From One Thief, to Another

(May be sung to the tune of, “Jesus, Remember Me,”
by Jacques Berthier)

“Though I’m unworthy,
and to pardon, there’s no reason,
Jesus, remember me
when you come into Your kingdom.”

Turning, He looked at me,
not with eyes of condemnation,
but with great mercy,
there received my heart’s oblation.

All I could offer Him
was a sinner’s feeble cry of faith.
It was enough for Him,
as He closed His earthly eyes in death.

Now, from the farther shore,
Love’s redemption story fills the skies,
singing forevermore
mercy’s melody that never dies.

So, friend, remember me,
in your guilt, and out of alibis…
hear, though a thief, like me:
“Today, you’ll be with Me in paradise.”

Love’s Eternal Smile

We say we want to look at Love
straight on, unmasked, eye to eye.
We have no idea what that means.

We like to look at laughing babies
and kind old people,
but turn away from tears or brokenness.

Mirrors show us only beauty
from a bottle, or fake flaws.
That Love should look
like we do is unimagined.
We are ashamed.

Love has wounds that make us faint.
Love is like you when you feel small.
Love has crying eyes of many hues.
Love is like me when I feel empty.
Love has skin of many shades.

Love looks like both rain and sun of sky.

We say we want to look at Love
straight on, unmasked, eye to eye.

Will we look into a death mask
to find Love’s eyes behind?
Do we turn away from
mirrors’ weeping faces?

Love is not riding a white horse.
Love is lying injured by the road.

Love is not afraid to wait
for one who’s not afraid to look.

On the face of Love
there is a scar
where you were struck.
There is a bruise
where I have fallen.
There are tears
where we are grieving.

Before we can sing
we must forgive ourselves
for crying.

Before we can live
we must be brave enough
for dying.

When Love weeps
we mustn’t look away
thus missing Love’s
eternal smile.

By the Bay

Whenever fog banks drifted
‘cross his tired face and hid him
from the love light that was streaming
through her eyes,
she led him to the waters
of the bay where she’d first found him
underneath an autumn’s gleaming
moonlit skies.

As he looked to the horizon
through the blue gold breeze of twilight
and his soul began to lift
its broken wings,
she decided she would meet him
on the other side of mem’ry,
there to offer him the gift
she always brings.

And she loved him there,
upon the water,
and she knew him there,
beside the bay,
pledging not to care,
if he forgot her,
when the fog came back
to cloud another day.

She watched him as the seabirds
dove and danced with one another
in a story that played out
upon the skies.
And she longed to wade the waters
made of teardrops and forever
filling up the empty cisterns
of his eyes.

And she loved him there,
upon the water,
and she knew him there,
beside the bay,
pledging not to care,
if he forgot her,
when the fog came back
to cloud another day…

‘cause her love would let there be
no other way.


Some time ago, I came across this drawing by my friend, Michelle Memran. Called, “A Balloon to Hold,” it was created as she entered her last phase of cancer treatment.

At first glance, the work spoke to me at a deep level, which I communicated to Michelle. She shared the piece with me, and allowed me to post a poem I wrote about it, below.

One of the incredible characteristics of art is that it begets itself in others, a truly awe-inspiring quality. I hope this poem honors that phenomenon, as well as the artist who shared her work.

Here is a link to Michelle’s art:


Feel free to say nothing more.

Some sit and talk for hours
and never get to the
depth of now.

Stare at the story
but aren’t brave enough to wade
because they might stumble over
something about themselves
they’d rather leave submerged.

My name?
I think you know it already.
It’s painted on your face.
But that doesn’t frighten
or offend me.

Pardon, but your eyes…
they float imploringly
in watercolored weariness,
lake lilies of the night
longing for someone’s sunrise.

I feel you have resigned to something.
Something strangely beautiful,
sunken down inside you.
But there has been struggle. And pain.

Yet, a restfulness,
set away from all that has
disquieted you,
distills onto your face.

Perhaps we can sit here together.

I guess it was meant
for us to meet this way,
upon a canvas, introduced
by a mutual friend.

Thanks to her.

And thank you.

Thank you for giving me pause.
For helping me find the courage
to tell myself…


“A Balloon to Hold,” a drawing by Michelle Memran

Where the Roses Grow

I feel myself wanting to explain
but finding only wrinkled words
that fall away like petals
when their blossom is dying.

I suppose that’s when poetry comes
to help, welling up with its language
that has soaked awhile in the soul.

I am not sad,
though I have fallen into
the great river of sadness flowing
within me, within us, around us all.

