the circus

these imprisoned
creatures of God

dressed as buffoons
subjugated for the

pleasure of the payer
and the profit of the purveyor

their place in the
created order stolen

and perverted by those
who simply don’t know

the difference between
caretaking and dominion

“the circus” is pejorative
for the will of those who

subject this good world
to decay as it groans

in the pangs of childbirth
until we look like God’s children

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The lake

Rhythmic lapping little tide,
always moving, swelling,
ebbing green and living;

bluegill dart in shady grottos through
the tangled branches of a fallen tree,
waterlogged and sinking slowly in the

soft mud of the sandy bottom–
even as painted turtles bubble up
to rest on branches still poking above

the surface. The water glides around
such interruptions, satisfied to hide
its secrets in its cold, deep-dark-under places where

giant catfish sleep while, above,
the morning mist fades and it
glimmers bright and yellow in the

summer sun, a rippling mirror for the
pines and oaks who draw their life
from its cool shores. Their still silence is

broken by the distant calls of geese
and mallards, kingfishers and bullfrogs,
and the random clunk of two old friends

quietly fishing in an old metal rowboat.
The lake is a world to itself, a
mystery of stillness and movement,

a home for fresh, deep peace.

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Axolotl

Bizarre walking creature
moving with forces of
invisible currents through
the cold black space
of some alien world?
nope…
a simple axolotl from
a stream in
Mexico.

What a wonderful
world.

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Being a willow

Remembered long-ago
nights of childhood terror:
overpowered, overcome,
choiceless—knowing his
anger with me and
only me. My smallness
his power over me to
humiliate and belittle.
How many nights afraid
of his hands…the belt?
How many more spent
breathless and beaten-down—
followed to my room by
words of shame, walking
head-down in acceptance
of the shouting? It’s
all my fault. Everything is
my fault. Drooped and
burdened…

I was a willow tree.

Grown up among the
oaks and walnuts, my
branches were unequal.
I found a falling pine who
promised to hold me up and
who made me think I could
be big and strong. But
she grew over me. Her
branches fell. She scratched
and stuck and, cracking,
collapsed on me,
bending me to the ground
before she rolled away and
left me scarred and torn.
Her words, the same as his:
“It’s all your fault. Everything
is your fault.”

Alone,
in the quiet after…

No more shouting, no
more leaning and blaming.
There was
friendship and
commonness
like a cold stream
running through the
roots. There was
shady solitude and
peace like hot
sunshine on breezy
greening leaves
and I learned to
pay attention
to the birds and
the squirrels
and to give them
shelter.
I learned from them to
find joy in being a
willow just
as they found
joy in being
birds and
squirrels.

I found
another willow.
She droops like me and
sometimes we are
blown by the wind and
sometimes we lean
a little much and
sometimes our
scars are still
a little fresh and
reopened.

But
we are rooted
close together.

We drink water.
We feel sunshine.
We breathe air.
We find happiness
in the work of our hands,
and in the passing of
time. We look to
our own rings
and our own love.
And we have learned
to make for each other
a quiet place in this
world—to find it
and to listen to it
and to let it
keep us.

We have learned
to stand a little taller,
to droop a
little heavier,
and to find peace in
being a willow.

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his own person

me and Wendell

lithely, limberly he walks
the room’s perimeter,
as cattily as any feline—
his purpose a mixture
of prowling and patrolling,
of watching out
for trouble
and looking to get
into it

embodying the fullness
of the qualities of his
kind, Wendell is, yet,
irrefutably,
wholly himself,
his own person:
reserved and reticent,
but playful and ornery

deep in some
perverse corner of my mind had
lurked the silent expectation that
he might take the place of
my old friend whose
gregarious and
affectionate nature
had been my daily comfort,
whose gentle breathing
at my side lulled me
to sleep in the evening,
who, I think, saw himself
as my caretaker, and whose
absence had become a
bottomless chasm
in the peace of our home

instead,
he has revealed only
the pretension of such
wayward thoughts, as

that place belonged to Hauerwas, and,
though that chasm aches and yawns,
it will always belong to him, for
Hauerwas was his own person, too

and he was too good of a friend
to have that taken from him
he deserves better and,
as Lewis said,
“manna, kept, is worms”

it is far better,
more Godlike,
to miss the one
and to know the other
and let each of us be
his own person

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Hebrews 11ff

Driven by
longing
for a place
on earth,
those defined
by belief are
familiar with
discontent.
Confessors of
alienation,
they are searchers,
strangers and foreigners,
outcast and
unbelonging
forward-lookers,
believers in (against
all charges of
strictness and
pedantry)
a better, higher
country.
God’s own
children.

They are the
lonely prophets,
boat-rocking,
destabilizing justice-
bringers, lion-
tamers and
firefighters,
Houdinis and
feeble champions.
They are mothers
of the Risen, who,
though captured
and tortured, stare
resolutely into the
eyes of their captors
saying, “you can
take nothing
which won’t be
given back
better.”

They are the
jeered and mocked,
the beaten,
chained,
immolated,
indigent,
isolated,
homeless,
abused.
They are
hiders, den-
livers and cave-
dwellers,
solitary hobbits,
chased-outsiders.

They deserve better than this world.

They are the
still-waiting,
incomplete,
yearners, longers,
aching testifiers,
awaiting the reign of
the completer,
the author and finisher.

And they are
waiting for
you
to join them.

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anger

Anger,
like a
fiery brand
thrust deep
and searing itself
hot onto my
child’s heart
by steel hands
clenched in
impatient,
bruising fury,

incessantly
rekindled
by the words
that shaped my
self-mind:
“sorry, weakling, worthless, pathetic,”

smoldered by
memories of
misuse and cruelty,
habitually reignited
by new brutalities
wrought ever more
treacherously by
new power-holders
always seeking to
throw their
own gasoline
to fuel their
ambitions,

was always there,
a true friend,
constant as
the north star,
saying,

“No.
This is not right.
There is something just.
There is Peace.
Find it. Choose it.
And call this what it is.”

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