Category Archives: Love

Why in Heaven’s Name Can’t We Get There?

For 400 years America has struggled with the racial hatred that enabled slavery and perpetuates inequity.  For untold thousands of years one people has subjugated and enslaved another.  Why can’t humanity rise above its hate?  Please, we must.  This is not a political post, or a racial post, or an activist post.  This is a human post, a poem begging for hope and love and equity.

Why in Heaven’s Name Can’t We Get There?

George Floyd: a name:
the name of a Man:
a Black Man:
an African-American man:
who wanted only to breathe:

To Breathe!

to breathe the crisp air of freedom:
to breathe kisses upon his children:
to breathe love to his beloved:
a Black Man who has gathered us together:
a world of all color:
in chant and march and rage:
in song:
in colorful earthy human song:
singing the name of every Man:
every Black Man:
every White Man:
every Yellow and Brown and Red Man:
subject to subjugation:
chafing and straining against the rough blistering cords of bondage:
singing the name of every Woman:
who hoped for her Child:
as good as any Child:
a Black Child or a White Child:
who dared to hope:
hope against We don’t want you! signs:
in the windows and on the doors:
hope against blood and bombs and broken bones:
hope against the burning, cutting ropes:
who dare to hope against that universal

NO!

He could not breathe:
another man pressed a knee on his neck:
and he could not breathe:
George Floyd:
the name of a Man:
a Black Man:
the name of every Child:
the name of every Woman:
the name of every Man:
the name of a nation:
a nation that cannot breathe:

We Want To Breathe!

the name of a nation of people who can barely breathe:
a nation of too many who do not know love, except:
the false love of defending what we think is our own:
which is no love at all:
but sticky, unctuous pride:
but a bashing-teeth hatred:
but a cheap rickety need to be better, somehow intrinsically better, than another:

How Absurd!

how absurd to think:

I am better than you:
better than anyone:
better than George Floyd:
better than any other human:
better than any other equal human:

Equal Equal Equal!

But we cannot seem to do it:
we cannot seem to allow any skin to be better than our own:
better: a strange notion we can reconcile only if we lie.

Well, we had better:
we had better stop chewing glass:
the broken glass of hate:
we had better stop swallowing the cutting nails of arrogance:
we had better put our arms around one another, and hold one another’s hands
and weep our declaration:

We are the same, you and I!

The Same!

with the same pleasant dreams:
with the same color of pounding blood:
with the same innate capacities:
for love and for hate;
for love, and for caring and kindness:
for helping a Sister:
for helping a Brother:
for helping a Daughter and a Son.

So:
come on:
come on out:
come on out of yourself:
give it all up:
let go of anything, of everything, that makes you less:
less than what you are:
less than what you can be:
be Equal
and
be Good
and
be Free . . .

(Image above by truthseeker08 from Pixabay)

Game Night!

Every Sunday night Amy’s family gathers for a nice family dinner, a spiritual or musical devotional, dessert, and games.  Even Sunshine joins in, munching his salad and playing along in a game of Sorry.  These special times have been important for Amy’s family bond and strengthen relationships, and could well be replicated in some form by other families.  Enjoy especially the desserts and games–only, Sunshine won’t be on your team!

Sunshine’s Summer Hat

With Phoenix Arizona regularly reaching 110F in June, Amy has made sure Sunshine is prepared for the hot sun, with his own straw hat.  Of course, the Bearded Dragon lizard is native to the brutally hot Australian desert.  But whether Sunshine needs a hat or not, Amy is loyal and caring and looks after Sunshine’s every need.

Front Corner Pew

Church can be a welcoming, joyful experience or a lonely, isolating experience, depending on from where one is coming and to where one is going, and on one’s frame of mind along the way.  This poem shares one perspective, where the influence of little children and of love make all the difference.  That I could do for someone what they did for me–that is a wish.

Front Corner Pew

the front corner pew
is least conspicuous for one
who desires to be both

faithful and unseen, for the pastor
looks long across the harvest
to who occupies the back

corner chair signaling
I am broken and belligerent, but here
where the hard metal numbs

the mind, the Good News
half heard across the distance
and having given both ample chance

I had chosen to sit unseen
alone on the front corner pew
when a father marched by

with his three fidgety lambs
who looked at me and relaxed their faces and uncrossed their arms
to each smile and wave

at me
and incapable of resisting I
twitched a smile

and convulsed little waves
in return
and wondered how

something so soft
could chisel stone
and without excoriation

alter me forever
though they were quickly gone
through the chapel side door

Image by ddzphoto from Pixabay

Roger Baker is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human heart.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

Another View of Venice

Roaming Seattle’s Pikes Peak Market 20 years ago, I met an artist selling his numbered prints.  This one caught my eye, and I could not resist bringing it home to Utah, where it has hung on my walls these two decades.  And the poem finally came.

Another View of Venice

These fishing boats, here,
moored in rows along the sun-twisted
planks of the wharf, do you see their

fancy colored stripes and singular
bow ornaments, carved, do you see
the fanciful names, betrayals

of deep-buried griefs
of lost loves and unrequited
loves and dreamed-of loves never told, yet

these little boats all bob
along on the swells, prow
through the crests, and launch wide

wakes down the waves’ wild tails, staunch pilots
holding true
to the helms, gazing always

afar off.

Painting “Another View of Venice” by Michael Eberhardt.

Living

My youngest children came to visit me tonight, to share a meal, to talk about the day, to learn and to play: to be a family.  As they left with a wave and a “Love you, Dad,” I pondered the nature of life and relationships, and wrote this poem.

LIVING

They wave
a backward glance
Love you, Dad
are gone down
the road under
occasional street lamps
a white glaring gibbous;
just yesterday:
dull, dark, red.
They have blessed me
for an evening, as children
are wont, with stories
of their adventures,
kisses on craggy cheeks,
back-patting hugs:
mere youthful presence.
Some distance down
the road their own children will come
on an evening,
find them glad, and lonely:
grateful. I travel now
and again to my parents,
to ponder the passing of time
and story, the transfer
of character and contribution,
on loss and life:
loneliness. I have built
my crooked, creaking house
on robust stones. Flowers
will bloom above
my grave.

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

Silver Cross

Truly special gifts come but rarely in one’s lifetime, and expected even less.  What was my surprise, then, to receive in the mail, from another continent, across an ocean, the gift of a small silver cross.  It hung for years from my friend’s neck where, she said, it would always stay.  And now it sat in the palm of my hand.  A precious heirloom, and a friend I will never met: the stuff of poetry.

