Miscellaneous Offenses

A new ordinance has been signed into law in New Braunfels, TX. Please be aware that it is soon to be an illegal “offense” to feed the wildlife on public and private land within the city limits.

That means that a sentence that has been both true (and legal) for my children and for me will not be true for my grandchildren–

When I was little I fed the deer at Landa Park.

I have a very distinct memory of my son holding out a graham cracker to one of the deer at the park.

There was a period of time when we went to the park–a park, every day to feed someone–duck, chicken, deer, squirrel, turtle, fish, goose…each animal encounter was a priceless chance to sustain my children’s empathy. They practiced compassion, mercy, self-sacrifice, even science, and the scientific method as they spent time observing and feeding animals.

When we went to feed the animals we also tended to feed the children. We bought food from dozens of local restaurants and groceries. We ate our picnic, hiked, fed the animals. This ordinance prohibiting the feeding of animals in New Braunfels will mean we will buy less food from all these places. We will spend less time and money in New Braunfels.

We will not feed the children at the parks of New Braunfels, if we cannot feed the animals as well. It will be too painful remembering what used to be, for one, but then there is the pesky inviolate injunction of the law. What if we were to drop a cracker or a pizza crust? According to the city ordnance we would be breaking the law.

So, somehow, our city government and elected officials have decided. We should not feed the animals they say. And that leaves me deeply grieved, because I know, my children know, that

What they are really telling us is:

Don’t feed the children!

Because as Jesus has said more eloquently than I could–food is more than food, it is everything that feeds our souls.

And this kind of rich food for the soul of kindness and community and blessing is now thoroughly illegal

In New Braunfels, Texas.

Luke 12:23 NIV

[23] For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Broken Alabaster

The Calhoun County Courthouse is a mausoleal mid-century modernist confection, the juvenile detention courtroom then a windowless (Chinese) box on its second floor.

Perhaps I am biased. I remember envying the parents whose kid had gone on a wild joyride and the various parents of pot sellers and users.

I remember thinking the local Baptist pastor who was there for jury duty was a harbinger of God as I spilled out

The terrible story of why I was there.

Which had to be after the judge used the shade of our old oak tree for his big white truck. After his lawyer son stood across the street, bemused as Mary, on the roof, hurled her salty invectives at me.

After the juvenile probation chief told us they would not hold Charles forever and I thought to myself as I looked at him, (what do you have to do in the state of Texas to get yourself thrown in prison?!)

They say there is a library somewhere, an Ivy League kind of library, which has thin panels of white stone from floor to ceiling.

The light diffused through the thin white stone, perhaps to show-off or to shield the books.

I have searched for it for years, can’t find it

So much like a pearl, mother-of-pearl, an alabaster jar

Full of the most unmistakably broken


Anger at the heart of love

I don’t know why they came then, at the heart of the hardest season of our lives, but we took them to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. He sat in the back of the van with me and I made him do a Bible study about Jesus inhabiting hearts like they were houses, a Chinese box filled with simile and indelible pain. If I would write our story as a clever fiction I would insert a frumpy birdwatching stranger and I would accost her with my incoherent grief-

Anger is at the heart of love

overturning tables in the temple

In the house of God

For Charles on his…

25th birthday

I go to

The-cards-for-pariahs section

Away from all the other

Greeting card confections it is

lightly and surreptitiously attended, although I myself come here often

Oddly situated on a half-aisle between

plumbing and luggage

The cards here are all in shades of ocre

Sometimes the clip art is unbearable, smudged, or just incomprehensible scribbles…macaroni mosaics where all the pasta is long-gone,

All’s that’s left: glue ghosts,

No words left to signify anything but metaphysically inky



The Stone Lions

I go to the stone lions, lean my head against their solid, immovable weight. I tell them the things one might tell a friend–stretches of fatigue and loneliness, grim sorties in search of solace in strange and blasted places, words for anger, stones for real

Children who cry out

Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes

In the name of the Lord!

-Luke 19:40

Lessons from the bikini contest

They don’t tell you that solitude can be a weapon, a way of making a body feel it must just be me when there were signs all along that

The contest was never what it seemed to be

Resembling a stock show more than a beauty contest

Told to line up

The hand-picked female handler writes numbers in permanent marker

on our haunches

And maybe don’t question too much what the girl in the high heels, glitter, push-up top

Is doing giving free twerking lessons

To doe-eyed coeds

And a heifer like me

Careful to keep my cloven hooves

And rising ire

Under wraps

Darkest Secret

The smallish courtroom in the smallish building in the smallish town near the coast. I used to say the armpit of Texas and that is when I liked the place where the d.a. joked in juvenile court about the time his underlings ribbed him for his inadvertently possessed marijuana plant


I carry around the iterations of the Baptist pastor, the university president, the camp cook, the college preacher, the old friend, missionary doctor, adoptive cohort, biological aunts, uncles, cousins

Immediate family

With fear in their eyes because I


Told the story

About everything except the day they adjudicated Charles

My subjunctive regret

Had I been present in the smallish courtroom in the smallish building with the smallish judge

Would they still have been able to

Lie for him?

Let him off so Scott-free

Smallish voice says over and over

I should have been there.

That day.