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May 2020

Small Matters

Small Matters



Small dog

Small death

Dogs grow old and die

Better we outlive the ones

We care for

We are small, too

Not in worth

But then, neither was he

Buddy, Bud, Boo

I don’t know how old he was

He was my neighbor

Now he’s gone

I’m sorry

He was soft

He was funny

I took a nip or two from him

(you know the kind I mean)

I don’t care

I’ve known dogs

I knew this one well enough


To me, it came on fast

What do I know

His mouth, by the way,

Was small

(maybe that’s why I didn’t

worry about the bites)

He could manage the small

Tennis-ball type things

I gave him some


Well, he’s gone from here

Dog-heaven is a destination

In a country song

And where he is for real

I’ll miss him

Not as much as she will

Her dog

His human

It’s a new connection, now


C L Couch


Thank you praying and thinking about Buddy.  (Goodness, officious announcing has rendered thoughts and prayers into specious-sounding things, though they’re not when real.)  Buddy died, quickly it seems.  If there’s power in prayer—and there is—then your prayers helped get him to his next home smoothly and painlessly.

Another pet friend of mine died recently.  Like Buddy, this one had a wonderful life, especially as irascible as he was.  This was Old Poodle about whom I’ve written with Old Dachshund (who died a while ago).  About these dogs, my sister often said “It’s a good thing they’re cute.”  I often sat for them and typically found their behaviors more amusing than annoying.  But then I could leave.

I’m sorry for Denise who took care of Buddy and my sister’s family who cared for Wiener and Schnitzel (my brother-in-law, the chef, provided the names).  And I’m thankful for humans who give good lives to pets.



Photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash





Prayers for Buddy-Boo

Prayers for Buddy-Boo


I know there are things

happening.  Wars both

declared and un- or not

so much. Freedoms

challenged by despotism.

I probably don’t need

to mention disease.

But there’s a little—I mean,

little—dog who always

treats me with meaningful

indifference, and now

he’s sick.  He could use

help through prayer and-or

some good and hopeful

thinking.  You know I mean

the actual kind.  Saint

Francis would approve and so

would mom. He’s in the

hospital, and the photo

somehow looks both

cute and solemn.  His name

is Buddy, which is his role

to my friend who is

distraught.  She isn’t asking

for your help.  I thought I

would.  And offer thanks

in agency for everyone.


C L Couch



Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash







If God is love

And God is a spirit

Then it might, it should

Follow that love is a spirit

And that a spirit is love


There are times when matter

Matters more

The flower on a table

The open door

The favor no one asked for

Nothing for a show except

To say

What we should say


Love is a spirit

And in something like eternity

Materials are messages

I don’t know how they rack up

When it’s not a game

Though love should be fun

And sad

And hard, sometimes


Remembering to keep it small

Might help,


The larger things, too

I guess I’m saying

Not because of me



Spirit and matter

Keep it real


C L Couch





John 4:24

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

1 John 4:8

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.


It might be synchronicity, more likely inspiration.  The day before drafting this verse, I was reading Jane Dougherty’s excellent exegesis of two Scripture verses at Jane Dougherty Writes (  I so highly recommend her blog (


Photo by Ralf Skirr on Unsplash


Call the Question

Call the Question

(probably poem-prose)


I’d like the Earth

To like us

I’d like to like us, too

Too much is hard

Around the world

Nature’s parts

The parts we’ve made

And otherwise have taken


I’m still dealing with

Burnt bread

The smell

I didn’t know the microwave

Could burn bread so well

The toaster, yes

Live and learn


That was a mistake

There are things more attributable

To will

Now I’m asking all of us

To think what we have done

And, more importantly, what we

Now might do


Family is trite to say of Earth

Or even us

But community is


The recluse doesn’t

Own the planet

Nor does the self-styled magnate

The deserts are inhabited

Like the city

Different sorts of crowded beings

Finding home

And feeling it


And if we own, then we

Must own,

Which means accountability

We all have a part in

That who can, who is able


How many pebbles, how many

Ponds and circles overlapping

We could make of

Family—I mean, community

Through the smallest things

Each of us might do



A pandemic,

Who wears a mask?

Who made it?

I have two masks, both made

By friends

Found out my sister and my nephew

Have been making them

And sending them around

Even ones with designer features

For my niece in Colorado

(they’re in North Carolina

I’m in Pennsylvania)

Easy example, anymore

Factories turned ‘round to retool

Templates, provide resources,

Make more

So that front-liners might

Breathe more easily and think about

The great,

Too often grisly

Work, instead


I can’t sew

But I can cheer them on

Who can

Maybe that will be job,


And your job is making sandwiches

Or raising money

Or finding stories,

Seeing that they’re shared

Tired of hearing about the disease?

Well, we’re living it

Too bad

And, sorry, not much of a question

No news there

Except to say (and it’s not news

or shouldn’t be) that

Breaks are good


We can have other things,

Of course, and should

Games and walks and making something


To break the tedium

Or because a lark

Is fine from time to time

as larks are fine to hear

The community needs them all


But being drunk

Or otherwise practicing addiction

Goes down hard

Don’t think of it

There is no excuse

In a viral time

(or any)

Or for hoarding, by the way

Aren’t you sick of it?


Well, hypocrisy is hard as well

I must admit

I have a couple of rolls

Put by

But not a wall-full

Wait, I always have a couple

Of rolls put by

Well, I am a mask

For something else, I’m sure

I’m sure


So where are we?

We’re on Earth

Together, and if together

Has a name, it can be outside

Or humanity

And there are things we need

We can make

And do them

There are patterns that many places

In the Earth (and us)

Can teach

We can learn

We have the chance

If only we can share around

The means


We can make

We can mend

How about it?