SILVER CROSS

You wore the little silver cross,
not one inch tall,
on a silver chain
against the swell of your breast.
Where you got it
I never knew.
You wore it,
you told me,
for those you have loved, and have lost,
for those you wished to protect:
you wore it for me.
I never take it off,
you declared.

That same cross,
small and silver,
you have sent, now,
to me–
an ocean away, a continent away, a universe away–
to wear,
cool on my chest,
for those I have loved, and have lost,
for those I wish to see protected,
To give you a precious thing of mine,
you offered,
and, perhaps, to say
good-bye.
I wear the cross
for you.

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

Lavender

To my darling daughter and her lucky groom.  May life’s blossoms ever bloom.

LAVENDER

My lavender has gone to seed:
soft blue blossoms
to brown scratchy scales;
perfume to dust.

You wanted
branches of blue blossoms
for your bridal bouquet.
But they won’t do,
I am sorry to say:
they simply will not do!

Trim the branches back,
you said patiently,
and we will see.
We still have a month,
and they may bloom again,
yet, blue and fragrant.

I trimmed,
I hope,
enough.

 

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure and magical farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

Please tell me…

Sitting at my desk, blinds dropped against the too-bright afternoon sun, books on bookshelves to my left, paintings on the wall to my right, surrounded by objects of meaning and story, with not a sound in the house but my breathing, I ask myself, as I have asked a million times, looking deep and hard inside, what is love?

PLEASE TELL ME…

alone as I am
these several years
I ask
again
like I asked
before
and after
and so often
along the long way,
what is love
?

is love sitting side by side
in the shade
as the sun softly sets
and the breeze tickles our faces
and the katydids hum
?

is love calling you
on the phone
when her fever is 103
and you are frightened
and feeling frantic
?

is love slipping a little note
into your suitcase
as you leave
for wherever
for a week and a day
?

is love saying
Love you!!
after every conversation
after every orgasm
after every text
after every meal
?

is love thinking
you are beautiful and charming and smart
?

what is love?
I ask
again again again

is love making love
giving and receiving
pleasure
sensual, sexual pleasure
?

is love leaving you
alone
when you are so very very tired
?

is love daydreaming:
you coming home
kissing you
feeling you
chatting about nothing in particular
looking hard into your eyes
?

is love washing greasy dishes and changing soiled stinking diapers and wiping up vomit and plunging toilets and wanting to wretch myself but holding it down just barely
?

is love wanting you
your company
your touch
your whisper
your presence
so badly
because I am lonely
?

is love giving
only giving
not needing or expecting or demanding or even wanting
reciprocity
but knowing still I need and want
and knowing you will do your best to reciprocate
anyway
?

is love overtly avoiding hurt
merely abstaining from harm
simply wishing, sincerely, for the best
for you
?

is love
a) all of the above,
b) some of the above,
c) none of the above, or
d) a quality so much grander than anything I have ever managed to conceive
?

So I ask you
reader of poetry blogs
liver of life
dreamer, lover, scolder, laborer
body and mind
head to toe
all the way:
what is love
?

Little Girl

I experienced today, in church, a moment of purity, of innocence, of love, not due to any sermon or ritual or hymn, but as a gift from a small child.

LITTLE GIRL

I chanced to glance
at a little girl of three
sitting nearby
in the pew:
she looked up at me,
an old man,
not comely to warrant,
and smiled a smile
bright as the spring sun
full on my face.
I could not refrain
reciprocation
and twisted a grin
in return, and found
ice melting,
stone warming,
stiff boughs bending.
Another glance
revealed
colored pencils scratching
intently
between the lines.

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure and magical farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

That Man

Grand Teton from Table Mountain, by Caleb Baker

Sitting in church I noticed a rough-looking man handling his three little boys with patience and kindness and gentleness.  He inspired me, and I felt filled with gratitude for the method of this man.  Those boys will know they are loved, that they matter.  Those boys will learn that kindness is the way of true manhood as they marry and raise their own children in turn.  My wish and prayer is for kindness to find ever more-frequent expression in this world.

THAT MAN

that man
over there
who ruffles one boy’s strawberry hair
and pats the older gently on the back
and kisses the littlest on top the head and whispers in his ear and smiles,
that man
will raise prophets
and kings
with his kindness

Roger is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The book tells the true life story of an obscure and magical farm road and its power to transform the human spirit.  The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.

The Worth of a Man

Harvey Russell

I closely watched Harvey and his family as they celebrated his 80th birthday.  They spoke warmly of memories and sang his praises.  How nice, I thought, that they, at least, recognize his worth.  Harvey, though elderly and arguably past his prime, embodies an enormous wealth of tradition, strength, virtue, memory, and love.  Though a quiet obscurity to many, he is a hero to me, as recounted in my book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  So many in western culture write off and even ridicule the elderly, seeing only weakness and faded glory. This fact I sorely lament.  We would do well to remember their strength, their sacrifice, their accomplishments, their contributions, their legacy, and their love.  Rather than relegated to the “old” category, implying uselessness, they should be lifted up as timeless mentors to be followed, learned from, cared for, and revered.  As you read this poem, ponder for yourself, What is the worth of an aged man and woman?  I hope your answer is bounteous.  Consider sharing your thoughts in a comment.

THE WORTH OF A MAN

What is the worth of a man
when his ears refuse to hear
and shrouds eclipse his sight,
when his back bends low
and his hands quiver,
when he forgets things large and small
and the young lose their scant patience
with his remembrances and his gait?

He has made whatever difference, whatever contribution,
he is going make.
If he hasn’t said it by now, it won’t be said.

So much counsel.
So much love.
So much poetry.
Unspoken.

He is a mere memory,
and fading at that.

That is what you think.
That is what so many think.

Remember when
he taught you to tame a fox and skin a weasel and splint a songbird’s wing?
Remember when
he bought you a thrift store bike and taught you to fix a flat?
Remember when
he slogged in from the smelter each day after dark, slimed with sweat and soot?
Remember when
you took turns tossing the ball to the family mutt?
Remember when
he told you how to treat a woman, with fidelity, with respect, with tenderness?
Remember when
he called you a numbskull for smoking behind the barn, and stomped the butt out?
Remember when
he carried you, and even sang, and even cried, when your body burned from fever?

But you do not remember.
You spurn the soul what made you.
You rush break-neck from your cradle to your own aged obsolescence.
Tomorrow, as you shuffle and stoop,
they will glance at you and ask,
What is the worth of a man?

