Friday, April 25, 2008

Breakfast With Bill

Breakfast With Bill

Homeless, he orders the breakfast burrito and coffee—
and finds it hard to eat with his right hand, with its middle
finger once nearly torn off, and now, the last segment bent at 90 degrees,
and scar tissue everywhere—
battery acid, you know, after the finger tip was nearly torn off at the logging site
on a cold winter’s day.

Unwashed, he’s spent the last four days sleeping
in Methamphetamine World, the apartment dwellers tweaking,
after smoking, after trading their souls for the drug.

“Oh, I slept upright, in a chair, the floor was too dirty for me.”
and his eyes show the strain, and he shakes as he forks more food into his mouth,
and chews thoughtfully, as I ramble on about self esteem and real friends.
Later, he tells me he hadn't had a meal in four days.

His belly now full, hashbrowns stashed in Styrofoam for lunch, we walk a few blocks in the cold spring rain, mixed with snow
to the Salvation Army and the church, and the food bank, as I introduce him
to the folks who can give him food, shelter, maybe a job.

We walk past the fleabag hotel where he hopes to find a room, for $100 a week,
to share with his buddy, who now lives in his car, parked at the park, or down by the river,
these nights when the temperature approaches freezing, and warmth is found
under the pile of one’s clothes, in the back seat.

He speaks of his mother’s contempt for him, wishing he’d go back to jail,
and his girlfriend, who is waiting for their marriage to have sex, and waiting
for him to have his hand surgery, and find a good job, and being able to
move on with his

As we part, I hand him a twenty dollar bill, knowing he will need it for dinner,
and he pulls back, not wanting charity, but the hunger in his eyes says different –
he quickly stashes the bill in his pocket, the rain turning to snow outside.

I make a few phone calls, back in my warm office, my coffee cup full, and knowing
a hot dinner and a clean bed and a hot shower and family await me tonight,
and I wonder,
where he will sleep tonight. He doesn’t show up at the end of the work day, like we’d talked, if he hadn’t
found a place to sleep, and somehow, as the night falls, that is


Sunday, April 20, 2008

April Sunday Snow Day

It snowed this morning, and as I walked outside to get the Sunday paper, frozen sleet crystals clung to the trees half leafed out, and sparkled on the windshield of my car. Crunching along, I noticed a bright pink swoosh across the eastern sky, right above the frosted trees in the mountains, and the glaring glacier-like white of the clear cuts.

January, I thought, but the newspaper and the calendar said late April. My half numb toes agreed with me, as I shivered down the lane to find the comics.

Sipping coffee, I looked out on the deck, now covered with falling snow, as the spring birds ate voraciously at the feeder. I’d put out a block of suet and filled the feeder with sunflower seeds last night, in anticipation of everyone’s need for a hearty breakfast this morning, as winter settled in, the second or third time this year.

Later on, the spring cleaning bug hit me, and I worked up a sweat with my frenzy of putting away papers, straightening up my various living room piles, and damp mopping the floors, while snow and hail fought outside for who was going to keep the lawn the whitest.

Opening up my new tube of oil paint, and trying out my new palette, I happily mixed and daubed away with my brush, attacking a fresh canvas with what soon became a cheery beach scene on a summer’s day. Naples Yellow, Raw Umber, Raw Sienna, and French Ultramarine, along with their friends, Titanium White and Indian Red soon danced with my brushes and brought sunshine, waves, and summer cheer to the room.

The oil smelled good, and reminded me of fresh mown grass, and crisp sea air on a summer’s walk to a favorite beach. Never mind the hail pounding on the roof, or the sound of the furnace cranking up to fend off winter’s chlll. It was summer, at last.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lost Boy Beach


Edge of the sea
Edge of our lives—
both the joys and the
of the past—
the potential of the future
just a step away.


I slide on the pebbles
just ahead of the wave
rushing in to douse me in
cold and wet, to drag me to the
rocks beyond—
reminding me to keep moving
or I’ll fall—
just like life.


In the warm spring sun
we drink wine and watch the tide
rush in,
grinding the pebbles into
waves turn steel blue, then
against turquoise sky
as birds dive nearby, oblivious
to the rage of the


We talk, we pray, we cry
About family life, and
Family death.
We hold hands and combine our strength
against the tears of this day,
uniting to walk into the future
awaiting us at the
turn of the

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Starting, Today

The Marine, fresh from Iraq,
Thirteen months, but he doesn’t speak about it today--
His wedding day, and his bride beams her joy
Holding flowers taken from the court clerk’s desk.

All the family gathered, sitting excitedly in the courtroom pews,
As the couple, shaking a bit, start the short ceremony,
And repeat the vows, and exchange rings.

Smiles all around, especially the Marine, when it comes time to
Kiss the bride, and start their marriage.
Their fingers tremble as they sign the papers, and open
Cards and gifts, amidst all the laughter and good cheer.

Their love fills the courtroom today, and rolls out into the hall—
Their enthusiasm for life and love and each other
Makes everyone smile, and want to dance.

Love came today, and was celebrated
By all who were there and all who saw them leave—
The Marine and his wife, floating off to begin their life

Change, Perhaps

Empty he was--
Filled only with loneliness, self-loathing
And wondering what life was all about.

He worked all the time, and smoked dope
When taking his son fishing on his weekend visit
Hoping, somehow, to bond with his son
Instead of the state trooper giving him a ticket.

His reputation at work is the man with six jobs—
Having no time for his best friend and coffee
He wonders why he hasn’t made love to his girlfriend yet
And she is moving in with him in two weeks
To parent his sons who are moving back with him
After the divorce, after the custody battle,
After they become adults.

No time to walk on the beach or enjoy the sunset,
Never had time to drink wine with his woman
And watch the sunset together, and instead
He just wonders why he is stressed out and
Getting sick all the time.

The emptiness is creeping up on him,
Robbing him of his energy, his yearning to live,
And he wonders if, perhaps, he needs to



Be present
God’s presents
Patience, wisdom
Time to be quiet and accepting
Time to accept His presence
Presence of God is being open to the Spirit
Time to hear, to listen, to have a conversation
Time to be present.
Acceptance of the Spirit