Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black friday is black friday

When I hear the stock market has fallen,
I say, "Long live gravity! Long live
stupidity, error and greed in the palaces
of fantasy capitalism!" I think
an economy should be based on thrift,
on taking care of things, not on theft,
usury, seduction, waste, and ruin.
My purpose is a language that can make us whole,
Though mortal, ignorant, and small.
The world is whole beyond human knowing.
- WB

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


have had some honest conversations this week,
where things I thought were held with open hands,
were "tied with fishing line
invisible from a distance"
tied down to my comfortable confusion

now I am less afraid to walk
in either direction.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

i now know.

it is one thing.
to know you aught to esteem yourself low
to know you aught, and obey
out of obedience,

it is another thing
to know shame.

and know feeling worthless
not the sunday morning fire breath that says you should feel so
but to feel so

and feel quartered by horses

and fear.

it is amazing how life, moving strongly,
in a moment, will change who you are.

or maybe reveal who you are.
and what you must do to become who you want to be.
or how you must choose, reach into an unlit box and grab
when you don't know what to grab at but faith.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The mirror is two dimensional.

I am twenty something.
my friend in Uganda doesn't know her age.
I have a few fears,
but don't discuss them. I believe in the power of giving things power by speaking them.
I like drawing, but don't enough.
I enjoy writing songs, but don't enough.
A professor once told me: a system is perfectly designed to produce what it is now producing.
I guess that is me. But what am I now producing?
You think you know yourself.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

without context.

If you choose to focus on 'other than money'
you will be accused of hating money.

a friend was. 'why do you hate money?'

'i don't, i am just not comfortable focusing on it, aiming for it'

What is the evil?
1 Timothy says it is the Love of money.
That friend asked me to put thought into this, after a discussion he had with the founder of Success Magazine, and how Ayn Rand believes that money is just a way to place value in a civilized society, for goods and services, and is not only not evil, but a gift of reason.
"To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will.
Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return."

I'd say
money is not evil, any more than capitalism is evil, or a gun is evil.
Giving value, in common with man, and trade in agreed value...
this is civilization. And money and capitalism are tools of function.
Systems, weapons designed to build or wield power. The power of will, action, chosen purposed kinetic movement. Power in itself is not evil.

A blade is just metal. shaved fine, and only equips
the hand that wields it. Gives power and effect to the stroke of the arm. In an evil hand, to damage more than it could without. In the right hand, it can carve a tool for survival, or defend the defenseless, or set free that which is tied.

A man may be a coward with his fists, but a tyrant given a knife.

Power in the created is a danger.
Because it lets the created flirt with creation, with enacting his will upon others, and watching them move at his call. And our god-like flirtations remind our spirits that we all wish to be god. the only sin. all other sins descend from this.

Though I believe this stems from an evolutionary need for survival.
We are drunk on the idea of controlling our surroundings, environment, because that better guarantees our survival.

But the tension there is this: for the spiritual man, the spiritual survival may demand death. and to sell your spirit for fleshly longevity is the test, the poison fruit.

Money, perhaps more than any other tool, is a generalization of power. It is tangible, tradable power and most importantly, a shape shifter. It can make a man dance, build a tower, dig a ditch, harvest food that he will not eat, or sell his body. Money in a man's hand will turn his will into another's behavior.

It needs no context, no explaination. It needs no empire built on fear or respect or birthright. It needs only to exist. And the whole world will act, move, build, or destroy at its whisper.

Even the man who wishes to do good, the shape shifter lets him feel his righteous benevolence, showering gifts and goodwill with his paper magic. His flirtations here are given another layer of deception, self-approval in his god-like commands. The pang of conceit will allude him as he grins at his worshipping grateful kingdom.

It is the purest wine. It is power than can be found on the sidewalk. and imagine, two strangers see thousands of dollars scattered about in public, make eye contact, and lose themselves in sprinting to get it first. or money on the freeway, risking life, to grab fist fulls.

The fear of money in the pious is not the fear of the tool,
but the fear of man.
A man should have a healthy fear of genius, unparalleled skill, intoxicating beauty. These things are power in a context, and can corrupt the fragile will of a man. Without a history of broken pride, or an understanding of human smallness, power in a man will rot him. Now, remove context, accountability, and any learned skill or necessary understanding, and you find money. And you have acid. corrosive to the wood of man, save the insulation of humility.

