Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ramble #6

The Trolley

What a collection of people we
waiting waiting waiting
and hoping for something
and of course the trolley
toy red passengers are
mostly people who stopped
playing a long time
or maybe not so long
ago especially the two
women cringing yet
staying with the swollen
raging primal hulk abusing
language of hateful hate
himself and especially them
while they walked who
could tell if coming or going
toward the woods and then
what on the trolley a woman
young no more than thirty with
her front teeth missing
could have been pretty once
what happened

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why is it so difficult to get the majority of major players in the most influential institutions in America to come right out and say and act on all that we know to be true about guns? The Virginia Tech tragedy was just the latest of many reminders that we Americans are allowing ourselves to be jerked around shamelessly by the National Rifle Association and by the people who allow their votes to be bought by that organization.

Forty years ago when a man went on a killing spree at the University of Texas in Austin and shot forty-five people from atop an observation deck, wounding 31 and killing 14 in addition to his wife and mother, whom he'd killed the night before, I was young enough and naive enough to think Americans would have had enough. I thought church leaders all over the country would say to their congregations, “We can and must stop this madness!” I thought it was obvious that we must make it illegal to buy and own handguns and assault weapons, guns that are made for the sole purpose of killing people.

In my naivete I was willing to concede that rifles made specifically for hunting should be allowed. I was confident that reasonable people would agree that the only guns people should be able to buy and own are those that are used in sport and in hunting. I thought a movement would begin with good people in churches all over America that would spread all the way to Washington and that the majority of politicians would be moved to pass laws that would make it illegal to sell or buy or own assault weapons and handguns. I hoped after Columbine and then again after the Amish school shooting that good people would rise up and insist. But not enough of us did, so here we are again.

We have never had a Federal ban on handguns in this country; but beginning in the Clinton administration, we had a short-lived assault weapons ban. Later, with a clear Republican majority in the House and in the Senate during Bush's first term, the ban was allowed to expire. I had hoped after the last national elections, that Democrats would get the job done; but apparently I am wrong again. Republicans, who have owned the gun control issue for a long time, have spooked many Democrats into silence on the issue. Many Democrats are clearly afraid to take a stand for fear of losing critical votes in the next round of elections. It's not clear to me why so many American are afraid of gun control laws that would make it at least a little harder for assault weapons and handguns to come easily into the hands of people who are predisposed to the kind of violence against us that we witnessed in endless hours of television coverage from Virginia Tech. I know what Karl Rove says, but that doesn't explain anything.

The National Rifle Association owns us, and it seems that not even our spiritual leaders are willing in great enough numbers to speak out clearly on the issue. I remember being urged by my spiritual mentors when I was a young Christian to ask myself a simple, straightforward question whenever I was faced with a moral dilemma. What would Jesus do? What he would do is definitely not one of the mysteries of the Christian faith. We all know what Jesus, Siddhartha Gautama, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Theresa would do about gun control.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ramble #1

Sunlight in a garden
kisses trees tenderly
not like in the city
where even roses
are too busy for intimacy

and caresses and hugs
aren’t available unless paid for
dearly and over time
like a mortgage
an unsecured loan
and even lovers avoid
commitment long term
kissing is avoided altogether
for fear of catching something
that wasn’t in the contract

Photographs are from Balboa Park's Reflecting Pool

Monday, April 23, 2007

Click on the photographs to enlarge them.
Ramble No. 5

Lilies and women are the same
bare sensual lines gradual no
screaming here softness defies
decay but can’t stop it finally
when moisture disappears in
mystery wrinkles come against
darkness inviting black and
white bolder than blushing
living color

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
Proverbs (ch. VI, v. 6)

Being always on the lookout for my photo-du-jour, I saw a busy little ant colony at the edge of a parking lot. I got the picture and sat and watched for a little while. Amazing creatures these ants. I went home and Googled to learn something about them. I haven't lost some of my teacher-habits.

Some of the things I learned in the Google search:

1. Ants may constitute up to 15% to 25% of the total animal biomass on the planet.
A. They are the most numberous type of animal (11,880 known ant species).
B. Their combined weight is greater than the combined weight of all humans.

