Two seemingly unrelated anecdotes

1.  the grease from the hamburgers 

starts a fire on the grill

smoke billows out

disturbing a previously impervious

colony of wasps

2. a smartphone next to the ballerina-slippered left foot

Of the tinier girl 

plays a song about eating disorder

as the taller girl bemoans 

I am scared.  This is higher than you went

In the staircase of the rock wall

The tiny child raises her hands

Just hold on tight and come down 

One foot at a time

And if you fall

…I will catch you

Protecting the guilty?

Viola Davis has recently joined the long list of celebrities who have spoken out against sexual assault–rape, often in the context of their own victimization.

I could write a list of the men and women who have helped other victims by speaking out as sexual assault survivors.  I could not give you a list of the names of the perps.


The ongoing controversy surrounding abuse allegations made by Corey Haim before his death gives us some clues–

  • Victims are often related to their perps
  • The perp has power in the community
  • Fear of exposure 
  • Fear of legal action

And yet if we are honest, we all have a list–the creepy uncle, the duplicitous coach, the father who harms his own child, a neighbor, a brother-in-law, a once-beloved actor.  People we know abused someone because that someone said so, maybe at great personal cost, maybe with no positive protection of the law.

Keeping silent about predators gives them freedom to continue to abuse.  

So here, a name–

My adopted son is short, overweight, ginger, born February of  1994.  Last I heard he worked at the automotive center at a Walmart in Kansas City, KS. His name is Charles Allen Lee.

He has sexually abused very young children.  He has exhibited cruelty toward animals.  He can be very persuasive and does not tell the whole truth.

And if you asked him about me?  If you ask him about me he will tell you I just bring the drama.

And if you ask him about him?  He will not tell you the whole truth.

…because the whole truth is…


Take Hunger

take hunger, take thirst


stand in the storm

know this to be true:

Thunder, wind, rain

fall splendor from this

Cloud-dark sky 

and lift these things

empty into tumult–

The way a man might lift his just-born

hunger, thirst

Once and only filled 

By the God of the storm

Heroin Gone

Looks like deep


Draped across the seat

across the bodies of these hungry


 Immobilizing poison

Shot into blood vessels, skin 

I call to you, no answer

Try to warn you

This venal monster 

Hunts then kills its prey

No answer, Sleeping Beauty

Already heroin gone

Who takes apples from strangers in a storm?

Do you believe in ever after?

All the tropes of fairy tales will not save us from 

The story of a little girl trapped

In this worst kind

Of nightmare tries to call

for help

Nothing left

As the anatomical apparatus for sound and breath:

Lungs, rib cage, windpipe 

Collapses beneath the weight,

The force of  blows to this chest,

All alone,

Of the used-to-be


God of the Impossible

John 11:4 NIV[4] When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

What is impossible?  Is gravity?  The suspension of gravity?  Space flight? Sea urchins?

We live in a world filled with wonder and darkness.  The wonder feels improbably miraculous until the darkness throws an extreme curve ball and bam!

Death takes all.

Or so it seems.

When Jesus says this sickness will not end in death it seems like he knows what he is talking about.

Several days later when he weeps with the mourners he seems like a total nut job.  Until…

I am going to hold that until–single note sung in the dark.

Some of the untils we weep through are excoriating, catastrophic…terminal.

It is important to pause at Jesus’ pronouncement.  If you know the story you might be tempted to breeze through to “the good stuff,” but in this case time takes the stage–time for Lazarus to go from well to unwell, time for Lazarus to go from unwell to fatally ill.  Time for Lazarus to die.  Time for Lazarus to be prepared for the grave.  Time for grief.  Disbelief.  Sorrow. Anger. 

And the apparent  absence of Jesus.


He is not absent.  He is impossible.  He is the God of the impossible.

Wait.  Impossible means powerless, the opposite of able.  

How can God, by his very nature omnipotent, be defined as not able.

Deliberately. He was intentionally…

“not able” in death.

“not able” on the Cross.

“not able” for us.

Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave in preparation for his own death.  He gave his followers an impossible four day route through death and burial so that when it was his death they would only have to wait three days.

The three darkest days of history.  Three impossible days.


Sunday morning and the God of impossible things walks back in.

When you were little your foster father would throw you in the air above him.  Within one second your face would register fear, exhilaration,  joy, laughter.

It has always been a picture in my head–this God of sea urchins and dwarf stars throws us high up in the air for each single looped thread in the seam of  all eternity.  

The fear and uncertainty only bearable when we know, know, know…

He will catch us in His arms.

As He has already caught your beautiful mama, let Him catch us too…


Safe in the outstretched arms 

of Love.

Luke 18:27 NIV

[27] Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Thin Band

Long line 

characteristic of this 

big box store–

A lady with pitted prunes in her cart

First in line 

to get something adjusted,  

Married couple buying matching


Keep the receipts.

An older man who claims to know

exactly what he wants

And the young mama with the baby 

whose tiny, perfect 

ears will soon be pierced

and me–

Squandering time 

on overpriced trinkets

Entombed behind the

so-called jewelry counter.

We all wait so long

scanning synthesized treasures

cheap, yet still 


Discount baubles

draw the eye 

but for the sake of the sleeping child 

I make it quick,

buy the thin band

reminder of the old promise

Tell myself

Buy a boat, stow your things in

the gut,

sail into sunset.

Little Sister

for seven years

in the back of my head

there has been a terrible 

Terrible story 

started a long time ago

When a 15 year old boy

hurt his little sister 


and then…

Our paths separate at this point.

And I only know the story of the other 15 year-old-November-16-2009-boy

Because I talked about you, Charles, my-used-to-be-son

All the time

Until tonight I did not know your doppelgänger’s name–

Jamar Pinkney, Jr.
Or the queasy details

No, not the terribly private awful

…the public strange

don’t call a child molester “Teddy Bear” or put his face on your t-shirt

Ask instead–

How in God’s name…

Is his little sister?

Hell in a hand-basket?

A basket full of deplorables:

they say love is in the eye of the beholder

Whatever the heck that means

But what about deplorable?

Is that open for interpretation as well?

Or is it etymologically and irrevocably anchored to hell?

To white, doughy, affluent men who use their power and money to force themselves on teenagers?

Or white, doughy, affluent women

Who malign child rape victims to 

Free the perps sooner,

take their campaign donations by the hundred million

Buckets full of baby parts

Littering the sterile field

Capitalizing on

the saline burn, scissor beheading

Of minority


And female fetuses



where there should be babies