100 Poems in 100 Days: #3

#3: Hot Damn

I write about dreams
About those lovelies
My experience is true.
I don’t write about
Kisses – memories
Intact in a tucked
Away and well-worn
Journal somewhere
In my brainhouse.
Hot damn though.
That kiss in the dream
Enough to wake and
Double-take me.
I remember the
Moment when lips
Permeate and breath
Sweeps our most secret
Landscapes – when the
Lumbering lifeform
Tongue wakes up to a


, pulling into the
Primal intertwining.
Two heads – the centers
Of being in communion
First lead forward by
The eyes, flagged forward
By confirmatory whispers.
I remember my dreams –
I remember my days as
A lover – truly, what
Separates these two
But waking up?
Hot damn.

100 Poems in 100 Days: #1

#1. Can’t I See What I’m Doing To Me?

When the words don’t come home
I will not be that overprotective
Reproducer of syllables who
Goes in a frenzy

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, calls cops,
Prays, appeals, pleads with
A quiet Universe to please
Give them one more chance
With a thesaurus and they’ll be
Such a better poet when in the door
They come scampering nonchalantly in like
Worried sick that I’d never have anything to say.

The very nerve of words today.
Where do they think they live, anyway?

It’s been a long time, and I have a huge backlog, but…!

There’s a bit of a game that’s been called. While in good time I’ll attend to backposting 2018’s much ados

, I’ve been tagged in a challenge: 100 poems in 100 days. This will be the host of these. Some will be shit. Some will be fragments. Some will get the job done. To wit, and fresh off a magical retreat, the post that follows will begin this cycle.

Blue Radio

Away the horizon’s grips to the brilliance that defines the contours
of the fantasies, the dreck- the limitless new word unspoken, the blunt force
trauma of counting, wishing, opposing- of being opposed, denying the wish, skipping the count.
On with the colors of the day clung to, sharp shadows and peripheral lovers,
found in flame, the filament; a gas-lamp, open window, radio glow.

I sense a billion of you underthrust beneath waves of harmonics
dialing across bands of music made from the songs of captured long-ago stars-
no matter what, your muscles ease- your eyes soften- in a blue second yours is the impossible,
finding the hidden frequency, the secret station that parts lips in a wind’s kiss.
We all fall into private minutes of symphony, if only for now, for this.

Night is the medium, little else dances on the edge of the skull
for when we are worn, it is the bone that sings and teases our slump upright
as too will it collapse to a hymnal of dust

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, rhymes and remembrances, tune in- it’s this one here.
This is the one I can’t resist as the dreams tug the electricity out, listen friends,
they’re playing my tomorrow… blue to purple to sky of music.

Even when I’m not dancing, I’m dancing, dance with me, you billions…
You billions, dance with me, I’m dancing, even when I’m not dancing…

Now/Time + Thoughts/Prayers

Why do we have Time if Now is never it?
Why Think and Pray if thought does not permeate
and the sacred is without bond to the day?
We are dashed upon the rocks relentlessly,
a daily chore of the grime and your offering is this?
If this be the epitaph you pretend to write…
for your teeming victims’ garland of overdue supplication…
may the inkwell be overturned in convulsed mourning

and the paper meeting fire be the light guiding our meager way.
Listen now, sanctify this:
Relent the hourglass from your battle-stiff’d hands
let it all shatter and walk the perilous yet hallowed path.
Unclench your faith-sick hands to let them know purpose,
in the joining with fingers which have traced
the world with yours, together having known
every continent of covenant from heart to heart, from sea to sea.
Let every embrace be when we pray-
let every moment be when we think,
let every bond be sacred to the day.

Meditation: 10 December 2017 (Columbia, SC)

[Presented at Jubilee Circle in Columbia SC with Rev. Candace Challew-Hodge]

This August while you Columbians celebrated the Great American Eclipse from your porches, I went road tripping to Missouri following the Path of Totality. My soul was in need of something celestial and miraculous and had been longing for a quest off the beaten Path of Banality, seeking new lessons of trust that everything in this crazy world happens with good reason. When you ask the Universe for new lessons though… watch out!

The Holy One sets the prisoners free;
The Holy One opens the eyes of the blind.
The Holy One lifts up those who are bowed down;
The Holy One loves the righteous.
The Holy One watches over the strangers.

This is the perfect Psalm for anyone who has ever found themselves at the bottom of a granite crevasse when it’s almost a hundred degrees out, having escaped fatal injury- but bleeding out a bit- and upon realizing it was all a magnificent lesson in accepting everything’s going to be alright- no matter what- so all you could do is laugh out loud from your pain like a crazy person there in the heat and dust stuck down in these stone cracks in the Earth. The perfect Psalm. Allow me.

