Monday, April 25, 2022

I'm good with languages

This morning on the path to the beach
the wind whistled through the scrub brush
and I answered back in the vernacular.
The ocean, unusually talkative,
threw waves and words on the shore.
I understood her perfectly.
Two sea gulls bandied a joke back and forth
in their dialect. I got it. Laughed out loud.
And while the rising sun chose to be silent,
I knew what he meant to say.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, Saturday

 Questions for the Father

Jesus called you Father
even more than he called you Lord God Almighty.
Daddy, he whispered in those early morning conversations,
surrounded by silence, waiting for the dawn.

He told us stories about you—
a sorrowful father missing his lost son, waiting, waiting,
a woman losing her money,
a shepherd losing a lamb.
He told us how you searched for the lost
and how you turned happy, so happy,
at the return of what you held dear.

Even with these stories, it seems presumptuous
to attribute human emotions
to the Creator of the universe,
the Lord of Hosts, the Name above all names.
Sad? Angry? Happy? Aren’t you above all that?
So I approach you tentatively, on tip-toe
with my wonderings.

Were you with him in the garden that night?
When your son begged for mercy,
for release from the coming horror,
did it cost you to tell him No?
Even knowing the end of that dark story
(a story you wrote), did his tears move you?
Did you feel the dread with him?

Did a shudder run through the universe
when your son was betrayed, denied justice,
degraded, abused, and crucified?

Did you actually abandon him?
What did that cost you?

I’m a clumsy, bumbling pseudo-therapist
asking you, And how did that make you feel?
Forgive my presumption.
But I really do wonder,
my Father.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, Good Friday

Luke 23

Like beach volleyball
played with a live coal,
Pilate and Herod
toss him back and forth.
His innocence scorches.
As the crowd grows
angry and restless,
they drop the coal.
The crowd wins.
Jesus loses.
(The whole world wins.)

The Politician’s Question
John 18:28-40

What is truth?
the politician asks,
not sticking
around for an answer.
The question hangs
in the air while
the man born
to be king awaits
his coronation
in silence.

Mark 15

Along with T.S. Eliot,
I also wonder
why we call
that Friday

Last Breath
Luke 23:46

With a loud voice
Jesus committed his spirit
to God and breathed his last,
we’re told. Last breath
from the One who was there
when God breathed life
into the human race.
Blew revival on a pile of bones,
embodied the Spirit wind
that enlivened a people for God.
But this breath was not really
his last. It would only lead
to a new and living way
for people to breathe.
The last breath would become
the first in God’s strange

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, Thursday

No Way
Luke 22

Lord, there is no way I can make good poetry from this story.
No way I can journey with Judas, you as my merchandise.
I can’t sit at the table with your disciples, drink your blood, eat your body, even in metaphor.
I also love to pray in gardens, but this bloody sweat makes no sense.
I’m angry at the kiss of death and the rough seizure with you refusing resistance, at the mockery and the insults.
And I’m dumbfounded when you look at me, just as you looked at Peter.
Forgive me.


I Am He
John 18:1-27

I am he
is the seismic center.
It spreads in expanding rings.
The bodies fall outward,
circle a setting sun.
Torches, lanterns, weapons,
a bloody face, arrest
and betrayals spin,
but the center holds.
Even so, night deepens.
Even so, this unbearable cold.


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, day 3--a preview


The Anointing
John 12:1-19

Judas seems to be
the only sane human
in this scene.
The wastefulness
of Mary’s impulsive gesture
—in the midst of third world
poverty, political unrest,
and untold suffering—
demands an angry response,
whatever the ulterior motives.
The only act more
extravagant than Mary’s
anointing is Jesus’
of its appropriateness.
Surely this time
love has gone too far.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, day 2--a preview

Small Things
Luke 21:1-4

He sees
the smallest movement—
a cup of coffee,
a single coin,
washing dishes
and sweeping floors,
a word in the silence
offered in love
by an undivided heart.
Unnoticed by humans,
angels sing.
He sees.

The Time Will Come
Luke 21:5-37

--when my degrees, publications, and progress reports will dissolve into air
--when the nose of the apostle will grow long
--when pandemics, tsunamis, tribal migrations, and the extinction of the bald eagle will crash the media networks
--when we will be brought before the House judicial committee and accused of crimes against humanity.

Don’t be afraid, he tells us illogically.
Get ready.
Redemption is coming.