Porcelain Thoughts

I sit here

on the toilet

the porcelain throne

wondering,

how many seconds

minutes

hours

days

have I spent

doing just this,

sitting

contemplating

wondering

what to write

having brilliant

and I do mean,

brilliant ideas

only to watch them

flush down the drain,

some folks get anal

(you see what I did there)

others get concerned

the color

shape

even smell,

becomes important

like ideas

that I have

their color

shape and yes, smell

and I think of time wasted

just sitting here

not doing

not writing

just defecating

pushing out the toxins

and then it hits me,

writing poetry

my brains way

of pushing out the toxins

that pollute my thoughts

and so here I sit

writing this poem.

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Stories are Everywhere

I’ve been sitting here, staring at that blinking cursor and blank white screen trying to figure out what to write about. Do I write a piece of prose, a bit of nonfiction or fiction, do I write a poem about a tree? There are millions of ideas that float across my mind and like a school of fish they slip past quickly before I’ve had any chance to grab even one. Stories are out there and stories are within, the trick is to start digging away and just write what you see and damn the consequences.

Stories come from our everyday experiences, those seemingly small moments that we don't think are very important but when we begin to unpack them we see something of ourselves. Yesterday I had one such experience, a connection made with a man named George. George has been hanging out in our church yard, using the picnic table to have his breakfast and coffee. George is one of those characters that seem to gravitate toward the church. They are lost, lost in the world, lost in society and lost within themselves. He’s not a dangerous person, he’s not unintelligent, he’s just lost. That is something many people just can't wrap their heads around, that here is a man, who is educated, seems smart and yet can’t seem to find his way. Yet, here he is, struggling. In his mind, in his lostness, he is wrestling with God in his own wilderness. The spiritual struggle some of us go through as we seek our place in this craziness called life.

George and I have now spoken several times and with each conversation another layer of his complex personality is exposed. That he was married, that he was a lawyer, that he had gotten involved with a fundamentalist religious group, and with their blessing went over to Europe to begin a ministry of house churches. Along the way he lost his purpose, he lost his wife and children to divorce and he may have even lost his connection to family and friends.

I sit here, a conduit to God’s grace, a conduit that is in itself flawed by my humanity. I sit and listen, I can offer no quick fix, no special prayers, or some magical incantation, I’m not a Shaman or a mystic, I’m just the person God created me to be. There are stories to be told, to be written down and shared. Stories of our common humanity, of our need for one another, not just when things are going great, but also when we are traveling along a darkened path. Life is a struggle and for some, like George, it is a greater struggle. That is why we need to share these stories because if I were to I be honest, if we were to be honest, there is a bit of George in all of us, that small, scared child who fears what is under the bed or the monsters lurking in the dark closet. Our lives are connected in that mystery we Christians call the Incarnation, the Divine Presence of the Word which called us into being out of the dust.

Maybe that’s why I’m writing this piece, because there are moments when it is easy to get oneself lost. I know there have been those moments, when the darkness of my own mind has overwhelmed me and I found myself struggling to find the path. I don’t believe there is not one human being alive who has not faced their own dark night of the soul, who have wondered about the choices they made and the consequences of those choices.

I read something yesterday stating that what anyone writes is not something original, but mainly a reworking of age old stories. Stories of love, of death, of growing up and coming of age. We all have those stories in the deep well of our memories and it is my task to dip into that well and draw upon those deep waters. Some of the water will be sweet and fresh, and some will be brackish, but it all comes from the same well.

I can say with complete confidence that I am no genius. I struggle with my grammar, I’m unsure of punctuation and word usage, but at least I’m willing to expose these thoughts to the world. Creating anything, whether it is a piece of art, a poem, a story, even a life, requires taking a risk. It’s all too easy to sit on social media posting someone else’s words, it’s something else to post your own. Maybe it is because in taking a moment to try and see the world through the eyes of another, I have been granted a gift and that gift is these words that I write.

Inconvenient Truth

It’s that inconvenient truth
the one we don’t talk about
because it’s just too frightening
and our minds refuse to accept
the reality that is all around
the darkness that comes
with the dawn of a new day
that Leviathan we can’t touch
devouring everything we cherish
grazing along the pathways
of once sacred places
now only a shell of former glory
where the rats gnaw at the rotted wood
and people only gaze, shaking heads
wondering where it all went
when they themselves feed on the carcass
while the fat man sings his laments
of what was and is now lost
and we cry for entertainment
for multiple pleasures of flesh and mind
taking away the pain of our lives
in the choices we have made
to turn away from each other
and sell our love cheaply.

Dump

I sit here trying to write this poem

in the darkened office

I need this quiet time

the quiet outside and inside

allowing my mind to float

as images slowly appear

capturing their meaning

in the words that I use.

There is a harshness out there

a place of finger pointing

where blame is passed along

like an old time bucket brigade.

It becomes hard to see light

to write freely with a heavy heart.

It’s the death of a thousand cuts

here take my load, they say,

and bear it, take my pain, feel it

as I walk away leaving you

to be the waste dump 

of all my anger and fears

a utilitarian piece to be used

then left and forgotten.

I’m as broken as the bread

poured out like the wine

seeking peace and wholeness

in this dry and dark wilderness.

There is light, somewhere

there is hope in the air.

In the peaceful silence

I hear more deeply

the song of creation

the hymns of praise

that reside deep within.

My Morning Thoughts

Each morning my routine begins the same way. I awaken to the sounds of the birds outside my window, the early morning light beginning to seep through. I lay for a few moments, as I calm my mind to prepare for the coming day. As I lay there I sometimes allow those moments from the past to be heard in the darkened caverns of the mind. Their voices echoing in a past that I can not change but only look back upon. An examination of the soul, that place of deep meditation in the early quiet moments of the new day. I’m not some mystic, able to touch the face of God or to hear the voice in a burning bush, I’m simply a man, filled with doubts and fears trying my best to live into the calling of my vocation. There are times when I begin to doubt my faith, not my faith in God but my faith in the path I have chosen to take. There is the temptation to run and hide, to bury myself in busyness using it like a cloak of invisibility, joining with the masses who run around looking more like chickens pecking the ground for the few scraps. Being busy becomes the great disconnect, that way of not having to deal with anyone’s issues, including my own. To be intentional, to be attentive means having to let down that great barrier and be vulnerable to the emotions and feelings of being human. Looking out the window, just as the light of day begins to brighten the grey, I know somewhere deep within that there is also another light seeking to brighten the dark depths. The poetry that I write, although not great pieces, begin to take shape in those early moments, I see the words floating along as I begin to create. Sometimes what I see within is sharp and clear with no fuzzy edges, then there are those days when the words are a jumble, their meaning senseless, yet I write them down. I go over and over every piece, fine tuning the words, looking to make clear what I have written. Writing has become its own journey, it has taken me down long, winding roads into the deep wilderness of the self. I write a stream of consciousness, then I revise, then I write again, then I revise. I read it though first silently then aloud, I pick at the wording, try to make sure the grammar is almost correct. I try not to use the comma like a life raft. This week I begin another writing class, again I’m taking creative nonfiction. I will once again be challenged to explore the depths of my being, finding the words that best express my thoughts and feelings. The writing will be read and judged by others, and their comments will help me become better. At least in theory. After all, as I said, my writing is a journey through the wilderness. It’s not a yellow brick road, and I’m not off to find the Emerald City of publishing where the great and powerful Oz’s decide if your work is worthy or if you need to go after the witches broom stick