Champagne Kisses

I long for champagne kisses
to be given to me
your mouth the open bottle
me goblet gaping, me

so thirsty for an altar
and vows once said renewed
and toasts in night air ringing
and union Reunioned with you

and champagne from your sweet lips
pressed gently onto mine
our love Their wine so bubbly
and life, so sweet, so fine
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The Song Of Loss And Gain

Steeples and graves stand marked in memory,
by a crucifixion making way for the last to be first,
and the guilty pardoned, making way for
the creature and The Creator

(the Dying/Living One Living/Dying,
dying/living here, within me too,
I who lack in every grace
to just die already,
so full of Great
Grace to live
always)
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it’s a sign so mysterious and standing
at the core of history the core of the world.

CORE:
suffering,
death, tragedy,
and sad sorrow He
(Supremely human He)
submitted willingly hanging
doggedly broken and bleeding
holding our infirmities in
His bloody Holey Hand
(He’s Got The Hole
World In His
Hand)
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it’s a gift of forgiveness
and assurance, depiction
of the depth of divine mercy
and hope of God and us.

Is this querulous song enough
to quiet restless running thoughts
and ease unanswered questions’ ache,
that burn so cold in hearts laid low
in suffering, hearts whose hope is seized
and despair left laying in its wake
(suffering-wake)
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But we must carry willingly
defeat and thirst and emptiness
through to the end of darkness, to
the end of self, and to the world’s long waited end
bringing meaning to suffering and peace to hearts in pain

in this symphony of blood
in this song of loss and gain.
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Blinded By Love of Hatred

Chip Kelly was fired as a head coach several hours ago.

The onslaught of opinion, dislike, and even (yes, I have been quite surprised at the use of the word) hatred being expressed towards him is at first blush stunning, shocking even…until one begins to think a bit deeper in regards to this reaction towards a person who is only a coach of a sport.

Caveat:  I am not an Oregon Ducks fan…but I am a fan of Chip Kelly the coach, and as a coach Chip Kelly the person.  In fact, I originally was thinking that he was an opportunist with a gimmicky approach to a game that was required to be played a certain way for reasons long held as deeply as Tevye and his cohorts held tradition!barcelona_above___revisited_by_coigach-d9h3eeg
Caveat:  I also have been involved in a professional capacity in required efforts to reform an organization that had drifted into mediocracy, had lapsed from accountability to laziness and assumptive privilege, and become fat and sloppy.  The net result was that the human beings involved were giving considerably less than their best and thus were deeply resentful of any calling to a higher/deeper/better way…that meant more work, more uncertainty, and called for a walk into the future that hadda be made with faith and not with sight.

Caveat:  I am transgender and a woman and thus deeply at odds with a culture whose prevailing paradigm is patriarchal and oriented to rewarding those who support it and keep it alive.

So what do those caveats have to do with Chip Kelly and his firing?

It is not so much Chip’s successes and failures that I wanna comment on, but rather what those successes and failures have revealed about other people that both fascinates and disturbs me…and that is what I wanna talk about.
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Story:  In Chip’s first year with the University of Oregon, his team was up in Idaho playing Boise State…and I was at home cheering for the Broncos, like any good USC Trojan fan would do.  I found Chip’s demeanor off-putting, and I projected a lot of my own thoughts and assumptions as to what kind of a person he is onto him, based on how he looked on the outside.  Well, Boise St beat the Ducks, and omg Schadenfreude was flowing from me in Cartman-esque tears of “infinite sorrow”…

…and then it happened…the Duck’s LeGarrette Blount (a black running back from the inner cities) punched a white Boise St player in the face and cold cocked him…BAM!  The Boise St dude dropped like he had been shot!

And the outrage began…and I was shocked and amazed and quite distressed about the incident and then the onslaught of things spoken about Blount…throw him off the team…throw him outta school…throw him in JAIL!  And all the while no explanation sought or obtained…just shrill bloodthirsty simplistic and (yes, I will say it) racist calls for Blount’s blood.

Chip was asked about the incident and he simply said that he was investigating and would take appropriate action.  He did not acquiesce to the media demands for Blount’s head, he did not give any indication of any action he might take or not take…he simply was who he is…his maddening lil smirk in place and his calm and collected savoir faire leading to the assumption that he is a simple arrogant prick.

