The Horns Caught My Attention

I saw the crazy guy inside the 
Capitol Rotunda with his tattoos, 
Daniel Boone cap and Viking horns

and it were the horns that really 
caught my attention.  The guy?
He’s a looney-toon, 32-year-old 

actor from Phoenix. The horns? 
I guess symbols of white, male 
aggression, violence, supremacy. 

I am about 50% Scandinavian and 
while I have never known very much 
about my roots, I have mythologized 

what they are and therefore who I 
am, but, actually I’m thinking about 
the Scandinavia I hear about today — 

world’s happiest people, environment-
ally aware, peace loving. Back to 
the horns. Symbols of savagery. I 

am the son of Gust. I guess that 
would make me a Gustafson even 
though I was told my name was 

Hanson before some ancestor changed 
it to what it is today for reasons
never explained. While I love my 

long-deceased father, I actually 
like my baptism name better — 
child of God, brother and friend 

of Jesus; you know — Jesus, the 
Middle-Eastern, dark-skinned guy 
who is the wonderful window into 

the universal, inclusive, grace-
filled Spirit of peace and love. 
Actually, I think my hornless 

father would have liked that.
Probably my long-gone wooden-
shoe wearing Dutch mother, too.  

The Day After Yesterday

I read the meditations and the poems
     in my inbox;
I started the coffee;
I sat down on the big ottoman of the big 
     chair the Chocolate Lab knows as hers
     and where she slept after her breakfast;
I petted her;
I reclined putting my head on a big arm of the big chair; 
I stroked her big, beautiful, brown body;
I petted her head and she kissed my hand.
Only then, only then, did I have the courage 
     to go back to the computer and 
     revisit the horror known as yesterday.

Countering Fear*

To counter the present permeating fear
     he said that while it isn’t all that clear, 
          it can’t be anymore ineffective
than the spewing of all the invective.
     And so, when encountering anyone
          he will say behind the mask, here is a daughter/son 
— Beloved Child of God — divinity to laud. 
     And he will bow humbly in that 
          permeating presence of God. 

*idea from a meditation by Henri Nouwen


everyday we make choices —
do I go up, do I go down
do I go all around?
sometimes those choices
are very, very hard
to make
because things could break,
will break, have to break.
you can’t get at what is inside
without breaking the seal;
if the cancer is there,
it has to be removed
before it consumes
and destroys
to leave it
would be unethical,
immoral — unless,
unless, unless. yes,
there are choices
to be made.
life is not easy;
there are always
you can’t get the
truth without
cracking the code;
the egg is in your
do you get the yoke?
well, of course not.
you can’t get the yoke
without cracking the

Early Winter — A Triolet

Winter can’t make up its hoary mind.
It throws its sleet; it tosses its snow.
Why can’t it be a little more kind?

Winter can’t make up its hoary mind.
Can’t it just toss one wintry kind?
Instead, it huffs, sneezes and blows.

Winter can’t make up its hoary mind.
It throws its sleet; it tosses its snow.

Maneuvering Our Way*

It’s the new year according 
          to the calendar, and from all 
                   the well wishes and enthusiasm 
                                     heard from the talking 
                                         heads on the evening of the 
                                           last day of the now old year, 
                                                such sounds sound more 
                                                 desperately optimistic   
                                                 than hopeful. They are 
                                              both good with one running 
                                            more deeply as a stream run-
                                           ning rapidly to the sea — the 
                                       other a veneer with a thinness to 
                                    the raucous guffaws with a hint 
                                of urgency to singing auld lang 
                              syne. Can we get through the 
                       Advent candles and twelve days of 
                    Christmas, the nine candles of Hanukkah, 
                 the seven candles of Kwanzaa, the glowing 
              lanterns of Ramadan all blazing without 
            plunging to the darkness of the bottom 
         of a now dead coral reef of life ex-
       tinguishing such faint light? 
     Can we, with patient hope, live 
    in the thin places between the 
   physical and the spiritual — con-
tent for now -- seeing, touching, 
         tasting the appetizers of the 
                  of it all? 

