BIRDS by Mackenzie Acree*

We’re driving to church
On Christmas Eve,
Each dressed to the nines
My father only goes to church with us
Perhaps twice a year.
He is in the driver’s seat
Chatting to my mother about his childhood
The first time he saw snow.
He’s doing 75 through the countryside,
And the forest along the road is flying by so fast
That the leaves on the trees could be flocks of tiny birds.

I see God in those birds.
I see God in the crows feet at the corners of my father’s eyes
When he laughs.
I see God in the way my parents hold hands
As we merge onto the highway.

The easiest way to see God in your life
Is in the littlest of things;
A song on the radio.
A soft rain after days of cloudy skies.
A baby’s toothless grin.

I see God when I’m writing.

I think that
Poetry,
When it really means something,
Is as close to perfect
As a prayer can get.

*Mackenzie Acree is an award-winning poet and the granddaughter of my very close friend CHAPLAIN [LTC] JAMES C. BERBIGLIA, USA, Ret. PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH USA. Jim wrote this about Mackenzie: Mackenzie just completed another year as editor of the O’Connor High School (San Antonio, TX) Literature Magazine and has been re-elected editor for her senior year.

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The White Sons of Cain

Being the white sons of Cain
do we have any right to exist?
By murdering millions upon millions
do we think we will secure power?
By building an excruciatingly huge arsenal
do we really think we can dispel fear?
By grabbing all the wealth
do we think we can buy security?
By plundering the earth
do we think we will have dominion?
By lifting up Jim Crow do we believe
we can keep people down?
By building walls do we really
think we can keep people out?
By stacking the judicial deck
do we think we can control females
and obliterate gays and that will
keep our straight, white, male butts
in our rightful place?
By promoting individual salvation
(more akin to the phony notion of
rugged individualism than the gospel)
in accepting a lily-white Northern European
Jesus Christ as our lord and savior
(a fabrication of our selfish imagination)
do we really think we will go to heaven
when we die while burning in
hell right now by killing millions
upon millions, by stock piling weapons,
by hoarding wealth, by plundering the
earth, by legislating hate, by building
walls, by stacking the judicial deck,
by keeping minorities in shackles,
when the only shackle is that we are
the white sons of Cain, lifting and
offering our fear-driven and
hate-filled gift to heaven
Have we sacrificed our right to existence?

Above It All

The residents of the top floors call down
in the morning to the front desk to see
what the weather is like on the street

because they are above it all. Their
heads aren’t in the clouds; they are
above the clouds and so when they look

up they see clear blue skies and down
they see billowy down, almost soft enough
to jump into and bounce back to their

rooms, like standing on the edge of Pike’s
Peak on a cloudy day and looking down into
the soft, billowy down and seeing that

the top of the clouds are only a few feet
below the edge. He remembers standing too
close to the edge when an officious voice

said calmly, “Please step back, sir.” The
residents of the top floors always take
the elevators down. The concierge will

be waiting with a complimentary umbrella
and the news that some down-on-his-luck
guy just jumped. The residents of the top

floors shrug, step out the automatic doors,
stand under the canopy, open their compli-
mentary umbrellas while the cabbies signal

eagerly that they are at the service of
the residents of the top floors and ready
to shake, fold and close their umbrellas.

Teleological Discussions, a poem by James D. Schwada

Teleological discussions
Often end in concussions.
Philosophers and Holy Men
Driven round the bend
Disputes about how it all began
Disputes about how it all will end
Fights about the place of Man
Whether there’s a Plan
Who to praise?
Who to blame?
What’s He look like?
What’s His name?
Or if its really She, not He?
Beats me.
I guess we’ll see, wont we?

Listening

He jogged by a stream today
and the stream spoke. He
listened. The stream said,
“Follow me.”

He jogged in the woods today
and the woods spoke. He
listened. The woods said,
“Follow me.”

He jogged along a city street today
and the street spoke. He
listened. The street said,
“Follow me.”

He jogged with the wind today
and the wind spoke. He listened.
The wind said,
“Follow me.”

He jogged in the rain today
and the rain spoke. He listened.
The rain said,
“Follow me.”

He jogged today by the stream,
in the woods, along the city street,
with the wind, in the rain,
and Jesus spoke. He listened.
Jesus said,
“Follow me.”

What Can Be Said?

I don’t even know what to say: https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-top-court-backs-companies-over-worker-class-141107855–finance.html.

At this point I think the prophets of old would be stymied, would scratch their heads and wonder what to say.

When will we regain our sanity? Will we?

I can’t even bring myself to write a poem about this debacle of justice.

My heart breaks for our fragile experiment in representative democracy.

It Might Be in Caracas, a poem by James D. Schwada

Might be in Caracas
Trading votes for bread
Might be in Damascus
Searching rubble for the Dead
Might be a hapless refugee
Intercepted out at sea
Interdicted at the Border
In the name of Law, and Order;
Or a missing Dissident
His family wondering where he went
Its raining but i’m warm and dry
Well fed and unafraid
But under no illusion
Its from choices that I’ve made
Or by the touted “grace of god”
Can’t make that leap
Can’t shake that doubt
Its down to Luck and mines been good
Hoping it wont soon run out.

Warding Off Being Bored*

The man never enters teleological arguments —
there is no proving or disproving the
existence of God from said “proofs.”

He enjoys theological discussions and
eagerly will argue his personally held “truths.”

Each stands before God and makes the “leap of faith”
or doesn’t and “there is the rub,”  as Hamlet stated
and Kierkegaard concludes.

The man’s dad was a courageous (thoughtful, honest) agnostic
who eventually made that “leap of faith,”
and was then an understanding listener of the opinions
of agnostics and atheists, their beliefs and anyone’s wraith.

The man’s dad had a heart attack; he shared a room in the
hospital with an agnostic and they had an enjoyable week;
though his dad was intellectually and spiritually energized,
he remained physically weak.

It was enjoyable enough that when the man’s dad died,
this former roommate wrote a letter to the editor and said he cried
when he heard of the man’s father’s death
because that man’s dad had an air of acceptance, so fresh
from what he had previously experienced so often —
evangelical Christians’ delegating unbelievers to hell’s coffin.

Apparently, it was as good a time as two could have in a hospital ward —
two earnest souls warding off being bored,

and enjoying each other thoroughly
and at least according to one, definitely eternally.

*thanks to an acquaintance for the idea

a trade war is a kind of poetry (with apologies to wallace stevens) by jdskool, aka James D. Schwada

Nothing really rhymes with “tariffs”
Excepting perhaps “County Sheriffs”
Trade Deficits don’t stir the heart
And might not make for works of Art
So it’s just as well the War is off
Trump tweets aside that’s it that’s all
Why cede the Chinese intellectual properties?
Perhaps they’ve agreed to build the Wall.