what can I bring

January 7, 2016

oh, my Daughters.
I am not proud
I know I have no discipline
and when I try it on you = its weak at best
sporadic, erratic; I bark and back off quickly
having accomplished nothing.
what am I teaching…
only what you are watching.
no fooling myself,
I know its only my consistent behaviors.
my inadvertent quirks and starts and lurches
that bring any lessons.
you see me survive,
love your mother well
and the rest is vague.
you know me in my limitations
and lingering sadness; vulnerability.
you know me
and I can’t know what that means
or how it is shaping you…
terrible and terrifying
I don’t even know where to begin.
I was a man of prayer and imagination once.
I wish you knew me before the grinding.
now I’m just tired…
a man of reluctance,
a man who needs a shave
who needs convincing;
and you can usually do it…
because you have soft cheeks that gather when you smile,
interests of your own,
secret ways that know me
to wiggle into all the cracks.
you have learned,
whatever I have brought;
I hold on to hope that somehow
to you
it will always mean safety.


i will try

November 17, 2014

if i were to come home
wrap you in a cozy blanket
lay you on the couch in warm light
brush your hair and rub your feet
with quiet companionable equanimity
that would be awesome

if i were to come home
grab a cheapassbeer from the fridge
collapse on the couch amidst the chaos
feel the ache in my head and feet
try to accept the noise and my deep tension
that would be obvious

if i were to come home
wrap you in a hug as soon as the kids let me
sit on the couch with them and read books
look forward to when we can relax our minds and rest our feet
together release as much of it all as we can
that will be enough

we were reading aloud…
Wendell Berry instructing us on how to be poets
in which he advises:
“stay away from screens”
to which all of us adult children and spouses nod;
feeling so sure of ourselves and think:
yes this is good advice for the poet;
media consumes and destroys,
overwhelms imagination, steals time.
when Mom says quietly:
but screens can be very good
keeping out pests and saving children from malaria.
its a rare and pleasant thing to sit on a veranda
wrapped safely in screens looking out onto the wild savanna
and relax into the soft breeze of the evening
with the provided protection.

and so the word screen constructed itself between the generations,
we sliced it open and hugged through it
crawling freely back and forth without difficulty.
knowing that Mom was right and obscured nothing
and if she was not a poet, certainly her life was a poem.

go and do likewise

September 29, 2014

a neighbor, a friend
one who shows mercy.
the inconvenienced, the kind;
you are these for reading.

one of the unspoken rights of friendship is standing permission to inconvenience each other without the fear of reprisal, rejection, resentment or disconnect.

but my Samaritan instincts are lacking
and i need time when someone asks something of me;
to get over my petulance and my tiny self.
yet time is often exactly what can’t be granted –
that being the nature of needing a sudden favor.
(oh me, to suffer inconvenience, to interrupt my privilege)
the thing is
an unplanned conversation can take as long
and possibly be as inconvenient as a sudden favor,
but a good talk happens all the time and goes mostly unnoticed.
but when its an actual physical favor;
why do i want recognition for having been inconvenienced?
shouldn’t one just feel good for being good?
unless you’re talking to me at night…
no one will feel good about that
cause i wont let you go to sleep
though your eyes will be drooping
and you can no longer focus or pay attention
and you will feel like weeping unless i go away…
still i will be talking and talking and failing to say anything.
sort of like… say… me blogging
the recognition in such cases should be me going away.

usually you can’t really know how
the other person is put out when you ask a favor
(or have a conversation)
even if they let it be known that its not good timing for them.

im thinking about a time i asked someone for a ride suddenly
or another
when i was with someone who had to borrow an old unused truck.
small things, but there was hesitation before agreement
and i cannot possibly know what it really cost to grant the favor,
what happened during that moment’s hesitation,
they may not be able to articulate it themselves.
but people are so good.

no matter how small the favor
the only possible response is gratitude.

one thing that none of us need
and none of us need be
is a scorekeeper.

forgiveness and gratitude walk around hand in hand
under the auspices of mercy
who in turn is acting for love.

and i am an incredibly clumsy friend.
though i love and i am so loved.
i have seen so many gracious, generous people;
friends, neighbors – inconvenienced and kind.
who am i that my time should be so precious?
my friends are wonderful
and my neighbors have been pointed out to me
by a very reliable source;
i just want to be humble
and go and do likewise.

paradox and palindrome

July 30, 2014

my firstborn’s initials are HRB
and because we call the middle kid by her initials –
EZB (Easy Bee)
i thought i would use fair practice for initials (FPFI)
and so i started calling her Herb
and then Herbert – she hates this.