It does not frighten me now;
no longer denying its existence,
I have cast upon it
the flower of forgiveness
(though not perfectly),
even into the stretch of it
which my faults have fed
like a storm-swelled stream.

Joy blooms at the surface,
but has a deep root system setting
in the fertile soil of sadness.

Tears contain nutrients needed
for the flower of joy to unfold.
These essentials can be found
only where a face has graced
the golden ground with its waters.

This is Love’s design for the garden.

It won’t be long…someone will wander
through the garden gate, lost and alone
in their grief, frightened and confused
by the way things are, hurting and unheard.

Maybe I can listen well
and lead them to where
the roses grow.

The Candle

The house is still
with the unbreathed air
of morning.

A lone candle
holds hope’s vigil
in the dark.

Echoes of laughter
woo the dancing flame;
of weeping,
wring the hands of night.

Confessions and prayers
lie like widow’s breath upon
the table top;
each book hides petals
in its pages,
never to forget.

Love has set
its seeing eyes awake
to watch over all
who gather here;
all who ever have come,
all who ever will…

like a little dog,
to fiercely guard them,
faithful to the candle
in its heart.

Song: My Champion Tree

“My Champion Tree”
(Words, music, vocals, and piano – Danny Potts
Recording and mixing – Brandon Blanchard)

This song speaks from the experience of a care partner whose spouse with dementia is nearing the end of her earthly life, perhaps, under palliative care at home, or in a hospice facility. The care partner recalls a time in his own life when he was lost, and experiencing a dark night of the soul. In the depth of his despair, his spouse came with a grace that reminded him of who he was, and always would be, by the power of love. She knew his song, and sang it to him when he’d forgotten it. She showed him back to himself. Because she loved him unconditionally, and had mercy, empathy and compassion, her eyes spoke to him the message that he could not speak to himself. Thus, her gracious gift planted a tree of love, vibrant and green, in the soil of his heart. And, as the tree grew, he came to rest in its sheltering shade. Years later, as her time for departure draws near, he promises to be strong for her, to give her something stable to hold onto in her own dark night. He then realizes that the sapling of love that she planted deep within him in his weakness has become his champion tree, standing tall and true in the forest of fear that can surround care partners when doubt and death cast their shadows. And her love, the love that had found him when he was lost, gives him the strength to be there for her when she “comes to that river.” Of course, this song is also a metaphor for the love of God, which often finds us in the depths of our despair through the lives of those who truly love us.

One day, long ago when the stars in my soul
had faded into a thousand black holes,
and all that remained of the life I had known
had fallen right through some wax paper throne,
you walked down the road to the spot where I lay
and said with your eyes what my mouth couldn’t say.
And all I could see was a halo of light
when the inside of me was as black as the night

You lifted me up with your sweet, gentle grace.
You wrote out my name on the lines of your face,
and planted your tree in the soil of my heart.
From its sheltering shade I will never depart.
Now your heavenly flight comes like soft, summer rain,
leaving pools in my heart that have nowhere to drain.
But I promise to be something strong you can hold
as your green leaves in me turn to russet and gold.
And the vision I see in the gray of the year
is your champion tree in my forest of fear.

So, you won’t be afraid when you come to that river.
I’ll be standing right by, but I’ll let you fly to the arms of the Giver.
So, I won’t be afraid ‘cause Love keeps us together.
What’s true never dies, it just takes to the skies
for that deep blue forever…
for the deep blue forever.

Alive Anew

If you’ve brought out the best of you
yet life requires more;
if time demands a test of you
and failure seems your score;

if only embers still remain
of Heaven’s natal flame
to brighten spaces that contain
your shadowbox of shame;

if you’ve held on to shreds of hope
like tinder in your hands
then burned them in an envelope,
and no one understands;

if passions’ prickling thorns should weave
a crown upon your head
to mock the mercy that would leave
a halo there, instead;

if someone has believed in you
but now that someone’s gone,
and places that have grieved in you
are sealed behind a stone;

despite the many dyings dealt
before life’s banner folds,
where sorrow’s deepest pain is felt,
this promise surely holds…

that something springs alive anew
wherever something dies;
when Love lays down itself for you,
then, Love will surely rise…

to ever lift a deathless dawn
upon the waning eve;
and ever roll away the stone
for all who would believe.

(The first painting of Lester E. Potts, Jr., an artist who had Alzheimer’s)

Born Anew

Now something must be born anew
whenever something dies;
when Love lays down its life for you,
then Love within will rise…

And ever lift a deathless dawn
upon the waning eve;
and ever grant the Gift of God
to all who would receive.