Defending the Country

Old, white guys with pot bellies
Wearing fatigues from an Army
Surplus store and carrying lethal

Weapons are on their way down
To the border with Mexico to
Protect the US of A from women

And children who pose a direct
Threat to the security of the US
Of A. They are accompanied by

Legitimate soldiers ordered by
The (p)-resident as an election
Stunt and now costing millions

Upon millions of dollars as the
Old, white guys and the soldiers
Stand around in the barren

Desert pricking their fingers on
The barbed wire to keep out
The dreaded desperate des-

Perados, meaning the poor,
Desperate walkers who are
Still about a thousand miles

From the US border and the
(P)-resident has forgotten all
About it and is on to some

Other diversionary tactic to
Protect him from the damn-
Ing investigation by the

Special Counsel who just,
As a “By the Book” kind of
Guy, is actually working to

Save the country.

My Mother Told Me

My mother told me that
she told my dad that my

dad was being too hard
on me in the back lot as

he tossed balls to me as
I tried to hit the balls

back as he, in some im-
patience, told me how to

do it. He was right but
went about it much too

harshly and my mother
got it right and the next

day my father told me
he was sorry that he

was being too hard on
me, which I thought was

a really big thing for a
father to do and it was

one of the few times I
was grateful to both

my mother and father
at the same time.

Ho, Ho, Ho, Marching for Mueller

The pundit said something like,
“In light of the President’s
firing of the Attorney General
and probably unconstitutional
and likely illegal appointment
of a person to do the President’s
bidding, people have reached
their ‘In case of emergency,
break glass moment,’ and are
once again taking to the streets
nationwide.” About seventy-five
stalwart souls stood in the
wintry weather in little, old
Holland, MI and marched in
concert with millions of others
across the land in support of
the special counsel. And here
is the poetic part, as read
by the same pundit, quoting a
protest sign held by someone,
somewhere, “Ho, ho, ho, hay,
hay, hay, Mueller ain’t goin’

A Ship in a Bottle

The novelist wrote about a painter
and the painter spoke of painting
a ship in a bottle into a painting

with two little boys. The ship in
a bottle was a metaphor. I never
thought of that before — a ship

cooped up in a bottle. I just
thought about the arduous task
of putting all those pieces to-

gether in a glass bottle. I’m
imagining with extra long
tweezers as I never have

witnessed the process. But now….
Ships aren’t meant to be sealed
up in a bottle. Messages are

meant to be sealed up in bottles
and tossed into the sea for a
voyage of many, many nautical

miles till someone finds the
bottle, opens and reads the
message. Ships in bottles just

sit on desks and go nowhere
except maybe in the mind of
a little boy or girl staring

at the ship in the bottle and
imagining that he or she is
sailing the seven seas, in

which case, I think that
might be all right, in fact
really good.

Looney-Tune Land, Election Day, November 6, 2018

He said that once the vote was taken that it is the duty of all citizens to follow the duly elected leaders. Up until that moment, I cautiously had skirted any discussion of politics. I simply had sat in the patient’s chair and nodded affirmatively knowing he and I were polar opposites politically and religiously.

Despite warning signals going off in my head, I asked him if he was aware of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights which guarantees the right of peaceful assembly to protest the actions of elected leaders if those actions are believed to be in opposition to the very constitution those leaders swore to uphold.

He said there are violent demonstrations in the streets and people are rioting and looting and smashing windows.

His office is located in a small community where the closest thing to a riot would be loud cheering at a Friday evening, high school football game.

Incredulous, I asked him where those riots are taking place.

He said all over.

I sat and listened to a highly educated (albeit in a very specific and narrow discipline) person utter paranoid gibberish.

I said that I had been in many, very large, very peaceful protests since the election of 2016 and the only violent protesting that I knew of was in Virginia by white supremacists and I followed that by saying that some, meaning the private militias, on their way down to the border might engage in violence also.

He looked at me like I was a lunatic.

I was in his office, on his turf, and it would have been fruitless to continue.

I left realizing that some of the Deplorables have the prefix Dr. in front of their names and letters of academic achievement following their names.

What’s that about an educated fool?

Later in the day my wife and I entered a church building of a congregation I had once served many years previously. The church is located in a small community of almost exclusively white residents. My son once referred to it as Beaver Cleaver Land.  My wife and I are white, senior citizens — pretty harmless looking actually.  I write that because of what then took place.

We were looking around at the new construction. I noticed someone in the office and I was making my way through the office area when a man emerged from an office and asked, officiously, if he could help me.