The day before the Eclipse felt right for a little rock scampering. Elephant Mounds State Park is a majestic beauty of massive pink granite boulders with fascinating geometry created by cooling magma ejected billions of years ago. It’s a giant stone jungle gym where little kids dart through the narrowest of canyons, with not at all dangerous heights and depths for out of shape adults with treadless sandals and heavy camera gear to schlep around on. I’m scuttling along, and I want to hop across a small-ish gap. I’d already chucked my gear over, now it was time to chuck me over.

Do you remember those cartoons of the Road Runner, as he was about to go over a cliff? Everything would stop for a second- he’d take a final panicked look at the camera- uselessly spinning his legs in the air- and plummet. After impact, I realized just how stupid that was. I’m not Indiana Jones. I’m Asheville Joslin. I had several gashes, one on my elbow was especially prolific. I had put together a little first aid kit, kinda meager but there it was. And I just started laughing in my pain, trying one-handedly to bandage myself up, nothing was working because of all the sweat and the dust and my awkwardly wedged position. It was ridiculous.

The Holy One sets the prisoners free;
The Holy One opens the eyes of the blind.

In my youth, gravity was too kind. I believe I was spared a few “whoopses” then so I could do more with modern-day graceless miscalculations. Other than having this penchant for wanting to learning things the hard way, there had to be a reason for all of this- that’s when I heard the voice behind me. It belonged to a kid, maybe 10 years old, who stood with ready confidence.

“Hey mister, my name is Brandon and I’m certified in First Aid and my Mother is an EMT Tech and she’s right over there and I’d like to offer you help if you want it if that’s okay?”

Imagine my shock. I’d just dropped perilously in-between walls of stone and out of nowhere here’s a medically trained 10 year old who is fearlessly offering help to a sweaty, puffy, bleeding, struggling, crazy looking… stranger. Stranger danger is instilled in our bones, yet breaking all conventional wisdom was radical kindness embodied in this Midwestern Messenger.

The Holy One lifts up those who are bowed down;
The Holy One loves the righteous.
The Holy One watches over the strangers.

“I would like to offer you help if that’s okay,” says the child. Says the child to the wounded. Says the child to the Unknown. When did we last say those words- to a child? When did we last say those words- to the Unknown? What a world of miracles it could be- starting right now- if with the bravery of a child, we offered help. What a world of learning trust it could be- starting right now- if we worked to overcome the fear that prevents us from asking those questions. I don’t believe this child was exceptional- I believe what he did was entirely natural. It’s how humans “do” being human- when we aren’t stuck on subdividing ourselves into this and that. We are in the Holy Days, we are in the days of celebrating the light we carry and how we increase that light within each of us- through acts of grace, mercy, and love. It’s more than saying these things that assures us that the light shines— it’s doing them. Breathe Deeply.
Xavier Rudd is an Australian musician who has the rare distinction of being fully initiated and accepted as an Aboriginal despite his European ancestry. His lifelong work for Aboriginal and Ecological justice through music and the arts has earned recognition from the United Nations and a worldwide respect among First Nations peoples. This song is not a holiday song in the least, but I suggest it is about making these days holy.

Follow, follow the sun
And which way the wind blows
When this day is done.

Breathe, breathe in the air
Set your intentions
Dream with care.

Tomorrow is a new day for everyone,
Brand new moon, brand new sun.

Today we are on the cusp of celebrating Chanukah, a miracle of assurance that an inextinguishable light is far more than oil and wick- it’s the miracle of divine assurance. You know assurance Jubilants, when you leaned into it and said that we are now keeping open a Sanctuary where we affirm the Holiness of all of Creation. That includes the divinity of every being that has been or will be- even the beings that oppose us. It ties in directly with the message of Chanukah. The oil burned for eight days instead of one; so why go through life with a “one day faith?” Lean into assurance! Lean into a new “meant-to-be-ness” to make way for the holy to do its work through your hands.

So follow, follow the sun,
The direction of the bird,
The direction of love.

Breathe, breathe in the air,
Cherish this moment,
Cherish this breath.

Tomorrow is a new day for everyone,
Brand new moon, brand new sun.

Tomorrow is a new day for everyone alright. It’s a new day that calls for us to show up. People say that we don’t have the miracles of the books of old anymore- well we can argue until we’re blue in the halo about that, but I do believe in the Holy and I do believe that we don’t need those kinds of miracles even if they did exist. We need miracles of compassion, of grace, of mercy, of justice, of deep and substantive social listening, and personal acceptance. Miracles aren’t magic tricks- miracles are gifts of complete surprise that incapacitate ordinary thinking and doing. A new day is a given, because the Earth spins- making a gift out of that by asking “how can I help?” is what can make it a miracle for someone else.

