Sunday, December 14, 2008


Friends we were.
We played in the wind.
We decided on the stem of a leaf
To grow tall and strong and old together.

We buried the acorn an inch too deep,
And now my fingernails are black
From trying to scratch it out.

I want to hold it.
I want to remember you.
Remember you holding it.

You smacked it to your forehead,
Pronouncing yourself king.
I made the leaves
Flutter and fly all around you.

The acorn rested suspended between our palms
Wet with the leaves' dew.

Two rocks scraped out the hole
In which to bury the acorn.
The dirt cast up into two piles.
Yours and mine.
Mine and yours.

The hole dug,
You pressed the acorn to my lips
Then placed it upon yours.
Two satisfying smacks
And we laid it to rest
Before tumbling the earth back upon it.

Our hands brown and smelling like creation.
We didn't wipe them on our pants
But shared the dark fingerprints on cheeks, nose, and chin.

It felt like the sun never set on that day.
But feeling betrays.
For here I kneel, desiring to exhume this stubborn acorn,
The remnants of that day--
Even that day's setting sun.

to do

Scrape the sky and come away with a handful of blue. Sing to the stars and sleep in peace. Walk in the river and carry away pockets full of water.


How it will feel.
How will it feel?
It will feel how.
Feel how it will.

Friday, December 12, 2008

enjoy it plus shift f7

Enjoy it.

Take pleasure in it.

Like it.

Treasure it.

Value it.

Prize it.

Appreciate it.

Relish it.

Esteem it.

Attach importance to it.

Revere it.

Admire it.

Respect it.

Look up to it.

Marvel at it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

picking up the pieces

Pick up these bones.
Breathe some sunshine into them.

Never mind the snow clouds gathering.
Blue sky will come again.
It will sharpen your eyes.

These white sky, gray sky days will fade.
You may remember them hazily in dream.
But in awake, the blue is all you'll view.

You walked to the edge of your world, yet again.
No harm in one more time.
Your feet guide you
As your heart sings along with the smile beginning to form.

Yes, falling results from jumping,
But so does flying.

So, jump!

The sky will raise you up
Or catch you on your way down.

Each fall makes you stronger.

Pick up these bones.



rushwrite 24 november

Rushwrite: a word which here means, to write furiously without pause, to write whatever comes without stopping to edit, change, hesitate. (In other words: who knows if this gibberish has any meaning. It's just fun to let go sometimes.)

For some reason it's the way you hold yourself upright.
It's that thought which keeps me up all night.
Or perhaps it's a dream starring you.
You've got the balancing act down pat
Yet you can never say no to another object being thrown into the melee.
So you stand and sway.
You afix your eyes at the top of the spinning circle your hands keep throwing.
You wait for me to fall to my knees
And kiss your feet.
Only then will you let everything clatter to the floor.
Before you clap your hands,
Before you dry your tears,
Before you raise me back to my feet,
Please sing a praise or two
For the rainfall which darkens trees' trunks
And sets rainbows in motion.
You will never know how your words crawl to the back of my mind
And sink to a rest at the bottom of my heart.
You'll never know because I'll never tell you.
Perhaps if you stand with outstretched hands,
I'll whisper in your ear.
I'd like to be that close to you,
But it would probably hold less significance for you than it does for me.
I've never felt the rise and fall of someone's breath near my ear
Besides the babies' I hold.
They close their eyes,
And I pause.
I stop
And feel love.
They make me want to be in heaven's reach.
Whenever you feel lonesome, look up.
Whenever you feel doubts begin to fly,
Shake your fist.

Friday, November 21, 2008

baby's breath

My bike flats,

So I walk.

North up 9th East.

I see a dad carrying his baby.

I see a mom carrying her baby.

Both of them—

These parents—

Headphoned off into their own worlds.

Why does sadness fill me when I see this?

I view them both at precisely the same time—

The dad walking south.

The mom walking north.

Stepping to a tune I do not hear.

My lament comes in question form:

What if they miss their baby's first gurgle of language?

I would be so sad.

I would be sad

And I don't even know those babies' names.

I’ve never patted their backs.

Never wiped their little noses.

Sure, the mom's baby rests slumbering

Cozied up in one of those front stomach carriers.

Still, is not the sound of babies' sleeping breath so sweet?

I would swear

I can hear it even over the noisy cars rumbling by.

That new-to-earth sound comforts me;

I wouldn’t want to miss a single exhalation.

