• The Castles, the Tower, the Tree, the Branches

    • The Castles, the Tower, the Tree, the Branches
    • Prologue
    • Castles in Air
      Hope that is held is not hope.
      For who hopes for what he already has?
      But if we take confidence in what we do not carry,
      with grit, we wait for it.

      The whole world waits expectantly
      for the reveal of the sons of the Lord.
      The invisible, the ancient, the first born.

      For in Him, each instrument was composed.
      In atmosphere & dust, evident & unseen.
      We groan within ourselves, waiting
      for this transfusion:
      the retreival of our bones,
      the rescue of our bodies.
    • Act I
    • A Tower in my Heart
      "I will ascend to heaven.
      I will raise my throne above the stars of God.

      "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
      I will make myself like the Most High."

      So let us build for ourselves a city;
      a tower whose top will reach into heaven.
      Let us make for ourselves a name.

      "I will raise my throne.
      I will make myself like the Most High."
    • A Thief Comes
      Seven angels with seven bowls, clothed in linen,
      clean and bright, bound 'round their
      chests with shining sashes.
      The first, on my skin; a sickening sore.
      The second into my rib cage,
      drawing blood like a buried man.
      The third down my throat, and the fourth upon my feet;
      every step searing me. Blackened and pierced, I
      cursed his name who controls these deaths, and I
      did not feel remorse.

      The fifth, on my eyes; my kingdom darkened. I chewed my tongue
      cursing my stings and swellings; I did not repent.
      The sixth down my great well and the seventh into my lungs;
      and my city, my tower were snapped in three.

      And I saw heaven unfold.
      And I saw a white horse;
      it's master with eyes like flames, and a name which no one knows.
      He wore a robe dipped in blood, a sharp sword from his tongue,
      treading the wine press of the wrath of the Almighty.
      And on His robe and on His thigh, a name:

    • All That's Left
      ...I knit together coverings,
      exchanging fig leaves for clean hands.
      I shove thorns and thistles down my throat.
      My names and towers are blotted out.

      Futile thinking, foolish heart
      filled with every wicked thing.
      Having eyes of adultery,
      Having a heart trained in greed.

      Born a creature of instinct,
      a ship that cannot help but sink.
      A dog returns to it's own retch
      as I come back to feed my flesh.

      A polluted spring; a poisoned well—
      I grin and wink and think evil.
      A dried-up lamp that flickers out—
      my corpse bringing a joyful shout.
    • Act II
    • Begging the Tree
      Help me, Lord! My God, save
      me, according to Your unfailing
      love. Open up your eyes and see the
      desolation of my city.

      To rescue,
      to release,
      to intercede:
      Love, unfailing.

      "Adopted children
      whose hearts have grown weary
      will gain new strength,
      and mount up on eagles' wings.

      "Get yourself up on a high mountain,
      'O bearer of good news.
      Lift up your voice, do not
      fear. Say to the city,
      'Here is your God.'"

      To listen, to hear my need.
      To soften hearts, and wash me clean.

      Your only son, an offering
      to be my iniquity.

      To satisfy all of my debt.
      To sacrifice. To raise the dead.
    • Up from the Dead
      Through His body,
      this body of death—this body enslaving me—
      has been released, crucified, buried,
      and brought to nothing.

      This glory
      (this newness of life, these limbs),
      this fresh identity attached to me
      is alive. Growing up from the dead.
      An instrument of virtue.
    • Surrounded by Wolves
      "Do not purchase gold or silver
      for your money belts,
      or a knapsack for your travel,
      or even two coats, pairs of shoes,
      or walking sticks.

      "Cure the sick, lift the dead,
      know the unknown,
      cast out evil. Freely
      you were given, so freely give.

      "See, I send you as sheep surrounded by wolves;
      so be sharp as snakes and pure as doves.
      When they hand you over, do not worry what to say; for
      it will be shown in that instant. It is not you
      who speak, but the spark of your source in you

      "who cures the sick, lifts the dead,
      knows the unknown,
      casts out evil. Freely
      you were given, so freely give."
    • Act III
    • For the Branches
      "Carry them in Your house,
      that they may knit together as we are.
      Make my great gladness abound in them.
      Do not pluck them out of the world.

      "Set them apart in your promises.
      Come like a violent rushing wind, and
      set the good news upon their tongues for
      the work to which they are called, in You.

      "As You are surrounded by Me,
      and I surrounded by You,
      unite them in us, that the
      world may trust our harmony.

