Yod (closed hand): part 10 in The Red Letters

What isn’t mine I can’t contest the loss of.
You see beyond all my alleged rights,
past my whining “I deserve,” my proud
entitlement, to my self-permissive
posturing, just a child in tantrum. You slight
me - so it feels - a slight, in love, allowed

because it disciplines. Your answers never
look the way I think they should: denied,
delayed, rounded down and detoured. This
withholding marks the crown of love, however.
What at first is bitter, sweetens over time
as I begin to grasp what grace it is

that You don’t give us that which we request
but that which Your omniscience knows is best.


Apple Picking and the Subsequent Use of Apples

Tomorrow I start eating apples.
Someone please hand me my teeth.
I measured many afternoons
by the bucket I filled and still,
I look at each apple with
a friendly reminiscence. Some,
I call by name. I croon
and whisper to them, admire
their patina and waxy red hue.
I relive their capture, fondly
caressing the details. Others,
relegated to the back rows,
I ignore, embarrassed that I
brought them to harvest.
I take pains to document
each one in lively writing,
highlighting the flaws
and ghostly virtues;
then, with scrupulous hands,
upon the shelf I replace them
with tedious consideration
of charisma and emphasis.

There is something pleasing
about the resistance of plucking,
a supple bough snapping back
on release, and of the subsequent
weight in the palm, a pleasure
Newton never appreciated,
though to be fair, the richest
and ripest of my collection,
compelled by gravity, often fell
into my hands, all shiny
and ready for consumption.
Like any good researcher,
I dropped them in the bucket
and examined the physics,
attempting to discern the conditions
that allowed for such fortune,
whereby I might duplicate
the product indefinitely.
This has yielded poor results
and even poorer intake
of perfectly edible food.

I have noticed that many
of my first fruits have been
visited by entropy, their gloss
and firm texture replaced
by soft, dull aging lines.
I should probably check
for worms. The newest
additions, on the other hand,
still appetize, though not everyone
likes apples as much as I,
nor is the flavor universally
consistent with the sheen.
I am helplessly reminded
of funeral caskets, which look
so elegant on the outside.
Still the issue remains:
apples achieve so little
in looking good. What charm
they have invites one on
to purpose, the fulfillment
of their raison d’ĂȘtre.
They were never meant
to indicate one’s aplomb
at picking fruit.

I grasp yesterday’s yield
in my hand, turn it over,
toss it a few times between
my hands and assess the dulcet
pop of fruit on flesh before
replacing it. It’s silly to waste
good apples this way. I’ll eat one


Looking for a Fixture

Edison and Tesla lit bulbs
all over the world.
Whenever a soft click
issues from the corner
and suddenly God
is commanding creation,
they, like so many others,
resonate back into being.
I am told that in Hebrew,
“Let there be light,”
is an anagram for
Tomas Edison (for they
do not understand the being
of h in such words).
It requires little effort
to obtain a light bulb
and yet the purchase alone
secures nothing. For years,
I have been sitting in darkness
waiting for combustion.
I am currently amassing
the world’s largest collection
of unused bulbs, second
only to Tesla himself.
What a lemming philosophy
to expect them to ignite
and illuminate hitherto
unsuspected recesses in
the rooms I frequent!
And yet I hold them up
one at a time in my
avid fingers, testing
their filament and admiring
their sleek, rounded figures,
desperately appreciative of
a light only I see.


The Purpose of a Blog??

So I have three blogs . . . and two of them are largely unused. I still occasionally update "Different Fingers" because it's focus is poetry and I still occasionally write poetry. But I got to thinking . . . why am I doing this? What's the purpose of these blogs? And I realized this is my contribution to the ministry. Writing is what I do best, and I need to be doing it all the time, AND I need to be sharing it with the church. So here's what I'm going to do. "Different Fingers" will remain a poetry centered blog. Most of my poems these days have to do with Scriptural insight and/or observations about church, which is to say they're religious, or at least pertain to religion. And I like that and intend to keep it that way. "Practically Thinking" (which is intentionally NOT "Practical Thinking") was meant to be a more serious contemplation of Scripture and church issues, and I've decided to return to that by making it a devotional series. This is one of those things I talk about doing that may end up not happening, but I need to try. Need. That's what I'm about, and if I'm not using my writing for the good of the church, then I'm wasting that talent. My initial thought was to make it a daily devotional, a 365 devotional written over the span of a year. But I know myself. As much as I would like to commit to that, it would probably not last. Laziness, business, and forgetfulness would keep from doing it regularly. So I'm going to shoot for AT LEAST once a week, though I'd like to do it more often than that if I can. I'm also intending to make this available to both churches of which I have been a part (Grace Fellowship Church and Woodville Grace Brethren) so that my  contributions are not simply cyber contemplations, but practical uses of my gifts. As for "A Modest Proposal" . . . I haven't quite decided yet. I've realized quickly that it was a fun idea to which I am not truly committed. Even the piece on evolution, a concept which intrigues me, didn't hold my attention long. Perhaps it will simply sit unused. Or maybe I'll post writings there that lack a religious flavor. Maybe eventually, irony will return to me, and I'll find myself full of ideas for that site. Until then, I think I may just ignore it. My hope, however, is that "Different Fingers" and "Practically Thinking" will not be that way, but will be reservoirs of thought and insight from which others will glean practical and applicable truths.



“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think . . .” ~Eph 3:20

Through the culvert under the highway,
we follow the creek to a slow bend
under a canopy of leaning birch trees.
On the shore, we leave our shoes
and stand at the pebbly edge
of the crisp pool observing
a colony of water striders skating
across the surface tension like
mutant figure skaters, like tiny,
spindle-legged Jesuses,
safe above an opaque ocean.
Held in place by inscrutable forces,
their tiny weight-dispersing feet float
them at angles. They pivot and dart,
pleasingly ignorant of drowning. We are all
well-pleased. Who can fathom
the grave-like cocoon that explodes
into flight; the buried seed thrusting
toward harvest; the lonely descent
of leaves in autumn? None can appreciate
the inertia of such elegant capitulation,
the significance of such a beautiful,
needful death.



“In my best behavior, I am really just like him.” ~Sufjan Stevens

I have it in me
to be the worst; what
separates me from
the rapist or serial killer?
From the thief or gambler
or drunk? We are similar
shapes different only in size
and place. I think this in
the dim light of the stage
during Sunday worship,
while others sing around
me, as they add their breath
to mine, as we all breathe
together with all who came
before – such a stifling
unison. I am enough,
lacking such a choir, lacking
all men, to require the cross.
I have felt beneath
my pulse, the pulse of
that hammer; I have gripped
the rough wooden handle and
cold nails; I have heard
the report of iron on iron;
I have looked on his
beaten body with unconcern
and watched the last breaths
from his heaving chest pass.
Here, now, a cross hangs
alone on the wall, a token of
our remembrance, much
too clean and smooth and
small. Not an instrument
of punishment – it’s true
function – but a Spartan
ornament simply rehearsing
a faded story, pale
and fragile and timorous.


Tet (staff): part 9 in The Red Letters

What ought to comfort shivers bones. Against
such love, I rail and writhe about, a child
in understanding, throwing off incensed
the gentle hands that seek to smooth my wild

and prodigal way. Your soft rebukes incite
in me a vicious silence, haughty pride
surfacing to defend my alleged right.
The length and depth of the grace from which I hide
outstrides my resolute and damning spite.
Your discipline welcomes what ought to be denied.

In light of this, my definitions ravel.
I need such discipline, such love; all else
indulges. You alone can sound the gavel,
sentence me, and save me from myself.