City of Sound

I looked for a sound to rise up from these streets

And quench the fire in my head,

Turned corners filled with rhythms

Notes like bees swarming the sky

Ev’ry direction echoing between

My ears, filling the anxious space

With their sweet buzz

Bring me back to here, now

Sun shinin’ through concrete and steel

On the glass tube letters,

On my hair and in my skin.

The fire falls into my bones,

My cadence gets in line and I

Swing through this city

Two three four.

No pain strain rain in my brain

Just mixed up mellifluity

My pulse paced with a bass on

The facing corner

Two steps to the left of drum sticks

On a five-gallon bucket

Ka-thunk, thunk-it

Meowing steel guitar pierces through

Honky-tonk windows to the sidewalk

Crowds sing along to secondhand classics,

And for the space of of five city blocks

My heart too



Weepy Little Girl

They’ll say, “Quit cryin’

Or I’ll give you something to cry


They’ll say it’s a man’s world,

A dog-eat-dog world,

Suck it up, buttercup,

Big girls don’t cry.

You might dry every

Haphazard tear,

Choke and swallow hard until


No not nothing

Can break you.

Woman, don’t you know?

Your tears are your battle-cry,

An alarm to take up arms,

Defend the injustice

And shame the unrighteous.

Your cry is power and might,

A warning to the oppressors,

The conscience of your people.

Turn your cheek, woman, and

Let them see.

Things I Can’t Not Say

Don’t be misaligned,

don’t let your faith be defined

by lines drawn in shifting sand.

Don’t fall prey to hate

upon hate.

Let us not piggyback on politics

and legislated ethics.

Let go of perceived needs,

undeserved rights,

unneeded exemptions.

Who is your King?

To Whom do you submit?

Who holds your soul, after all?

Render unto Caesar so you can

turn the other cheek.

Freedom is not in the holding on.

Who is your king?

That calf in gold,

the one of your own making?

Where is your trust?

Those paper and ink abstract notions

re-named and re-claimed by any man,

consumable when put to the flame?

We put our trust in borders of wire

and wall and water and imaginary lines.

Are you willing to relinquish your citizenship, your membership,

you rights and rightness?

Revoke your borders?

Abandon your status?

I have called you to be a people without country,

without home,

without name,

except Mine.

No other name.

Deny my father.

Refuse my name,

And I’ll be newly baptized.

Ten Minutes to Midnight

Ten minutes to midnight, Christmas Eve,
Can we begin again?
Can we drop the excess and focus on presence –
Our presence,
His presence,
Our present tense life
Because this present, tense life scatters good intents
Like tinsel on the floor
Can we stop looking for chances to be offended
And start seeing the places for graces to land?
Can we give each other the benefit,
Not the doubt?
Can we turn our expectations inside out,
Make the story about You again?
About humble love, sacrifice, miracles, awe?
Can we extend love to the farthest reaches of our fingertips,
Casting lasting hope in the corners we ignore?
Can we bring our offerings, our mountains, before Him,
Lay them at His swaddled feet,
Recognize that love and surrender beat all?
Can we begin again and see You this time?


Art, like beauty, should be simply displayed and judged by its beholder. It is not up to the artist to explain, justify, or disclaim each piece to help soothe the viewing masses.

But, since I am a terribly insecure poet and do not have viewing masses (more like, dozens), I want to explain the following poem a bit. I have been heavy-hearted tonight, feeling a profound burden of prayer for the people of Ferguson, Missouri. This poem developed in my head as I prayed for understanding of the difficulties faced by people on both sides of the issue. I do not claim to have an opinion on the matter; the last thing anyone needs is another opinion, and let’s be honest, very few people were actually at the scene of the incident. I also recognize that the issues at hand go much deeper than one incident in one town in August. I hope to show how we are more similar than we realize, and how grace is our first best hope, always.

It was never supposed to be this way.

All I ever wanted

was a fair shot,

to serve and protect,

a chance to be somebody.