A young fool will crave money because it is his will alive, without responsibility. If only he can get the paper. through trickery. or treasure chests. or inheritance. or outsourcing labor at the expense of community. or pillaging the forests and mines and lesser people near the equator. or the blessed and miraculous lottery.

it is the closest man has come to magic,
wizardry, and blind power.

I am getting closer to the idea I was digging for.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I am him
and my mother
and something new never before seen
I carry his weight and my mother's
and my own never before seen
but the same story of every man before me and every man after
My burden is light for sure
but it is the only burden I know
and havent I said that it is poison to compare
but compared to the beaten neglected too soon touched
but it is the only burden I know
and therefore dangling down millstone strong
to pull me off the cedar bridge
and I lead a charmed life
the cellar is only dark without the torch light
and who would chose to walk in unending twilight

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

babel or temple

i want to be great because
i want to be worthy of creation i want
to show that this kit can build a tower
and be ravished upstream and grizzly eaten
i want that tower to be appreciated, first by the tool giver
but evidenced by my community is that the praise of men?
i cannot quite see the selfless life realized
in the pursuit of greatness

maybe selflessness is not self-diminishing
but right opinion, the positioning of self
as created, gifted, and fragile, a sum of
circumstance and features

selflessness is reaching for the magnificent as an
expression of obligation to an artist-teacher God
no, not obligation, but obedience, chosen from understanding
proportion and mountains and tired muscles and good sleep and
a days good work
diminishing is perhaps a great offense.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

look fat queen, immovable queen,
we have carried the dirt and built a palace,
let us be your chamber maid, give me your white eggs,
we will clean the carcass and the wooded floor
and multiply and clean the wooded floor
we will do as you wish fat queen
not knowing that our order plays a part,
in order and meaning,
i am just carrying your white egg.


Joel P. West (Untitled) from Gobias Media on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

from eric.

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, ...but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” annie dillard

life through verse and language comes into a focus that experience alone can let slip away. the savoring and the reflecting moment gives each breath its due.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Joe Pug.

Joe Pug - "Hymn 101" from This is What We Imagine on Vimeo.

A Forest Hymn by William Cullen Bryant

The groves were God's first temples. Ere man learned

My heart is awed within me when I think
Of the great miracle that still goes on,
In silence, round me---the perpetual work
Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed
Forever. Written on thy works I read
The lesson of thy own eternity.
Lo! all grow old and die---but see again,
How on the faltering footsteps of decay
Youth presses----ever gay and beautiful youth
In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees
Wave not less proudly that their ancestors
Moulder beneath them. Oh, there is not lost
One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet,
After the flight of untold centuries,
The freshness of her far beginning lies
And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate
Of his arch enemy Death---yea, seats himself
Upon the tyrant's throne---the sepulchre,
And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe
Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth
From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.

There have been holy men who hid themselves
Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave
Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived
The generation born with them, nor seemed
Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks
Around them;---and there have been holy men
Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes
Retire, and in thy presence reassure
My feeble virtue. Here its enemies,
The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink
And tremble and are still. Oh, God! when thou
Dost scare the world with falling thunderbolts, or fill,
With all the waters of the firmament,
The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods
And drowns the village; when, at thy call,
Uprises the great deep and throws himself
Upon the continent, and overwhelms
Its cities---who forgets not, at the sight
Of these tremendous tokens of thy power,
His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by?
Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face
Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath
Of the mad unchained elements to teach
Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate,
In these calm shades, thy milder majesty,
And to the beautiful order of the works
Learn to conform the order of our lives.

Friday, August 14, 2009


even the breeze,
light as a hello kiss,
comes to a halt. and the air is still.
no sound.
and suddenly we hear our own heartbeat in our ears
and notice our breathing.

I have grown weary of myself.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

i love my sister.

from an email today, after I sent her a link to the Library of Congress' flickr account, with hundreds of color photos from the 30's and 40's:

"thanks for the lead. interesting photo collection thanks to the library of congress - after looking at these photos i find that regardless of place, style, shoe or shirt, body movement or pose, human expression is profoundly found around the eyes. the wrinkles and the youth always tell us the same thing - we despair, joy, and stare - our eye is ultimately in search and longing for that which is real. everyone's looking for god.

which is why we must be careful where we stare.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Circumnavigate Intentionality.

