“The Climate of Conversation.”

On Monday afternoon, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation, and am now a doctor of theology! I’m a bit confused about that, going forward, but it feels important. 🙂

I sort of came to view my thesis as self-talk, the kind of motivational discourse with myself that empowers me to act in the world. When this poem talks about language, that’s what it’s talking about. I hope you like this. 🙂

The Climate of Conversation

It’s difficult to learn to live again,

To dwell within the silence as a friend.

I poured my grief and joy into a conversation,

Into a mode of discourse with myself

Where I embrace the Word that shapes my life.


What is that Word, still hanging on my lips?

Can I not now record it for the world to hear?

How does it sound? Is it a Hebrew phrase,

A lyrical line, like laughter in the wind?

Or is it Scots Gaelic, roughened with a burr?

What language holds the word of ontic power?


I can’t be sure if earthly language holds the key

To all the power that I unlocked yesterday.

That doesn’t really matter; I think the point

Lies in the dialogue of sheer delight,

The discourse that lays claim to all my flesh.

My body’s captivated by the holy word,

Enjoined to sing in its discursive chains.


Where can I find the joy of conversation?

I find it on the iron chin-up bar

Where my synapses talk to each other,

Sending soft messages of strength and love;

I find it in a raucous Springsteen song,

And in the gentle groove of Sixties soul…

I find it in the touch of loving hands,

And in a slowly-steeping cup of tea.


What is the end of dialogue? So what?

I think the point is living, growing action.

We do not simply speak of love and hate,

But live them out in gardens and dark hotel rooms.

The dogged seeds of love will bloom, with time,

Into the joyful flowers and foods of generous hearts,

While anything that grows in cold and callous climes

Will wither with the coming of the sun.


The someday of our love is not far off,

Though nascent hatreds stoke our latent fears,

And fierce floods strip Houston of security.

It’s just beyond the threshold; through the clouds,

We’ll see it in the fiery setting sun.


“The Fruits of Reason.”

This is a companion-piece to “Fierce Desire,” the previous post. I hope you like this one, too. 🙂

The Fruits of Reason

It doesn’t matter what the page will say;

I feel the text is cogent. If it’s not,

I’ll deck myself with Scripture’s arsenal

And beat back all the demons in my mind.

I know that they are Legion, and I fear

Myself run wild among the ancient tombs,

Not heeding when I cut myself in rage

Or caring when my discourse makes no sense.

I follow every thought to its own end,

Remarking on the death of every flower.


My courage is not born of knowledge; no,

It is the progeny of ignorance,

Of knowing all the little that I know.

My gaze is narrow, for I gaze on ink,

Collecting every memory of joy

Like twenty freshly-ripened citrus fruits,

To squeeze them dry of all their tender truths,

To mash out all the meaning from their flesh.


I nonetheless can feel my gaunt resolve

Still stiffened, like a British bayonet;

It still stares down the starving corridors

Where rows of mindless theses line the walls.

My iron will still strikes upon the stone

Of tapped-out brain and overburdened heart.

I feel my flaring neurons waken me:

One more! If I could just write one more word,

It might fulfill the promise of my life,

The prophecy enclosed in my true name,

The endless quest for meaning and for peace.


I know that words can’t fill my hungry soul,

And concepts cannot keep me warm at night.

Their meaning lies behind the printed signs,

Because words point to love, to fond embrace,

To laughter over games, to pints of beer.

Sometimes our sentience serves to isolate,

To wall us off from feeling and from growth;

Our words and deeds must blend to form our life.


There’s nothing wrong with rationality,

But reason’s light will quickly ebb and die

Without the kindling of relationship.

The twining passions set our hearts ablaze

And light our vivid paths, like earthly stars.

“Fierce Desire.”

I wrote this one last night under the influence of a can of  Boneshaker. It concerns my decompression from my thesis. I hope you like it! 🙂

Fierce Desire

I feel a quietness suffuse my soul,

A calm that rolls through me like seaward tide.

I feel the gentle loss of stern control

That comes on me when I let go of pride.

It doesn’t matter what the page will say;

It matters little where the footnotes fall.

I wrote a cogent text, in my own way,

Because I felt its urgent, whispered call:

I can live out the joy, the vibrant grace

That is my birthright from the holy flames;

I must discern a loving, welcome space

Where all my friends can hear Love speak their names.

My text is holy, full of living fire,

Because it joins true love to fierce desire.