At the end of the day

k c u soon -
her slip of message
sufficient to
quicken pulse,
summon revenant tears.
I would see her soon,
the after-school her,
the her pushing through
double-glassed doors
into a slouching sun
to stride near grown
in fur-lined boots,
finally finding
the ferryman
with nose and eyes
and name like her own
to usher her safely


I'll always be Baptist,
like I'll always be from the South.
That's how it is.
I contemplated becoming a priest,
it seemed good, a delight, desirable.
Then the dream, that of being collared,
easily leashed, led.
I woke up bitter.

John the Baptist did not live long
but by God he lived -
the forerunner,
the vox clamantis in deserto,
the unworthy footman,
among those born of women
none greater,
a honey of a life.

And then a pluck of
southern comfort:
easy to come undone
when young girls dance;
best carry necktape,
a collar or somethin',
not lose your head.
I'll always be a man.

Good Time...

The Blase kids needed some clothes - jeans, socks, those kinds of things. So we ventured out on a Thursday evening to that mecca of commerce, the mall. Let me add here that shopping at the mall on a Thursday evening was just on the outskirts of bliss (aka, not hardly a soul in there but us). We went in knowing what they needed and found what they needed, plus a couple of things they wanted, on sale, glory be. After each swipe of the debit card, a gentle refrain was heard: thanks, Dad. Ah, to thy father's, who art paying for all this, big hairy ears. Do those two words always dance in the air after such transactions? Nope. Will it always happen from here on out with nary a slip? I doubt it. But it happened last night, it happened I believe it can happen again.

Now, I'd buy my kids those things whether they said thanks, Dad or not. I believe the Good Father's like that and I'm trying to be more like him. Even though his ways are not my ways, I've got some hunches as to how he operates: love regardless of response. Still, those two words - thanks, Dad - made a difference last night, not so much to me as they did to time. Those two words, including the glorious comma, took the Blase clan primarily out of chronos, clock-time, and set us down gingerly in kairos, real time, God's time...or as I like to say - good time. Good time was had by all due to the sound of a gentle refrain.

Now the trick, and I use that word intentionally 'cause I sorta believe that's what it is, is to learn to say thanks, Dad when you don't get what you want, when its not on sale, and when the crowds are best described by the biblical word legion. We, you and I, have the power to trick time with gratitude. I can already hear someone cry 'but dear John, I cannot feign gratitude, I've got to be authentic, I've gotta be real!' Behold, if you and I are not authentically grateful, guess who already knows? Yeah, so please lose the Jerseylicious drama. I'm not talking about feigning anything, but rather tricking something, something that has the power to affect not only ourselves but the mall crowds around us - time. I'm trying to learn to say thanks, Dad regardless, because that's how he loves - regardless. Like whacky old Paul I have not arrived yet, and like tender old McKuen I've got miles to go, but I'm straining on, trying to learn to sing regardless of the whether...

Temporary lay offs - thanks, Dad
Easy credit rip offs - thanks, Dad
Scratchin' and survivin' - thanks, Dad
Hanging in a chow line - thanks, Dad
Ain't we lucky we got 'em...good times.

Secondhand stroke...

On Tuesday of this week, my wife's friend Joanne was running on her treadmill and suffered a major stroke. Joanne's young, fit, wife of one and mother of two, a writer, speaker, blogger, seminary student, sister and daughter. Whatever resolutions Joanne might have made for this new year have been trumped, just like that. The resolve, now, is living. Her husband is posting updates on her blog - the simple wife - that's the best and most accurate information. If you pray, please pray. If you light candles, this is such a time. And if you groan, as I do, there's room at my table.

On Wednesday of this week, I spent my lunch hour running on a treadmill. Whatever playlist I had prepared for that run was trumped, just like that. I could not outrun Sting's voice -
for all those born beneath an angry star/
lest we forget how fragile we are.

There are days in weeks when I simply do not understand this life...


