Friday, May 20, 2011

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Friday, May 01, 2009

ether and ash (an imitation of T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men")

Between the hum
And the din
Between the note
And the chord
Sings the silence

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the friction
And immolation
Between the urge
And the echo
Between the glimmer
And refraction
Shines the light

For Thine is the Power

Between the cell
And the key
Between the atom
And the energy
Between the dust
And the dust
Falls the dust

For Thine is the Glory

For Thine is
Love is
For Thine is the

This is the way the song ends
This is the way the song ends
This is the way the song ends
Not with a sound but a shadow

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Shelter in Downtown Dallas (an imitation poem of "A Supermarket in California" by Allen Ginsberg)

“Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?”
- Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California"

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Joseph Newell, for I walked into the shadows under the bridge with a do-rag self-conscious looking at the pavement.
In my guilty anxiety, and searching for feeling, I went into the xenon homeless shelter, yearning for your exaggerations!

What plights and what predicaments! Broken families sleeping outside! Endless rows of former husbands! Battered wives in the rafters, babies in the lockers --- and you, Mike Faenza, what were you doing down by the water coolers?

I saw you, Joseph Newell, aimless, lanky old drifter, wandering between the mats on the ground and eyeing the security guards.
I heard you fending off questions from each: Who mugged the social worker? What price cigarettes? Are you my Dealer?

I wandered in and out of the flickering lights of eyes following you, and followed in my imagination by the shelter detective.
We strode through the sleeping bodies together in our solitary fancy stealing unfinished bottles, possessing every sunburned tit, and never passing the case worker.

Where are we going, Joseph Newell? The gates lock in an hour. Which way does your thumb point tonight?
(I close my eyes and imagine our postponed game of dominoes and feel ashamed.)

Will we sleep all night on the stony streets? The buildings add shade to shade, lights out in the offices, we'll both be arrested.
Will we crawl lusting for the lost Texas of opportunity past black SUVs in otherwise empty parking lots, home to our abandoned warehouse?

Ah, dear brother, darkskin, hungry old dragon-tamer, what Dallas did you have when Oncor quit pumping their power and you arose in a smoking cloud and watched your dignity disappear in the furious winds of charity?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Change the Wind

I offer, in paraphrase, two lines that really lit up my soul at tonight's lecture by Jim Wallis:

"Where your gifts coincide with the crushing needs of the world, there lies your vocation."

"We do not need to worry about changing the politicians with their wet fingers in the air trying to determine which way the wind is blowing; we need to worry about changing the wind."
I am not sure what I am going to do with it, but I've just ordered:

For now, I shall link it to Larry's blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Groceries and Health, Part 2: Shasta and Ervad

One more thing about the grocery store . . .

When we got in line to buy our groceries, the checker looked like he was 14. MAYBE 15. But definitely not able to drive.

It was 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night. This kid had school that day. He would have school tomorrow. I did not want to ask what time he started, or when he would get off.

But when I got up to the front of the line, I asked: "How has your day been?"

He stared at me.

"How has your day been?"

He looked around, and back at me: "MY day?"

"Ya. How has your day been?"

He smiled. "Oh, it's been OK."

I guess he was not used to being talked to. The person before me had gotten very upset with him about some things, or took items out of her cart and put them on top of the candy shelves. She was upset at this kid because some national chain had over-priced their milk, in her opinion.

The kid -- Ervad, his name tag said -- apologized and removed them from her bill.

I helped him bag the groceries for a few minutes, until another young person -- Shasta, also looking around 15 -- came over to help. We laughed at my bagging skills. Somehow, I got my bags all wadded up -- Shasta just took them from me and smiled. "It's OK, I do it too sometimes."

I asked her how her day had been going, and she rolled her eyes: "Ohhhhh, you know."

"Long day, huh?"

"I've got to be here until ten o'clock. And I've got a paper due tomorrow."

We talked for a few minutes about it while bagging the groceries. I found out that her paper was on one of my favorites: The Great Gatsby. I told her that I thought it was one of the greatest novels of all time.

"I hate it," she said. "I've got to write a four-page thesis when I get home."

I can understand hating a lot of things. But THIS!?!? The Great Gatsby!?!? I couldn't believe it.

As I left, I wished her good luck. On my way back to the car, I imagined what my thesis would be for the book: a story about hope and despair, unfulfilled dreams and elusive desires. I imagined the waves at the end, the beating oars . . . and couldn't help but understand why it would sound so much less exotic to Shasta, who is unable to vote and yet working nights to help her family get by. Is hers going to be a story of elusive desires and unfulfilled dreams? Wasted potential and squandered time?

I am writing this while she is elsewhere, trying to write about what makes Gatsby “great” or how the American Dream of 1920s compares to the strange reality of the early 2000s. She is tired from a day of school followed by a day of work; how will she write a good paper? has she been set up for success by her school? her family? our society?

I hope that she does not give up. If she does, I hope that her teacher will understand. If she does not do well on the paper, I hope she will realize that it was not because she was incapable or unable . . . I hope that she realizes how much she has to offer.

Goodnight, Shasta. Goodnight, Ervad. I hope that you have a good day tomorrow.

Groceries and Health, Part 1: Our Neighbors

Tonight, my wife and I went to the grocery store. I suppose it was a pretty typical thing to do, but with the way things have been going, sharing little chores has been one of the only chances we've had to talk to each other.

Life has been pretty busy lately.

Our jobs have been especially challenging over the past few weeks. We both work at Central Dallas Ministries, and feel very blessed to have the chance to work for such an amazing organization. We love what we do! The work isn't easy, but we've never enjoyed our lives more.

Of course, my wife can have some pretty hard days at work.

She's an attorney in CDM's L.A.W. Center (Legal Action Works). She deals with some amazing people going through situations that I cannot even fathom. The courage that it must take for some people to face their mornings is beyond my comprehension.

Needless to say, it has been a lesson in appreciation for both of us.

Today, one of her clients was talking with her about health. Although her specialty is the law, my wife generally finds that her practice reaches into many areas outside the court. In fact, that's usually where the heart of the problems lies.

Her client was suffering from Diabetes. She is extremely poor, and has trouble cooking foods that are both healthy and also on her budget.

As we walked through the grocery store, my wife and I basically bought whatever we wanted. We were conscious of price - maybe buying the store labels instead of the brand names -- but we could purchase all that we needed.

That's not the case for my wife's client. When Natalie (my wife) recommended some recipes, her client looked down at the ground.

"I can't afford vegetables," she said.

Tomorrow, my wife is going to call the people at CDM's CODE: Community Outreach Diabetes Education program. She's going to try to help her client get enrolled in their services.

CDM also has a Community Health Promotions Coordinator who has a special interest in teaching people how to eat healthy and on a budget. We're going to try to match her up with my wife's client.

I can't afford vegetables.

These programs will help her. Hopefully, they will teach her to manage her Diabetes, and to find ways to stretch her limited budget. But will they do enough?

I can't afford vegetables.

We have so much work to do. So very much work to do.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Rodin's "Hand of God"

Our lives are fingers on the hand of the Lord;
what work would He have us do in this earth,
and who are our fellow fingers? It does not
matter; His strength will pull us together
despite ourselves, the distances between us.

This day, my contribution, but through Him.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Joseph Campbell's Concept of "Follow your Bliss"

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of... being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

Monday, January 17, 2005

St. Francis

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. "