It turned out that the white player had gleefully gloated over the victory and had used a racial slur in the doing of it, intentionally seeking to insult and “other” Blount…and paid the price.  It also turned out that Chip got the truth, got together with Blount, kept him on the team and in school, meted out a punishment of suspension and integrated involvement with the team and some leadership help…

…and Blount graduated and plays in the NFL today ever since, having had a decent career.
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I knew then that I was witnessing a different breed of cat, so I started to read about Chip, and discovered that his approach to football (and life) is far from gimmicky!  He is utterly disinterested in anything but being the best, and doing what serves the best.  He has no time for ego…he has no interest in racism…he gives not a fart in the wind for opinion of others about what he does and who he is…because none of those things serve his understanding of the pursuit of excellence and becoming the best.

There was a lot of backlash in the early days with Chip…but the administration stuck with him, and were rewarded with a record of somewhere north of 40 wins and south of 10 losses (you can google the exact record)…and he played in National Championships (one of which they were victimized by a bad call in)…and did so with very few blue chip athletes.

Remember:  I am a USC fan since I was around 7 or 8 growing up in California, and I never recovered…so I am not a myopic fan blinded by Chip Kelly Love.

Chip went to a town that has booed Santa Claus…a stadium that has its own court and jail built into it so it can process the criminal behaviour of fans…and a media that was used to being coddled and given kid glove treatment by a jolly easy going maintainer of the status quo…and a football team that had grown soft and entitled.

He had a huge job in front of him:  the changing of a culture in a football team, imbedded in a city suffering from that same cultural decay and attitude, and all that imbedded in a league that has every interest in a monolithic vanilla approach to playing and coaching the game of football…

He had to confront the familiar and not only fix the short term bleeding, but go on to transform the entire culture of the team/city-wise.  He went 26-21.  Compare that to the records of other NFL coaches…and he is north of their success rate.
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I too have experienced this particular and exquisite torture…what you will end up giving people is significantly more nutritious and rewarding than what they have, and yet they fight SOOO hard to keep the familiar…and when they discover that you are serious about it, they get out their long knives and start carving away…

Things begin to happen…things that ordinarily would be decried, and in other times and spaces would be unthinkable.  People that typically are fierce advocates for human rights and the giving of tender love and much benefit of the doubt begin to feel desperate and threatened…and use words like “Hate” and other more florrid descriptors in order to vent their spleen over the one who is forcing reform.

In my case, with regards to the organization I referred to, there was activity that I will not talk about other than to say it ran the gamut of the deeds of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5…and in the case of my resolve to help change the patriarchal paradigm, it is the usual invective involving the usual slurs…shouted with twisted faces, hearts of hate…

and the worst part of it?  The sense that it is justified because the threat is soo dire!

In Chip’s case, I will confess to being shocked at the sources from which hatred of Chip Kelly is professed and affirmed.
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Reform is a huge task!  Recently I read an article written by one of my most deeply loved and admired spiritual leaders, and it was all about how the reformation and restoration of deeply loved and treasured institutions often times required a bit of demolition on the way.  It required patience with mistakes, some rebuilding, and the allowing of time and space for the truth of the activity to fully emerge.

I was mindful of that as I listened to the stories emerging about Chip…the hints and dark inferences that Chip was racist (a claim that is patently absurd with even a cursory examination of his record…Chip’s crime is the same one that most coaches suffer from:  he is so singularly focused on football that he can forget to be a human being and that to anyone regardless of color!  None of the great coaches are considered to be really stellar Mother Teresa types)…Chip certainly did not suck up to the media power structure…

Chip sought and obtained player personnel control and along the way showed some hubris, some arrogance and inexperience that was so emblematic of his conviction that his system and methods were indeed the breeding ground for success.  Chip looks for a particular type of player rather than a “star”, and he develops them into a unit that is cohesive and thriving.  Along the way there were some players that he chose to let go, traded, or gave ultimatums to that were not well received…and I think an honest look at those moves would reveal some attitude problems, quite a bit of wear and tear on some bodies, and yes some mis-handling of the method that Chip has acknowledged long ago…

…but nothing there that warrants hearing of even children saying they hate him.
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I truly think this is disturbing…and I feel very anxious about it, because it was the lashing out of an empowered fanbase and media infrastructure that did not want their “toy” messed with.  Familiar mediocrity was much preferred to unfamiliar transformation and possible success…and when that familiar landscape was excavated, the backlash was and is vicious.