*with appreciation to James Pennington for his comments  
on "thin places."

It Was an “Oh, Okay” Kind of Morning

He said, watching his wife rise from the bed,
“Where are you going?” “To take a shower.”
“Why don’t you let me shower first and then
take the dog out and you can sleep as long
as you like. Just tell the girl to go back to
sleep for awhile if she gets up.” “I have an
eye appointment.” “Oh, okay.” He got up
also and headed to the upstairs shower.
Then the dog got up and looked around
for someone to take her out. He could hear
her run up the stairs looking for him. He got
out and saw the dog waiting for him at the
bottom of the stairs. “Oh, okay. I’m coming.”                
While the man put on his clothes, so many                   
clothes in the winter, the dog sat by the slid-
ing door looking for bunnies or perhaps
wondering just when she would be able to
tinkle. “Oh, okay, okay. Here I am, but go
slowly; it’s icy outside.” She didn’t have to go
so badly. She took her time; sniffed at the deer
pee, sniffed for some rabbit poop, stuck her
nose in the rabbit tracks and finally peed.                  
Wanting the dog to move along, he said,
“Oh, okay, okay. Enough.” Then he made the
mistake to get her to move toward the house.                   
“Oh, okay. Want your dinner?” The large,
strong Chocolate Lab shot across the snow,
onto the icy cement, to the door. He held the
leash but prayed as he grabbed for dear life
the handle of the sliding door. “Okay, okay,
okay, girl!” After he fed the dog and gave
her treats, his wife wondered how it went
with the dog and asked if he wanted some
coffee. “Oh, okay and oh, okay.”

Russian Bugged Brains

Some insidious Russian bug got in their brains
hoping to cause a wreck of the American train
as it chugs along albeit ever so slowly
with an incompetent conductor only.

With sound and fury signifying nothing
these Republican legislators in the offing
(motivated by being deathly scared)
promise the loser as king to be declared.

Ah, the king with no clothes
has a severely out-of-joint nose
with which he sneezes on reformed bugged brains
and continues to act more and more insane.

And so we brace for January 6th,
feared even by Moscow Mitch
to see just how many Russian bugged brains
futilely strive to derail the American train.

Surround Me — A Journey Along the Via Negativa*

Surround me, mystics, in this time of turbulence.
I don’t ask that you help me escape. I don’t ask 
that you rock me to sleep. I ask that you allow me 
to see you for the self-emptied, Christ-filled persons 
that you see yourselves to be. Show me the way from 
ego to unity with all — all humans, all nature, all 
creation in utter compassion. Help me when I leave 
the house, get in the car, venture out and encounter, 
yes, encounter rudeness, anger, entitlement, class 
and ethnic privilege, reckless abandonment of concern 
for others. Help ease my belligerent indignation, 
which masquerades as “righteous” indignation, but, 
which only fills my heart with anger, thus upsetting 
the perfect unitive balance of body, mind and spirit — 
each’s internal trinity. Anxiety permeates the air 
along with the virus. Everything wrong is up and 
everything right is down, down, down. Help me give 
up everything that divides me into a camp opposed 
to other camps. Help me to see the humanity in others, 
the me in them, the Christ in them, the Christ in me.  
Help me see the singularity of Love desiring to break 
free of the false identity. Help me to be one, see one, 
live one with the One Holy Trinity of sacrifice, mercy, 
justice, peace, compassion. Help me see and be a fellow 
traveler, a soulmate to everyone and everything I meet. 
Help me breathe free in the universal company of human-
ity. Help me be free. Oh, and by the way, do you think 
I could have the comforting, compassionate, soothing, 
wise and wonderful voice of Thich Nhat Hanh? No? Oh, 
all right. 
*idea from long overdue visits with the mystics