Giving Thanks After Thanksgiving

On Monday, the remainder

of the turkey is boiled

until the meat, fat, skin,

sinew, cartilage fall from

the carcass and drop

to the bottom

of the pot.

The bleached bones are

scooped from the pot

and picked clean.

The meat is cleaned from

the bones like panning

for gold. Thumb

and index finger massage

the stringy turkey and tiny

bones

are tossed aside. “Can I

help?” she asks. “Sure.

Check one more time

for bones?”

Carrots, celery, sweet and red

onions chopped, garlic

minced, dried Fresno

and Habanero pepper

bits and big chunks

of white and dark

turkey meat are

plopped into the pot.

He turns up

the heat.

They wipe the grease

from their hands

with paper towels,

wink at each other

and kiss.

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The Uber Earnestness of It All

They sit in a circle of

Uber earnestness,

Of profound,

Profundity.

They offer ever polite,

Knowing humor in

The chuckles as they

Raise an index finger

To their lips with

Understated certitude.

Young,

Newly minted

Doctors of philosophy

In English

And Masters of Fine

Arts in poetry from

A plethora of places

Doting the academic

Landscape, regional

Schools priding

Themselves as institutions

To be offering semi-esoteric

degrees in the arts.

The young academics

Who teach at evangelical,

Christian colleges, with

An emphasis on Christian

Rather than as a school

Of significant academic

Excellence in the historic

Christian tradition

Assume a sophomoric

Stance toward their

Own verses as gospel

Truth, read each other’s

Droll to nearly hilarious,

Free verse

Of breakfast with

Their uber smart

Infants and kindergartners

Pointing to this fairly

Boring, mostly mundane

Morning experience as

A metaphor

Of epiphanal significance.

They look at each other

And nod knowingly,

Go home and recommend

Each other’s smart as a

Whip writing to small,

Evangelical Christian

Publications seeking

To appear esoterically

Sophisticated by

Publishing short,

Smart but obviously

Profound

Verse by newly

Minted Ph.D.s and

MFA’s.

The Zen Student Asked

The Zen student asked

the master,

“How do you see

so much?”

“I close my eyes.”

I sit in my easy chair

with my feet crossed

on the ottoman.

I close my eyes and

see and smell red,

white and jack pines.

I watch the trail for

hazardous, ancient roots

hidden under shiny,

slippery oak leaves.

I feel the cushion made

by seasons of pine

needles as I jog at a

slow, steady, comfortable

pace.

I see the dune ahead

and steel for the

climb knowing

that the prize of the

azure waters of Lake

Michigan

lap along the beach just

on the other

side.

I pick up the pace just a

bit and stare at the shoe

impressions made by

others in the damp,

firm sand.

I stop before returning

to the woods, rest

my hands on my knees,

catch my breath while

thinking about

the climb

back up soft sand

that gives way

under each step.

I look around.

For the moment

I am alone with

the forest, dunes,

beach, and inland

sea.

I can’t see across,

but I feel like

I can see

everything.

Even Before Thanksgiving

Even before Thanksgiving just past Halloween, I’m

thinking about how I love Christmas on the road.

 

For forty-two years I was locked into where I was and

responsible because I was the pastor, somewhere, any-

 

where, for the traditions. Last year, my wife Chris, our

Chocolate Lab Boomer and I spent Christmas Day on

 

the eighth day of our trip west in Bisbee, Arizona.  We

checked into the motel with  a great view of the

 

mountainous southlands, and  unlike Mary, Joseph and the

baby Jesus, we got in. With the dog still in the backseat,

 

we headed downtown and found the only place open, a bar.

Thank heavens it was on the first of at least three tiers of

 

downtown, which was actually the downtown part of uptown.

Parking  across the street from the bar, we wished our

 

dog Boomer, Merry Christmas, walked into the establish-

ment, cozied up to the bar, ordered drinks, bent an elbow and

 

hoisted glasses in praise of the birth of our Lord, sampled a

few of the well-beyond-prime-time-home-made-appetizers

 

(“Hey, Doll, I made those especially for tonight,” the gal at

the end of the bar shouted), at least the sauerkraut remained

 

hygienically sour, sang a ditty or two to Jesus with the

community of faith gathered for communion, mumbled the

 

Lord’s Prayer to ourselves, shouted “Hey, Ya’ll, Merry Christmas!”

and headed back to the  motel for the Silent Night.

