Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chasing Santa

“Grandpa, what are you doing out here?”
He was standing in the snow
leaning a couple long 2x4’s
against the house.
“I was chasing Santa Claus,”
he explained.
“Almost had him too.”
He handed me one of the
biggest sleigh bells
I’d ever seen.
Then he showed me
two long, straight depressions in the snow.
Santa’s sleigh had taken off
seconds before I burst out the back door
in hot pursuit.
Grandpa was a right jolly old elf
but not the one I was chasing.

We walked back inside
recounting our versions of the evening.
Grandpa stayed home to ambush Santa
while the rest of us
drove around looking for him.
After 15 or 20 minutes, someone yelled,
“LOOK!  Rudolph’s nose!
He’s heading toward Grandma and Grandpa’s house!!”
We whipped the car around,
blazed home, and ran inside.

In the living room,
presents spilled from
the outstretched limbs of
the glittering Christmas tree.
Kids and grown-ups alike
dove into the pile,
divvying up the loot and ripping open packages.
But I kept running.

Just ahead I heard jingling and laughter.
My heart and step quickened
as I strained to lay hold of
or even glimpse
the mystery
cloaked in red.
I was close, so close…
but not as close as Grandpa,
who plucked the jangling fruit
now in my hand.

It was still in my hand
as I fell asleep that night
while my new toys lay elsewhere,

But in the morning, the bell was gone.
“It’s a magic bell,” my mother explained.
“Santa’s bells are so special
they only stay for the night.
Then they disappear.”

Years later, I learned
Grandpa had no idea
I was chasing him
as he ran out the back door
ringing that bell.
No one expected me to do that.
He barely had time
to get the 2x4’s out of the snow.
The sleigh bell was a gift from a German friend.
It seemed there was
an explanation for everything.

But what made me
dash past presents
in pursuit of something
I’d never seen?

I suppose
truth always rings
just ahead of us
and gives us reason
to run.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Driving through the Fog

Driving through the fog
this morning.

is less than 100 feet
in any direction.
I can’t see where I’m going.
It’s all just white
like a blank canvas.

Shadows grow into dark shapes
that suggest
things ahead:
trees, houses, telephone poles.
But I can’t really see
until I’m almost to it,
and I never know
which way
the road will take me.

In my rearview mirror
(which isn’t much bigger
than a photograph)
I see those things
that are behind me.
As I get further
details become hazy
and colors fade.
there are just phantoms
slipping into the fog.

Looking back
won’t get me anywhere
but in the ditch.
Since I’m uncertain about
what’s ahead,
I slow up.

There’s still a ways to go
so I look around
and think about
my plans for the day.
As well as I am able,
I pass the time
that is left
and continue

through the fog.

Monday, September 3, 2012

County Fair

It’s as if
someone sprinkled magic seed

Summer’s last flower—
the Ferris wheel—
pops up
in the fallow fairgrounds,
followed by a whole
garden of earthly delights:

Roller coasters
snake and twine
like enchanted vines,
the carousel blooms
in smiling colors,
and the sweet fragrance
of cotton candy
invitingly on the breeze.

For almost a week
the whole town
lies under a spell.

But one morning,
quick as a hypnotist
can snap,
people wake
to find the fairgrounds
the sky powdered by clouds
like a blackboard just
and, in the place
where the Ferris wheel
leaves turning
end over end
in the breeze.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Doing Nothing

The coffee shop is lit and alive.

Music pumps, pulses, and circulates.
Hands dance and heads bob in conversation.
Behind the counter
it’s all cha-ching and movement—
strictly business.

My eyes wander out the window
across from me.

It’s black out there.
Ghosts of the hanging lamps inside
float in the blackness;
trees swirl in a wind
made silent
by the glass,
and I’m out there—
a reflection
adrift in the dark, wild silence—
looking in.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Narrowing Sonnet

Could we put oceans in a cup,
a desert in an hour-glass,
the skies in a falling rain-drop,
the planets in a marble-bag,
it wouldn’t touch the Lord,
swaddled in a body,
who also humbly wore
the girdle of our laws,
was threaded through
the streets of Jews,
endured the spit
and then was split
like hairs
of truth.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Good Friday (for Dad)

It seems like a misnomer
at first,
or a bit of black humor…

“Good” Friday….

the day when betrayal
came with a kiss;

the day when the seconds were marked
by whip-cracks,
and hammers tolled
like bells;

the day that clouds closed
like eyelids over a dying sun;

the day the earth shook
as if in a sieve.

And now
(as if it wasn’t
enough already),
it is also the day
you died.

A tomb sealed with a stone…
A coffin nailed shut…
A grave covered with dirt…

The good news is

this is as dark as it gets.

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting for Snow


With raised fist and gnarled face
I accuse the skies.

I have been waiting for snow,
wishing for snow,
praying, hoping, and fishing for snow.

I have been daring snow,
oh where-ing snow, and
(for reverse psychology’s sake)
not-give-a-care-ing snow.

All this and not one single flake.

But as my fist drops and my eyes come back to earth,
I sigh,
“God knows best.”
And this is the proof:
that between the second coming
and the fall of man,
I can get so worked up about something
like the weather,
and can fill a book with idle words
by which to be judged.
(Did I say not one single flake?
Well, there might be one here…)

Yet, I believe you understand.
I believe you do not think it petty
to be a man,
or to care for the sparrow,
or to pour artistry
into the icy iron-work
whose feathery falling
makes winter crunch deliciously
like the year’s dessert.

For this season
you precipitated:
spirit crystallized as flesh,
deity danced where the wind willed—
out from its cloudy veil,
down through empty skies,
and into arms that waited