What will happen to me when the transformation of a paradigm commences in earnest?
My POC friends have long been experiencing horrors resulting from that push-back…

I think of that old country song about “walking on the fighting side of me”…as if there are just some areas where we are allowed to deeply indulge our animal lusts for hurting anyone that messes with us…

and on this the last day of the year 2015, I want to challenge us all to think about what is shown of our hearts in how we react to our sports, to our guns, to our neighborhoods, to our _____ when they are messed with in order to advance the cause and plight of humanity.

I feel it in my bones.  It matters.

As for Chip?  Likely he is a jerk…the same way that Belichick is a jerk…or Saban…or Coughlin…or (simply fill in the blank)…they each and every one will cut you without a glance if there is someone who they think will better serve their team. Chip is like that, I am sure…and he will learn from his experiences.

Frankly, given the reform of a league that is increasingly petrified wood, I welcome the revolution he presages…in fact Belichick has spent beaucoup time with Chip and has adopted many things from Chip’s ways…others have as well.  I hope Chip goes somewhere that gives him the time he needs to truly renovate the team and build it.
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I hope that as much because I desire that same chance, and that same patience…and for us both I pray that we will be allowed to live without the horrible curses and ignorant anger that is rained down.

No…I am not blinded.

My eyes are wide open.

May we all eradicate hating on anyone for any reason, least of all for sports related reasons.  There is no such thing as a place or an activity where it is “okay to hate and revile”.

If you think there is, it is you who is the one blinded…blinded by love of hatred.
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Absalom At The Bridge

There on that narrow spike-span stretching
between what shall be and what has already been
he stands, my Absalom, hair blowing breezy in the wind…

golden glow and fierce mane shaking itself hard
in anger, pride, in sorrow, ache, in Nine gods’ names
Oh Absalom, Absalom my son, my golden glowing son

standing ‘neath that terebinth in blackness,
without way forward and none behind, no back-ness on the bridge,
and masks(ness) stuck to your face and laying limp there at your feet

I walk to meet you there, on that stark narrow span in air…
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Horatius stood in that same place
and felt the things that pulse in you
and waited for the enemy

to show itself, fierce, solid, real
and fear, resolve, thrills did feel
as he a country stood to save

But Absalom?  He has no place to go
Forward into what’s not known
but back is not permitted

for there’s nothing to go back to.
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You know the pain of what’s been robbed
from you, but you have no idea
the ache that throbs here, deep in me

And rueful choices’ symphony
resounds below you, ‘neath your feet
and make that thin bridge sway

This way, that way, but you just ride,
time’s red-black surfer on time’s tide
and riding staves across the past’s deep cold and unforgiving waves

I take a breath and I step out towards you.
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And walk…slow and deliberate
towards your angry broken face
and swollen heated broken heart

my fingers stretched for just one touch
to tell you I forgive all words
and need forgiveness for all loss

and all my failure’s litany
that, written in your eyes of me
and my dull inability, Oh Absalom, my son!

My son! Would to God I died for thee!
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Thoughts On The Force Awakens

SPOILERS!

If you have not seen the movie and want to see it without any pre-knowledge of the film, then don’t read this post.
Frankly, I do not think spoilers will detract from the movie’s power and beauty.

This was by far the best of the movies…it starts with Max Von Sydow speaking “This will help put things right” or something very like that…and it does…explain so much.

The surprise revelation of Solo and Chewie…the new characters and the various things they bring…

Best of all to me is that the hero is a woman, named Rey…She is indeed a Ray of light in a time when the universe is indeed dark with an ascendency of the dark side of the Force.  She is always shown in light, she is powerful and tender all at once…she is just great in her ability to take up and let go.

It was healing for me to watch her be released, and to fight the physically strong rotten to the core male antagonist.

The film dealt also with parents and children both gone bad, both failing in their roles, and that struck me to the core.  Han touches his son on the face with his dying breaths and pledges his undying love as he falls to his death…and later the son is scarred in battle exactly where he was touched.

We try to give our kids our best…only to find out that whatever our best was, it was the kids’ worst because of what it wasn’t. We endure the passage of time and the loss of our children to themselves, and to their own losing of themselves.  All we can do is cross the abyss out onto the narrow bridge where they stand in their pain and anger and angst, and extend love into the face of loss, into the face of failure, and then take whatever it is they choose to thrust into our heart:  words of forgiveness and acceptance, or fiery jagged crystal energy flamed in anger and rage.

Regardless…our heart is theirs, and what they don’t yet know is that it has been theirs since they were born.

I was touched by the weighty and obvious tribute made to the passage of nearly 40 years since the first movie came out!  This was displayed on offer right up front…and I could not help but think of friends who are huge Star Wars Nerds who had ended up dying before getting to see all of the chapters…this made me cry.