      "(The) glory which You granted Me I give to them.
      Place them with Me where I am.
      As You are surrounded by Me and I surrounded by You,
    • We Watched
      "Why are you worried?
      Why does doubt weaken your soul?
      A phantom has no flesh and blood
      as you see.

      "You are witnesses;
      you are covered in
      victory from on high."

      We saw Him lifted up.
      We watched a cloud
      carry Him out of sight.
      We became witnesses.
    • Infinite Light
      I carry my king's heart inside my heart; in my body.
      My heart of stone has been replaced with a pulsing,
      glorious dwelling of infinite light.

      I am already inculpable because of the word which has been
      whispered to me. Persist in Him, and He in I. As the offshoot can't
      bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the fountain spring, so
      neither can I unless I remain in Him.

      If I rest in the shelter of the Most High, I'll abide in the
      shadow of the Almighty. He will petition the Father, and He will
      deliver another Helper for me, that it may be with me
      on and on; that is the counselor, the Spirit of truth.

      I have come to know and rely on the affection which my
      redeemer has for me. The one who prevails in love remains in Him. If we
      honor one another, His love is perfected in us. These things He
      has spoken that His joy may be in me, and that my joy be complete.
  • Small Small Seeds

    • Small Small Seeds
    • To Rest
      Bring your milkjugs and tin cans filled with coins. Bring your cowbells & claps. Bring your stained glass and dark wide spaces with stone & marble patterns of glowing gold. Bring your beards & unwashed hair; bring your wandering-in-poverty (with gardens, and hand-made drums).

      Bring your barstools and paintings, hung-over musicians in windowless, backlit halls. Bring your corrugated tin roofs and squeaky doors, your vines wrapping around white crosses as the rainforest crawls around concrete walls with cut-out, missing glass.

      Bring your Ivory robes on blackened skin, your muffled songs & swaying organs with gold pipes, and chipped paint on heavy doors. Bring your snakes in baskets, your hand-on-the-forehead screams and weeping wails of tounges dressed in ties and slacks. Bring your dirt floors, sweat, and bare dancing voices echoing off thin white walls. Bring your head-dresses & black/white starch holding beads & string.

      And our light will become a fire; kindled like a burning flame.
      And his glory will become a fire, and his holy one a flame.

      And it will burn and devour our thorns & briars in a single day.
      It will be as when a sick man wastes away.
      And the rest of the trees of our forest will be so small in number,
      that a child could write them down.
    • He Takes Away the First to Establish the Second
      You made him (for a little while) lower than the angels.

      You Lord laid the foundations of the earth, and the
      heavens are works of your hands;
      they will perish, but you remain.
      They will become old like a garment,
      you will roll them up,
      and like a garment, they will also be changed.

      Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.
    • The Whole World Fell
      We had been cutting the earth for weeks, stooped over, sticking to sack-like shirts with the necks drawn out, collecting dust and feeling heavy in our backs.

      We held once-steady grips that made mutiny of our prodding, shooting matchwood to the far side of our wrists. The kinked spades made our bones flap each time we scratched a cobble, but we kept slinging them across our chests.

      And when we looked up we grew afraid. Every wedge of soil - the shards of planks, the cracked, split rocks were, in their speed, flung straight up for days. Each clump was held up by the next dangling a pillar of dirt & muck so long as we kept eyes to the clay.

      And every item had come unstuck and begun to drop.
      We gave in and waited for our tower to end us.

      But all the elements rushed past, as if we made no difference. They struck the ground and kept plunging through, pulling the earth with them. We were suspended; even weight was missing.

      On the other side of the fresh silence we could at last make out
      a luminescence.
    • A Green Dress
      Eva Meurier in a green dress. But I’m not watching her.
      I’m doing my best to unite all the fragments of
      the underpainting that haven’t been capped.
      I wonder why I’m spotting what’s
      kissing behind her fresh skin?
      And why wouldn’t her composer make sure
      to acomplish the new all-at-once?

      Why would he leave traces of primer
      for me to catch sight of?
      Why would he want to unveil her past pigment?
      Why not preserve the old or perfect the new?
      Is she supposed to be being blocked in like that?

      Eva Meurier in a green dress. But I’m not watching her.
      I’m doing my best to unite all the fragments of
      the underpainting that haven’t been capped.
      Of course she must be more fitting in green.
      But why do I want to palette-knife-
      scrape each blameless brush stroke
      to study the original chops?
    • I Have Shown Myself to Those Who Did Not Ask
      I am those–that branch, that wild shoot. I had
      darkened eyes and a bent back,
      closed ears and clumsy feet.

