Day of Atonement

A sixteen-year-old girl weeping

in the dark basement room

I didn’t understand

God watched me

through the ceiling

as if it were the cover

of the golden mercy seat.

If I could have sensed anything beyond

overwhelming pain

I would have breathed in

fragrant prayer incense

felt flicked sacrificial blood

trickle down my forehead

glimpsed Yahweh’s great glory

as the bright cloud settled above me

between cherubim’s shining wings.

Instead of tears for food

I would have tasted sweet manna.

I would have traded despair

for Aaron’s budding staff of hope

with healing leaves

from the tree of life.

Today light floods the dark room inside

as my Father rips the thick curtain

top to bottom.

* I referred to these Scripture passages in this poem:

Ex. 25 & 40, Lev. 16, Ps. 42:3, Mt. 27:51, Rev. 22:2


Movie alone: American Beauty, 1999

Rosa_American_Beauty_illustrationIn that autumn of disappointment

I wore my brand new birthday sweater

not yet knowing

the fuzzy balls would soon sprout all over

like overnight dandelions.

I cursed myself for arriving

before the lights dimmed.

Better to risk a bad seat

than endure curious stares

from dozens of couples.

I invented alibis, just in case:

“He’s in the bathroom.”

“He’s buying popcorn.”

Then—“He stood me up.”

But no one spoke.

Why didn’t I wait for the rental?

I’m tired of too much school and work but no life.

I’m tired of unreturned emails from my best friend.

I’m tired of this crushing isolation.

A night out will do me good, I reasoned.

As the movie unfolded in the dark

the melancholy thorns pricked me

while I sought a beautiful escape.

No longer naive

I rushed to my car before the credits rolled

and my loneliness multiplied

like mushrooms after rain.

My thought-life battle, Part 3



Vincent, I wish I could soothe
your throbbing ear pain
your shredded psyche pain
your anguished soul pain.
I completely understand
the constant torturous
sadness avalanche
despite all the beauty,
the ever-hovering dark cloud
casting shadows
over vibrant poppies
bright sunflowers
majestic cypresses
lush irises
and golden wheat.
Let me sit beside you
so I can dress your wound.
Take the pipe from your lips
and remove your coat and hat.
We can share a pot of tea
as we ponder the words from your father’s sermon,
the holy words I’ve read many times:
think on everything that is true
And the God of peace will be with us,
the two of us gathered in His name.