"dazzle gradually"

"Dazzle Gradually" 2017 poems, paintings, new art & photography--a diary, a discipline, a delight. Read over my shoulder as I post my unedited poetry ---you can see it in the raw or get my first book and see how the work evolves with new books rolling out next year.

Polly Alice

Monday, August 30, 2010

Humpty Dumpty

Dear Humpty Dumpty,
I hear the new style is all in
red velvet cushions for hats
this year.  As you are my
best egg customer, I've taken
the liberty of ordering for you
one for each end. They should
come in next wednesday, I'll
send the king's horses
to deliver them.

Mat Hatter

Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham ('Green Eggs and Ham', in traditional Chinese and English)
Dear Cat M I,
Eat them,
or else.

Sam I am.

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

Dear Max,
We miss you already.
You were the best king we ever had.
How did you learn that trick of
staring into all our yellow eyes at once?
We've been doing the wild rumpus every night,
but it's not the same without you.
I know you sent us to bed without supper
sometimes, but we know it was for our own good.
Half of us have voted to build a boat and
come visit you--the other half have decided
that showing our terrible claws is enough.
So keep an eye out for us, we may
get there in a year or two.  We smell
good things to eat on the wind over the sea.
Yours truly,
Wild Things

In the Night Kitchen

In the Night Kitchen (Caldecott Collection)
Dear Mickey,
I'm so proud of you.  I know you
can handle anything while I'm at work.
Make sure to let yourself in after school
and eat something from the icebox.
It's your job to watch over the house
while we're gone.  Don't let anyone in.
Don't answer the door.  Please remember
to put the bread in the oven, I left it rising on
the counter.  Please start making the batter
for Papa's birthday cake.  Beat the eggs
for the full ten minutes.  I left the cookbook
out for you.  And make sure to change out
of your school clothes.  I'll be home soon.
p.s. Here is some money for the milk man


Outside Over There

Outside Over There (Caldecott Collection)
Dear Mama,
I've gone to find baby.
I've taken your raincoat, and
Papa's horn.  Don't worry.
I'll get her back, one way
or the other, besides
I can fly.


Kenny's Window

Dear Kenny,
Thanks for working so hard to
Kenny's Windowfind the answers to my seven
You were steller-- getting the questions              
back to your world on paper was
the most impressive thing I've ever seen
a dreamer do, especially one so young.
And you were tireless-- interviewing
goats, toy soldiers, your pet dog,
Baby, your teddy bear, Bucky.
You were a trooper, and then
you decided not to to come
and live in my dream garden after all.
That's okay, I understand.  You
have things to do, and wishes to make
come true.  I know one other
secret too I didn't tell you.
The more you dream, the bigger
the garden gets, and we'll meet again
there someday in the end
when night turns to day.

Take care,
your friend,
the dream chicken

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Drink nectar
every velvet
sharon rose
Taste the
melody of
lavender sorrow
Stand on moonlight
Yours is
this honeyed

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The hickory trees are dropping their nuts
Apples are dropping too
Redbud's drop those long bean thingys
Gum trees drop gum balls you can't chew
Silver Maple seeds fly on wing
Acorns fall from every oak spread
Whatever you do, watch out for watermelon trees-
you could end up dead.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Dear Peter,
I finally went down to the US today.  I've been to Canada Theta, and Portland Province, but nothing
prepared me for what I experienced.  It's like a third world country.  I mean they are still using styrofoam disposables, there is no public transportation of any kind, and it was just strange.  Well let me tell you the whole thing--You know how we had to study the American Reformation in grade school?  I never
really paid that much attention.  Well I was visiting my mom's aunt, and she took me to church on Monday.  I wasn't too surprised about the Monday thing, but when we drove past the UnCatholic Church and the UnLutheran Church on one corner, then across from the UnMethodist church we pulled into the UnBaptist parking lot, I started remembering those stories from social studies class. 
Inside the church, things looked fairly normal--though there were a whole lot of stained glass windows, statues, and odd cross stitch murals of twenty first century saints on the walls--  It was the styrofoam that got me.  There were five hundred people in the building that day, each one ran over each other to get to
these huge jelly filled donuts, eaten on styrofoam plates, then drank Reformation Tea out of styrofoam cups, I saw several people throw away their first cup to get a fresh one.  Just think about it Peter, that's 1,000 pieces of styrofoam per Monday in this one UnBaptist church; 4,000 on this one block in this one town.  How many pieces on one Sabbath Monday in this whole country, who could say, and how much does that add up to in a year?  I'll have to go through detox before I come home.  I guess they aren't worried about the planet, because they think we live in some sort of post apocalypse age.  I'm not sure?  Do you remember anything about it.  Send me your old notes if you still have them. Thanks.
We'll I have to run, we're off to eat out at the Olive Martyr restaurant, let's hope they use dishes (I haven't seen any vegetables yet either, so I doubt I'll be eating olives).  I tell you about the rest later.



