WHACK, WHACK, WHACK,
GO THE DRUM STICKS BEATING
ON THE BACK OF CHURCH PEWS
CELEBRATING YOUR MOTHER'S
GRADUATION GIFT TO YOU--
A PLANE TICKET TO SEE
YOUR DAD IN EL SALVADOR
--for J. S. M.
Yesterday I made a list
of books, movies and poems
for you to read before
you travel to be with your Dad--
crossing them out immediately--
My God man, this young woman
was just accepted to study
at the University of Washington!
She wore more colors for honors
than you can find in the rainbow!
My daughter told me about you
when you were in Kindergarten,
with stories of your walk
through it all with that smile
that comes from your mother.
Big stuff. Crucible stuff.
El Salvador, birthplace of God
liberating people, sets a high standard
for the rest of us. Let me point
to just one: a small Lutheran church
called Resurrección, composed
of ex-combatants from the guerra civil,
led by Obispo Medardo Gómez.
In the back against a side wall,
look for La Cruz Subversiva,
two boards painted white,
signed by campesinos. This
cross went to prison
for the sins of state
against the people. You're free.
You'll understand on contact.
Finish Magna Cum Laude at the U.
17 June 2017
P.S. Love from us. See me about that list of books
before you leave. Jim
THE HELICOPTER FROM THE MIDNIGHT SKY
NEAR THE RIO BRAVO WITH ITS LIGHTS ON
AND SWOOPING LOW, DISPLAYS A BANNER
FOR CITIZENS OF TWO COUNTRIES
--for F. L.
Not many get these, ciudadano.
But not many graduate from community college
during the same time they spend in high school.
How in God's name did you do this?
You didn't give many clues
backpacking to Holden Lake,
you just kept crossing off switchbacks.
OK, OK, there's more to life
than climbing mountains.
Your Mom taught you salsa dancing,
is that right? Like soccer,
this is the world's dance for good reason.
You're good with questions.
You get me talking. This past year
all those meetings with Lutherans
looking for someone wearing
God's collar for people like us
who could tell a good story.
Did we find the right one?
Not our call. That one goes
to God. We told some stories
during drives to and from,
you laughing, me cursing,
God listening in. Fuming
last night at the news,
a friend sends a poem, giving me
what this poem needs: Unless
you have a crucified God,
you don't have a big enough God.
Do you say, Amen, to that, Francisco?
That Whup, whup, whup of chopper blades?
¿La migra? No. Jesus coming to get us both.
17 June 2017
P.S. Love from Karen and I.
Have a blast at the U.
You know your God is big enough.
FOR M. S. BETWEEN TIMES
FOLLOWING GRADUATION FROM ZILLAH HIGH SCHOOL,
A CONGRATULATIONS AND A THANK YOU
When I miss you during worship
you appear in that quiet way
that serves as your signature,
surprising me again, with words,
I was in the choir loft, praying.
With that kind of courage,
you pass every test any teacher
could dream up. Suppose dreams
only come from prayers rising
from empty choir lofts!
I was in the pew
surrounded by La Raza,
our people singing,
empty myself, scouring
words for enough
to carry me through lunch,
nothing more than that.
Your words, Hey Jim!
crossing out every no,
bushwhack me back to yes.
P.S. Work and pray. Have a blast.
17 June 2017