A Mysterious Undertaker

A Mysterious Undertaker

Pointing nose down, pursing lips turned

up at the corners in the Joker’s

diabolical smile, he uses Aristotelian

logic and the perfect syllogism

scientifically to state

pejoratively that life is

devoid, for God’s sake, of a



Follain looks up at the nose

pointing down, observes the

Joker’s smile and sees the

one “who sees only void in

the depth of the heavens,”

or did he just miss

the mysterious under-

taking of the


The Wind Blew in the Valley

The Wind Blew in the Valley

The wind blew in the valley.

The Javelina sang

with a diaphragmatic belly.

And Piestewa felt a pang


of great regret and grief

that the Diamond-back rattler left

and made off like a thief

with a Gila of great  heft.


He crawled back in his hole

but the Gila’s head got stuck.

The Trickster came and stole

but the Gila began to buck


and twist and squirm and snap

the coyote’s Achilles heel.

So Piestewa laid a trap

while Javelina let out a squeal —


from the valley below

the Spirit rose on high,

tapped the Trickster’s elbow

and the dog thought he would die


as he slid down on his belly

while the wind blew in the valley.

The Politician’s Profundity

The Politician’s Profundity

He loves the trees of Michigan; apparently they are

just the right height,


as, opposed to say what, for example –

Ohio, the Buckeye State?


Was it the kid at six who had to look way up to see the top?

How high is high? Way high but

just the right height.

Was it the adolescent who looked up just before he headed west?

How high is high? Not as high but

just the right height.

Was it the adult who looked up just before he headed east?

How high is high? Less high but

just the right height.

Way high, not as high, less high, but always

just the right height.


Is that oak high, beech high, purple maple high,

ash high, elm high, birch high,

walnut high, sycamore high, willow high,

chestnut high, hawthorn high,

scotch pine high, red pine high, white pine high,

tamarack high, Dr. Dorsch’s ginkgo tree still standing

in Monroe, Michigan high?


And what about all the kinds of oak and beech and maple,

not just purple and all the rest and

all those not mentioned here?  Lots and lots of different trees

just the right height.


He loves cars, too – Chevy cars, Ford cars, Chrysler cars

and he used to love American Motors cars

like the Gremlin driven by John Denver in the movie,

Oh, God!, before they disappeared like

some of the trees which before they disappeared were

just the right height,


big cars, little cars, truck type cars, van type cars, convertible cars,

four, six (inline and v) and eight (always v) cylinder cars, station wagon cars, especially

station wagon cars which are

just the right height – to tie the dog on top.


Suffice it to say that this is a pretty profound politician

when it comes to

just the right height of trees and station wagon cars

which are also

just the right height.

Lenten Meditation

The following post is a bit different from the poetry I have been writing for this blog site.  It is a meditation entitled Death of the One which appears in the February 2012 issue of Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought. The editor gave me permission to copy the meditation and post it here.

Here is information about the journal:

Perspectives’ purpose is to express the Reformed faith theologically; to engage issues that Reformed Christians meet in personal, ecclesiastical, and societal life; and thus to contribute to the mission of the church of Jesus Christ.

Coeditors: Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell, Arika Theule-Van Dam

Review Editor: Debra Rienstra

Poetry Editor: Susanna Childress

Board of Editors: Dawn Boelkins, Steven Bouma-Prediger, Theresa Latini, Jason Lief, Daniel Meeter, Scot Sherman, Jackie Smallbones

Contributing Editors: Roy Anker, Carol Bechtel, Thomas A. Boogaart, James Bratt, Douglas J. Brouwer, Carol J. Cook, Donald Cronkite, Christiana de Groot, Evelyn Diephouse, Francis G. Fike, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Jennifer Holberg, Scott Hoezee, Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Allan Janssen, George I. Mavrodes, Eunice McGarrahan, Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Jon Pott, Marchiene Vroon Rienstra, David Schelhaas, John Stapert, David Stubbs, David Timmer, Leanne Van Dyk, Allen Verhey, Ronald A. Wells, Merold Westphal

Managing Editor: Phil Tanis

Advertising for books, conferences, and faculty openings is welcome. For space reservations or for a rate sheet, deadline schedule, and mechanical requirements, call or email the Editorial Office (or click on the link).

Editorial Office: 4500 60th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512; 616-392-8555 ext. 131; Fax: 616-392-7717; E-mail: perspectives@rca.org

Death of the One

by Robert Dahl

I am filled with disgust and emptiness over the rhythm of everyday life that goes relentlessly on—as though nothing had changed, as though I had not lost my precious beloved!
—Dietrich von Hildebrand

On the flight home from Naples, Florida, there was a stop in Pittsburgh. I sat in the airport watching all the couples and families on their way to or from a vacation. It was August. To me, they seemed so unbelievably happy. No matter how innocent I knew those travelers to be, I felt disgust that the “rhythm of everyday life” went on for them while I sat alone, the coffin of my precious beloved in the storage area of the plane.

