The “Want To”

You’re gonna rise up out of this place. You hear me, child?

Other folks say the die’s been cast. They’ve struck you off.

But I know you. You’ve got something they don’t see.

Listen to what I’m telling you. I see it when you and they don’t.

When you hide from me after you mess up.

And you get small again like a baby in your corner of shame.

I find you in that place you run to.

I picked you up then, and I’ll pick up now, and every time.

When you look up, at times like these, I see it. The “want to.”

It’s the “want to” in you that’ll make you make it, child.

The deep “want to” after you fall will get you through,

with a little lift from me. I’ll make you a vow, child.

I’ll always be there to lift you, even when you can’t see me.

Even if you doubt, or you think you’ve gotten too old or distant.

The “want to” will make you make it. Again and again.

And when you’ve made it, they’ll finally see it, too.



Deep in the kernel of the mind 

that is of the same substance as 

Spirit, Son and sun, where the blue 

hot flame of the dawning blazes 

ever inexhaustibly pure

and Silence is the force binding 

all elements in the form of

utter integrated union,

something structural happens when

I bring my skin-wrapped beating heart

in my hands and sit beside you, 

looking for the blue stillness I 

can feel beneath the cracked cover

of unknowing that seals you off 

from the warm air following me

with its waltzing particles that

align in a sacred circle 

around the center of our Souls.

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A Lament for Danny Terry

Went down to the river.
Down amongst the White Oaks
to the singing shoals at Mule Bend.
Sat there on a flat-topped stone
with lichen patterns we loved.
Looking, I tried to read them.
Their language somehow changed.
Danny Terry’s flown away.

Mama made a dress she said I’d wear one day.
Said when I met him, I’d know.
He’d be the one to wade out and get me.
There’d be others. But none would know my Name.
Danny Terry’s flown away.

Made it with his hands. Hardwood from the mill.
Sanded smooth and oiled. Hung it ‘cross a low limb.
Swung real squeaky on Sunday afternoons.
Room enough for him and me. Swinging. Slow.
Danny Terry’s flown away.

Found a dove once, in the woods.
“Broke like me,” he said. And bound up its wing.
If it flew again, I never knew.
Danny Terry’s flown away.

Clods barely cooled by the Fall breeze.
Seems we just stood there, looking down.
A lone petal fell in beside him.
The last one left of me that day.
Now lichens line the letters of his name.
Danny Terry’s flown away.

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Big Daddy’s Barn

(A 45 year-old memory)

The boy creaked open a half-hinged door.
The barn exhaled its cow’s lung full of dank hay breath –
sweet feed and corn cobs, fur dust and feathers.

“What sleeps slack-jawed under the floor,”
he pondered, always fearing falling through,
“with eyelids cracked crustily for manna from above?”

Stopping to read Braille messages in saddle leather scrolls,
he looked to the loft, just glimpsing the striped coon tail of a spy.
He pecked a stale kernel or two off a cob left behind,
crunching their consistency of candle wax and peanut brittle.

A dark corner called, so he took a notion to hide a while in the hay
and watch the shifting edges of morning light sweep their way
across knotted planks to the hidden earth beneath.

Knee deep in a farm field daydream, he heard a horse bray,
and thought of wanting to feel its rubbery lips and warm breath
searching and sniffing for sweet feed in the manger of his hands.


The Descending

At times like this time
now I feel you here.
The air is you. The floor and walls.
Sound vibrations. The hum of background.
The song in my head.
Each word a pocket photo.
Or a ring. A baseball. A wink.
They are suddenly, eternally you.
And you are here with me.
The stately Oak itself
bends down to you and me
and to a lasting love
because of the Holiness
that bends us all
to bowing not to breaking.
And the river sighs. Flows ever on.
I’m crying. I’m praying.
I’m gone.

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Lament on a Moonlit Eve

When the moon lies low on the southern hills
and the wind is scented pine,
in the midnight calling of whippoorwills 
sings the voice of Madeleine.

With the falling mist on her fairy face
and her footprints in the dew,
Madeleine met dawn with angelic grace
and a blessing, ever new.

Walking in the wood near her village lands
with a rev’rence deep and still,
she transformed her heart into praying hands,
her desire into God’s will.

Now the hills and the hollows graced before
by the singing of her soul
keep an all night vigil in her lore,
their own grieving to console.

Dearest Madeleine of the moonlit eve
met the Master, kind and good,
and each mourner now yearning to believe
walks a fairer, deeper wood.