Wednesday, April 17, 2013


So I think this may be my first proper "blog post."

If anyone cares to start going through the other posts that I've made, you'll see that the chronology of when they went online has absolutely nothing to do with when I actually wrote the content. Additionally, I understand that you're really not supposed to draft a blog post; that a true blogger just kinda writes everything that's on their mind that day and publishes it on the blogosphere. Well, that's what I'm doing with this one. Almost.

What I really want to do with this post is explain why I've been publishing these written works that I've largely kept on my hard drive for so long.

I've always wanted to show them off... but I've been afraid that they wouldn't be received well or that I wouldn't show them off at good times, either of which would subject me to have my work rejected or simply passed over.

But now, through the miracle of modern telecommunication, I can put my work out there, for anyone to see at any time, in any place anywhere around the world! Which is completely terrifying... and maybe a little compromising... but I am intentionally putting it out there and I will also deliberately start telling people that it is there. Because I really do want this stuff to be read, but I don't know how to say that in the manner that we speak everyday. I want to use these observations and reflections that I've had as a kind of preaching, but I have not yet found a good way to do that.

I want to preach, but I don't know how to do that when I know so well what the restrictions are at church or at school... and I might go start preaching on the street corner, except that I know what the reactions are to that sort of thing.

So I guess I'm turning to the blogosphere as a place where it's free to publish and anyone can read it. I'll call this practice and keep looking for a place where I can share what I've written in person.

Of Cattails and Mires

I stand here
Surrounded by hard wood
It is probably here to make us focus
For the idea presented here is lofty

I read off a sheet
Given to me as I entered
I give into the monotony
This monotony bred of ages
Worshiping in cold, stony cathedrals
I still lose focus

My mind is wandering in mine own celestial planes
I romp around and go whither I will
I come to a stream and decide to drink
But I stop while stooping
For there is a figure standing among the lilies
A figure garbed with white raiment
This person smiles, head shaking at me
And sends me on my way,
Back the way I’d come

My mind returns
To find my body seated in the car
I’m driving across the bridge downtown
Black water is lit by a tugboat light
I don’t know where I’m going
But I find him just the same

A man, a bum living in a cardboard box
Behind the fish stall on the pier
I get out, walk to him
Drawn by some otherworldly force

Hey old man
Hello, he says
I think we’re supposed to talk
Though I’m not sure why
Yes, he says, I suppose we are
Do you need anything from me old man
No but you do, his words trickle out, you need help
See boy, you are thirsty
And the river is the only drink
Wayward enough to quench that thirst
But how to drink a river old man
With this, a shell of a trinket he hands me
Now move, he points upstream
And I begin to drive

I drive along the darkened streets
Until they are dark no more
I drive until the morning hum blinds my eyes
The car pulls to the side of the road
Free of my control
I move out and find a marsh
My feet move to the edge and in
I flail at the cattails
And my ankles are cradled by mud
I come out at the river
In a burst of light and perplextion

Water past my knees
The figure is there again
Smiling my grandfather’s smile
Eyes twinkling like my first love
Hands calloused and caring like dad’s
He pulls me in and takes the shell
Fingers brushing my palm
Water pours from the shell
It covers my head and face
Running down my neck and throat
It covers me inside and out

As I choke and gasp
A thumb presses at my forehead
Makes a sign and withdraws
I smell something
That pulls memories out.
Old and long forgotten
It penetrates my being
I open my eyes and see the white robes
And through them a whole world
Filled with good and bad
People lost and people found
Past, Present, Future
They mingle and murder
Love and laugh

Through my crystal mire
I can see I must be with them
Love them and guide them
Hold them and console them
I’ll to them now
For the river is long and wide
And it beckons me on

"Of Cattails and Mires" is a piece that I'm particularly proud of. I distinctly remember writing it, too. Quite frankly, I was pissed off one night when I had to be at a church service with my Confirmation class and I started writing things that came into my head on the back of the bulletin. It was a small demonstration of resistance but I kept adding onto it when I got home. 