 

When we stopped, Boomer jumped out of the backseat and

wagged his tail.  My wife slipped into the motel and I took

 

one more glance at the southwest mountain range just

north of the Mexican border as the sun exited stage left.

 

I just stood there in the cold, crisp desert air and hummed

“All is Well, All is Bright” as fast rising moonlight reflected

 

that gorgeous sight and the dog announced with a bark

that he wanted to go in, so we, too, slipped in for the night.

 

An Old, White Man Losing It In Rainbow Land

Oh my, he’s so embarrassed

To be an old, white man

Losing it in the new

Rainbow land

Like those hanging by their

Thumbs

With the old clan

And the General

Men’s womanizing plan,

The ones who eat cake,

Have it too and

And toss crumbs

To the forty-seven

Percenters too, who

They see as obstructing

The grand plan

To secede from the une-yan

And

Take along all the great alums

Who live right, act right,

Lean way right, are all white,

Stand and fight right

And take a grand stand

Against the gift givers and takers,

Free loaders, the Now Two-term,

Grand Poobah

Man –

The brown, black,

Yellow, rainbow coalition of

Gays and straights and oh, yeah,

The long-suffering Cub fan –

For sure those

Bleacher Bums with the

Red-blistered, white skin

And some

With a deep tan –

The long-suffering

Fan,

The Cubs and Sox

And all the jocks

who are all thumbs;

South-side and North-side

Young guys, of course,

And just think about it;

They are ones who don’t work,

Just sit all day waitin’ with

A mitt to catch a foul ball

Or home run, man,

“Mitt, my man, they called

You the flim-flam man,

But you be da man, my man,

so

just get a grip

Mitt, man, and help me

Find a way to

Just go away,

Old white man,

Please. They say

I have become

An embarrass-

Ment, to those in the grand

Stand,” he cries,

“Mitt Man, old, white

Man. I’m still

Tryin’ to get a grip here,

Man

Oh, man, so

Take me out to the

Ball game, Mitt man,

And let me sing along

With the Harry Carey clan;

Just don’t put me next

To the Church

Lady; she has a

Bat in one

Hand and mitt

On the other hand

And she’s an angry

Long-suffering Cub’s

Fan.  I hoped for

So much more,

Man.”

They Died Out of Order

Writing is a struggle against silence.

—- Carlos Fuentes

The quote, taken from Word Press, is true especially regarding social struggles, but

silence can be so personal and very much like a secret, only to be shared

at the right time. The following addresses the question of timing:

They died out-of-order.

The husband died out-of-order.

He was young —

A young father;

His son was only fifteen.

Dad died out-of-order.

He isn’t talked about

By family years later.

He isn’t referred to;

He hides in the marrow

Of his son’s bones,

The crevasses of his

Brain and folds of

His heart.

The wife died out-of-order.

She was young —

A young mother;

Her son was twenty-five

And her daughter,

Twenty.

Mom died out-of-order.

She isn’t talked about

By family years later.

She isn’t referred to;

She hides in the

Marrow of her children’s

Bones,

The crevasses of their

Brains and the folds

Of their hearts.

A dad and a mom

Died out-of-order,

And as a result

In this culture,

They don’t get mentioned

Like grandma and

Grandpa get mentioned

In family talks with

Anecdotes and more

Anecdotes. Is that

Fair, just because

They died out-of-order?

Will their stories be told

In anecdotes and more

Anecdotes

To children and grandchildren

In the rightful place

Of family gatherings?

In Times of Deceit

“In times of deceit,

telling

the truth is a

revolutionary

act.”

—– George Orwell

“The truth shall

set you

free.”

—— Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus, free of deceit, is the

revolutionary who tells

the truth.

The victory of life and love

over death and hate

in the experience

of the aliveness of Jesus

after being crucified,

is what gave

courage

to the followers of

Jesus

to be revolutionaries

who

told the truth in

the ever-present

times of deceit,

and in our ever-

present

times of

deceit, we the

successors of

apostolic succession

in its most

generous interpretation

need to stop, and ask,

“In times, these times

of deceit,

are we free enough

in Jesus to participate in

a revolutionary

act?”  And on

Jeopardy, Alex Trebek presses

the question,

“What is your

answer?”