The score, the technological choices, the simplicity of an archetypal story…I loved it.

May the Force be with you, and may you find the balanceImage 004

If You’re Not Welcome Home This Christmas

My Dear Friend, my true brother again tears out my heart and serves it to me warm and loved.

Thank you John…I have taken one of my tear drops and smeared it on the screen over these words…

Love, Your Sister Charissa Grace

john pavlovitz

welcome-mat-on-doorstepPeople are fragile things.

They are so very breakable.

I imagine you understand this all too well.

I imagine you know what it means to be so broken, perhaps today more than ever.

More than almost any other day, today reminds you of your fractures.

Today all of the bruises and the scars come to the surface.

You are homeless on this Christmas Eve.

Not that you don’t have a family and a place where they can be found tonight, where there are sweet smells and warm rooms and joyful sounds.

You do. It’s just that you are not welcome there—or not as you are.

For you there will be no call, no invitation, no lingering embrace, no tearful reunion.

There will be no sharing of treasured past memories or making of new ones today.

You are the involuntary prodigal, a reluctant outsider.

Distance is the sole gift you have been given.

That story is true, but it is not the only

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Turning Inside Out

my skin is stained by your lips
stained red, stained wine, crushed grapes
delicious between your white teeth.
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my skin is blue from your touch so cold,
so hot within ice cold choice austere,
your love so cold it’s hot
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my skin is purple, it’s smeared
with your tough tenderness, your fingers
painting in loops and whorls
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and I, tattooed by your love
and thinking it done, it forever
indelible fait accompli…
Matthew Joseph Peak-www.kaifineart.com-1
But it washed off in the rain
of days, of years, of lifetimes
until I was white as snow

*as if untouched*
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So I turn myself inside out
and I wear my soul for my skin
and I’m stained always and again
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by your lips
by your words
by your touch

*by you*
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Make The Yuletide Gay (A Message To The LGBT Community and Those Who Love Them)

john pavlovitz

person-looking-up_mainAs much as what we believe matters, sometimes saying what we believe often matters even more.

I believe that a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation have no bearing on their character or worth.

I believe that people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender are fully deserving of love and respect and of every civil right afforded to any heterosexual or cisgender human being, without exception.

I believe that members of the LGBT community are not morally inferior, or that they need to be changed or converted or fixed.

I believe that regardless of where someone lines up along the diverse and complex continuum of human sexuality, they are all of equal value.

As a pastor and a man of faith with a public platform, I say these things clearly and continually.

To some this makes me an ally.
To some it makes me an advocate.
To some it makes me a former friend.
To…

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Let Her Be Woman

Stunning, shatteringly tender and strong

Petrichor

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Let her dream, for she has loved too long,
and no mortal world shall e’er take her;
let her seem, for she has cried her song,
let nightmarish tide dare not wake her;
let her give, for she has all beauty within,
that no love may e’er take her breath;
let her live, for she has life yet to begin,
and let gods be bereft upon her death;
let her cry, for she has tears left to mend,
no sorrow is spared for her want of woe;
let her die, for she will arise in the end,
and by her death, all love may she know.

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Advent Poem: We Wait For God Comes Near

I cannot shake this snowflake-season
and its many unexpected discordant moments
of Christmas preparation somewhere between

red hot errands at the mall

and

the soul felt its golden worth.
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But this discord can be a door to the kingdom
where Jesus is from, Jesus that Heavenly Immigrant,
Jesus that Redemptive Refugee come to our
dark little houses of trinkets and treasures
and useless electronics of technicolor
sentimental uselessness.

We wait like stones wait
(gritty and granite and grey)
to cry out in loud refrain…
we wait, we wait but we wait not
in vain and not diminished though we are
discomforted while we wait earthbound and heavy,
and grow large in excelsis deo expectations longing
1422220803140628_tallfor redemption and relief,
for peace on earth,
goodwill to all,
release from darkness
loneliness, disillusionment,
we wait for God comes near
to this world as we know it.
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Sex And Gender Are Actually The Same Thing (but bear with me…)

The reality is that the concept of “biological sex” — along with gender, money, and traffic laws — is entirely socially constructed. […]

Source: Sex And Gender Are Actually The Same Thing (but bear with me…)

Okay…follow along with the logic:  The writer is basically attributing physical expression in the world to an “origin point”…namely, being.

The author argues that if one knows oneself to “Be” a particular gender, then by definition and without application of the social constructs of definitions, one’s physical being “IS” that same identification.

