Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

This is a poem I have been working on for a few years that I have finally been able to complete. It was first inspired by a Saved By the Bell episode in which Zach Morris writes a love poem to Kelly. It then grew and changed from there.

Disclaimer – This poem is an amalgam of various people I know or have met who either are experiencing or love someone who is experiencing an addiction. It is not about one person in particular.

To: The Straw in Her Cup

Dear Straw,
You suck.

I hate to break the ice so abruptly
But the thought of seeing you next to her
Is a bit hard to swallow

I thought she was done
Playing with tools so plastic and so hollow
When she was down to her last straw

See, it took her 90 days to get your taste out of her mouth
90 days til she could no longer feel your tingle on her tongue

Leaving you was like waking up from surgery
She was sore and tired, but better
Except her stitches were sewn in the curves of her smile
And she still can’t seem to stretch it
Like she used to

Sometimes the healing hurts worse than the disease

Now she hides her face again
It’s what she calls recovering
She says she’s just withdrawn
But I can tell that she is suffering

I’ve seen that look in her eyes before
Both predator and prey consuming herself
Until she is both empty and satisfied

And she tells me a little bit of you won’t hurt
But you taste a lot stronger than she is right now

And when she reaches for you, she reaches with both hands
So she can’t hold on to both me and you
And I don’t have the strength to hold on to her
While she’s holding on to you

You’ve been her anchor through so much pain
But she forgot that anchors are designed sink
And anchors aren’t meant to move or grow
You poured liquid down her throat when she was drowning

So now she’s twelve steps from leaving you
And twelve steps away from me
It’s hard not to think she’s choosing you over me

I wish I was angrier at her
But I think I understand what it’s like
For the only thing you really want
To be the only thing that destroys you
Over and over and over

With her they call it an addiction
But with me they just call it love

There’s no rehab for loving an addict
Trust me, I’ve Googled it.

So I’m stuck writing a letter to a straw
Because that straw is all that stands between her and relapse
And you’re just letting it happen

Knowing that every drop you offer her
Is one less molecule until she’s quenched

And with every ounce
With every sip she takes from you
I want revenge

I drink straight from the cup now
At least that way
I can choose how much of this I take in


Dear Superman,

I carved an “S” in my wrist waiting for you
Placed it on my chest
You know I bleed red and blue

I’ve looked over ledges of buildings
Longing to jump
Longing to fly
Even if for just a moment to be like you

Fate has been good to you

You’re the hair with the front curl kind of guy
Always gets the girl kind of guy
Saves the world kind of… I
was never so lucky

I never could change the perceptions of the masses
Just by taking off my glasses

Now, I’m not blaming you
But I need you to know that
I am fighting a war between good and evil
Just to get out of the bed in the morning
There is a cosmic battle
Each time I look in the mirror
And I see what’s missing

You don’t know what it’s like
To be your own kryptonite
To know that the most dangerous element
Of destruction is your mind

Mind – racing faster than a speeding bullet
Although at times I imagine
That they are neck and neck

Don’t tell me it will be alright
Don’t tell me I can change

Your powers weren’t built to protect
Someone like me
Only to destroy me

Someone so human
They aren’t worth saving

You can save the world
But I am galaxies
Supernovas bursting and black holes
Tearing the light from inside of me
I am in constant ebb of stability and eruption
I am terrifying up close
But beautiful from a telescope

You don’t have the vision to see me
Maybe you should put your glasses back on
And get your underwear back inside your pants
For goodness sake

Why is it that every time I’m around you,
It feels like I’m the alien who’s invaded your world?

That somehow I don’t belong.
I’ve been pulling my hair out
Trying to find the answer

See, you don’t know you’re a villain
Until someone else is declared the hero
Until you learn that someone else is super
And you’re not

Maybe you actually are doing some good
But I’ve seen you step into the telephone booth
And anyone who can change that quickly
I don’t really trust

I’m not saying that I’m perfectly right
Or good or just
But at least I’m not pretending

At least my clothes aren’t a costume

And the pain that I experience
Lets me know that I’m still breathing
And you haven’t stopped me yet




When you receive a broken gift
Do not ask for the receipt
Do not look for the warranty
Or the exchange policy
And whatever you do,
Do not try to fix it.

For our first anniversary
You gave me an antique pocket watch
The face was cracked
And the hands didn’t move
They just kind of shook

It was embroidered with a silver lining
And when I opened it up,
It was engraved with the words, “Until the end of time.”

You said you were sorry
The engraver took longer than expected
And there just wasn’t enough time to fix it

I wanted to say that even a broken watch
Is right twice a day
I wanted to say that it will remind me
Of our moments together when time stands still
All I said was, “I love it.”