Rev. Walton had planned to share thoughts about the magi’s journey, but such schemes went awry when she roared:
To fight aloud is very brave--
But gallanter, I know
All eyes, especially Onceuponatime’s, focused on a female figure in the corner, standing, waving both arms conductor-style:
Who charge within the bosom
The Cavalry of Woe--
Eva Simpson delivered a palpable sigh that rippled through the moments-earlier-pastoral-scene. Jenny Parker quickly appeared with two aides and silently directed them to the commotion while she approached Rev. Walton. ‘I was on the phone earlier and neglected to introduce you to M. I’m sorry...’ As Jenny continued, Rev. Walton’s grandson moved to his side. Its not that Onceuponatime was frightened, far from it. Rather, he was charmed.

‘M is short for Emily, Mrs. Emily Cross. She came to us Monday, she's something else. Her brother helped her get settled, sweet man named Ben, so far he’s here every day at lunch and dinner. M has mid stage Alzheimer’s. Things get shady about sundown, like you might expect, but there are moments like these, every once in a while. She’s in room 305. I know she'd love a visit.’ With that summary, Jenny Parker smiled, turned, and walked away. Rev. Walton heard enough in Jenny's brief account, enough to give him a bearing on a lady he'd soon meet. Onceuponatime had listened too but really only heard one thing, one phrase, a gathering of words still fresh in the air – ‘once in a while.’   


{Thanks to my good friend, Charlotte, for a much needed prod...I'm sorry, its sorta been a hard holiday, I'm moving slow.}

If irony colors the life of a town, then Foster’s ‘common’ room was a rainbow. It wasn’t so much that Onceuponatime had been sheltered from the aged as they’d been sheltered from him. True, there were some older people in his grandfather’s congregation, like Tuck Jackson, the janitor. But Tuck could scramble up a ladder and change a lightbulb before you could blink. Onceuponatime saw no one in the room he thought might even be remotely interested in scrambling; in fact, they were all seated - some in straightback chairs, some in wheelchairs, and a handful in what looked like the chaise lounges at the town pool. Rev. Walton kept his grandson close as they made their way to the center of the room. ‘Good morning, everyone. I’m tickled to have my grandson with me today. This is Onceuponatime.’ Several voices chirped ‘hello’ alongside tired smiles and crooked waves. Eva Simpson rolled her wheelchair right up to them and extended a hand. ‘Hello, Onceuponatime. I’m Eva. I play the piano but I don’t use the bench. You may sit there if you would like.’

Onceuponatime sat and swung his legs as his grandfather spoke loud and true. ‘Most folks have already put Christmas away until next year. That makes me sad. I’m so glad to see you all are still celebrating. Help me sing, alright?’ Those last four words were a well-worn cue for Eva. She started in with a medley of familiar Christmas carols like ‘Hark the Herald’, ‘Joy to the World’, and ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful.’ And right before a little boy's eyes, the old become young again. Those who could sing, sang. Some, like Paul Jordan, simply tapped feet, while a few, like Bessie Long, clapped quiet hands. Lydia Wilson hugged her American Girl doll and rocked back and forth, a metronome Madonna. Chet Waller just sat and smiled and cried.

Other ministers in town kept to podiums or pulpits, but not Davis Walton. His custom was to walk among the people and preach his sermons, never consulting notes and seldom reading directly from the Bible as he memorized his text. His was a confessional approach, calling folks by their first names, asking them questions, patting a back, shaking a hand. It’s often told of the Sunday he offered to take a crying baby from a young mother, as they say, ‘at wit’s end.’ The child gradually stilled and fell asleep. Rev. Walton continued the entire service with child in arms. The church received a record offering that morning. Jess McCandles said ‘broke the mold after Walton.’ When it seemed right, the singing stilled that Friday morning and Onceuponatime watched his grandfather begin to walk among the beautifully uncommon lives of the Foster Retirement Center. He strode directly to Chet Waller, touched the man’s shoulder and said ‘Memory is a kind of homesickness isn’t it, Chet?’