One short week earlier I had been one of those people f lying from Michigan to Florida. But now, somehow, no matter how much I wanted to get back to that place, I knew I would never again be one of them because I would never again be the same.

To experience the joy and comfort of being graced with the love of another? Yes, thank God, and with a beloved who knows, who has been there. My soul mate. Thank God.

On a Sunday last July, I watched 42-year-old Darren Clarke win the British Open golf tournament. When I learned that Clarke’s wife had died five years earlier of breast cancer, I started rooting for Clarke even over my favorite golfer Phil Mickelson. The next day, I read these reports in the sports pages of the Washington Post:

Darren Clarke is a man who has endured genuine personal tragedy. . . . There is nothing that can happen to bring back Clarke’s wife Heather, who died from breast cancer five years ago, leaving him to raise their two sons who were 7 and 5 at the time. . . . Clarke’s victory in the British Open, 10 years after he last seriously contended in a major championship, was uplifting not only to him and his family and Northern Ireland, but to everyone in the game of golf. . . . How Clarke held his emotions together making that last walk up the 18th fairway is anybody’s guess. Chances are good that once he had a quiet moment to himself, he shed a few tears thinking about Heather. “I’m sure if she were here,” he said, “she’d be telling me, ‘I told you so.'”
I have an idea what has made the difference in Darren Clarke’s game after a dry spell of ten years: the television announcers said that he is now engaged to be married. After the final putt, he got a huge hug from his caddie and congratulations from the others on the green. He gave a quick hug to his parents and then continued to rush toward someone else in the crowd—his fiancée. They kissed and then kissed again. They embraced for what seemed like forever. I looked over at my wife Chris and choked back a tear.

Grateful? Eternally.

Darren will never forget Heather. He will always love her. But, by the grace of God, he now loves again.

For Darren Clarke and all those others who have suffered the tragic death of a loved one, life is lived always with a certain wariness, always with a little bit of “emptiness”—never again with innocent presumption. “Oh, I’m sure she’ll live to be a hundred just like her grandmother.” She didn’t get to half of that—forty-nine and down in a day. She was the lamb whose brain was f looded with blood.

And that disgust spoken of by von Hildebrand? On occasion, unexpectedly, it still rears its head. And once again I feel cheated. And then again I ache for my children, cheated of their mother’s presence. And then it subsides. Reminders still after eighteen years that I will never be the same again.

Twenty-five thousand dead in the wake of a tsunami. I see it on TV. I read it in the paper. In physical distance and emotion, I am half a world away. Twenty-five thousand down in a day, each one “the one” to someone, but the numbers overwhelm. Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic.”

“You do not understand that it is better to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed,” uttered Caiaphas. Did Caiaphas concur with Stalin’s truism? How could he know that that one death would be the tragedy that would reverberate throughout the heavens? The next day, life went on in Jerusalem—that one death seemingly over and done. But that one death would represent all the “one” tragic deaths. That one death would reverberate in all those who know the loss of a loved one. It didn’t take the deaths of hundreds or thousands or millions. All it took was the death of one. All it took was the death of the One.

In the solitary cross we are confronted with all the injustice, all that is wrong with life. In the cross we are comforted that God knows, feels, experiences our disgust and emptiness. If a nation had died, we wouldn’t understand. Emotionally, we would be half a world away and the deaths would be statistics. But one died, the Beloved. And we know what it is to lose our beloved.

And in response, God grants us the life of the Beloved. It is God’s triumph over death and in that triumph “I” is transformed into “we.” And for now, before we can see clearly, before we know as we are known, before we stand face to face, we affirm the presence of the Beloved, while we experience still the disgust and emptiness that give rise to doubt— ironically, the very doubt that drives us back to the embrace of the Beloved.

We live at the intersection of the Realm of God and a place just east of Eden. And so we echo St. Peter, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Come, Lord Jesus.

Primordial Ooze in White Guys’ Heads

Primordial Ooze in White Guys’ Heads

So what’s with the primordial ooze that

passes for brains in white legislators’ heads?

They want to probe beneath a woman’s robe.

Is that then mandate rape?


“It’s not rape; it’s the moral thing to try

to stop witchy women from keeping

the world from the joy of experiencing


our offspring,

our progeny, our pretty, little babies

growing up to be

Uber-Arian DNA,

to save the day, okay?


