College Poetry

On Selling One’s Engagement Rings to a Pawn Shop
May 26, 2000

I sold the rings today,
One that I gave her once,
And one that I planned to give her one day later on.
Rings that said I love you, I need you,
I want you forever,
Don’t ever leave me,
I trust you with everything I will become
And all that I have right now,
Be my wife, my lover, my friend, my partner forever.
I sold them today.
Because “forever” faded to “no more, I’m sorry”
and “marry me” evolved to “I don’t think this is going to work”
Because I want my money back
Because I want someone else to be able to give his wife something beautiful
Because we were young
Because we were wrong
Because they do no one a bit of good sitting in their boxes in my closet
Because if I ever do this again, she’s getting her own rings
Because I refuse to take them back to Helzberg to be cleaned
twice a year for the rest of my life to keep the warranty up
Because I realized that I didn’t want to put up with her anymore
Because I realized that she shouldn’t have to put up with me anymore
Because this way, everybody wins
Because they’re beautiful
Because I have enough stuff here as it is
Because they’re lonely without someone to wear them
Because the price was right
Because the sight of rings like them gives my heart a bittersweet twinge
Because I live in a new world.

But somehow, as I walked away, I couldn’t help but feel
That surely our love, our relationship, our years together
Were worth more to both of us
Than a few bills from a pawn shop broker
Who set his price in less than ten seconds.

The Lake

The lake is quiet tonight,
And dark.
The mountains lie in shadow
And the waves drum upon the rocks of the shore.
I walk along the borderline
With small and cautious steps
As I think of the world beyond my own
and how it lies alone
and how it wanders lost
and how it dies in vain.

Then I look above
And see the bright light of the moon,
And the shimmering reflection on the water
Whispers to my soul, “One day
This, too, shall pass,
And I will break the day
And fill the world with light.
But up until that day,
My presence still remains,
My work will still be done,
And you are my reflection on the waters.”

A Sea of Rocks so Plain to See

As trees and oceans lie in peaceful observation
of our stay
The rocks lay strewn upon the garden floor,
Where waves and ripples flow from every one
without moving
Silent, yet filled with sound
Simple, yet difficult to understand.
In this lies the message that each person
needs to hear
For all, in all our beauty, strength,
And civilization, miss out on the
Most important thing.
The rocks know he is God.
The sands know he is God.
The leaves that gather in the troughs
all know that he is God,
And all bow down in silent worship
to the maker of them all.
The sun appears and disappears and reappears again
and yet again, and yet the scene remains the same
The rains that passed and pounded on the rocks
and waves are gone; they have not changed.
They know, and they have always known
that he is Lord.
The rocks and waves of sand that do not fear,
do not worry what the day may bring,
or voice complaints about the role they take.
All know the simple truth that lets them be.
All know the simple truth that sets them free.


I heard Your voice beside me, just ahead, saying,
“Take all you have, and follow me over the mountain
to a realm beside the sea.”
I said, “Yes, Lord,” and began
walking up the mountain toward the realm beside the sea
and I was happy
and soft breezes cooled my soul.

It felt so right, so peaceful as I walked beside the Lord
And I knew that He would use me in the realm beside the sea
in beautiful ways that burst with life
as I helped Him gather His harvest
“What a strange new world,” I thought as I looked back
upon the land I’d left behind, and dreamed of fertile valleys
where each life was spent in service
“What a wonderful land, a place where God is working day and night…
Where it’s now my turn to serve.”

I walked along, grew tired and thirsty, but never once complained, for I was
walking up the mountain toward the realm beside the sea
And the Lord said, “Take off your shirt, for I will protect you from the sun,”
And I slowly pulled it off,
took one last breath of the fresh laundry soap
and threw it beside the path,
And He nodded.
I walked along, and the Lord said,
“Take off your shoes, for I will carry you,” and I did,
even though the road ahead looked rocky,
and tossed them aside,
And He nodded.
I walked along without knowing His reasons, merely granting His wishes,
Never questioning, only obeying
And the Lord said, “Take off your necklace, for I am all you need”
and I kissed the pendant and looked away and
tossed it into the grass beside the path.
“Just one more thing, and you will be ready for plowing my fields.
Drop your book, for I will teach you.”
I looked at the book He had given me, the reward for all the work of my childhood
the passport to the life we’d planned for myself, back when I wore shoes,
and I dropped it on the path beside the road.
It made a very solid, lonely thud upon the ground.

As I walked I turned around and said goodbye to what I’d lost
They had served and blessed me more than I would ever know,
but in order to go on, I had to let go.
I turned around to keep on walking
over the mountain toward the realm beside the sea
and then He stopped me.

