Tag Archives: poetry

Howard Thurman’s When the Song of the Angels is Stilled

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flocks,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among the people,

To make music in the heart.

He Carries: A Tribute to All Fathers

Without making a sound, he carries the weight of our worlds on his shoulders. He carries the demands of our dreams and the sacrifices of our visions. He carries our expectations of a better life, our hope for a brighter future.

He is Mister Right and Mister Fix- it. Our Prince Charming, he is the priest, the plumber, the painter and pest control. He wears all of these hats and still can find room on his head to support his favorite sports team.

He carries our fears and doubts, taking them into himself so that we can worry less and laugh more. He carries our brokenness, giving us pieces of himself so that we might be whole and behold the beauty that he has always seen. He holds it all together by holding it in, keeping it to himself and away from us.

He carries our troubles, our traumas—willing to self- destruct before he allows it to touch us. We will never know how bad it was or could have been because of all that he has carried for us—without making a sound.

He carries her over the threshold and her purse while she is shopping. A human stroller, he carries excited children on his neck, tired children in his arms, tantrum- throwing children over his shoulder. He is our unsung hero, who carries groceries and toiletries, screwdrivers and wrenches, jumper cables and a Swiss army knife, the car keys and an extra ten dollars.

He carries furniture and appliances, boxes, bicycles and the luggage. He is the gardener, the moving man, the deliveryman, the house bellman and the cabbie. He doesn’t ask for a tip just “a man cave” for hibernation purposes, to rest from carrying. He carries the heavy stuff of life. He does the heavy lifting with no tears only sweat because he is the man. He carries history and the family name, garbage bags and baseball bats for those who are not good enough for his daughter.

He is chivalrous, opening the doors of our possibility and jars tightly sealed. He is the knight of our kitchen table, our knight in dusty armor, our protector who carries weapons. His biceps, he calls them “the guns.”

He is Clark Kent and Superman, without theme music or fanfare, carrying cape and briefcase. He can leap over yard fences and is faster than a speeding toddler. His x- ray vision allows him to see through our superficial teenage tears and still, tell us “No.” He saves our world from shady salesmen, spiders and seedy characters. He is our fortress and guard, our shield and sword, the coach who always takes one for team.

But, he doesn’t say much and we don’t say enough, “Thank you, dad. Happy Father’s Day.”




Mary Oliver’s “The Journey”

Mary Oliver extends the challenge beautifully but so many of us will not put one foot in front of the other.  Though the trip will lead to our true selves, we are not willing to leave and to leave behind what is familiar and routine.  But, there are a few of us who have heard all that there is to say, are aware of the dos and don’ts, of what’s been done and the way it has always been.  Still, we are willing to take the journey.

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

John McNeill’s “If I am to live”

“For the mind set of the flesh is death, but the mind set of Spirit is life and peace.”

~ Romans 8:6, NASB

I must thrust myself upon discipline’s breast

if I am to ever live.

I have no peace, and it is a silent war;

it silences my soul.

 It skews the language of my spirit;

it opposes who I am and will become.

If I am to ever live,

I must trust a vision I will never see.

I must comfort a man who despises his flesh;

I must no longer tire.

I must deny all I perceive as human

if I am to ever live.

I must embrace a man humanity has never known;

I must love a man humanity has never accepted.

I must learn a man who has never lived

if I am to ever live.

This poem, an insightful reflection into the self, is featured on my husband’s new blog The Spiritual Walk.


Edgar A. Guest’s ‘Equipment’

It was Carter G. Woodson’s favorite poem and promises to be one of mine.  Edgar A. Guest was born in Birmingham, England but moved with his family to Detroit, Michigan.  He was known as the People’s Poet and is the author of “Equipment.”  I look forward to sharing this truth with my son during our many conversations on race and the race-less life.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “Equipment”:

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say, “I can.”

Look them over, the wise and great
They take their food from a common plate,
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes.
The world considers them brave and smart,
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if you only will.
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go,
How much you will study the truth to know.
God has equipped you for life, but He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win.
So figure it out for yourself, my lad.
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began,
Get hold of yourself and say: “I can.”

~ Edgar A. Guest