Dear Winston,
This is a friendly reminder from your FB2 account (FaceBigBrother).
1.  Please note that you are using an outdated version of newspeak.
All comments must be limited to "like"  or "unlike"
likewise, "good" or "ungood" are acceptable.
FB2 dislikes the term "dislike" and especially "sorry for your loss" is unappropriate.

2.  Please note that when you "comrade"
someone, that your party account is only allowed one hundred fifty comrades due to server space constraints.

As always, please remember you are responsible
for any problems with your FB2 account.  Only accept
"comrade requests" from party members you know,
as brotherhood infiltraitors may bug your account. 

FB2 Agent 79

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mary's Song--my first praise song

I've finally accomplished a life long dream, and written my first praise song.  When I learn guitar, I can play it for you.  Jacob's Well, a great church in Kansas City, has amazing music written by their staff.  After singing one of the best praise songs ever about Luke 1:46-56, I was determined to try my hand at the same passage.  Really it's hard to mess up such a nice song.  Here it is...

Mary's Song

You're growing on me
You're growing in me,
and I'm so happy
so happy     (2x)

You, Oh Lord, 
remember me
and I'm so happy
so happy .    (2x)

And everyone to the end of time
will hear our story--
How you came down
in a seed of hope
to show your glory.  

And everyone to the end of time
can know your mercy--
How you hold out your
living water for the thirsty.

You're growing on me
You're growing in me,
and I'm so happy
so happy.     (2x)

You, Oh Lord,
remember me,
and I'm so happy
so happy.     (2x)

And everyone who is this place
can see your honor--
How you bring down
kings who abuse their power.

And everyone who is this place
can feel your glory--
How you hold out your
body's bread for the hungry.

You're growing on me
You're growing in me,
and I'm so happy.

Come with Me.

Come with me. Let's crawl
on the ceiling, and climb over each door,
let's cross the whole house without touching the floor.
We'll sit with our legs crossed without any chair,
and float down the staircase without stepping on stairs.
We'll sail the ol' swingset to Kalamazoo
through an ocean of cloud and sky blue.
Come with me, and all will be well....
Oh, you're a grown up?  I won't tell.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Obvious clues overlooked which point to Attention Deficit Disorder:

1.  Pop up the toast three times before it's toasted
2.  hot tea is cold--again
3.  eat a snack to get energy-- five times a day
5.  try to remember middle name
6.  write any old date on checks or letters
7.  skip retying shoes
8.  skip putting shirt on right side out
9.  skip checking hair before leaving house
10.  Leave garage door up---again
11.  leave cupboards, drawers, and doors open--again
12.  Find fun leftovers, skip recipe
13.  leave out baking powder--again
14.  skip laundry, can't find basket
15.  write a note in a hurry---can't read it
16.  read a book in a hurry--can't remember it
17.  watch mysteries over and over--who did it?
18.  clean whole house, or none at all
19.  cook ten things, or none at all
20.  do a dozen projects, or none at all
21.  reorganize drawer, forget original thing needed
22.  ask children to help, forget question
23.  try to turn on CD to relax, never make it to that side of room
24.  try to get glass of water, never get glass
25.  try to find glass of water, lose it
26.  ...., interrupt everyone else in mid-sentence
27.  interrupt yoursel...what?
28.  forget to take Ginko for memory aid
29.  forget to take stuff for memory?  Ginseng?
29.  forget to take herb with a G name?
30.  go to vitamin store and forget to buy that herb for memory

