Joyful Interlude

At some point I stopped
listening to music. For me
it was someone else’s joy.

Someone else’s story.
Not mine. Abuse of any
kind stops the music

of your life.

My LP records sit on a
shelf. I thumb through
them from time to time.

I can’t play my music
CDs either. I don’t want
to revisit a life of abuse.

Songs stir memories
I rather not have. But I
long for the sweet and

joyful interlude that
was written only for me.

[Author’s note: FYI, there is an exception. I have a group of CDs known as my car music, e.g., The Manhattans, Huey Lewis, The Commodores, to name a few, that I listen to on and off. But they stay in the car.]

Who I Was

It is a warm seventy-five for
a day in February, with a
refreshing gust of wind from
time to time.

One street over, the same
dog that barked its head off
yesterday is doing it today.

I’d guess that it was the same
train that went through with
a different engineer because

the horn blasts were new. It
was two shorts and long. Rest
and repeat. Rest and repeat.

What came next I couldn’t see.
It came and went too fast to go
take a look. The sound of a

military jet was so ear breaking
awesome, I was ready to reenlist
on the spot!

For me, twenty years in the army
flashed by with the sound of the
jet. That dog is still barking.

Daily I am faced with the reality
that I can no longer do what I
loved to do so long ago and not
so long ago.

I must be content with the things
I can do now. As I have gotten
older I rather do more, not less.

The Lord knows our limitations,
but we serve a God who shows us
his unlimited grace.

I trust God will open yet another
door I now cannot see. The dog is
tiring. I, too, may be tired.

But I do not tire of your grace or
your love for me. Age has stepped
in but my time is in your hands.

By your unending grace, I can serve
you as I am now because you are
the God who made me who I was

with the knowledge of who I was
to become.

Was Me

In my mind, that place where fantasy
and I meet, I watched wave after wave
crash on the shore. I saw heartache

after heartache wash away the lines
in the sand. You can’t cross a line if
it isn’t there, can you?

I looked up at the dunes. I saw a big
woman waving to me. “Come on!” she
waved with one hand while the other

kept a large floppy sun hat on her
head. On the beach the sand was hot
in the midday sun and the water was

cold but there was always wind on
the dunes. Her light sundress blew
against her side and back.

I started to walk up the steep path
from the beach to the dunes. I lost
sight of her where the path zigzagged

as I neared the place where she stood.
When I got to the top, it became clear
that the woman was me.

As I laughed and sighed, I looked at
the beach. I saw a little boy playing
alone in the sand. He looked up.

There was something about him that
said he always plays alone. As I
waved, “Come on!” I knew that the

skinny tanned little boy was me.

The Unspeakable

It was early in the afternoon.
We closed the bedroom door
and did what we said we’d do.

My wife asked me to tell her
about what happened to me
when I was a child.

I have seldom spoken about
the unspeakable, undoable,
unthinkable, unbelievable.

All true. We walked through
the secret places of my
childhood sexual abuse.

When I was eight years old,
I lost a lifetime but I didn’t
learn about it until I was fifty.

You listened and loved me with
each word I spoke. You love me
for all that we will share and do.

What I know, all that I hoped for,
longed to do, and deeply desired
would never be the same as we

take a new road together that
rose out of the fire and ashes
of the unspeakable.

The Truth

fantasy is not a friend

it makes you want what
you can’t have

and try to become who
you were not meant to
be

fantasy is a false enabler
of the mind

all that is true becomes
false and all that is false
becomes true

but only in your mind
not my mind

you own yours and I own
mine and our end will
always be based on

the truth

Odds and Ends 2.20

I am sitting out back on the patio where I usually sit on a stack of pavers that sits next to the hose reel. I use the other short pile of pavers as a table. Just big enough for a cup of ice water and a pen or some such thing. My phone is small enough to rest on the hose reel.

With my pen in one hand and cigar in the other and steno pad on my lap, I try to put my finger on what is so odd about this day after Election Day. I am not sure there is any difference between today after this election day or the day after a hangover. Neither of them memorable or so it would seem.

Looking around, it is actually a perfect no day. No bees, no hornets, no mosquitos, no flies, no squirrels, no birds, no dogs, no cats, no people, and no election day results. But like it or not, I believe there is anxiety in the air.

So, my God, I must ask. God, I am not asking you for my pick, I am asking You for Your pick. The likes of Lincoln, FDR, Reagan are gone. (I know there are more, but I can’t think of any others who stand out at the moment.) I served twenty years in the Army to support our country. It is our duty and privilege to vote. I didn’t want our country to go down the tubes then and I don’t want our country to go down the tubes now.

It is so quiet I can hear the distant rumble and whistle of the mid-afternoon train slowly making its way through town.

Any day now we will learn who won the election and I will thank you, Lord, for the next president you have allowed to serve your purposes for America and in the world.

Closing thoughts.

For me, someday this election will be a distant memory like all the other presidential elections that preceded it. Election Days come and go. My peace in this annoying, anxious, gut wrenching election process, regardless of the outcome, is You, my God.

The presidents or leaders of countries change. But praise God, Lord, You never change—you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May God bless America.

Ancient History

I put the suitcase I borrowed from
my mother in the trunk and got in
the car.

My father drove and smoked. And
smoked some more. He is usually
lecturing nonstop by now. I cracked

the window open to get some air
then closed it again. His visible
nervousness made me even more

nervous. He started talking. After
each cigarette, he’d open the window
just enough to flick it outside then

close the window without interrupting
his monologue. He never wanted to
hear anything I had to say, so I

listened to his World War II Army
stories again about his basic training
in Burlington. No post there now.

Ancient history.

I think he was trying to give me advice.
He pulled up to the front of the AFEES
building in Newark. As I got the small

vinyl suitcase out of the trunk he asked
me to please write. We sort of hugged.
I started up the steps as he drove off.

Seems like just the other day. That trip
to Newark ended with a late-night bus
ride to Ft. Dix for basic training.

It was fifty-five years ago yesterday that
I enlisted in the Army. Thank you, my God,
for your protection and care. You are my

refuge and strength. You alone are God.
The rest is ancient history.

Shadows in Life

all things are forgotten
by humankind
by time
by design

except for the memories
of war
of abuse
of pain
of suffering

for they are our own
they made us who we are
maybe not who we thought
we wanted to be

and what of the other memories
of joy
of love
of peace
et cetera

they cast light on the shadows
in life with hope for the life
to come

just like the knowledge of God
cannot be listed as a memory