to a mouse

Thank you.
In your curiosity
and gentleness you
showed me
Life can be simple.

One need not strive
for much
More than
some choice hay
and a welcoming
bedfellow

Or a friend to get
the hard-to-reach
spots behind
the ears

And, don’t be shy
about a midnight snack
or, an argument
easily made up
with a quiet sit together
on the stoop.

mouse photo

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by the monument, two

I watched a squirrel
groom her fluffy tail
then scratch
hyperspeed, her hind leg
thwack-thwack-thwack
against her side

We were alone
by the monument, two
mammals feeling the sun
on our faces
in February

Holding our breaths
that the winter had
fled for good
– for now

prayer

A smile between strangers.
Watching the robin hunt
for insects,
folding three loads of laundry, dropping
boiling water
into the teapot.

Writing in your journal, listening
to your spouse, sharing:
a meal, a ride,
Your load.

A cool breeze that cuts
through humid air.
The clack of boots
on asphalt. Going,
and leaving.
Habit and impulse.

Pray without ceasing –
Let this journey be
Your Prayer.

on safety nets and waiting

waitingThe waiting times
I’ve heard
are lessons
to learn – so far
I’ve learned:

uncertainty is hard.
It wears at the
netting that holds us
Above that infinite
chasm of ultimate
un-knowing.

I scribbled down the poem above in my journal a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to reflect on the ruthless anxiety that has spread out and seeped in over the past, seemingly endless few weeks. We were waiting to learn about job opportunities, grades, financial provisions, and family health concerns. We were waiting to see how much we’d have to change to accommodate all the changes we couldn’t control. And just as the pieces started falling into some sort of order, my car broke down – and we’re waiting for rides and parts and final bills.

Waiting is inconceivably difficult. You have no central control. You make decisions and ease transition by doing an awkward, breathless, side-stepping dance around the resolution itself.

I went through a period of waiting before where I practiced repeating:

Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.*

I don’t remember what I was waiting for. I only remember the verse. It’s a brilliant phrase for us, the waiting ones, because it gives us back a sliver of control: You have to actively respond to a command. You get to take a deep, heroic breath, hold your fist out in an intimidating pose toward the empty air in front of you and press on. You are legitimized in your struggle by the implication that waiting does take strength and willpower. Your internal voice that incessantly nags, “What are you whining about?” gets a hand held over its mouth and, for the second you’re reflecting, you feel strong again. You feel ok.

So you repeat it like an incantation. You redirect your waiting. You wait for the Lord to show up, God-willing, and work toward believing that the rest of it will show up, too.

*Psalm 27:14

image source: Waiting by Dr. Hugo Heyrman

Lao by Kenn Reagle

She calls me babysan
I am only nineteen years old
I don’t even shave
The skin on my face is soft
Lao giggles when she sees me
She introduces me to her friends
They call me babysan

I see her working in the fields
She offers me her lunch
One small ear of corn
I sit beside her
I eat her corn
What a strange war
At the moment we are winning

Lao points to her friend
Her name, “Minoi!”
“Minoi!” I say
She giggles
They speak
In a language
Incomprehensible to me
Minoi means darling
They call me babysan

I watch the fall of Nha Trang
On television in Lancaster, Ohio
I grieve for Lao and her friends
I won my war
They Called Me Babysan

KENN Reagle IS A FRIEND AND FREQUENT CUSTOMER AT THE COFFEE SHOP WHERE I WORK. HE’S ALSO A POET AND A GREAT CONVERSATIONALIST. HE RECENTLY GAVE ME TWO OF HIS POETRY BOOKS; LAO APPEARS IN NO ONE CALLS ME HERO, A COLLECTION OF POEMS ON HIS VIETNAM WAR EXPERIENCE.

Psalm 30:2

It takes some strain
to bow to humility
to ask for Help means:
I’ve really reached my
end.

So when I ask, know I’m
Desperate: I’ve run out of
time, excuses, plans.

I called to you –
Oh God! I called.
I asked for help with:
All the pomp & circumstance
of a General in Battle.

Bring your guns, ready
your forces. I’m
puffed up even in
my weakness. The commander of:
My Circumstances.

You were just reinforcements.

But instead,
Oh God! You laid me down
demanded light activity in
the nearest seaside town.

And the unrest, you
promised, would lose its
un-: I’d find the peace of
a Cicada at its end.

And the chaos would be
music and the nagging thoughts
a rhyme. And the world’d still spin around
us both, but we would dance
in time.

Lord, my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. – Psalm 30:2