Driving

We sped along the highway,

Headlights slicing through the dark.

You placed your hand at your side,

I held the wheel in silence,

Patterns of ice spreading at the edges of the windshield,

The defrost sighing on the dash.

I wanted to look over to you

And love you all over again,

Pull you close on the bridge

And kiss above the water

Far from this hanging night

Hovering over you and I

In our separate cars, driving to different houses.

Thank You

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-4-29-42-pmThank you to everyone who attended the event last night for the official release of The Cardinal Turns the Corner! It was an extraordinary evening, and I could not be more grateful to everyone for their kind words and generous support.

Thank you, also, to all of you who, over the past several months, encouraged and promoted the project, both in person and online, as it came together. I am truly overwhelmed by your graciousness and enthusiasm.

So now, The Cardinal Turns the Corner is officially available for purchase through a number of different outlets. You may purchase a copy online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble or, if you’re local (i.e., Atlanta), you can buy a copy directly from me. All proceeds will continue to go to Curing Kids Cancer.

From now on, links to purchase the book will also be included in the “Purchase My Book” page at the top of this website.

So again, thank you so much! I love you all.

Tea Party

This morning, I bit into a plastic slice of watermelon

Prepared by my daughter

Along with some hard toast and make-believe jam,

A small snack upstairs in the playroom.

 

She laughed as the pretend juice dribbled down my throat,

And, thanking her for her gift, I reached for a blue pail,

A fitting receptacle for imaginary seeds.

 

What caught my eye were the thousand spots of confetti

We dreamed up all around

As we looked toward the ceiling for invisible balloons

And the clouds that wished for them.

 

But then, she grabbed the blanket from her bed

And billowed it to the carpet

Where we sat together for a picnic and, later, an elegant tea party,

One in which she and I planned the rest of the day

Over our warm cups of thin air.

Time

Before the sun rose this morning, I left my coffee cup

On the table next to the vase of flowers

And pulled a chair around to the far side near the window.

 

I brushed aside the still air of early kitchen light

And lifted myself up, towering toward the ceiling,

To unspine the batteries from the clock on the wall.

 

I wanted to place them next to one of your drawings,

The one with purple and blue marker on yellow paper

In which you carefully illustrated your little world

 

Filled with sunshine and letters of the alphabet,

A summer sky hovering above

Your endless fields of doodling.

 

You told me it reminded you of Blueberry Mash Hill,

That fantastic landscape of games and laughter you climb

On every walk we take around the neighborhood,

 

Or Apple Hill, the other street that bends toward the cul-de-sac,

Perhaps even Strawberry Hill, the one with the sharp incline

Followed by a spectacular view of the clouds.

 

But as the sunlight began to trickle through the window

And illuminate the hills of your imagination,

I laid the pages back on the table

 

And glanced at the pair of batteries,

Rolling lazily along the wooden surface,

Disregarding my attempt to freeze this moment in time

 

As I can just detect your small voice

Calling out from the top of the stairs,

Ready for another day of constant and beautiful growing.

New Year’s Eve

A city of shivering knees, stars leaning over towers.

The people crowd along the sidewalk, stacking walls out of late hours

To keep the last year out for good.

 

They’re all on camera, teeth chattering,

Huddled behind each other’s shoulders,

Looking up to an apple suspended by cables,

A moon in a lighthouse, a broken compass,

Needles shining in every direction at once.

 

From up there, they are merely heads,

Shuffling from side to side to shake off the cold,

Thousands counting under their breath,

Holding coffee, posters, hands,

 

This evening they rode trains, drove cars,

Gathered change for the wishes they’d toss down the well

At twelve.

 

But in the final moments, they bundle together in the gridlock,

Quiet, waiting,

Winding another layer of tape around their hearts

And lifting prayers into the night sky that this next one may finally

Save them.

 

And at midnight

They all dip like princesses to kiss for auld lang syne,

Singing and cheering the birth of a new year,

Horns wailing from loudspeakers, eyelashes glowing.

 

But when the last streamers fall to the ground,

Trash cans overflowing, confetti swept in bags,

The snowflakes become water,

And a dingy glass slipper lay propped against

An old pumpkin on the corner,

Clock hands turning in the morning light.

Dad

On the mountains at the farthest border of the world,

Snow-capped and calling,

I felt my way to the thin line of the edge

And looked down into outer space

 

Where I could see the winds of stars fall asleep

Below my scarlet knuckles

As the northern lights, with their tin flame of foil fire,

Green and white diamond, filmed the midnight sky.

