Scars We Touch

How curious
how our deepest wounds,
become scars we touch
to remember
who we are.

Leaving it Open

Forgiveness is not closure—
not the signing of a dotted line and a handshake
nor the drop of a gavel, Not Guilty,
nor the immediate restoration of trust.
Forgiveness is a door
reopened, blowing shut
in every storm, reopened—
a trail we open and offer
to climb together riddled
with switchbacks, darkness,
cacti in flower. And we must choose again
when we swear we saw that same stump
months ago. Yes—but last time
wasn't it more dead
and less rotted?


I cleaned my house,
satisfied to leave it
locked tight and cold for a while,
but when I returned I found mice
had made themselves at home.
All the buried artifacts
I'd imagined undisturbed and waiting
had been skittered around,
pooped on, nested in, touched.
I wish the metaphor wasn't so Biblical.


It scares me, the thought
that maybe every morning blossom
of wild grace,
every birdsong at a shuttered window
must be purchased, paid for
with a night
of churning logic
when all you'd need
to lull yourself to sleep
is the will to conjure up
even a flickering phantom
of one reliable person, one,
one impossible human hanging
over your bed like a baby's mobile—
but your imagination
is so tired.

Jonah and the Open Road

Unexpectedly calm seas
so Jonah lands on the shore
of the Wild West, moseys into a saloon.
Moseys, yeah—despite the stiffness
in his boots. Breakin' 'em in.


This hippie homesteader
I saw on a DVD
keeps some woods
on the edge of his farm
partly for hunting and foraging
but mostly—mostly he steps
out toes first, foxlike,
to his sitting spot
where he cups his hands around his ears
and waits for the wilderness
to relax into wildness,
aware of him still, but consenting
to his empty-handed curiosity.


Home is where your ghosts roam,
where you buried the dog
you kind of neglected
in a cardboard box
too close to the garden
and every day you walk
mere feet from his bones.


At church camp they warned us
about sex, drugs, alcohol,
naked women, bad company,
science, other religions,
pants worn too low,
and secular music: Satan's tools
for luring us out of church
and into the world's grip.
The irony is, church gave me my first hit
of the drug that's led me
out of its doors—one faint sniff
of the Good News, God so loved the world,
and I'm lost, uncertain for the first time
of being right about everything wrong,
following its trail to the feet of teachers
Taoist and Muslim and Buddhist,
atheist and agnostic and heretic,
even Catholic,
—and I swear in quiet moments
I've heard the rocks cry out—
following out of doors
to farms, mute gospels;
following down to low places,
poorer and poorer each time
I approach the Cross,
claiming more handouts,
savoring fatted calves,
ever hungrier for ever more
I won't earn or deserve;
following its sweetness
out of my saved soul
and into this carnal body.
Chasing grace, I find myself
in the world, suddenly
my senses flooded with the beauty
of women, the texture of roots,
aromas of coffee and beer,
the firm handshakes of rough hands
of sinners like me.
Born again and again,
arriving on earth
like a rooting newborn,
I confess, Father, I'm lost
in my love for this world.

Welcoming Sadness

What happens
when a dancing person
meets a moping person
on the road?
Somewhere in the world
right now
someone got the job,
someone found a twenty
in her skinny pants,
someone may now kiss the bride.
Elsewhere a man is driving
back to Mom and Dad's, giving up,
someone is slowly losing a child.
The moping person approaches.
What will the dancing person do?

The Stuff That Makes Me Happy

I finally just realized
I'm atrocious at writing
about my own happiness.
All of my criticisms are written
with a balance of wit, brevity,
and exhaustive enumeration.
My thoughtfully fermented
examinations of my dissatisfaction
with the human race
and the humans I know personally
are like a tenured historian's
three volumes on the causes of slavery,
barely scratching the surface
of his encyclopedic awareness.
But it's hard to write good
about stuff I like, such as pizza.


Taking me
not seriously
but tenderly
the Mother makes it better
with a kiss that turns
into a raspberry.


When I wear my other coat
from time to time
I still find long golden-red hairs
woven in
—I can't help but believe—
by a historic person
with sincere and gentle intention
and if on that particular day I'm feeling
particularly foolish, I'll stop for a moment
to warm my hands
in the burning of that thoughtful deposit
of ancient sunlight.