Impressions of Erda and Enterprise

I visited recently with my good friends Harvey and Mary Russell at their home in Enterprise, Utah.  I had not seen them for years.  Harvey, my humble hero, is a leading figure in my nonfiction book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  Named “Many Feathers” by American Indians, Harv helped me build my chicken coop and lead me through an Indian sweat ceremony in Erda, Utah.  My impressions during the visit were poignant and bitter-sweet, demanding expression in this impressionistic poem.

IMPRESSIONS OF ERDA AND ENTERPRISE

Car window down:
“Is this Harvey’s place?”
A wave to drive in, and smiles:
three mechanics, brown
where I should have seen white:
lost their teeth to the chew.

Engine block rocks
from its rolling crane.
“You’re the one that wrote the book?”
“And you write poems, too?”
“Yea,” I said, “but
I don’t know a spark plug
from a distributor cap,
like you!”

That storm broke branches off
Harv’s old elm. “Shall I cut them
small for the stove, or long
for the truck bed to the dump?”
“Oh, it’s not your mess—
long for the dump.” I cut them
short for next winter’s warming.

Neighbors burning winter’s detritus,
wind-lopped limbs, old stumps.
Pleasant smell of woody smoke.
The whole family shovels
manure over the garden plot;
rich, dry, composted;
like I used to do, before.

Perfect pens for homers,
robust cocks chortling in one,
slighter hens in the other.
At 79, he still races.

“When he finally left,
he took everything, even
the lightbulbs and toilet seat.”

Worn brown leather boots
on the workbench
by the big rusty drill press,
under dust.

“Will you keep an eye on my place Harv?”
“pow pow pow!”
Ducks falling from the sky,
poached from his neighbor’s pond.

“pow pow pow!”
Geese poached from the sky.
“But I called this time;
they think they own all the birds
in the whole country.”

Old Ekins took
their guns, their geese.
One protested: “Too late:
the goose is in the oven.
Sunday dinner!”
Said Old Jim: “Not too late:
take the Sunday goose out!”

Eight hens scratch in the grass,
keep him in eggs.
Two roosters corral and crow.
Ducks waddle where they will.

The garden tool shed:
a secret privy, with shovel and hoe.
“Toss in a cup of wood stove ash.”
(The neighbors, they don’t know.)

Lilac bushes, just leafing,
a long arcing row
next the dirt drive;
promising purple perfume.

Flapjacks browned on cast iron;
butter; blueberries; pure maple syrup;
my first goat milk, creamy and sweet.

Crazy Cliff dragged a trailer house
up a Skull Valley mountain
with a rickety track hoe; by some miracle
the belcher didn’t topple over backwards.

A lightning bolt split:
two fires funneling down
to that trailer. A bomber dropped
red retardant dust,
panicked mustangs plunging through.

Mother made Mary
give away her baby;
only 15. She married
the man at 16, and met
her first-born son 49 years late.

Brussels and yams
roasted soft
in olive oil and herbs;
fresh bread and pot roast.

Third and fourth marriages
for both: married twice
to each other: “We just drifted
apart, until God brought us
back together.”

“Living with someone is just
hard, rubbing and bumping
against each other.”

“He kissed me
tenderly
on the cheek.”

Harvey, Mary, and Roger

Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.

You Showed Me

My assistant city attorneys and I have prosecuted domestic violence perpetrators for 24 years.  I have come to loathe the mentality that allows a perpetrator to use violence to maintain power and control in an intimate relationship.  The very person the perpetrator should love with tenderness he beats into submission.  A cherished friend recently confided in me that her estranged husband had clobbered her in the face with a work boot he was holding, breaking her nose.  As painful as was the injury to her face, the deeper injury was to her spirit and her mind.  That strike caused her eyes to swell and blacken, but at the same time opened her eyes wide to who and what he was, and to what a future with him would bring.  I wrote this poem to honor my friend’s courage to see the truth and to seek a place of safety for herself and her children.  I dedicate this poem to all victims of domestic violence, those who survive and thrive, and those who have not yet broken free.  God bless.

YOU SHOWED ME

You bashed my face
with your boot,
steel-toed,
to show me
who you are:
tough, in control,
powerful.

You broke my nose
with your heel.

Our lambs watched, and
wept.

I am bleeding now,
swollen, my face
red and sore.

Yes, you showed me
the man you are.

But I say
to your face:
You missed!

Bereft I may be, but
I am not destroyed!
Because
you beat me,
you bruised me,
you cut me,
but you missed
my heart
my mind
my dreams
my soul
my will.

Yes,
you showed me.

Hold My Hand

20160530_122759

While many toss it aside as a casual gesture, holding hands is actually quite an intimate, meaningful act.  One that I miss.  The touching of the skin covering another divine soul.  Out of respect for this intimacy, I will dispense with the usual vignette and say only that my poem “Hold My Hand” attempts to describe how holding hands can be, how it should be, and how I hope it to be again.

HOLD MY HAND

circle round
each knuckle
steal down the length
of each shivering finger
press my palm
as I move
to wrap
your slender wrist
blanket me
with a free hand
skin-soft
blood-warm
pulses a-patter

Christmas Barn

 

20161122_212306

Amidst all the holiday gift-giving, certain gifts stand, gifts of more than things but also of the heart.  My son Hyrum’s gift to his sister Hannah was one such gift, a gift to always remember. Hyrum (14) conceived of the idea, drew the idea, and saved his money for the materials. Together we engineered the structure, bought the materials, and began construction.  His gift: a miniature barn with hinged roof.  This series of photographs shows each step of the construction process, culminating with Hannah (10) opening her gift on Christmas morning.  I think of Hyrum’s gift as a miracle gift, for he gave part of himself along with the present.

The base frame, 18″ x 18″, allowing for a two-story central main building with an attached lean-to on each side.

20161018_212552

Adding posts to support the main barn roof.

20161018_212825

Completing the barn and lean-to frames.

20161025_205945     20161025_210005

The completed frame with the interior floor installed and the wall siding begun.

20161029_151855

Wall siding and lean-to roofing completed with lathe.  The roof frame sit, hinged, on the main barn structure.

20161029_164119

The completed hinged roof frame atop the barn.

20161029_180503     20161029_180514

20161029_180600

The completed barn, prior to painting.

20161108_205511     20161108_205805

Hyrum painting the barn.

20161108_215007

And . . . the completed barn project.

