we make
exact from us sacrifices or become the sacrifice