FOLLOW THE WASH
LISTENING TO JOHNNY CASH AFTER LEAVING
CHRIST IN THE DESERT MONASTERY
Mister, here's a bag with all my money.
On the second morning, early, dark.
Wheels humming with truckers pulling empty rigs
in protest of the price of gas, Cash singing,
It's hard to knock against the pricks--
Singing about the poor, walking in cactus.
Singing together, singing about our lives.
Empty yourself. Turn to power not yours.
Can't do a thing about a thing.
Pick up the receiver. Make me a believer.
Singing and dying, all songs with the same address.
The North Dakota town where I grew up
surfaces as a monk's chant.
I suspend my disbelief in order to believe.
I bow the body prayer after the monks.
I try to match my voice with theirs by losing it.
Walk the dramatic circle and kneel in the pit.
Johnny Cash singing gospel as the car rolls into Utah.
Johnny Cash in the great Kiva.
Cash singing faith of the family.
Singing what's left of the beloved.
Johnny Cash with kettle drums.
Born and dying. Alpha and Omege in the Kingdom Come.
In the tavern with Richard Johnson as a young man.
A game crossing. Song reeling pulling off the exit.
The simple faith given to children comes and goes.
Coming back in songs sung for the poor.
Born from below over and over.
Born from below in song and voice of the mother.
Monk-priest calling my face the face of the eschaton.
What a man comes for. Walking with no guarantees.
No por si a casa. No backup on this walk.
I bet my life every day on the story
I was given before I could choose.
Give my love to those in the poem.
Give my love to Rose.
March 2008--April 2011
DESERT FLOWER HIKE
Christ in the wilderness--Chama Canyon
This flower goes on the cover of the notebook
called God's Foolishness. No sign-up sheet
for this hike. No one knows about this one.
Laziness and Cowardice.
Two enemies of the spiritual life, Father Merton writes.
Most dangerous when thy show as masked discretions.
The little pocketbook--Merton on Solitude,
which he never saw, fits in my shirt pocket
with my memo book--cuaderno para memos.
Oh, oh--here's a barbed wire fence
with some fiercely wound energy saying, No.
I'm guessing it's a statement against grazing cattle,
but who knows...
here's a wash. Let's follow it.
31 March 2008
FOLLOW KAREN, JIM
Our second step is achieved when one thinks not about pleasing himself, but instead follows the injunction of the Lord, 'I came...not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me...' Jn. 6:38, Rule of Saint Benedict
That's all you have to do, keep your eyes on her,
for she is Christ making your sweet life real.
She makes it possible to kneel before the poem
with a straight face. Take yesterday
when you wouldn't pick up the phone
because you were listening at the table.
It took you long enough to be quiet.
That was Jesus in the kitchen.
It's good to sit with men reading poems.
The poem will never be worth a damn
if it depends on your will.
Bringing devotion to the table is the poet's task.
14 March 2008