20161122_212306

20161122_212330

20161122_212432

Most importantly, Hannah on Christmas morning opening her special gift, inside which Hyrum placed a wrapped bucket of perfectly-sized farm animals.

20161225_142621

Hannah’s Christmas barn became my favorite Christmas gift, too.  I enjoyed working with my son for weeks to engineer, construct, paint, and wrap the barn.  I witnessed the joy on my daughter’s face (and on Hyrum’s face) as Hannah opened her special gift.

Sphere of Absence

img_0555

Sphere of Absence by Erin Frances Baker

I exited a posh downtown law firm revolving door to accompany several high-priced litigators to lunch.  As a municipal attorney, my city was their client, and I its representative.  Hundreds of people walked every which way, moving single-mindedly toward their various destinations.  Car horns honked.  Crosswalk lights chirped.  People talked animatedly.  Buses dieseled by.  Trolley car power cables sizzled.  On the corner, in the middle of the commotion, sat a homeless woman, dirty, dressed in rags, her hair ratty.  She sat and rocked and wailed inconsolably.  No one paid her any mind.  They merely arced around her from their many directions, creating a sphere of absence around her.  I approached her, but not too close, to see her better.  I ached for her, yet feared to enter that intimidating sphere.  I marveled that she remained invisible to the bustling world around her. Still, though I saw her and felt for her, I too arced clear and moved on to my worldly business.  Below is my poem describing the encounter, entitled “Sphere of Absence.”

My daughter, Erin Frances Baker, adapted my poem for her acrylic-on-board masterpiece, changing the character of my homeless woman to the lighter, but still isolated and nearly invisible, figure of a street performer.  I hope you enjoy the poem and the painting.

SPHERE OF ABSENCE

She sat on the corner
of a bustling city street:
a surreal reminder
of an unfriendly reality;
a sad black-and-white cutout,
pasted, out of place,
into the noisy, colorful hustle
of illusory pursuits.
Mute faces ate and laughed
behind thick glass panes;
wingtips and heels stepped past
in all directions,
carving a polygonal sphere,
untouched, unvisited,
seen but ignored, unknown.
Unknowable.
Above the train-wheel grind and clatter,
the honking horns,
the crosswalk chirps,
the biting wind,
and the chatter, rose
a soft, wailing cry,
a muffled desperation,
a distracted pouring-out
of a fractured soul
into the lonely sphere of absence.

 

My book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road, has recently been published in print and for Kindle.  You can read about it here.

Grooves

20161113_101926

I have just learned that another friend–a lovely, talented woman–has suffered decades of control and disdain from her husband.  Is it simply human nature to be boorish?  I don’t buy it. Life need not be such a slog.  Every man, woman, and child on this planet can learn to be more kind and caring, more loving and forgiving, more outward viewing.  Sure, it takes a little effort, a little discipline.  The ultimate means of assuring our own success is to contribute to the success of those around us, not to tear them down.  What will I (and you) do today to build another up? What connection do you see between this note and my poem “Grooves” below?

GROOVES

Our two lives
have worn two grooves
in our sagging mattress,
two trenches
where we have lain
side by side
through the battles.
I would that there were
no grooves at all,
or only one.
So much that
a new, level mattress
could not erase or replace.
As moonbeams glow
on the frozen snow,
I lay and listen
to the woman
in the sunken space
next to mine.

Grail

img-20160522-wa0001

How does one put into words the fragility, beauty, and precious nature of life?  The more words we use, maybe, the closer we get–adjective upon adjective.  Or, perhaps, only a poem, with the fewest words, but bursting with meaning and imagery, can do the job.  Even then, words might not be capable at all, and we must yield to an embrace, a kiss, a memory, a lullaby.  My poem Grail is an attempt to encapsulate life, or at least a bit of it.  I hope you enjoy.

GRAIL

Even
a cracked and empty eggshell
evokes awe for new life.

The infant, you cradle,
as if a spark,
ephemeral,
of something infinite,
or divine.

Hold her, tight
and careful,
while she is yours
to hold.
She will bury you,
someday,
with roses and tears,
and tell your story:
you will inspire,
still, from the crypt.

First cry, first tear.
First laugh and first kiss.
Sips from the holy grail.

Yes

IMG-20160422-WA0007

Driving alone toward Zion National Park in southern Utah one night, the full moon appeared above the redrock cliffs, shining large and bright and white.  I found myself suddenly flooded with tender emotions, wanting desperately to hold and be held.  I wrote this poem to help me remember the image of the immaculate moon, and my emotions upon spying her.  Please do me the honor of understanding that this is not a sex poem.  Rather, this is a poem about the powerful and wonderful feelings that can accompany intimate romantic love, even across great geographic distance.

YES

I want to make love to the moon.

I want to caress her creamy, naked curves.

I want to whisper grateful sobs for withholding nothing but judgment.

Would she deign, I would make gentle, generous love to the moon.

A Perfect Match

20160606_111020

“Such a cute couple!”  “They are so good together!”  I have heard these and other phrases so often about couples, young and old.  But what does it take to make a perfect match?  “Opposites attract,” says the cliche, though I’m not sure I believe it.  It is that we admire in our partners what we lack, or do we feel more comfortable with someone similar to us in personality and demeanor?  In this poem I explore two sides of a relationship that differ and yet complement.  I admit to tending more toward the second half of each couplet, though the poem is not (necessarily) autobiographical.  What are your opinions about what makes the perfect match?  Let me know by leaving your comment!

A PERFECT MATCH

impulsive
deliberate

spontaneous
self-conscious

hopeful
fearful

self-possessed
over-shoulder-watching

free-thinking
conforming

curious
contemplative

ebullient
restrained

giggling
steady now

disciplined
falling off the wagon

fun-loving
nose to the grindstone

inclined toward cheerfulness
tending to be sad

star-gazing
spot-scrubbing

bibber
tee-totaler

go to hell
I’m sorry

let’s go!
we’re late

bratwurst
sauerkraut

pedal to the floor
foot on the break

effusive
reserved:

beautifully broken

secretly afraid:

a perfect match

Wood Lamp: Joia

20160619_100403

Writing a letter to his Grandpa Baker (80) this morning for father’s day, Hyrum (14) turned to me and asked, “Grandpa has been finding some cool wood for me to make lamps out of.  Do you think he would like one of my lamps as a father’s day present?”  “I’m sure he would love it,” of course I replied.