Today, we met a man who lives in a van.
Owns his own business, surfing lessons, for 20 years.
a white van, clean and large, deliberate so as not to attract attention.
He counts money three times a year.
He looks 33 but said he is 43.
And reminded us that, while 33 is the universal age of enlightenment,
he is hoping 44 is the new 33.
Though he seemed pretty enlightened to me.
"Exchange profit for Intentionality as highest purpose," he said.
"And you will be living, not waiting to live."
How many people in this world are toiling. dirt on their hands that they hate.
not for love of hard work or purpose, but for love of a dream that is not a dream.
love of the Jones' life that is not real. love of a degree that does not nourish.
man's love of formula, pattern, and machine. we do it to ourselves.
Though I do not think that love is wrong,
I am certain that the machine is there to be overcome. We must have her,
so that in her shadow, we can find our own movement. moving away.
Not rejection, but enlightenment. Not a cop out, run out, fleeing, but inspiration, education, and character.
I learned a lot from my conversation with this man.
He invited my family to his 40 foot sail boat in Costa Rica.
He starts sailing around the world in September, and wants us to join him
for a month, any month.
With his 22 year old skipper. Learn to sail. Work. Jib. Mast.
Rebekah will go.
I just might.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Franklin Road Academy

There was no coming to it
or a moment in 7th grade
when something shifted
and the eyes began to turn

the expectation.
the everyone waiting, leaning in to hear what I said next
did next, chose next
that you are brighter. noticed. watched.
that is never welcomed with words
or clear thought, (no.. repelled),
but only that blood feeling of worth

of course I did not notice right away.
i just felt part of something. a community of good friends.
until the disparity was pointed out,
by those who knew nothing of attention or artificial light.

in teenage years where we discover
the length of our arms and the pitch
the strange village of school decides and you decide
who you are to be.
a man. behind the microphone.
mine, the house that fills
the phone that rings,
the after prom

those young hearts fire even then, that fight without words to be seen,
and then there are words,
and confuse friendship with an answer to their lonely pink hearts,
and offense is egg shell path,
and manipulate, just to have your attention,
and hurt you, just to have your attention,
and hurt themselves,

and all is carried in the fingers-crossed promise of youth
that this young kingship will not be the end...
but you, the one,
you did not ask,
but they will decide you did,
must live the stage and shape the vision they dream for them.
or else be a comforting conversation
in the years to come
to mediocrity,
'see, even he settled down, after all.'

If I am.

If I were more attractive,
the smiles I attract and
the exchanges she engaged would be
colored by, 'why?'
and my boldness in openness
and open arms long held hugs
would confuse the loneliness in her, or him
instead of a moments repose and a deep healing breath
in arms that just want to hold for love's sake
or a sharing of the true heart, not
flooded by the hunger of animals.

If I were smarter,
I would be lonely.

If I were stronger,
I'd like to be stronger,
but I fear the too-welcome shadow that waits to tell
'who cares about your best?'
'tell me... no one.'
'be better than him, or him, be better than'
'and take care he sees'
there is a gift in the unfantastic.
one less fight.

If I were funnier,
I'd trade the moments where
soil was prime to turn and till
for applause and rich laughter
that grows nothing except
more invitations to dinner.

If I had a girl friend,
I do not know.
Both miracles and chaos.
I say impossible. how weak.

If I was married,
my history could not
have been what it was
and I would not be what I am
and what I am may prove to be important
or not
but I am not married.
though whoever that person is, listen:
I do not know.

If my family was perfect,
I have not met one.
And the pain I have experienced is not unlike others,
the fracture of form is clear,
but the love and honesty is rich and budding,
and my pain is the same as your pain.

If I were more determined,
If I saw the truth clearer,
If I saw without these frames,
I would love more,
draw more,
write more,
seek more,
talk less,
talk more,
hold more,
carry less,
think less,
reflect more,
and gasp, and die, and
dust is dust
and rest.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

but i fit right in.

I hold behind my back
like playground fingers crossed
a secret.
this is not my degree
this is not my family
my child
she is not mine
not raised in the sun
without sweat or fear,
this is not my pavement
and this bank I do not visit.
i know the stories
that built the railroad
the sadness loss and swept
i know the switch back snake
of this economy, dusting away footprints.
i do not belong,
but I am here
dressed in plain clothes,
a spy for a society of one
an audience
that applauds my secret dance
that approves my conformity.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our culture has truckled to the times — to the senses. It is not manworthy. If the vast and the spiritual are omitted, so are the practical and the moral. It does not make us brave or free. We teach boys to be such men as we are. We do not teach them to aspire to be all they can. We do not give them a training as if we believed in their noble nature. We scarce educate their bodies. We do not train the eye and the hand. We exercise their understandings to the apprehension and comparison of some facts, to a skill in numbers, in words; we aim to make accountants, attorneys, engineers; but not to make able, earnest, great-hearted men. The great object of Education should be commensurate with the object of life. It should be a moral one; to teach self-trust: to inspire the youthful man with an interest in himself; with a curiosity touching his own nature; to acquaint him with the resources of his mind, and to teach him that there is all his strength, and to inflame him with a piety towards the Grand Mind in which he lives. Thus would education conspire with the Divine Providence. A man is a little thing whilst he works by and for himself, but, when he gives voice to the rules of love and justice, is godlike, his word is current in all countries; and all men, though his enemies, are made is friends and obey it as their own.

