Dr. King Had A Dream

My wife and I communicate quite differently. Last night she spoke to a group of girls. She distributed paper hearts and instructed them to write things they love on their heart. Then she told them, “The less temporal the love you listed, the more time you should devote to it. The more temporal the item, the less time.” She pushed them towards cultivating legacies that will outlive them, relationships that will benefit beyond their presence. Her advice was beautiful. Her delivery kind and full of life. Lyrical even. I attempt to convey similar sentiments to my students, but I do so by reminding them, as often as possible, they will die soon. “You will all be dead before you know it. You’re wasting away now. What are you doing today that is any different than yesterday?” Some students giggle at my goth-like pedagogical gloom. Others roll their eyes and pray / hope / curse me to fulfill my own destination sooner than later. My wife inspires. She caffeinates. She’s an Enneagram 7—the Enthusiast—with a need for pleasure and to avoid pain. I suck air out of rooms like a Hope Hoover. I’m an Enneagram 4—the Individualist—with a need for melodrama and a penchant for hyperbole. My wife: “Live forever with rightly chosen loves.” Me: “You’re expiring, even now, so don’t be stupid.” My wife’s name is Latonya, and people actually call her “La La”, as in a musical notation. My name is Kevin, and for a long time people called me “Hamster”, as in a rodent. She does not have any tattoos because she prefers to keep her options open. I tattooed a hamster on my leg in 2011 because I’m deflating anyway so why not paint the bag. She likes to dance and eat spicy Indian food and drive with all the dashboard lights flashing warnings because it will all be okay. I enjoy my couch and black coffee and walking pugs by creeks that smell of turtles because they’re heroic in their isolation. 

Read More

A Secret Sobriety

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The jig was up when my friend’s seven-year-old daughter whispered behind me, “We’re celebrating because Kevin hasn’t drank wine in a year.” Turning around, I saw my friend Mirinda (not seven years old) strolling in with balloons. I also noticed a cake had appeared on the kitchen counter while my back was turned. At this moment, another friend announced, “Happy birthday – or something. There was an email, but I didn’t really read it.” I knew then that my wife had announced to our church that I was one year sober from alcohol, a personal milestone I chose to celebrate in secret. She even asked on the way to church that night, “Are you going to say anything?” I shook my head. “I don’t see the point. But, if you want to, go right ahead.” I could tell she was excited about my first “dry-versary,” so I expected her to say something, perhaps during a post-communion lull. I did not expect a full-blown surprise party, especially with the very people I had consumed so much booze with over the past ten years. Except for my friend’s seven-year-old daughter. I never drank with her.

Read More

Lamentations for Today

This is a collection of laments I wrote for a worship service I led with a friend in my church. Modern worship is a bit too positive sometimes, but biblical worship makes room for disappointment, frustration, and mourning. Modern worship usually praises the singer as much as the Sung To, while these laments—written topically for those things that get us down —remind us that He’s God, we’re not, and that’s okay. Really, it’s okay. Even when it totally is not okay, it’s still okay. Or it’s going to be. The ship may totally go down with all of us on it, but it will still be okay. Okay?

ABUSE OF POWER
When those enthroned usurp
Sanctity from those in their care
And when the lowly seek status
In yet more enthroning –
Lord, have mercy on us.

THE AGE OF DISTRACTION
When deep-rooted wisdom is pruned by short-cutted data,
When the senses are dulled by the sensual,
When Creation is blurred by the created
And the created grow bored with Creation –
Lord, have mercy on us.

UNRESOLVED HOPE / UNANSWERED PRAYER
When we listen in chambers of silence,
When we search through tunnels that grow,
When we hope against nature, believe against science,
And stand firm in the face of a daunting approach –
Lord, have mercy on us.

BREVITY OF LIFE
When we count our days like apples
Dropping from the brittle branches of drought,
When a child goes with more unrealized tomorrows
Than remembered yesterdays,
When our bodies no longer carry or recall
Or agree to nourish our weight –
Lord, have mercy on us.

LACK OF PROVISION
When the cupboards we maintenance
Are as bare as brand new,
When the fields we tend
Yield nothing or less,
When a paycheck is the substance
Of things hoped and unheld –
Lord, have mercy on us.

APATHY
When I simply cannot be asked,
When tragedy holds harmony with gossip,
When I prefer screens to windows, sleek skin to whole hearts,
Pabst Blue Ribbon and pumpkin spice
To pouring out spirit or providing sanctuary,
When the nation, the state, the city, my people
Can all go blank-verb themselves –
Lord, have mercy on us.

IN ANXIETY / DESPAIR / DEPRESSION
When sleep beyond rest,
When obscurity be my bed,
When the locust devours my ties to the truth
And when I open the window for his return –
Lord, have mercy on us.

Read More

From Dust To

The Lord God, our Word, pressed round wild David,
Brought to bloom within the cathedral of Mary.

He is Spring reigniting—the glory of impossible
YES, a sapped ointment cooling the leprosy of NO.

He is instructor and extractor of self,
Plumb-line Thought and lush-dipped Feel.

Selah—my blood and marrow under chatty inked skin
Draw no distinctions, as no formal presence

Contains my name on His breath—sung
Beyond and before my family’s embodiment.

To live is Now and Then—Silent and Blistering,
Water in mooned cycles melting mountains.

You and me—Exhaled into dust each one—
So content claiming Genesis in the wind.

Read More

Too Ill to Title

Picture by Leonid Mamchenkov, Creative Commons License

Lord, I’ve been in 100% cotton pajama

Pants and shoddy emotions for three days.

My temperature sky-rocketed. My bed-sheets

Soaked salty around my lower-back and

Read More