On the Way

On the way to the car wash
the man heard an interview
with a young vocalist about

his quartet, growing up near-
by, going to school in Chicago
at Roosevelt University and,

and, and just then the man’s
heart skipped a beat as he
thought about growing up

in Chicago, going downtown,
listening to jazz quartets,
dating a girl who went to

Roosevelt University and
laughing at her for drinking
a Brandy Alexander before

dinner. The cut played during
the interview was “Time After
Time,” and… you kept my love

so young, so new and time
after time I tell my self that
I’m so lucky to be loving you ….

As the man pulled the car
into the garage, he thought
about singing some of those

lyrics to his wife, but just
knew he would get choked up,
after only a phrase or two,

so he played it for her on
You-tube. The man went back
into the study, played “Just

the Way You Look Tonight,”
and cried.

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Out of the Mouths of Babes

Com-
Plaint,
With-
Accusation,
Articulate
Teens,
Wiser
Than
Governors.
They haven’t
Been
Bought,
Not
Yet.
Maybe,
Never.
Look
Out-
Ward,
Up-
Ward,
For-
Ward,
Com-
Passion,
With-
Suffering,
Suffering
With
All
Who
Suffer
All.

Valentine’s Day — Three Days and An Argument Later

I do not understand the love-filled grace
that occupies our life in this and every place.
It’s not that we upon all things agree,
and, yes, there are times you would flee

from argumentative discourse unpleasant,
but you are not one to long hold a resentment.
Rather, after a time of loud quiet,
we approach each other trying to retry it.

The heat will simmer for more than just awhile,
recriminations uttered, but soon a smile
surfaces again on your lovely face,
and I, once more, am victim to your grace.

We ponder what we feel and what we think
celebrating, “Would you like to go out for a drink?”

The Infectious Humor of the Moment

He sits at his desk
looking out the window.
A male cardinal flits
from branch to branch
in the bush brushing
against the pane. The
female joins the male
and after chasing each
other from branch to
branch, they fly away.
He watches his neighbor
pushing the thin layer
of fluffy snow down his
driveway, lifting the
shovel almost effort-
lessly, tossing the
flakes away. The east
wind blows the snow
back in the neighbor’s
face, covering his
Carhartt jacket,
gloves and cap.
The neighbor lets
out a hearty laugh
as the last of the
flying flakes enter
his mouth. He coughs
loudly, the sound
faintly heard by
the man as he smiles
and turns his atten-
tion to his desk
and the matter at
hand.

And Never the Twain Shall Meet*

He likened the Old Testament to a grievance committee
arguing before the powers that be that this was wrong
and that was wrong and that they were being wronged,
wronged, wronged. Not much was made of the New Test-

ament except that Jesus became the means of escape —
a lamb not a goat — but as that was for after death,
all the grievances remain — strength to gain. This is
for the Biblical-sycophants — aficionados of the literal

and he would say, that while they hang their ratty hat
full of grievances on that rack, all carry grievances
in bags from the past. Then there are the aesthetes of
the church, the higher not the lower gospel gatherers,

where the creed is not so much the Apostles or Nicene
but Honeste vivre, alternum laedere, suum cuique tribuere:
To live honorably, to injure none, to render to each
his own and he would add, “have some wine and be glad.”

The church of ethics, aesthetics and one’s better angels.
A tolerant place, full of grace, not so much grievance
but rather a down-the-nose disdain and a sophisticated
Jesus, lover of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms and not

the howl of the Shofar (“Shofar show good,” cried Joshua
after the battle of Jericho,) or the mind numbing droll
of the one line repeated over and over as one evangelical
replied to the question “What is hell?” saying the seventy-

fifth verse of “Just As I Am.” — this the bane of all low
church Biblical-sycophantic literalists with grudges galore
and hate to the core. And so the internal battle goes to
be ignored or perhaps a bit to the chagrin of those outside

and not within and Jesus just hangs his head and mumbles,
“For shame,” and stealing a line from Shakespeare, “a plague
o’both your houses,” — of which the high church would
approve but the low church would say, “That’s a pox not a plague.”

