Sunday, December 30, 2007

Following Your Star

I have no gold nor fragrant oil
Sealed in an alabaster jar;
I have never set foot on desert soil,
But, still, I'm following Your star.

My journey does not end at Your manger;
For my journey began at Your Cross.
It's a walk of faith through lands of danger
With parted waters to get across.

Its purpose is not the journey's end;
For You has already taken me that far.
The release of things on which I depend
Is why I'm following Your star.

Rip the earthly crutches from my hands;
Tear, off the walls, every safety bar.
Hasten my journey through these lands
To when I finish following Your star.

Hasten the day when I know completely
What a powerful God You are.
Hasten the day when I know completely
What a loving God You are.
Hasten the day when I know completely
What a trustworthy God You are.
Hasten my journey through these lands
To when I finish following Your star.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Flying With Susan

Nineteen years ago today, Susan's Learjet crashed.

Since our first electrical circuits class together, Susan and I had been lab and project partners throughout our years in engineering school at the University of South Carolina. I convinced her to take the ROTC flight class with me for our senior elective and Susan fell in love with flying. She went on to get her multiengine certificate and Learjet qualification. Shortly after she applied to be a NASA astronaut-candidate, her plane went down.

My phone conversation with her mom, after her crash, was the toughest conversation I have ever had in my entire life. I didn't think I had that much tears. Between her mom and me, we could have flooded the entire state of Texas during that call.

But that phone call was nothing compared to evening that I received the package of Susan's things from her mom. That night, it finally sunk in. I would never see Susan again. For a whole year, I cried every night. Then, my heart went numb and stayed numb for a very long time. Even today, there's a piece of my heart that, I don't think, I will ever get back.

I googled Susan again, today. The story of her crash is still lingering in cyberspace:

The 1988 Mexico Learjet 24 crash

A Lear 24B, N234CM, departed Memphis International Airport on December 16, 1988, heading for Addison, Texas with two crew aboard, including NASA astronaut-candidate Susan Reynolds. After it flew past its destination, the aircraft was intercepted by an Air Force T-38 Talon from the 560th Flying Training Squadron at Randolph AFB, but the pilot was unable to contact the crew. He reported that the cockpit windows appeared to have frost on the inside. The Lear entered Mexican airspace. After exhausting its fuel supply, it entered a spin and crashed near Cuatro Ciénegas in the northern state of Coahuila. The two pilots were killed.

To the news reporters, Susan was a Summa Cum Laude student, an engineer, a pilot, an astronaut candidate. But to me, Susan was the girl that changed my life and taught me to dream BIG. Although I had convinced her to take the flight class with me, Susan had been taking me flying long before that.

She flashes you a wicked smile,
Dares you to catch her if you can,
And lets out an infectious laugh
As she spreads out her full wing span.

With a dash and a leap, she soars
Beyond the stratosphere
Next thing you know, she's taking you
To where miracles appear.

Her wings will never be clipped
Her spirit will forever fly.
Whenever you're stuck here on the ground
You'd look for her in the sky.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Let us speak in present tense.

Let us speak in present tense
And leave behind the past:
No blame and no regret,
No recounting who spoke last.

Let us speak in present tense
For the future can wait:
No promise nor expectation,
No agreement to negotiate.

Let us speak in present tense,
Just about me and you.
Let us use words of encouragement
That is long overdue.

Let us speak in present tense.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How did I grow too old to dance in the rain?

This afternoon, heaven suddenly opened up and poured down rain, sending pedestrians scrambling for cover. I slipped into a nearby coffee shop and found a table by the window. As I slowly took each sip, I stared out, waiting for the rain to stop.

Outside, among the rushing crowd, a little girl, with her eyes closed, face lifted skyward, and arms extended, swirled around and around taking in the sensation of the falling water drops upon her face. When she stopped spinning, she started to hop from puddle to puddle, laughing and giggling as frustrated shoppers rushed pass her.

Suddenly, her mother, with tote bags on her arm, ran up, grabbed the little girl by her hand, and took her away, scolding the little girl as they hurried pass the coffee shop window.

How did I grow too old
To dance in the rain?
When did life rob me
Of that pleasure?

Why did music stop
Running through my vein?
When did I stop hearing
Every measure?

How did I become blind
To life's simple joys?
When did thunderclouds
Stop smiles from shining?

Why am I too refined
To run like little boys?
When did I aged so
From my own whining?

Friday, November 30, 2007

I made the mistake of venturing to the mall.

I made the mistake
Of venturing to the mall,

The land of sales clerks
With mannequin smiles,

Where "You too can be
Beautiful, blonde, and tall
Screamed the posters at the ends
Of merchandise aisles.

Buying products to prove
Your adequateness

Is your fundamental
Constitutional right.

The American
Pursuit of happiness

Is guaranteed under
Bright florescent light.

