She says she is feeling fragile


Isn’t it always from a distance we see angels.

To Be Beautiful*

the kingdom of colors, every page filled with Welcome, be not afraid


an esoteric beauty only he may perceive


It’s not a secret, as if between God and me

Family Photo

Think kindly of this couple no one believes can weather a week, a month, a year, forty-four years, fifty

Childhood, East Texas

The dog went with the boy
across the dirt road, past
the sycamore limbs reaching out


A portal beckons,
we bow, rise to blue, such sea,
such sky, untouched sand,

Epiphany For 2023

Consider what the imagination knows,
a six-year-old’s painting–three apples

November 25, 2022

This day all the beloved dogs
are returning, called by silent whistles


May you still gather
each day as if a petal


her almost touch, its surprise

Be Still

God still speaks to people by name.


a handful of repose, the quiet of light rising from the dark

The Way

“and a little child shall lead them”

The Question

“a light that darkness could not overcome”


“The greatest among you must be your servant.”

My Secret

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret.”


“how long will we cling together in the night
and where will it carry us together”


The tall young violinist
skips dips across a field

Easter Sunday

A woman in the choir is lifting her hands, palms up, Jesus raised from the tomb

Lenten Season

“Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey.”
(Matthew 21: 5, ESV)


“Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethe the River of Oblivion rolls”

Night Is Over

The night is over.
The real light is already shining.

Shadow and Darkness

“and after shadow and darkness,
the eyes of the blind will see”
(Isaiah 29: 18)

To Give Light

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death


“Hello City Light,” my friend shouts, Black, Vietnam vet, towering over all of us, the Displaced, suffered in line for a hot meal

At the Window

She speaks to small creatures,
speaks for them–

Shakespearean Sonnet OCD SOS

It comes expected as another fall
from your bike, or sudden sinking, how to swim
forgotten as the spell to rescue you

Nature Goes On

in blossom, bougainvilleas dripping
pink from their hanging baskets

No Se Recuerdo

I can find no poem opening line
sad or romantic enough
for a supermarket-bakery cake
inscribed “Happy Birthday Edna”

Con Brio

It is good to have a good ear for music

Vision and Re-Vision

I’m sure I have. I must have. I just can’t remember composing a poem in my sleep before

A Found, Small Joy, My Own

This week especially I wish all of us the inexplicable joy
of finding (receiving) the words, the only right ones.

The Dark

“And the dark
that comes
doesn’t feel so

A Small Joy: Thursday, May 14, 2020*

He calls to me from fifty feet away. I veer toward the middle of the street. A social distance, not, I recognize, from caution against COVID-19 contagion.

A Light Unto Our Path

I’m the new guy at City Light, having been volunteering a little less than a year. I am offering this Post to express my admiration for the City Light veterans, faithful caretakers of its beacon of shelter and hope.

The Song of Sisters

Once there was a baby who when she was born winked at her mother, and in the wink was a smile her big sister saw, and smiled back–a Secret between sisters.

Good Friday

Today, Friday, April 10, 2020, is “Good Friday,” but on the day of Jesus’s crucifixion, death, and burial, there was nothing good about this Friday.

Street Ghazal

Living on the street doesn’t mean we’re homeless.
Should God decree the whale’s belly does not make us homeless.

Palm Sunday

“‘You see, there is nothing you can do;
look, the whole world is running after him!'”
(John 12: 19, The Jerusalem Bible)

Naomi’s Street

Her street composed in leaves,
each one a song from a jukebox (Remember?),
its catalogue of poems singing sibilant cities–
St. Louis, Jerusalem, San Antonio.

“Body and Soul”

Ludwig van Beethoven was thirty-eight years old, hiding in his brother’s basement, terrified by the bombardment of Vienna under siege by the French:

The Story of Leaves

“and the pleasure, the only long pleasure, of taking a place in the story of leaves” (Donald Hall, “Kicking the Leaves”)

“Liberal”: Redux

Hardin-Simmons, the liberal arts university where I taught for forty-two years and quickly came to love, is disappearing as I knew it.


“When animals die out, the last survivor
is called an endling. It is a word of soft beauty,
heartbreaking solitude, and chilling finality.”
(Ed Yong)

My Inerrant Irreverence

“They were our guardian angels.
Naughty, nippy, yippy angels,
but angels nonetheless.”

For Theirs Is The Kingdom Of Heaven*

“In spite of everything, don’t lose your faith
in a table circumferenced with friends.”

Bryana Joy
“10 things I learned in the ’10s”


I never imagined I would not be able to throw a baseball.


Every day bodies tumble from high buildings, achieving maximum velocity, the streets below spinning kaleidoscopic colors clicking their stained-glass windows

Better Two . . .

“Better two than one by himself. . . .
If one should fall, the other helps him up.”
(Ecclesiastes 4: 9-11)

The Servant Leader

I am not a preacher. I do not claim to be wise, but I can recognize and celebrate wisdom, humility, and compassion in those who are servant leaders

Displaced: A Prose Poem

There has come an arctic cold that sweeps across the screen, the confident weather lady conducting blue into orange and red, no green this time of year in Abilene

Daniel: A Poem

He is, I think, his own angel, or mine,
not winged or gifted with a voice of annunciation–
Blessed are you of all–or wielding a double-edged sword

Shepherds: A Prose Poem

A voice whispering rise and walk to the table at the window, the page, the pencil, and record the favor of men lost in crowds, displaced outside of family–the darkness not only of this night, shepherds tending to lambs fallen into gullies, tangled in briars

Give Thanks

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1: 5 (ESV)

“A Beautiful Day For A Neighbor”

The man said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10: 29-30 (The Jerusalem Bible)

I don’t know why “No” was my thoughtless, truthful answer to Louise’s asking if I would like to take a thirty-minute prayer slot.

