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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Personal Thoughts on ISIS Murderers

Sometimes I feel the need to step beyond the intent of this blog to address happenings that cannot be ignored. The murder of James Foley at the hands of Islamic militants must cause righteous anger to rise in the hearts of any caring, thinking person. It inspires me to lift this ancient prayer of King David...

Psalm 139:19-22
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

The Lesson

I was a little boy
Very much wanting
To be like my father.

Look nobody in the eye
My father told me.
Looking people in the eye
Is to challenge them
And to challenge them
Is to fight them

He taught.

I spent years
Avoiding eye contact.

The few times
I made contact
Were accidental.

Even after that person
And I
Separated
Were miles apart
I continued to feel the watery fear
Making my legs weak
My breath shallow.

As a young man
A day came
Eye contact was unavoidable.

American cities flamed
That summer.
Distrust and fear abounded.
My eyes
And those of another
Met.

I felt the raw challenge
In the electric stare
Pulsing from eyes
In the face of a black teen.

I stared back fiercely
Unblinking.

He did the same.

I furrowed my brow
To appear menacing
To seem ready to fight
To go to war.

He did the same.

We passed one another
On the sidewalk
Each allowing the other
Wide berth.

Passing my adversary
Head on the swivel
I kept my eyes on target.

He did the same.

I remembered my father's lesson:
Avoid eye contact
Or be ready to fight.

His did the same.

We might have been friends
But that we had eyes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Invisible Tiger

I awoke this morning
To its familiar
Insistent
Guttural growl.
The invisible tiger
Lay heavily across
My lower body
Wanting me to feel
Its voracious appetite.
The first move
On my part
Would be countered
With brutal savagery.

I remained still.

The invisible tiger
Chewed on my
Lower right arm
Slowly
Deliberately
Wantonly.

I remained still.

The invisible tiger
Lay a heavy paw
On my sternum
Making it difficult
To breathe.

I moved slowly
Painfully
Trailing misery
Like great streams
Of oily blood.

The invisible tiger
Smiled.
How he loves the game.

I swung my legs
Over the edge of my bed.
The invisible tiger
Sunk its teeth
Into my right side.

I dragged the beast
To my medicine chest.
I fired into it using
Large caliber
Full metal jackets
Of pain killers.

The invisible tiger grinned.
I’ll be here
He said.
I will always be here.

And I will be hungry
Said the invisible tiger.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Steaming and Strong

I sit in the coffee shop
Back to the wall
Like a beached Marine
Against the sea
Daring all comers
Hoping to remain
In the shadows.

A new book
Opens before me
Its pages fresh
Papery pure
Creamy
Midnight ink scribing
Ancient wisdom.

It’s mysteriously
Wonderful
Transformational
How coffee strengthens
Understanding
Underlines
Truth
Heightens
Perception.

But knowledge
Is a jealous lover
Unwilling to share time
With frivolity
Distraction
Or even innocent
Conversation.

Pour it slowly.
Fill it fully.
Take it hot and black
Steaming and strong.
Savor every drop.

Take your coffee that way too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sweet August Night

A sweet August night
A sheen of sweat
On her chest
And condensation
On a glass
Of sweet tea
With a hint
Of bright lipstick
On the brim
Make deep
Memory
And pleasant hours
Sitting beneath
A melon moon.

Beyond the limits
Of our yard
Float the
Om-pa-pa
Of Mexican music
From a garage party
Down the block.

A small dog
Yips
And a child
Laughs
Just as she says
You know I love you.

I swat a mosquito
And ask
Do you want a refill?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Flee*

The finger’s on the trigger
The hand is on the hilt.
There can be no full accounting
For the blood that will be spilt.

Comes the galloping Pale Rider
To stir the dust within the camp.
Coming too, the Grim Reaper
With death’s finger, cold and damp.

The cruel, black veil is falling
Over the boundaries of the world.
All so soon the coming judgment
Will, like a fireball be hurled.

Flee now to the mountains
If it seems good to you.
Run into the deserts
If that is what you choose to do.

But no amount of running
Will stop the horseman’s path
When the God of Battles rises
To distribute his righteous wrath.


*Having closely followed the devastation of ISIS in northern Iraq, and Syria, and the incredible tales of atrocities coming out of that region, I am ever-more certain that a just God will not long permit this effusion of blood. But I am also sure that judgment is not confined to these monsters, but will come to all who do not love grace, and fall upon a merciful God.

Reply to Comments on "Five Minutes"

Tim,
Thanks for your comment. You are so encouraging. And, yes, we have all had those moments when we fear, but deep within the challenge has already been accepted, and the only thing remaining is to engage the action and overcome. At this age, however, I would never attempt the things that, as a younger man, I accepted. I still have challenges, but walking an icy ledge is not among them!

Ron,
Um. I think you have accepted the same challenges as I. Maybe more so. What I'm trying to say is...
you are the next chapter, little brother!