“Now, we’re the Great White God’s

Great White Hope. How are we going to

stop the burgeoning browns and reds

and yellows and blacks

from running over us if our

really gentle, gentile, genteel, genius genes

just go away?


“And the same goes for those who are gay.

They can’t reproduce

so they are coming to seduce

us into relationships so that we won’t

carry on our precious DNA.


“And they just won’t go away.

It’s the Anti-American agenda that’s gay,

so what the hey?


“What is to become of our primarily, primordial

heads, if women and gays have their way?

We’ll just go away.


“I don’t think Solomon’s Head of Christ

wants us to go away – his

dishwater blond locks

draping his shoulders and those

big, baby blues.  He is the real Jesus

for me and you.


“He’s one of us so what do you say?

Spread those legs. Let’s see

what’s cookin’ today

and everyday until the day

we can cheer ‘cause our

DNA is on the way! Okay.


“We’ll save the day.

See, it’s really just a trans-vag, vag, vag gggg -inal

(kinda hard to get the word out, tee-hee) ultrasound


Trust us.”

A ra.ra.ra.rose by any other name….

Él Dijo, “I Fought the Law and the Law Lost”

Él Dijo, “I Fought the Law and the Law Lost”

The mucho macho, hard-nosed, hard-assed,

Tough-as-nails skinhead, don’t mess with me

Or my posse,


Protecting the boarder which ain’t

Anywhere around, chief law-enforcement officer

Who waxes poetically, politically way right of

Center correct


Stands by his vow, but apparently not his man,

To uphold the law of the land

When he allegedly swore an oath

To deport his amigo Mexicano in

A tit-for-tat domestic disagreement. (Where

Did that sexy photo of the out of uniform senor mucho

Guapo y el amor come from?)


Oh, hey, a high profile Republican gay, oye! ole!


“This is my private life!” cried the guy whose virile

Private life went viral. These guys just keep denying karma

Or are they just crying, por favor?


Ay! no, not for such a public, high-minded, higher office,

Publicity seeker who

Promotes family values. Qué les pasa con ustedes totos?


Ditat Deus – “God Enriches,” cried Hannah. Ditat Deus is inscribed

On  the Arizona flag.  But  Hannah cried again, “God Humbles.”

And then God enriches and then there was

Samuel, the Gift from a barren womb. Creatio ex nihilo!


So, maybe the flag-waving sheriff

Should take a hike in the Pinal Mountains and make

Friends with a kinder, gentler sort of wild life for a while,

Eat humble pie for about forty-days,

And come down and get real.


Adios para un tiempo poco, mi amigo.  Si, adios

Para ahora — for a little while and then,

Bienvenido, be enriched, embrace yourself, who you

Are created to be, your freedom

And God’s great future.

The Crooner and the Preacher

The Crooner and the Preacher

The crooner and the preacher –

two, big, smiley faced boys who entertained Hollywood

for years — poor, insecure Midwest boys, both, Wisconsin

and Iowa who could sell brushes to Fuller himself.


A much talented talker and an ever so sweet crooner

who said “This is the day the Lord hath made…” — to kick

things off and “Never say goodbye, say Caio.” — to wrap it up.

Their gray-haired, upper Midwest fans watched on Saturday evening

and then Sunday morning.


They always played to the crowd.


One hid whom he loved and what he was and the

other hid behind diets and face lifts and what he was

and they both loved wearing those flowing

robes that swished and swirled like Loretta

Young’s or Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s when they entered from stage left.


Perhaps they had watched on T.V. from their Midwest homes and said,

“I can do that,” and practiced – one behind an orange crate pulpit

and the other in front of an old, upright piano.

The crooner’s museum is for sale and the cathedral has

been sold and that’s entertainment and the show must go on.


Two insecure, eversoneedy, pudgy, little

boys from the Midwest who only wanted to be loved.

The crooner reaches across from the

other side for the preacher’s hand and says, “Caio.”

A Sonnet About Bicycling in Phoenix

A Sonnet About Bicycling in Phoenix

We ride our bikes along the city’s streets

Avoiding deadly traffic is the goal,

So riding on a Sunday always beats

Diving and dodging or jumping in a hole


To avoid the Beemers, Porches, Audis, et. al.

Speeding through the grid laid out so well

By planners mapping for those who move at a crawl

Straight north, straight south, straight east, straight west not hell


As a place of destination for folks

Who thought the word Phoenix was a simile

Not a literal version of a joke

About a bird rising from the ashes to flee


From all the loony drivers on the street.

Perhaps it would be best just to retreat.