— R.W. Emerson

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


i have too many friends.
or at least, i know too many people that, taken in isolation, excite my heart with friendship, interest, commonality, adventure, etc.

i don't know how to celebrate the individual, every one of these islands of intrigue.
i don't know how to love the light in each ambition, each discovery, the
little or great skirmishes between self and purpose,
the insecurity of each identity, and the brilliant shine of infrequent revelation

and not be overwhelmed.
or mocked for the volume.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shy letters.

Chapter 4 of East of Eden speaks of Charles' letters to Adam. Charles, a strong, perfectly athletic man of few words, broken by his father's love of Adam, writes to his brother off in the military. Steinbeck writes, "As with many people, Charles, who could not talk, wrote with fullness. He set down his loneliness and his perplexities, and he put on paper many things he did not know about himself."

I am drawn to people who home inside their heads. It is my hunger to understand maybe. Or my love of what is different and mystery. I hope I never fully understand them. I wonder if they understand me.
But I have seen this truth of Steinbeck's words before.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chapter 3.

The final moments of Chapter 3, of East of Eden... wrench my heart.  

Adam's mother, not his real mother, cleaning his wounds.  Inflicted by his brother Charles in a rage that his father loved Adam more.   And his mother speaks of Adam's never ending love for his brother.   The brother that beat him.  The brother that pitied him with love in his superior strength.  And yet their father loved Adam more.  More than the strong perfect son.  And the ache of the mother, believing that she 'knows' Charles because of his secret gifts.  And she stares at Charles' face for a betrayal of those gifts.  The ache. 

I only retell because it spills from my fingers, I cannot get enough.  

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Intro to Virginibus Puerisque:

My dear William Ernest Henley: 
We are all busy in this world building Towers of Babel; and the child of our imaginations is always a changeling when it comes from nurse.  This is not only true in the greatest, as of wars and folios, but in the least also, like the trifling volume in your hand. 
Thus I began to write these papers with a definite end... I was to state temperately the beliefs of youth as opposed to the contentions of age; to go over all the field where the two differ, and produce at last a little volume of special pleadings which I might call, without misnomer, "Life at Twenty-five."  But times kept changing, and I shared in the change.  I clung hard to that entrancing age; but, with the best will, no man can be twenty-five forever.  The old ruddy convictions deserted me, and, along with them, the style that fits their presentation and defense.   I saw, and indeed my friends informed me, that the game was up.  A good part of the volume would answer to the long-projected title; but the shadows of the prison-house are on the rest.  

It is good to have been young in youth, and, as years go on, to grow older.  Many are already old before they are through their teens; but to travel deliberately through one's ages is to get the heart out of a liberal education.  Times change, opinions vary to their opposite, and still this world appears a brave gymnasium, full of sea-bathing, and horse exercise, and bracing, many virtues; and what can be more encouraging than to find the friend who was welcome at one age, still welcome to another?  Our affections and beliefs are wiser than we; the best that is in us is better than we can understand; for it is grounded beyond experience, and guides us, blindfold but safe, from one age on to another.  
These papers are like milestones on the way-side of my life; and, as I look back in memory, there is hardly a stage of that distance but I see you present with advice, reproof, or praise.  Meanwhile, many things have changed, you and I among the rest; but I hope that our sympathy, founded on the love of our art, and nourished by mutual assistance, shall survive these little revolutions undiminished, and, with God's help, unite us to the end.


I am so grateful that, even at 26, I feel that I have friends for the journey.  - JJ

don't know who said it, wish it was me.

"If you just look at all that already exists in your life, all that you already have: unlimited air to breathe, ample lighting to see, music to hear, books to read, stars to dream by, trees to gaze at, floors to dance on, friends to laugh with, enemies to befriend, strangers to meet, woods to walk through, beaches to comb, rocks to scale, rains to cleanse you, rivers to float you, animals to comfort you, you do have to admit, there's more of it than you could ever, ever, ever spend, but try anyway."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For Annie. by Edgar Allen Poe

My friend Margie put this on a present for our dear friend Geoff.  I just can't stop reading it. 