When you feel life coming down on you,
Like a heavy weight;
When you feel this crazy society,
Adding to the strain-
Take a stroll to the nearest water’s edge
Remember your place-
Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came-

So which way is the wind blowin’,
And what does your heart say?

“Greetings, favored one! God is with you.” (said the Angel Gabriel to Mother Mary). But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid


, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

So here, we get to experience Mary’s shock. An angel comes down- already this is a big deal. Remember the angels you put on top of trees are not the angels that are always described- sometimes, we’re looking at many wings, not an aerodynamic situation. Gabriel has frightened people before. So when he says “Do not be afraid,” Mary be like “Tell me not to be afraid!” And she even has to handle the news that she’s going to be carrying a child, without… Joseph’s help. Who just trusts that? And… we know the rest of the story; two millennia of civilization have been built on it- for better or worse. For some, this is quite literal. When you think of how many moons have risen and set before your brief time here, how many spins around the sun we get to take, and are taken without us… hearken to the permanence of the mantra “be not afraid.” Why not? Why not let go of fear and accept the angels standing before us? It is both frightening- and astonishing- to suddenly recognize our fragility and our divinity, and the strange angels among us reminding us- “be not afraid”?

So follow, follow the sun,
And which way the wind blows
When this day is done.

Brandon, the 10 year old medically trained angel told me where he and his mother would be and pointed toward the way out.  “Okay, you be safe mister, bye!” I wiggled free from the narrow crevasse, only to find that I could’ve avoided the jump and walked down the other side of the rock, gotten back to the path, and even had a nice little sit on a bench. As I was putting myself back together, another kid, a few years older, was about to come tumbling over the rock. I told him where he could shimmy down. “Thanks man,” he said. “I could’ve really busted my ass.” No problem, I said. “Someone showed me the way.”

So follow, follow the sun,
And which way the wind blows
When this day is done.

[w/m (c) 2013 Xavier Rudd]

Meditation: 21 January 2018

[I have a backlog of these to post- going in reverse chronological order…! Audio & pics up soon.]

In a time where visions were rare, a young boy is ministering to an elder. Twenty-two years ago, when my vision was gone, an elder is ministering to me. In the night, the boy hears a voice calling to him- not his elder, but the voice of the Holy. In those days, I felt a stirring, a pulling- I didn’t know what it was. When the voice came again, the boy was instructed to answer “Speak, for your servant is listening.” The elder in my life, when I was just awakening from a great fog, taught me, too, a way to answer to this pulling; it saved my life. “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Say it with me, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” I think we’ve all, at some point, been a Samuel- receiving some mysterious calling- and an Eli- smiling on while another for the first time is being drawn to the Holy. When else does the Holy draw us in, when suddenly we’ve nothing to say but “Sign me up?” Perhaps when we’re slack-jawed in wonder: shooting stars, catching a peek of a blue heron, gazing into the eyes of a newborn… “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Perhaps when we’re driving back to sweet Carolina, and we see those mountains first rise on the horizon, and know that we’re home? From anthropologist and Zen teacher Joan Halifax: “Some of us are drawn to mountains the way the moon draws the tide. Both the great forests and mountains are in my bones. They have taught me, humbled me, purified me and changed me.”

Well, Jay that’s all warm and fuzzy- all this calling and answering, now what? What are we getting into? Does the Holy occasionally make prank calls? You bet. Sometimes- the call is a wrong number, a false start, a time you think “I’m really feeling drawn toward this” then, eh- not so much. On the contrary, the calling can be a constant drumbeat, and we can’t do it all. I used to answer almost every call, “Speak, for your servant is listening- please hold.” “Speak, for your servant is listening- please hold.” Before long, I’m a burned-out husk collapsed on the couch, and a booming voice says “Stop answering! How can you serve anybody when you’re so fried that you’re not even serving yourself?” “You mean I should… delegate?” “Yup, that.”  Lesson learned… Responding like you’re the only operator at the Cosmic switchboard will eventually turn any help you give into cold and untouched word salad at the potluck of life. We also might not hear every ringy-dingy, and the Holy doesn’t always leave a message. But the Holy keeps calling until we push through our reluctance, choosing to answer. That choice may appear insignificant- yet little choices, like acorns, can become mighty oaks. Today, you’re on the branches of a tree you planted long ago, a single choice you made that evolved into all this. And it’s not just you doing all the answering- the Universe has seen fit to have you in it; what if Holy is also saying “Speak, for your servant is listening.” What if? Breathe deeply.

Some of us are social media people. I like hanging out on Twitter- it’s pure chaos- like life- but much shorter. Some of my favorite Tweets lately:

“Do people who jog know that humans aren’t food anymore?”
“I once dated an apostrophe, but he was too possessive.”
“‘This isn’t my first rodeo,’ said the guy at his second rodeo.”