HeRB has a strange artistic integrity,
an intensity that commands/inspires respect
though she can have trouble granting it.
she is older than she needs to be
and yet liable to break her self down
to near emotional infancy in a moment.
she can be generous to a point that makes me nervous;
and i want to tell her that she can’t give so much
but she doesn’t hesitate or regret,
she anticipates. (positive and negative)
she does not make it easy to romanticize parenting.
she does desire to please
but is not so eager to do so
that she will allow it to interfere
with whatever story her mind has her living in.
she loves with all her heart
she is passionate, earnest and fragile
she is her own and
has a hundred worlds spinning all around her at once
awaiting her pleasure and continued creation.
she dances in my deepest heart
captures, captivates, fascinates, infuriates
she is definitely not just a little kid anymore;
i delight in her friendship.
i think we will always be friends,
i have joy in that.

she is so much more than I could ever say
so far beyond my powers of articulation or reason
she is exasperating
she is beautiful
she is 7
she is my daughter
i am glad.

a lightbulb without electricity
just sits there
if i werent so well loved
i wouldnt be

and yet i still think that i prefer the dark.
where’s the switch
i want to burn
bright, useful.
i flicker at best
regardless of how steady and strong
the flow that reaches me
dim damn done.

you listen to me
as i talk about me
the fictional me
the me that i miss
because its missing
the me that i wish to be
with my endless failed attempt
to do what i meant

and you’ll listen to me
as i talk about me
so frustrated with my own inaccuracy
manic need and contempt for my self-expression
with no reasonable end to this attempt at articulation
and a frantic desire for the death of my own opinion
as i dig myself down down down
well past the end of the day
but if i stop you might get up and go away

you listen to me
and it is an act of absolute love
selfless and patient and above all that
it must be exhausting
your eyes are drooping and you need sleep
but i keep going
its so annoying im driving my self crazy
im not only stupid and lazy
but apparently i cant help this thing
that i always do
all of this
just cause i sat down to listen to you

soothsaying cake

April 10, 2014

its not cold anymore
its hard to believe that there could be
this much color in the world.

Easy Bee says: smell the flowers
then the original Little (she is almost not little anymore)
comes through the front back door and
says: but smell the aroma in the kitchen – its even better.
and it is.

i once got a fortune cookie that read:
there will be cake in your future
the kitchen fragrance proves this prophecy
once again.

it really is one of the best fortunes one can receive:
cake… and the love with which it is made.
and children who want nothing more than to see you enjoy it,
enjoy it with you –
watch it set ablaze and then blown out.
believe that they’ve got what you wished for
wrapped in a box in the other room;
it was their idea, they picked it out, made the wrapping paper
wrapped it, could not stop themselves talking about it.
what i wish is that life was really that simple.
mmmmmmmmmm cake,
in this moment it is.

the best thing

March 24, 2014

sometimes when i come home,
after greeting the kids
and hearing what ever random things
they want to yell at me all at the same time
and seeing whatever random thing
they are so excited about in that moment
that they can’t contain themselves –
but will immediately never think of again,
i turn and find my wife waiting;
and i step into the hug that she is bringing me,
my arms under, hers over
my head nestling in that softest spot
between the collarbone and the jaw
burrowing into her neck.
i don’t mean to
but my body heaves
and i sob…
it just quietly bursts
for a moment of relief.
when the depression has taken everything,
when the days anxiety has left just a shell
with a tiny single pixie dust glimmer left of me,
when despair seems that it will overtake me
and smash me down into an unsolvable rubiks cube
with the mass of a collapsed sun (a black hole of bullshit)…
that moment in her arms
is enough.


March 21, 2014

and when our ears stop ringing
and our heads stop spinning
and we slow down our breathing
and take each others hand
maybe the day can begin
here at its end in the gloaming
I’ve been working for this moment with you.