Hyrum found the piece of wood for this little lamp when working for a friend to clear his yard and flower gardens of weeds.  Obscured by the weeks was the small stump of a dead evergreen.  Hyrum could see the potential in this dead stump.  He asked if he could make something out of it, brought it home, and began to give it new life as a lamp.

20160426_203735

We made bases for small lamps by cutting discs off the end of an old cedar fence post.  The wood was old and cracked, but we wood-glued the pieces together, allowed them to cure, then ran them through a neighbor’s planer.

20160322_165123

20160326_134146

We named the little lamp Joia, a joyous Portuguese word meaning “gem.”  Hyrum gave Joia to his Grandpa today, the same Grandpa that inspired our lamp-making in the first place with his lamp Timponogos, about 55 years old.  Grandpa seemed as pleased to receive the lamp as Hyrum was to gift it.  This little gem of a lamp has connected the generations with memories and a common love of creation and beauty.

FullSizeRender

Three Quilts

20160211_081428

All parents have had the experience of children wandering into their room late at night, afraid or disoriented, and asking, “Can I sleep with you?”  Rather than be angry or annoyed, we merely laid out the spare quilts, sewn by the children’s grandmothers.  And we all fell asleep again.  Waking early for work, I tip-toed over and around my sleeping children.  Home in the evening, their quilts lay on the floor like the discarded skins of pupaed caterpillars taken flight.  I hope you enjoy my poem memorializing that recollection.

THREE QUILTS

Three quilts lie in a corner of my room,
folded, again, neatly, again;
three queen-size quilts
sewn and tied by gifting grandmothers
who rest under blanketing memory,
leaving to me these warm tokens.

From night-sleep stupor,
I hear distantly the click of a switch, and a flush,
an apologetic knocking, and a whispered “Dad,”
more like the hiss of heavy breathing than a name.
In my knowing, I find the corners
of a folded quilt and toss it out its full length
upon the floor, by the bed, where there’s room.
I could order them back to their beds, but
there seems to always be room.

In the obscurity of my morning,
I have sense enough
to step gingerly over and around
the boys, asleep in their quilted cocoons;
my boys, rising each day
with a deep life-breath yawn and
a stretching of slumber-stiff limbs,
flying from their crumpled quilts,
like the discarded skins of metamorphosis, with
only air and sky ahead.

Bliss

20160211_081612

I have always believed that a state of bliss in this mortal life is possible, achievable.  Perhaps not perpetual bliss, but certainly repeated blissful moments. I’m not talking about happiness, enjoyment, pleasure, or even joy. But bliss: a state of utter contentment and peace. I have been challenged in this ideal by those who I most hoped would believe along with me. Admittedly, bliss does not describe my normal state of being, or anyone’s, perhaps. In this poem, however, I declare the possibility of bliss and my determined intention to pursue bliss until I find bliss. I hope that you believe in bliss.

BLISS

You told me one day what
you believed bliss to be:
a sham, a ruse, a vanity,
a thing we chase
from dawn till dusk,
and dream dark dreams about,
and never find and never will.
But I am loath to think it
so. I will look
from my head to the long horizon.
I will search
every path and non-path.
For bliss exists and is mine to be,
not to capture but to free.
Then, I will beckon and waive
and say “come!” and “be with me!”
In that morning we will
walk every path and non-path,
touch every icy mountain peak,
warm to every ray the sun sends,
drink in raindrops and waterfalls,
and touch sea and sky and moon and skin.
On an evening we shall die
and know the soil and the seed,
and give life to grass and flower
and fruit of the tree.
We will see.

Miracle

20160116_080327

Stansbury Mountain Range, Tooele County, Utah

During a quiet moment I found myself contemplating the nature of miracles. A miracle is often defined as a phenomenon that cannot be explained by the known laws of nature, and often carries a religious or spiritual aspect. To me, a miracle is anything truly joyous and beautiful, like love, acceptance, natural beauty, a smile. These miracles raise our countenance above the cruelty and disappointment of our mortal existence.

Inspired by my daughter, Erin (23), I keep a daily miracle journal. At the end of each day, sitting bedside, I search the day for miracles and jot them down. Hyrum’s cello recital. Hannah’s painting. Brian’s blog post. Laura’s straight As. Erin’s love. Caleb’s 15 points in a basketball game. John’s V6 bouldering problem. Smiles. Kindness. Laughter. Sunsets. Waves crashing on sand. Birds and butterflies. A peaceful sleep. Forgiveness.

I wrote this poem to convey, through images, what a miracle is to me. I encourage you to examine your life for the miracles that are surely there, every day. Seek them, and you will find them, and be transformed by them.

MIRACLE

the small
the hidden
the barely seen

what brings joy
what stretches
what teaches

a brush with the senses
an immersion
a whisper

relief
healing
denouement

my desire to forgive
my yearning to touch another
my love

your forgiveness
your reaching toward
your love

a butterfly’s artwork wings
a bird’s song
a giggling brook

fog hovering pink under sunrise
antlers, alert, twisting above brush
owl’s soundless flight

your whisper
your touch
unconditional

Rag Rugs

20151231_234255

(Large rag rug crocheted by my mother for my kitchen–October 2015.)

When my mother, Dorothy Lucille Bawden Baker, was a child, perhaps age 6 or 7, she accompanied her mother, Dorothy Erma Evans Bawden (born 1915), and her grandmother, Dorothy Ellen Beagly Evans (born 1895), to visit her great-grandmother, Elizabeth Esther Pierce Beagly (born 1875).  Grandmother Elizabeth was crocheting an oval rug from strips of cloth cut from old clothing.  My mother noticed it and told them she liked it.  Looking back, what caught her attention most was the notion of making something so beautiful from practically nothing: rags. My mother’s matriarchs encouraged her interest and offered to give her a crochet hook and strips of cloth.  Grandfather James Edmund Evans (born 1889) carved for her an oak crochet hook.  Her mother cut some cloth strips from old clothing for my mother, and taught her the crochet stitch.  After my mother’s marriage in 1962, she began her serious crocheting of rag rugs, for she and her new husband, Owen Nelson Baker, Jr., had no carpet or rugs in their home.  For her first project, she sat on the floor and crocheted an enormous round area rug.  After retiring and moving to Utah in 1998, she began crocheting again in earnest.  She found her sheets at the Deseret Industries thrift store, and bought a cutting board and cutting wheel.  Her rugs can be found throughout her home and the homes of her children.  She has given away many rugs as gifts to family and friends.  I recently asked her to teach me to crochet.  These small rugs, intended as prayer mats, are my first efforts to crochet something from nothing.  I made them for my three daughters and my daughter-in-law for Christmas (2015).  I hope that my girls find enjoyment in them, and in knowing that they hold a humble work of art six generations in the making.

