Little One

Little one,
When I rise at 2am
To hold you, squalling
Red-faced and indignant
And soothe you back to rest
Against the cradle
Of my ribs
I gaze with wonder
At the twin lights
Of consciousness and feeling
Dancing, birth-fresh
Behind your eyes
And I feel the weight
Of your protection
Press against my weak
And narrow shoulders
And think, my God
How am I shepherd you
Through all of this?
In time,
You will have your own
Thoughts and joys
And secret yearnings
But for now
You ask only for a full belly
And a warm embrace.
I comfort myself
That these things are enough
To sustain you,
And try to brush away the fears
That seek to crowd out
Our simplicity
With their demands.
Little one,
I know that I am not enough.
And yet I fear the day
You learn the same of me.

one more chance

i cannot change the world,
i cannot heal it,
i cannot even fathom it.
i am glad
that i cannot understand.
if i could, i imagine
i would only
cradle my head in my hands.
i thank you God
for my light yoke,
for my small piece
of the puzzle.
i am sorry
for my anger,
my paralysis,
for the blank stare,
for the heart-numbness.
i thank You for Your patience
and Your grace,
and most of all
i thank You for today,
for one more day,
one more chance
to figure it out.

no, not at all.

sometimes I think
if I drop a rope
down, down
into the deepest well
of my mind
and sit
patiently
in my little rowboat
on the surface
perhaps
something surprising
will crawl back out
and I wonder
would I sit and talk
with it awhile?
would I hurl it back
into the shadow it came from,
or would it toss me back instead?
has this already happened?
am I in the boat,
or am I in the hole?
and I think,
fuck it,
I don’t like this metaphor at all

the obligatory houseplant lives a sad life

The philodendron dangles,
Limp and perfunctory,
In the front window of a Chinese restaurant.
Its leaves are dusty
And curl at the tips.
Its soil
Is dry as a bone.
It gets no light
From the dim alley it faces
Every goddamn day.
It is a sad,
Sad plant.
Slouching in the fluorescent un-light
Of the pick-up counter,
Waiting for my chow mein,
Trying not to fidget,
I smile half-heartedly,
Water the plant,
And think
“I know how you feel”

dreams

in dreams I often walk
some wretched maze–
all sharp corners, endless corridors feeding into themselves,
vaulted chambers alive with darkness, shadows with voices,
faces grinning in the black.
it goes nowhere, and I pace it alone, haunted by the echoes
of my own footsteps.

in other dreams, I watch
the calculations
of a massive equation–
the vastness of the universe distilled into numbers with names
but no meaning,
shoveled from one side to the other
for no reason
but to fill in the blanks.
it is the soothing boredom
of a defragging computer–meaningless,
but with a comforting sort of equity.

in still other dreams,
I sit at the bottom of a well,
tapping my fingers
and scratching off tally marks.

but in some dreams,
I walk with You
in a sunset field of tall yellow grass, three years old,
with hands big enough
to hold on to just two of Your fingers.

and in a very few dreams,
I walk the very fringes of the earth barefoot–laughing, strong–
free of limb and loose of tongue, fearless…

ambition can fuck off for a day

“Dream big! Dream big!”
My big dreams have made me into an ant,
Hauling a burden a thousand times my weight–
For what?
I’m just building somebody else’s sand-hill empire.
Give it one, good stiff rain
And we’ll see exactly what that sweat has built.
“You do so much! You must be proud! Surely you must go far!”
Proud, sure, and fucking exhausted.
Pride is a stone tied to my feet
I confidently drag on a long walk off a short pier
And yes I’m sure my pride will take me far,
All the way to the sludge at the bottom of the river.
“Such initiative! Such ambition! We could use more people like you!”
Oh yes, I’m sure
You could use more people to use.
“You work so hard! You’re such a help!”
I’m tired. Tired!
Tired of being a slave to my desires,
Imprisoned in the future by expectations!
My dreams are my own, and by God
They won’t be hooked up to the economic milking machine,
Sucked dry and discarded.
Pride and ambition will not be the harness
Binding me to the yoke of “accomplishment”
And frankly my initiative right now is telling me
To take a nap and call it a day,
And if opportunity calls it can leave a message
That will promptly be deleted.
“You have so much to offer!”
Yeah, well,
Not to you.
Not anymore.

thorns

Presently, my day is measured out
In tablespoons of coffee,
Cigarettes,
And entries on the punch-clock.
Input sweat, output bills,
No slack, no overflow–simple.
But…I’m not simple.
It’s just a disaster
When I try to pour my big, messy self
Through the clean little funnel
Of work and society
And all that blah blah blah…
Callouses form
Where I chafe myself against the box
Of a carefully selected
Little pigeon-hole…
They say,
“In time, the stubborn ox
Doth wear the yoke.”
Well fuck that.
Who made the yoke king, anyhow?
One man’s mistake, a millenium ago.
Thanks for all the thorns, Adam.
They don’t make life suck, or anything.
Later on, another Man came along
To take those thorns upon Himself.
So.
I put my hand to the earth
And strive with brambles and weeds,
And boy,
It takes the starch right outta me.
Is the sweat of my brow a consequence
Of the first man?
Or obedience to the second?
A bit of both, I think,
And when I run for the hills
I can’t hear myself think
For all of Creation groaning,
And even the empty prairie sighs
For lack of rain…