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.


probably the wrong “somewhere”

slow-building, mundane pressures
push me into a mold I don’t like.
voices, high and low,
talk me into a corner I didn’t choose.
God’s tireless chisel
crumbles me into a shape I don’t understand.
my desires fracture
and fly out from me in all directions.
the path winds, and wanders,
and fades into the blank horizon.
my strength continues to burn.
it burns right through me–
and leaves a charred, crackling hole.
my feet continue on, purposeless,
with a blind, stubborn perseverance.
how long?
yet I move along,
tired eyes on top of clumsy feet.
I’ll get where I’m going.
I’ll get somewhere, anyway.

no, not at all.

sometimes I think
if I drop a rope
down, down
into the deepest well
of my mind
and sit
in my little rowboat
on the surface
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


in the blackness
all I have is Your hand
so don’t pat me on the head
and tell me it will all be all right
don’t shrink my head
and tell me to try harder
don’t tell me I’m not enough
don’t tell me I’m just fine
tell me the truth
take me away
lead me to the heart of the matter
tell me who I am
show me Who You are
hack apart the root of my sickness
let me out of this cage
take me somewhere open
help me to breathe
give me back my voice
set me in a safe place
save me
lead me out
hold onto me
don’t let me fade away
please speak to me
because in the blackness
all I have is Your hand

the killing jar

when I was a child,
I sped out
into the singing summer night
to catch with clumsy hands
the fireflies
that flitted, fairy-like,
above my upturned eyes.
I placed them
into the lidded jar
that would later,
to my confused tears,
kill them.
now that I am grown
I feel I know
the killing jar
all too well.
it is
the safe place,
the hidden place,
the good-intentioned place
where words
and songs
and dreams
are lidded up
to suffocate
it is
my tightly-buttoned heart,
my heart of the closed door,
of the snug zipper.
little did I know
it is the tiny,
humble light
that slays the fear
in the night
and not
the safety
of the killing jar

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.


Presently, my day is measured out
In tablespoons of coffee,
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.
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…