The world keeps going...
My pixie shares her big grin
and my world shrinks down...
Thunder is coming.
A day of swimming and play
Sets before the storm.
Tonight the heavens will shake
And the earth rejoices.
Rain will fall on us.
The skies will boom with thunder.
Snuggle down and rest-
Dream of games down in the lake.
The sun will come again soon.
We forgot the tent.
A sunset drive as night falls...
Embers settle down
As the crickets serenade.
We finally sit and rest...
In the hot depths of a summer afternoon, four cows masticated grass across the road from a parsonage. The pastor joyfully grabbed a camera and set out to take a picture for the background of Sunday’s digital worship service. The sun blazed and lit the pastoral scene.
Quiet murmurings sounds accompanied the cleric as he carefully framed his shot and checked the camera settings. Two cows looked meaningfully at the minister, conferred among themselves with quiet moos, and then arranged themselves for the picture with their compatriots. As a line of sweat dripped from the holy brow, the camera shutter snapped both open and closed: the minister pondered the futility of his pursuit.
Behold the bovine!
A beast that is quite moving
and very solemn…
The trees reach up with deep green limbs Waving fingers with verdant grace. Sunlight dazzles in warm still shade. Silent the song of breathing hymns Lifted up from a wooden face Straining to reach heaven as made.
I sit in the quiet of sacred space before worship. Nobody will walk in to disturb the stillness—a webcam will connect me with others. I am a latecomer to worship online in the age of COVID-19. A green light will shine and I will look into the two lights of the camera: LED lights look like eyes around a lens-shaped nose.
Decaffeinated French Roast coffee sits with a piece of homemade whole-wheat sourdough for my portion of the love feast. The only copy of the bulletin printed on the church copier sits next to offering plates that will not be passed for some time to come. My drum rests with anticipation for the moment it will ring out while I sing quietly into the only microphone.
There will be no packed house for my first SUnday. The building and I will spend time together as we enter into a new space with me as pastor. Interestingly, I do not feel alone. I prepare to meet today like many ministers have over generations—as best as I can in the place I stand.
I am not alone.
Sitting in the pastor’s chair
the saints surround me.
I lie still for an age Shrouded behind death's mask: Silent at last. No dance and no glib jest. Stillness my companion and I would rest. Fine bells will ring no more. A shroud wraps my frame tight: earth embraces. My time is now my own: No lords need I pleasure, save the one Lord. Let me rest here in peace for I am done with life as a royal plaything: and I would rest.
It has been a while since I have contributed to the D’verse Poets Pub. I needed to let off some steam after a couple of interesting things happened in my world today, so here I am.
The challenge for Poetics Tuesday is bringing life back to a person through poetry. I was thinking about the literary character of Yorick from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” today, so I thought I would expand upon the life of this character. I wanted to explore the themes of vanity, death, and service to a royal family that is portrayed as more than a bit dysfunctional.
Less than two weeks waking in this old town: a parking lot altar stands for an hour. Old wedding superstitions are mirrored: Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue picked by coincidence. A space for lawn chairs marks a short moment where oily asphalt holds holy thin space.
Psalm instead of song, mask instead of mic: Word and prayer still anchor our shared time. Only one more Sunday moment is left. Sorrow asks for blessings on the marriage of heaven and earth to continue on when my service is but a memory.
In this space renews“Asphalt Space” by the Distracted Pastor, 2020
a sacred vow held quite dear
for two centuries
This is sacrilege:“This is Sacrilege…” Tanka, Distracted Pastor, 2020
Chemical warfare before
Pictures are taken
With someone’s Bible proving
The book is held as a flag.
