The Wind 

I was sitting on a quiet shore of lake Geneva in the morning, a cool breeze coming off the water. The combination of the cool air, the morning breeze, and the clouded sky gave me an impression. I detected a certain personality that the wind had taken on. This is how I saw her.

Wide-skirted, wide-eyed

Tight lipped.

Heavy brow, furrowed. 

Easy smile, mysterious. 

Voice rising up and down – 

Low and reverent,

Urgent and impassioned. 

She holds her chin high 

With authority from the past 

To tell of the future,

Always carrying something new in her hands.

Looking back over her hunched shoulder, 

Her dark eyes flickering like candlelight,

She pauses before pulling back the curtain 

To reveal to the world. 

Bracelets jingle with her movement 

As she unfolds the silk tapestry 

That tells a story 

Meant to shock and thrill. 
But sometimes she speaks gently and carefully 

And quietly studies the palm of a hand,

Drawn inward within herself

In a silent conversation.

Her lips on the brink of a smile,

Her eyes both full and vacant  –

She knows things of other worlds. 

But she glides by 

Skirts swishing and trailing 

Not saying a word,

Carrying with her 

The certainty 

That something is following close behind. 

I do not consider myself a poet because I arrange words in lines and rhythms and sounds. I am a poet because I look at things and I see that they mean something. I am a poet because I hear things and I write down what they say. 
It’s not the ability to craft language that makes a poet, but the ability to detect it in the world around them. It’s the difference between the potter and the archaeologist who unearths the urn years later. I don’t create poems, I discover them. 

It’s the art of seeking, finding, and understanding that I practice. 

Some Sights I’ve Seen

This past summer I spent nearly a month in Europe touring with my college music ensembles. Nearly a year later, I’d say it’s time to share a few of my pictures and experiences!

Lubeck.jpgThis picture was taken in Lübeck, Germany. I enjoyed this colorful, unique touch.

 

Rhine town8.jpgThis was actually one of my favorite stops. It was a tiny town on the Rhine river, and a friend and I hiked up the side of a hill covered in vineyards. Directly across from the hill was a church ruin (also shown below).

 

Rhine church ruin2.jpgI loved the angle of the sun and the building in this shot. Inside the walls of the church and the hollowed windows was a carpet of grass. It was such an interesting mix of regal, proud architecture and fresh, young plant life.

Rhine town7.jpgThe streets of this town were so narrow. The whole town felt quiet and a little deserted. It almost felt like I was walking through a picture, instead of the real, living thing.

 

Brugge, Belgium3.jpgA canal in the medieval city of Bruges, Belgium. I love the history of Europe. As I wandered through the streets of each city I marveled at all of the secrets stored up from all it had been through in its old age.

 

prague castle view.jpgI think that my favorite city I visited this time around was Prague. It has such a unique personality. This was a view from the Prague castle, although my favorite view was one from a small hill that overlooked a few streets of a picturesque section of town on either side, and had a great view of the city from the front. I wandered up there at night several times and the lights were amazing.

Frankfurt, Germany12.jpgThis is a church in Frankfurt, Germany. I just enjoyed its placement at the end of this narrow street, and the way the lights looked after it rained. There’s nothing like walking in a European city at night.

 

Aside from all of the beautiful culture and architecture I was surrounded by, we got to sing in some beautiful cathedrals, which is pretty magical. But my FOR SURE ultimate favorite part was the people I met. I got to stay with several families and meet some kindred spirits. It’s a strange and beautiful thing to travel across the world and find a soul that shares a connection with yours. I found some brothers and sisters I didn’t know I had before and got to learn about their corner of the world. Seeing new and different things can add a lot to your life, but forming relationships with those who live there can forever change it. Hülben football game.jpgWe got to play football against our new German friends 🙂

Banska Bystrica Rafaj family.jpgA family of beautiful and kind people who welcomed me into their home and are still in my heart.

 

Lubeck schnitzel.jpgHere’s a picture of my schnitzel because schnitzel is my favorite and there was no way I was going to leave Germany without having some🍴😋  

My favorite part of this one is the last two lines. I envisioned a strong storm that in just a few minutes destroys trees that took maybe even decades to become what they were. I likened that to what it feels like when I’ve made progress in an area of life and one setback, one event, one moment, seems to undo everything I worked toward over time. Just like when you can feel a storm coming in a peculiar breeze, I sometimes sense (whether accurately or not) that coming events will go wrong and I will ruin my confidence, my chances, my improvements, my successes. This sense is a deceptive, but very real, source of fear.

 

It’s all stirring up deep within me

In the ocean of all of my fears.

I know it all pours out of my eyes

Even when they are empty of tears.

The tidal wave building up will be brutal,

I feel it coming as the wind starts to blow.

In mere minutes it will tear apart and uproot

All the green it took me years to grow.

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.

 

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.]

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