Recent Poetry

Dolphins
Sept 15, 2003

Heeeeeeeere, dolphin dolphin dolphin
“Dolphin encounter”
Sounds intriguing
Her eyes light up like a Christmas tree
Oooh!
Sure, we could do that
You pick one, I pick one
I’m gonna pet his head
Let’s go snorkeling, too
That’s the main thing I want to do
Cool. Let’s book them as soon as
We get on so it won’t sell out first
I tried to pet one once, but he laughed at me
Wow, two hundred bucks?
That’s a car payment plus a month’s interest
When you add in lunch
Dolphin dolphin dolphin dolphin dolphin!
Yeah, let’s do it.
And this pirate cruise sounds fun, too.

She’s been waiting for this for years
Add ‘em up, and we’ve got two car payments
And the power bill
I’m gonna take him home with me

We have the tickets
We go ashore
She looks as excited as she did on our wedding day
Dolphin dolphin dolphin dolphin dolphin!
And I realize that money
Is a small price to pay
For her living a dream.

Darkness
3-21-03

We lie in darkness, the door open
to the balcony to let in cool air
My wife and I, not yet three months old together
I’m finally used to her having my last name
She lays her arm across my chest
And says she’s glad I’m not over there
And I say I am, too
And I listen to the cars drive by on the distant road
The sky is dark and clear

I imagine a young man on the other side of the world
Beneath the same dark sky,
Counting the stars,
Counting the days till he gets to come home,
Counting the days since he’s seen his new wife
Wondering how many days he has left,
if he’ll get to come home to her at all
Waiting for the call that will come any day now
To cross the border
Listening for a phone call, a shot fired,
a missile screaming in the distance
growing ever louder
Wondering if it’s aimed at him
Wondering if his presence there
Will really keep his new wife safe
Or if that’s just a nice idea to keep him motivated.

I feel her arm across my chest and realize what she means
It’s all real now

It’s finally cold enough in here to sleep
I shut the door and kiss my wife goodnight.

Princess
1-29-02

I wonder if she is the fabled princess
Whom I seek without seeking,
Want without wanting,
And love without knowing.
She smiles at me and tosses me
Her sash for good luck,
Even though neither of us believes in luck.
She is a princess, indeed,
Although when I’m with her
She’s no further from me
Than the distance between our clasped hands.
Can it be this easy?
Can it feel this right?
Will I one day be willing to give her my kingdom,
Forsaking all others forever?
How will I know when it’s right,
Whether she is the answer
To every girl question I’ve ever mulled over or dreamed?
Will my heart be able
To treat her as royalty until our kingdom falls?
I love the way she looks upon me
From atop her throne
Elegant, confident, brilliant and kind,
Her smile bringing joy to my soul.
Her blue eyes look within me
And silently ask,
“Will I one day be queen of your heart?”

Fork
July 20, 2001

The path is green today
Lined with roses and lilies and stargazers
A lazy day
After a long night
Your hand is small in mine
Smooth and soft
Unweathered by work and time
Steam rises from us
Into the wet air
Without cooling the flame
You smile at me
Ahead in the distance I see a fork
Each side only wide enough for one
But you can’t see it yet
And I don’t tell you
But I loosen my grip a bit.

The path is yellow today
Lined with roses and lilies and stargazers
A difficult day
After a short night
Your hand sweats in mine
Cold and unsteady
You look up with your beautiful, innocent eyes
And seem like you could let yourself love me one day
We come upon the fork that only I could see
And your smile fades
You see there’s only room for one
In each direction
And know that neither can follow the other
I wipe away my tear
Squeeze your hand
And let you go.

The path is brown today
Lined with roses and lilies and stargazers
A quiet day
After a restless night
My hands are dry and calloused
Yours I cannot see
Although you’re walking in the distance
Alone
You look ahead, although you know I’m watching,
Because you don’t want to hurt me
But I only watch to see if you’re okay
To see if your smile has returned
Someday your path will widen again
To let in someone new
And his hands won’t sweat in yours
And maybe your path won’t fork this time
You pass out of sight
I take my first step
From where we said goodbye.