Things to put envy
In your neighbor's eyes

Are on sale for
Thirty percent off.

The temporary joys
Of dubious buys

Draw hungry shoppers
To the feeding trough.

Star-bellied Sneetches
And plain-bellied Sneetches

Running through Sylvester
McMonkey McBea's car,

Stop and learn what
Dr. Zeus teaches

And be happy to be
Who you really are!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Call Me Job

What of me do they desire
That Heaven and hell should conspire
To allow the evil one
To feed me a daily dose
Of hell's eternal fire.

Is it not enough that I gave Him my heart?
Must He give it to the evil one to tear apart?
Like some twisted autopsy
Performed, while I still am alive,
By some deranged René Descartes?

I beg for assurance that my faith is not in vain.
A word from heaven would be enough to sustain
What little hope that I have left
To ride out this torturous night
And see Heaven smiling once again.

I cling to the horizon waiting for the sun
For the hour when His will for me would be done
And He would be pleased that I endured.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thinking of Maggie

Maggie transferred to our school in the sixth grade. She had the sweetest smile and the kindest soul. She was adored by the little kids in the neighborhood and equally loved by little furry creatures. She wasn't the "type", that the other guys go gaga over, but, for me, her beauty was radiant.

We were friends and I can't think of anything we couldn't say to each other.

Well, except for one thing...

I wasn't able to openly profess my feelings to her until the ninth grade. I had thought that it was well concealed until Maggie's brother, Willie, and I were involved in some activity together (I can't remember which). When I introduced myself to Willie, he said, "I know who you are; you and my sister are sweet on each other."

I don't know how red my face turned but I felt my entire face heated up.

As it turned out, Willie wasn't the only one who knew. Evidently, it was obvious to everybody.

When I finally used those three words, Maggie, just as naturally as can be, wrapped her arms around me and held me for an eternity. I was in heaven.

It's been so many years, but my mind still takes me back to that place, when I occasionally allow it to wander.

Once there was a place where love was true,
Where love was love and nothing more,
We kept no secret to misconstrue;
We forgave without keeping score.

This place existed for one moment;
That moment existed for this place.
There, marked the end of my heart's torment.
There, I found a home in her embrace.

Boatman, take me back home again.
I'd empty my pocket for the fare.
Free me from this present time's domain
Find me the river to take me there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Cry from One who Wanders the City Street

Something unusual happened to me that caught me complete by surprised. A block south of the Washington Monument (the original one in Baltimore) on Charles Street, I was stopped by a homeless man who didn't want food or money. He said that since accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, the Lord has been providing for all his needs. All he wanted was a hug. He explained that because he has AIDS, he has not had any human touch in a very long time. But he assured me that all his sours are currently healed so I am not endangered of contracting the disease from him.

As I hugged him, he broke down and started crying streams of tears. At which point, he broke off our embrace because he didn't want any of his body fluid to get on me. Suddenly, he quickly ran off.

Although I constantly keep an eye out for him when I'm in that neighborhood, I never saw him again.

No longer does tomorrow exist for me,
Just the recurrence of subsequent todays,
Because hope is tomorrow's admission fee;
And mine is buried beneath a hundred clichés.

Tell me I'm more than the sum of body parts.
Tell me I'm not reduced to nothing by my sorrow.
Open your arms and share the warmth of your heart.
Rekindle my soul to see again tomorrow.

Monday, October 15, 2007

City After Midnight

Due to the unusual hours that I keep, I, often, go shopping after midnight at 24-hour a day supermarkets and drugstores. Several nights ago, during one of my late night shopping trips, I saw a sight that broke my heart. I've been thinking about it since. I finally decided write about it.

Cruel is the lonely city night
Blind to the misery of the sight.
The sparse traffic passes
But doesn't see, doesn't hear, doesn't feel
The desperation of their plight.

On the corner where McCulloh and MLK meet
Hunger hangs heavily on the faces of the street.
Two hours past midnight,
A little girl and her grandmother
Are begging for something to eat.

What does it take to make things right?
A five was all that I can spare, tonight.
As I pull away
I see no tear being shed
By the blinking traffic light.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

In the Service of our King

Depart, if you seek the glories of war.
It is not what this march is for.
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

We march long and hard among the deads
Down this nocturnal road where evil treads,
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

Meals of only His wine and bread.
In remembrance of his thorn crowned head.
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

Charges of dragoons and snipers' fires
Laid our comrades on funeral pyres.
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

Howitzer fires, and shrapnel and flak
No artillery piece could turn us back.
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

Belt, breastplate, helmet and shield
Protect us in the potter's field.
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

Our weapon is His Spirit's sword
The Word of God which can't be ignored.
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

Tempted to give chase when we pierced their flanks.
The line, we hold steady, we don't break ranks
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

Patiently we wait for His trumpet's call
When we finally charge and take it all.
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

We march long and hard among the deads
Down this nocturnal road where evil treads,
Commissioned we are
To serve
In the Lord's advance guard.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Don Quixote Grows Up

Shortly after I graduated from college, I decided that I wanted to make a difference in this world. so, I moved to Baltimore, into the city, to be involved with programs for helping the economically disadvantaged.

