golden thread

You said You made foolish
the wisdom of the world
and I see, all around me, this mad race
to leave immortal imprints:
social good, politics and technology
to concoct hollow philosophies:
sealing God out of our closed-system
universe, like a vacuum,
trying to make sense of life without
the One who breathes spirit into dust
knit bones and flesh and soul
puts purpose in our being
what is teleology without theology?

we ask, what is God?
and the blasphemy of men shout
but at a sight of Your glory
the Psalmist asks,
what is man?
that You are mindful of him

yet You have loved the fools
redeemed the rebels
there is none who seeks You
but here is an alien grace:
You pursue, You purchase, You perfect
You wrestled with Jacob for a night
and met Moses as a friend
You loved Israel like Hosea loved a whore,
faithful to the faithless
You made the denier a martyr,
the chief of sinners, a prince of preachers

and You came after me:
it must be I can’t comprehend
the wisdom of God, that You would
make this wretch a vessel of mercy
to strip away all the empty things
so I might know Love that reached
from eternity
through the Garden, the Flood,
the Exodus, the Exile
through silence and blood, You never leave,
though all of us should have died
grace is a golden thread,
like a genealogy of outlaws crowned
in Christ

The First Love Story

Hark! The herald angels sing,
while wise men ask, how can it be?
That this is your immortal decree:
The Word that spoke us into being
would take on flesh to be an offering.

What Child is this?
The great I Am, the eternal God,
born to live a perfect life.
Emptied Himself of heaven’s glory,
born to be a holy sacrifice.

O holy night,
the advent of redemption’s drama,
when Love unraveled space and time:
a God came to dwell with sinners,
a Savior came to win His bride.

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

Merry Christmas!

Wildfire and Whiskey

You waltz through the world,
like wildfire and whiskey with
maskless soul unfurled.

You know I don’t curse,
and that my only scandal
is dancing with words.

You say I’ve got wings,
but now we’re in free-fall and
I’m not good at dreams.

 

(I’m alive, and I really will try to write more regularly).

Seasons

your hand in mine
and a million miles
of sand and waves and sky
swirl around your smile.

the smell of autumn
with roasted coffee beans
and smoky haze swelling
through gold-crimson trees.

sticky, cinnamon rolls
warmed near our hearth
while our ice-chipped boots
bite the snow and earth.

naked branches blossom
in rosy pink and white
we dance down the sidewalk
and all the world is bright.

summer song

the world’s still cocooned in sleep
as golden light sails through my skies,
and I’m wrapped up messily—
half in sheets, half in dreams,
painted by your wistful smile.

it smells like lemonade and gasoline,
when the hot winds come alive.
I don’t dance, I protest
but she’s got a sunset-colored dress
and there’s witchcraft in her eyes.

sparks fly up, as if flames believe,
there’s life beyond the bonfire.
we tango, half in sand, half in sea—
and my world bleeds into hers
as crimson burns the dusk to night.

Quietly, She Builds the World

Poetry is oft for lovers, rarely for mothers.

Theirs is the thrill, the mystery, the romance, I suppose. They command our devotion, with a drama of ecstasy and despair. Some strange charm beckons us in the star-crossed tale and the daring plunge of two naked souls.

But what do we write of the ones who fold the laundry, steam the rice, and frighten the ants away? What glory do we dismiss, when we relegate her to nursery rhymes: the ones who bore us to life, and in times of thunder, hold up our skies?

Quietly, they build the world, when the world is not watching.

My mother, she builds

with thick skin and iron fingers

She never wears mittens, juggling pots with bare hands. She is not delicate, as fearless in the face of man’s mockery as she is with boiling dishes. Let them laugh, she says, why spend your life saving face? We choose whether their words wound us or not.

Grown in the soil of her country, she will always love its food, but never wear its masks. Who will judge you, when Heaven has pardoned you?

as a romantic and a realist—

She once danced for farmers in the rice paddies as dusk shimmered away, back when Mao was god. Her limbs moved with childlike grace, a brief light in poverty, a defiant laugh in the dark. Beside her candle and banned books, she dreamed of being a rural schoolteacher. Now, she visits suburban homes and American libraries, teaching calculus to the fearful and probability to Ivy League-dreamers. Still, she labors with compassion, and knows in silent wisdom that the rich may be poor in spirit.

like Sherlock to my Watson

She fires every gardener she hires for costly incompetence. She cannot bake sweets, but solves puzzles instead. What sort of grandmother will you be? I lament. Oh, I will teach your children about Calvin, not cookies. She forgets, sometimes, how to convert her height to feet and inches, and the order of planetary orbits. But communism was thin in the education department, and she has deeper things to ponder. She does not hear, sometimes, satire and sarcasm, because her habit is bald sincerity. She might offend you, or she might inspire you.

She lives good stories, and I try to write them. And sometimes, she wears funny hats.

in sorrow and splendor—

She is there when my world cracks and catches fire. Though she knows, in all her logic and reason, that tears do not fix broken hearts or dreams, she lets me weep. And when I cannot believe the kind, empty words of men, she speaks, like a songbird piercing hollow cathedrals. How splendid, when the strong in truth walk beside you in suffering. How steady and sure, the promises of God sound in her voice, whispered into the summer night.

Quietly, she builds the world

when she lays new dirt in the spring, when she fills the kitchen with garlic and soy, when she questions my sanity in all the right moments, and when she takes herself lightly, serious only in what matters most.

Quietly, she builds the world, yet teaches me—in triumph or in tragedy—not to love it so. But to store up in heaven the treasure of my soul.

Sonder

Hello, host of headlights
chasing me down the highway,
like golden fireflies peering
through the dusky night.
Souls on the same road,
yet anchored to another world
and another, invisible life.
Where are you going, strangers?
I wonder what you believe in
when the world goes to hell,
I wonder what dreams you chase
and what party jokes you tell.

Goodbye, freeway friends,
who will only ever be
bright
dots
in my rearview mirror.
But I wish you well
as the rain spirals down
street lights blur
the radio plays
I’m homeward bound
and I say a prayer
that you might find
the Grace I found.

 

Gospel to Glory

An angel chorus sears the night

From the hollows of eternity

Hallelujahs from a host that longs

To gaze upon the marvelous mystery.

God Incarnate emptied Himself

The Word becoming fragile flesh 

So men bereft of faithful deeds

Might shed their sin for righteousness.

Praise Him who ransoms Adam’s race

The One who crushed the serpent’s head

The fulfillment of Israel’s hope

In Whom grace and holiness met.