Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year of Living Dangerously

To all you bloggy people (especially a certain individual whose name I won't mention, but whose initials are KIMBERLY MASON):

I really can't explain all that's going on with me right now...can hardly type this...but a most difficult year is about to close, and I wanted to mark its passing.  It is ending as it began, with unexpected turmoil, heartache, and uncertainty.  And yet it was the year I met so many of you!  I really don't have it in me to write more at the moment, and so I give you the Christmas poem I authored last year as a tribute to you all, my readers, my friends, my angels unaware.

“The Angel Gabriel from heaven came”

‘Tis the season of angels bright, watching, waiting
Sitting, soaring, causing quite an uproar
On a clear, cold night in ancient Bethlehem!
How they glitter now from treetops, windows, doors,
Front yards and porches, some plain, some gorgeous
All gold and white and all too often blue-eyed blonde.
Yet as we travel on our daily paths to work or town
Or just around the neighborhood, how can we know
That angels, good and true, watch over you and me?
I dare not speculate, for fear of mocking God on high.
Still, I must ask why, if angels are among us,
Do these ill fates befall our loved ones, dear?

It is clear to me: for once, I do not have an answer,
But perchance a revelation, if I may be so bold.
As we live out lives oft racked with pain and sorrow
Where tomorrow is no certain thing, perhaps an angel
Unaware is the one who comforts us and in so doing
Brings good tidings of great joy…perhaps that angel
I now seek, and sometimes pause to listen for
Is at my door, in full view, and looks a lot like you?


Wishing all of you a most fulfilling new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the Bleat Midwinter...or something like that

For a certain irreverent reverend :-)

Sheep farm, Lincoln County, North Carolina, December 27, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Tis the Season

Christmas is about traditions, like singing the old familiar songs, or watching Charlie Brown every year, knowing all the words, waiting for your favorite lines.  Our tradition of writing a poem to share each Christmas began in earnest 19 years ago.  There are familiar themes in them, too, and yet great diversity.  See The Bug for our latest!  One constant over the years is that, whether we mention it in the poem or not, we try to return to the manger, to focus on Advent and all that it means to us.  Given that I have been thinking a lot about Mary this season (I blame Willow and her Magpie Tales ;-), I decided to post our first and third poems for you as we head toward Christmas Eve.  I was also inspired to do so by this Nativity post from our dear friend Ann T. Hathaway.  

As for the poems below, The Bug authored the former, and I the latter.  May you find hope and comfort in this season, no matter how dim the days may have grown, no matter the obstacles in your path.  Okay, I almost started to quote _Lord of the Rings_ again.  I get that and the Bible mixed up all. the. time.  Seriously, if I have learned anything from the ongoing quest for knowledge and meaning that is my life, it is this: the Divine works in mysterious ways...and apparently takes great delight in surprising us!  What could be more mysterious, more surprising, than the Advent of Christ: God at long last coming to dwell among us, yet not as a king triumphant, but as a fragile little baby, born of a frightened unwed (initially, anyway) mother far from home and hearth?  Blessed among women, indeed!

It is a season of pregnant hope-- 
Mary, great with child,
wonders what glory
could come from her shame.
It is a season of reluctant faith—
Joseph, bewildered,
accepts the unacceptable,
embraces Mary’s miracle as his own.
It is a season of difficult birth—
Jesus, born a fragile child,
shatters ancient silence,
Immanuel in swaddling.
It is a season of bated breath—
God, through unexpected doors,
comes to us, abundant grace:
Wait!  Watch!  Listen!
It is a season of merciful action—
Take this Christ-child
serendipity into the world.
It is a season of remembered love—
We remember you.

