Trails off and then
But where God’s the well
to let my soul run its course
and net me plummeting
That pain in me
is like a leaky balloon spinning round
with God in it –
God in a balloon in a life in God!
There used to be an ad in TV Guide.
If you could draw the lumberjack –
the head of the lumberjack, with his
beard and cap and flannel shirt –
you might have talent, and maybe
you were just the one they were looking for.
Today I saw that fellow, in our park,
here in the neighborhood.
He’d shaved the beard and changed his shirt,
but the cap was the same.
And then two boys came along,
who might’ve been me, if I’d been
two people when I wanted to draw him.
Isn’t it wondrous, how things come around
to resurrect the past,
and someone still might
answer the call?
I’ve been thinking about what you said about dwelling on things. Tell me about it! Lately I keep coming back to a memory that has plagued me since I was fifteen. That summer I worked for the Youth Conservation Corps, at Fort Columbia State Park. It was a great job – being outdoors, fixing trail, with kids my age and older. But there was a younger kid who annoyed me. He didn’t work with us. His dad was the park ranger. He was nice enough, I can’t remember him actually ever doing anything “wrong.” I guess he just cramped my style. And so I shared that thought, one night in one of the army tents. “He’s always around. It bugs me.” Which brought, from behind me in the dark, words that have echoed in me ever since. “I’m sorry. I won’t do that anymore.” He kept his word. He never came around again. Nor did I seek him out. Life sets traps and I jump right in. I get after myself and then I get after God. What a mess, what a godawful blueprint!
I will wring death
from this rag of life
I will throttle
it as it goes
choked from a rag
but watch me
Seeing my black boots, I thought
of how Dad put them outside
that Christmas we visited –
when his mind was going
and he draped a shroud
over my head – and my boots
were cold when I retrieved them.
And about how my uncle Mike
at a family reunion
put his arm in the photo
around the one who was missing
and said the next time might be
the last time
and it was.
And about how we’ll stand outside in a minute
watching a hearse go by,
and it will carry no one I’ve mentioned
God, you’re supposed to be
a big bright
not my weak
scared as I am
here in the dark
Smooth and easy
loving is what you need.
How did it get to be so late so early?
Of all that doesn’t happen, this does.