2. They can carry 10 to 20 times their body weight. They work in teams to move extremely heavy things.

3. Ant brains are the largest among insects.
A. Mushroom shaped brain appendages have function similar to the gray-matter of human brains.
B. It has been estimated (by whom, the source didn’t say) that an ant’s brain may have the same processing power as a Macintosh II computer.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ramble No. 4This one is for Julian...when he is grown up.DREAM BAGS ARE MAGIC

Dream bags are magic
not so the bright light sun day parcels
which open only to stuff put there
by practical keepers of clutter
but open a dream bag
to the stars and moon light night meadow
where dancing over purple grass nymphs
and satyrs if you want them
offer guilt free whiz bang romps
on planets Jupiter and Mars
and ah yes Venus

Thursday, April 19, 2007

As I was getting out of my car a couple of days ago, the combination of light, color, and shape of this fallen leaf on the pavement arrested my attention. I didn’t move the leaf or change anything about it for the first photo. The sun was still low in the sky. I liked the reminder that nothing is what it appears superficially to be. The white strip indicates exactly where to park; but every square inch of it is unlike any other, the way every leaf is unlike every other leaf. Of course, I took all kinds of liberties with the leaf when I got the photo from my camera onto my computer.

trans·fig·u·ra·tion (trāns-fĭg'yə-rā'shən)
a complete change of form or appearance
into a more beautiful or spiritual state.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Any intelligent, reasonably sensitive person is moved by reports coming out of Blacksburg, Virginia, since the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus. The President made a visit and appropriately expressed shock and dismay as he offered words of comfort to those whose family members and friends had been killed. From all over America religious leaders have offered prayers. Jim Standiford, pastor of First United Methodist Church in San Diego sent a special e-mail letter to his parishioners and scheduled a special prayer meeting. Below is an excerpt from his letter:

“An incomprehensible tragedy like the shootings at Virginia Tech calls us to pray.

As the church, we are in the midst of the Easter season. Our worship calls us to hope in a living God, who has power and meaning beyond both life and death. Tragic violence, like the brutal ugliness of the shootings on the Virginia Tech campus, challenges us to find hope in its midst. Where it seems distant, we pray for God's presence and blessing.

We pray for the memory of those who have died, whose lives ended too quickly, with unspeakable violence. We give thanks for their lives, and pray comfort for their families.

We pray for the safety of the Virginia Tech campus.

We pray for those who have been injured, and for those whose sense of security is shattered.

We pray that students, everywhere, would be safe.

We pray for freedom from fear.

Our hearts raise prayer to God with an ache that words cannot name.”


My heart and my mind cry out with every sentence. His words remind me of questions I have been asking for the past four years. Where is the church’s dismay over continuing tragedies in Iraq? On the day the shooter killed thirty-two people before killing himself in Blacksburg, another one-hundred-and-ten Iraqis were killed by suicide bombers in Bagdad. Today, April 18, the death toll in Baghdad was one-hundred-eighty persons murdered. I don’t know how many others were killed across Iraq. The death toll of Americans in Iraq grows daily. More than a dozen have been killed in the past week.

Perhaps I missed it, but as far as I know there has not been a special prayer service in the midst of Easter or any other season especially to call God’s and the community’s attention to the violence our country has unleashed on Iraq. Are those people not worthy of the church’s attention in a special public meeting? The pastor has said, “Our worship calls us to hope in a living God, who has power and meaning beyond both life and death. Tragic violence, like the brutal ugliness...challenges us to find hope in its midst.” The pastor goes on to say, “ We pray for the memory of those who have died, whose lives ended too quickly, with unspeakable violence. We give thanks for their lives, and pray comfort for their families.”

Pastor Standiford urges us to pray for the safety of the Virginia Tech campus. How often has the church come together in the past four years to pray for the safety of the neighborhoods, the cities, of Iraq and Afghanistan? He goes on to “pray for those who have been injured, and for those whose sense of security is shattered.” He says, “ We pray that students, everywhere, would be safe.” Presumably, that includes students in Iraq and Sudan and Somalia. At least that sentences shows some concern for God’s children who aren’t lucky enough to have American citizenship.

The pastor says, “ We pray for freedom from fear.” My God! I am overwhelmed with grief at my part as an American citizen in sustaining an atmosphere of fear in the lives of every person in Iraq today. I pay taxes. My tax money is used for all kinds of wonderful things that benefit me and my neighbors, but some of my money goes to fund the war. I am complicit, and I don’t like it.