All that we see or seem 

Is but a dream within a dream. 
I stand amid the roar 
Of a surf-tormented shore, 
And I hold within my hand 
Grains of the golden sand — 
How few! yet how they creep 
Through my fingers to the deep, 

While I weep — while I weep! 
Oh, God! can I not grasp 
Them with a tighter clasp? 
Oh, God! can I not save 
One from the pitiless wave? 
Is all that I see or seem 
But a dream within a dream?

Friday, May 29, 2009

When You Are Old.

this poem is about love... maybe love that wasn't received.  a love that Yeats thought was richer than the love she did receive, and forever held that against her.  I'm not sure.  But the ache of time and loss resound from it, and therefore, Jed loves it. 

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep 
  And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 
  And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; 
How many loved your moments of glad grace,         5
  And loved your beauty with love false or true; 
  But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, 
And loved the sorrows of your changing face. 
And bending down beside the glowing bars, 
  Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled  10
  And paced upon the mountains overhead, 
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Purpose Capital.

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.


to wear my body out, to ravish my mind into mush, completely devoted to sacrificial and heavenminded love.  i want to i want to i want to.  

let's see if i can quiet the puppeteer that turns my glance to weaker lovers, to cheaper meals and bad wine for the hasty lust to be drunk.  

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To Unlearn.

The layers of living/loving life are coming through to me as a peeling away, an unlearning. 
Unlearning the American Dream. 
Unlearning the formulas of family security in suburban quarantine.
Unlearning the reasons why people are given value. 

And what excites me, is that this revealed wisdom of living and seeing through the veil
is confirmed in the Gospel. 

What is the Gospel but an Unlearning of our desires, haunts, and secret motives?  What is the Gospel but an ancient recording of what my heart is screaming all around me.  

The Wind, The City, and The Forest.

i am a two faced man
the hand built home down dirt road lost
and the color can in hand down alleys angeles los 

the drive or canopied walk to Talk with no phone
but the nervous quake at being alone 

the challenge to throw the keyboard and paper green
but wait in line for the five second new touch screen 

the heaven is home and mystery hold for purity's promise
yet hunger in shadows for immediate fill and long doubting thomas.

the books that I read and verse that I pen
is for my own joy or the eyes of men.

I am a two faced man. 

And the one informs the other
and tempers the shrill sounds of a 
commitment neither is willing to make. 

and each longs to be free of the other
or to be overcome.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sent this to OP the day before The Rescue.

Building a statue of dreams and youth,
with bone and muscle, film and tooth,
to breathe a chance of changing glaciers,
driving the river to a new ocean,
to turn the timid boy to face her
and drink the dreamer danger potion.

Your aching joints are trembling past
the crested ridge of wind-torn mast,
and pride is swelling as mourning dawns,
the passing spring of first born voice,
that dared to shout for throats ripped gone,
and threat a victory rejoiced,

a lasting ache to hold it close
for self was pinned and but a ghost,
forget it not the purposed road,
that moved you through a sunset load,
and fear will creep that self's return,
will wake the dark you did unlearn,

but hold the ache as close as bone,
and seek the wonder in his tone,
and see as badges tired legs,
and see as honor nesting eggs,
that long to crack and cry and leap
from high above and touch the sheep,

for God is bold and lavish more,
for writing this into his score:
with names inscribed with roars of Lion,
a silly dreamer and Orion.

November & June.

It is after The Rescue... one of the most incredible weeks/experiences of my life. I have yet to really reflect on it. That will come.

For now, here is a poem I wrote in the van driving back to SD.. staring at wild canyons and friends that humble me... and i was just day dreaming about longing, and the purity of unrequited or separated love...


November and June can never meet
This side of eternity.
They are wholly in love,
I think, but they do not know
the other exists except by rumor.
Time is the murder of their
Flirtatious meeting.
But he does not know how
They pass poetry addressed to the other
they hope is there,
Written on the leaves and
carved in the seeds beneath the sleeping soil.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Like a pool or a lawyer and his degree from a school
or the carpenter and his tool
or a junky and his fuel

nothing you can't hold with your own mind
or can't do on your own time
or is not one of a kind

Self, others, cultures, pockets, purposes, exchange
Change, the words, the silence, the strange
Or a forgotten shooting range.