Helpless
10-29-01

I am a baby in your arms
Squishy and fussy and squirming
for my eyes are too small to see.

Helpless I lie on your breast
Having nothing I gained on my own
And yet fighting with every small ounce of my strength
Thinking I could do better alone.
You patiently smile when I kick you
Don’t get mad when I will not obey
When I find I don’t have all the answers
We sit down and you show me the way.
Why do you love when I cry all night
And keep you awake with my screams?
Why do you rock me and kiss my face
And make me believe in my dreams?
Every time I soil myself again
You pick me up and tell me it’s okay
Although it’s always hard on you and me
Somehow you know I’m going to learn someday.
I know not, Daddy, what I do
I spill my milk, I scratch my face
I scribble on my nursery walls
Thick marks I can’t erase.
But somehow Daddy’s love is greater
Than the promise I can’t keep
And still you’re with me, safe and strong
And finally, in your arms, I sleep.

Takeoff
10-19-01

Your engine roars to life,
Fueled by your passion for me,
For us, for creation.
I see you on the runway
Poised to overcome the sky
You wave to me, and I start running
You wait for me, waiting to welcome me
Under your wing where I belong.
How long has it been since I felt your warmth
Since I let go your hand
And plummeted gently back to earth
The cold, lonely, empty earth where I am god?
I reach you.
You take my hand and I look ahead at the
River of concrete before us
And the boundless, brilliant blue of the sky above
Having no clue where we’re going but knowing
We’re going the right way.
You throttle up, and I run with you
The wind whips my hair harder and harder
I laugh
Faster and faster your engine thunders
It feels like I’m flying already
My feet pound the pavement of the earth
Like a racehorse
Faster and faster until it’s time to pull up
Into the sky.
“Hang on,” you say
But I won’t take my feet off the ground
And we’re going so fast that I can’t keep up
And you want me to trust you,
Let you be the guide and the engine
But I miss the earth and all its muck
Before I’ve even left the ground.
“It’s time to choose, my son,” you say
And I know you’re right, and I know that it’s worth it
But I’m torn between heaven and earth
And now you’re moving faster than my legs can go
And I let go.
I slam into the pavement, scraping elbow, face, and knee
Bruising bone and tearing flesh
And leaving bloodstains in my wake
As I tumble, roll, and skid
Across the earth I couldn’t bear to leave behind.
Groggily I stand up and I
Look up at the sky, but you’re not there.
I guess I should go home now,
Battered, bloodied, and bemused,
So I turn around to stumble on
And that is when I see you
On the runway,
Poised to overcome the sky.
You wave to me, and I start running
And I notice that the pain is gone
For you have taken it away
I take your hand and pray that
Maybe this will be the time I don’t let go.

Inside, Where It’s Warm
12-13-01

A fire dances and crackles beside me
The kind my grandfather used to build
At Christmastime so we could roast marshmallows
And feel like we were home.
We could smell it when we went outside
Into the cold air, one of those beautiful
Smells that always make you smile.
Whenever I left that sanctuary
It always reminded me what it was like
On the outside
Where winter was a bad season
The loneliest of seasons, for it was then
You could feel all that you lacked…
In the icy rain that soaked through
All the thin, tattered rags that you wore on your back,
In the heat of the food left behind in the trashcan
Still steaming but cooling in cold winter air,
In the wind that cuts through
The one blanket you sleep with
That wails through the night
And dissolves all your dreams
And then I would come back
Inside, where it’s warm
And my grandfather’s fire would dance in the night
For a while I’d forget all the cold on the outside
Content in the life I could never deserve.