My heart cries because my church has not risen up at the Easter season or any other season to say, STOP! Stop the war! Stop inflicting suffering. Oh, I am well aware of the excuses being giving for not stopping. The President and others who supported him in starting the war say the carnage will be worse in Iraq if armies from outside that country suddenly leave. They say it as if they have forgotten that they were the ones who began the war. They say it as if they expect the rest of us not to remember that they deliberately lied to Congress and to the American people about their reasons for starting the war. They say it as if we are not noticing the tragedies inflicted on innocent Iraqi people every day that the war goes on. I don’t see how it could be worse. It is probably true that the insurgency will become a declared civil war. Perhaps it will be a civil war that might have come even if we had not invaded Iraq; but I must continue to believe that diplomacy would have been more effective than war in solving Iraq’s problems and in addressing the growing threat of terrorism in the world.

The pastor ends his litany of sorrows with, “Our hearts raise prayer to God with an ache that words cannot name.” Amen. Amen. Amen

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ramble No. 03

No special cute house was hung
no formal invitation ever went out
to encourage the finch couple
who came again this year to nest
in the hanging pot of red geraniums
in the corner of my back porch
after they’d come from wherever
they live the rest of the year
and after they did whatever birds do
to make eggs break open finally
ugly nakedness mouths gaping
babies turn almost instantly
into beautiful creatures who learn
how to fly away in no time at all
so I think of my porch as a stable
for the orange breasted finch
who apparently thinks he’s Jesus
three-ounce male who takes umbrage
with my presence on my own porch
which I worked for and paid for myself
there’s a miracle here somewhere
I am blessed to have been chosen

Monday, April 16, 2007


Attention: President George Bush, Vice-President Cheney, the majority of the members Congress, The National Rifle Association, and all the people in America who insist that the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution means that citizens must be allowed to own and use assault weapons.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Old Centaur

The old centaur
Chiron, spectacles
askew on a nose
no longer sleek
desperately wanting to be heard
not just noise
but words
with meaning.

Equus below
stands still, shanks quiver,
conquering nothing any more
not even fear
the only thing left now to teach
is how
to grow old.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


This morning
as I walked to my car
parked in the most ordinary place
not expecting anything out of the ordinary
not expecting anything,
I found a button on the sidewalk,
probably dropped from a child’s dress
as she walked to school.At the time,
in that first instant,
the button seemed astonishingly beautiful,
impossibly red,
like, I guess, that moment
when I saw red
for the very first time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Hamlet was only half right.
To be or not to be
Is the question
Not so much about self slaughter
As self revelation.

“Tell them everything you know,”
My Father always said,
“And they’ll know more than you do.”
Keep the mystery.
They Can’t take that away from you.

Keep them guessing.
Make them wonder.
Show enough to fascinate.
Tantalize with fleeting glimpses.
Never more than intimate.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The audience roars,
jumps to its feet,
applause goes on and on

but not forever.

Don’t forget
in the middle of any adulation
that it ends
however impressive the performance.
You’ve got to have something else to live on.

Didn’t you learn anything from Shakespeare?

Monday, April 09, 2007


A knot of fear
he said
just to the right of my heart
and down a little
sits there

not of anything in particular

no face on it
but if it had a smell
it would be of
midnight wind across a dark swamp

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A note yesterday from my good friend Father John Baker:

Everyday is a celebration and everyday involves us in birthing and dying.....the process stuff of life.

Most important are the choices we make and taking responsibility for these choices.... wherever they lead....

bottom line...our walk is about stewardship...of ourselves, others and mother earth.

Resurrection is not an event...rather a process that we experience every moment...if we notice. 

So Easter is not an event to which I pay much attention .....working at dying and birthing seems more central to Christ's is good to stop and simply say...thanks for all we are and celebrate everyday as if it is second to none.

At our conception, and prior much was put in place to equip each of us to make our walk here...for that let us say get on to the choice part and the responsibility part...

Keep sparkling..

Tuesday, April 03, 2007




It is best to wear a poem the way
My Grandmother wore gloves on Sunday

Pulled on slowly with reverence left hand first
with palm up then turned down
fingers stretching to the tips of leather
with some help from the other hand
tucking and pushing between the fingers
before repeating the operation on the other hand
and all this without really looking
until both can be held up just slightly and briefly
for admiration before settling into the business
of getting to church on time.