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mother's Day Rose Bush

Okay, 168 posts and I feel like I can never write another poem again.  I am completely dry of poetry. 
However, I'm panning for gold, and all dried up only means I may be getting to the good stuff any moment--though maybe not today.

Roses and mothers get along
Those two pink bushes you planted,
there in the corner under the Redbud tree,
are thriving in the half shade.
They battle ants, bugs, and draught--
they do well with soapy dishwater,
or baby powder, they
cannot live well in the wild,
they must be tended, loved,
pruned for show,
they do better the more
blossoms they share.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cicada III

Cicada, your trill pulses
like a voice from another world
completely.  You tell only
the truth-- and loudly.
Cicada, you tell me,
Do not keep silent. 
Do not quit.
You ride the wheel
of the world, rattling
your tambourine
and singing out gold
until you outgrow
the marrow of your message,
I am left with this skin.
Who will sing to me
when you are gone?

Cicada II

July Blue: Cicadas Song (2009)

The white and the blue of the sky inverse
to burst the dazzling electric dream clouds
blue blind
lightning ice behind closed eyes

God, it’s bright out here.

The crickets heat the rhythm,
crrick-aaa, crrick-aaa
The cicadas treble a clock maker’s cry;
winging the secret wheel of the world,
they trill a tambourine,
trrranga, rrranga, thrrraaanngaaaaaaaaaa


trrranga, rrranga, thrrraaanngaaaaaaaaaa.
until they unzip the sun from itself;
cut out each triangle,
and tuck it into the sky
a scroll

Cicada, unearthly soldier,
you command the trees dance--
the leaves shudder
flinging firelights back to the sun.
You sing the green ground
into crisp paper grass.

At your cry, the heat
rolls from the ringing globe,
bakes the brown earth to
a fine aled scent

Cicada, I will roll in
your world of torn papers
brown, green, gold, blue, white,
until all my dry thoughts are lost
like butterfly wings against wind.

As long as I hear your song,
I know I am still here
where I am home.

July Blue, an excerpt from my novel (2008):
             Becky who had lived in the middle of Kansas city in a penthouse apartment her whole life, next to the art museum, thought that the ringing zanga, thranga, ranggggaaaa was the sound of the trees' leaves made in August, swinging and twisting on the breezes.  Of course, she hadn’t said anything about it, which saved her the embarrassment when she overhead other campers talking about the noise the cicadas made. 
              The leaves never stopped moving--the light was always changing, pushing, casting green shadows on the grown or reflecting flecks of gold like a jungle of fairie lights.  The light flickered in the trees all day, though no one else mentioned them.  To Becky, the sky was so large, its reached down to the far horizon making dreams seem bigger and more possible.  Here at Camp Woodland, with the wind playing with her hair, she felt powerful and alive.


Wind (1999)

A gail throws me across
muddy grass
I run
feeling the wind
blow away
my hard exterior.

Set free
from a binding shell
hard amber cracks
and blows away

leaving my
soft flesh
new to
the wind.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pinch Pantoum

In the cold greenhouse, we pinch the buds.
My bucket is full of flowers. 
Why do they bloom when they are not ready,
too small to produce their rosy fruits? 

My bucket is full of flowers
I break the stems because they are
too small to produce their rosy fruits
Plants need rest enough to grow.

I break the stems because they are
blooming too early, little weaklings
Plants need rest enough to grow,
and with rest, they can support more
blooms than before.

Blooming too early, little weaklings
Stripped to their greens they're small
and with rest, they can support more
blooms than before.
In the cold greenhouse, we pinch the buds.