I am the Bottle
12-3-01

I am the bottle of perfume he’s guarded
For ages and ages hung over his heart
Vanilla and lavender, roses, magnolia
All waiting for someone with whom he could share
I was there when his heart started beating inside him
The moment he met you I started to shake
I looked at the treasures he’d stored deep within me
Wond’ring if you were the one that he’d choose
When he walked up to you I knew this was the moment
I trembled inside as he held me aloft
Then he broke me and poured all my beauty upon you
Caressing each inch of your beautiful feet
But you picked up a towel, began wiping your feet off
The look in your eyes nearly shattered his heart
There I lay in the garden with no more to offer
Where he left me in silence, so broken and cold.

Questions for God Before We Destroy the World Ourselves
10-7-01

Early this morning, as I lay blissfully asleep,
B-2 Stealth bombers, invisible to radar,
Took off from an airfield in Missouri,
Flew halfway around the world
In a matter of hours,
And dropped bombs on one of the
Poorest nations on earth
In retaliation for its government
Destroying one of the tallest buildings on earth
And killing the equivalent of my whole high school plus half.
I awoke, made coffee, read my Bible,
Having no idea that in a few hours,
People who couldn’t tell you where New York was
Would die at my country’s hands.

They will retaliate.
We will continue to attack.
So will they.
Perhaps one day it will end.
Perhaps we’ll live in fear for the rest of our lives.
Perhaps I’ll be drafted, and my mother will cry.
Perhaps the end is near, and the 300 million-strong
Army of Revelation is a Muslim army responding
To the call for jihad.
Perhaps they’ll nuke us, and we’ll nuke them,
And Iraq will nuke us, and Britain will nuke Iraq,
And Indonesia will nuke Britain,
And the world will die.

What is your will, Lord?
Our victory? Theirs? Peace? Cease-fire? Religious cleansing?
A new world order? Repentance? Love? Forgiveness? Sacrifice?
Retribution? National defense? Humanitarianism? Justice? Suffering?
Submission?
If I were one of the pilots, should I kill the soldier who is my target,
Or forgive and forget, as You do?
What if he tries to shoot me from the sky?
Would You return fire? Did You return the lashes You took,
Or the nails through the wrists and feet?
Should we be the doormat for the nations of the world
Due to our great love for them and never-ending, unconditional forgiveness?
What do You want, and how can we know?

The Boat
8-1-02

We float together through the sea of years
On the biggest boat the world has ever seen
Alone and together we sail
To a port that we all think we know
But not all of us know
That the boat has only one stop
And it’s not where we’re planning to go
For the boat has a leak
There is no way to plug
And so very few know it but me
Do they want to know? No,
They just want to enjoy
The journey as long as it lasts
I hear how the music inside captivates them
I see how the liquor flows free at the bar
I look down as the lovers creep stealthily up
To the top of the ship so that no one can see
And I stand here in silence
And watch from the deck
As the dying ship cuts through the night
Then above, in the distance, the crow’s nest,
the silence,
A warning bell sends out a plea
For me not to just stand there and not rock the boat
That is dying so silently under my feet
But to go below deck where the lost ones are sleeping
And grab them and shake them
and tell them the truth–
That this ship will not carry them
Where the ads say
That it is but a ferry
That cannot arrive
And the only way off
Is to look up and pray
And I have to not care
That I’m rocking the boat
That is dying so silently under my feet
For the jeers that they throw
While we’re all still afloat
Are nothing compared to the screams that I’ll hear
When the others are floating no more.

9-11-01

they broke you
they came from the sky
punched holes in your heart
and exploded there
strong-fisted and wild-eyed
came they
with knives in their hands
and twisted faith burning bright
inside
you fell
at your feet
in a heap of blood
and remains
and we stared
open-mouthed, babbling, and crying
from the relative safety of the picture tube
as you screamed on the way down
and changed our world forever
you fell, but your heart lives on
for God will heal you
we will hold you
and you will rise again.

m4s0n501