Psalm 11:1-4

The last line of each stanza comes from Psalm 11:1-4.

My strength has failed, my courage weak,
My resolve has faltered, the path looks bleak,
But when clouds obscure the mountain peak,
In the Lord I take refuge.

There is a fortress that stands above all,
There is a hand that will catch when I fall,
And there’s something inside me that answers the call
So how can you say to my soul,

“There is no purpose, no point to the fight.
Careful not to miss out cause you’re chasing a kite.
You haven’t the might to attain to that height,
So flee like a bird to your mountain.

“Do as you please and live as you will,
Chase after safety or run after thrills.
Your magnificent mountain is only a hill,
And behold, the wicked bend their bow.”

The weight keeps increasing, the voices begin;
As the pressures mount up, my soul’s caving in.
The fortress’s walls appear to grow thin,
And they have fitted the arrow to the string.

I cannot see clearly with pride in my eyes.
Compared to the next man, we’ve all become wise.
I try to defeat it but still fall for the lies
That shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.

For if false was the truth then all was in vain;
I’ve been setting a pace that I cannot maintain.
I’m drifting, uprooted, nothing remains
If the foundations are destroyed.

But if faith is a seed that grows into a tree,
Then its roots run much deeper than mere man can see.
If you always answer our knock when we seek,
What could the righteous do?

The foundations are steady, barren of cracks;
You’re grace for my weakness, enough where I lack,
My refuge and compass, the wind at my back.
The Lord is in his holy temple!

To be a writer

Word whirl
within my wild,
wandering mind,
trying to find
what the times can’t provide.
Inside,
it’s a hurricane, hailstorm,
with letters of lightning,
a torrent of typography
flooding the ford with unfathomable feeling
and unsearchable sentences.
I’m overwhelmed by Oxford commas
and under attack by apostrophes,
quashed by quotation marks
and dominated by dangling modifiers.
The clauses crowd each other out,
calling and quoting and constructing these
out-of-context icons of inexplicable integrity
crumpled and confused and uncontainable.
The captive constructions
are pulling at their artificial tethers,
raring to be free,
to burst the seems of reality and be.
Thus defeated by my ideas, I set my pen to paper
and everything goes silent, unseen.

Chapters

Just some random words strung together. This is something that’s been on my mind lately, as I’m in this transition period. I’m excited for the new, even as it means a lot of change. I like to think of change as not a loss of old experiences–what I’ve learned from those will live on in me forever–but the gaining of new ones: new knowledge, new hopes, new worlds to uncover. Even so, the reminder that some things do not change is a comforting one for me. I can’t build higher unless my roots stay strong.

This
is not
chapter one.
This is chapter eighteen.
And as it closes,
the page turns.
Another chapter opens,
but it builds on the pages before it.
The cascading waterfall of words
did not originate here,
nor will it end here.
Passing through,
but picking up new stones along the way–
fresh currents,
new fish to swim alongside.
Perhaps the salinity changes,
perhaps the direction.
Neither final nor familiar,
but not inconsequential either.
Change is inherent in growth.
Foundation holds fast, strong,
even as leaves change,
branches stripped or full
to meet the season.
Roots remain
even as I
stretch
toward the sky.

For my daughter: love well

Love well, little girl.
Life is hard
but it is also sweet.
Learn to turn the other cheek.
Patience makes you ocean-strong
so shake the earth
climb a mountain
break a wall
write a song
cross a sea
tell a story
for words
are
powerful.
Little girl, listen to mine.
Be kind.
I daresay you’ll find that by taking the time,
you’ll stick in their minds.
Love well,
and put others before yourself.
But I know
it takes bravery and brings pain.
You never know quite what to say
and it takes you way beyond what’s safe.
All you want is a break,
an escape.
You’re tired of the chase
and you’re craving a haven.
Little sparrow, keep praying!
Love well,
for he won’t let you go.
He’ll see you through till the end.
Darling, there is no treasure so dear as a friend.
That love is a gift
So take time and enjoy each other
Laugh and cry with each other
Stand by each other
Beside each other
Like iron on iron you’ll set sparks alight
and as they rise in the sky
the night will turn bright
as together you fight the good fight
and fix your eyes on the light.
Little girl, love well.
And someday
when there comes a man who will blow you away,
who’s your anchor in the eye of a hurricane,
not afraid of a little rain–
a man who will stand by you,
laugh and cry with you,
live, love, and die for you
come dark times or bright, who will strive toward what’s right
who takes time and lightens your life,
faith-filled and faithful,
for richer or poorer,
better or worse,
will traverse the adverse, unswerving,
and take honor in serving–
who makes you better than yourself
and then makes you something more:
let no power in hell or on earth,
the hospital or the hearse,
the heights or the depths,
when you’ve got nothing left
when you’re blessed or you’re hurt–
none of these can separate
what God has put together
Remember
Two become one, and it cannot be undone
You have a soul like the sun
So love well
And together you’ll tell
the world
what the Lord has done
In your own little way
you’re a witness of faith
You know the Name
of the one who came:
the mountain-maker
heart-shaper
ground-shaker
stone-breaker
earth-creator.
So take heart,
be brave,
be wise and be kind.
Love well.

