Archive for March, 2017

Shrink

This was a pioneer experiment with a new form of poem I wanted to try out. It is written in tercets, with the second line of each leading into the third line. The end of each second line is meant to suggest a particular word coming next that rhymes with the first line, but each time I use a different word or idea than what is implied. The final line of the poem is each of those suggested words put together into a sentence. It’s hard to craft and I’m still playing with the idea, so I don’t love the concept of the poem or every line, but it was a fun first try with this form. I was more focused on forming something that was an example of the form/idea than on the content, so I’m hoping to write a second one soon!

 

It feels like we were made to fall apart,

And I can feel the beating of my

Wings as I fly from this.

 

I shrink back and close my eyes,

Because I can’t bear to watch this

Disappear below me as I escape into the sky.

 

I try to leave behind my thoughts,

Will you just stand there and

Catch them if they fall apart?

 

My heart is hard and heavy like a rock,

I know before I can run I have to

Take a risk, before I fly I have to leap.

 

That’s always been hard for me to do,

But I know I can if I have

The courage to follow through.

 

As much as I want to beg you to stay,

I pretend I don’t mind as you walk

Right past me without looking back.

 

My heart dies as I watch you walk away.

 

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We’d Never Hear

The glowing ring that breathes up from earth’s surface, that catches and holds the sun’s light as it just begins to round the edge, it says new things we’d never hear if we never rose high enough to listen.

sunrise..jpg

 

Faces

I want to share two short pieces I wrote in the past year. Both are based on brief encounters I had in Chicago a few months back. These pieces are in very early stages – I might do more with them at some point, but right now I just wanted to share the thoughts I wrestle over when I meet these people and others like them. I’m always curious about the people I pass on the street and what their stories are, particularly those who are homeless. There are times I have stopped to talk with someone, or have provided food, but usually I walk right on by, and I’m not sure how to respond. I wish there was a better way. But one way I respond to things is by writing, and maybe giving a voice in one way or another to those who are suffering is one of the most caring things we can do. The first bit is written from the perspective of an individual I crossed paths with downtown, and the second is my perspective of a man I’ve seen many times in a neighborhood I go to frequently, who just walks down the center of a busy street looking for a hand to reach out to him with provision for the day. Though both faces are nameless to me, both of these men are real, important, valuable people with a story and a soul. They are probably still out there right now, and they are just two of many. If you’re reading this I challenge you to think about the people you encounter day by day who are in need and take some time to see things from their perspective, and maybe even consider how you could meet a need.

[Buying Time

“Can you folks spare some change?”

The words came out forced and falsely casual, even bright. I’ve said that sentence how many thousands of times? And each time I’m not sure how to. It’s forced. The voice isn’t mine. the inflection is off. I’m not sure how to say it. How do you ask for seventy-five cents that will bring you closer to your first meal of the day? How do you ask for the pennies that are an annoyance to the pockets they weight down, but for me, add up to escape from starvation for one more day? When I ask you folks to spare some change, I’m just trying to buy more time.]

[Empty Space

He walked down the center with his head held high, eyes fixed straight ahead. His face was too young for the crosshatch of gray etched upon it. He was weathered and withering, but still he walked right down the path between all the lined-up cars, taking what any outstretched hands would give and refusing to let the rest rebuke him. He used the empty space, walking in it, living in it. He stepped into it every day, maybe getting lost in it, maybe slipping under, but holding onto it all the same, with each step turning it into something he could use.]

That’s How the Light Gets In

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” 

It’s a line I love from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem.” 

I coincidentally stumbled upon the song shortly after I’d scribbled down a similar thought. Something that fascinates me is channeled light. I love the angle of the sun shortly before dusk when the shadows are long. I love the way the sun creates squares of gold on the floor as it shines through windows. I love when the sky is cloudy but the sun finds its way through the edges and bursts through in rays. Sometimes I just reach out my hand to touch it or step into a sheet of light that’s come in through an open window. Light means more to me when it’s been shaped and shifted. Here’s what I wrote down as I sat in a dark chapel with light throwing shattered patterns onto the chairs in front of me through tall, thin, stained-glass windows:

The light comes in the cracks.
It unfolds in veils of shimmering gold.
Hold it in your hand.
Step into it.
Light is abounding in the open sky
But it doesn’t mean anything until it’s channeled.
Until it seeps in the cracks
And touches your hand.

