Friday, July 31, 2009

Pictures of me

These are random pictures of me throughout the trip: at the Continental Divide, driving and chewing gum, swinging at the rest stop, with my family in Arizona (Great Aunt Lois--Grandma's sister, Aunt Laura, and Miranda), at the beach, a thumbnail view (literally--it's a picture of my thumb) holding a tiny ice cream cone, me with Elmo (he grabbed me and asked for a picture--who knew Elmos was so forward...) and taking a star picture in L.A., on a desert mountain (in San Bernardino).

Bare Feet and Blue Skies

Back from my trip now, so many things to behold and experience. My imagination sparked like the burning, desert sun, inspired by the things I smell, hear, touch, taste, and see. I did not bring any possessions back with me, only pictures and memories. It is these pictures and words that are my souvenirs, the vessels of my memories…

In these poems, "You" refers to at least one (if not all three) of The Holy Trinity, while "you" could be a number of people...

Bare Feet and Blue Skies
Across the miles we relay the driving,
the steering wheel our baton.
We sing and laugh, as if taunting the rising temperatures just outside the window.

We are on an adventure.
We are racing the wind.
We trace the outline of the map with the wheels of the car.

The wind almost wins as it grasps for our directions.
I catch them before it can get a good grip.
Rolling over the miles, crossing state lines.
Bare feet and blue skies,
we are explorers,
we are free.
Crossing Miles
Alone tonight I cross these miles,
remembering your hands were once my compass.
Lost in the wide yawn of this salty earth,
the land knows no boundaries of its own.
I wonder if this is my Manifest Destiny,
the Westward Expansion of my soul.
Charlotte’s Web
A spider crawls along the windshield.
I want to be someone’s Charlotte.
Is there a Wilbur out there?
Time Zones
We did get an extra hour today,
3 by the time our trip is through.
Did we use them wisely?
No Guarantees
There are no guarantees in life.
No guarantees of forever,
no guarantees that the one you love will love you back.

There is only One—
and all the promises in Him are yes
and amen.
The Deceit of Clouds
Clouds can be deceiving.
White billows like cotton candy or cotton balls.
Like feathery down pillows or the batting of a quilt.
Whipped cream or marshmallows.
Something light, but with substance.
Floating along, they release or withhold their rain and wind and hail
sometimes to our relief other times our destruction.
They even cast shadows as though they have body,
but were I to step on one,
I would fall right through
Let’s not talk about the weather.

Let’s not be polite today.

Let’s not use manners in place of true consideration.

Let’s not drown in superficial niceties.

I do not think my soul can handle another day in the box of society.

Let’s talk about things that matter (if we can find words for them,

and if we can’t, let’s just sit here


for the wordless things that are said between our souls).

Let’s spend time learning each other’s spirit.

Let’s take time to breathe this life in.

Let’s make an honest attempt at being real.
Break My Bones
I am a person with a heart you know,
sticks and stones may break my bones,
your words have always hurt me.
Happy Noises
My dog makes noises like he’s talking.
I have grown so accustomed to it, that I know what he’s saying.
I especially like the happy noises.
Hard To Sleep Tango
Lying awake again,
my brain and heart at their dance—
two lovers in a tango—
my brain will sometimes lead and my heart,
she moves in a different direction entirely.

So, in hot pursuit,
my brain, he will follow her.
Back and forth it goes,
one storming off in a passionate fury,
the other chasing after,
running, chasing, fleeing, pursuing
until they collide

both entangled, moving
in the same direction.

All the tenderness of grace
and fierceness of fury.
They cannot be still yet tonight…
Intensely engaged,
they move,
igniting one another
until exhausted and satisfied
they begin a waltz to a lullaby and rest in each other’s arms.

