Monday, January 30, 2017

Left big toe

This may sound odd to many, but I have been hobbled with neuropathy since last spring, particularly in my left foot. This afternoon my left big toe moved a little. Party-time!

Sometimes progress
Comes in millimeters
Like this left big toe
I have stared at
For months.
I will it
To move.
Today it did
A millimeter
Mind you
But a millimeter
Counts for something
It shows why
Are important.
I would not have seen it
Those three things.
Today I did.
Tomorrow is
The left big toe party
We will tie a ribbon
Around it
My son will come
To make dinner.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

For Keith

This is for a beloved friend, Keith Raske. We lived down the hall from each other in seminary. He was one of the few people whose ordinations I attended. I found him again a few years ago, doing what he has always done...being Keith. I have a small mandala he painted in a special spot in my house. We will see each other again...this I know.

Oh my friend
You have gone ahead
To scout out the terrain
Of Heaven.
I see you
Bowing to all the people
You knew in this life
In recognition
Of their Holiness,
They bowing
In recognition
Of yours.
I know
Simply know
Earth to Heaven
Heaven to Earth
Is richer
For your presence.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

sermon examples

What an interesting world we live in. What comes through for me is often not what comes through for others.

I used to see the world
In sermon examples.
In some ways
I still do
Though I do not
The lenses I look through,
The voices I hear
Filter the world
In the strainers
In the mesh
Of Gospel eyes
Gospel voices.
I write
What comes through.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

backseat memories

Thanks Kelly Flanagan...for the memories. Years ago, a Siamese cat showed up on the doorstep. We suspect our neighbor was feeding it there. He appeared to be homeless. We adopted him.

Years ago
From the backseat
Came a five year old voice:
What happens
To the animals
Who don’t get adopted?
I know he was thinking
Of the cat
Who showed up
On our doorstep.
This mother
Finally came up
With an answer
As gentle
As truthful
As I could make it:
They gently kill them.
Long silence
In the backseat.
I have the answer
He said.
What is it?
I asked.
We should give them
To all the prisoners
So they won’t be lonely.
My mind conjured up
A cat on every lap.
A cat box
In every cell

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Things are pretty much settled again. I am grateful. The settling seems to go in fits and starts. I'm not sure whether this counts as a fit or a start,

We settle back down
In gratefulness
For being together again.
The daughter
In Scotland
The son
With a new job.
The turtle
In hibernation.
The cats
Well the cats
Are as they are
They sleep a lot
They purr
Different tones
For each.
We settle
And here we are

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Home again

Before they let me go home I had to prove I could walk...even with braces and a walker, I was stunning, Stunning, I tell you. Then they did the "wheelchair exit," The standard "wheelchair exit"

I retreat
From another run
At the hospital.
It feels like football
Though that’s not a sport
I have ever
They drenched my body
With antibiotics
Dangled the threat
Of more physical therapy.
I thanked them kindly
Or maybe
Not so kindly.
Here I am at home
With my beloved
The cats
The turtle
He opens and closes his mouth
He says
He has had his beak trimmed
Thanks to a visit
From my sister.
We are all home.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Original doggie

We all have particularly special things,

Doggie has appeared,
The original Doggie.
My son says
There are two.
Is it the one
Worn out next to the spine?
I assure him
That’s probably the original
He says.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Looking for "I"

Missing letter

Cleaning out my son’s room
There on the bottom
Is the alphabet board.
It is missing an I.
The cleaning continues
Now in search
Of that I.
So many letters to miss
In the room
Of a 29 year old son.
Actually I am proud
It is only one letter.
We wait to see
Whether it will appear
Before we are done
Or whether Goodwill
Will have to sell
An alphabet board
With no I,
Whether some child
Will be unable
To spell
Or idiom.
We will see
If that I

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pink pig, black cat

Duck lady out the back, black cat in the front

We left the pink pig
Watering can
On the front lawn.
Now there is a black cat,
He rolls in it,
Throws it around
In the snow.
He has adopted us
Or perhaps
He just visits
For the winter.
It is a good thing
We left the pink pig
Next to the front door.
Almost anything
Is a good
Cat toy.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

More on the bird clock

The kitten is more relaxed today.

We try the clock
On a top shelf.
The kitten now ignores
The bird calls.
No longer sees
The second hand.
Out of sight
As they say.
Out of earshot
No one
The kitten
Is sound asleep.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New batteries in the bird clock

My sister has replaced the batteries in all the clocks. Our kitten is now sitting in front of the bird clock.

The kitten heard
The white-throated sparrow.
Now her eyes are trained
On the second hand.
The cardinal
Comes next.
The second hand
Is worth a watch.
Anything moving
Is worth
A watch.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Our tweed reindeer has a wobbly neck. Thank goodness my sister is here to prop it up,

The reindeer
Has been propped up
So the head
Does not lean
With its neck askew.
My sister has arrived
From New Mexico.
She props things up
Like reindeer
Like magazines
Like books
Like dishes
Left on the table.
The two clocks
Which no longer run
Will get new batteries
So we can tell time
We look.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. It is the Day the Wise Folk left and went home be another way so Herod would not find them. There are so many Epiphanies in our Faith, one after another after another. I often think of them as whirl winds

The whirl wind
Makes its mark,
Leaves behind those things
Which have yet
To be done.
Oh so many things
Yet to be done.
I mark things off the list,
Yet resolutions
Are not singular:
One baby in a manger,
One star
In the sky.
The whirl wind
Makes its mark
Yet continues
Never singular

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

No gates

I am in the midst of reading a book about all the tiny dialects in the world, and how some believe that Jesus won't come again until the Gospel has been translated into every dialect. I think...Even Yiddish?

Some say
Jesus won’t come again
Until the whole world
Gets the message
And can speak it
In their own words.
I say
I hope
Jesus will come
When it suits him;
When Eden blossoms
And fruits again
And the gates
Are flung open
When there are
No gates

Monday, January 2, 2017

Annual letter

It is January 2 and I've written my annual letter to the Bishop. And now my Beloved reads me yesterday's Peanuts cartoon about Snoopy's annual report to the Head Beagle. Clergy friends: Worth reading. "How many cats have you chased?"

I have written
The annual letter.
It explains the year
In unrelated terms
Much of what
 I have done
In twelve months.
Not exactly
A Christmas letter.
No gall bladders here.
No one graduated.
No newly acquired
I have never written
A Christmas letter.
I left the land
Of parochial reports
Its number of people
Its number of baptisms
Its number of weddings
Ten years ago now
The comparisons
With past years.
Now I write
The annual letter
With no comparisons
No one counts the things
I consider counting.
In fact
Everything is always new

Sunday, January 1, 2017

R.I.P. Fr. Mulcahey

R.I.P. William Christopher, Fr. Mulcahey.

(I no longer remember who)
Told me
I reminded him
Of Fr. Mulcahey
On M.A.S.H.
A gentle soul.
I didn’t exactly see it
But I am glad
Someone did.