I walk on,

Holding not a baby,

But cradling my bike’s seat in my right hand.

Thinking: ears always open.

I wrote these ideas down on my regular blog a while back, but wanted to do something a little more with them. I don't know if I made it worse. Just a little release before starting school today. Also a celebration of Sierra and Joe becoming parents. Baby Abel (I'm not sure on his given name yet, we'll see) was born last night!!! I'm a cousin! Congrats, lovelies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

to do

She had one dream before she died. It never came true. She had even purchased the hammock. She wrote on her to-do list for the following day: set up the hammock. The backyard had two trees—perfect for the part. They stood tall enough to bear the weight which a hammock would thrust upon them. But her pen crossed out only one of the to-do list items: water plants.

She’d woken up and relieved herself. While she brushed her teeth, she stood momentarily next to each potted plant to water it. She set down the watering can, making sure to wipe off the bottom first so it wouldn’t drip on the counter. Then she opened her planner and crossed it off. The second item on her list.

to be continued?

Friday, October 31, 2008

let this light at least dim, please



I've checked.

Did a quick check
And even a long check.

And, no,
There's nothing like that.

I have no neat, white, rectangle
Screwed to the wall
Of my emotional inside.

I've no switch in the middle of me.

My heart beats blood.
It owns no quick method of on or off.
It's on and
On and
And on, drowning in these feelings.

Oh how desperately I desire to reach out,
Bring my hand down upon it,
Turn it off somehow.


Somehow this powerful
On and on and on
Will ebb away
To a low murmur.

Somehow, hopefully,
For I know there's never a complete

Despite an end's existence.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

picture this

Picture a girl. A young girl. You see the back of her. She skips down the crumbling path of asphalt. She wears black shoes and white tights. Her little skirt doesn’t come to her knees and her long-sleeved shirt stops an inch from her wrists. She skips, remember? She has no fear of falling. Tripping never crosses her mind as she keeps her face up. She looks ahead, not down at all. Her hand holds a piece of paper. You wonder if she’s drawn a flower or a heart. Maybe she’s crayon-captured a tiger. As she drew, she bared her teeth. She growled while blackening in the fearsome cat’s stripes. You copy her confidence in keeping eyes-off-the-ground. You affix your gaze upon her skirt’s belt loops. From her pigtails to her paper-clutching hand, your eyes work back and forth. You feel her fall coming when you see her hand rise up to try to snatch some sense of balance. But stability’s a hard act to conjure. And so down she comes. Paper and all. She doesn’t even look at the blood spreading through her tights; she looks at her sheet of paper. She smiles. You see her smile because you’ve now caught up to her. You offer your hand to help her up and she turns her smile upon you. You look at the paper as she places her hand in yours. It’s a picture of the sky. You thank her. You both look up and keep walking.

Monday, October 20, 2008

we cannot view our past.
our vision slips.
nothing to grasp.
in the middle of a maelstrom,
the clouds pour down their waterworks.
we blink.
we cry.
atop the flawed facade,
we sit.
our hearts mutedly bleating out their last beats.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Your shadow died on the stairs. You couldn't wait to get home, but then your key broke in the keyhole. You were stuck outside with your feet placed on a welcome mat that had long ago worn out from welcoming anyone. You snarled. You pawed the doorbell despite knowing no one sat within. You perched on the cold concrete and waited for other people's shadows to die as they left the third floor's light and entered the darkness of the fourth and fifth. You couldn't hold anyone's hand so you wrapped your arms around yourself. Hunched above the dirty cement, you waited. You held half of the broken key and pressed it to your lips. Thinking clearly became a near impossibility.

the end

You never wanted an end like this--
a departure void of touch.

Monday, July 21, 2008

drop me a line

A line of fish hangs from his hand
And reaches to yours.
You caught them;
He gutted them.
We will all eat them.
We will look later at the picture someone took
Of you both standing there connected
By flesh and bone.
We will look at the picture and remember
Similar sticky hot days:
When we watched the night sun color the mountains purple,
When the watermelon's drip stuck to our knees
And clung to the spaces between our fingers,
When with our feet bare against the grass,
We swayed as we gazed up at the coming-out stars--
A line of hope from heaven to our hearts.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


My attempt to remain blink-free fails.
And with the slightest and quickest touch of eyelash to eyelash,
A tear falls.

I want to lock all these tears up in my room.
I don’t want them to spill.
But my room has no lock.
It has no key.
My door doesn’t even shut all the way.