Social Thinking

Cherry mash, cherry gum,
cherry bubble, cherry POP!
Cherry coke, cherry sugar, cherry pie,
when we stop.
I close my lips around cherry--
Ben and Jerry’s--
my mouth the cheeriest of cherries.
Report Littering
As we drive through Oklahoma there are a lot of signs:
Call this number to report littering.
I wonder where the signs are to report child abuse,
as I toss an apple core out the window.
The Same
Green grass, tall mountains, the land is speckled with cows.
Ranchlands, farm hands, and still
miles of road to go.
My hands are worn from driving,
so I muse about the lives of the people in the houses we pass.
I discover that most places are the same, really.
People living, people trying to love and be loved,
people fastened to their lives, tethering their dreams in the wind.
In Oklahoma
The trees’ hair has been windblown by the gales in Oklahoma.
His hands are well worn and able.
Lines trace the times he’s used them to serve others.
Crying In Dreams
I cried in my dreams for you.
My heart wide
and torn open
by all the memories I have
loving you.

I dreamt I was walking barefoot in the rain,
trying to reach you, but you would not listen.
I woke up with red cheeks and puffy eyes,
so I know I’d been crying in my sleep.
A Good Cause
We donate money to the arts,
to charitable organizations,
and pat ourselves on the back
as we,
in air-conditioned galleries and cocktailed ballrooms,
look at photographs of faces
and swollen bellies in 3rd world countries
or 3rd world cities just down the road.

“Ah, how sad.”

“What precious children.”

The words pass through our lips like mundane social niceties
before we take another sip of indifference
from our crystal glass.

We mingle,
rubbing elbows with people to whom we are bound superficially,
but we roam,


haunted for a moment
by those doleful eyes,
those emaciated, naked bodies,
a glimmer of ourselves, perchance.

Souls hungry,
spirits thirsty
for more than looking and never seeing,
nights spent wondering if we’ve been seen.
We are sadder, perhaps, than those faces we see,
at least they are bound to someone else in a real way.

We clothe our nakedness with designer names,
throwing our pennies in ignorance
toward the charity cases our own lives have become.

Railroad Ghosts

Railroad Ties
We follow the railroad,
hands older than mine,
the generations before laying out a passage. I
wonder about the settlers who first travelled through here.
I think of the Native Americans who lived off of the earth
even before covered wagons and railroad ties. I
wonder what blood was spilled
on the soil under the pavement we are driving,
if the land still cries out with it.
Wandering Soul
Wandering soul, you are beautiful,
caught in between
He will find you.
Never Alone
Even in the desert,
the power lines remind us
we are never alone.
Spiny Cacti
The cacti, saguaros as they are known, look like they are signing “I love you.”
Maybe, like some others, the cunning fox, the slithering serpent,
they are snares in the sand,
their words are a trap to lure you in before pricking you at the core.
Random Thoughts:

Is there a love that lasts forever?

Power lines are crosses—the source of power running through them.

It is quiet on Route 66 at 3 a.m.

I find it comforting that rain smells the same wherever you are.
Altar of Love
Why do men write about nothing but love?
So many other things to pin my attention to the page…
loss of life…
the headlines read…
next in line for…office, the death chamber, the fruit stand.

Still, we bow
before an uncontrollable being,
an intemperate altar, where we lay our lives,
our hearts, our minds
as a sacrifice before any other—

I, too,
am guilty as charged,
but somehow do not reap the benefits of this demise,
only the pain
of losing you to another.

Desert Poems

I’ve left my mountains behind for the sun and these flatlands,
but still, there are thoughts of you.
Fire that burns, smoke signals rising from the mountains,
the flames lick the salt of my skin.
I am kindled, in this heat, a glowing ember of memories.

The rain falls, but it is so hot here that it evaporates before it lands.
Maybe I will evaporate.
Maybe, like a larger body of water,
there will be enough of me to remain.
I am lost in this heat, left to wander the cool places of my mind,
like this winding road before me,
unraveling the mystery of my soul.