If I could just live my life in peace.

If I had to, to lay down my life for peace.

Community has an understanding

The system is a social contract

based on trust.

All my experiences have ever taught me

is to trust no one but my own.

And I don’t know where the anger began –

And I don’t know where the division began –

like chasing spiderwebs in the dark.

But now there’s blood on the streets

and it all looks red.

The schools and the stores

are boarded and closed,

and my community, where my family lives.

and this community I swore to protect

is no longer safe.

I don’t know where to begin,


nothing changes…

if nothing changes…


What did you expect when you
tied on your robes, donned your chains,
your bells, your incense and oil;
when you saw him walking through crowds
paying his taxes, spitting in mud,
loving his enemies?

What did you expect when he unrolled the scroll,
broke your rules, fulfilled the law;
when he challenged your pride and died
on a thief’s cross?

Who did you expect:
A righteous warrior?
A crown prince?
Certainly not the Suffering Servant,
the Sacrificial Lamb.

What did you expect when you
put on the respectable clothes,
drove too fast, went to his house,
looked for your seat, the one with your name?

What did you expect, arms folded
mouthing songs about more about yourself than him;
critiquing the offering protocol, the message,
waiting to feel better?

Who did you expect:
A good-looking rock star?
A charismatic politician?
Certainly not the Risen Christ,
the Almighty Lord.

What does he expect, but a
heart broken and pure:
clean hands, empty of straws
grasped in a rush of fear;
eyes fixed on him?
Who does he expect?
The ones he calls “Beloved,”
even them,

even me,

even you.


Death plucks a languid finger

at the string of life,

shivers of fear echo

down the line.


Faith, the capo, slides up the neck,

calms the ceaseless shaking,

focuses bouncing energy to

produce a sound of unexplainable peace;

a reverberation of a promise:

eternity, holy presence.


A thousand threats strum new fervor,

a last ditch. Their only effect

is a rhythm of freedom,

a melody of perfect love.


image“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they were created.” – Rev. 4:11 (KJV)

Worship is not a service.

It is not a song set,

nor a candle lit by a frail woman in a shawl,

nor the turning of wheels,

the wafting of incense,

the counting out of prayers on beads.


It produces sacrifice, yes,

and surrender, serving,

and sanctification.

But it is not these things.


Worship is an attitude, a posture,

a bending of the knees,

a bowing of heads,

a lifting of hands.

It is a casting of crowns.


Worship is a giving back,

a creative magnetic force

pulling the precious metal of our gifts

to the surface to shine in the light.


Worship is honor;

it is homage.

it is an opportunity.

Worship is the freedom to love

and to be loved freely.

In a Library Garage

imageThe cream Seville rotates clockwise, the steady secondhand, in the corner of my eye,

cutting inches from my passenger side door and the oblivious boy in the booster eating Goldfish.

Another full three minutes to adjust her things, thirty seconds to open the wing of a door.

A cropped white head, wire frames, a faintly discernable smile unable to lift the pleats of skin.


The boy unbuckles, pounces my arm rest, begs water, a toy, attention.

His sister squirms in her harness, cries for release.


She has begun the trek across two rows of cars to the elevator.

She is yellow and gray and pressed like a woman who has time to iron, who cares to.

The bags of routine hang from her elbow, unmoved by her steps.


The phone bings. The sister throws her cup.

I collect the trappings of snack, brief the boy on library protocol,

fumble for my Chapstick, brush my hair with my fingers.


She pulls the massive glass door to the elevator with every fluid ounce

of graceful determination, waits, then steps silently into the lift and out of my sight.

And I wonder if, when she was thirty, she ever wanted just one moment of



God is a roar of brilliant light,

the humming of ten thousand cathedrals,

an all-encompassing specter 

approaching with unmasked splendor and unveiled hope,

a beacon filtering through ancient trees,

ceaselessly seeking to bring you home.