“the laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth and into mine…” Anne Sexton

...the laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth and into mine...

There is joy that can shatter bone, freeing lightening from its marrow!

There is laughter roiling the settled blood!

When the sky is painted with desire

All swans with broken wings come healed from the river.

Streets  fill with women wearing earrings that are hoops of fire

And the happiness prepared for us finds us falling under weight

Of  light.

Urgent with wind whipped fig trees,  urgent with a million wings of sparrows,

All the golden, spangled streets are ready

For those who believe and also for those who doubt.




There is a joy years in coming that waits for us in the dark.

There is a joy years in coming that waits for us in the dark.


After painting a horse barn all day, I drink tea  in late afternoon
with Carol
letting go of what I can’t hold in her hands.
Eight hours gripping the rungs of a twenty-two foot ladder.
Now the ladder falls while I remain in air!

We hear cicadas singing in shrubs along the fence line
so loud they must be inside us.
Delighted now in whirring air after years under the ground
cicadas are rising in a mass, shedding larvae shells.
They are singing for their mates, flexing the muscle along ribs
of exoskeletons.

I offer my right hand to one who has landed in leaves of the hops vine.
She steps gladly on a finger that was broken in the Fall
recognizing its curved rigidity as her own.

There is a joy years in coming that waits for us in the dark.
It fills the space we call emptiness that has always been full of stars.
Emptiness that is a well, spring fed and overflowing.

There are eyes in that dark and wings prepared to open.
Whirling in the air, there is a joy coming in waves and in shattered lights
made whole.





“I sing you this October song.” The Incredible String Band


Come walk these wounded streets with me, where maple trees leak sap in regimental lines.
Come where leaves the colors of blood are taken by wind
and carried to the fire.
I am the wounded and I am the fire in which we burn.

Now the clear plastic over this world has been torn away
enough that I can breathe.
Now everything is breathing. Even the dead are alive!
Up and down the ladder of my spine, grandmothers carry baskets
of flame fruit
their long hair coiled in a bun, covered with a sequined net.
Listen and you will hear even the dead
are breathing.

If you are crying, open your eyes and let them widen
til they contain the whole of the prairie sky.
One day a sky will open in your heart and the sound of wings
be like a river.
You will never be born again, never beat another child just because she cried.
You will not die of cancer.
If you are crying, let your tears fall into the simplicity of fire.


I am crying now.
People say I have the rounded shoulders of a man who labors in the dark.
My hands are hidden by the blue gloves of a working man
but even while they hold a paper hanger’s knife
my hands are worshiping the one I love.

Sometimes the moon looks like a puckered scar in a blue fog.
Sometimes the cool of night touches the bald spot on the back of my head
where emptiness is shaped like a morning star.
I feel the cold of this world but when I can let the night be all there is
then the moon with a cloud across it white as a wedding veil
can make me weak with joy.

I carry a hundred thousand years of light across my shoulders!
The round stone of this world drops down through me
and I laugh like a river with gravel in its throat
loving the dark face of the sky
loving her painted circus eyes, her carnival lips!


For years I walked alone through mountains that were teeth
broken under the skin.
Hungry enough to eat stones, a stranger even to myself
I swallowed anything that would keep me warm
put on religions like long blue overcoats
loving women as if they were spun of wool
trying to be what a man should be.

Neither failing nor succeeding, I would lie down on the ground
waiting for a star to fall into plowed furrows of my heart.
Spent bullets, knives, teeth fashioned into arrow heads
began to rise up through me.
Tomahawks, missiles, war poisons were brought to the surface
by the cleansing action of the earth
wanting to rid itself of whatever is strange.
So I was brought to the surface of this world and made ready
to step into the sky.

Then I wore the sky across my shoulders
all the colors of a troubled Gulf, the gaudy archetypes of the end of time.
I could feel a sky coming down over me
dung colored, river throated, green and heavy with hair
and I was crying, my voice ragged as a gull’s.

Then a dove exploded from my heart!

What had been a thorn tree where sparrows hid in fear of the hawk
became a simple heart again
white doves flying out of it!


I know now that sacrifice is not blood running down a cross of locust wood
nor hands full of thorns.
It is looking at my own face in the river and seeing
your eyes, your smile.

Now I hear a voice whispering my secret name
the one made of Brazos water and a light that falls blue as rain.
You tell me we have started digging a river, that the river will flow
but however difficult it might be
we must endure the bite of the pick ax, the shoveling out of everything
that is not bloody with love.

There is a fire that starts in the marrow and burns outward
through hands red as maple leaves.
There is a wound in all of us, red as a mouth that won’t stop singing
until its tongue is a tongue of fire.

When fears cease, this world will shine
like one drop of rain among a billion others
and the sky will be folded perfectly across each drop like a Mother’s shawl.


Let me tell you about the night I married Jesus
in a cinder block church that smelled of mold, trapped gas and chewing gum.
It was the summer I turned fifteen and there was just enough breeze
to keep pastures from bursting into flames.

I put on white painter overalls and stepped with my Grandfather
into a galvanized tank of baptismal water.
While the congregation sang
“In the arms of my dear Savior O there are 10,000 charms.”
I went down into water full of stars!

In that water Jesus lifted the bridal veil and showed me one glimpse
of my own face.
In that water he betrayed this world with his kiss.

When I returned to one I pretend now to be
answering to his name
there was still the memory of where I have no beginning
where there is not a single breath of air and no focused love
only love delighting in itself alone.

If you are thirsty kneel down in this water.
If you are covered in wounds, bleed into this fire.
If you are crying, let your tears be tears of joy!





The happy body


In the tiniest cells of my body, I am jumping up and down!

In the bright atoms I am crouching

like a  brilliant parakeet with wings tightly folded

but ready and bristling with happiness!



The wounded body


Like a priest called to an accident, I kneel over bodies.

I pray for the blood of little girls shot dead in El Salvador

to come back, come back…

but you know it won’t.

Adolescent soldiers aim in the dark at the shrieks of wounded babies!

Old men are chased around trees by helicopters

made in New Jersey.



The drowned body


When the body stops struggling

it rises and floats.

It goes where the river goes.

Not shouting, not weeping, not praying, not singing.

Little boys point to it, on its way into the Gulf.