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.  

Magnolia

I loved her once, this girl who fell through Time:
She laughed at princes but blushed a ruby sky.
In dusk’s last glimmer, I saw her yearning
for a home that soothed her soul’s burning,
as she wore the panoply of stars in her eyes.

Magnolia, magnolia
the autumn winds are fair and mornings bright
Magnolia, magnolia
yours is the distant hope, mine a futile life.

I loved her once, this girl who longed to die:
Yet strange, I ne’er found such wit and fervent fire.
She spoke against monarchs and befriended slaves,
called the golden palace naught but a cage.
If only I could give her wings to fly.

Magnolia, magnolia
the branches strip bare before winter’s might
Magnolia, magnolia
yours is the truest heart, mine the cruelest fight.

I loved her once, this girl I would make a queen:
But an empire carved in bones and wrath
casts the longest shadow and loneliest path.
I loved her still, this girl who only asked for peace:
My fragile flower, my faraway dream.

Magnolia, magnolia
your once sweet fragrance has turned bitter
Magnolia, magnolia
still my heart cannot bear to see you wither.

Magnolia, magnolia
what agony, what ecstasy, brought your world to mine?
Magnolia, magnolia
Time ‘tis but a fleeting breath for two lives entwined.

 

(Not-so-loosely inspired by this series.)