- O.P.

3 things.

Take more risks. 
Reflect more. 
Do more things that live on after life is over. 

It is the things we leave undone that haunt us,
far more than the mistakes we've made.  

Interesting how our moral culture attacks the fall
before it focuses on activating the ready waiting.  

I've been thinking about these three things ever since Orion told me of them.  
Specifically the first two.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Carman, Bliss, (1861-1929)

(My friend Molly showed me this poem, and there are a few verses that she said reminded her of me, starting with 'a lover of books', and my heart took it as a true, deep compliment.)

Now the joys of the road are chiefly these
A crimson touch on the hard-wood trees;

A vagrant's morning wide and blue,
In early fall, when the wind walks, too;

A shadowy highway cool and brown,
Alluring up and enticing down

The outward eye, the quiet will,
And the striding heart from hill to hill;

Asking nothing, revealing naught,
But minting his words from a fund of thought,

A keeper of silence eloquent,
Needy, yet royally well content,

A lover of books, but a reader of man,
No cynic and no charlatan,

Who never defers and never demands,
But, smiling, takes the world in his hands,--

Seeing it good as when God first saw
And gave it the weight of his will for law.

And O the joy that is never won,
But follows and follows the journeying sun,

The racy smell of the forest loam,
When the stealthy, sad-heart leaves go home;

(O leaves, O leaves, I am one with you,
Of the mould and the sun and the wind and the dew!)

The broad gold wake of the afternoon;
The silent fleck of the cold new moon;

With only another league to wend;
And two brown arms at the journey's end!

These are the joys of the open road--
For him who travels without a load.

Monday, April 13, 2009


It can contaminate poetry
by changing the flavor of every taste
A pointed desire will change your 
every thought
into a slave
i do not like
how it reminds me
that I am made of animal. 


I am reading Lewis' essay 'Why I am not a Pacifist' 
I have not digested it yet, but am really coming to a place 
where I want to have a well articulated stance on 
man's role in exercising judgment or justice on earth,
and what the cost of abstaining really is.  And if there is a 
difference between helping your brother's oppression through
the use of force
and letting him suffer through your moral separation and 
physical avoidance.  
I do not yet know.   

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I have seen the spirit of hunger of wonder tonight.  Sitting around the beach fire with Folco, Roko, Tom Shadyac, Gael, Gretchen, Jaya..   Kenny and I the youngest of the group by years.   Yet we sat with our faces lit by the noon-day moon and the shared excitement of fellow callings.  I felt so touched by sincerity, and their boldness to hope in the generations.  They kept telling Kenny and me that we were their inspiration, that we were what they had dreamed of, a generation of new minded world citizens.  that shed the formulas of success for purpose.  
The most humbling experience. 
Community is not meant to be the college-isolation of same-aged piers.  Community is engaging with the minds of those at every stage of life, and building each other outrageously high when those minds are of the same cloth.  When the young man grows close to the old, every stage of life is robbed of its unknown shadow, and given the trust of navigated waters, and adventures.  And life becomes exciting, rather than a dreadful sand slipping through young hands, afraid of every passing through.  
Everyone around the fire tonight was of the same quilt, a quilt God is weaving and showed me his pattern, even just a glimpse.  Those moments when you step out from the fire light and see yourself in front of you, and are aware that you are alive and being fed.  And that will feed my faith for some time.

Monday, April 6, 2009

God is in control.

My taste and choice 
to hunt the hill with water carves
and chose to pursue 
the cherished friend

My day is my quilt
of cleaned teeth and 
accomplished this and this
it is all I own

And I can be told that
every thread is woven 
by a Loom I did not own
and I can sit beside the darkness
and know that my tastes were 
not my chosen, but instead
a choice made long ago
before even my parents were. 

And I was deported.
and found kindred callings
on rocks and pillow talks.  

And I will still call it mine. 
and the Loom will wait.  

Prov. 16:9, In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Prov. 16:33“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

James 4:13-15“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.”

Jer. 17:9"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?"

Rom. 11:33-36 :

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.


take away the desire
through achievement or rejection
and you destroy the forward. 

if I make the summit
I must quick to find the next
or I will sink and die
like the hunters in the ocean. 

when I grasp the girl
whose shape I have dwelled on
her shape will remain
for a while, and I will grow comfortable
in my ownership, and lust again
for other mountains.  