      The cultured limbs could have once been bent like twine
      and tied tight & curly.
      They were hardened and deadened and splintered off,
      leaving only a scrap of the source.
      Whole branches were broken, snapped, cracked, and split,
      so I might be slipped into that slit of stock.

      The roots pull the boughs up out from the ground.
      Who will ascend to call them back down?
      And how will the cause of cause come down to us?

      The roots pull the branches out from beneath the ground.
    • You Go Away, and You Will Come to Me
      A little while, and I will no longer see you.
      Again, a little while, and I will see you.
      After a little while, the world will no longer see you.
      But I will see you.
    • When Men are Dead
      There is a great cloud surrounding us.

      They conquered kingdoms, they shut the mouths of lions,
      they quenched the power of fire.
      They escaped the edge of the sword; they were made strong.
      They received back their dead.

      And all of these, having gained approval,
      did not receive what was promised.

      They were stoned, they were sawn in two.
      They went about in sheep skins, in goat skins,
      being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated;
      wandering in deserts and mountains and caves
      and holes in the ground.

      They saw the promises and welcomed them from a distance.
    • What You Bind is Bound, What You Lose is Loosed
      It is binding weeds in bundles while gathering barley in the barn.
      It is a small, small seed that grows into a tall, tall tree.
      It is ferment hidden in three pecks of flour, salt and water.
      It is a merchant selling all for one found pearl.

      It is every type of fish in a dragnet, drug up on the beach
      (where the good are kept in baskets and the bad are brushed aside).

      It is a treasure in a field - found and hid again, then paid for.
      It is a landowner giving the last the same as the first.
    • Cotton
      I hear your voice.
      For now, just the harmony.

      The sounds and pauses, the shifting pitch in the words.
      The changing pattern of loudness and softness.
      It helps me understand one from the other.

      I used to listen just as long
      to any language as I would my own.
      But now I prefer my first tongue.

      I am beginning to see which syllable comes next;
      when a second word has begun.

      I’ll speak as a bird sings;
      I have been given a song.
    • The Milk's Gone Sour, but Apples are Still in Season
      Sorrow over our dead doings, infinite placement–
      the whole return to life was mother’s milk:
      good for growing bones, but there was never any fruit in it.
      After all, they all used to use it to blow bubbles
      and gurgle persuasive words.

      But it was demonstration of the power
      of the ghost of God that gave their faith rest...

      ...And they still did speak, but now it was
      wisdom in a mystery–the hidden wisdom.
      It is hard to explain, since we are dull of hearing.
      Muttering the truth in love, we are to grow up.

      Love: with a bright affection, a good small voice,
      and a sincere confidence.

      Love: with humility and gentleness, persistence,
      sympathy, and unity.

      Love: forgiving each other, as we are.
  • The Potential to Fill

    • The Potential to Fill
    • Seventy-Seven
      You kept my eyes from closing.
      I was too troubled to speak.
      I thought about the former days;
      the years of long ago.

      I remembered my songs
      in the night; my heat mused
      and my spirit inquired.

      Then, I thought,
      “To this I will appeal:
      the years at the right hand
      of the Most High.
      I will remember
      the deeds of the Lord.
      Yes! I will remember
      your miracles of long ago.”
    • Hope
      He was the word before that word filled a single ear.
      Before that seven-point Roman face on a
      rice-paper page gave me hope, he was hope.
      He was in the world, walking until his feet were
      just as sore as mine.
      And when he passed I was so busy
      trying to avoid all the filthy outstretched hands
      that I never saw him weep.

      Look how the whole world has gone after him!
      And if they keep quiet, the stones will cry his name!
      They never saw the dirt left under his fingernails from their feet.
      I never saw him standing there,
      long after her fragrance faded from that shirt.
      And as I fall asleep in his arms, I can’t feel my shallow love
      piercing him again, and again, and again.

      I was everything he wasn’t,
      so he became everything I was.
      Shallow love made deep,
      and the space between us is
      the length of my outstretched arm.
      He overcame the world to make sure
      I could find my way back home.
    • Autumn
      Oh, the loneliness of invisible love!
      How I wish the manifestation was as
      steadfast as the source.
      I stretch my limbs up to the sky and hope;
      I can see it in my mind–and how I love
      watching the light in your eyes,
      your delicate freckles dancing around each smile! (but then I’m still replacing him)

      I’m so small (just barely sprouting out from the earth),
      and I already have more distractions than a tree has leaves.
      They make him hard to see, and as they rustle about
      in the breeze, I think it funny that
      such tiny green things can pull me down!
      I sway in the wind he made.

