Coffee finishing as
into the house after
the short block of
adding, Oh, I had
on the free line.
Gail is out
with her little
It’s dark. Street
I can’t talk. We
and all have colds
and we’re testing
Let us know. As for
Lord, they have
and you have given
29 September 2022
AFTER LABOR DAY
lawn first time
three years. Wears me out,
good. Josh has been
good. I text him
in his room
Covid. It looks like
cut that grass with a scissors.
writes back, Ha Ha.
back from hygienist
off nitrous oxide,
a dentist. Outback
the Coptic Psalter,
myself for prayer,
87 directing my lips,
am a poor man.
down, Lord, hear me out.
at all hours, Elder whisperings,
are God’s athletes.
THE WORD IS JUST, LA PALABRA ES JUSTO
…it is fitting for the upright to praise him
…es propio de los
integros alabar al Señor
…right living people
sound best when praising
straightforward, praise is becoming
…for praise is comely
for the upright
--Psalm 33/Salmo 33
I take my temperature on the 33d Psalm.
With the 33d Psalm I live out my days.
I haven't gotten off to a very good start today.
It's early. That's not lost on me either.
Cool jazz, easy on the ear, isn't me.
I'm slide trombone, slurred, full of spit,
in between every position.
Caballero andante, cruzando las fronteras.
I have used flattery and been found out.
I stand guilty before my friends
and hide my eyes from my companion,
suspicious of myself before the beloved.
I am a beggar for the unguarded word.
Soy buscador, navegador armado en quijotescos.
Escudriñado de nada, chulo de diccionarios.
Como me dije, este día sería largo.
I am useless, there is nothing I can do.
The 33d Psalm is the breath-gift praising God.
28 September 2020
O God of Sorrow and Steel,
My God, God of Jesus
and God of my North Dakota Childhood,
You know me like you know my music,
I am never in doubt. You know,
God of the Blues Sung
My God, God of Salvation in the Blues,
my tendencies in the music store
run steel deep into sorrow,
You know how I found You
early and stayed, a person
my age, ambitious in foolishness,
always auditioning, before You
again and again in the Notebook
and in the Mail, You are,
You, God of Commemorative Stamps,
God of my country's sorrow,
God of Sorrow and Steel,
You contain my tears, with me in my weeping,
You do not, I do not hear You, You, God,
No voice of yours stops in my morning prayers
2 October 2019
JUST THIS ELIZABETH
It's hard to be judging when
you're curious, Elizabeth.
This prayer goes through you to God.
When I forgive myself it's not me.
Blessing arrives from somewhere
I don't know. Here it is,
a post card in the mail
from my own hand. Post-
marked by the government.
From Holden, traveling with Karen,
in a boat towards my down-lake self.
Deep water unbound in time.
10 September 2019
When news comes on
I grab my bike
and ride the development
1969 wasn't my year
I was there in 1968
When I return
I put the bike away
clean the kitchen
29 August 2019
EACH OTHER'S HUMAN
Dear Sue: Fragments from your Good Gift,
reading of Eudora Welty's
garden book, her mother's garden first. A stone path
to mother: Her way of
meeting death head on.
Miracle, the Look! See! Mira:
You and me, here.
like camellias. Like the breadboard,
hand-made. Made. Like the fire
on the raft carrying father. Carrying me
through The Optimist's Daughter,
along with Barry's book, ...there
Forever vulnerable memory alive in us.
The making do of who we are
through flowers older than war.
5 July 2019
He discovers the rope end,
this farmer-sailor, one day
when land-bound he sits
on his tractor. No one
asks about his sailboat,
but this same day,
the man in the desert
calls him for a rope
looking for one
with heft and diameter
that he might wrap
around a stone
for ceremonial purposes.
Unearthing the rope
the farmer thinks its age
a disqualifier. It is the rope
the gardener in the desert
has been looking for.
Stone patience never wavered
waiting for the
NOTE TO OLIVIER KNOX, PRESIDENT,
WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION
Dear Mr. Knox,
Sad night. Good job.
I took this picture of you
with my IPhone
Karen made the card.
I picked out the stamp
choosing, for you,
Marvin Gaye, What's
over two others: Post Office Murals,
and Wild and Scenic Rivers.
All best, Jim
22 May 2019
Rubbing river stones by hand
for their patina keeps me from writing.