It must be so. 
We are built for heaven, 
and meant to feel discontent here.
There is a peak beyond our lives, 
that can always be leaned on in the greatest humiliation.

Although I wonder if we can exist content.
The lack of desiring what we do not have
chokes time of its air and halts.  It cannot walk. 
It makes me frightened of heaven. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene is changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness, 
And we know that the hills and trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away-
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
and the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to talk about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing-
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would hope for the the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; Yet there is faith
But the faith and the hope and the love are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
so the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry, 
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth"

-           TS Elliot, "Four Quartets"


the way I see the face of friends
is if you have a face at all
and greater still the garden tends
if kindred turns at kindreds call.

as a secret shared before we heard
or knew we heard but woven in 
we bend our brows at spoken words
the unsaid eye caught secret men

and we find our feet beside the same mountain,
'for if they fall, one will life up the other.' 


I pray that this song is more ambiguous than it is...  but I guess hiding has never been a way to live, except that is the only way anyone lives.   

The summer rain has come and gone
I can see on the road the dust is gone
I’m surrounded by right and shaped by love
I’m covered and warm and still left cold.
I’m afraid of a decade to pass
I’m afraid of a 40 year fast
Can the water shape me like a stone
When the water is not my home

I am not going to say that I’m alone
I’m a country road in a hungry roam
I’m a gray bird in a chicken’s pen,
And I’m afraid to pray the gray is sin.
But as broken and overgrown as I become
He will not stop a promise done.
I’m just afraid of choosing gray
And a shaking head hung to say.
Shame shame shame

Can the water shape me like a stone
If the water is a home I’ve never known

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I am worth

what if I don't create anything
no words, or laughter, or prowess.
I surround myself with creators
who are excellent
and consider myself part of them,
or I surround myself with people who create nothing
and then I create something small, and feel better than them
I am not excellent
but I am better than at least one at something
and that combined with many intangibles makes me better
than at least one
and I of course am not as good as that one
and that gives me grounds for feeling humble
though I quickly pull forth a startlingly complex equation
of many intangibles to make myself better than that one at
other things
this passes quietly inside me
comforts me without my spirit catching wind
and I move forward, feeling good about my place in the world
until someone else creates something excellent, and
I have to start adding it all up again.
The obsession with comparing ourselves to one another is 
possibly our deepest curse.  It is a richest poison.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

my friend Orion showed me this. 

A sloop of amber slips away
Upon an ether sea,
And wrecks in peace a purple tar,
The son of ecstasy.

-emily dickinson-

I wonder why I love sad songs so much. 
I would say it's because I enjoy life, 
and delight on most everything. 
and because of that, I have an insecurity that my experience is two
not that I never have dark days, or troubled waters,
but that my default seems to be joy. 
and I'm thankful for that. 
but I love to love to love sad songs.  
Songs about loneliness.  
and longing for home. 
and broken relationships that remain broken. 
the truth in those songs,
I mean the rusted memories of Patty Griffin
and the lamenting histories of Ray LaMontagne
the righteous hunger in Derek Webb
and the American quiet dispair of Sufjan,
I just love to live inside them, 
set their pain beside mine,
and revel in it.
Maybe they lend me a third dimension.
- JJ.
"Natural gifts carry with them a ... danger.  If you have sound nerves
and intelligence and health and popularity and a good upbringing, you
are likely to be quite satisfied with your character as it is.  "Why
drag God into it?" you may ask ... Often people who have all these
natural kinds of goodness cannot be brought to recognise their need
for Christ at all until, one day, the natural goodness lets them down
and their self-satisfaction is shattered.  In other words, it is hard
for those who are "rich" in this sense to enter the Kingdom.
"It is very different for the nasty people - the little, low, timid,
warped, thin-blooded, lonely people, or the passionate, sensual,
unbalanced people.  If they make any attempt at goodness at all, they
learn, in double quick time, that they need help.  It is Christ or
nothing for them....
"There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of
us.  If you are a nice person - if virtue comes easily to you -
beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given.  If you
mistake for your own merits what are really God's gifts to you through
nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still
a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible
... The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far
above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.
"But if you are a poor creature - poisoned by a wretched up-bringing
in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels -
saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual
perversion - nagged day in and day out by an inferiority comple that
makes you snap at your best friends - do not dispair.  He knows all
about it.  You are one of the poor whom He blessed.  He knows what a
wetched machine you are trying to drive.  Keep on.  Do what you can.
One day (perhaps in another world, perhaps far sooner than that) he
will fling it on the scrapheap and give you a new one."      -  CS
"As I read and contemplated the subject, behold! that very discontentment which Master Hugh had predicted would follow my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to an unutterable anguish. As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out. In moments of agony, I envied my fellow-slaves for their stupidity. I have often wished myself a beast. I preferred the condition of the meanest reptile to my own. Any thing, no matter what, to get rid of thinking! It was this everlasting thinking of my condition that tormented me. There was no getting rid of it. It was pressed upon my by every object within sight or hearing, animate or inanimate. The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment me with a sense of my wretched condition. I saw nothing without seeing it, I heard nothing without hearing it, and felt nothing without feeling it. It looked from every star, it smiled in every calm, breathed in every wind, and moved in every storm." -Frederick Douglass