I blink again,
This time prolonging the closure
Along with drawing in a hard and ragged breath.

OK, I surrender, tears.
Come on out.
As you want.
As you will.
As you are.

They do.
They perform their salty gravity show,
With their falling
They leave behind invisibly miniscule traces of my heart.

Friday, June 27, 2008

sidewalk chalk

the sidewalk.
the driveway.

they absorb the chalk colors.

the swirls.
the scrawled lines.

the sun fades the brightness.
and rain washes away the time spent sitting on concrete.
tracing shadows.
outlining bodies.
supressing giggles when tracer taps tickle-spots.
time spent face upwards to the sky
bluer than any of the colors now left dusty on your hands,
the smudge on your cheek.

belly to the sun.

eyes to the sky.

arms and legs sprawled outwards
ready to embrace the round, colorful world
softer than this cement support.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

by their fruits

She almost died on an Easter Sunday.
My great-gramma.

Heavy waiting filled the air
At her daughter's house,
My gramma's house.

We unconsciously half-celebrated;
Grampa still hid the eggs
We'd colored with crayons and dye.
We still searched the yard for them,
But the knowledge of Gramma Roth's shape
Weighed the backs of our minds
And the bottoms of our hearts.

She died a week into May.


She used to be the top of my living family tree.

my gramma,
my dad,

A tree.

She raised three boys and three girls.

Her little house must have felt
So empty all those years
With them grown-up and gone.

Then we'd come tumbling in for a visit.
Building lincoln log cabins,
Sleeping on the trundle bed,
Squashing box elder bugs,
Weeding her flower bed.
Her old home managed to hold us all--
Back to its old self.

Great-gramma had a fruit cellar.

I loved swinging open the creaky door
And stepping down into the cool dark.
I would stand, eyes closed, for one breath,
Inhaling the deep air of packed dirt,
Before pulling the naked light bulb's string.

Every shelf contained similar glass bottles
All housing different preserves:
Floating peaches,
Beans snapped and suspended,
Colorful jellies and jams,
Dark grape juice,
Beautiful raspberries,
And rich tomatoes.


She still is.

I walk now into my parent's basement pantry
And witness the dead are still with us
As we fill jars with applesauce, sauerkraut, pears, apricots.

A family's tree.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

still there

dry throat.
hot head.
trembling tongue.
standing there,
feeling it in my heart,
not knowing how
to say it through my mouth.
somehow spitting something out.
sitting down.
breath slowing.
heart still feeling
the truths of words spoken
and unspoken yet still felt.
how does my small and simple testimony
bring on all this?
I don't know.
I don't care.
it's fine with me just because it's still there.

first sonnet: circa 2002

Blood circles round my heart, making it tight.
Forgetting to breathe, I suck deep for air.
Images of you crowd and blind my sight.
I like to pretend I am with you there,

But conjuring you can't erase these fears.
So this is to you, the one out of reach,
Though it will never sound in your ears,
I'll keep it here inside, my little speech.

You are the one whom I think of at night.
You fill me up like a rush-roaring wave.
You'd make everything more than alright.
For you this first kiss of mine I would save.

But these things of you I never could speak,
So words rest here for now; I am too weak.

Beloved, Fear Not

A found poem, taken from the following passage from Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton:

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs from through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

Beloved, Fear Not

Beloved unborn child,
Love deeply.
Fear not.
Give heart.
Fear not.
Laugh gladly.
Fear not,
Inheritor of our earth.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

10 sept 2004

Soldiers going back overseas.
They've been over before--thus the back--
At the beginning of the war,
But they've been home a year,
And it's time to return.

Mothers and wives
And families fear
A knock at the door.
They fear the bad news--
The worst that might come.

One woman has the hardest time at night.
She lives in the country.
Her dogs bark at any passing car.
So when she hears her dogs,
She fears.
She can't fall asleep at night.
When sleep happens to grace her,
It's not smooth and doesn't soothe.

7 aug 2004

399 killed
in Paraguay
owners of
a supermarket
ordered their
doors locked
when a
fire broke
out because
they did
not want
people leaving
the store
without paying

man slaughter
child and
woman and
man slaughter
399 slaughtered

28 july 2004

before I was born,
rested your head
on my mother's chest.

held you in her arms
and your body
rested atop her pregnant bump of me.

were young--
less than seven months
and I
was yet to breathe
the air of your world.