I still carry it with me
And I still forget the time’s not set
So about once a week,
I’m either very early or extremely late for something


When you first told me you were broken
Your face was cracked
And tears formed out of the canyons of your eyes
Said, “Body don’t work like it should.”
Said, “Body be enemy.
Body be sick.”

You said you were sorry
Time won’t look
Like the dreams we passed to each other in letters
Like the future postcards we forgot to send

I wanted to tell you
You were the only dream
That’s ever kept me awake at night
I wanted to tell you
All I ever wanted out of time was you
All I said was, “I love you.”

You were never broken.
It was time that broke.

So when we said our vows,
We knew what they meant.
In sickness and in health
Wrapped around our ring fingers

And when we said our vows,
We knew there would be nights like these
Sleepless nights
Tracing paths around the parking lot
Until the pain passes
Lying on bathroom floors
Your hands didn’t move
They just kind of shook

You were brave
I was scared
So I held you
Wiped the hair from your face
And I called you a “badass”

We laughed because the only other option was crying

We rode clouds laced with silver lining
Tattooed engravings of forever on our souls
Slid down hourglass sands and called it “the beach”
We received time like a borrowed, broken present
Because, at any moment, time was all we had
Time and each other

So we take time
And grasp it in our hands each day
Then, careful not to stare at it too long
We place it back in our pockets
Reach out for each other’s hands
And walk

“When I Die”

Posted: 07/13/2014 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , ,

For the past couple months, I have been a chaplain in a hospital, and I have been confronted with the realities of death. As I sit with people at the end of life or family members and friends who have tragically and unexpectedly lost loved ones, I have contemplated my own thoughts on death and dying. Below is a poem I wrote as a way of processing these experiences.

“When I Die”

Everybody wants to go to heaven
But nobody wants to die
Lord, I wanna go to heaven
But I don’t wanna die

So I’ll long for the day when I have new birth
Still I love living here on earth
Everybody wants to go to heaven
But nobody wants to die

When I die, I want you to laugh
Like a fall out your chair
Feet in the air
Deep, deep belly laugh
I want the memories of our play
To curve a smile on your face

I want you to sing
Maybe slightly off-key
And listen for the dissonance
Just know that it’s ok if you never sing on pitch again
And it’s ok if you do

When I die, I want you to cry
And catch each tear from your eyes
Bottle them up, and when there’s enough
I want you to use them to water our garden
So you can see that life springs from grief
And that hope is more than belief
You can taste it, and watch it bloom

When I die, I want you to eat
Maybe some blackberries
Because you love blackberries
And we never kept them in the house
Cuz they cost too much
But don’t worry about that now
Just let your hands and tongue get black and blue
From something sweet for once

When I die, I want you to rest
And then I want you to wake up
And then I want you to rest
And then I want you to wake up
And then I want you to rest
And then I want you to wake up
And then I want you to rest
And then I want you to wake up
Until you can take this clay cup
And drink the fray up
Until you don’t have to rely
On trying anymore

And I still want you to laugh

And when I die,
I want you to dance in the kitchen
I want you to play in the park
I want you to sit in the sunset
Watch the stars light the dark

I want you to fight
I want you to scream
I want you to hope
I want you to dream

I want you to love and be loved
To take and to give

Cuz When I die, when I die
I want you to live
I just want you to live

If I just spoke… like… this…
Then maybe you’d think that I was reciting a poem
Maybe if I sped up my words just a little bit
Or if I slowed         it              down
Em-pha-si-zing each syll-a-ble
Maybe you would think that I had something intelligible to say
Maybe if I become righteously indignant about some cause that you have never heard about
Like the declining wolf population in Montana
Or how the prizes in Cracker Jack boxes just ain’t what they used to be
Or if I used some really complicated, nonsensical metaphor about dragons
That you’ll never understand
Then maybe out of pity, or passion, or confusion
You would snap for me

 But, as it is, this is not a poem

You see, because poetry is philosophy
Hand-scribed like Socrates
Played out like Odyssey
Or Shakespearean tragedy

Poetry is psychology
It’s the Rorschach test
Of the human condition

It’s Frost, Angelou, Yeats, Thoreau
And the “Nevermore” of Edgar Allen

Poetry is science
A hydrologic cycle
Cuz it flows out like water
Makes you shiver like ice
And surrounds you like vapor
Thick when you breathe it in

Poetry is religion
Calling God to God’s attention
Finding faith in frail conditions
In heartfelt cries for repentance
It’s the psalms of desperation
And salvation