It is a lot to think through, and certainly was for me…but the logic is sound, and the results of failing to apply this logic do certainly end up in the destructive ends the author enumerates.

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Advent Poem: Seeds of Sorrow

The end of exile and darkness
began at the manger of Jesus,
where seeds of sorrow sprouted
(sorrow Theirs and ours)
in Joyful Birth, and drawing
near to earth from heaven
as angels’ song is hushed

in holy hesitation
as Jesus Christ is born.
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He, God’s seed of sorrow sown
into the earth in Hope
of such Divine rejoicing
and harvesting of many
children returned Home
and exile at last over,
that exile self-imposed.

Advent Poem: Holy Wassail Wine

God,
rest Ye…

here in the midst
of the mess and the malls
and the masses of middling
and the muddles of mercy
needed, so badly needed.
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Let nothing

Masquerade as something
filling hearts so full
(of nothing…nuffin)
that they “feel full”
and still hunger for
bread become stone
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For
Jesus Christ was
born upon this day,

again in the sound of muzak
again in the tread of tired
tramping feet tiptoeing
around grapes of wrath
unstored in stores
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again…be born
again upon
This Day

O tidings of comfort and joy!
For the final word
is not dismay
and darkness shall not
have the final say!
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here is joy
enfleshed,
mingled with
sorrow like
Holy Wassail Wine
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Feast Upon The Village Green

I am the nest from which the great blue heron springs.
I am the stones upon which stinging ice-churned runnel sing.
And there, those fires hot from which the Phoenix rare takes wing.
I’m embers, scintillating crackling coals ablaze and life giving.

They named me foul pale heretic and laid me down to rest,
outside the white-washed churchyard walls, outside their ruddy fold.
And there my hot blood flowed rich-red to feed their bloodless grass,
I deep red died upon that emerald sward of murder bold.
And I do let my bones peek from the curtain of my skin
and thus do I me nourish every living thing herein
with my authentic self and my unconquerable song,
my passion unquenchable and my me a sacred throng

of birth from death and life lept up in winds, in rain and dew
I am nest, stone and embers singing always clear for you.
and thus it is unholy ground is cleaned, hallowed once more,
and every living thing’s communion, ever opened door
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The Lense Thru Which I Read My Lil Red Songbird…

I need my small, meaningless lies. I need all my self-created semi-truths.
It’s the only way for me to keep exclusive parts of myself to myself.
Believe me, I do not even perceive them as lies.
It’s something different that keeps happening inside my head.
At the same time, I long to tell you the truth about me, always.
I want to share with you each important or unimportant detail and feel and fully embrace the very act of sharing.
But it occurs to me that it’s the hardest of tasks; I hate it.
I hate unveiling bits and pieces of anything permanent or temporary that resides in me.
I loathe it with my heart.
You can find more honesty in the smallest of my gestures rather in my words;
my words are too impatient, too loose, too doomed in some way.
Anaïs Nin

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When Your Violin is Supposed to Be a Cello | Let’s Queer Things Up!

“In a single scale, I broke my own heart.”

Ohhh SAM!!!  This.

THIS!!

This article captures it so very well.  In a single article, he made me weep!

Source: When Your Violin is Supposed to Be a Cello | Let’s Queer Things Up!

Yes, clothes matter. | the girl inside

Source: Yes, clothes matter. | the girl inside

This is a well written article and I recommend it

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Directive by Robert Frost

Directive
Robert Frost

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you’ll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry –
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there’s a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods’ excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago?
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone’s road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you’re lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left’s no bigger than a harness gall.
First there’s the children’s house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny’s
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can’t find it,
So can’t get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn’t.
(I stole the goblet from the children’s playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

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Getting Lost, Getting Found

This exposition of a Robert Frost Poem is really enjoyable…please head over and contemplate.

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So I was reading Robert Frost’s poem, “Directive,” about getting lost in a small, old town. He mentions Panther Mountain, so it is probably set in the Catskill Mountains of New York. It is full of Frost’s individualistic syntax, starting out:

“Back out of all this now too much for us

Back in a time made simple by the loss

Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off

Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather…”

My college freshmen would probably oversimplify this to “back in the day” but then we would lose the photographic detail and the lovely iambic pentameter (five feet of unstressed/stressed syllables) that is at the heart of much great poetry in English. He goes on to say:

“The road there, if you’ll let a guide direct you

Who only has at heart your getting lost,

May seem as if it should have been a quarry—“

And this…

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