Poets Anonymous

It stared simply enough,
trying to remember
the poem about
dancing with daffodils,
and not knowing
the poetry hotline number.

Later, I saw something
I can’t remember
what it was now
and so the idea

I started carrying
a small notepad
around with me
which helped much of the time
but then
I would be driving on the parkway
and couldn’t write in my notepad
so I started recording thoughts
speaking into
my cellphone.

I read about
the lack of poetry emergencies
and thought,
“I’m relieved,
but also sad.”

What is it like
to catch a glimpse
or smell a smell
on a fine day
only to have it escape,
even if the idea
is saved
in a notebook
to be written later?

I weep for my stillborn poems,
but not carried to term
and I tell my stories
at Poets Anonymous.
“Hi, my name is Aldon
and I’m a poet.”

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What are you passionate about? What do you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about? What do you get up early in the morning to do? These were the questions we were asked Friday night at the South Central Regional Convocation in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

My immediate response was poetry. When I got home, I worked for a little bit on my poem for Friday. Later, I’ll find more time to work on it and then post it online. Now, it is four in the morning, and after waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the convocation, I am up writing. Yes, perhaps I should broaden my passion to writing, and not just poetry. Writing blog posts. Sharing on social media. Email.

I am on a journey. We are all on a journey. Over the past couple years, important parts of the journey have been around poetry. A year ago, this coming Friday, I was at a conference on poetry at Yale Divinity School, an unlikely place for me. While I was there, during a guided meditation, I was overwhelmed by God’s love for me, for all of us, in spite of all the times that we’ve failed, I was overwhelmed by a need to share that love in a way that could be heard and understood here in the twenty-first century.

That moment became a guidepost for me. I have set out with it in my rearview mirror heading down path that leads, well, I’m not sure where it leads yet.

It led me to the Missional Voices conference at Virginia Theological Seminary a few weeks ago. That was an amazing conference. I went down not sure what I was going to or why, not expecting to know anyone, but seeing a few familiar faces. I came back inspired and full of hope.

I remember a few years ago going to a discussion as part of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s listening tour in the early days of exploring how we reinvent ourselves. I left disillusioned. I felt to me like a bunch of old members of the priestly establishment looking for ways to hold onto a dying church, the church of the 1950s when everyone still went to the established church, before television and the internet had changed what we do in the evenings or on the weekends, when all but the outcasts and a few others lived in a world where blacks, women, homosexuals, immigrants, you can fill in the rest of the list, knew their place and we were all part of one big happy white European Protestant straight cis male hegemony. I walked away shaking my head and thinking, “Unless the Lord builds the house….”

Okay, it wasn’t really all that bad, but that is what it felt like, and I couldn’t see how rearranging a few things in the church structure was really going to make a big difference.

At the convocation, we were asked to get to mingle, to break the ice, to get to know people we didn’t already know. I spoke with a high school principal, a retired journalist, and a retired electrical engineer. We talked about education, radio, the internet, folk music, and racial justice. We exchanged cards. We talked excitedly about Ministry Networks. I have to stop every time that I write that. Is it Mission Networks or Ministry Networks? In my mind the two are so woven together it is hard to think about them one way without thinking about them the other way. “Are you going to be here tomorrow? … Great. Let’s talk more about this then!”

Can moving a few chairs around and talking to different people really make a big difference? Can some of the energy of the Missional Voices conference stir things up in The Episcopal Church of Connecticut?

We ended with compline, and I tweeted a grainy picture of the crowd seated in a circle holding candles with the hashtag #compline.

On the way home, I listened to some of the music we will be singing today. “We are marching in the light of God… That’s why we praise him… Here I am, Lord”

Thursday was Ascension Day, and Friday I posted my poem about it, ending off with waiting for Pentecost. Today, I will go to the Regional Convocation, praying first, seeking racial justice, singing to God, and hopefully, even writing a poem. Tomorrow, I am scheduled to read the second lesson appointed for the Sunday before Pentecost.

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come."
And let everyone who hears say, "Come."
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

The one who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

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Ascension Day

The fragrant pastel flowers
of the trees in bloom
seemed muted
by the endless grey sky.

The frequently dreary
daily news
seemed bleaker than usual
and no one
except the old Italian
seemed to know
it was Ascension Day.

The traffic was slow and heavy
on account of the rain
and the drivers
who looked up
at the billboards
urging them to buy
they didn’t really need
couldn’t see
the risen Lord.

Even those who did pause
knew they had to wait
for Pentecost.

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Ceiling Two Hundred Feet Overcast

The dark grey clouds
just a few hundred feet
above the parkway
were moving too quickly
to spill their rain.

They evoked memories
of mountain hikes
to where the clouds formed
or brisk walks
beside the roiled sea
at least for those
who were not on
on their way to work.

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A Great Country

I see people with baseball caps
that say
“Let’s make America great again.”
and others’ that say
“America already is great”
and I think to myself
it is going to be
a long hot summer
with lots of shouting
and little listening.

What is this greatness they speak of?
Is it the greatness of the city on a hill
in which white European men
pursue their manifest destiny
across the country
at the expense of natives,
and the environment?

Is the greatness
in the resources of this land,
the beauty of the landscape,
and in compassion
for those in need,
no matter what they think,
where they’re from,
or what look like?

What should I write
during the coming months?
“Yes it is! … No it’s not!”?
Somehow that doesn’t seem very productive.
Show, don’t tell.

by writing about a flower budding,
a river flowing,
or an unexpected smile
on a summer afternoon
I can do my part
for the greatness of this country.

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