Barbie and Ken drive away in their shoebox (1999)

Childhood memory exercises can turn out anyway they want...

The fairies are happy for their queen,
they fly in aerial sprees.
Yarn looped dresses are their fashion friends,
cardboard castles are the newest trend
With Kleenex curtains waving in the breeze,
Barbie's proud of her new draperies.
Barbie and Ken ride away
in their new shoe box,
goodbye to the fairies as they speed past
over an olive carpet of grass
into the darkness of the clothes closet forest.

Old Poem

One of my first ever poems written for a class, in Feb. of 1999.

Jacob's Song
Who are you God?
How can I climb up to you?

I am low,
and weak as a child.

I am yearning for something
hunger consumes me
like fire in the pit of my stomach.

Send me a ladder, Oh God,
Lift me on your wing.

I wrestle with your ways,
higher than my own.

Teach me to climb,
to stand on your rock.

Lord, You are not always silent,
My fathers heard your voice.

Strip away the mud from my eyes
so I will not be blind.

Lord, come like thunder.
Reveal yourself to me.

Show me your power,
the tower of your strength.

And I will climb to you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Neighbor Angst

Warning:  This is not a nice poem.  These are true stories, a conglomeration of hundreds of people. If you've ever been my neighbor, you might not want to read this one.  I'm just reflecting in general on every reason friends have given to me, over two decades, on why they couldn't stay-- or stop by.  Really I'm just a list maker--I'm hoping that gathering like items into tidy piles will help declog my brain--help me see a pattern and discover how to change.  Is this still poetry?  Not sure, but I still have over 150 more days to go here so...I am writing anything that strikes me.  Something about writing a poem a day, I have to write what comes to mind or tomorrow there will be writers block and bad rhymes.  And maybe
tomorrow something friendly and thankful, but not today.

Neighbor Angst

Dear Neighbor,
I invited you over for tea, but you couldn't come,
because you couldn't leave your dogs alone.
I made your favorite chicken and noodles,
but you couldn't stay, you had to hurry home.
I brewed a pot of sun tea for you, but you
brought your own soda from Sonic instead.
I cleaned the bathroom, and put out fresh guest towels,
but you must have held it in.
I had a party, but you had a doctor appointment
that couldn't be changed.
I had an evening soiree, but you overslept
and forgot to come again.
I bought organic coffee and hash browns,
but you went out to breakfast by yourself.
I went to your house to make Christmas cookies,
they were already done, and you didn't offer me
any to take home. 
--I had new sprinkles and muffin papers with
candy canes on them, unopened, but I took them
home again.
I brought you your favorite peanut butter candy,
but you were on a diet.
I brought you fresh fruit, but you gave it
back, "too much would spoil."
I brought you a casserole and you said, "Why
are you always trying to feed us?"
I brought you a basket of Holiday goodies, and you
said, "I know you," and didn't tell me who
you were.
I baked you my special homemade bread,
but you were on a low carb diet and
wouldn't taste one bite.
I invited your kids over to play with mine so
you could go out by yourself,
but you don't believe in babysitting.
I invited your grandaughter over to play,
but that made her mother nervous because we
were strangers.  I asked for your phone number,
but you didn't know it--it's a cell number.
I asked for the phone list for the sunday school
class, but you said there wasn't one, then sent
me a letter asking me not to come back.
I offered to take your granddaughter to the parade,
but she came down with a sniffle.
I offered to squirt the kids with the sprinkler,
but you took them to the pool, and didn't invite us along.
I invited you to come by, but you lost my cell number
three times even though that's technically impossible
because cell phones memorize numbers.
I left my new phone number with the secretary,
but you couldn't find it--after twelve months.
I sent you a letter telling you I was in town,
and wanted to see you, but you didn't reply.
I asked you to call every week or so,
but you didn't want to intrude.
I was in the hospital with my cell phone on,
but you though I might need more time alone.
You asked if you could help--when
I asked, you laughed at my request.
I called to talk to you, but the dogs
were barking too loud.
I tried to talk to you at the front door,
but you couldn't invite me in,
because the dogs were barking too loud.
I called to talk to you, but you
were driving.
I called to talk to you, but
you didn't recognize my name.
I visited you, but you talked to the dogs
the whole time.
I sent you a package,
but mine never came.
I sent you thank you notes, illegible, but true,
in twenty-eight years, I've never gotten one
from you.
I came to your party, but you
forgot to introduce me to your friends.
I came to your house, but you don't
own any cups.  I was thirsty
and you didn't offer me a drink.
I had to go the bathroom,
and you didn't have any toilet paper,
and not one towel in sight.
We came for Christmas,
but when we arrived you'd already
eaten without us.
I reminded you we were getting together
and you said maybe the calendar
would clear the month after next--
only you'd been saying that for two years.
I came over, but you were on your way out.
You told me never to knock, but
you always jumped when I walked in.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Myth bushes

