Obedience*

Why didn’t we know
that obedience meant
listening intently? Why
was it a hammer crash-
ing down on the heads
of so many? Why didn’t
we listen to the screams
at Wounded Knee? Why
didn’t we listen intently
to the mournful echoes
of voices singing of op-
pression and hope — soul-
ful sounds echoing down
through generations in
the fields — voices told
to be obedient or suffer
the brutality of the whip?
Why didn’t we listen in-
tently to the beautiful
soprano and alto voices
in harmony singing for
equality? Why did we mis-
use the word obedient to
make others buckle to our
tone-deaf ears, brutal
hands and violent hearts?
Why were we not obedient
to the call for justice,
mercy and peace? Why?

* “The word obedience comes
from the Latin word ob-audire,
which means ‘to listen with
great attentiveness.'” — from
a meditation by Henry Nouwen.

Naming Nature

There are those nature poets
who name everything — shrubs,
trees, flowers, birds, animals.

Then there are nature poets
who write in generalities —
like above.

Is a general description
sufficient for a nature poet?

He asked his wife. She said,
“Maybe the poet is letting
the readers name nature
for themselves.”

Community

They have each other
and the Chocolate Lab.
They are family,

a nuclear community.
They touch others
in superficial community —

the neighborhood, the
protest rallies marching
with others and feeling

good in the moment and
then everyone goes their
own way, the church

community two thousand
miles away to which
they “belong” but don’t

really know anyone
and certainly don’t ever
attend social events

outside of worship for
the three months a year
they are there.

They walk the dog and
people admire the dog
and want to pet the dog

and then everyone stops
and chats and goes on.
That’s it for community.

They sit and ask each
other, “Did you ever
fit — high school,

college, this town with
its hyper conservative
religious and political

views?” “Nope.” “Work?”
“Sure, in a work
environment kind of

way. Once you retire
or change jobs, the
community is gone.”

“So, what is it exactly
that we have?”
“Each other.” With

that, the rescued Lab
jumps down from her
plush chair, sits between

the two, wags her tail
and then kisses each on
the hand. They look

at each other, smile,
wink and look out at
the blowing snow.

Osmosis?

The writer realized that, as a child, he
didn’t read and wasn’t read to. Also, he
had difficulty in school reading. He
recalls that with lingering discomfort.
But, he had never thought about not
reading as a child. It struck him as
ironic that he, a writer, hadn’t read
as a child. He had read to his children,
every evening and they read daily and
to this day continue to read and read
to their children. They all get and give
books for gifts. In anticipation, he can
count on a book or two for his birthday
from his son and daughter. He remem-
bers, as a youngster, standing by the
bookshelf in his house, the only book-
shelf, built into a small wall in the hall
and fingering the books. He liked to
stroke the backs of the books and
look at the names, cocking his head
sideways. There was Les Miserables,
which was a funny spelling for “Less
Miserable” and Don Quixote, a book
about a guy named Don Coyote. He
remembers wondering what was inside.
Once in a while, he would notice that
a book was upside down and he would
turn it right side up. At some point
in time he began to take the books
off the shelf and read. He hasn’t
stopped.

The New Stockyards

A photo of someplace, somewhere, some-
time and he is transported back in time

to Wabash Avenue, winter, evening, slushy
streets, the roar and rumble and screech

of the “L” overhead, lights flashing, exhaust
pouring from cars stopped at the light, head-

lights blasting into faces, billows of steam
streaming from the mouths and nostrils of

walkers scurrying across the street, cold feet,
wet, leather shoes with leather soles (before

anyone thought about a good, practical use for
rubber) and Miller’s Pub and a well vodka

martini filled to the brim before heading back
out to find the car coated with dirty, wet ice.

He remembers that he had wondered whether
or not he had remembered to put the ice

scraper in the car as he rubs his toes together
in his new, warm, stylish, wool blend socks

in his well-worn leather slippers and then
he remembers that he had.

A Match Made In….

I have no affinity
                      for merging consanguinity,
                                               where genes

                          careen
and blood
 leads

  to

  a

  flood
       of not okay

                    ...DNA.

I wanted to marry
my cousin Mary
but

off                    spring

would be a bad thing —

                     causing all to SCREECH,
   
               about the freaks

             who look just like

               our Grandpa Ike
 
who.........

on his own
was quite

                         a see to sight.

                 See?


          Merging consanguinity
          leads to frights
          like our Grampa Ike. 

          Thank God, Mary agreed.

What Could Possibly Be Wrong?

Is it just that we can’t possibly
imagine such a thing — an American
president in cahoots with a foreign
power, an enemy foreign power, a

president who is actually working for
that power against the interests of
the country, what he, in his capacity as
president and the commander-in-chief

of the military, swore to support and
defend? Does such a thought keep
bumping up against incredulity? Is
it just mind-boggling that the person

we elected to defend us against all
adversaries actually is selling us
out to that adversary? And maybe that
very word “selling” ultimately will

allow such a heinous thought to begin
to sink in, in spite of the fact that,
such a thing has never, ever occurred
in the history of our country — a

traitor, a treasonous person, anywhere
but in the presidency. Is there nothing
sacred anymore? Apparently not when
money is involved. Follow the money,

follow the money as he sells the country
up the creek and down the drain. Does he
even know what he is doing? Isn’t it in
the best interest of the country, every

country, all the world to cut the grand
deal? What could possibly be wrong with
that? Apparently, nothing from the per-
spective of someone who doesn’t know

the difference between vulture capitalism
and defending the constitution. Wait, isn’t
the business of America business? Hey,
it’s the way to make America great again.

“Well, when you put it that way…it
makes a lot of patriotic sense. Got
anymore of them red caps? I’d like
to buy some for my kids.”

What Lies Here?

We get upset over the president’s lies.
I don’t know why.
One study showed a hundred lies
fill our daily lives.
Maybe, when they lie
directly in front of our lives,
our denial gives us the hives.
Maybe we should strive
not to lie
so much in our own lives.
For sure, the president won’t be getting any hives
over all his lies.