January 25, 2021

Poetry Week: Morning Three – Chaplain Mike

Ecclesiastes 61
On my birthday

With Ford and Howard, Boyer, Kubek
Richardson, and Skowron,
Berra, Mantle, Maris in the field
the boys of summer ’61
were powerful and glamorous,
unrivaled in the thrills that they could yield.
A five year-old lefty I was then
When Roger broke the unbreakable mark
and somehow opened an unseen door
through which we walked into a new age
of shining possibility —
we had no clue what the sixties had in store.

And nor do I and nor do you,
nor can we know when epochs change.
It’s not as though it’s written in the sky!
At 61, now more than ever,
I know there is no storyboard,
no guarantee on which we can rely —
at least not unambiguous,
or painless, or self-evident —
which answers every doubt and makes it clear
that all is well and all is well
and all manner of things will all be well,
despite the breathless claims I often hear.

We turn and turn, and turn and turn —
to everything a season.
We rise and fall, and heal and rise again.
From this small vantage
every moment’s present and inscrutable,
its purpose, goal, and motion beyond ken.
I look back on six decades
of stories left unfinished;
remnants floating, washing up on shore:
a patchwork map to guide me?
or fuel to build my beach fire?
I know not what the sixties have in store.


  1. Susan Dumbrell says

    And a time for every purpose under Heaven.

    ‘Remember Oh Man you are dust.’

    But until then and beyond we live in the Glory of the Risen Christ.

    This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    Christ is Risen.

  2. Susan Dumbrell says

    I am not ashamed to say I spent an hour today with my Clinical Psychologist. We do so often. Three years in therapy.
    This man keeps me in balance, thanks be to God.

    My past life has been s… t and at present is not much better.

    We, together look for the positives as I am in my eighth decade.
    It has taken me this long to see that life is more than the negatives.

    That is why I love the our bloggers so much.
    You allow me so much freedom which I have never had before.
    Without Christ my life would have been a shadow.
    Thanks to you all.

    As I have said before,

    Christ is Risen.

    • Robert F says

      I woke up this morning,
      stiff and old. Shall I rise?
      Christ is risen.

      • Susan Dumbrell says

        He is risen indeed, Alleluia.

        May I go to bed now?

        Robert, give me your blessing, and ask for our Saviors sweet rest.
        A big day for me today. Life does not get easier the older one grows.
        Pray for heavenly showers for me tomorrow,
        Robert, you are a strength, Blessings.

  3. Robert F says

    I clean strawberries
    asleep at the kitchen sink
    while stars rise and fall

  4. Rick Ro. says

    –> “It’s not as though it’s written in the sky!”

    Love that line and how it fits in your poem.

  5. And nor do I and nor do you,
    nor can we know when epochs change.
    It’s not as though it’s written in the sky!

    The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He ended up telling them that it was an evil and adulterous generation that asked for a sign, but along the way he told them they knew how to interpret the sky for the weather, but they were clueless when it came to interpreting the signs of the times. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    You don’t have to be a conspiracy nutter to recognize that there was a huge change of epoch that came along with Jesus. But today to suggest that we are in the biggest change of epoch since that time, bigger than the outward great fall of the Roman Empire, bigger than the great split in the church between East and West, bigger than the great reformation, is to invite ridicule and scoffing and calls to show a sign from the sky. As it happens, most people even refuse to look up at the sky, where there actually often are visible signs of what is going on behind the scenes. Just as in the epoch of Jesus when the disciples cowered behind locked doors in legitimate fear, there is an unconscious and legitimate fear beyond paranoia today that recognizing this great emergence can bring great turmoil and trouble. Better not to look up, to scoff at those who do, to write a poem to keep at bay the birth pangs of this epoch, indulge in merriment at any deviance from television’s mesmerizing reality show.

    This isn’t likely to change much soon, any more than that ragtag group of nutters in the locked room were likely to change the world. Most people are dragged into epochs kicking and screaming. I observe and I do my best to sort things out, but this is way beyond my abilities to do much more than stay informed and keep an open mind and daily pray for the liberation of this planet and the well-being of the folks who gather here, along with that of my friends and family and neighbors near and far. This Great Emergence threatens to pull the rug out from under most everyone’s comfort zone and it is human nature to resist that as if life threatening, which is what it is, but life affirming too, far beyond these little shreds of culture we cling to so desperately. There may be scary days ahead, as there were for the disciples, but we know the end of the story. Love wins.

    • Burro [Mule] says

      It scared the daylights out of me when I discovered that the Caterpillar-cells fought tooth-and-nail against the Butterfly-cells in the chrysalis, but the outcome was already determined.

  6. Nice. You really wrote that and the others?

  7. Dana Ames says

    Happy birthday, Mike, whenever it is 🙂 May God grant you many years.


  8. Happy birthday, Chaplain Mike!

    I’m enjoying your poems.

    I must still have vestiges of the baseball geek in me that I remembered the first names of every player you named, except Skowron, and I should have known that one – and I wasn’t even a Yankees fan.

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