This poem is dedicated to my best friend from elementary school, Eric Haag, who died in May of 2010 at age 32.  He was a gifted performing artist and filled his life with good things.

Myth Bushes

Come with me through a black door, through
Alice's rabbit hole, or the raven's nevermore...

Through a long tunnel, filled with white light,
to place where we've already won the long, good fight. 

Where the tree of life stands with fruit all year long, and everyone sings in tune, if they care to sing along.

Crack open myths growing on bushes,
and chew on their meats while lounging on cushions.

Cruise in winged chariots of fire,
or make a guitar with the strings of a lyre.

Rock down the house on a golden paved street,
and find a fast friend in anyone you meet.

Run with the eagle's speed, soar in the dawn,
borrow Jacob's ladder of angels to help hang
your Christmas lights on.

Rent wings from the flight booth, and take them for a spin,
Play the lottery, cause everyone wins.

Redecorate your mansion with purple silk threads,
never worry about carbs, because everyone eats life bread.

Pick a new horse in red, white or green; they can all fly
and they have coats with a shiny sheen.

Find comfy sandals that always fit right,
and save us a place at the feast-- just sit tight.

Because we'll be their soon and see you on stage,
when the preface stops, and we finally turn the page

to the place where life starts and the good times begin,
when all fear dies, and this shadow world ends.

When reality starts, and the pretend is forgiven.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hope is like the pumpkin vine

Hope is like the pumpkin vine growing out of the compost heap.
Unexpected but not unreasonable, the vine grew up the fence
between our neighbors yard, over the Hickory Tree that resembles
a thirty-five foot weed, and back down along the grass. 
Pumpkin vines are prickery you know, like evil velcro--
untouchable.  Our neighbors might actually be distantly related
to Pumpkins on that point, but they really aren't pleasant enough
for this to be the case.  I know this one has it's own sense of humor as though the Hickory needed decorating, a hug, a feather boa--whatever
their agreement, I have no idea.

I've planted them for years, pumpkins, but never yet grew one. 
Last year I planted them too early-- two choked themselves to death,
whipped by the spring winds in every direction, the third grew
a vine large enough to drape the garden bed in juicy leaves,
but disappeared in the heat, it's large stem damaged and bent enough from
infancy was unable bear all the weight of fifteen square feet of networking.

I love pumpkins for some unknown reason, maybe their color--maybe they
cheer me up from thinking about how winter will set in.  Both my
children were born with large heads.  "My little Pumpkin blossoms,"
I called them, because of course they were really little pumpkin heads. 
And when the third one didn't make it because of a bend in her umbilical cord--
I knew just what had happened, I'd seen in it my own garden.  Nothing can
grow without a strong stem. And that's what hope is like--it hangs by a thread even when
there really is no chance at all.

