love ’em or leave ’em

you have two choices
said my master
when people and animals
objects and ideas
causes and conditions
drift into your life
like clouds on a breezy day

you may love them
and sit with them
listen to their story
and truly see their worth
embrace them
and share life with them

or you may let them go
and watch as they
drift out of your life
like storm clouds in a gale
or like dissipating mist

but master
i inquired with some anxiety
what of those clouds
which i cannot love
and which yet
refuse to leave?

ah, young one
for that kind of cloud
you will need this
said the master
as i was suddenly blasted
by the thunder and wind
of her carefully concealed
leaf blower

seen

do you want to know my superpower?
it’s a really awesome superpower
yep
i’m invisible

stop laughing at me
stop telling me you can see me just fine

you don’t see me

it’s ok though
i don’t want you to see me
that’s why i’m using my superpower

i can’t trust you enough to show you
i can’t trust you unless i know
you’re really here

i can’t trust you until you show me
that if you see me
you’ll see the real me
the deep me

not just these scars
and burns
and discolorations

so please stop
stop trying to see me
you can’t see me yet

not until i can see you

bird brain

the little grey bird
twittering on a branch
outside my window
as i sit to meditate
has ants in its pants

it can’t seem to stop
shaking its tail feathers

is it thinking about sex?
or does it literally have
bugs on its bottom?

maybe it’s boogie fever
i can’t say

eventually
it flutters to a higher place
and settles down

eventually
however briefly
i do the same

The Stuff I’m Made Of

65% oxygen, so I may inspire
18% carbon, to help me form diamonds
10% hydrogen, to ignite my combustion
3% nitrogen, so I’m a high-protein snack
1.4% calcium, to fortify my chompers
1.1% phosphorus, making me luminous
73% muscle, ’cause I eats me spinach
22% fat, ’cause I scarfs me donuts
3% bone – thank you, calcium!
58% water swelling my ugly bag of skin
patches of hair keeping bits of me warm
a score of shiny nails to dig in the mud
a couple of grimy spirit-windows
two feet that stumble on smooth floors
ten fingers that flounder over keys
a derriere well-adapted to sitting still
a heart like a neodymium magnet
a durable web that binds me to you
a little dog, desperate for approval
a pirate who gives away his booty
a child at storytime, lost in wonder
an octillion of this universe’s molecules
and approximately one of creation’s souls

Lord of Miracles

A ruined cathedral, partially buried by lava rock, against a background of blue sky, clouds, and tree-covered hills.

Paricutin Cathedral – Photo credit: Daniel Tapia. Some rights reserved.

In 1943, two Mexican towns were consumed by a sudden yet gradual volcanic eruption. All of the townspeople’s lives were spared, together with most of the nearby cathedral.

Lord of Miracles

Nevertheless,
the north tower thrusts toward heaven
a gnarled and knobby index finger
jabbing, accusing,
hissing, “You did not lay me low.

Oh, you tried,
on the day you wrapped your
gentle, burning arms
around my brother and me.
You reached up, and you held me,
and you pulled my stone
toward yours,
yet still I stand.”

Its sibling to the south says nothing,
its throat and mouth having plunged
to mingle with the jagged tumble
of dark lava-rock
surrounding and permeating
the cathedral that was,
the sacred place that is,
sixty-five years after
God’s hot embrace.

Behind those brothers –
one tall, one reduced
to stubby fingers reaching up,
an open hand to receive the gifts
of the sky – is the chapel
with three walls and no top.
It too is ready
to accept heaven’s favors
even if they descend from above
as a slow avalanche of fire.

Pilgrims fill the chapel –
seekers dressed in yellow and red,
in green as vibrant as the brush
that ekes out life upon this
snaggy, igneous landscape.
They come for the icon enshrined within –
el Señor de los Milagros.

And were there ever miracles here?
Was it love that was raining down
when the people of two towns
lost their homes,
yet thanks to the slow tenderness
of God’s scorching grasp,
not a single soul lost her life?

El Señor hangs upon his tree –
the ruin at which he eventually arrived –
as the women who loved him weep.
He seems to gaze upward
at the similar cross
that sits proudly atop the northern spire.
In the late afternoon sun
the tower’s stone and brick skin is black
and brown, tan and red like flame,
like human flesh.

And in the sunlight,
it stands.

A Christmas Villanelle

They say, one time, eternity took form.
The story’s told again this time each year –
a tale which, in December, keeps us warm.

Amidst a world that’s often uniform,
can my uniqueness be belov’d and dear?
They say, one time, eternity took form.

Society compels us to conform,
yet each of us has quirks that make us queer,
a tale which, in December, keeps us warm.

Our difference makes us separate from the norm,
yet in our incarnation, God is near.
They say, one time, eternity took form.

Connection holds the power to transform,
unveiling mystery that makes things clear –
a tale which, in December, keeps us warm.

Together, we can overcome this storm.
United, we can conquer pain and fear.
They say, one time, eternity took form,
a tale which, in December, keeps us warm.

A Christmas Glosa

Alone – with one fair star for company,
The loveliest star among the hosts of night,
While the grey tide ebbs with the ebbing light –
I pace along the darkening wintry sea.

December shadows lengthen, bringing cold.
Sometimes it feels like that’s what life will be:
More dark and chill, as we grow sad and old –
Alone – with one fair star for company.

But when the sky is dimmest, lift your gaze
And view this cloudless heaven with clear sight.
That lonesome orb can light our twisting ways –
The loveliest star among the hosts of night.

A distant candle shows the way to hope,
Reminding us that love will win despite;
Igniting flame within to strive and cope,
While the grey tide ebbs with the ebbing light.

In Christmas light and Christmas love, let’s turn
And see each neighbor’s shared humanity.
So having glimpsed the peace for which I yearn,
I pace along the darkening wintry sea.

The first stanza is adapted from the poem “Christmas Even” by Mathilde Blind.