*idea from Robertson Davies’ The Cunning Man

Twenty-two Years Later

In conservative West Michigan,
my then fiancé, now wife of 22

years, and I, both widowed,
were interviewed by the local

health department person
before we were married to

find out about any aberrant
sexual histories and potent-

ially dangerous health
concerns. This woman, who

looked like everybody’s
really conservative aunt,

asked if we were from a
parallel universe because

we were both virgins when
we were married to our late

spouses and we both won-
dered what she was getting

at, when it turns out she
wasn’t getting at anything

other than that the sex lives
of most everyone else in this

evangelical, conservative,
Christian community, were

sexually promiscuous and we
are the ungodly liberals with-

out family values. She just
shook her head.

An Ignoramus

An ignoramus is now famous —
the president of the United States of us.
Will we survive this?
Only time will tell us.
The 2018 elections are coming up.
Don’t forget to vote against Trump.
There is time to save our republic
and keep democracy from going bankrupt,
but we will need critical thinking
to save us from the GOP’s thinking so stinking.

While the Man Watched

While the man watched Tiger make
his way, typically now very averagely,
around another course since he crash-

ed the Cadillac SUV with his wife
having driven Tiger’s driver #1
through the rear window for what

turned out to be Tiger’s sexual
indiscretions, the man multi-tasked
and read a report about the shooter

at the Florida high school, appear-
ing in court with his female attorney,
her arm around his shoulder, saying

the alleged shooter is “a broken human
being.” The man thought about his last
three chocolate labs from the Humane

Society and how they were “broken”
puppies. Then he thought about all
the things that came into his mind

in short order — Tiger, the alleged
shooter, the three chocolates and
then he thought about himself and

the lawyer’s words and the thought
of her arm around his shoulder in
the moment of the accusations, and

in that moment, he knew that we are
all, to one degree or another, “broken”
and in need of healing. He thought

about how fortunate his labs were
to find their way to his and his
wife’s home and how fortunate he

has been as he thought, “There go
I but for the grace of God,” and
he could only make the sign of the

cross from his forehead down and
across his now heavy and heaving
heart.

The Theater of the Absurd

This morning, a day after the
killing of seventeen at a high
school in previously peaceful
Parkland, Yahoo posted a photo
of a Fox News host and a head-
line stating she was touting
“safe” AR15s — the murder
weapon. Yesterday was Ash Wed-
nesday. The host had the “sign
of the cross” smudged in ashes
on her forehead for all the
Fox viewers to see. “Oh, she’s
a fine Christian girl.” Didn’t
she sing the Kyrie
in church yesterday?
Does anyone hear an echo
of the Kyrie today?
Does anyone really care
anymore, anyway?
Does anyone catch the irony
or is it just a plain and
simple smudge of hypocrisy
or heresy or obscenity?
Can’t you hear the protest?
“Judge not that you be not judged.”
Yeah, but what about,
“You shall know them by their fruits”?
What does it take to take
the Lord’s name in vain mean anymore?
How do you feel?
Sad, mad, glad, disturbed?
Welcome to the Theater of the Absurd.

The Students and the Teachers

The students and teachers were interviewed
after the Valentine’s Day Massacre in a high
school in the city of Parkland voted safest
city in Florida two days ago. They seemed

so composed, so articulate under the circum-
stances, so unaffected. The TV interviewers
pried as they always do insensitively —
questions verging on exploitation and

cruelty, but those interviewed carried on.
What is that all about? Shock or the new
normal or something in-between. Seventeen
dead, many injured. And so we await political

posturing from senators and representatives
speaking sheepishly,”It’s too early to
talk of gun control. It’s a time for prayer,” —
muffled sounds from deep in the NRA’s hip

pockets. We wait for the scholars’ books
explaining after much research. It is the
ten-year anniversary of the shootings at
Northern Illinois University. I conducted

the memorial service for the mass murderer
who killed five students and injured an
additional 17, before fatally shooting him-
self. What’s to remember? The skinny, bright,

vulnerable, humorous little kid? The crazed
killer the family didn’t know and who heard
of his gruesome deed on the television? No
clues? His sobbing sister, her partner com-

forting her with embraces, kisses, tears,
decried the plethora and availability of
guns and parents who sat stunned into
silence while I was expected to say some-

thing meaningful about the love of God
in the midst of tragedy. Tragedy all around,
fear all around, anger all around, cowardice
all around, tragedy all around. Who can

stand to listen to the Godforsaken news,
the impotent cries for sanity and the
reverberating roar of demented laughter
rising from the bowels of hell.