The narrative bothers me deeply: A peaceful protest is cleared with a form of chemical weapons so that a secular leader can take a photo with a Bible. I love the Bible, I read it, and after watching the news I think of the words of Deuteronomy 27:19 (NRSV): “ ‘Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan ,and the widow of justice.’ All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ ”
“ ‘Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan ,and the widow of justice.’ All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ ”Deuteronomy 27:19, NRSV
An inheritor of privilege holding a Bible while an oppressed people asking for the very justice required by God require medical assistance. The situation makes me feel sick to my stomach. A person murdered in public after a long string of abuses on others of the same race, people calling for justice, and being met with chemical weapons in the streets… Elsewhere, widows and orphans met with the same force for the social crime of demanding justice. This cannot continue.
Justice demands action, righteousness demands action, holiness demands action, and our own children’s futures demand action. This must change.
Take the fragrant dough.“Big Heart” by The Distracted Pastor, 2020
Fold it: let it grow.
Treat it gently: Just like so…
Heat oven below.
Place with care—don’t throw.
Listen to the news…
In-law wearing riot gear…
And hurting people…
Slice the bread to toast,
Brew a dark decaf French roast:
Seek the Holy Ghost…
I wrote this poem to express the challenge of the morning. I sat to write a poem to go with the toast made from an experimental loaf I made yesterday, The loaf was made with a lot of care.
While thinking about what words to use, I listened to news about tensions over police brutality. I heard a lot of frustration with a broken system. I thought of the gasping words coming from a man who could not breathe. I thought of burning buildings representing inadequately an unjust system that seems fire-proof. I was already grieving when my wife came down to tell me my brother-in-law went to work in riot-gear today.
The poem starts very clean and measured with a rhyming pattern, devolves as the world intrudes, and ends right where I am as a person: sitting quietly and listening for comfort and wisdom. The title comes from the thought I had and the original first lines: “It takes a big heart; to hold joy and grief.”
Well worn bumpy sacks wait to be released anew in another home. Adults loose a sigh as boxes begin to swell with children’s treasures. Children pack away items all will trip over in a few months time. Parents ponder why long dusty beanbags take space both now and later.
Sweet smiling children“Beanbag Haibun,” Distracted Pastor, 2020
will fill a fresh and new place
with “priceless” treasures.
The scarecrow lay prone. Pumpkin head in cold wet mud: weighted base cast down. Crimson chested birds peck for brave spring early worms as humans shiver. Lifted and shaken, the scarecrow hangs in her dress: wrinkled by Jack Frost. A child sees her friend risen from the muddy pit: arms open to hug. Windchimes dangle low: ringing out their joyful sound beside laughing child…“Spring Scarecrow Haibun,” Distracted Pastor, 2020
Run, little daughter!
Laugh, giggle, chuckle, and play!
Enjoy this moment.
Dreams like fog drift out from the depths of night.
Troubled thoughts steal all the warmth from our bed.
Hazy glimpses of events filled with fright:
I dream of habits I would bury dead.
Cold winds blow down the dreamy lane
Where dreaming guilt weighs down my soul.
Eyes open to a world more sane
As thoughts bend to the night's dark hole.
A staccato heartbeat
Slowly calms itself down.
I live where fingers meet
As soul seeks Heaven's Crown.
I would forget
Dark dreams untrue:
Part ways and yet,
Guilt clings like dew.
Below the sun
I kneel and pray.
I seek the Son
By light of day.
Sunlight burns away fog
Revealing ways to see
Not all is miring bog.
There is much good in me.
Drifts lift to reveal a good heart
That seeks to be a good parent.
Terror unveiled to have a start
In desire to straighten parts bent.
I cannot change past nor keep dreams away
But sunlight reveals that the day has come.
Fog burns away over a cold clear way
Where any future has yet to become.
On empty path
Through woods by still waters:
A shrouded path for another.
This poem is dedicated to a church member who passed away this last weekend. I’ve visited him for over five years in various facilities as he’s fought through various struggles. His journey is now beyond my sight and in God’s hands…
Steel cut oats linger in salty water
As coffee scents waft in the humid air.
Gray light trickles in through old still windows
As lazy flies begin to greet the day.
All is now quiet as mother and child
Bask in dream filled worlds beyond human reach.
The dogs sleep without a care in their heads.
Only the black cat watches with my soul.