I just wanted to see the building and not engage in a discussion of the past so I said I used to live in the area and had heard the church had gone through extensive renovation and I was interested in seeing it.

My wife and I were given the bum’s rush. He didn’t attempt to throw us out but as we left the office area, he stood barring the door and told us we could view other parts of the building.

Finally, after being treated dismissively, I did state that I was a former pastor, but the person turned on his heels and went back into the room where the staff was having a meeting.

Later, I called the church and spoke to the staff person who treated me and my wife rudely. I quoted Matthew 25 about “caring for the least of these,” and offering hospitality in the name of Jesus regardless of who walked through the doors. He said, in not so many words, that, in light of recent attacks on congregations (meaning the anti-semitic attack and shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh), he thought my wife and I might be terrorists and that he saw it as his duty to protect the property and whatever staff might be on site.

I made the suggestion that if the staff was concerned about people wandering through the office area while they were in a meeting, they could lock the door to the offices, put a sign that the staff was in a meeting and that the visitor should ring the bell for help.

I just shook my head. I asked my wife if she would like to go out for a drink. She sighed and said yes. I said, “Let’s make it a double.”

Welcome to Looney-Tune Land.

The Multi-Musical Trinitarian Jesus Would Love the Music

They went through a million dollar plus building program
     in addition to bringing the organ up to date, all built,
remodeled and reconstructed to the glory of God except
     they somehow forgot about Jesus and the ministry of
the Sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes and the 25th
     chapter of Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus talks about
how if you visited the prisoners and cared for the sick
     and clothed the naked, and fed the hungry, in so doing
you did it to Jesus; I’m thinking that somehow got lost
     but to the congregation’s credit, the music program was
better than ever, at least, in recent history and, at
     least, that’s what everyone said, so why in the name of
God and in the world wouldn’t the congregation get serious
     about who they really are and just say they are a recently
renovated music hall and leave it at that and if you have
     to, to save face, say it is to the glory of God, whatever
god that is? Wouldn’t you think that would be a whole lot
     more honest? I mean, really good music halls with a first
rate organ don’t just grow on trees. As with anything, it
     takes money and lots of it. Apparently, they are really
happy to have a place for perfect pitch singers and in-
     credible acoustics all, and get this, in the name of Jesus
to boot.  Does anyone know if Jesus was a tenor, baritone
     or bass? Being Jesus, probably he was all three, even at
the same time — Trinity’s harmony within himself. Should
     we call ourselves Trinity Church? Daddy sang bass. Mama
sang tenor. Me and little brother would join right in....
     That's four. Well, four and no more. Jesus would
understand a little mix up in math but never in music.


My Mother’s Cohort

My mother’s humor was scatological.
She would tell bathroom jokes and curse up a storm.
My father was just the opposite.
He never swore and clean jokes were always the norm.
I’m the child of both those folks
and I came out somewhere in between
when it came to cursing and to telling jokes.
One of her favorite ditties,
“Here I sit broken-hearted,
came to…”
wasn’t her best
but then off to another ditty she would flit;
and probably you can guess the rest,
and my dad would tell her,
“Jeanette, give it a rest.”
To which she would give a ribald, and bawdy retort
and they were off to the races of a sort.
On second thought, I have to revise what I said;
In jokes and language, I’m really more my mother’s cohort,
which has been a problem for me, a minister.
Most often I would manage,
to watch my tongue not to create a stir.
but I have to say,
since retirement, my tongue
has often gotten in the way.
“I can’t believe you are a minister
when you talk that way,”
they would say,
and I would say, “Retired today,
tomorrow and everyday,”
with a few expletives thrown in along the way.

Optimistic, November 6, 2018

I’m going for an eye exam today;
I’ve got glaucoma in one eye,
but the treatment has been optimal
so I’m optimistic about what the
ophthalmologist will say.
It’s also Election Day
and I’m voting today.
I have to say
that I have been listening to pundits
who have a lot to say
(Nervous Nellies, they)
about Election Day.
And for what its worth,
this is what I have to say,
“Ultimately, everything is going to be okay.
It may
not be a perfect outcome today,
but, we aren’t going to let fascism steal the day.
This isn’t Germany back in the day.
We are a glorious, young, multi-ethnic country
struggling to find our way,
but we are struggling and that tells me
that we will find the way
reinforcing our glorious representative
democracy along the way.
“What’s that you say?
I’m not seeing twenty-twenty?
Which vision is it you say —
literal eyesight or politics of the day?
May…be, may…be not.
We will just have to watch the results
at the end of the day.”