The burn boat

You take the burn boat out

Should have been used to

Ferried day trippers

Or taken provisions for the larder

But not this–

Watch a man built then burn

His own funeral pyre

With the ease of a fraud or


Feigning the act of breathing

In and


Just to

fool us all.

Birds fly across

Last time I call you darling

Birds fly across

Crane toward heaven,

still see/only shadows

As the crow flies

light flies faster

-sound far behind

But shadows, old friend

In cold pursuit

And you so sure you can

Outrun them

Rules for Prodigals

I once knew a man who said it should be the parable of the prodigal father, which, of course, is true. We are not very prodigal with much but our father’s treasure.

I have been the younger son. I have been the older son. Jesus knows that we are all really not great sons–judge-y or profligate or both, so he gives a story where the two great characters are an old man and a fatted calf.

The man who saves the world makes himself the main course at a feast thrown for a loser.

I am that loser. The shining moment of clarity in any human life is when we realize we are all the prodigal child.

And so we should know the rules for prodigals–

I have done nothing to deserve this inheritance I have squandered

I have made little account for the days my Father has grieved on my behalf

But he never stops hoping I will come home.

What pride, what fear, what foolishness can withstand the power of love?

Luke 15:17-20 KJV

[17] And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, [19] And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. [20] And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

The parable of the retold

I remember you

I remember when you ran into the waiting room with your sister

I remember all the warnings and admonitions I got from Martha-the-caseworker and your recently relieved first foster mom

And your blue-as-the-sea implacable gaze across a very misguided table

I remember your speech therapist and her fairy godmother-like delight in seeing you make eye contact and in watching your self-inflicted facial wounds

Heal and not return

Storms all over the place

Storms in you swirled all around us, even when I tried to contain them.

This kind of grief

For weeks now I have watched the tree thirst to death, unable to tell it that there is very little hope. Its auburn hair has cascaded around us, weeping, and I have felt both inadequate and way too nonchalant.

So I crafted a fictional me who did all the desperate things the real one should–buy yards and yards of burlap, soak the naked roots with water scooped from the river, gather the seedlings, cut careful branches and apply growth hormone to them, explain all this to the dying tree

The real tree gestures up to the mother tree, deeper into the soil, the manicured lawn, sources of man-made hydration.

And then down to the clay and rocks, blanketed now in the reddish needles, strange nourishment

sufficient to grow


once she has gone