20151206_180654

The beginnings of Hannah’s rug, with a sun at the center.

20151206_205752

Ringed with a light sky, ready for a darker ring of sky.

20151206_215749

The sky is complete.

20151206_221351

Ready to be circled with dark, rich earth.

20151207_220638

Hannah’s rug completed.

20151214_221644

Laura’s rug: blue evening sky trending toward sunset and night.

20151219_173044

Erin’s rug: sun, sky, and atoll surrounded by ocean.

20151223_230957

Avery’s rug.

A Visit to Saltair

20151105_160159

In August 2015 I took Hannah (9) to the shore of the Great Salt Lake.  We stepped onto the dry salt-crusted sand, rough and hard on our bare feet.  The water seemed miles away.  As we walked toward the enormous salt water lake, the fine sand became progressively more moist and soft, yielding to our feet with small wet depressions.  A calm day, the water reflected the sky.  Coming to the edge of the glistening water, we ventured in, walking a hundred yards out but barely wading up to our ankles.  Walking a path parallel to us was a tall, slender woman in a pastel red dress.  As Hannah and I played in the sand and water, my mind wandered momentarily into imagination about the beautiful woman.  This poem finds its genesis in the moments before catching myself in my fantasy and pulling myself back to reality.  Having come to my senses, I still felt a twinge of longing after she had gone.

A VISIT TO SALTAIR

You stepped out,
ahead of me,
onto the sand,
hard and salt-crusted,
a pastel-red floral dress
draped from bare shoulders
to delicate ankles,
the water still half-a-mile
distant, it seemed,
and I ventured, nearby.

You delighted
in the softening sand,
scrunching your toes and turning
slow pirouettes in the lake
breeze, uninhibited.
You lifted the hem above
your knees to wade and frolic
in water, shallow still
for a hundred yards or more,
lapping at your legs.

A low sand bar separated us.

“Did you know
the Great Salt Lake
is 25% salt?  The oceans
are only 5%.  Nothing lives
in this lake.  Except
tiny brine shrimp, trillions of them,
harmless little creatures
swimming with frilled gills,
some orange, some yellow, some rusty red.
See? They’re all around us.”
I wanted to say all this,
and more.

As you turned back
toward land, my heart filled
with shameless longing.
I wanted to splash
my clumsy feet in the water
with your long slender feet,
hold your salt-white hand,
listen to you talk about your dreams
for the future, release
your pastel red dress,
make gentle love on the sand—
if you wanted me—
and come back and back to this place,
forever.

But you are half the distance
to the parking lot,
looking small, smaller,
pastel red fading,
and while the glow yet lingers,
you are too soon
nowhere.

20151105_160151

The name Saltair references a lakeside resort that reached its heyday in the early 20th century.  My grandmother Dora told me of taking the train to Saltair with her friends to enjoy a day in the buoyant water.  Fire ravaged the resort, and only one meager building remains to remind of the resort’s former glory.  Few visit anymore, except those who want to walk out onto the salty sand to wade into the shallow water.

20150806_101103

Morning

20130724_164623

At a recent Thanksgiving Day after-dinner gathering of my extended family, my father expressed his tender feelings for my mother.  With tears in his eyes and voice tight with emotion, he told of gazing at her as she lay sleeping one morning, the suns rays streaming through the window, and feeling that he loved her with all his heart.  That is as it should be, I thought, and wrote this poem.

MORNING

Warm sun in winter
hurtles white-capped
peaks and rushes through
wide windows
to halt and hover
over a head of tousled white
hair, aged, peaceful
upon her pillow.

I Waited for You

20150529_205730

Some of us wait silently to be loved, wait expectantly for our needs to be met.  Others of us demand to be loved with stomping feet and a sharp tongue.  The fortunate among us have learned to express their needs in ways that the listener understands, respects, and responds.  We are all different in how we approach life and love, yet we all want and deserve love.  My hope is that, rather than waiting for love or demanding love, we will learn to seek love in healthy, positive ways.  Beyond this, my prayer is that we will first offer love and kindness to others, thus inviting love and kindness to come back to us.

This poem personalizes one seemingly ill-fated approach to finding love.  What do you think the poem’s speaker could have done differently?  Should the speaker have done anything differently?  Was the speaker’s approach unreasonable?  Consider posting your answer in the comment section below.

I WAITED FOR YOU

I waited for you:
Waited for you to come to me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like the crimson clouds after the tired sun drops behind the mountains.
When you came to me at last,
I had faded and gone.

I waited for you:
Waited for you to touch me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like a dry, dusty leaf under a charcoal sky when the soothing rain won’t fall.
When you reached for me at last,
I had withered and gone.

I waited for you:
Waited for you to smile at me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like a famished infant yearning to suck from her mother’s ripe, fragrant breast.
When you smiled at me at last,
I had drifted and gone.

Violin

20151002_233105

On summer evenings as the desert heat dissipated, we would open all the windows in the house to let in the fresh, cool air.  As I sat on the porch, or weeded in the garden, or fed the hens, the sounds of Erin’s violin would pour gently from her window, hovering above the quiet countryside.   Her music was like the smell of perfume from a Purple Robe Locust, or the flash of blue from a Western Bluebird, or the taste of ripe mango.  I haven’t heard Erin play her violin for several years due to her being away at university and missionary service.  But I can still hear the music in my memory and feel the soothing sensation of my mind and body loosening their many knots.  I miss her playing.  I miss her.  This poem brings Erin and her music back to me.

VIOLIN

Notes dance through the window:
cheerful young notes
tip-toeing prettily upon the air,
swirling soft, slow pirouettes above
Fall sunset’s deep-green grass;
a blanketing balm
come to rest upon
a tired brow,
a twitching muscle,
an anxious heart.

Youthful hand and hopeful heart
send the bow searching the strings,
like a songbird upon the breeze,
like a breeze along the tree branch,
like tree roots through the earth.

Cleanse me.
Lift me.
Bring me through.