      One autumn day, those leaves will be dead enough to fall.
      I will be left naked and weak.
      But all that is left will be about to come alive.
    • Go. Now.
      Awake, ‘O sleeper, and Rise from the dead!
      But take it from me–that light, that life
      that’s beaming inside you
      won’t be content kept behind
      a windowshade; or a lamp,
      or the deepest grave.
      That restless, burning light
      will beg to pierce the night,
      like a child into the rain:

      Jumping, rejoicing–puddle to gloomy puddle–
      making sure that every drop
      crashing to the earth has a chance to splash
      back into the air where it belongs.

      But aren’t we all like raindrops?
      Sitting in this puddle, waiting to evaporate?
      Say! Perhaps along the way we could
      seep deep into the earth,
      find some lonely root,
      and help that starving flower bloom.
    • Darkness (And the Light to End It)
      It started with a shattering; just outside the open door
      of the room of glass.
      His blown-glass jar had been knocked off the ledge,
      and the creation–scattered into billions.

      The-one-who-broke-the-glass grinned
      and got a birch broom to whisk it all away,
      saying, “I’ll take the pieces and cast them out
      before they slice you like a horned snake
      that bites the horse’s heel.”

      The gaffer stooped down in the dirt,
      and gathered several filthy from the heap.
      He cut his fingers as they closed around
      the sharp, silver edges in the sea of glass.

      He took the broken to his house.

      The gently sparkling specks dissolved
      with his blood and other broken bits.
      The batch, he floated to a window pane
      and set inside a stone.
      Each time he came close,
      he recognized his dim reflection.
    • If Not Miraculous, Then...?
      You carried me across the ocean on six months’ whim.
      I thought I had something to prove, and so, pretended sympathy.
      In my head I gave my life to going back (to serving you).
      I drifted for two years talking about it.
      Sat in the car on the interstate...wept and pleaded and prayed
      for you to let me leave. But nothing changed.

      Your will is like water–steadily dripping, gradually wearing away
      at the hardened earth. Perfecting and carving glorious
      caverns that echo your name.

      You laid life in her womb after seven years effort
      (‘O what rejoicing! What noise, for you!)
      Six months later, we lay fretful and shivering after the ultrasound.
      Too much liquid in that tiny brain.
      We laid hands on her belly each day; wept and pleaded and prayed.
      six months thereafter, the baby was born–
      the solution still in him. Nothing had changed.

      You brought her to me (twenty-three years treading water).
      By the fifth month, I had decided to wed.
      I prayed for your will, and you drove her away.
      I’d imagine and wonder what love was mine.
      Wept, and pleaded, and prayed for
      the empty to end. But nothing changed.
    • Obey, I Say!
      I am a thornbush in Lebanon, sending to the cedar for marriage
      while waiting for a wild beast to trample me.

      “This word endures!” I burst out with a twice-shouted
      (to offset the half-hearted)
      cheer. “We greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible!”
      (and as I proclaim this I think, unobtainable)

      If all flesh is like grass, and it’s glory, the flower
      (the grass withering and the flower falling away)–
      how do I clean the stains from my knees
      that wear holes in my jeans, and scrape scabs?

      So I make moneybelts which do not wear out in my mind,
      while leaving myself to the moths.
      I am spending my days telling children
      to give up belongings. And nights–
      scheming to follow them close,
      and gather their dead droppings for myself.
      I’ve taken my lamp to meet you, sure;
      but with no spare-oil flask.
    • New Things
      “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields–
      they are white for the harvest.

      “One died for all–therefore all died,
      so we might no longer live for ourselves.
      All this from God, who reconciled
      himself to us! That we might become
      the righteousness of God in him...

      “The old things pass away. Behold! New things come!”
    • Absence Becomes Color
    • On the Day I Loved You the Least
      The moment of feeling before absence becomes color.
      the top of my fingernail against your skin
      (barely, the very brink of the back of your arm).
      I don’t let myself believe it yet.
      Turn toward your taking in and giving out.
      I still haven’t opened my eyes.
      We’ll find mornings together.

      We’ll wrap them ‘round our fingers, and listen carefully.
      these little rings turn to soft-point needles;
      knitting us together with seed-stitched,
      stockinnette, and garter knots.
      They’ll teach us how it feels to stretch and give.
      We’ll find love together.

      We’ll watch that love create
      a whisper of us in our children’s faces.
      We’ll breathe hope & sacrifice,
      and pray it passes through their lungs.
      While our bodies exhale, their love will rise.
      We’ll find always together.