Poetry is when truth
Makes love to imagination
And birth out to action

Poetry is a dragon
Yeah, that’s right! A dragon.
It spits fire out your throat
Sets you to flight
And it’s only purpose is to protect the greatest treasures of this world
Not of gold, but love, grace, and human dignity

Poetry is revolution
Breaking chains of institutions
From the quiet hums
To the “We shall overcome’s”
From the beat of a march
To the beatings of people

Poetry is the reflection of sacrifice
It’s the mirror of a martyr
And I am not dead yet

So until lifeless I lay
Over an open page or an open stage
I’ll continue to proclaim

This is not a poem

When I was a kid, I was told that someday
I could be whatever I wanted to be
And then by the age of 23
I was in debt
Out of shape
And under-paid

So no one told you life was gonna be this way

Now I am stuck between childhood
And being grown-up
Between doors I want open
And doors I want shut

But I am not finished, not yet
Putting pieces together of an incomplete set
Got my head above water but I’m getting feet wet

Yet I’m almost, but not quite
Like a ghost, or Bud Light
Set my sights on the future
But I cling to the past
Prone to wander and squander my time
It’s so fast

Cuz that kid who was me
Wasn’t that long ago
Growing up, from a pup
Til I reached this plateau

Although, I still have the audacity to dream
But I have to pay the bills
I still have the faith to hope
When the world stands still
But I can’t stand still
Cuz I’m filled up with passion
To pursue my desires in a fiery fashion

But you know, the job market, the way that it is
You can’t just move out the house and start having some kids
So I need to float around, try a couple careers
Find what makes me alive to survive through the years
I’ll just climb up the ladder, get out on my own
Earn a check, pay my dues, maybe pay off my loans

I’m not afraid to settle
Just settle down
Strap on my boots
Shake the dust from this town

I’ve got my head in the clouds
And my feet to the fire
Got my back to the wind
Hands stuck in the mire
My entire life waits for the turn of the page
Bunking up with my parents, making minimum wage
And they say it’s a stage, just a phase to go through
For the moment, I will own it and I’ll try to make due

So if I could go back and speak to me as a kid,
There are 3 things I’d tell him to help him through it

  1. You’re never too young to make mole hills out of mountains
    Cuz what seems big now
    As the years get counting
    Will be dwarfed by the forces of time, change, and distance
    And your eyes will grow wise as you rise through resistance
  2. There will come a day when sweatpants and a hoodie is no longer a viable daily wardrobe option. Embrace it while you can.
  3. When you do grow up
    Whatever hand you are dealt
    Please never settle for anything else
    Than to be what you were destined to be

What do I do?

I speak absurdities
Cuz the Word’s been transferred in me
Entered and it stirred in me
Bird by bird it recurred in me
Til they heard in me
The upside-down world
Painted thick with anomalies
Like the first shall be last
And the last shall be first
And the least in the kingdom
Is the greatest on earth
And the only way to live
Is to die through rebirth

I speak silence into noise
And noise into silence
Speaking truth to the peace
And peace to the violence

I speak tears through the fears found in tense waiting rooms
In the “Her time was too soon’s”
Over laden ashes and newfound tombs
With abandoned brides and addicted grooms
In the midst of the ruins in the peak of the strife
With the Spirit a-brewing, Speaking dry bones to life
Sharpened words like a knife
Til they cut at each part
Enters in like lament enters into your heart

I speak encounters on mountains
Countering accounts of mounting doubters
Different-bodied estates will awaken these powers

So I speak with the masses
As their stories unfold
Mosaic pictures of God
In each testament told
And it can’t be controlled
Cuz the Spirit will use
The oppressed and distressed
To condemn and accuse
The abusers maintaining
The stained status quo
Reaping harvests of truth
For the lies that they sow

So I speak disruption
In the vein of resistance
It’s the burden of burning
With passioned persistence

I speak possibility
In the face of hostility
In the imagined reality
Of what the world now could be

I speak the hope of “one day”
One day
As if I only work on one day
As if the Word only works on Sunday
As if Monday’s a fun day to do as I choose
Well I’m choosing to preach now with nothing to lose

And so I preach
Through water, fire, famine, and fear
Down the barrel of guns
At the end of the spear
I will preach the speech of liberation
From Wall Street to Main Street
To unpaved plantations

I will preach behind the pulpit
On the steps of city hall
I will preach until it breaches
And it crumbles down walls

I will preach on the streets
I will preach to the birds
I will preach til the Lord
Wipes me clean of my words
And only then will you know what it is that do

When I’m worn and I’m weak
When I no longer speak
Well, I’ll be preaching then, too