This one took me a while to finish. I remember that because I started writing it when I was in Confirmation in Minnesota and I didn't finish it until later that summer (2004) when my family was settled in South Dakota. I also remember showing it to my mother late at night when I was done with it. She was so moved by it and, while I felt proud of being able to have that effect, I really didn't know what I should have been feeling about being able to do that.

At any rate, reading it now, I realize how long it has been since I've started trying to articulate what I believe about Baptism and salvation and Christianity. I think my methods have changed some, but I think I'm still going along in a similar trajectory, don't you?

My report card

My best guess on this piece is that I wrote it sometime in early 2005. I can't remember what was happening when I wrote it, but I remember writing it. I'm not holding it up as a paragon of poetic work, but I am offering it as a gesture of vulnerability. Anyone can obviously see the emotion in it and I'm hoping that most people can sympathize, seeing something in their past that connects to what this piece is trying to articulate.

I work so hard
to be called “holy”
but put to sermons’ standards,
I don’t really add up

I feel bad
I feel insufficient
I wish I could see
God’s report card for me

do I get an ‘A’
in Piety?

and am I earning enough
extra credit in Stewardship?

I wonder if I am creative enough
in Bible Study views

oh, how I wish I could see God’s comments
in that box at the bottom of the page
so that I can truly see
what percentile I match

my trouble lies
in where to find this card
where do I look
in God’s wide creation?

do I look to the stars
or down at my hands?
do I look high and low
or wait for the mail?

perhaps the best I can do
is buy me a copy of the Good Book
open it up
and find where I fit

cause doesn’t it say
God loves me so?

doesn’t it say
that I just need believe?

after all this
God’s message, I think
is not directed toward my doubting
but more to my faithing

the Lord leads me blindly
but of course the Creator knows
which heading to follow
to keep from sticking to the muck

by that celestial sea
the Lord is my shepherd
and if God leads me by still waters
then I’d best go swimming


When I rediscovered this piece, I saw that the date stamp was 16 June 2007, which would put its composition just after I graduated. I'm not entirely sure if that's accurate, but it would make sense. I was kinda going through a phase, and I was nearly nocturnal; I had multiple part-time jobs that were all in the evening and most of my writing happened after I clocked out at work. Any rate, I chuckled when I read it again (at least in part because of what I entitled it) and I wonder whether you'll chuckle, too.

I sucked the milk
I leapt over the moon
Felt myself become weightless
Floated for a moment

But what goes up
Must come down
So I dove like a swan
Straight down

The way out is down
Burrow back into the womb
Strata of past ‘avant garde’
Only way out is down

What goes up
Must come down
So I tuck in
And dive down

Afraid? Yes
But to burrow
Takes momentum
And the descent is a rush

My Canvas

I think the story of how this one came to be is pretty awesome. It was in my 9th grade Civics class, which would put it spring of 2004. We had a free day or something like that, but what I remember is that it was bugging me that the white board was so blank. So I spent the classtime writing this, line by line, on the board. I think this is the original one, too. I don’t remember making any edits on it. It was before the time that I enjoyed editing.

My canvas is blank
Blank as the snow of the field
Blank as the expanse of the sea’s surface
Blank as the look on the students’ faces

Each is empty, as is mine,
void as any of these

But each is not blank
As you look, each starts to live

The mice, moles, flowers, deer of the field
The whales, fishes, plankton of the sea
The nerves, cells of students’ faces

So this thing starts to awake
It starts to breathe
It starts to move
It starts to live

This thing starts to have its own
Action, activity come to it
It starts to teem, it starts to walk

It starts to walk away from the arm
I helped it up and gave support with
Now it starts to run

It is teeming, it is breathing
It is moving, it is living

Now it is full
Full as the field in nature
Full as the sea in the summer
Full as the students’ face in wonder

It is running, it is moving
It is playing, it is dancing

It moves on its own now,
It needs me not

Where I began it,
It finishes itself

It finds more of its own kind and,
as I watch,
I smile and think of the time that we mingled
As two friends but as one in the same

It is mine, I am its
I am it, it is me
And then I smile

Because my canvas is full