A place where no one seems particularly interested in God

We come into the world screaming from the weight
of the atmosphere pressing on our fragile bodies.

Astonished at the strange light, we gulp air and milk,
almost drowning in the very elements we need to survive.
Like fallen angels we’re left on doorsteps of strangers who,
for better or worse, take on the task of keeping us alive.

Our caretakers believe our first smiles are meant for them,
but in the beginning we still keep company with the angels,
weeping as they leave us to fend for ourselves in this alien world.

We learn to tie our shoes.
We pose for snapshots while the constant burning sun
evaporates the mist of our pre-dawn memories.

We learn which questions make our caretakers uneasy.
We learn how to give proper answers to their questioning.

Some memory of our origin distracts us during unexpected moments,
at inconvenient times;
rushing to get to church,
a place where no one seems particularly interested in God.


Mercy Oceans

The angel of storms is directing traffic.
A saint sloughs off his tattered robe.
The ocean swells, heavy breasted
throwing itself to shore endlessly
Kissing us.
The director moves a cloud bank over the desert;
Merciful rain
Moistening dry eyes
Parched souls
There’s a wedding celebration in Paradise.


Dedicated to my spiritual guide, Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqaniwho passed from this earthly life on May 7, 2014.


News from distant worlds

Shin Young An-artist

‘Unblinking’ by artist: Shin Young An

Drinking coffee, waiting for the courier. Two owls hoot love messages to each other in Morse code. Or maybe they’re saying ‘good day’. It’s hard to tell with owls.

Hummingbirds buzz at the feeder. In between sips of sugar water they fret about their babies.

My cat rolls over and stretches like a piece of elongated orange taffy.

That’s the news from close up. I have to wait for bulletins from more distant worlds. The courier is lazy. No FedEx-to- my-door deliveries from this character. He tosses reports out his window on scraps of torn paper. They float down around me like confetti.

A current of warm air, like a sigh nudges an old photograph in my direction, sepia toned and faded. The edges zig-zag, as though cut with pinking shears. Within its borders, a solid, 50-ish woman braids the hair of a young girl. Both wear vintage plaid dresses. The shot, taken from the side and a little behind, is intimate and tender. A private moment and a casual photograph in a time where most subjects were front facing and grim.

I pin the picture to my bulletin board.

Next, a scrap of newsprint with a photograph of a girl and a cat catches my eye. It hangs in the air as though time has stopped, but I think it’s more likely that it can’t make up its mind which way to go. I have to rise from my chair to retrieve it. The headline reads: Schrodinger’s cat rescued by young girl.

In the meantime, a strip of newsprint has landed on my desk. I think at first it’s been dyed in a coffee stain to look old, but it’s the real deal. A birth announcement dated 1792. A baby girl named Sarah Grimke, born November 26. Her name rings a bell. I turn the paper over and discover the strangest thing. Her eulogy is printed on the other side. Born into a wealthy Southern slaveholding family, this baby was to become an outspoken advocate for the antislavery movement.

The bits of paper have stopped and I wonder if my undercover source has dozed off. Then I see his hand drop a flimsy yellow square which sails this way and that, taking forever to reach me. It has barely any weight so that gravity and air physics are in a sort of soft competition.

It’s a post-it note. Probably someone’s grocery list. I’m annoyed with the courier until I read it. ‘Remember, I Love U Sweetheart. The Past is the past, so lets not Take it home with Us. I just want to Love U, and be happy.’ A smiley face punctuates the end.

A page torn from a book is next. There’s nothing written on it. Then I see raised dots embossed on paper. I run my fingers over them like a blind person and wonder how I’m able to read it, but then I’ve always felt my way through words.

I have room in this issue for one more story and grab a piece of musical staff paper. Scribbled guitar chords. Lyrics I recognize. “I’m being followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow. Leapin’ and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow.”

The initials C.S. are in the upper right hand corner.

The sky is lightening, stars fading. The pressmen are warming up the drums. I have a deadline to meet before this issue is put to bed.

My ‘beat’ is news from distant worlds. Delivered to you with your cup of morning coffee.

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