Christmas 1992

It is a season of silent expectation—
Shepherds, shivering in the night,
await the coming of the messiah
Adonai has promised them.
It is a season of ancient prophecy—
Magi, bearing royal gifts,
follow the light of a new-born star
to David’s city, Bethlehem.
It is a season of two-edged terror—
Herod, obsessed with usurpers,
has words of scripture on his mind
and thoughts of murder in his heart.
It is a season of great gladness—
Angels, foretold of the coming birth,
can hardly keep from singing to God
new-written songs of praise and love. 
It is a season of heavenly peace—
Carry Christ-like reconciliation
with you into our embattled world.
It is a season of much rejoicing—
Our Redeemer this day is born!

Christmas 1994

May peace, which is beyond all understanding, be yours this season, my dear friends! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Calling All Birders

Dear Jayne,

I know we just had this lesson, but...which one is this?

In lieu of tuition, I gladly offer you deer at school!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A star-studded Christmas on the bus

Christmas 2003

Strange is this place in which we find ourselves,
From parents’ hearths we two have traveled far.
And yet a home of sorts we have made here,
Still guided by same sun, same moon, same stars.
What fate has spun this unexpected thread?
What weft in some design will our skein fill?
Does Adonai our lives manipulate,
Or do we choose this course of our own will?

Pattern unknown to us, we can but trust,
The gentle weaver’s hand, our Lord divine.
Regardless of what space may separate
Our thread from yours, we’re ever intertwined.

And so with you, our friends from far and wide
We share one hope, one love this Christmastide.

Christmas in Fairfield, OH, 2003

Obviously I had a sonnet in mind that year, but came up short on the rhyme scheme.  Still, it isn't a bad little poem, and it does mention stars, per the Poetry Bus prompt from the Weaver of Grass.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I was at Lowe's picking up a new snow shovel when a lovely bird feeder spoke to me: "If you buy me, he will come."  It wasn't expensive at all...a nice little feeder made in part of recycled material.  I bought it and a hearty sunflower mix.  Today, he came!  And he brought friends...

A fit, fat fellow!
In his holiday finery
With finchy friends!
Good day to you, Sir Finch!
Others join in the feast.
Back for a quick snack.
My pleasure, good sir!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Queen Mother

Mother, invested with crown,
Blood-stain red halo,
Glassy-eyed pale visage,
Lead-solder heavy burden
Cradled in your strong arms,
Still young, but naïve no more.
How often did you cry
“Why?” as that child grew,
Within, beside, without
You, Our Lady?
Did “eli eli lama sabachthani”
Grace your lips as well?

We appeal to you, Mary,
In our times of trouble,
For you are the one
Who brought forth
The Son on whom
We now in wonder gaze.
Pray, should we also ponder
What was asked of you,
Blessed Madonna,
By Adonai, the One
Who made your belly
A swelling vessel of Presence?

This is a Magpie Tale.  For more tales, click here!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Christmas Tradition Rides the Bus

The Bug and I were married December 15, 1990.  That first Christmas our friends and family were lucky just to see our smiling faces - we were, among other things, busy writing thank you cards, not Christmas cards.  The next year, 1991, we wrote personal notes in select Christmas cards, and we think our notes were fairly poetic.  Foolishly, we did not keep a copy of what we wrote.  Who knows - it might have been pure genius!  In 1992, we began a tradition that we continue to this day - sending out a poem with our Christmas cards.  As for the writing, some years have been far more challenging than others, and yet we try.  We alternate, for the most part, who is the primary author (The Bug keeps a score card - of course!), and style can vary significantly.  Some poems get heavily edited by the non-author and are true collaborations, while others go out just as they were first written.  At this point in the game, all we really remember is who wrote the first version.  In any event, with our 20th anniversary just around the corner, I thought I would share with you the Christmas poem I wrote on the occasion of our 10th:

The tree is not so big this year,
A compromise, nothing near the size
Of the behemoth it succeeds.
Hard choices must be made,
Not all our old familiar friends
Can nestle in its finite boughs.