22 May 2019
A MOMENT IN FRONT OF OUR TELEVISION
During the White House Correspondents' Dinner
I snapped this photograph of Olivier Knox,
President of the White House Correspondents' Association,
and Karen made this post card
enabling us to witness and record this moment
in our nation's history. The United States
Postal Service has issued new Forever stamps,
three of which I've purchased for these cards
in an edition of six:
Wild and Scenic Rivers, five of which I know;
Post Office Murals, Oklahoma ponies, already mailed;
and Marvin Gaye at the Howard Theatre:
22 May 2019
HOODOO ROCK CAMP GROUNDS
We stayed in Teddy's North Dakota park
after they turned off the water. Late October.
I grilled tacos and took photos
of the Missouri River at sunrise.
There were horses. You write
that your father liked rain,
and he's gone like the house.
Let him wander. Trust he's OK.
He's your Father-Dad,
You wouldn't want to find him
any place you could name.
Keep picking up those post cards
in your wild travels. The after-taste
21 May 2019
GOD OF RAW DATA
If these pages can serve as witness or rest stop,
for any thing or moment diligently off task,
if they can be a collection point for unconnected details,
or for the getting ready of prayer, seconds of assembly,
let me serve the offering of
their emptiness. If the recording
of raw data aids in listening to my mother, whatever the
the wilder the better—may I work for the God under
and over—and beside too!—oh God Beside Raw Data,
always calling for what is uncovered—
speak to me in words that have no thought of themselves.
Permit me to record what is there—nothing more,
and only that, present to the unconscious breath externally
before me. Any page. Every scrap. The something
behind any fact gives itself up for storm or story. Thank you
for notebooks I turn towards. Bless this practice
and where we’ve been together, intimate and raw
as any beginning lover. Innocence
reclaimed, a photograph that never stood
for a camera. How could it be any other way? Oh, snapshot.
Messy page, crossed out words and second chances.
February 19, 2006
God of Impracticality, God of nothing but truth,
may I be useless in all things, save your service.
Keep me from all action.
May I take care of my dogs.
May they be my only teachers.
May they help me in my nothingness.
May the word be adequate, nothing more.
The poem manifests its way in my hands open before you,
in my commitment to our correspondence.
Provide for me a path of such uselessness
that I am left swirling in daily confusion
conforming only to that which is misunderstood,
and to which I commit to daily
with no sign of affirmation
from you or the world.
Make me the most useless
among any in the world who have eyes.
January 6, 2006
SEE YOU WEDNESDAY AT 8
I don't know your music
so we can't start there.
When the camera went down,
I felt as though a part of me
had gone missing.
Inadequacy of the moment,
sustain me. Even as time gets short
life becomes more intense.
Go figure. Last week,
lost in traffic I couldn't hide.
A moment I can't talk about.
To say that love found me
understates the traffic.
16 January 2018
JAMES BALDWIN AND EL SALVADOR
Not a lot of time. I'm in the middle
of the third biography of Dylan this month.
After all this time. That word again.
Tell me what it's like in lockdown.
Who do you listen to? Beyond the music?
What are you carrying?
I'm guessing two things about your parents.
They don't want you to become nuns or poets.
Choose one, on your own time. No hurry.
Wednesday, then. 1:30?
16 January 2018
P.S. Like my friend Jody says,
Make your own sign.
We would drive over the mountain pass
into the city in the old Chevy on a Friday evening
with our young family. The radio on
and women talking in firm voices
to disc jockeys about hiding families
from our government in church basements.
Our car would be dark, and our children
fussy and sweaty from the long drive.
My wife and I had worked all day, too.
Even the car was hot and tired.
The Church is a sanctuary,
the women were saying.
Not a place to be blasphemed
by government bullies.
Words seeded themselves in the cushions
of our car seats. These people are Christians
I said to Karen, whispering to her
inside our dark car in traffic. These people
are walking with Jesus.
These are the basement parables.
It would be years before I heard
these voices again. They come to me
at odd times, still waking in the morning
with music coming into our bedroom,
echoes of still signaling courage.
October 22, 2005
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
After coffee, before worship,
let's see what happens.
A quarter century ago
I cross a river saying
to myself, Let's see
just how far I can get.
I got a ways.
Thing is I still talk the same.