.

A Classmate Went Missing

A classmate went missing from his class

reunion only to be discovered later dead.

 

A response from a classmate reflecting on

the dead who he hadn’t seen in let’s say around

 

fifty years, in part, “A handful of us always seemed to be

competing. Good practice for the next 40 years.

 

The only competition left is who will outlive the other…..

and of course, who has the

 

brightest and best looking grandchildren……….need I

say more.”  (He must have forgotten in his

 

old age that that was a question requiring a question mark

and there were way too many ellipses.) —- hmmmm,

 

probably written jokingly, but hmmmm…so…does shallower than a

kiddy pool in a drought  come to mind,

 

and after fifty years no less?  And when the last person living

reflects on his situation and what he has won

 

what will he  have?  Oh, yeah, loneliness.

Good Lord.

 

Fifty years and still counting… still competing.

“Hey, guess what?  I beat so and so and so

 

and so and so and so and so and old

whatshisface… and ….”

 

So what?

 

And if that classmate is the only one left standing

and cries, “Hey, I won!” into the void

 

will there be the sound of victory or just the sound of silence

from back in the 60’s? Oh, yeah, the most

 

beautiful  and brightest grandkids:  “Bye, bye

Grandpa,” as they go off to their futures without

 

much as a thought of him as he sits by himself

surrounded by all of his trophies.

 

Need he say more into the void (leaving only the question mark

he forgot the first time around),

 

about that shallow-as-a-kiddy-pool comment

on the death an old high school

 

classmate? Oh, yeah, in all fairness, he said it brought a tear

to his eye, too.

 

 

Like Father, Like Son

The seventy-five pound, one-hundred-twelve

Year-old Chocolate Lab needs help getting up

On the bed at night.  His mom lifts his front

Legs and then his hind-quarters onto the bed.

He snuggles at the foot of the bed and as

The temperature drops he inches up till his

Rump and his dad’s bump. The old dog can’t

Run anymore with mom and dad as they

Jog down the trail, but in his sleep he runs like

The wind, chasing the neighbor’s cat past the

Pine Grove around the pond and through the

Dune grass till the cat climbs the big blue spruce.

He kicks his dad as he chases the tennis ball across

The sand of the Lake Michigan beach.  He kicks,

Pushes and pants and then quiets down, breathes

Deeply and slowly as he rolls on his back in the

Grass in the afternoon sun of his dream. His dad

Turns on his stomach and dreams he is running

Into the arms of an old girlfriend and just as they

Are about to touch, the dog kicks him again and

He wakes only to remember that she died a

Dreadful death from a disfiguring disease. He

Catches his breath, shutters and slips his hand past

The sleeping dog and rests it in the small of his wife’s

Back and then he too breathes deeply and slowly in

The afternoon sun of another dream.

The Church Lady Doesn’t Like Contraceptives

The church lady doesn’t like contraceptives.

Being obedient she prefers the rhythm method

With a calypso beat, in and out and in and out, cha

Cha, cha while she watches the calendar and while

She has a watch, she watches the phases of the

Moon.  The sun is the father and the moon is the

Son and once a month the moon drips blood from

Its craters and disappears for three days

And then is born again and when the full moon

Appears, drivers veer into the wrong lane and every-

Body is a bit off kilter and every once in a blue moon

There is a blue moon and everyone just goes a bit nuts, but

The church lady remains steadfast and contends that

The tomb was empty and the spirit was very neat

Because the linens were folded very nicely where

The head had been.  The man in the moon smiles

Down on her in her beatific state and she

Feels the warmth radiating from the sun to the moon

To the spirit to her and comforting her when she

Thinks about the ins and the outs of rape and how

Politicians are pronouncing ex-cathedra that legitimate

Rape doesn’t result in pregnancy and that women’s

Lives are safe as safe can be and never at jeopardy

In pregnancies that result from rape because God

Wills it and the church fathers just look quizzical

And don’t say a word and the nuns shake their

Heads and the church lady feels she’s on morally high

Ground because some Indiana politician pontificated

And so she continues to reject contraception, and after all

She does have the man in the moon to help her with the

ins and outs of the whole bloody mass of a mess.