In His hands he held the gifts to which I’d said goodbye
“My child,” He said, “I told you to leave it all behind and follow Me
over the mountain toward the realm beside the sea,
and you did exactly as I asked.
You showed both of us that you love Me more than anything in this world, and
I am very proud of you.
But come to the top of the mountain and see what lies ahead.”
I dragged myself the final steps, and a lush green valley spread out before me.
My eyes followed our path down the mountain
to a city surrounded by fields.
“Yes, Lord, is this the realm beside the sea? I am ready to begin,” I told Him.
He smiled at me.

“No, my child,” He said.
“This is the path I laid for you long ago, and it leads into the
plains in the south. These fields are ripening, and
You have a plot to harvest.
This is where I want you, and I have plans for you in the south that you could
never have imagined.”
“But why, Lord? Why did you have me leave all the gifts You have given me?”
The Lord walked over slowly and placed my shirt upon my back,
My shoes upon my feet,
My necklace around my neck,
And my book in my hand.
“I had to show you and all those who are watching your journey
How much you love and trust Me.
Your sacrifices strengthened those around you and brought them closer to Me.
I tested you just like I tested your brother Abraham with his son Isaac.
To whom much is given, much is expected,
and, my precious child, you gave it all.
But I do not want these things from you now. I only wanted you to trust me
with everything you had, and you did.
Now you are ready for the southern fields.
A mighty harvest awaits you…Come, and I will show you.”
He took my hand and led me toward the place that I should be
I still cannot see what lies beyond, and
I cannot see what kind of crops He’s growing in the southern plains
but I feel His power in my hand
and that is all I’ll ever need.

November 27, 1999

When I die, what mark will I leave behind
on my world, on their world, on God’s world?
The silent ship I sail
Is leaving a wake behind me
Touching other ships and other shores,
Some I know and some that I do not.
The ocean is a vaster place than any
I have seen before, full of hurricanes
and harbors, winds and waves and shipwrecks
and messages in bottles.
I feel I have or had so much to offer to the world
That I’d send upon the sea to all the others.
So many gifts, so strong a faith, so great a love
That I could spend my life in service to the world.
So much was alive…
I called to ships and followed where he led me
toward the edge of the horizon
in the sun, and the seagulls called my name.
But now it’s all so still.
Will I die a “tragic case,”
thinking myself a failure and not knowing
all the lives that I have changed?
Will I die a hero in the eyes
of my grandson, after helping him
become a better man?
Will I make my journey with another
and be happy, start a family, be at peace?
Will I spend my voyage seasick in the bow,
wondering why I chose the course I chose,
why I chose the girl I chose,
how long till I get there?
The silent sea rolls on
Warning me of its power
Tempting me with its potential.
The blue-gray overwhelms my soul
and I retreat below deck.

Each Man’s Burden

At dawn I rise for a new beginning…
In the same place I was at the end of the day before,
But with the healing and changes that nightfall brings,
The fresh perspective that comes with the
Brightening of the sky in the east.
I open my eyes and look toward the coming sun,
And look ahead down the path laid before me.
The path is the same one I’ve been on before,
But I’ve never retraced my steps, and I don’t know
where it leads.
I only know it is a good path, well-planned and well-suited
For my gifts, my strengths, my hardships.
I lift my cross from the ground and take
the day’s first step.
I look behind at the road I’ve taken,
See the groove the cross has dug
and smile.
I look around at the gorgeous world adorning my path,
I look up at the sky
and walk on,
The old rugged cross dragging behind me,
Leaving a record of where I’ve been.
Today I cannot walk in fear,
for my enemies will devour me.
Today I cannot walk in doubt,
for I know not where my path will lead.
I can only walk in the faith, the strength, the love
given to me by the Wearer of my cross,
for He and He alone can sustain me in my journey.
As I walk and bear my burden
Many foes will cross my path
And stand before me, stand against me,
Set themselves against my way
And try to wrench the cross from my hands.
If I fall and falter, if I drop the burden,
My cross will not stand, but hit the ground and topple over
into the dust, and my enemies will mock our pain.
But if I take the strength to stand upon the Rock,
Take the faith to know He will be with me,
And take the love that raised me high above Himself,
If I keep the sweet cross lifted high against my foes,
Then I will stand, and my enemies will fall, and I will carry on
for one day more.

Man, Accepted

Brave new world
Where I walk alone
And try to be brave
In a different home
Where I decide
What I will do
And where I go
And who I’ll be
Look on me now
In a different light
The old is gone
The new is bright
Someday I’ll love
Someday I’ll leave
To start anew
To try, believe
I dream with fear
But doubt with joy
I am a man
No more a boy
I live my life
I sing my song
I call my shot
Whether right or wrong.