24 December 2017
HOW IT HAPPENED WITH ANTHONY DE MELLO
What I can't do is tell you anything.
Yes. The you that is me.
that you that's everybody.
Can't tell you a thing.
What can you do?
The you that is me?
The me that is you.
I can tell what happened.
To you or to me?
Reading a day book.
This guy's name comes up.
Where he says, You can't live
by the light of someone else's lamp.
I liked it but still didn't know, you know?
You didn't do anything?
OK, I grinned at what I found.
Nothing more? Words?
Not a word?
Who was he?
17 December 2017
11: 9. THAT'S IT. 11: 9
What's that line in Isaiah?
The Earth is full of God.
9 December 2017
PURSLANE AS SINGLE-ROOTED PARABLE
Don Eduardo y Luz walk us to the
community garden, late September
in Sacramento, where we pick
two kinds of eggplant, berenjena,
a small handful of serranos,
two California chiles, and I grab
the weed I've pulled for half a century in Yakima--
purslane with the tiny yellow flowers--
Jim, Jim, Jim, esta es yerba buena,
la verdolaga. Usamos en ensalada.
Sabroso. I'm wearing a Yerba Buena gorra
from San Francisco. Luz steams
the verdulaga before dinner, adding
it with beets to the salad. Part
of the resistance in her city,
Teología de la liberación es parte
de los raices de Pastor Eduardo.
Leo Los Salmos en nuestra recamarra
antes de dormir. En busqueda
de la felicidad. Gritos y clamores
de protesta. Gritos contra la injustia social.
Temas de Luz y Don Eduardo.
At breakfast Don Eduardo sings
the entire liturgy for me in Spanish.
El libro sobre los salmos está llamandome.
How is your liturgical life?
¿Cómo está su vida litúrgico?
22 November 2017
Subject: Post Card to
It's too fast here.
But wilder than I ever
would have expected.
The Mariners slow down
and then take us late
on too few runs.
I'm not paying
and doesn't convey
The story rests in
tiny cups from China.
Sitting is sitting
And there's no doubt
coming through all
Let the psalm be heard from hop vines
climbing towards September sun
at Cornerstone Ranch where blossoms
ripen for brewing beer. Two friends
at odds stir the mash. What is
the Latin word for brewing?
Bob Marley sings. Here
is the Valley I call home,
my son the one who dries
the flower that flavors the beer.
Tendrils curl towards all
that has been rejected.
Sew the hops into canvas bales.
This is the parable of the fermenting stone.
29 October 2017
IN PRAISE OF PASSING
He was reading those
He had just sent a note to
the pastor. Responding,
the pastor asked,
What do you mean? The mess
of your life in the pew?
He hadn’t remembered
saying that, couldn’t deny
it now. The pastor had
sent him a passage from
Luther: Let us recall our former
misery and the
darkness—gather in the harvest…God’s word
is like a passing shower
of rain which does not return. Salmo 8:
that was his psalm for today,
his meditation he would carry.
O Señor, has puesto tu
gloria sobre los cielos. Por causa
de tus adversaries has
hecho que brote la alabanza
de labios de los
pequeñitos para silenciar al enemigo.
He found translation in
English not to take him far
enough, his own poverty
one step more re-moved: Su
dominio, la aves
del cielo, y todo lo que
surca los senderos
del mar. All that swim the
paths of the sea.
Would his friend think
Could it be that the
A PSALM FOR THE YEAR
WE CAME FROM IN THE YEAR
WE ARRIVE AT AGAIN
Waiting outside my grand daughter's
working in the psalter, I fail to ring
the doorbell to find she's already inside.
I don't recommend this to anyone.
These psalms in English and Spanish,
two translations. I say this to give
myself a laugh. 1968 or 2017?
Trick or treat. The Lord's enemies
will be like the beauty of the fields--
las flores silvestres--they will vanish
like smoke--como el humo. Psalm 37.
My thumb is out, a hitch hiker,
calling on the Lord, It's me, It's me.
"SHALL NO MORE BE DONE?"
This bracelet, made of Old Man's Beard,
by a child, put it in the urn
with my ashes, living word.
This is my life with children.
This is the full response to adults.
My necktie on Facebook.
I'm the empty chair at sit-down dinners.
Absent during the film discussion--
Dinner with André?
