They Have Come Into It

They have come into it
That state without a name
Whose closest allies are
Widows and orphans
Yet is only parents
Who now are

They must learn the way
To express how it feels.
In ancient days they
Tore their clothes and
Poured ashes on their heads
Sharing what was

They have no recourse
Nothing can help
Simply stay and witness
Their substitute, their grief
And in doing so give
Power and grace


This Blessed Advent Morning

That pew
I occupied it again
This morning
That pew
Often hard and stiffening
Did soften and ease
This blessed Advent morning.

The songs
We sang them again
This morning
The songs
Recently more breathless noise
Resonated deeply
This blessed Advent morning.

My sins
We confessed them again
This morning
My sins
Which accuse and condemn
Were justly silenced
This blessed Advent morning.

The news
We celebrated it again
This morning
The news
Which has never come to me in dreams
Came in the story of a dreamer
This blessed Advent morning.

The Word
I heard it again
This morning.
The Word
Often passé is now anticipated
A babe born in the House of Bread
This blessed Advent morning.

Great Grandfather

B McClain, listening to the radio

In the photo, maybe seventy years old,
He widely sits, slumped into a parlor chair
Nestled near the corner.

Arm on the rest, he holds his ancient head
And cares not that his wire-rim glasses
Have ever-so-slightly slid.

Beside him stands the radio cabinet
On which sits a rack of phonograph records
And an inconspicuous trophy.

His neck just overflows his buttoned shirt collar.
His tie, thin and tight, matches his lips.
He is listening, looking to the right.

Whether it be the news, filled with desperation
Or the music of that era, spinning, skipping
He has heard it all before.

PHOTO: William “Bea” McClain (1882-1963)

Big Mountain Jesus

Photo By CarleyJane
Photo By CarleyJane

Big Mountain Jesus, why so sad?

It cannot be the view.
For surely Northwest Montana is just as beautiful
As it was the day you arrived
Over 50 years ago
Commemorating the 10th Mountain Division
Men who skied the Alps for the Allies
Who in Italy and France found solace
In numerous shrines.
I guess things seemed grim, and yet
they found perspective.

It cannot be your powder blue toga.
(Though I do wonder if that is the best choice, given the climate)
True, some flannel-lined pants, or maybe
A wool sweater would better trap the heat.
But then they’d possibly restrict
Your out-raised arms and
Your bleeding heart.
And a toboggan! Don’t get me started,
that would have given you hat head.
All in all, a robe is not a bad choice,
Blue looks good on you
The tourists note it compliments the sky.

It cannot be the Constitution.
It’s true, those bickering over it
And its several clauses
Seem to miss the point.
Your baby-blue eyes
With their soul-searching power
They have rights too.
So you go right ahead, please continue
Establishing and
Subjecting each skier
vacationing on the hill
To your sovereign will.
Each descends
In sprays of fresh powder
To do your mighty bidding.

Really, Big Mountain Jesus, why so sad?
I mean, transfiguration happens?


NPR 12/3/12: ‘Big Mountain Jesus’ Statue Divides Montanans