LFR

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Only once or twice in your lifetime
Will you experience snow
When living between the gulf waters
And the slow rise of the hill country

Only once or twice in your lifetime
Will you experience the loss
Of a grandfather

The slow fading out
Into a white wintery wonderland
Blinking and then gone

The loss of kisses
That come in the form
Of rough unshaven faces
That scratch at soft new skin

Never waking up in the early dark hours
To watch him smoke his morning cigarette
While he eats cereal
And reads the newspaper
Before heading out to work
Hair slick with pomade

Never driving to the hardware store
While listening to a Floyd Cramer 8 track
Admiring his coveralls
And crisp white t-shirts
While taking rides through the sky
Looking down on the Chinese gardens

Deeply inhaling
Into candle molds
Savoring the smells
Of old world hobbies

Adirondack chairs
Watermelon served from metal tubs of ice
Morning glories and white latticework
Vintage stereo consoles
And buttered bread

16 inches of snow
And he leaves
And I only got 10 years
But I carry so much of him with me
Even 30 years later

Thanks For the Memories John

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Snoqualmie Pass
Quiet
Sleeping angels in the rearview
And it’s the light in her eyes that makes me warm
Watching the snowcaps
Bristling with massive pines

We hold hands
And follow each other
Letting our finger tips touch
And I turned the wheel slightly to the left
Coming down through another valley

Ten years
The mountains still majestic
Lakes just as cold
Static and comforting
She fills up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Together we have experienced
The tectonic shifts of our life’s crust
Where new life and love grows

We listen to the music of the mountains
They’re a promise of the future
One where we are always together

Fear

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Fear checks in
Takes the best room in the hotel
And slams doors as you try to sleep

Fear is a weapon
Firing bullets of mistrust
Creating outlines of conspiracy theories
In the sides of our homes

Fear is the shadows
That creep out from the corners
And take the shape
Of evil

Fear feeds off us
Leaving little but bone
It is a driver of all things human

God’s Acre

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Black history dies in neglected cemeteries
Dirt and marble examples
Of divisions
The color of neglect

Crumbling memories and monuments
Slipping away
Like the legacy
Of those that reside a few feet underneath

God’s acre dotting the South
Hiding in plain sight of the modern world
Passing within sight
Never noticing the past
Dreamily existing in peaceful glades

We Are Quasars, We Are Human

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We are Quasars
Exploding in an instant
Hearts and minds colliding
Sending gamma rays across the universe
Of our lifetimes

We are hot and fierce
Screaming life from our throats
All while slowly sinking back into the soil
From where we came

We are galactic nuclei
Burning with such stunning intensity
That we can blind our own existence
Illuminating humanity

Fluid and mercurial
Lost in the instinctual migration
Of the beating heart

The recognition that life is not black and white
It is a broad spectrum of colors
That blasts across the sky
In monochromatic waves

We have the ability to connect
In ways that are boundless and prodigious

We are the white light
That burns brighter than everything else around it
We are the center of our own galaxies
The beauty in our demise
Becoming breathtaking acts of selfishness
Hoping to transcend
We are human

We are Quasars
Blinking out in an instant
We are human

Working With Broken Wings

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It should have been
A celebration
Of life
Progress
We radiated with hope
Invigorated at the direction
Of the refreshing course
Guided by sails full of wind
We talked about the next 4 years
How the invisible
Would continue to reap
Untold benefits
The disenfranchised
Slowly gaining a voice
In our lifetimes
Such a mission
Had never been undertaken
Our life long belief systems
Were being put into action

Suddenly there was a murder
A brutal execution
Our Titanic had hit an iceberg
The band played on
While we stumbled
Out the door
Stunned
Unable to look each other in the eyes
What we had witnessed
Incomprehensible

The morning after
Came the shifty uneasiness
As light sensitive eyes
In a dark room
Tried to see the news
I sat on the bedside
Searching
For possibilities
That what I had witnessed
And reversed course overnight

Heart wrenching
Sadness
Lost without a map
Stripped naked
Wandering into hostile territory
With no weapons

All the implications
Spirit crushing
We couldn’t even begin to list
All the ramifications
The entitled
Had regained their throne

Then came the anger
Burning fiercely
Hot and laser focused
Outrage
For bullies
That successfully perpetrate
Grand schemes of aggressive domination
For misogyny and gender discrimination
That is proudly pulsing with vulgarity
Unabashedly accepted as the norm
For racism and bigotry
That turns inward
And pretends to be a virtue to its holder
Ignorance disguised as wisdom

We are bitter about a voice
That was not louder than hate
Words that fell in battle
When facing down repugnant rhetoric
Watching maps run red with blood
While others tell us
To accept and move on
Learn to get along

And then I am brought to my knees
Sleepy kids
Sipping milk from cereal bowls
Asking questions
In the early morning light
How did this happen?
Will we be packing and leaving?
My eyes dead
With reflections of last night’s numbers
Etched forever
I have no answers
The future just a cold void
I have no reassurances
Just an awareness that I had lied to them
Deceived them
Made them think that the world
-The only one they had ever known-
Was not inherently
Overwhelmingly
Populated by the unpleasant foul odor
Of those that had crawled out of the shadows
It was difficult
To even explain
That they would be safe
To assure them the country would survive
I had no plan
Only hugs and sad shoulders

On the drive
Into work
The process of ratiocination began
Flipping the last decade
From back to front
This had not been the destination
For which I had been running
Was change still possible?
Would all the steps that had been taken
Be nullified?
Was good still possible
In a place where the unsympathetic lived?
Could we still make a difference?
Was there still a place left for us?
In this inhospitable environment
Could the damage be mitigated?
Could the wounds inflected
Be staunched?
The questions kept coming
And the answers kept hiding
Or simply didn’t exist for me
How could I possibly
Reconcile my fear and anger
Toward those I work with
The family I was born into
And friends I had made
All who had chosen
Selfishness
Practicing self-indulgence
While callously overlooking
Even ignoring
Basic tenets of decency
Toward their fellow man
Then somehow arriving at a point
Where they accepted
Deep seeded judgements
And categorized human beings
Putting their own needs
Wants
Desires
Above others
Because they were content
With a President
That represented only their best interests
Because of the color of their skin
And the God they prayed to

Had it all just been a wonderful experiment
That had a violent chemical reaction?

