Commences with the power

I’ve lied about god all my life
                         —Peter Meinke

But who hasn’t? To make
     even the simplest statement
     risks becoming a fake,

a know-it-all who can’t know
     basic facts, like God’s
     eye color, nor show

Down autumn

Down autumn, through the black trees blacker
after the rains, the trees that long to speak
but only utterances we lift from them
enough if they are broken as we are—

down the long corridors of frost and stippling light,
manacles of stars hugging our sides,
down afternoon, down midnight, down hours until dawn,
we lie awake, anticipation’s aftermath—

Mother of Frost, Mother of Mother Earth,
Mother of Inconsolables, what song is this
we cannot hear but break in two for wonder?

Mary replies to the angel, ask me again

                         —not asking my ears
which like shells still surge with your silence.

Ask me this time with your tongue
touching mine. Give your words

to my mouth, let me swallow.
Let me tongue, and taste, and spill

my frail and almost unformed yes
back into you. Let it grow

as will the life I’ll let you plant in me.
So may I know as I’m consumed

that some slip of me is taking root
and strengthening in other soil—

As the shadows grow

After that first
let there be
shadows sprouted
like grass
gathering waters
to flood
darkness grows
let there be
its light
shadows rolling
to darkness
that Adam
might sleep
bringing Eve
from the shadows
as the serpent called
let there be
like God
where are you
birthing Cain
as the shadows
grew to darkness
let there be



Most of them are un-showy now. And: they are holy slowly.
Long haul miracles, call them, because the cure is in the daily:
pale and small: salt’s in the domestic and non-mystic dust:
waking up, prosaic toast, mosaics of laundry, school lunch,
bunches of pansies; the healing’s in the long fingers of Mondays
that wrap round each week and pick up the pallet, walk; azaleas
are burning bushes, are Talitha cum; the open window’s breeze
is a come follow me moment, the job—even the terrible one is

Fearful prayer of a high-rise developer

Luke 16:19–31

Dear Lord, my latest high-rise plan is this:
fabulous views, a Starbucks down the block,
security with cameras you can’t miss,    
and rooftop tracks where dogs can take a walk.
I’m filling up my neighborhood with these
apartment towers built for city life
(just keep us separate from the homeless, please,
who beg along our street, upset my wife,
and interrupt a pleasant shopping trip).

Between scars

After the knee, the neck, the thin incision,
skin stretched, pricked, pulled for needle,

catheter, scalpel, hope, horror, exposure,
expression rounding the bend to belly slashed

wide for the almost-dead, but still breathing,
or the foot with its faint zipper, arthritic but agile

enough. Even the sagging breast, dug into—
fear excavated—each weighty bygone biopsy

finally declaring what it needs to say, which is
here, now, before, after, between, everything

Zebedee’s gift

I think the Galilee loved them
almost as much as I did.
Days waiting for fish, then hauling
nets through fresh fields of water, overflowing
with more than 140 kinds, scales and fins.
They spent nights mending nets, caulking boats,
bringing the balm of prayer to the sick hired men.


In our local grocer
I watch folks buy
at vast expense
tasteless, waxed
Red Delicious.
Surely that was not
what the Virgin offered
the Christ Child
in Memling’s diptych.

Unconsciously I begin
internally to chant:
Baldwin, Bramley Cox,
Cortland, Gravenstein,
Jonathan, Lodi,
Macintosh, Melrose,
Pippin, Rome, Russet,
Stamen, Winesap.