You and I,
we must have,
must have,
known each other
before our births.

Me and you.

Who will be the first
to stop breathing the air of our world?

28 july 2004

You exist in dreams,
My nighttime visions.
And though I don't
See you in daylight,
I cannot shake
You from my thoughts.
You remain perched
In my head.
And everytime I
Look up I
Feel you,
Want to see you,
But know I can't.
I can't until sleep
Closes my eyes,
Slows my heart,
Deepens my breath.
There you'll be
Looking at me.

(Or am I just looking at you?)

20 nov 2003

fossils are nothing
but stone traps.

a leaf
or shell
sticks to soft rock's surface.

slated on forever.

2 may 2005

hands raised
elbows slighly bent
head back
eyes shut but looking skyward
deep intake of air through nose
and then exhale like it's coming from the heels of your feet
toes in the mud--clasped around stones

wanting to run
but waiting
for a drop of rain

water to make
the mud wetter
wet to wash
the tears away

shut-eyed even
you've cried
always amazed
each time it happens

you had closed your lids to halt
the salty onslaught

you rubbed the tip
of your tongue
against the inside
of your bottom teeth
trying to find calm
in that motion

but neither tongue
nor lids can keep back
the cry that has to come

and so you wait

you wait for rain

when it falls
you can open your eyes

16 march 2005 (w/ a boost from alex caldiero)

Hold out your hands she said.
I stood there.
Hold your hands out she said.
There I stood.
She said hold out your hands.
I stood.
There she said.
Hold out.

19 feb 2005

lightning lock gaze
sudden shock to soul-center

but it doesn't
burn away quickly

it stays
in the heart
till you
have it again

linked vision

21 jan 2005

My wet hair dampens the rock.
I'm in snowangel position
Without the snow
On my back.
My suit soaks into warm stone.
My arms fill with heat from the slab's contact.
Eyes close.
I see fuzzy red--
The inside of my lids plus the sun's shining.
I crack my toes,
Forcing my calves
To embrace more of the rock's warmth.
Turning prostrate,
I press one cheek
And then the next
To scrape against
The hot, rough texture.

28 nov 2004

when you lose someone,
how do you start taking pictures of who's left?

there will be a hole.

a space

a void

where that someone used to


that first picture
how hard
to stand
or sit
without the one
the one not there anymore

but that space
can serve as a substitute
reminding of the loss

yes, hurting
but also healing
as those left behind
hug each other round the hole.
wholeness again.

8 oct 2004

I hold the baby.
Her eyes open with surprise
When I touch my forehead to hers.
She burrows her head into the
Space between my shoulder and chest.
And we both gain comfort.

That locking secures us.
My feet stand,
But her natural act
Holds me up.

She edges out and looks at my face
Wanting more excitement or baby talk.
And so I lift her up above my head.
And then she squeals.
I smile.
I hold the baby.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

the abundant life

There is a little branch that we got to go to a couple times in my last area when we (Sestra Tislenko i ya) were teaching Nastya. There are about 14 active members. The branch president, his wife, and their four kids make up about half of that branch. Sister Shelton, my MTC companion, told me that she was at their place one time and all the kids were just sitting at the table having cookies and milk for breakfast; everyone was so happy and Sister Shelton just wanted to stay there and soak in the Spirit of this beautiful family. So this is what I wrote:

elbows and glasses crowd the table
hands shove cookies into smiling mouths
fresh-from-the-cow-milk fills the glasses
and sloshes around a bit in the jostle

the clamoring calms
scratched-up arms and chipped glasses
seem to be the only present roughness
but even their edges are smooth

the smiles are warm
the eyes glow and shine with happiness
they hold a secret that aches to brighten the world

it's no secret, really, though

it's truth

and we can all come to know

it's not hidden away,
this truth,
this light,
this love

perhaps forgotten
or maybe even pushed away,

but not

out of reach

we can all beam milk-moustache smiles
and eat cookies for breakfast

we can rub elbows with our brothers and sisters
as we sit side to side
at the thick, wood table

we can feel at home
be at home

find center

be at peace

we can know who we are
and feel pure love

turn to the table
sit down
offer thanks
and partake

and live the abundant life

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

call waiting

You left your coat.
You walked out the door.
I saw it an hour later,
Picked up the phone,
But didn't dial.

I put down the phone
And raised the fabric of you
Up to my nose.
I breathed you in,
Waiting for you to call.