Colossians, Poetry, Reign of Christ


Invisible He reigns, A King.

But how can a king

Be invisible?


He is the Visible Image.


We mash up Word into pictures:

Shepherd, Guide, Savior –

And King 

— there it is again.


We have no king,

But "Christ is the

Head of the church."


If a savior came now,

would we call him President?

Chief Executive Officer?

Artistic Director?


Might she be Principal?


Speaker of the House?


Who do we take seriously,

The way they took a king?


What would it take for us to see?


(Thinking about Colossians 1:11-20)


Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Photos, Poetry

The examining room

Sam in the backyard last week From this angle, you look just right: 

fluffy, glossy, long and lean. 

Panting, but that's normal, 

or at least usual. 

Until it isn't.

I pet you and fur flies. 

Is this your illness? 

Your nervousness? 

The time of year?

I don't know.

You're losing weight. 

I have to really touch your sides to know;

your heavy coat hides your frame 

just as it hid the lump on your leg.

You listen to the voices in the next room.

That dog is Bilbo Baggins, 

and you are Samwise Gamgee. 

Your human parents, Bilbo's and Sam's,

are worried, sad, perhaps despairing.

The vet is an oncologist,

a word that sounds like worry.

We wait. 

They are discussing football now, 

the doctor and Bilbo's father. 

Or maybe just college. 

But come on now. 

We are waiting to hear 

what's next.


Sam has a histiocytic sarcoma on his left hind leg. He started chemo today. We're hoping to get some period of remission. Right now, he feels fine and is sporting a cute bandage on the chemo leg. Let's hope the chemo doesn't disagree with him! 


The Lilacs

Lilacs 006 They're too early, the lilacs,

giving off their scent before mid-May.

One year it was nearly June,

the turn of the new century,

my summer in the hospital.

The first week was confusion

and floor plans and schedules

and being late for chapel

because I got off at the wrong floor

and couldn't find my way back down.

At the end of the week,

I stood in the backyard

looking up at the blossoms

lavender and white and deeper purple

and undertones of pink.

I sat on the swing like a little girl

and breathed in the beauty

heavy and sweet

filling my head with dreams.

Did they ever smell more vivid?

Lilacs 005

That summer I misbehaved.

I smoked in the treehouse

and danced at a club

and stayed in bed all Saturday

staring at the ceiling.

In the hospital I prayed 

over tiny babies 

and hopeful mothers

and trying-to-be-forgiven saints

and eaten-alive sinners.

At home, the lilacs went by

the grass grew wild and sharp

and filled the air when cut,

a different weight than lilacs.

The scent of summer, not spring.

When the lilacs bloomed that year

I didn't know who I was, quite.

I wanted something, 

maybe me, whoever that was, 

vivid and sweet and pink and white.

Lilacs 009
Ten more years of lilacs, 

and I still go out and smell them.

I sit on the swing and dream,.

discovering something more

as I lean into their fragrance.

Mothering, Poetry

Make It Better–a poem for Mother’s Day

This is one of mine, written last year, hopefully worth repeating as they are on my mind today.

Make it Better

When I think of God as mother She has the darkest skin

Black coffee, licorice, bittersweet chocolate

The skin of Eula who carried me, who rocked and changed me,

Of Catherine who stood me on a stool where I mixed boxes of Jiffy Cake 

In a bowl, flour everywhere, messes wiped up magically:

Her broad nose, the Great Mother, Her strong arms and capable hands

Kindly guiding when we go astray, Her deep voice raised not in anger

But in a song that calls us home, where a kiss will make it better.

Eula and Martha Sept 5 1961

(With Eula at Virginia Beach, Sept. 5, 1961) 



Sometimes it's hard
to love one another,
To love into the foibles
instead of around them.

Mine are uncountable;
Unaccountable, too.

I leave the lights burning,
Turn up the thermostat,
Slip off my shoes anywhere at all.
I turn on televisions then walk away,
Forgetting, the sounds white noise
Underscoring my life.

It must be hard.

I have more yarn than
I could ever knit,
Projects begun, put down,
Why I loved the color
Or the texture

To love each other transcends forgetting.
We know and care but know the truth.
He told us to love so others can know us–
Know him–
It's a mandate, a commandment,
A rule for living,
Loving orders.



Mary-Martha-Lazarus  When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11, NRSV)

How do you keep quiet 

when a man comes back to life?

(Do you believe a dead man came back to life?)

When it all seemed impossible,

all light and air withdrawn,

that's when we heard breathing.

No one could have survived.

Could they?

No one.

But we heard breathing. We heard it.

We thought we heard it. 

When we breathe, really breathe,

our chests rise as our lungs expand.

Oxygen fills us.

We live.

He lived.

They didn't want to hear it, 

to know it,

didn't want people to know.

They wanted to push the air out,

flatten him, take away the life–

the unexpected life–

the thing we couldn't believe,

the thing we couldn't imagine

that made us believe.

Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Love, Poetry


Heartbeat  Lub-dubb. Lub-dubb.

Our hearts go along





(even in their madness)

Lub-dubb. Lub-dubb.

I always love the same kinds of people

(even in my madness)

–and a dog is similar–

the ones who you can tell

need something

but they don't say it

not quite.

Lub-dubb. Lub-dubb.

You try and read them


no stethoscope defines





(there is no stethoscope)

for love.

Lub-dubb. Lub-dubb.

And when you miss a beat

when something 





(a beat is missed)

to get the pattern back's

not easy. 

Lub-dubb. Lub-dubb.

It takes a shock

and maybe

that's where we started





Lub-dubb. Lub-dubb.