Waiting

The sky has been waiting all day.
A thick whiteness and too-still air.
Humid streets pierced by white and red car lights,
Highways humming with efficiency
And pedestrians in black or khaki jackets.
Businessmen in business wear
All going about their business but the sky, was waiting.
There was a bright spot where the sun was hiding,
Rising and then falling as the whiteness faded
To a night that was not quite dark.
Although there were no stars,
Lights still split the roadway
But the sky was waiting.
Gradually the lights blinked out
Until all that was left
Was a spattering
Of what looked like stars, from high enough above.
It was as if the humans were,
In their ordered efficiency,
Trying to make up for the firmament’s odd, tranquil pause.
The sky was waiting.
I do not know what it was waiting for.
The first sign was when the wind began to blow.
It was as if she was warning us
Or perhaps heralding what was to come.
She was the hasty messenger,
The harried assistant,
Or the sudden angels.
The leaves swirled and branches bent.
In a yard someone’s basketball hoop was felled.
She tore at my hair and clothes,
Filling my lungs with the smell of the earth anticipating.
It was less than a minute’s notice for at last,
The sky was ready.
He had made it to the front of the line he was in,
I suppose,
Or finally had his on-hold cosmic telephone call answered.
The time was consummate.
The clouds were rent,
And a maraca of raindrops fell.

“Who are you, that you fear mortal man?”

This poem comes from Isaiah 51:12-16.

Who are you, that you fear mortal man?
That you lose sight of the Lord’s mighty hand,
That you get lost in the bland finances and advances
Disenchanted
Seeking canned, secondhand romances
With the things of the land.
You swim with the school, having forgot how to stand.
Though your days are as sand,
You ignore every chance,
Fearing to be looked at askance.
So focused on man
That you forget the Lord your Maker,
Creator,
Invader of the hearts of the clay-born,
Who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth,
Who quenches every thirst
And deserves to be first
He’s a sunburst
You serve a God who reversed
Places, took the curse on himself,
Defeated the worst hell had to offer
And yet you live in constant fear because of the wrath of the oppressor,
Aggressor,
Assessor,
Fearing displeasure,
Impossible to measure up,
Despite your endeavors.
Feel compressed,
Under pressure
But where is the wrath of the oppressor?
I feel a tremor–
The cowering prisoners will soon be set free
Indeed.
No more fatigue or defeat;
His promise complete
Taste and see,
The sweet freedom for which he bleeds.
Triumphant,
They will not die in their dungeon,
Nor will they lack bread.
No fear or dread,
No longer dead or beset by impossible debt
But instead a seedbed, a witness of what he has said.
For I AM is the LORD your God,
Who churns up the sea so that the waves roar,
Who transforms and adorns,
Raises you to soar–
The LORD ALMIGHTY is his name!
Who covers us in grace and sets our souls aflame,
Who reigns awesome over an endless domain,
Whose faithfulness always remains,
Who lights the way,
Who’s never swayed,
Who rules the day
Yet knows my pain–
The LORD ALMIGHTY is his name!
For, says the LORD,
“I have put my words in your mouth,”
To shout,
Arouse the silent houses,
Impossible to douse or to doubt,
Louder than thunderclouds,
The water in the drought.
He vows,
“I have covered you in the shadow of my hand,”
Able to withstand any demand or attempt to disband
For all the earth is under his command,
Establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth.
I no longer thirst
But headfirst am submersed
In the unreserved light of your glory that burst
From the sky, raining down on the earth.
He says unto Zion, “You are my people,”
My cathedrals,
I will lift you up on wings as eagles.
I will guard you from evil,
And my grace will sustain.
Through the joy and the pain,
Through the loss and the gain,
I will show you the way
If you only have faith.
My truth will remain;
It cannot be restrained.
I’ll give you a new name
In my arms you are safe.

He is King, and he reigns;
To the world I proclaim–
The LORD ALMIGHTY is his name!

mt

Vibrance

Color swirls,
hurled into the wild world,
whirls through the trees
on an unseen breeze
The leaves
dipping, diving, ducking, dancing
In their death the most vibrant,
a glorious adornment,
assortment
Like red-golden-green glowing snowflakes
that whisper as they fall,
They call
to the wanderers
whisper of wild adventures
awaiting
as the clouds block the sun
and the trees bend to wind
they stir their song again,
a siren in the highlands,
calling the defiant, the migrant in me.

Autumn Storm Along Rio Grande River