Remember Wake Forest, 1991,
A tree much smaller even than this,
Yet big enough for gifts we shared.
Sitting on the bed, one year wed,
Writing notes in some, not all, the cards,
Who knows what we said?  Please tell us!

House, tree, bed, old friends, now gone,
We hold on to memories, mellowing
As they age in the cellars of our hearts.
“Our First Christmas” couple, as then,
Will swing in their heart from a limb,
Midst penguins aplenty, rest assured.

Foghorn Leghorn and Snoopy
And Hallmark keepsakes, by the score,
And souvenirs from far and near
And balls and beads and bells
And bows, red, gold, and purple,
Will trim the tree once more.

Other treasures we’ll set aside,
The joy they bring deferred,
Boxed up but not discarded.
How could they ever be?
Look at them, they are forever
Part of you and me.

Humbly submitted by an exhausted Dr. Linthead as a ticket for this week's Poetry Bus, driven, of all things, by Titus the Dog (thanks, Joanne!).

Friday, December 10, 2010


Beloved old sled,
Hanging neglected
In the tool shed, waiting…
Like a little boy,
Longing for a sledding snow…
Like a teenager,
Longing for a break from school…
Like a weary mother,
Longing for a carefree morning…
Like an angry nation,
Longing for bygone prosperity…
Like a desperate world,
Longing for a sign that Someone
Hears the prayers of the poor…
Like a careworn writer,
Longing for a story
With a happy ending…
Will this be the day?

This is a Magpie Tale.  To read more, click here!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On the Bus to Old Uncle Woody's

That Guinness-loving Poetikat is driving TFE's Poetry Bus this week!  Along with being one of our favorite poets, she is a wicked good driver, and she wants tales of pubs, where a fabulous time is had by all.  Now you know I seldom frequent such places, but I thought, since she asked, I would give it a whirl. Here's my ticket, Kato!

Uncle Woody’s

I remember an old pub
That served beer, and some grub,
Where we gathered at the end of exams,

Where Babette and young Bill
And ol' Clint, Ted, and Chill
Transformed from staid scholars to hams.

We talked much of Marx--
There sometimes were sparks--
While the smoke swirled thick from Barb's Camels.

Kev and Steve hung about,
One with Coke, one with stout,
As we fretted over grad conference panels.

We drank, by accounts,
Ale in copious amounts,
Sometimes walking out with pub glasses.

Too oft some drank more
Than their wits could endure,
Until loudly they showed off their asses!

I confess, more than once,
Having imbibed too much,
I left there in great disarray,

But The Bug was forgiving,
I'm still among the living,
Though I had hell to pay the next day!

And did I mention the Loo,
Where the moldy stuff grew,
And the tiles sometimes got mighty squishy!?!

From that place oft arose
An offense to the nose,
Akin to a dead, rotting fishy!

Though in that Necessary
One did pee in a hurry,
Lest the smell make one lose all one's goodies,

Still it was such good sport,
To carouse and cavort
In the pub known as old Uncle Woody’s!

Photograph temporarily purloined from the Interwebz (I'll put it back, I promise).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This Sunday, LC reposts Snowflake for his Magpie

Tis the season of term papers and exams, but the Magpie prompt and that lovely poem with which Tess led off, not to mention the local weather, beg for a response, so I give you Lemuel Crouse's "Snowflake," first posted back in August.

By Lemuel Crouse

Alone, awash amidst this sea of spruce
and pine I sit. Into the rising fog
I gaze as if to see some mystic realm.

Enchantment drew me to this holy hill
by promising a glimpse of heaven's bliss,
but haze and heavy clouds obscure my view.
The gloom, my doom it is, I think, to see.

What is it like to dream of future days
and not of nightmares past? The wintry blasts
come howling through my brain. Yet on the winds
of pain a solitary snowflake floats.

Someday the snow will fall and bury all
my shame beneath its pristine flow, and I
will know at last a season of new hope.

And now I'm off in search of more coffee and a pair of woolly socks...and another red pen!