Kintsugi is a Japanese art based on a similar idea. It’s the process of repairing broken pottery by filling in the broken pieces with gold and other metals. Part of the philosophy behind it is that the brokenness of the object should be an important part of it, not shameful or disgraceful. The repaired object is made into something more beautiful and unique than the original by fitting together its broken parts with gold. 

Cracks and brokenness are part of life, and so often we try to hide them and are ashamed to show our weakness. But what would happen if instead we could stop being afraid and be open about our restoration? We are unique and beautiful because of the ways we have grown stronger and been healed of our hurt and pain and struggle. When we hide that, we take away and cover up the potential power, impact, and inspiration. We make it meaningless. I want to fill in my brokenness with gold and display the beauty of how I have been healed, and how my brokenness has made me more of everything I needed to be. 

Halfway

The classic question is “is the glass half empty, or half full?” Your answer is supposed to be the way you view life: are you a pessimist or an optimist?

I’ve never really understood the question, because I am a realist, and the answer necessarily depends on the situation. What it really depends upon is if the water is being poured into or out of your “glass.” In a situation in which I or my resources are being depleted, I would say the glass is half empty, and not apologize for it – because the present reality is that my glass is being emptied. However, if I am being “poured into” or built up, if I am improving or gaining something, the glass is half full, because the amount of water is currently increasing. Boom. #realist

I guess the message is that even when in some situations your glass is half empty, find the other ways that it is being filled. It’s never all one or the other. The pessimists choose to focus on the ways they are being emptied, whereas the optimists are just too naive to realize they are being emptied at all. Just kidding 😉  It really is a choice, and an important one, to rejoice in the ways you are being filled and not let the things that empty you control your entire outlook.

That was Mine

I haven’t posted anything in a long time, but I’ve been writing all this past year and keeping a notebook full of stuff, so that’s where all of these posts are coming from. I rediscovered this one and wanted to post it because it’s something I need reminders of every day. There are so many things I take into my own hands that belong to God: I so often carry burdens that were never mine to carry; I mistreat someone or fail to defend or help someone who is a beloved child of His; I neglect or give up on something He had under control. And I imagine that all along he’s shaking his head and asking why I take it upon myself to decide what a situation is when it has always been his.

 

That was mine

Words came out that tore someone down,

And He said,

“That was mine.”

A little king was born on earth,

And he bled.

“That was mine.”

I hold on to things too big for me,

And You say,

“That was mine.”

I walk away from things that matter

And You say,

“That was mine.”

I struggle through the stress

And carry it on my own,

And You say,

“That was mine.”

I sabotage, I give up hope,

And You say,

“That was mine.”

It isn’t mine to carry,

It’s not my life to live.

They’re not my decisions, my worries,

My failures, my victories,

My weaknesses, my gifts,

My money, my time.

Help me give them to you,

They are not mine,

They are yours.

“You are mine.”

Hope Comes Broken

This was written on a hard night in the middle of a dark and draining time. What fascinated me about this was that my hope came from the fact that in this life nothing seems to last. Thinking back on things in my life that have passed, I clung on to the hope that I’d lose the fear and anxiety over time as well.

 

Hope Comes Broken

I end the days alone with a heart beating too fast,

Locking up to hold my lungs steady,

Sifting through the air for some that won’t burn.

I wake up to a world eaten away by darkness,

Tensing my shoulders to carry it’s weight,

Careful eyes catching anything that moves.

I go to sleep overcome by confusion,

During the night it turn to shadows in my fist.

I wake up with swollen eyes from ghost tears my dreams made me cry

And see I’m still holding onto it.

But there’s hope.

There’s hope that someday it won’t feel like this.

Hope that there are days up ahead that look different.

Hope because everything changes,

Hope because everything fades.

Hope because vivid colors don’t keep their passion,

Because time and the sun turn them gray.

Sounds just become echoes,

And words lost the meaning they bore.

And pictures become collections of lines and shapes

That no one understands anymore.

Hope because the world falls apart.

Hope because everything unravels.

Hope because nothing lasts longer than a phase.

Hope because I lose everything.

And so, too, eventually, these days.

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