I think of someone I used to love,
friends I used to know.
Like the little boy in Australia, “I will sing you to me.”
If my voice will work in this dryness.
If it ever did.
It is in this heat, that I become aware,
the hardest part of loving you is letting you go.
God’s Good EarthWe, at least I, often think about the Creation Story, and imagine a faraway place. But God created this place too. Wherever we are we are living on His land. This is God’s good Earth, the same one He created and declared good.
I try to sleep,
but thoughts of you spill out of my mind
and scatter themselves between my breath and my dreams
and like the cycle of precipitation
you evaporate back into me.
A Desert Psalm
These desert rocks cry out to You,
a testament,
in the heat,
of Your glory.
Desert TravelersWe ride through the heat like well worn travelers now
So much that
I feel we are becoming part of it
A cactus or rock left soaking in the sun
While thirsting for rain.
I used to think you were an oasis,
but maybe you were merely a mirage in this lonely desert.
My Love for You
My love for you is like this desert, long and hot,
stretching out for miles with no stops in between.
My soul is bare like the desert earth.
I have laid out all I am before you.
Compared to what you seek, it seems silly,
like a little girl’s hands holding a painting or flower.
Things of no consequence to most people,
and all that matters to me.
To My Pablos
Twisted limbs,
turning bodies,
faces crowded into cubes,
into battle scenes,
into the confines of a canvas.
Surely, Picasso, you have locked away a truth,
a tragedy,
a story of lovers that could never be.
Instead, you paint them here, dripping wet,
bleeding blue,
forever a mystery.

Words that pierce my heart
no matter what its shape,
fragile, hardened, jeopardized.
I wish they still made men like you,
for surely, Neruda, you speak the truth
when you say you love ardently,
as one,
that there is no other for you,
for you yourself are she.
No beginning or end between the two,
unraveling the paradox of becoming one with another.
Billboard“You can play the field, burritos don’t get jealous.” The billboard displays its slogan proudly. What has become of us, I ask myself, that playing the field is a good thing, that we want “open relationships” and no commitment? Advertisement reflects and bolsters our existing culture, rather than mandating it. In this reflection I see that we are throwing ourselves into hedonism, serving the god of pleasure and sacrificing our souls to him in the process.

The earth stretched out before me,
like the body of a lover
some things known well,
others still to discover.
The heat,
burning like a fiery passion
wraps around me,
the touch darkening my skin,
until I am thirsty for the taste of cool, blue water on my lips,
streams that divide themselves
moving between two halves.

The smell of salt and sea and a desert storm brewing,
mixed together, they are the fragrance I have grown to love.
Still moving, I pass road signs and reservations
and a band of abandoned towns,
the deep scars of his heart
set against the fierce beauty of mountains and mesas and wild flowers,
as if the earth is baring the deep things of his soul to me.

The sounds of owls and ocean water, laughing children and native tongues,
they are the song he whispers
here while I lie in the expanse of his arms. *************************************************************************

Road Trip Diary: July 14

July 14, 2009
I suppose yesterday was a day for things that sting—“the summer of the yellow jackets” maybe. Justin dropped me off at my mother’s house. Julie and Colby were outside scraping paint from the building. A hazy, hurried day, the cable guys were in their buckets splicing the lines. On the phone with Momma, I went out to ask the workmen a question for her and stumbled into a yellow jacket nest.
A swarm chased me inside as Colby furiously tried to combat them with his baseball cap and a can of bug spray. Bug, searching through the medicine cabinets and breaking open her cigarettes to use the tobacco as a soothing agent, nursed my skin.
A little later that afternoon, the pain of another sting was met as Momma and I went to the funeral home. A close friend of mine from elementary through high school lost her father on Saturday. Memories of him, spoken through tears and laughter circled around the parlor and cycled on a television screen. I remember when I test drove my truck, driving it to their house so he could look at it. And every time I needed an oil change or something repaired, he was glad to do it. He was like that with everyone—a true reflection of Christ’s love. I found Robin and hugged her; words are absent at times like this, I don’t think they say what a hug and a person’s presence can. It was with stinging hearts, but hope that we will see him again, that we left the wake and drove home.
An evening of packing—sorting through a lifetime of memories, Ginger’s house in boxes and bags, mementos of her life, stories of our friendship spilling out as she and her mom and I “configured” them into her car. Now it is early morning. We stumble, sleepy-eyed, into pants and shoes packing the last few things in the Element. A prayer spoken for peace and protection, a phone call to say we’re on our way, a couple of Facebook posts—2 girls, 1 dog, and miles of pavement stretching out before us.
We made it to Fort Smith, Arkansas (a couple hours west of Little Rock, just past Parkin, Pickle Gap, and Toad Suck) tonight—miles of green, flat earth, fields with an irrigation system at work, flat land and hills, foggy morning and blue sky. We passed a work truck proudly proclaiming “Do Not Hump”, groves of trees, road signs, pit-stops, and a thousand songs to sing. “All Shook Up” in Memphis, we shouted out to Elvis. The Stones, Neil Diamond, Some Oldies. We learned that almost all places must have a soft rock station, a classic rock one that does “Two for Tuesday”, a “we play what we want to play” counterpart, and that these big, southern cities think you can never have too many country stations. In fact, we took our show on the road today, singing into our sunglass case and water bottle. Next show tomorrow, somewhere between Arkansas and Oklahoma!
Tonight I am contemplative. I wonder about things that have been, things that will be, and things that should be. It is a tendency of mine. But I read Your Word and find some way to halt my (sometimes overly) analytical skills. “…lay up these My words in your minds and hearts and in your entire being…Deuteronomy 10:18 [Just as you command us to love you with our mind, hearts, and beings, a connection perhaps? ]The words “lay up” strike a chord in my heart. After all the fields I’ve seen today, I am reminded of harvest time, and of a story about a grasshopper who plays while the ants work and finds himself hungry and cold in the winter. I think about the harvest though, as Your Words, as You-- something to not merely read, but to gather and store as if it were a harvested crop so that we will have them when “winter” comes.