Letting Go

“. . .  without vulnerability
there can be no relationship.”
David Brooks *

I don’t know what losses, what anguish, may have led New York Times opinion writer David Brooks to this consolation, maybe his brick wall of certainty, of control, of this is me, crumbled, reality gone, the reality we walk hand in hand with until the hand drops, and we are left staring into the void. So now Who am I? Who can I turn to?

The Beautiful

This morning, I’m nostalgic (no, Bob, be honest–weepy) for friends past and present. Of course it’s 4:00 a.m. again. Again I’m at my writing table, a cup of dark-roast coffee, a square of dark chocolate, the smooth touch of this Blackwing 602 pencil leading me across the pages of my Moleskine notebook and, oh yes, Beegie Adair’s jazz trio playing Always On My Mind as in you were always on my mind.

How We Listen

“Words save our lives, sometimes.” Neil Gaiman.
I understand. Lil comes late to the noonday meal at the City Light Mission.

What I Would Have Said

Lynn, the angel of City Light Mission, turns to me arranging the counter-top crocks of Robert’s homemade ranch salad dressing and the sliced jalapeños, my assignment today with which to greet the first-name only patrons filling their paper plates with the plenty promised by Jesus

“Who Can I Turn To?”

“Who would you call in the middle of the night
if you were sick or afraid?” *
Shankar Vedantam’s question is mostly responsible for my mood this morning.


Not political. Not tightfisted, pursed lips, finger-wagging shame on you for not being me. No, I mean a song on a city bus, a hug brushing aside a handshake, a laugh sudden and unafraid.   

Madonna and Child

A young woman with a baby cuddled to her breast but not nursing, being carried in a kind of papoose pouch, climbing all the way up the narrow concrete steps spaced too close for my comfort having caught my toe and stumbled more than once, so I am afraid for her—she could fall.

The Salvation of Strangers: A Prose Poem

It began, I think, with losing everything–his college degree in biology, environmental science, National Park management, a Park ranger, like the romance of joining the French Foreign Legion, the girl in that song–Laura–“the face in the misty light . . . only a dream” lost and himself as well

Vietnam Redux

“Milkflower petals on the street
like pieces of a girl’s dress.
May your days be merry and bright. . .
He fills a teacup with champagne, brings it to her lips.
Open, he says.”

Ocean Vuong
“Aubade with Burning City”*

Another Serenity Prayer

So here’s a question for you, Reinhold Niebuhr: Did you ever take this sinful world as it is, not as you, and I, would have it? And here’s another: In the dark of a deep night, humming your mantra like counting sheep—“Serenity come! Serenity, come.”—did you feel the twelve dance steps of heavy-footed men clutching a bottle like a lithe partner not wincing when they mashed her toe or miss-stepped against her shin, laughing their song from a throat thrown back, a kind of fire swallowed, and she whispering how serene they might be spinning her away for God, and they turned little one, the child they maybe never got to be?

“When We Were Homeless”: A Prose Poem

Holidays are the worst, families gathered around dining-room tables passed down from parents, someone blessing the turkey, the brisket, the sweet potatoes and three-bean salad, thick-sliced bread just out of the oven, an expectation of pecan pie.


What rescues this smile from the beginning-to-curl-down corners of my mouth is my remembering the mother wolf in the Fort Worth Zoo when Katrina and I were young and students with twin babies in special take-your-baby-everywhere-you-adventure backpacks, . . .

Cruising: A Poem by Tiffany Haggard Fink

“I said to Michael, Jr, last night, ‘let’s go cruising.’” This is the opening sentence of the email my daughter-in-law Tiffany Haggard Fink sent Thursday morning. It’s a wonderful email celebrating the love she and her brother Michael have for their father, Michael C. Haggard, Sr., who passed away Sunday, August 11. His memorial service was Wednesday, August 14. Mike loved street rods, muscle cars—the faster and louder the better. He also loved the blues, that music in the growl of a V8 engine at a stop sign, a long stretch of blacktop road.

If Jesus Had A Dog: A Poem

It was a Lucy dog, Australian shepherd,
not German, not even that American
of all herding dogs, rescuer of Timmy
from the well, a bearded collie,
but Lucy diamonded from the sky–

“Old” Is A Four-Letter Word

For the past forty-two years I have been eighteen years old. Sometimes seventeen; sometimes nineteen, twenty, twenty-one or twenty-two. Never over thirty—the age Mick Jagger told my generation should not be trusted, and certainly not seventy-three, an age when the only names you can recall are those of your family physician, surgeons, and physical therapists. The Age of Retirement! The age I never expected.

This Day

The words descending to my fingers
following the soft lead of the Blackwing pencil
still available to a penitent rising in the dark
of 4:00 a.m., transcribing a path
from the woman stirring to hum my name
and ask what is always rising on her breath
to hover at my ear—Are you all right?—

An Ending. A Beginning

This has been a year. A year for taking the long look back, forty-two years that seem a day—what my friend Donald Hall called the one day, every other day too frantic to recognize this day Henry David Thoreau knew we will each come to, asking have we lived, been attentive to what each day has to discover.

4:00 A.M. Coffee and Dark Chocolate

This is how it started. Rising at 4:00 a.m. Dark chocolate. Lucy came much later, after Susie, Chelsea, Bosco, Kita, Kianna, and Wrangler. Lucy does not get the dark chocolate and coffee.