Not Today

20150929_214300

More than any other child, Caleb’s bicycle tires always seems to go flat.  I would patch an inner tube one hour and have it be flat the next.  Those awful three-pronged “goat-head” stickers were his bane.  Caleb was too young to patch his own inner tubes, so he was constantly asking me to do so.  “Dad,” he would ask, “can you fix my bike?”  I grew weary of his frequent requests, and often put him off.  Each time I avoided the task, however, I could see the disappointment in his eyes and hear it in his voice: “OK, Dad.”  I would come around eventually, but my delinquency deprived him of many days of happy riding.  When I began to realize what I was doing to him, and to our father-son relationship, I started patching his tires more quickly, began to teach him to patch his own tires, and wrote this poem as a reminder to myself to exercise patience and love with my children.  (Note: each stanza diminishes by one line in length, symbolizing Caleb’s diminished faith in his father.)

NOT TODAY

On Saturday Caleb said, “Hey, Dad!
I ran over a sticker,
and my bike tire’s flat,
so I can’t ride my bike.
Can you patch it for me today?”
Dad sighed and then replied,
“Not today, son, can’t you see?
I’ve far too much work to do.
Maybe tomorrow.”
And Caleb said, “Thanks, Dad.”

On Sunday Caleb said, “Hey, Dad!
My tire’s still flat,
so I can’t ride my bike.
Can you fix it for me today, please?”
Dad sighed and then replied,
“Not today, son, don’t you know?
On the Sabbath day I cannot do such work.
Tomorrow would be a much better day.”
And Caleb said, “Thanks, Dad.”

On Monday Caleb said, “Hey, Dad.
I still can’t ride my bike at all.
Please, can you fix it, maybe, today?”
Dad sighed and then replied,
“Not today, son, I’m all tuckered out;
I’ve worked so hard all day.
Maybe tomorrow, or next week, sometime.”
And Caleb said, “OK, Dad.”

On Tuesday Caleb said, “Hey, Dad.
I’d really like to ride my bike.
Could you help me, sometime, fix my tire?”
Dad sighed and then replied,
“Goodness gracious, son, how you pester me so.
I told you I’d do it sometime. Not today.”
And Caleb said, “OK, Dad.”

On Wednesday Caleb said, “Hey, Dad.
Today’s probably not a good day, huh?”
Dad sighed and then replied,
“I’m afraid you are right, son, not today.
Today is definitely not a good day.”
And Caleb said, “OK Dad.”

On Thursday Caleb said, “Hey, Dad.
Do you think, maybe, tomorrow?”
Dad sighed and then replied,
“Sure thing, son—maybe tomorrow.”
And Caleb said, “OK, Dad.”

On Friday Caleb said, “Hey, Dad.
Tomorrow’s Saturday, right?”
Dad replied, “Last time I checked.”
And Caleb said, “OK.”

On Saturday Caleb said, “Hey, Dad.”
And Dad replied, “Hey, Son.”
And Caleb walked away.

At Midnight

Waves

(Lamp by Roger and Hyrum Baker-2014)

We may think that as parents we have plenty of opportunities to shape and affect the lives of our children.  And we would be right.  But some opportunities, when missed, cannot be recaptured.  They are lost, and we cannot know what we have missed or how we may have helped another.  The best we can hope is that we won’t miss the next indispensable opportunity.  This poem is about opportunities gained and lost, and hints at the need for making a commitment to make the most of them when they arise.  Our children need us.

AT MIDNIGHT

I lay on my back
at midnight
and wondered if I should
go to his room,
where his light still shone,
and talk to my son,
a young man.
I lay on my back and wondered.
I lay on my back and thought.
But when I at last arose,
I found his light too soon turned off.

(Note.  This poem is not about suicide.  But it could be.  If we suspect that our child is depressed or sad or lonely or wanting to take their own life, we need to take a moment to reach out, to express love and support, and to ask the hard questions that will help pave the way to safety.   QPR training–Question, Persuade, Refer–is a useful tool for all.)

Chapter 45: Of Light and Love

100_4745

–I need the light on to keep my eyes warm. (Caleb-3)
–I need the light on to go to sleep because I can’t see. (Hannah-3)

Early one morning I notice a light in the Weyland wheat field next to Rabbit Lane.  The soft circle of lantern light bobs around over the newly-sprouted wheat, magically as if without a master, seemingly unattached to a farmer.  The night sky begins to lighten, and I can see the dim outlines of a man checking the sprinkler heads on a wheel line.

Ron starts his big John Deere early, headlights blaring, before I can see its trademark green and yellow.  The tractor pulls behind a homemade harrow: creosoted rail beams loosely chained together with railroad spikes pounded through.  The harrow tears at the rooted wheat chaff, spewing up dust that creeps over Rabbit Lane like a heavy, brown fog. Continue reading

Sprinkled with Rose Petals

20150510_204402

This poem is written from the perspective of my daughter, Laura (then 9), who lost her special duck Wingers to marauding dogs.  Other beloved creatures succumbed, like her kitten, Diamond.  Laura and I somberly buried each in the garden, resting them on beds of green grass, and covering them with loosely sprinkled rose petals.  Each funeral was tender, both sad and sweet.

SPRINKLED WITH ROSE PETALS

Wingers was my special duck.
I raised her from a day-old chick.
But she died when the neighbor’s dogs roved over
In the middle of the night.

Diamond was my precious kitten.
I watched her being born.
I stroked her fur when she lay sick.
I gently stroked her fur.

I found a yellow-breasted song bird:
Her feathers scattered on the grass;
Her wings stretched out;
Her beak upturned, eyes staring at the sky.

I laid them all in garden graves,
On beds of soft, cool grass,
Wrapped in soft, white cloth.
I sprinkled them with rose petals,
Red and pink and white.

My Child

100_4760

When small children are feeling hurt–on the inside or on the outside–they need to know that they can turn to someone for comfort, acceptance, and love.  They need to know that there is someone they can trust.  With our big-person problems, it can be challenging to find patience for a little child’s hurt.  But we must.  We must show our children that they can trust us and that we will be here for them when need us.  Otherwise they turn to others, often less trustworthy, or attempt to bury their pain deep inside, where it festers.  I wrote the poem “My Child” when Erin first went to a church nursery class at 18 months old.  I sat on the floor in the corner of room, keeping as low a profile as possible while she interacted with the other children and adults.  Erin came to me a time or two when her anxiety overcame her tranquility.  When she felt safe, she ventured off to play again.  She has now ventured off into the wide world, though she checks in once in awhile.

MY CHILD

Small child
clinging to me.
Soft cheek against my roughness,
delicate arms draped over my drooping shoulders.
Soothe your fears.
Let your tears fall and
wet my sleeve.
Let your love flow and
seep into my craggy heart.

