poetry

clutch

my hands are empty;
i keep them tightly balled
into fists for illusion’s sake,
to make the rest of the world
(and myself) think
there’s something held within
that tight little grasp,
but there’s no fooling You.
sometimes i feel that
sharp little pain in my chest
and bleat oh God, is this
what it feels like to die?
only You know i don’t mean
that kind of dying. you would
think i should’ve learned by now
but i still panic every time. the
world is loud and fear wails
like a siren through my mind;
that still little voice in my soul
gets outshouted sometimes,
i am ashamed to say. break
my fingers (and my heart)
if You have to.

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Christianity

note to self

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Jesus is patient.
Jesus is kind.
Jesus is not envious.
Jesus is not a braggart.
Jesus does not think more of Himself than He ought to.
Jesus is never rude no matter the circumstances.
Jesus does not demand things must be done His way (“not My will, but Thy will be done”).
Jesus does not get irritated.
Jesus does not resent people or circumstances.
Jesus never applauds or condones evil of any kind.
Jesus delights in the truth — truth-seeking, truth-telling, truth-doing, truth-living.
Jesus carries everything.
Jesus believes the best in every situation.
Jesus has an unquenchable hope.
Jesus endures everything.
Jesus never fails.

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photography

the dryness and the rain

after completing messes of men, the first part of my photography project inspired by mewithoutYou’s brother, sister, cranking the second part out was surprisingly easy. as part of this shoot i learned about betta fish and discovered just how many things cockle burrs can latch onto. [and how cold 40-degree weather can be — thanks to models matt & carolyn of the fluorescent and ben for being great sports and incredibly patient even though it was painfully chilly outside.)

here are some selections from the shoot.

first came a strong wind
rippin’ off rooftops like bottlecaps
and bending lamp posts down to the ground

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then came a thunder, shattering my windows
but You were not that strong wind or that mighty sound

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that left the barn in shambles
the rabbit hutch in ruins
the split-rail fence splintered and the curtains torn

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all the cows out from the pastures trampling of the pumpkins
and the horses from their stable ambling in the corn

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i’ve flown unnoticed just behind You like an insect and i’ve watched You like a falcon from a distance as You passed

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then swooped down to be nearer, to the traces of Your footsteps to pick the fallen grain from the dirt beneath the crooked grass

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and i’m gonna take that grain and i’m gonna crush it all together into the flour of a bread as small and simple and sincere

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as when the dryness and the rain finally drink from one another the gentle cup of mutually surrendered tears!

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a fish swims through the sea
while the sea is in a certain sense
contained within the fish!

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oh, what am i to think
of what the writing of a thousand lifetimes
could not explain
if all the forest trees were pens
and all the oceans – ink?

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photography

sunday sweaters

once upon a time on a late spring sunday afternoon (most likely after a thrilling nap), i found myself … bored? inspired? whimsical? i don’t know. but i decided to lean on the windowsill and pose for the camera … this was back in 2011 before the word “selfie” was ubiquitous. it was also before i got around to asking other people to pose for me on a regular basis. so i had to make do with myself … yeah, not really. (although self-portraits are interesting to construct, and sometimes harder than one might think.) the first of these is called “a very slow mind” (i don’t remember why), and the second two are part of a series called “sunday sweater.”

a very slow mind

sunday sweater iii

sunday sweater ii

this afternoon, for kicks and giggles, and to stretch my posing, focusing and actual stretching abilities, i decided to try to replicate them. it was a lot more difficult that i thought it would be to get myself into the exact same poses as i was before. you’ll see that the end results are not exact matches, tone-wise, focus-wise, pose-wise or what’s-outside-the-window-wise. but, in a way, i think that’s as it should be — though many things are the same as they were five years ago when those first shots were taken, a lot has changed. and so have i.

a very slow mind 2

sunday sweater iii 2

sunday sweater ii 2

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photography

winter afternoons

owl5

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –

Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction

Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance

On the look of Death –

Emily Dickinson

owl6

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photography

messes of men

i’ve talked before about my love for mewithoutYou’s album brother, sister, and my desire to “illustrate” it, so to speak, through photography and other media. a desire four or five years in the making finally got off the ground last march when i did two shoots based on “messes of men,” the first song on the album.

then life happened — i couldn’t decide for sure how i wanted to edit the photos, of which i’d taken far too many and i couldn’t bear to part with any of them … i was involved in five weddings from august through december … my schedule seemed crammed to the gills … anyway, all that to say that i’ve finally finished editing them. whew! now to plot out the mixed media finished product.

here, for your enjoyment, are some selections.

‘i do not exist,’ we faithfully insist
sailing in our separate ships
and from each tiny caravelle
tiring of trying there’s unnecessary dying
like the horseshoe crab in its proper seasons sheds its shell
such distance from our friends
like a scratch across a lens,
made everything look wrong from anywhere we stood
and our paper blew away before we’d left the bay,
so half-blind we wrote these songs on sheets of salty wood

caught me making eyes at the other boatman’s wives,
and heard me laughing louder at the jokes told by their daughters
i’d set my course for land,
but you well understand
it takes a steady hand to navigate adulterous waters
the propeller’s spinning blades held acquaintance with the waves
as there’s mistakes i’ve made no rowing could outrun
the cloth blowing on the mast like to say i’ve got no past
but i’m nonetheless the librarian and secretary’s son
with tarnish on my brass and mildew on my glass,
i’d never want someone so crass as to want someone like me
but a few leagues off the shore, i bit a flashing lure
and i assure you, it was not what i expected it to be!
i still taste its kiss, that dull hook in my lip
is a memory as useless as a rod without a reel
to an anchor ever-dropped, seasick yet still docked
captain spotted napping with his first mate at the wheel,
floating forgetfully along, with no need to be strong
we keep our confessions long and when we pray we keep it short

i drank a thimble full of fire and i’m not ever coming back

oh, my G-d!

i do not exist we faithfully insist
while watching sink the heavy ship of everything we knew
if ever you come near i’ll hold up high a mirror
Lord, i could never show you anything as beautiful as You
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