 

They told stories like my father,

Full of heroes and the beauties they fought for,

As every scene of laughter and of sorrow,

Played at once along the measures of their gleaming.

 

Then I balled a few rags of snow in my grasp

And clenched them hard enough for the cold to slide

Into my chest and crack my pounding heart alive

As I rose to my feet and steadied my shaking lungs.

 

I remember those tales well,

My father sitting by my bedside, holding

Oceans and sailing ships with the strength of

His love for me.

 

And I would follow him anywhere,

Through the forestry of childhood,

Keeping close to his heels as he

Showed me where to go,

 

Well into the iron winters of adulthood

As my stride slowly grew stronger, and

He taught me how to breathe

The mountain air of becoming a father.

 

For now, as I stand at the peak of this universe,

Filled with ice and the sweep of shooting stars,

I turn and see the faces of my own children and my beautiful wife,

Looking to me with the smiles of home,

 

And I know it is time to tell my own stories,

To hold their hands and lead them onward

As they keep close to my heels, and I show them

Where to go.

Book Release (1.20.17)

Hello all –

First of all, I would like to thank you for following Eden.Babel and for the wonderful feedback you have provided over the last 18 months. When I started the blog, my goal was to create a platform where literature, poetry, history, film, and music could be examined in pursuit of understanding more fully the wondrous glory of God. I have been thrilled to share what has been on my heart in this journey, and your encouragement and enthusiasm has been, quite simply, beyond belief.

I want to share with you something exciting that I have been working on for the last six months. As many of you know and have read for the past several weeks, I have been working on a collection of poetry, slowly sharing with you some pieces I have written.

Simg_3361o I would like to announce that my first book of poetry, The Cardinal Turns the Corner, will be released on Amazon on January 20, 2017. The cost will be $12, and all proceeds will go to Curing Kids Cancer, an Atlanta-based organization dedicated toward innovative and affordable cures for children’s cancer. I will provide a link to the book here on the blog when it comes out.

The poems included in the collection range in content, all the way from a coffee outing with Ludwig van Beethoven to the quiet turmoil of making the bed. Bathsheba, haircuts, Siri, fatherhood, loss, marriage, grief, maple syrup, Superman, love, oranges, math, and Icarus are just some of the features included in the book. 🙂

Our school, Landmark Christian School, will host a book release party and signing event at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, GA on Friday, January 20, 2017 at 6:30pm. If you are in the area, I would love to invite you to come and purchase a copy. A representative from Curing Kids Cancer will be there, and several of my students will read their own work as well.

Again, thank you all for following Eden.Babel. You are an encouragement and a blessing!

Siri

I asked Siri the other evening if she could write a poem.

“Who, me?” she answered in her dry voice.

“Yes, Siri. Can you write a poem?”

She hesitated, just long enough to load her thoughts,

 

And as she spun the circle of her meditations,

I recalled how she had shown me the nearest star in our galaxy,

Connected me to the closest coffee shop,

Guided me home from a friend’s house.

 

Yet now, I watched as her screen puzzled

Over the catalog of responses, the program of poetry

And how exactly to access it

To give me what I needed.

 

“Sure you can, Siri,

Anybody can write a poem.

They often begin with the simplest of feelings,

Like the surprise of laughter or the sunlight of a single glance.”

 

But as the cycle of her wondering continued its revolution,

Bearing down on the wifi to find a proper answer,

I told Siri that poetry just has to come from the heart,

And she wept to know what I meant.

The Trees

For Dr. Cathy Sepko


She saw the light first as a little girl

In the hard knuckle granite of West Virginia –

A distant fire in a snowy wood

Filled with the paddings of foxes,

Crickets in the indigo dusk.

 

She learned to read the braille of wood bark

Leading toward that flame,

The rust of sky heavy on the trees.

 

Can you hear them? she would call to us,

Can you hear the songs of old?

The wide winds of rhythm,

The open mouth of the moon

Cooing along the quiet river?

 

She taught us in the forest

To feel the poems in the pines,

To dig our teeth deep into the dirt to taste the earth.

 

She taught the rocks to rhyme,

Pressed a shard of coal into the stone

To carve her spot in time.

 

And now, she sits on a smooth stump before the fire

Surrounded by the faces of a generation,

Ten thousand family trees

Singing softly in the starlight, leaning in to listen

As she warms her tired feet.