Dear St. Joseph

When I think of you,

I think of your troubled sleep

and many hard choices.

I see you at night

in the desert,

getting Mary to safety.

And later, again, the three of you in flight,

pyramids looming in the distance.

In all the Gospels you never once opened your mouth.

You didn’t have to. Your actions said it all.

For you were, as all could see,

faithful in all things.

You know I’m not, but would like to be,

so I ask, meekly, that you pray for me

that I might be

in more than just my mind.

Mr. Cantankerous

They say we’re evolving into robots,

or rather,

six-million-dollar men, adjusted for inflation,

or actually deflation,

since we’ll become cheaper to make,

and we’ll be everywhere, like plastic stuff

no one wants (not now, though later they will).

“People 2.0” we’ll be, they say,

though no self-respecting robot

would use that term. We don’t

go around calling ourselves

“the chimps” now, now do we?

So yes, we’ll be off flying ourselves

through space in ships oiled to light

beams, just ahead, I suppose,

of the bombs we’ve built

and the rising sea with all the

dead fish in it (it’s a vision

of hope, as I understand it, a new

chance to get it right).

Meanwhile, though, I’m stuck on this

future trash pile on Good Friday

2017, clinging to my cross,

a chimp and chump weak in the wind

of God 2.0

How could I not live in this world where I speak to the dead

How could I not live in this world

where I speak to the dead and

they speak to me, and intercede –

if I would, if I pray –

even if I never knew them?


How could I not sign on for angels

and parted seas and tents in the desert,

and the last prophet who was the greatest,

but less than every child still to come?


How could I not want every chance repeatedly

to see and forgive – to tap out deeds of love

and be propped up – to pick up my mat and

soar, dammit, in a sky of mercy?!


I could not not turn to you

or live in any other world.

This is the world,

and I claim it.


I thought I was supposed to

do something big,

but it kept never happening

and I felt really small.

My heart became a sad, little

shrinking thing, and if you took me

whole and entire, I’d have fit through

the hole of a salt shaker.

The crystals were like boulders to me.

The worst of it was

I knew it was good to be little

and so I felt I

had no right to be sad.

I was selling the message of

poor in the Spirit, and believed it too,

so why was I sad? I knew big

would do nothing for me.

Thank God I wasn’t always sad.

Joy stole up like a teasing child.

Play a game. Look at my kaleidoscope.

I didn’t have the heart to shoo her away.

All she had to do was move a single cloud

and the whole world looked different.

When she left, though, to play with her ocean,

I’d put all the clouds back in place.

And it stayed that way, my face

fixed in a wrinkle, and it

stayed that way

until one day I saw

what the problem was.

I was trying to be big by being

a prophet of the little,

but forgot to be, really be, little,

a man at home in his own wooly heart,

working in sleet and sun and stain,

ready to live life alive again.

A man in a hat. A man with a rake.

A man whom happiness would not forsake

at the drop of a hat.

So now I’m off to do that job –

to work for free in God’s own yard.

God will rain and God will blow,

and I’ll rake His leaves and shovel His snow.

And smile as I do, for the little I know.