When July comes, and I can't possibly do anymore gardening,
it's time to go inside and watch the pumpkin vines cover over the whole mess. 
This one on the fence I'm worried about.  It wilts every day in the heat--
not enough roots in the ground and too much trying to fly right into the air.
Yes it's a vine, but this pumpkin set it's heights on something Heavenly I can't

Hope is like this pumpkin vine, it reaches above a situation where 
it's doubtful anything good will come-- like this heap of sticks,
weeds, last year's Christmas Tree, and burrs from the Gum Tree,
the pumpkin spring right out of it.  And I recognize the pumpkin
by it's little fruit.  It's our Thanksgiving pumpkin, the one that sat
on our table for three months.  "A Cinderella Pumpkin," the store 
tag boasted of it's golden pink flesh and romantic shape.  The
pumpkin I bought to celebrate our homecoming after the house
was rebuilt from the fire.  The centerpiece for our table, our
first Christmas at our own house. 

So no one cares about this pumpkin except me--that's what hope is like
too.  You can only have your own.  No two hopes are the same.  So
I will look at this little green gem hanging off the vine out of the
trash heap, and I will hope for a free gift, one I didn't work for,
one I didn't plant---an accident.  Hope is like that too.  It's
nothing you plan for, and if you get what you hope for, you often
think it was just a matter of chance. 

So if I do get a beautiful bronzed Cinderella Pumpkin in
my very own yard, I'll do what I always do with hope.
I'll scoop the precious seeds out of its sticky heart and save
them.  Then I'll bake up a storm, and you won't ever
see a table laid full like the one we'll lay this year.
And I already know what I'll say when I'm asked
what I'm thankful for.

It's so hot

It's so hot, the mercury is tired of holding up to the top
It's so hot, the crickets stopped singing because they passed out
It's so hot, the crows put on white jackets to reflect the sun
It's so hot, the sunflowers are hanging their heads in shame
It's so hot, the air conditioner burst into flame
It's so hot, we are sitting around in our skin
It's so hot, the devil felt neighborly and just walked in

Monday, August 9, 2010


short nursery rhymes--Thanks to my kindergartner who helped me write these.

Great-Big spider went up the water spout
down came the water and washed the spider out.
Up he ran, but the spider hid in vain,
cause the Great Big spider was washed away again.

Spider, Spider run as fast as you can,
If we can't get you the bug man can.
Spider, Spider go away.
We'll see you some other day.

Spider, Spider we hate you,
eat some bubbles and shampoo too.

I don't want ants in my pants,
I don't want ants in my pants,
but boy can I dance.
boy can I dance.

Ants in a line, Ants in a row,
getting away with my sugar
in tow.

Ants stomp.
Ants stamp.
Ants. cha cha

Roly polies you're so good
Roly polies you're so cool
you can roll up in ball
your the nicest of them all.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Apple Fest

We two girls, good little Baptists,
with fawn brown hair
walked to the Apple Fest.
Down Boiling Springs Road
and around the bend --to
St. Edmund's.

Curled across the parking lot
were strangers in crowd.
not an apple in site,
but it sure was loud.

What were they doing?
We couldn't quit tell. 
No apple cake, or fritters,
donuts, caramels, or pies.
What kind of Apple Fest
left out apples, and why?

Then we stood in one place,
and our hearts skipped a beat--
catching the Autumn sun, buoyed
by big fists in white plastic cups.
Would Christians drink beer
out here in the air, What if someone
caught them laughing,
drinking without care?

A magician stood near
with tricks for the kids--
playing cards with red roses
shooting from his sleeves
Witches and Wizards and magic
in black was odd to have at the
church, even out back.

We were undone,
our knees were quite weak
Baptists are different, we said,
they like to bake treats

They'd have apples, and plenty to eat.
We headed home with our stomachs
agrowl-- Tomorrow would be better
better for sure.  There's be something
good at the Methodist's.
It was their Fall Fundraiser Chili Bowl.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ruby Red

Quizzing at the window,
buzzing at the lock,
Red throated hummingbird,
it's almost nine o'clock.

Go around the outside
then around the block,
Ruby floating hummingbird,
you look like you could talk.

Wind chimes at the front door,
nectar in the back,
Busy buzzing hummingbird,
we're glad to have you back.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What the old bards knew

The old bards--now extinct--
practiced memories vouchsafed in
velvet purses of poetic rhyme.
They stitched meter with tongues of fire,
stories growing on their breath in
a vapor of song.

