We are eucharist

You and I – we are eucharist.

We are the slow quench and

burn of wine made well from

flaming water.

 

We are from yeast – all that nourishes

made perfect in a moment,

but only after stealing a well-oiled

gaze into the mouth of dreams.

 

We are the holy cloth, drawn lightly

upon the lip of the cup, still damp

from shared spittle and wine-made blood.

It is the kiss of the saints

blended well in silver,

refined, reflective.

 

In the comfortable day, boasting

hours poured into containers shaped by

mystery, there can be no other.

Only a thin breeze of moments –

under your fingers.

_____________

Dedicated to my lover and friend of almost 30 years – my wife, Rae Kenny. 

Pushing breath from blue

By Valerie Dodge Head
By Valerie Dodge Head

We push out, breath from blue,

like the breaking waves, alone with their thoughts,

and catch ourselves among the reeds.

Passing alone through districts of enchanting knowledge,

we cough up our meal of bones, still hungry to drown

inside a conundrum bigger than our shoes.

______

Our little oceans, best of our times, rimmed ‘round

with shortening days, the noose of our shrinking

humanity; allure, the currency of dreams.

Still, one swims in what one drinks and drinks

what washes down and around all that looks

for more horizon. Let the four-quartered moon

sing what is only heard when deafness prevails.

______

The tragedy of the good, the irony of evil, foisted

upon hearts ill-suited for the journey in.

So it seems that the only way to bleed to life

is in the unmooring of our punctured ships.

There is more room to bleed when splintered lie

our longings, long held, and drawn and bloodied

souls buoy once more upon

______

the silent, soothing sea.

 

Special thanks to dear friend and colleague, Valerie Dodge-Head for her masterful artwork which inspired this piece. 

Life lessons at Starbucks

It’s okay to let the terry-cloth

wind blow itself through your thinning hair.

When the leaves fly past

your brow in that dismissive way they leave

a glint of naiveté, a good benchmark of

personhood. Only then are you safe

from their burden of proof. It tells me you’re just passing

through these moments without

the careless disregard you hear in the stifling

words of the never-enoughs.

 

They bounce in like clumps of collagen sadness and

pose at the Starbucks long enough to trumpet

their middle-age gym accomplishments. They lust

after glances but disdain the stares as somehow

presumptuous. In their strategic peripherals, table

reflections, and body language, they burn up

the fuel of appreciation. They like

to look at everyone but speak to no one,

especially the ruse in front of them just

hoping to lock eyes even once.

 

One skin shed in favor of a second, otherwise known

as yoga pants, they reign supreme

while supplies last of crunches, collagen, and

the deceitful quagmire of wealth. Maybe

there still lay rumors of rootedness deeper

than the soles of their Nikes. If no one looks,

do they disappear? But these stolen sideways glances come

in the luster of indulgence cloaked

in the risk of diminishing returns. Gawks become stares,

then looks, then glances, then indifference,

soon to fade in the diminishment of

apathy. The well-fitted tools of acceptance

turn to mock an unpracticed self-respect.

 

He runs his own Internet business. We’ve heard him

talk about it through his phone from across

the room in his well-thought out random attire.

An overly helpful demeanor, especially as door-man for

elderly ladies, helps with the compassion capital needed

to seal the deal: successful, built, kind – what more

could one ask? His secrets perhaps. How his wife’s

breath always smells a bit like mint and gin.

 

The one on her own stages

a similar performance, from the adoring

glare of her iPhone. It buys us all

an invitation to look without penalty, the detached

appreciation she’s come to know as attention.

The bubblegum ennui fools no one. In this tiny

15 minute window, short bursts of indulgence, the silent

praise of others passes for friendship. Maybe release can

happen soon, but through the derailments of a life

forced to surface through pain. Then, instead of adoring stares,

she can see back into the blinded eyes of another,

and finally exhale.

 

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Or, try this

Or, even this

acedia

We live life as no more than

the half-shrugged shoulder of

of a sleeping giant.

Let the wasp sting,

the filth stay,

the rodents gnaw

upon last year’s dinner,

prepared by another.

 

All has become

nature’s disavowal of its own

existence, the slowly turning

roots of black.

 

Flowers remain half-open,

squinting their heavy eyes

at the persistent sun.

