The Words I Wish We Could Take Back

Indifferent – When you were gone, you were not here, but when you were here, you still were not available. Just get angry again! Do something already, so that at least I would have something – anything, to fight against.

Idiot – Why the philosophy of assuming the entire world is just a holding pen for idiots until they’re somehow proven innocent? Am I not part of the world? What then, does that mean for me, for your family?

            The one I will keep is “I love you.” You are the most painful, the most bewildering thing that life has smacked me upside the head with. But still I love you.

Still You Grow

And still you grow,
a flower in this forgotten ground
between I-75 and the on-ramp.
What kind of flower are you, anyway?
Most would label you a weed, and move on.
I noticed you only because of this stupid
traffic. “Crash: 4 miles ahead” announced the sign -
“Expect delays.”
 
Sigh.
 
You . . . well you’re not going anywhere.
Nobody would think of transplanting you.
In this parched, polluted soil, you are
an invisible wonder in plain sight
as the whole world passes you by -
and I would have too.
 
But still you grow.
Still you bloom
in this forgotten patch of earth,
yet remembered by God.

Searching

Daddy - can you hear me?
I’ve been listening for you, but
all I hear is thunder.
The thunder is yours, but the rain −

the rain is mine.
Can you feel the rain?
Drenching my soul.
Drowning my heart.
Is there a shore left for us

beyond this ocean, I wonder
daddy - can you see me?
I’ve been looking for you, but it’s dark.
Do you have a lamp to wait for sunrise,
or are there no more sunrises
left?
 
Daddy - are you out there?
All I can see are shadows
in the fog and I would search
for you, but where you are
I have learned not to be.
 
Daddy...
 
Daddy - can you hear me?
because I think -
I have just said good-bye.

Water

Water – flowing

through, washing

over, falling

on me.

 

I drink, I bathe, I swim –

in water. Yes,

 

water is life.

But I cannot grasp

it, I cannot grasp

God.

 

I plunge in my hands –

they come up empty, glistening

wet in the sun.

 

Clean,

but too small to encompass

the ocean, too

small to hold

You.

Spill Your Beans

Idea from lyrics “planted shards” in Andrew Peterson’s song “Just as I Am.” One of the few things I’ve ever written that makes an attempt at rhyming. 😉 


Spill your beans

Spill your beans

Spill them all the way down,

Down through your fingers

Till they all hit the ground.

 

Dry, dead and buried

What good can they do?

But the Gardner’s at work

In the soil that’s you.

 

Though it seems that your heart

Is just full of dead hopes,

These are the seeds

From which miracles grow.

 

So spill your beans

Spill your beans

In your heart filled with dirt.

This is the place

Where dead hopes find new birth.

I Have Seen

There are differing opinions and arguments about whether or not pornography is harmful or even good, from what I’ve noticed. All I can tell you is what it has done to me. In my own life, I have only found it to be something devastating and destructive to something I know God created to be beautiful and good, and that has negatively affected nearly every aspect of my life. 


I have seen a palace reduced to a shack –

stars burned to ashes,

a temple battered down to a cracked shell.

 

This I have seen.

 

You wouldn’t think that a rainbow

could be robbed of its color,

but I’ve watched it happen.

 

I’ve seen and believed illusions

that promised my heart’s desires

and then quietly drained my soul.

 

They showed me spray-painted coal

and I grabbed it, thinking it was gold.

They dazzled me with the lights of Hollywood

and so I traded my sunrise for midnight.

 

The possibilities of the universe

I gave in exchange for something less than dust.

I have seen worship turned into an agonized groan.

 

This I have seen.

This I have lived.

That

Recovering from any harmful habit or addiction is seldom a straightforward process. I wrote this one after a relapse, during the period where I was starting to realize what had happened to me with my addiction, and I was just beginning to think “this is not what I want to be for the rest of my life.” The experience that this poem describes has happened many times over the past few years, and while I now know it is not a hopeless situation, it can be terrifying and devastating. When in that place it feels almost impossible to remember that there’s a way out, without someone outside ourselves to remind us.


 

No.

It can’t be true.

I did not just watch that.

I did not just do that.

I am not –

That.

 

Wasted –

Is that what they call

this devastation?

Breathing is exhausting.

There are lead weights

on my feet.

 

That

Seems to be the one

constant thing left

In my soul.

Free

I remember a time when these struggles were not a normal part of my life. The poem below is describing those times when I was stuck in a dark place for a long time and did not know how to get out. But I knew that there were people who did not constantly exist in this kind of darkness, and appreciated like never before what a beautiful thing it was to live in freedom rather than despair. 


What a rich person you are!

To have your own mind

free, unfettered…

I’ve forgotten what that’s like.

 

Would you remind me

how to know the joy

of being

alive, once again.

Letter to a Young Addict

A few summers ago, I stumbled upon an article about a writing group for people recovering from drug addiction. My own struggles have not been with drugs, but I knew of no other group of people in the area who might even come close to understanding what I was experiencing, and so decided to join. The hardest part was just walking through the door, but after that it was like coming home to people who could understand without needing much explanation. We were all broken and messed up – but we were learning to heal, together. This poem is in response to the prompt “Letter to a Young Addict.”


You think this is the end of your life, but it’s not.

New leaves come on the trees every year.

Maybe it feels like you’re just stumbling through darkness,

But sunrise is coming.

You can’t live a whole year in a day.

Take this one moment and use it well –

Then worry about the next.

Don’t listen to those demons in your head.

Throw some air and sunshine on them –

They hate it.

Try smiling.

It will feel strange, foreign.

But it is good. So good.

And even when you hate yourself –

Thinking that you’re unlovable,

Know that you are loved.

Life is worth living.

So live.

Counting Forward

In the process of recovery and learning to forgive myself, I want to give up very easily. It comes, nearly always as a surprise, to discover once again, God encouraging me to try again, because He’s got me.


One step forward

then run backwards.

 

Kneel and pray

then back flip away.

 

Smile sweetly

Scream inside.

 

Give up

          Keep going

Give up

          Keep going

Lay down

          Push forward

Just quit already

          Push on

I can’t

          Says who?

Says me

          Try again

Too many failures

          Who’s counting?

Aren’t You?

          Fall seven times, get up eight.

          Fall seven times, get up eight.

 

          This is how I count.