Anonymous,
Please don't misunderstand...the challenge in "Five Minutes" was not an appeal to suicide. It was in screwing up enough courage to do a job I was paid to do, in order to provide for my young family. Had I not made that climb, there would be no paycheck. And worse, the company for whom I contracted work would simply stop tossing work my way. So, in a real sense, the reality was that, had I not finished my assignment, there would be no groceries, rent, utilities, and the loan on the truck I'd purchased for work would go unpaid. No truck, no job. So, all those things made me determine to climb through those wires, walk that ledge, and finish my job. Nothing heroic here either. It was all about family, and being a provider. We all do that every day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Five Minutes

Do it
The inner voice said.
You know you can
It insisted.

The ledge was ice packed
And only accessed
Through a maze
Of electric wires.

If you walk away
You’ll always feel a failure.
You’ll never know
If you could have completed
The job.


I sat in my truck
My hands under the heater
Staring at the icy ledge
Thirty feet in the air.

If I survived the electric lines
I might yet slip from the ice.
I would fall through those deadly
Wires.
I would be dead before
I hit the ground.

Do it
The inner voice said.
You know you can
It insisted.

I closed my eyes and prayed.
My hands trembled.
I felt light-headed.
My stomach churned.

Do it
The inner voice said.
You know you can
It insisted.

There were bills to pay.
My baby needed formula.
My family needed food.

I pulled on my gloves.
I strapped on my belt.
I tightened my boot laces.
I walked to the metal ladder.
I looked up at the crisscrossing wires.
I focused on the ledge of ice.

Thirty feet is not far.
Thirty feet can be lethal.
Electricity will be fatal.
It will all be over in five minutes.

Do it
The inner voice said.
You know you can
It insisted.

I thought of a co-worker
Who fell through the wires.
I remembered his widow.

Five minutes.
Thirty eight years ago.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Cottonwood Lesson

I staggered out of our double-wide
Hoppin’ up on the tailgate of my ‘ol truck
With head in hands, full of misery
Contemplatin’ my fate, destiny, and luck.

You took every stick of furniture
Even took my ‘ol hound dog, Blue
Emptied all the money from our cookie jar
Took everything we had, old and new.

Dang it, girl, I know where you went.
You’re chasing down that four lane double nickel.
You’re pointing’ your little Chevy south
Red lips poutin’, like you’ve been suckin’ on a pickle.

I sat there, both hatin’ and cursin’ you
Talking to myself, with a hitch in my voice
When a shout like lightening and thunder
Told me I had to make a choice.

I lifted my eyes to the heavens
Askin’ God what he wanted of me.
He commanded me to go cut myself a switch
And I would very soon see.

So, I unsheathed my deer knife
Went over to a big ‘ol cottonwood
Cut myself a long, green switch
Thinkin’ if a pole could catch trout, this’n should.

God and I went down to the fishin’ hole.
I brought us some hooks and a spool of line.
I dug up some big, fat, juicy worms
That I believed would suit us fine.

About that time God spoke again.
He said I’d picked the perfect tree
But he and I weren’t goin’ fishin,’ he said
And the Lord bent me over his knee.

He took that switch I’d selected
And gave me a good old fashioned spankin’.
He said all the havoc in our marriage
Was of my very own makin’.

He said he’d see you give me one more chance
To make our marriage work.
He also said I had some growing up to do
Be a man, and stop actin’ like a jerk.

So, baby, here I stand on bended knee
Hopin’ you’ll take me back again.
Seems I only thought I had all the cards
But this ain’t a game I wanna win.

Baby, please come on back with all our stuff.
And don’t forget to bring my ‘ol dog, Blue.
Bring back whatever’s left in your cookie jar
But most of all, babe, don’t forget to bring back you!

All Things Being Equal

I was a bored little boy
Playing at the feet of my parents
In my aunt and uncle’s Arkansas home.
They began their visit
About the same time
God made dirt.

Then I heard the words
I’d waited for.
My dad was the speaker
And he used
Southern Speak:

“Come, go with us.”

I waited for the proper reply.
And it came:

“Reckon we better not.”

With that said
I began looking for my shoes.

Then came the setback I’d feared:

“How’s old (insert name here)?”

This required a protracted ramble
Through family history
Which necessitated the insertion
Of any new information
Of all activity on the subject’s part
Since the Korean War.

Then dad said:

“Well, thanks for having us.”

To which my uncle had to say:

“Don’t see why you need to go so soon.”

This would cause my dad to look down
At my brother and me, saying:

“These boys are getting restless.”

Restless?
I was nearly comatose.

My parents helped us boys to the car
Only to be followed by my aunt and uncle.
Several additional parting ceremonies were conducted
But I had mercifully fallen asleep.

At breakfast the next morning
My father said to my mother:

"Boy those people sure can talk."

I mentioned that everything any person said
Was always followed
By a mandatory response
From the one being addressed.
Therefore
In any conversation
All things are equal.

Dad said:
"You sure gotta smart mouth on you, son."

To which I replied:
"Thank you, Dad!"

Mom always spanked with a switch
Dad with his hand.

All things are never equal