Happy birds – I think they’re happy –

singing desperate songs

of unbidden encouragement,

scratch, scrawl, and howl,

like every happy voice – persistent, annoying,

useless, like a dare to a dead man.

 

Everything is good.

Is anything good?

What is anything but everything in reverse?

Oh, this melancholy, cottage

industry of romantics, poets, and

those with everything better to do

and no desire for it.

 

Life is good,

or so I’m told.

Kathleen Norris, acedia, and uncorking the wine

I suffer from an all too common writer’s ailment. It is an elusive demon, refusing easy corral, and lives on in spite of my best efforts to subdue it. Kathleen Norris, a favorite writer of mine, stakes a claim on this little inner hurricane of acedia, well-known to the 4th century desert monastics, and suffering from much needed exposé in books like her bestseller, “A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life: Acedia and me.”

This thing is attacking me where it hurts, writer’s blah. Frankly, there are times when writer’s block would be the better option. Better to write nothing than derivative bullshit, right? At least that’s what the self-pitying artist might be tempted to say.

Now, to be clear, I’m certainly not in a huge doldrum necessarily. I still love to write. I think I’m fairly good at it. But, at times, I wake up in a cold sweat and realize that I just read a collection of poetry by a 17 year old more intriguing, probing, and disturbing than anything I recall writing.

This poem is offered from such musings.

* * *

Uncorking the wine

Breathless like wine, still corked and waiting

in its darkness, sits that one, a one, this one.

 

Wheezing and sick, that soul, a soul, this soul,

like leaden clouds coaxing out un-fallen rain.

 

Sometimes bitter is a sky, unwilling to cough up

her best stories and wait for an audience.

 

What little disturbances, these sagging wits,

trying in vain to see into the sap of things.

 

What small crescendo to so great a symphony,

the song-less word, peals back upon itself,

just enough to pair with a mind in domino.

 

What a blunted song, gutted and safe,

lost in its own impotence, a flaccid regale.

 

What a forgetful space, its shape insufficient

to bear the weight of dents and denials.

 

What fraternity of the inconsistent, sparing nothing

in pursuit of everything, to gain nothing.

 

What a pale sentence, well-intentioned illness of

the crouched and waiting, waiting for anyone to come

 

and speak.

 

 

On the eve of memory

On the eve of a memory,

when the daylight streams through

old clouds, carried in the bucket

of yesterdays, there comes

a clarity. A bidding of dues

in clues from tiny feet,

now braking for beer and girls

and the particular geistlieb that

only says hello to newcomers.

Severed as one gets from

the possibility of possible, of eventual –

of always – it’s never really

too late to ensure what little time

remains to pour out the slop

from the bucket that once held

our best intentions.

These two, grasped from out of

hands held tighter still

to our deepest dreams.

Two poems from a day at the Grunewald Guild

My family and I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years now. I maintain that it is readily the most beautiful part of the country, perhaps the world – well, the parts I’ve seen. The Grunewald Guild is a tiny oasis of assorted buildings, forest pathways, an old church converted to a library, and a whole lot of contemplative, liturgical artists. My peeps. After living in the Yakima Valley now for almost nine years, receiving their regular emails for that entire time, I finally decided that it was time for a visit. Of other poems to come, these are the first two.

Plain

The chuckachuck of sprinklers

slaking thirsty brown grass

drone me into an almost zombie-like peace –

a single note, unyielding, in its own

tonic harmony.

 

A thousand shades of green –

jade and emerald and pine –

line themselves up in the random scattershot

only found in perfection. Much too random

for the soldierish replants

of our brutish industry.

 

Even the highway wants a place

in this scene – wearing the yellow line

like a scarf around the neck

of its own movement and momentary digressions –

 

Like this.

 

The Smell of Grey

The smell of grey, old and musty 

books holding ten thousand curious fingerprints.

The dog-eared tales of dog-eared folk,

standing together like square-jawed

colonels of mystery, harboring

citadel secrets.

 

For so silent a place, how loudly

they shout for my attention.

 

These Lutherans have it right.

There is no distance or

false pings of conscience that

“The Exorcist” shares a shelf with

“The History of Israel” and something else on liturgy.

Here, my dangerously haphazard

story fits. Suddenly, my impractical 

arbitrariness feels intentional –

almost holy.