From Home to Arkansas

I think on the ride from home to Ft. Smith, Arkansas that I was running on fumes. I forgot to take very many pictures, but maybe that was a good thing since I was deliriously silly!

Road Trip Diary: July 15

July 15, 2009
We’ve been in 6 states in the last 2 days. We are staying tonight in Tucumcari, New Mexico (on Route 66!). The earth changed as I drove us from Oklahoma into Texas, the scenery looking less like familiar farmland or mountain ranges. What a beautiful earth God has made. I am in love with its breathtaking beauty. I call home; I stop to swing; I talk to my mom and my sister, but really this day has been a constant checking in with God, a day of being loved by His Spirit, drinking it in through the blue skies and scenery, a day of letting go—broken feelings, lost friends, and the breath of my desire blowing through the wind, knowing all my desire is before the One.
We drive around to take some pictures as a storm brews. It makes the sky glow pink and orange, iridescent clouds. The wind blows wildly, like an invisible dancer, beckoning me to join whenever I step into it. We are looking for some “traveling” items and find a desolate K-Mart. Then, we eat. Our waiter, Dale, has a distinct amount of Native American blood. The years have claimed his hair but not his smile or, I imagine the humble spirit with which he serves us. Tonight I am grateful; my heart is full of love for this, God’s good earth.

Route 66

We stayed on Route 66 the second night, in Tucumcari, New Mexico. These are a few of the shots I got (one of them is actually the Route 66 sign from Beverly Hills). It was starting to rain when we arrived, so I didn't get a lot of pictures. I actually think the signs in the rain looks kind of cool though. There was an inn called the "Blue Swallow" with a fantastic, neon sign. It was blue, of course. :)

Pictures Between Ft. Smith and Tucumcari

We were in 6 states in 2 days, wow! Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. It is very windy between Oklahoma and New Mexico, which they make use of in the windmills and wind turbines. Some of the trees are permanently "wind bent." There are also oil drills out in fields that you can see from along the roadside. We stopped at a gas station in Oklahoma to refuel (the SUV and ourselves). It was an old and quaint gas station that we pulled into. When we stopped, there was a grandmother walking in with her little granddaughter; I couldn't resist snapping the phot of the two of them together. I think it's super sweet. There were also designated areas for our canine companions to take care of business. It was marked with a red fire hydrant and a sign :"City Dogs". Apparently, they also have a candy called cherry mash, and knowing how I am about cherry anything I decided to give it a go; kind of like a Baby Ruth with cherry filling. We stopped in Vega, TX (a very small town) for blizzards a little later. They sure do love their Dairy Queens and their Hardeez--oops, Carl's Jr.s--out west!