If I could keep this moment in a jar
I would save it for darker days to come;
Yet, each day comes once and fades far away.
So, I sip and enjoy while I still can.
“Still Morning” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019
The other night I was stretching after a long day. We had spent the day with my wife running a garage sale while I helped to clean up the garage. My feet ached, my shoulder hurt, and I needed a good stretch for the Whole Life Challenge. I wrote this poem while reflecting on the events which took place while I stretched out tight joints while my wife washed up behind a closed bathroom door after a hot day in the sun.
Stretch your arms to toes
While your crying toddler wails
As her mom showers.
Stretch your sore shoulder.
Call to your lonely toddler
Who wants her mother.
Stretch your angry calf
As you pray she'll let mom be
After a hot day.
Rise to reach for her
As the door opens for her
Then closes on you.
Drink some cool water
As toddler storms the shower
With love and gusto.
“The Stretching Poem” from the Distracted Pastor, 2019
Today’s Rethink Church prompt is “Amazed.” The photo is from a local graveyard. As Easter dawns, there is life in the dead places of this world. While this photo was taken at sundown facing west, the sun is rising in the east over this graveyard as this poem is published. If I were to title the haiku, I might title it “Jesus’ checklist for today.” May Easter light fill your lives this day.
Today’s Rethink Church prompt for Photo-A-Day is “Believe.” In Christian tradition, Holy Saturday is a day of both anticipation and solemnity. Depending on your tradition, you may spend it celebrating or you might spend it silently.
I chose the photo I selected because it is my hope that we each tend to our light of faith on this holy day. May it burn brightly however you celebrate Holy Saturday.
Today’s Rethink Church prompt is “Remember.” We do.
Today’s prompt for the Rethink Church Photo-A-Day is “Among.” I decided to share a photo of my child and I sitting back and eating one gigantic matzoh cracker. It is my belief that there was laughter at the Last Supper in addition to seriousness.
Today’s prompt for Rethink Church is “Here.” I decided to share a photo from the local zoo. Here’s why you should always look before opening a door. You never know who is waiting on the other side of the door, so you should keep your eyes in the here and now. This is doubly true at a zoo.
Today’s Rethink Church prompt is “Found.” Here’s a photo of Pastor Rob finding a different kind of sheep than usual.
Holy Week is really intense for me. I have been working to have a sense of peace, but things are often a bit chaotic with last minute preparations.
Today I woke up early and decided to make some oatmeal. I texted upstairs to my wife who was waking up for the day and she said she’d like some oatmeal. Despite texting her on silent in order to keep our communication silent, our toddler heard the buzz. We broke the first rule: We woke the kid.
I began to prepare oatmeal for my family. I split the oatmeal into our three bowls. We each had our own type. The toddler had dried fruit in hers, my wife’s was plain and ready to be doctored, and my oatmeal was mixed with some eggs and spices. As the bowls sat there, I thought about two things. I thought about Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
I also thought about where my wife and I received our bowls, which was at a local charity event called “Empty Bowls.” The event is connected with both Roberson Clayworks and United Health Services. The funds raised go to benefit the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Every time I eat out of my bowl, I remember that there are folks in our community who don’t have food to eat.
I am fortunate to have food for my hungry belly. Others are not blessed in the same way today. I thought about these things and wrote this poem based on the three bears and hungry bellies.
Three bowls“Three Bowls” Cinquain by the Distracted Pastor on April 16, 2019
Steam rises up
While empty belly growls.
Bear-like hunger to empty bowls
Today’s Rethink Church prompt is “Prepared.” I know that it is Holy Week, but after writing all of these haigas, I cannot help but use this prompt to recommend to all new parents that they either buy baby wipes by the case or invest in a lot of hand towels.
Today’s Rethink Church prompt is “Rest.” Today I decided to share an image of rest within a family. Remember, even on Palm Sunday, that there are many ways to use your cutlery. You cannot run off to a parade with cloaks and palms with messy hair… By the way, she’s never seen “The Little Mermaid.”