In the passing years, I've been held up at gun point. And I've been ripped-off by people that I'm trying to help.

If I had made some kind of impact in my neighborhood, I may be willing to say that it's all worth it. However, day in and day out, nothing seems to change.

Not only have I not made an impact in my neighborhood, I'm beginning to see it impact me. I'm less patient with those I'm helping and more distrustful of anything they say.

There's been days in which I started to think that they deserved to be where they are.

So, I held up the mirror and wrote the following.

I mourn the passing of my youth
As it gasps for the last breath
Of its quixotic dream.

No single self-evident truth
Survived this untimely death,
Without a trace downstream.

The promises of tomorrow
No longer have their allure
No longer fuel my hope.

Broken lives, broken hearts, and sorrow
A field of dreams with manure
Made me this misanthrope.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Mystery of Bella's Blue

Why wouldn't Bella reveal
The mystery of her blue
Even as you wait
While sitting beside her?

Did she hide in her poems
Something to give us a clue?
Words or syllables
That we can decipher.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Poem for Little Ball Blue

Colleen posted a sketch of a ball with a sad face and shaded blue. With it, she wrote a poem entitled "Ball Blue".

I replied with the following poem.

My heart is sad
When you are sad.

I wish that I can shield from you
All things bad

And chase, from the skies,
the stormy clouds
That made blue the little ball on your sketch pad.

What can I do,
Little ball blue?

I'm here and you are there;
My options are few.

So I knelt and prayed that He pours out
The abundance of His awesome love on you.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Monkey With His Fist in a Narrow Neck Jar / Disney Girls Gone Wild

OK, I admit it, I watch "Entertainment Tonight" and "Access Hollywood". After a long day at work, and after watching the local and the national news broadcast, I let my mind veg out on mental junk food.

Lately, the entertainment news has been mostly about grown up Disney girls "Gone Wild": Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Vanessa Hudgens,...

These girls thought they have stardom but instead stardom has them.

The girls' lives reminded me of how they catch monkeys in the southeast Asia.

To catch the monkey, they put dates into a jar. The neck of the jar is just barely wide enough for the monkey to stick his hand into when the hand is not clinched. However, the neck of the jar is not wide enough for the monkey to take his hand out when it is holding a date. For some reason, the monkey is unwilling the let go of the date in the jar, despite not being able to take his hand out.

So I wrote the following.

Monkey with his fist in a narrow neck jar,
He's ruled by his belly,
So he just won't let go...
He just won't let go.

The Man, with a monkey wagon, not too far,
He came from New Delhi
To bring the monkey woe...
Bring the monkey woe.

Monkey has a collar with a big brass star
Does tricks on the tele
To make The Man some dough...
Make The Man some dough.

Disney girl, with cash, driving a fancy car,

Does tricks on the tele,
She's an attention ho.
An attention ho.

Monkey with his fist in a narrow neck jar...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Le Coeur Est Avec Toi Toujours

(Everything sounds so much more romantic in French.)

N’ai pas peur,
N’ai pas peur
Que nous avons fini
Quand nous disons adieu.

Je t'aime,
Je t'aime avec tout le coeur.
Le coeur est avec toi toujours.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Grabbed by the Ocean

I wrote the following in response to another of Colleen's blog entries. She had posted some beautiful photographs from her trip to the Pacific Ocean. One of photographs is of the tide coming up to her feet. Accompanying this photo is her poem musing about the tide at her feet.

To feel the ocean grab hold of you,

To draw you far from life's mundane;
Your soul released to sail the blue,
To see like a child, again.

To lift the backdrop of clutter,
Illusions of necessity;
To lift your arms, to let your wings flutter;
To be caressed by the ocean's raw beauty.

To be at the edge of the world...
To be at the edge of the world
I envy you, young woman named girl.

p.s., Her name, Colleen, means girl.

End of Day Diddle

I wrote the following in response to one of Colleen's blog entries. She just ate dinner and was exhausted from the day when she wrote about how full she was and how she wanted the pots, pans, and dishes to wash themselves.

Hey! diddle, diddle,
I'm a bit wide in the middle,
Feel like I swallowed the moon;
"Little pots and pans,
Wash yourselves", I command.
So the dish ran away with the spoon.

Poetry Happens

Lately, I've been reading Colleen's blog quite regularly. She's been posting poetry rather frequently. Although I haven't written poetry regularly since college, her post inspired me to start up again. Surprisingly, the prose, the rhythm, and the rhyme has been flowing quite naturally. So I started this new blog as a place holder for snippet of poetry that happens to come up and called this blog "Poetry Happens."