Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: What Is a Dream or Not

Image: NASA

They sleep as the noise of life mutes

and who knows how they lie down

or company they keep, or

what borderless countries nest inside the jumbled brain.

They each gather secrets like

food for the famished, markers for mapping.

They stir a netherworld with gasps,

fingers clutching sheets, mouths innocent.

I have gotten close to them

out there where we meet. Dream passersby.

Masses that crowd nebulous snowy back roads.

By a lapis sea circling crystalline mountains.

In the markets, tiny stalls billowing

with beauty and oddities, our hands happy.

Streets like puzzles. The night a hologram.

But fights happen there, too:

the free and cunning grab power

while unfree bloodied give it up as

human agency runs out of steam.

Even the brave sometimes cannot find

a door to an ancient portal to newer worlds

and fall, rise, fall. No one is always heroic.

Still, we sleep on and float and wrestle,

half-wake with stories unraveling.

And yet there remain beyond the blue deep

a trillion unknown pulsars,

magnetized, radiating, spinning.

And so why not angels keeping guard,

a glowing personage for everyone? or more?

Inside the opalescence I search is a beacon

like a pulsar-guardian

and fear drops away with gravity

so life which is love is not forsaken

or blasted or misread or forgotten.

It lives. It acts. It liberates as

I travel without thinking, with less pain,

and minus remembrance of every loss.

So it may be for all other sleepers,

though some do forget upon rising,

knowledge like a flaming flower gone to ash.

Still, the open passage of dawn to day

takes us back into soft and jagged silences,

into whorls of talk, a measure of longing.

We walk. We talk.

Our eyes frame one another,

we nod and wonder:

who was that, what did I recognize?

An eternal memory of the

aging and young, well and lame,

lost and found, those who cannot bear

or bother to look up– yet sense kinship like

the telling energy of the animate.

And this: we each are one more link to God,

our lives a chalice for sacredness.

You doubt? I believe doubly.

Is it, you say, a dream that carries me off…

or is it a necessary truth recalled?

The universe is made of such potent things.

We may reclaim them here, now.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: This Skin

This skin–yes, that’s right–

thin membrane that keeps us tucked in,

largest of organs, which well guards or fails us,

a fine architecture of covering

to corral feelings or unleash them;

elastic, hearty, our constant companion

both heals or hounds us, navigates all spaces,

invites us to welcome when it seems impossible,

finds pathways to knowledge or loving

when words cannot–

this skin.

How it wraps up and wrestles with us.

Not a choose-your-own vehicle;

nor less than a lifetime of lessons;

nor clothing we can shed like a shirt;

and not only a map that can guide us,

also a worthy boat that knows to carry us–

this skin.

We breathe and sweat in it, kick and leap.

It follows our bidding and we, it.

But a skin that creates you can break you.

What you find in a mirror may relieve or remind,

shock or delight you, reversals of fortune.

It will make you lonely, grant inspiration,

bring you to mysteries of a moment,

and even (flesh can do this, too) your soul–

this skin.

And the day you were born was a day

your skin informed that its gifts could

test and rescue you, monitor and grow you

til death would end it, send you off, all shed.

This is your own skin which can record

trivia and secrets, herald joy, signal messages,

lift you past defeat even if broken by tragedy.

Toe to eye, lip to knee, finger to chest,

milkweed soft or volcanic tough,

old and young and years between–

this, our skin.

It stings, it bargains, it dreams.

It makes us wake up. Gives us stories.

This is your brain and body republic

now calling on courage to see one another

inside colors and shapes–each worn in victory,

in mourning, in praying, in laboring–

our ripe, frail lives that (unlike peaches, roses)

can make another tale to equalize this inner

and that outer, these powerful, those powerless.

Give hand to hand greater mercies.

Give voice to voice the blessing of respect.

These skins which brought us to earth,

may they lean into the arena of our future,

liberation unto liberation unto liberation.

(Thank you to my blended, multi-racial/multi-ethnic family)

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Possibilities for Rescue

What cannot be surmounted

can be welcomed;

what cannot be released

can be tamed.

What cannot find its way

can be protected;

what cannot be believed

can be reviewed.

What cannot be healed

can be pardoned;

what cannot be changed

can be unchained.

What cannot be spoken

can be sung;

what cannot be moved

can be reawakened.

What cannot be joyous

can be recreated;

what cannot stop weeping

can be forgiven.

What cannot be revealed

can be redesigned;

what cannot be embraced

can be blessed.

What cannot come out of dark tunnels

can be retrieved with little flames of truth,

and it is expected that the luminosity

will well save you both.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: This World

Not the sea but the salt

not the sand but a grain

not the sky but the blue

not the cloud but the vapor.

Not the tree but the root

not the lilac but a bud

not the cave but a rock

not the lake but the fish.

Not the storm but the brightening

not the mountain but a peak

not the trail but the dirt

not the valley but the meadow.

Not the sickness but the healing

not the grief but the weeping

not the terror but release

not the hunger but the charity.

Not the moment but beyond;

not despair but keeping on;

not the end but regeneration.

…Not ailing world of bruising dark

without a rainbow bursting dawn;

not any street, alley or byway

without your waving at the windows;

nor the ragged thrum of hearts

without holy currents running

a rescue boat with nets and light

to gather and bind our wounds:

not this world but better with

an emergent covenant of care,

and not the blades of discord but

our human voices singing

bless you, amen amen amen

Friday’S Passing Fancy/Poem: A Small Thing

This isn’t a poem. 

It is a moment that wants 

to be set free,  a small

thing with a bigger imagination, 

a plaintive whistling in the dark, 

a boy with a bird on his shoulder, 

a shadowed heart that also blazes. 

This is a pause in lavender twilight, 

a thought that strikes dew-laden air,

a random stop on a serpentine trail that 

detains us so we may become less lost. 

This is a minor rescue despite the rending. 

It is a moment of intimacy saved for  

others frail or frightened or 

hungry for something else. 

Here arrives night, dreams or not,

still an old woolen blanket 

so that inside it we may camp, 

carried by night dense with falling stars,

warming our hands over pulses of

heat from stubs of saved candles. 

This is a memorial, yes, but a story

of miracles. The morning comes like a scarf

drifting over the face. It has always a 

luminosity that wants not to let us go, 

our human hopes close like protection, 

with recognition discerned in kindness, 

and soon everyone more known

to one another in the struggle. 

Angels, that’s what seems closer now, 

the angels summoned of our longing

or our surrendering,

each drifting this way, a chorus. 

To hold up.

To comfort.

To forge a way to new horizons.

So if this is no poem, 

then consider it a memo, 

a reminder, 

a way of remembering 

all that is good about the world, 

the things we must not misplace, 

and promises made to keep: 

find hallowed the life we each can mold 

now, not then nor far tomorrow,

and also release it, exuberant or weary,

with the wings and winds of God

to the hands that will open.