For Cheyenne

Always remember
how good the words feel as they
swim wriggle flow start and stutter
halt back up zoom forward flutter.

You and they are long past locking up.

Fashion your words into a knife
long and crystalline, transparent and
sharper than sliced sunlight;
and show that knife to your enemy
with a hand untrembling and strong.

I can hardly wait to see what designs
you will make as you play that knife upon
the page of your further life.

Here’s a small piece of me
to pin on that page.

Letter to a childhood friend

Dear one,
Who would have thought
as cute little kids
that we could turn on ourselves
in such a way. The world
is cruel enough, but wayward chemicals
in vulnerable brains
can be much crueler indeed.

I can offer no sage advice, only
well-practiced prayers
for peace in mind,
a quiet place to settle,
and only as much self-chosen adventure
as you can stand.


Worst Friday

That one day was a bum deal all around.
Betrayal: check
False accusation: check
Torture: check and check.

Just a few days prior to the Very Worst Day,
The people were excited!
Running around, hosannah-ing right and left,
“Oh Jesus we love you you’re the best”
but soon calling out the name of Barabbas.

The Most Awful Day pressed on.

Even worse than the torture
was a sudden deficit of disciples.

Deny deny deny.

Did he know things were going to go sour
so quickly? All indications are
yes. Still…

As always, it was the women
who showed up, really showed up.
And that one apostle whom Jesus loved.

By then, all that was left was the forgiving
and the dying.

IMG_2258Painting by Robert Valienti-Neighbours


Not Alone

I am you,
and you, me.

Help me, I have no hands
to feed the hungry,
nor lips
to sing songs of praise for the morning,
nor eyes
to see and rejoice in the babe, the crone,
the strapping youth,
the old man creeping his path toward home.

I will help you
carefully prepare and serve
sing with beauty
see clearly and
rejoice loudly.

I am you,
and you, me.

The pain of the lash, halved.
God’s gift to the world, doubled.


**For the women of Blaine Street Jail. Thank you for making art with me, and making me a better person.