Wednesday, March 23, 2011


He worked with his hands
on leather for boots
with his hands cut the leather,
glued, sewed, glued and trimmed,
and sewed again,

layers laid down
among deep shadows,
building and rebuilding,
sculpting softly, shaping an artifact
to human need,
A piece of entire human history,

layers poured and dried,
layers of culture
color and texture
stucco, gesso, stone wall plastered,
painted and cracked,
varnished and dripped
over every generation;

fires and wars,
dictatorships, cartels
clearing the rainforest,
loosening tethered souls
of sacrificed children, animals,

layers of caked blood, dried,
sanded with pumice,
clear varnished, watercolored,
crayoned and penciled,
framed, burned, pounded
with a hammer, eaten by beetles
to beaten drums of every age,
reclaimed by jungle whose vines
hold men by the ankles until they cry;

and so it was, overgrown in deep coastal forest,
buried below towering cedars,
he stumbled upon the side of an ancient building
oiled, layered, soaked in centuries almost black
hardwood with a gothic stain-glass window

some faithful one kept a candle
burning where no one but God could know,
glinting rich greens, yellows, blues and reds,
depicting some such pre-historic tale
as only angels tell--

he had met the candle lighter before,
small, her white hair tied in a bun.

It was Christmas eve along the Alaskan Highway
deserted for the holiday at thirty below,
his jeep running out of fuel,
every station closed,
every door barred and locked against him.

Death grinning in the back seat
wearing a festive holly wreath.

When he could go no further,
he pulled into a locked up station, his last hope,
and went for a desperate walk,
the layers of his life grown thin and brittle.

his jacket barely enough,
Not a window showed a light,
the village deserted,
gone to reunions, choir fests,
the sunny warm hearths of relatives,

when he came upon a tiny church,
a light burning, the door unlocked,
there alone in silence
on her knees with her back to the door,
one kneeled devoutly in prayer,
nor did she start at his approach.

she fed him, filled his jeep with gas,
saw him on his way;

thus the layers were applied, the collage
pasted. plastered, a choir softly singing,
filling the gaps, cracks between the planets
between the days making decisions,
gingerly driving upon parallel logs
spanning a broken ice bridge
crossing the Graham River
that midnight Christmas eve,

and the cloud of witnesses
misting up, another year
from another river
at dawn among summer evergreens,
singing at dusk, harmonica melodies rising,
falling, quiet winds.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Journey Prayer

we have come so far
from anger and rebellion
to this candle lit parchment
in a dusty document library
mysterious with words like "chastity", "modesty",
and "fidelity".

we have walked in your city,
with its leaded stain glass windows,
through quaint old landscape tapestries,
into green farm lands,
cottage clustered villages,
your forgotten kingdom.

Simply kindle in us again
the creative fire of desire and vision,
collecting gifts we find to give,
scribbled scenes,
pages of torn poetry,
kingdom fragments

where you lift the fallen,
rejuvenate the broken,
make the shattered vessel
whole again.

trails of fallen leaves
we follow to the ampitheatre
where hope sings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Long Winter

It is spring, and the snow falls,
like it has fallen every day since November.

I eat my gruel cooked over a wood fire.

Every day I split the wood.

Where is my shirt of camel's hair,
the ancient beads I tell?

But I am comfortable and warm,
writing on my computer
made of worried stone.

The sun is filtered
through frozen clouds.

Above them,
Solar flares send killing rays
they say, and solar storms
are flaring now.

Oil fields burn with back smoke.

Tomahawk missiles whistle like arrows,
the earth quakes,
for a moment, the sea
casually abandons restraint,
washes our cities away.

The overcast and falling snow
are my armor.

My prayers to you
slice right through them.