Every evening, if we remember, before it is dark enough to turn on the light,
We pull the shade down over the window,
Blocking our neighbors and people on the street from a view straight
Through the glass of five friends chatting over chocolate and tears and sacred words.

Every morning, when enough of us are awake,
We pull open the shade to a view of the street and the neighbors’ dining table:
Bare winter branches and telephone wire and
Two yellow chairs and a laptop and occasionally a person.

Tonight when I take the train out of the city,
It snakes through apartments, tall buildings made of little boxes made into homes.
Through the brightly lit windows,
All the kitchens look different, counters and tables and chairs.
I catch a mere second of the inhabitants’ actions,
The turn of a head or the placing of the hand or just stillness,
Only their eyes following the movement of the train.

I think about how many people we saw everyday on the streets.
We are not city folk.
The cars and the trains and the noise and the exhaust, well,
We could wax poetic.

I don’t know how to say that it seems unnecessary to be living in small cubes
Of one’s own decoration surrounded by others doing the same.

We walk the same streets, breath the same exhaust.

Regardless, we return to our room every night and pull shut the curtain,
Enveloped again in our box of artificial light,
Our stories spilling out of our mouths,
Leaking through the cracked window,
Staining the old concrete in the East Village of Chicago.


{A Story of Birds}

For high above, flew the cranes

I wonder what ancient star song lays
rolled like a message in the bottle of their hollow bones
that moves forward their dinosaur bodies.
Probably hunger or thirst or fear.

And down below, we walked

Muley said that the hunted cannot be strong,
only fierce.
The egrets, small creatures with yellow legs
and feathers that seem an impossible white,
peck and jab at the sand, hunting.
I think maybe their hunted,
the tiny, muscular sand fleas,
are strong, and willing.

But it’s unfathomable, really.
Time and sand and death
and birds and all.

{28 January 2018}

Before the beach, my migraine digs a hole into the folds of my brain.
It sits like a storm cloud in front of my eyes.
It twists the muscles of my back and neck into tightly bound rope.
Words fall out of my mouth like splintered wood into people’s palms.

Now, the cloud has disappeared.
The ropes have loosened.
Do these words feel like sand papered birds to you, too?

The cold sea water I walk in barely covers the veins of my feet.
I hold in my hands small tokens of the ocean’s generosity:
a rock, reddish brown with one almost perfectly formed right corner,
a shard of a blue shell with rough edges and small holes.
I clutch them in my fist;
they feel a little like the absent minded grip of a friend’s hand.

What would it be like to live in the assurance of our brokenness?
I mean:
What would it be like if we didn’t look for our missing pieces?
What if we made a home of this cracked vessel?


{“A Terrifying Kindness”}

I’ve been waiting for the words all week.
Snow ― after four years!
Such joys.

There’s something about family history.
Something about the feeling of the past,
resting on the shoulders of someone’s memory,
someone’s God-given ability to tell a story.
The candles start to listen, I swear.
And the laughs ― those never die.

My eyes start to go a little blurry and
my body shakes with coughs of too-cold air.
But my head doesn’t hurt, not now.

I walk in the dark after dinner.

There’s something about family history.
I miss my family, but God,
I am thankful.

“The Lord’s terrifying kindness has come to me.”

“Good night, Reid.”

The stars are many, I know you know this.
I remember on a school trip years ago,
on the backside of Mount Kenya,
my teacher told us why the stars flicker.

The stars.
Such joys.
Such kindness.


Things I’ve Learned in the Past Few Months

1. Wildfires are big and scary and fast moving.

2. Clean air is not something to be taken granted.

3. There is a lot of joy to be found in this world. The sun keeps shining and you’re still breathing. Keep searching, my friend.

4. Generosity is not something we take or give. We share it, between us. “Let me make you this tasty drink for free because you are fighting day and night to put out a fire. See now how we both feel better?”

5. The ocean is always moving, and it’s so beautiful, and unforgiving.

6. There is a big castle on a hill in the Central Coast of California whose joy is still emanating from the walls. You can feel the architect, a revolutionary woman, smiling through the tapestries of the old walls. You can still hear a bit of an echo of the owner, laughing.

7. Distance can make the heart grow fonder, but also, less sympathetic.

8. An iced americano with just a touch of vanilla syrup can be life changing, some mornings.

9. I’m living a blessed life. I’m trying everyday to not forget.


{Biking at Night}

Biking at night is a lonely activity.
I do not recommend it for
wary hearts or quaky fingers.

The street lights every so often
will follow your quick-moving form
down the bike path,
your shadow popping up then
receding just slow enough to see.

Cars’ red blinking tail lights
practically mock you as you
huff and puff up the hill,
sweating even in the night air.

I haven’t even mentioned the homes,
the homes!
This heart – I’m speaking of mine –
almost can’t take
the unknowing, the question of
events behind curtains.
I won’t start now.

All I’m saying is last night on my bike,
my ears cold and the streetlights sputtering,
pedaling towards babysitting,
I didn’t want to babysit
and I didn’t want to be alone in my skull.

I know there’s no solution.
People tell me this is a lifelong problem.
I wish you would come bike with me.


{9 November 2017}

This is a magic rock.
You might not believe me, but let me tell you about it.

Two little girls, one with long blonde hair and the other with dark shiny hair,
found a pack of crayons in the geocache under the tree in the foothills,
and they set to work to create magic rocks to sell to us in exchange
for weeds or my snack or a bigger rock or, really,
anything else that they determined to have value.

They gave me this rock, a pink heart painted onto it like an embodiment
of the day’s shiny joy,
and they said to me,

“You have the power of the moon, Reid.”
I said, “Why, thank you!”

In other words, a woman at church asked me if I believed in miracles,
and I said, “Yes, ma’am, I do.”

Two little girls gave me the power of the moon in a rock smaller than my palm
and, you may not believe me, but I believe in miracles,
and the moon has never shone like it did that night.