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For several years during the mid-1970's I abandoned music totally and wrote poetry instead. Whereas I've never succeeded in getting any songs published, I was able to have four poems published in Southern Baptist periodicals, plus others in The Daily Banner of Cambridge, Maryland, and a free little magazine called Combing the Shores. Included here are the published poems.

The question
Is not whether
Fish sleep,
But whether
Fish sleep
Standing up
Or lying down.

Combing the Shores (November 13, 1977)

(to Florienne)

On the end of the public pier,
I saw an old man crabbing
In the hot afternoon sun.
His face was worn and cracked
Like the weathered railing
His lines were fastened to
With wooden clip-on clothespins.

I moved rapidly,
Showing off my youth,
Carelessly pulling up my lines
Whenever they drew taut,
Netting some crabs easily
And losing others.

The old man moved deliberately
With the patience of a lifetime:
He stooped low and slowly netted
Every crab that took his baited lines.

Ten hours in the sun,
He had caught almost a bushel--
One crab by one.

My face was perspiring and sunburned.
I glanced conspicuously at my watch 
And loudly mumbled something about being
Late for supper if I didn't get home soon.
I pulled in my lines, packed away my bait,
And picked up net and basket to leave.

"How'd you do?" asked a young girl
Who had walked up behind me on the pier.

I smiled weakly and showed her
The eight crabs I had in my basket.

"Ah, well, maybe next time,"
She sighed sympathetically as she began
Walking out towards the old man.

When I reached the car,
I turned to wave goodbye,
But she was no longer in sight.

Out on the pier, the old man was smiling,
Drinking from a paper cup of cold water.

Then I smiled, too,
For cold water doesn't 
Have to be given in cups
To be refreshing.

The Daily Banner (February 15, 1977)

Beyond Buffalo Street

When I was very young
And lived on Buffalo Street,
I believed I saw an airplane
Standing still at cable height
Between the telephone poles
In front of my house.
I ran to tell my mother
What I thought I'd just seen.
We stood in the doorway looking,
But the plane was gone as if
No plane had ever been there...

Two years afterward, I was still quite young,
Though on vacation from Buffalo Street,
I saw a rock I thought to be a toad--
Or a toad that might have been a rock.
I wanted to touch it and discover what it was.
But I was afraid to, and the next day it was gone...

Much later --
When I was older and no longer lived on Buffalo Street --
I almost died once.
There was no cure
But the prayers of those who loved me...

I lived.

If I had dared to reach out
And try to touch God and prove Him real,
I could never have succeeded.
But what does that matter?
God reached out to me first --
And, touching, He proved.

Event (March 1977) 

Reflections on Value

It's depressing sometimes--
Spending what one
Really doesn't have
To buy things that
Really don't matter and
Really won't last
Past yesterday, anyhow.

Things just aren't worth what they
Used to be, people keep complaining;
No one takes pride in his work anymore,
And quality seems to be a thing of the past.

It just wasn't like that when
God made the world.
God had pride then....

And a human soul is
Still worth the price of
God's life.

Youth Leadership (Jan Feb Mar 1977)

Prayer of a Whale Belly-Acher

Lord, as You well know,
I'm not one to complain,
But I'd just as soon be
Back in the whale's belly,

Picking my way darkly
Among those absurd bones
I had to learn the names of
Back in high school biology
And wishing -- please, Lord! --
For a fillet next time
And perhaps a flashlight,

Than to have to forgive
The people You're forgiving
And forget their rottenness
As willingly as You're doing.
Here You sent me to
Warn them in Your Name,
But You never said they'd listen!
Lord, they took me seriously!
I never felt so self-conscious.
And then when they repented, well,
My nerves haven't recovered yet!

Lord, I hesitate to interfere,
But wouldn't it have been simpler
Just to go ahead and wipe them out,
You know, like You had threatened
To do in the first place?

Lord! Why are You letting
The worms attack that poor
Shade plant that grew up
Over my head yesterday?
It never did a thing to You.
Don't You care about anything
In this world that matters?

Daily Banner (March 15, 1977)

Blue Jeans Salvation

Blue jeans
Faded soft              (Doesn't he
Uneasy in                Have more respect
The pew                  For the church
                         Than that?)
Army jacket
Drab green              (Doesn't he
Restlessly               Know better than
Shifting                 To dress that way
                         For church?)
Leather sandals
Miles old               (Couldn't he
Moving toward            Have sat somewhere
The aisle                Inconspicuously
                         In the back?)
Long hair
Pony-tailed             (Lord! You're
Coming to                Not going to
The Front                Save him,
                         Are you...)

Event (July 1977)


I wish I could collect all my feelings
Like old photographs in a shoe box
And choose those worth having
To warm me time and time again.
I'd leave the rest forgotten
Gladly in the bottom of the box.

Then I could dream without failing
And attempt without fearing.
I could climb without falling
And aspire without becoming frustrated.
I could rejoice without needing to grieve
And accept without needing to question.

But each feeling, like each old photograph,
Has a necessary place in the shoe box of life.
Better to have all feelings available to memory
Than to face life unrealistically, 
Expecting only good.

After all, Christ said I must lose to win.

Encounter (April May June 1977)

This Prayer

Why should I be pale
When others are darkly tanned?
Why should I be short
When others stand tall above me?
Why should I count calories
When others are eating as they please?
Why should I sniffle and sneeze
When others walk in the rain
In good health?

Just joshing, Lord.

But seriously, Lord,
Why must I endure the bad
When others are enjoying the good?
Why must I struggle so hard
When others just float and glide?
Why should I lack anything
When others have more than they need?
Why should I be so tempted
When others walk uprightly with ease?

Why, Lord?

What's that, Lord?

Lord! You don't mean it!
All those other people...
This is the same prayer
They are praying?

Daily Banner (March 15, 1977)

To Serve You

Are you sure
You don't need
Someone to build
Another ark
Or to lead
Another people
Safely through
The wilderness
To freedom?

Surely there're
Evil cities
You want me
To preach to
Before You
Destroy them--
Or giants 
You want me
To slay with
Small pebbles--
Or stone walls
You want me
To march around
And shout at
Until they fall?

You see, Lord,
I know my candle
Isn't very bright,
And sometimes
A cup of water
Given in Your Name
Just doesn't 
Seem like much
For me to do
To serve You.

Daily Banner (March 15, 1977)

The Floating Crab

One morning
I saw a crab
Floating towards me
On top of the water.

   I readied myself
   And caught him
   In my net
   With no real effort.

      But the crab just
      Crumbled to pieces
      In my net --
      Dead and long decaying.

That day I
Ceased to envy evil men
Who float content on top of life,
For I know Whose
Net they are already
Dying in.

Daily Banner (February 15, 1977)


I walked outside today,
Down to the river's edge,
Where a dozen swans were
Floating freely near the
Shore without the bother 
Of bulky winter clothing
And were swimming slowly
Without the pressures of
Rush-hour freeway traffic.

As they stretched necks
Into the chilly autumn air
Without concern about the
High cost of home heating,
They honked joyously without
Jealous backbiting or anger.

Then they dipped their heads
Deep into the cold waters
Without the slightest fear
Of coming down with the flu
And came up stomachs filled
And satisfied without having
To count the caloric content
Or to consider cholesterol.

Then they begain to fly upward --
One by two by three by six --
Totally unconcerned over air
Collisions or ground delays.

My heart soared with them for awhile,
But soon they outdistanced me by far.

Daily Banner (February 15, 1977)