The loss hurts
The pain fathomless
Losing hope
Is like dying
As you watch everything you care about
Fought so hard for
Get shoved into a room
Where an axe carrying maniac
Chopping at the door
Tries to get it
Hell bent on ending
Humankinds best intentions
The best we had to offer
The cosmic letdown
Disappointment
In ourselves
Because we could not
Despite our best efforts
Continue to push forward
Protect
Those who suffer
We have failed ourselves
Our children
The world
God

This is about two countries
Who are trying to coexist
Both strive for a very different world
One through lenses of diversity and inclusivity
Building bridges and breaking ceilings
The other utilizing
A militarized hostile citizenry
To promote overt racism
Hostility toward minorities
And uses religion as a weapon
Unapologetically

We now work with broken wings
And black eyes
Starting all over
Cupping the flames of faith
With one hand
While digging out
From under the mountain
With the other
Beaten and bruised
Faced with a nation
That no longer works for everyone
A land where
Undesirables roam
With their fascist leader
Carrying the charge
But we must start again
There are those that count on us
The kids eating their cereal
In the early morning light
Who need to feel safe
And to grow up
Knowing what diversity and inclusivity means

Daughters who are told they could be anything
Only to see misogynistic men
Deny them that right

Sons who need examples
Of men dedicated to families
Promoting love, honesty and humbleness
While improving their community and country

Women given the chance
To start families, be mothers
All while being paid fairly

Those who choose to love
The ones they fall in love with
Dress how they feel
Be the person God created
Without fear of discrimination

Minorities who work decades
With no retirement or medical plans

Immigrants trying to find a place to live
Where gangs, regimes, wars and bombs
Don’t destroy families

When the clouds
Park over your head
The rain doesn’t seem to quit
You feel as if your voice doesn’t count
Remember
Change is rarely ever instant
It has to cook
In a pot
That you tend to lovingly
For years
Making small improvements
Adding the right ingredients
Until one day
You see it was all worth it
The crying must stop
Sadness rung out of the dirty sponge
We must start prioritizing
Participating
Allowing even the quietest of voices
To combine with others
Becoming the horns of Jericho
Bringing down the walls of injustice

Longing To Be the Egret

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There is a lake
Upon which I live
A place I found long ago
I had been walking for years
Through overgrown forests
Making camp each night
Sleeping alone in the dark
But one day I broke into a clearing
And there was an isolated lake
Pristine and untouched
Undiscovered and unknown

On the lake
I built a home
And a long dock
One that would take me
Out into the intimate depths
Of her clear waters

I would lay on my stomach
Staring into her depths
Talking little but with a head full of thought
From her glass surface
My image reflected
Making all my flaws and fears evident
And she taught me that they were erasable
Not a permanent part of me

One night the moon was high
I was up late and unable to sleep
And she called to me
I left the safety of the dock and slipped naked
Into her waters
The surface breaking and closing around me
We said little
As I glided slowly through the dark waters
All the unknown
Wasn’t scary anymore
I knew not how far her depths plunged beneath me
I still recognized that I knew nothing
Of the life that lay ahead of me
But that didn’t matter anymore
I stayed for hours
And all fears and hurt
Melted away

The next day I built the dock longer
Stretching further out than I had dared go previously
And I built a tiny boat
And in that boat I float aimlessly
Letting the breeze push me
In slow circles for hours
Other times letting the oars
Cut through the liquid
Pushing me faster
Feeling the spray against my face as I laugh out loud

The crystal waters sometimes darken
Storms churn her banks
Tossing her waters high into the air
The wind screams off of her
Bending and twisting the trees that surround
I watch from my window
Waiting for the calm
And in the morning
I begin cleaning the beaches
Repairing the dock
Collecting my boat that has broken loose
From the moorings

At times the fog rolls in
The mystery she is
Deepens
She hides
With Only the quiet call of the loon
Making its way out of the soup

And I find it all incredibly inspiring
I sit through it all with wonder

Often times I watch
The long legged Egrets
Silently glide inches off her surface
Wing tips nearly touching the lake on the down stroke
From one end of her placid waters to the other
As if they are one in the same
Performing together in paradisiacal synchronicity
As if they participate in some symbiotic relationship of mutualism
And I am ashamed
That such beauty
Fills me with such emulous thoughts
She is ever changing and mercurial
Yet remaining a constant and unflappable influence
On everything that surrounds her
Just as the lily pads and minnows depend on her for life
As do I

There are times when she unsettles me
When I feel as if I have failed her
When I think perhaps she is angry
That I built my home so close to her waters
And other times when I feel she believes I built it too far away

At night I lay quietly
Listening to her waters
Rhythmically spilling onto the shore
Over and over
And during the day
I listen to her breath
Blowing across the Elms
And through the hanging wind chimes
All of this
Creates the song
That unshackles my soul
Giving me immense joy

But I know that one summer
The quiet boat rides
Will come to an end
No longer will I stroll down the long dock
To look at my reflection in the water
The dock will sink slowly into her tears
My tiny boat will float away
And the house will fall into disrepair
But my spirit will forever remain
I will finally be the Egret
Flying inches above her
Watching the sunset
Make paintings across her surface
For eternity
And she will know that I loved her