Soon healed, your troubles forgotten,
release and turn away to play,
a smile on your small-child face,
a greater love in me.

Chapter 19: Porn

100_1074

–The Sego Lily is the most delicate and elegant of chalices, a veritable grail.–

The state highway traverses the valley three-quarters of a mile away, perpendicular to Church Road as I approach Rabbit Lane.  In the dark morning, a long line of white headlights travels north toward the Great Salt Lake, becoming red taillights as I pan from south to north.

Where do they all go? Continue reading

Where Does Love Go?

IMG_7083

So many people feel so lonely.  Even the most gregarious are not immune.  Even the most stoic of intellects must acknowledge that these feelings are real.  Hurt feelings, disappointments, resentments, traumas, betrayals, sarcasm, silence: they all push us apart to such distances that we wonder whether healing is possible.  Contemplating love and loneliness as I walked on Rabbit Lane years ago, I wrote this poem.  I have great hopes that people can find other people to love and be loved by, and thus heal the deep hurt of loneliness.  (Photo credit: Laura Baker.)

WHERE DOES LOVE GO?

Where does love go
after long years limp by?

Love burns and love binds
in the moment of beginning.
Love cleaves,
then tip-toes cautiously away,
leaving you wondering where it went,
and how it is that it ever was.

One day you saw love
slinking off
to hide behind so many hurts.
Another day you saw love
rushing and crashing
against rage’s rocky shore.
The last day you saw love
huddling, withdrawn,
under a dark, shrouding silence.

Why does love go
after long years grind past?
And what do you do
when it’s gone?

Cupcake and Olive

IMG_2748  IMG_2792

While I was away attending the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia in July 2013 with my teenage sons, my wife and younger children brought home two little precocious pygmy goats.  They named the black-and-white kid Olive, and the light-brown kid Cupcake.  Oh, they were adorable, running and jumping and calling to their human friends non-stop.  They loved the attention of being petted and bottle-fed, and followed Hyrum and Hannah around everywhere.  “My babies,” Angie called them.  This poem is about her love for the new kids.

CUPCAKE AND OLIVE

Olive is a pygmy goat,
white with black splotches,
or black with white,
two months old, almost.
You brought her, two days old,
home, with little cousin Cupcake,
and bottle fed her
four times a day.
She doesn’t bleat like Cupcake
(oh, my goodness),
even when hungry,
but cocks her head to one side,
just so, as if to say,
And where, Mama, have you been?
Olive will only suck
from a bottle held by you,
having jumped and flopped
onto your mother’s lap.
You stroke her neck
with a free hand.

Across the Day

Each morning as I leave for work I cross paths with my children.  They each require a hug (or two or three) as I run out the door.  I am often late and anxious to get away.  Sometimes I protest, “Just let me go, guys” or “You already hugged me once” or “I’m just going to work.”  When I slow down and live more mindfully, I stop and put my briefcase on the floor to give them a genuine embrace and a smile and a kind word, perhaps “I love you” or “Have a great day”.  If I really pay attention to these moments of connection, I notice a subtle but distinct feeling of goodness and happiness, a sense that something in life has changed for the better.  This poem is about one of those moments when I suppressed my natural tendency to hurry on to the next task and allowed myself to slow down and see what really needing doing.  See the related Chapter 12: Worm Sign post of the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog.

ACROSS THE DAY

Down the stairs he stepped,
pulling up a pant leg
to expose to me
yesterday’s skinned knee
and today’s unabashed want
for tenderness.
“It still hurts,” he whimpered
as I flew toward the door
with my briefcase and bagel.
“And you forgot.”
With guilty remembrance, I stopped
and lifted him to a counter top.
With guilty haste I rummaged through a drawer
for a bandage and soothing ointment.
“It feels better already,” he sighed,
his smile following me
out the door, down the highway,
and across the day.

Sun Has Gone

100_1319

Hannah (8) has added me to her bedtime routine.  “I was wondering,” she begins, “if you could maybe sing me a few short songs tonight.”  I sit on the edge of her princess bed and sing her one of my little songs, or a song from my 1970 Mister Rogers’ Songbook, a prized if tattered possession.  A song only takes a minute.  But many nights I feel burdened and tired.  The thought of answering to one more child’s needs sometimes overwhelms me.  It’s just one song, I say to myself with a sigh, and succumb.  From the first note I feel glad that I didn’t give in to the excuse of being weary.  A song only takes a minute.  Here is one of my favorite songs.  I wrote it years ago in response to a child’s request for a song from Dad.  It is sweet, calming, and, best of all, short.  The perfect lullaby for nights when Dad just needs to say “good-night” and go be by himself, or go to bed.  I hope that you will sing it to your little ones.  If you are so inclined, sing it through twice.  A song only takes a minute.

Sun Has Gone

These Hands

Hands are the perfect metaphor for who we are, what we do, and what we hope to become.  Do I use my hands to lift or to strike down, to caress or to punish, to persuade or to coerce?  My hands with their fingers type the words formed in my mind, spoon soup for a grandmother, and tickle a toddler.  Hands.  Use them for kindness, gentleness, hard work, and love.  And to write a poem.

THESE HANDS

Look at these hands.
My hands.
They tell my life:
in groove and scar and callous;
in a knuckle torn by a chicken house nail;
in railroad lines from a childhood race through a glass door;
in black grease ground into coarse cracks and cuticles;
in blisters and blood on a westward handcart;
at times, thrust hiding in deep but empty pockets.
These hands:
that hold the hopes and dreams of a self-hewn future;
that have sought the secret softness of a soul mate;
that have led trusting toddlers over perilous paths;
that hoisted an enduring ancient from the place of his collapse.
These hands:
that have clasped tightly together in impassioned prayer;
that have suffered the sad sting of punishment;
that have bathed the infant and dressed the dead;
that have hooked a worm and thrown a ball.
These hands:
that have penned a paltry poem;
that have reached for the stars and grasped only earth;
that have blessed the sick and slaughtered swine;
that can seal a man’s fate with a waive and a gavel’s rap.
These hands:
that spared the rod, soothed a crying child, wiped away a tear, smoothed a stray lock;
that once were tiny and tender, that patted Grandpa’s drooping cheeks;
that bestowed a ring and received one in return;
that now are old and gnarled, resting folded and futile in my lap.
Touch my hands with your hands.
Bring my hands to your face, your eyes, your lips.
Feel the coarseness and tenderness of my hands.
Bring your hands to my face, my eyes, my lips.