Whether it's good and evil,
or woman and man.
Myself and other, anger and pleasure.
I am thinking about the balance between the extremes,
and how one may not exist without the other.
Can God be good if there is no bad?
Can I enjoy heaven if there was no alternative?
A product brings pride when it is the fruit of great labor.
A lover trembles in the arms of a long hungered touch.
And the inverse confirms me.
An easy capture is no game at all.
A glutton for anything, food, sex, or sarcasm, will quickly find that more is needed,
until all of moments are spent in it... and there can be no more.
And he must resort to a deeper dispair.
It is in the wanting that a thing is given value.
It is in the tension of love and love lost,
of touch and lonely skin,
of exhausted sleep and more work to be done,
for I can faintly recall days where too much sleep made me bored and crazy,
of best friends and time apart,
of leisure and labor
the tension of a mother's desire to nest and rear to set free,
of a lovers call to consume and remain herself,
and of a re-born soul,
for loving your neighbor as yourself requires a deep self-love,
for sacrificing yourself requires something to sacrifice,
and dying to yourself will only bring yourself into existence.
It is in the tension that God has made Himself known.
I don't know what this means,
but I guess Romans 11 told me so.
Who has ever given to God that he should counsel Him?
Who can know the ways of the Lord.
I love that I can lean on that, and the hints He has placed
in every tension.
that this is not home, or maybe that home is in an impossibility.
- JJ.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


When I look at the years of tossed together poems... I realize that I love the imagery of the ocean.  It's cliche because it is true to human experience, and readily available to tell it.    I should probably try to be more creative.  

Dark Water.

I wrote this for a friend who was an Engineering Major, and not understanding how God could be part of that. 

Dark Water:

Begging for something
More than crumbs,
And tired of the bruised shoulders,
from I life I did not choose,

I walk to the shore,
In the middle of the night…

Told of life and life
More abundant,
And told that my comfort is shame
I sometimes stand in my parent's house,
And ponder persecution.

I am at the shore,
My clothes behind me,
And my feet in the foam…

What is this song,
A serenade,
With celebration and
A cleverly disguised
Funeral hymn.

I am waste deep,
In dark water.
My arms are raised,
In fear of cold and

Two years spent in
Books and numbers,
Another on the slab.
For what?  My
Blood, drunk with bewilderment, stares at
The faces of people
whose names I have never spoken
and whose faces I know well.

"I do not accept the authority of popes and councils,
For they have contradicted each other."

I lower my arms and
My teeth chatter in November waters…

I've begged enough to know
That a corpse strung up
Is born again
And a broken back
Is the force of armies.
Perhaps confusion is confidence,
And fragile faith
Is face to face.

"Here I stand.  I cannot do otherwise."

I press my head
Into a swollen wave,
and disappear…

I will not go back,
I will not dance or mourn,
Until You reveal Yourself.
You promised.
I do not ask for Moses,
Just a whisper.

I say a crumb will do.

"God help me.  Amen."

…into dark water. 

Monday, February 9, 2009

If I Am Alone.

I wrote this when I was in law school... feeling pretty distant from relationship and burdened by work, I cherished so much those connecting moments I would have with best friends.

If I am alone,

Perhaps by the sea,

And I see the sun,

Falling to the dark

not without a brilliant fight

of violet strokes and gold,

The water that pets the sand stone,

Will slow with shadowed time,

And the day pauses.
And ache.

With inadequacy to convey

a swelling in my spirit.
I make a note to tell you,

Or find my camera.
So it is,

With a true book,

a shared glimpse,

Or a crooked tree hungry for company,
If I am alone,

I hold for you,

To share my deepest,

Because what cannot be said

You understand,

And we stand by the sea in silence.

And beside the sea we ache.

Feb '06