Road Trip Diary: July 16

My sweet dreams pillow and the horse fountain outside of our hotel. We thought we were going to have to stay on the reservation this night, which I joked, was better than "going off" the reservation. Quel surprise when we ended up in the celebrity (no kidding) hotel in Arizona.

July 16, 2009
Today, I drove into Arizona, we rode through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert and stopped at the continental divide and it reminded me of Psalm 19:

Psalm 19 (Amplified Bible)
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.
1THE HEAVENS declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork.
2Day after day pours forth speech, and night after night shows forth knowledge.
3There is no speech nor spoken word [from the stars]; their voice is not heard.
4Yet their voice [in evidence] goes out through all the earth, their sayings to the end of the world. Of the heavens has God made a tent for the sun,
5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; and it rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6Its going forth is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the ends of it; and nothing [yes, no one] is hidden from the heat of it.
7The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the [whole] person; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
8The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and bright, enlightening the eyes.
9The [reverent] fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold, even than much fine gold; they are sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.
11Moreover, by them is Your servant warned (reminded, illuminated, and instructed); and in keeping them there is great reward.
12Who can discern his lapses and errors? Clear me from hidden [and unconscious] faults.
13Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then shall I be blameless, and I shall be innocent and clear of great transgression.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer.

Lord, Your handiwork is a testament to You, to who You are. Your creation, both on the face of the earth and in the faces of the people who are daily living out their lives on it is awe-full.
Ginger and I got a little cranky with ourselves and each other, but that’s to be expected after so many hours and days in a car together, I suppose.
We rode also through a lot of Native American territories, Aztec, Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, and Pima. I wonder about the lives of these people, about their ancestors. I wonder about the people who pushed them on to reservations—white man coming with his fire-water and small pox and tuberculosis. Why didn’t they come with You? I know some of them did, but it seems also that it was some of the white men were the real “savages.” We drove through the Pima Reservation on our way to our hotel for the night. Trailers have replaced government brick buildings and lean-to-shacks have become homes on Indian School Road. But it is still the “ghetto”. We ride through on our way to our hotel/resort. But you know, the sunset was more beautiful seeing it from the tumble-down roads, nestling into the mountains in the distance. The city where we stayed is wonderfully nice, but we would not have seen the sunset from here for all the “things to do”: restaurants, salons, Fashion Avenue.
Our “resort” is amazing though. They have warm, chocolate chip cookies waiting for us when we check in, and a map so we can find one of the 3 pools. The room is roughly the size of my apartment, give or take a few square feet: “Sweet Dreams”, the pillows on each bed are a reminder that I am exhausted, cedar timber beams offer their beauty and protection, a glass, double door welcoming me onto a veranda. I feel a night swim is in order. I slip on my bathing suit and grab the map (just in case I need it to find my way there and back), but the pool is right across from our “back door”. The water is warm and glowing from the lights in the pool. The tall palms stretch up toward the dark sky. I feel like I am stepping into a magical lagoon. I swim and rest up against the wall to look at the lightning flash across the sky and think about the day.
We got a little turned around today, but we found our way. We drove through the most beautiful places trying to capture the sun’s rays and the lightning in its fierceness and glory. I believe, though, that some things are meant to be seen and felt in person—for you, at that time—rather than being photographed while looking through a lens. I have learned that lightning is a lot harder to capture on film than it looks—you have to be lightning fast!
Tonight I am tired, but happy as I close my eyes and sink into the triple-sheeted, luxuriously high thread-count billows of feathery down.

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

These are pictures I took while driving through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert in Arizona. And, yes, this is where I saw the gorgeous park ranger (Trey). The "Newspaper Rock" are petroglyphs (literally, rock writing or writing on the rock) which the ancient natives used as a form of communication (think Egyptian heiroglyphics). I also couldn't resist taking a picture of the national park gift store that displayed a sign stating they sold cold beer. Especially when only a few yards away is a sign that asks travelers, "Please do not drink and drive" It also makes me wonder, since everything else in the store is petrified, is the beer also?