What did they discuss on MSNBC?
Hardball with Chris Matthews.
Each resistor resists for children.
Trees are nominated in all categories.
Lichen Ceremonies ask
who you listen to.
12 March 2017
WINDY MAN ON THE KEYBOARD
Talking with Karen earlier
at kitchen table while writing
post cards to the President
for the Ides of March--Boo!
scared you there, Mr. President,
ah, it's just me in Yakima--
My wife says, No, no, no.
I'm not sending any post cards
to him. I want to get back
into this country when I travel.
14 March 2017
SUNSHINE AFTER SOLSTICE
Gretchen, Megan, Suzy, Kirsten
He points his ski pole down the mountain.
That's the way down, but this is the fall line.
Two different paths. Water finds
the fall line. So do your skis.
Release the edges and let them find it;
when they do, let your body follow,
bend into your knees, settle in,
complete your turn. That's the dance,
over and over. A simple
and effortless down up down.
On this snow there is only this snow
and this sky. This run you're riding,
Northern Sky, turns us
liminally, eliminating time.
29 December 2016
A POEM FOR DHEEZUS AND
SKIERS, EXPLORERS &
Singing Alleluias into the
puts you in Grandpa's Hall of
Fame at nine.
You two grew up on the way to
Samster reads the map of
trails, you sing
your way down Cascade,
the runs: Holicade, Tucker
Paradise Basin itself. Snow
Northern Sky and Boulevard,
you back past High Camp to
the Double where you wrap
around the bar
and hold on. On this day,
sees the mountain as a movie
by the two of you. Putting it
you say, It's better when we combine ideas.
FOR MY GRAND DAUGHTER KATIE
Watching the rhythm of your
as you descend the mountain,
I remember days we skied
took you to the academic
from the imagination of
We studied snow, named bumps moguls.
We shouted to each other,
Turn and go!
as our skis: K2 Indie',
Atomic S-7, K2 Juvie, and
grew longer, and took on twin
We made lunches from home
and packed them in. We talked
about books, dances, and
From the first, that's the
way you ski.
FINDING ONESELF ON POST CARDS AND LINEN
--for Terry, Jane, and Karen
creates epiphanies in mail boxes
and collaboration re-turns to nobility
as an ally in resistance. Toxins
we'd never invite to coffee
sit with us as family. Eyes
remain alert to change in discourse.
Welcome to the Temple of Holy Boldness
and secret anthems. Dangers,
toils and snares
as visiting companions.
Elvis sings, Who could I turn to but the poem.
Karen feeds the birds
and they shit on the deck.
Jane turns birds into clay.
We do words into lines of music.
28 January 2017
On this winter
camp, grand daughters,
movies at night before skiing.
The movie makers
named the hex bugs
as characters in
their movie. Hexbug,
a brand of toy
automaton, attract the kids.
Children like the
touch of bugs
rubber, and the way they move
on their own. In
their movie, the children
cast Hex Bugs as
through head rotation.
Both nine, one
cousin says to the other,
Look at them, these counselors,
running away from our questions.
MT. SHASTA REST STOP
has a picnic table in shade
and we stop and get out the little Weber grill,
put on four brats with apple and chicken.
Two young men in yellow vests
work the cleanup crew whooping it up
carrying plastic bags, helping each other
with what it is they're charged to do.
Not yet in their 20s we think, watching them.
Soon they smell these brats.
Hot dogs, they
say, pointing to the grill.
We have two extra
Would you like them?
They run over as I get the buns ready.
Catsup? Mustard? Both.
They've got apple and
One says, I can taste
The other says to his companion,
You're supposed to
say, 'Please', and,' Thank you'.
The man with the dog, smoking a cigarette,
watching us all, walks by, says,
They have just enough
20 September 2016
SATURDAY MORNING, TALKING WITH A NEIGHBOR
Blaze lives around the corner
in the next block, walks his dog, Luna
by my place while I'm out
shoveling snow. Give me a little Luna
light, I say, my glasses already dark
from an hour in snow. About that name,
Blaze, I say, can you say something
about those parents who named you?
I can, he says. Mom and Dad
are in Michigan. Dad was in school
studying philosophers. Blaze Pascal
is who I'm named after. Yes, I nod.
"Men never do evil so cheerfully as when
they do it from religious conviction.
10 December 2016
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