Carl Jung--now unsurfaced--
said memories from our collective
unconscious rise to the honeyed surface
of our sleep.  Myths stick to our subconscious
like stamps stuck to a postcard
a postcard with crisp cursive saying,

Dear Ego,
Don't forget what you've suppressed.

We--now past the Modern puzzle--
think memories are saved by
our senses, stored on our FB walls,
secured by our aspiration that
pharmaceuticals and servers
will never go wrong.

And so, I write myself a poem,
a poem for each dream and each memory,
for every crinkled note crammed
in the honeycomb of my mind,
I smooth them out one at a time
and squint at their illegible scrawls--
each story about how we've all loved
different things, and each story
about how we have loved.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dear Benny Hinn

Dear Benny Hinn,

I know it all started with tongues of fire,
orthodoxies, protestations, proclamations,
then quakers, shakers,
and movers.

Now when everyone gathers,
you raise your hand, and people just fall down--
"Slain in the Spirit," is such an odd term
instead of murder, it feels like a lullaby, a
nap time with all those soft blankets lain over
bodies lying randomly on the floor
like so much laundry.
People really just need a rest.

Anyway, it must be tough for you.  Right? 
How do you decide who to pray for healing for,
or when to stop praying for them?
What if Anita, who presses your white suits,
gets sick, or even dies, will you raise her
back from that free coin laundry in the sky?
Would you make her take her job back
after she was so excited
about her permanent vacation?

Anyway, I wanted to let you know it's okay.
At your conference, thirty-eight people
fell on our left, a hundred on our right.
They were like the dry ground, an arrowed
path, and the rest of the crowd, the Red Sea.
You were like Moses standing in the gap,
and we-- We were just flags among the fallen.

I'm not worried about it anymore--
I've been told, "The Spirit is all over us."
Besides, you didn't fall down either.
I mean what would happen if
every time God showed up
we all needed a nap?  Some of us
have got to keep our sea legs and
pull the sails up. 

I'm writing to let you know, not to
worry.  When you finally
lay down to rest under a beautiful
white cloth--
We're the next generation--
and some of us are
still standing.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I wore the high tops just to annoy Her.
I brought three life altering questions to ponder
during the sermon, my favorite cartooning pen
for before and after, and Altoids--
"curiously strong mints"
for those soporific moments in between.

Bill, march on in there, right now, She hissed.

I schlepped into the room like an amoeba under the scope,
counting the lines between floor tiles between each step. 
She shook the pastor's hand, or somebody's.
I sank into my chair.  Safe inside my head for the rest of the service. 
I never got to question one: "What are
the hazards of time travel in the B.C.E era?"
No, the music forced me to read the English
words on the screen, because it was in Korean.
The sermon-- translated by a girl my age with
these huge eyes-- I stared.
Too bad  she knew both languages,
she had to hear it twice. 

After it was over, it still wasn't over.
Lunch in the gym.  I didn't have a plan,
since She neglected to mention this
would go on practically all day.
We sat at a table with the pastor,
and the girl with the huge eyes.
I stared at my plate.

It's kimchi, She said.

Why do you stay and eat lunch
together? I asked the eyes.

Many of us travel long distances
to be together on Sundays.  This
gives us time to talk, and relax.
Then there is an evening service.

I choked.  Would She make us stay?

Try the kimchi, it's good, the pastor prodded.

No way was I going to look
scared in front of the eyes.
I took a huge bite of the cabbage
and alien vegetables swimming in red sauce.

It was incredible--unbelievably complex:
vinegary and vibrant; spicy and sour;
heady,and hotter than anything
I'd ever tasted.  It was exciting and new;
ancient and wild.  I shoveled
in every mouthful from my Styrofoam bowl.

This is what church should be like, I found
myself saying aloud.  Church should
be more like kimchi then I'd come
all the time.

Everyone laughed.  I ate second helpings
of everything.  I mark that bowl
of kimchi as the moment I made
friends for life.