This Advent Season

Frost-night church bells
dim, no night of angels but
blaring electric light—hark!
the child who came, the Son
the man with never a place
to lay his head but
shallow alleys, shopping malls
gray-sky corners, caves

We all converged on the great city
we who worshiped power
and its palaces, comfort
for cold and sore feet
while these my brothers
hurried and howled
these my sisters
huddled head-down

All this distance
from heaven to earth
woman to man to man
empty and full asking why
and when would he come


faith without deeds is

the skeleton of our desire

for better we clothe

with travel, culture

as if our parler and sprechen

and uphill castle-trekking

can help (if we but)

will it?

our newfound taste

for bulgogi and kebap

stops no starvation

heals no hearts

prays no peace


on the other side

when the rich robes fall

we find the bones

upright and light

love still in power

pulsing through

this life-cage

after Amadae

Remember when we hid in the caves
late dust swirling in red sun and talked
of home, imagined roses blooming
thorn-berries yet green and sour, river
foam-cold? We had the king within reach
but were too fearful—proud—young—to grasp
the hem of his robe. Remember how
the cedars howled with the storm of it
wind rushing like undammed water through
the desert valley heaped with his dead
and ours, and you lay huddled, fevered
by the fire? I went out long before
the cliffs should have echoed new birdsong
to watch the armies march clacking, bone-
white, on and on into morning