Thursday, February 24, 2011

February Reminder

February reminded the city of the season
lawns were sparkling concrete
still ponds were half-frozen
ducks buried their beaks in feathers
as they slept on the edge of the ice
the flowers that had sprung up in warmth
hung their frosted heads in regret.

Cap Hansens

When Journey came on the jukebox
the bartender turned off the speakers
I felt like Odysseus sailing into the harbor of Ithaca
I ordered another Manny’s and left a large tip.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


And he carried me away by the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.
Revelation 21:10

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.
Mark 10:15

I still get excited when it snows
even as I’m approaching my late twenties
I’ll call my friends to tell them it’s snowing

Snow cancels plans
frees up schedules
makes traffic stand still
gets kids out of school
puts them at play
stops rich neighborhoods
the same as poor

Busy people complain
about the inconvenience
while the rest of us
search sheds and garages
trying to locate poorly used sleds

Snow makes everything magic
transforms mundane landscapes
into fairy-tale kingdoms
un-kept yards and dilapidated houses
become something mysterious and new
a thin covering of white
makes ugly things beautiful

In St. John’s revelation
he saw the new Jerusalem
coming down from heaven

I imagine it looked a lot like a snow day.

The Lips at Hallelujah

[Title is a line stolen from Emily Dickinson. Look at me be all literary!]

When the sun is shining as hard as it can
and the ground birds bounce in the ferns
singing quiet, simple love songs
its not hard to put ones lips at hallelujah,
but I don’t think this ease
makes them any less beautiful.

Monday, February 21, 2011


You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
Matthew 16:3

I’m not one to put much weight in signs
but this morning I slept in
holding a stubborn grudge
against this particular Monday

when the sun
came bouncing off
my neighbors house
through my window
my eyes opened into slits

the first thing I saw
was the wolf figurine
you got me in Colorado
howling in silhouette
on my window-seal

maybe I'm reading too much into it,
but how is that not a sign
of the start of a good day?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An Indifferent Valentine's Day

We crowded in a small basement apartment
to watch a sci-fi movie on a small laptop
split a six pack of beer
and it was Valentine’s Day

The beer was not a statement
of bitterness or loneliness
it was Red Hook’s spring seasonal
a brown ale: Mud Slinger
and it was delicious

We watched Moon
a movie about an astronaut
who spends three years in solitude
working for an energy corporation
on the dark-side of the moon
who may be going insane
this was not a metaphor for our lives
our watching it was not meant to give the middle finger
to romances or Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan films
we watched it because it was well reviewed
and seemed interesting

While all three of us were single
our gathering was not meant as an embrace of this
we were not celebrating the freedom of singleness
we were friends watching a movie on a Monday night
because we didn’t have class in the morning
and felt like watching a film

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day
I’m pretty sure I would like it,
quite a lot, if I were coupled
but this year it was a holiday for other people
like Cinco de Mayo
or Chinese New Year
or a stranger’s birthday

My only grievance
is that my indifference is misinterpreted
as a protest of external pressures to be coupled

Valentine’s Day was simply Monday
when I had beer to share and a movie to watch.

Monday, February 14, 2011

8. Georgia Lee, Tom Waits

[This is a stanza from a mixed cd poem I've been working on. It didn't fit. But I think it works as a stand alone poem.]

Why wasn't God watching? Why wasn't God listening? Why wasn't God there for Georgia Lee?

It’s hard
to believe in
the kingdom come
when I hear stories
about kids on the streets
being used for ugly things
instead of sleeping
through algebra class
where they ought to be.

Winthrop Souvenir

‘Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15: 23-24

Two years ago Ryan and I went camping
in the Methow Valley 10 miles up from Winthrop
while he slept off booze I went fishing

I hooked my biggest fish ever
in the slack water at the back of a tiny rapid
it was a whitefish and almost made it into my net
before it broke my rod and swam off with my stone-fly
I came back empty handed

The next morning we filled our stomachs with biscuits, gravy, and coffee
I bought a black souvenir t-shirt with a wolf on it
I had just heard a pack of wolves had come down from Canada
and were now living in the Methow Valley
so I was excited about my new t-shirt

A week later I couldn’t find the shirt

Two days ago I was cleaning out the trunk of my car
and found it in a crock-pot I had left back there
for some reason I’ve since forgotten

I haven’t taken the shirt off since.

Happy Hour at the Tin Hat

[Happy Valentines Day everyone. I hope all the disgustingly happy couples our there stay far far away from the rest of us decent folk on this gloriously rainy and gray day in the Northwest.]

I’m paying three dollars for something red and hoppy
in a country you wouldn’t know me in
listening to Dinosaur Jr over the jukebox
while the regulars next to me
imagine ways of reassembling pigs in sandwich form.

I doubt you’ve ever heard of Dinosaur Jr
and I know you don’t drink beer
and you’d probably roll your eyes
at the thought of putting bacon on pulled-pork.

Still, I think you’d enjoy it here--
but I'm two beers in on an empty stomach
and beginning to feel romantic
so I'm not too sure about my judgement on these matters.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Breathe Deep

“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.”-Acts 2:2

I found out my lungs
didn’t work right
in the middle of the night
when I was seven.

I woke up gasping
with a cinder block
on my chest.

My parents were quiet and frantic
in sweat-pants and bathrobes,
careful to keep the noise down
while my sister slept.

I remember getting into the minivan
then being on a table
with a cold stethoscope
against my bare skin,

the doctor telling me
to take deep breaths
moving his instrument
up and down my back and chest.

He turned to my parents
and tried to explain,
with big words
I didn’t recognize
and the gesture
of an open hand
closing into a fist.

The doctor left the room
and brought back an inhaler,
holding it to my lips
the palm of his other hand
on the back of my rib-cage
he said slowly:

“I want you
to try
and breath

Thursday, February 3, 2011

At Least the Huskies Were Good Then

It was nacho day at school
the cafeteria smelled like artificial cheese
I was nine-years-old
in black sweat-pants
and a Washington Huskies t-shirt
eating a peanut-butter and banana sandwich
alone at the end of a lunch-room table

The girls closest to me
giggled and played “the apple game”
the rules were simple:
hold on to the stem
twist the apple until the stem breaks
while singing the alphabet
whatever letter the stem breaks on
is the first initial of your future spouse

They were at E when I noticed their game
E F G, H I J
the stem broke
and the girl holding the apple looked at her friends
as they looked at me and screeched
to which she replied
“EWW! Gross.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sunrise at 10th and Sasamat

[the epigraph is cheesy, and sentiment is too. I can't always be sad or bitter, though it makes for more palatable poetry. I think the epigraph is, in a way, my attempt to make the psalm more than a 3rd Day lyric.]

I just edited this. in parentheses is the added bit, in brackets the bit I took out.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Psalm 36

the morning was clear and cold
my steps were stern and quick
on the way to the bus stop

I listened to punk rock
bitter funny lyrics
echoed in me

I scowled at my reflection
in the window of the bank

but the clouds were pink
against a baby-blue sky
that faded into shades of cream
with the sun peaking out
from between condo buildings

the scowl fled (and)
I took out my headphones
[to acknowledge
the love poem
on the horizon.]