Then, this: “Go home 2018, you’re drunk.” This tweeter’s already fed up three weeks in, I get it, each day gets weirder. What if frustration is a bridge to empowerment? What’s empowerment without first being powerless? That’s how one call started that has since changed our culture, if not a generation. The call was one that left many feeling disillusioned, so they summoned a new power from which there is no turning back. In that spirit’ let’s remind ourselves of Margaret Meade’s wisdom from this banner, day it with me: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” One year ago today was the first Women’s March, but yesterday- WOW! Originally planned as a march on Washington, the movement has spread around the US, and the world. If correct, 5.2 million or 1.6% of Americans marched in 2017, an amazing number. Our motivations are different, but together they become prophetic.
Trickles of justice become waterfalls. Ideas to reform become legacies. Taking individual stands stir spellbound societies into new awakenings. A one-day protest has birthed countless better angels mothering the future. You’ve heard this coming! What’s a good anthem for a hopeful future? Written by Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, this song automatically releases “Hopamine” into your brain and fires you up for better days, let’s sing:

If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Nathaniel says to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip says, “Come and see.” Can anything good come out of 2018? “Come and see.” Can anything good come out of the endless dehumanizing news cycle? “Come and see.” It’s up to you. Take that walk. When you come and see, what do you get? “You will see greater things than these.” That’s what Jesus says to Nathaniel… “You will see greater things than these.” “You will see greater things than these.” Who in our community is calling for greater things? Our neighbors are calling. Our children are calling. Disparities between rich and poor in Buncombe County are calling. Our immigrant community- to which we are all connected- won’t report crimes fearing deportation- they’re calling.
We hear the cry of the nation but right here in Western North Carolina you’re a part of greater things through your support of our work at Jubilee, by pledging and feeding the hungry. It’s the everyday things too- remembering to smile. Letting go of the phone for a while. Any way you can be a helper is one step forward, and when together… you go arm in arm with more helpers and those struggling in the trenches… you become a rolling wave that will  wash over racism, wash over nationalism, wash over classism, wash over inequality of gender, wash over inequality of orientation and ability… you’re fulfilling an age-old call to truly see things greater than these!

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you’ve done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

This isn’t about putting a happy face band-aid over our boo-boos and daydreaming of winning a Bahamas cruise. This is hard work- how we choose to make use of our precious time, and why we say yes to the seemingly impossible, and yes… to mending old wounds. Many folks don’t get that cruelty mocks the miracle of the time we’re given, so we make the best use of ours by setting an example of seeing and being greater things than these. But, if you’ve been hurt, there’s good reason to doubt people rushing at you. How to repair that broken trust? While fear stays in fashion, what’s the next big thing that heals? While there’s no single correct answer, each of us has a part of it if we just listen- just listen- there’s 7 billion answers out there- if we just listen.

All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,
I know you don’t believe that it’s true,
I never meant any harm to you.

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Twenty-two years ago, this week, I answered a very painful call. It came in the form of a dear friend who had overdosed and died, and it shocked me into a brutal reality; the way I’d been barely living could’ve taken me with him. In one day, a lifetime of reckoning fell like scaffolding around me. Not knowing what else to do, I sought to reclaim long-lost spiritual connection, and I was almost immediately taken under the wing of a mentor who recognized my brokenness. An elder- an interim minister of a Unitarian church in Delaware- ministered to me- he answered the weak and unsure call of a spiritually dead young man, he awakened my soul and taught that good people and communities do exist in the world. It’s because of him that my best friend and I began a journey

, moving to Asheville, then I became a grateful Jubilant. Jubilee- you’ve restored my soul, but how many thousands more…? How many thousands more? You better believe that you, Jubilee, have an amazing healing power, an amazing redemption power, an amazing justice power, for the joy of human love you’re a force to be reckoned with in this world. When you step out that door today- trust that Creation will speak- because you are listening- and trust that together- we will ALL see things greater than these- together! Come and see!

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

 Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back,
Ooh, don’t you look back.

[w/m (c) 1977 Christine McVie]


Our Lady of the Highways

Hurling in inattentive abandon towards ye
At speeds in disregard of physics-
Are your sweet arms always
open to scattershot spirits?

We dodge limits, everyday improbabilities
As if protected by a storyline-
What will your myth take if I
crash in an accident divine?

Always a light at the end of my tunnel vision
Because you’re always there-
A man asks how he can be like
you, and you reply “but where?”

All the world has hallowed mothers watching
The children are always in a hurry-
Successive generations here

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, there
cover not thy face in realized worry.

Our Lady of the Highways, Cecil County Emm Dee
Homeland tugs the northbound lane-
Whip the curves, then back in history
One more border to cross, mystery’s gain.


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