C L Couch



Photo by Mike Swigunski on Unsplash

Reykjavík, Iceland

Northern Lights outside of Reykjavik.


Slow Glass

Slow Glass


The birds are quiet today

The sky is still

Precursors to rain, perhaps


Earlier, I saw a squirrel outside the window

On a lower branch

The animal stopped, gray arches for

Its back and a brushy tail

Turned one way and then another


We, smaller beast and I, looked at each other

For a while

Already out of reach

We could afford to stare


Now we might serve as memories

To each other, through the glass


C L Couch


“Light of Other Days” is a science fiction short story by Irish writer Bob Shaw. It was originally published in August 1966 in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. The story uses the idea of “slow glass”: glass through which light takes years to pass. Bob Shaw used this idea again in later stories.



Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash





I don’t know, God

I know you love us

It’s all the rest that can confuse me

Why there is great truth

In nature

We refuse to understand

While we destroy it

Learning nothing but that dollars

Speak not a greater truth

But noisier

So I guess you could say it’s all on us

And we are responsible

But we can also credit you with making us

Why did you do that,

Why are we as we are?


We can build

And then tear down

We leave artifacts

That we refuse to learn from

We love clear days

Then smoke them out

With factories and war

Factories to make the war


Not to mention all the vehicles

We could not pass a law

That says what we make cannot

Destroy us at the same time

Let alone with Earth

I know I go off on things like this

But, really, what’s the point

In planet Earth

If we destroy her?


Wisdom is a woman, too,

In a number of traditions

But men are made to ignore women

Treating them like other


My, don’t they have it wrong

All of it


So what’s the answer, God

I’m sure there is an answer

Before it’s all a cynical taking

Climbing on each other toward

An artificial peak

Without wondering what we leave

For children

So they’re left to be like us

Or rebel to find another way

I don’t think I’ll blame them

When they do


Maybe our agenda has been

To build another Babel

One structure, one language, one power

Over all the Earth

Determined by us

Goodness, I would hate that

And so would anyone who delights in


We made kaleidoscopes

Maybe we should look into them more often

Prismatic colors

Ever-changing order

Not anarchy but beauty in

The light you made

You make

I suppose if we asked to be

People of light

A new adherence to your making and

Your teaching,

Someone would try to pass off some darkness

As the light

Where is your justice, Lord?

We need it and can’t manage it, ourselves

Isn’t there a great mediator, even here

On Earth, among ourselves


I remember now, it’s love

That I learned in church, even if churches

Forget, hiding agendas instead

Some learn, anyway

And live it so much better than I

These are the ones I need

The ones who live in love

Not perfectly

But persistently


We need these people, God

The ones who love

With strength and practicality

Because it’s the better reason

For taking the next step


Show us love, Lord

And those who love

The real strength

The foolishness in the world’s eyes

While it digs and flies and wends

Its way toward hell

Each day until the last

But it can’t be for fire of hell

Or fear of it the reason

Love must be embraced

Because it bests fear

Because in the embrace

We see, as sometimes on a clear day

You are there

The God who made us

Allowed the serpent, too

Who gives changes over ages

For all of us to turn our will at last


Toward you, into you

Below, above

In better places

And the worst

No peak too high

No pit so deep

But you are there

You gave us will

How about we return it

Using it to do so?

That might be the final irony

You’ve been waiting for

Maybe then we’ll understand

Apocalypse is love


C L Couch



Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash


Saving Graceland

Saving Graceland



1, Give It Up


And there are the things that happy


Bad things, starving things

Taking from life, risking faith

At each turn

We lost someone close

We lose a job

We lose a place

We lose what we thought

Were good associations

We lose something in ourselves


We lose some health

We lose materials we think we need

Because we do

And where is belief in this,

Where are you?

You’re here, but we don’t know how

So we give up

Or don’t embrace in the first place

Because there’s honest reason not

To take hold

We might even curse God


Or the arranging of an adversarial relationship

From then on

We take down faith symbols that were

Totem as well as decoration

No beauty there

In truth,

No more


And what’s to bring us back,

To move us on?

We’re grown up, we don’t need you

We only need ourselves

Maybe with like-minded

Maybe not



2, Restoration


I don’t know how each one

Might come back

Or start at all

I mean, there is confession

And repentance,

But what about when no one’s

Done anything that’s wrong?

I don’t mean venial


I guess I mean victims

Who comes back from being robbed

Of life,

Of living goodness?

And if there were no faith

But awful things have happened,

How might it begin?


A blank slate would be easier

To mark on with good lessons

Or reason through

Someone’s apologetics

That happens, and it needs to happen

But wondering from a point of loss

Of theft

Of trickery

Or manipulation

Then believing again

That everything with truth and beauty

Might return to the mind’s eye

The vibrations of the heart

All the evil stuff to be forgotten

No, that’s not going to happen,

Though there might be mitigation

For a start



3, Landing


A favorite way in stories to rid oneself

Of evil is through laughter

For evil characters often hold

Themselves and what they think they have

Too seriously

An argument of one that must be global


Humor, a healthy kind

Even if delivered in exasperation

Cuts through the agenda

Exposes the lack of clothing on

Self-styled emperors

Not that it’s the only way

Or on its own an anodyne

But healthy humor

Like right thinking

Goes a way toward righteous victory

Perhaps in metanoia


Though there should come

A sober time for reflection and


Or (and) simply to feel it through

Faith is funny

Worse, it’s foolish

Even if it shows the way

Turn over folly

To find some wisdom

The way some lies are best understood

Simply in opposite consideration

(take out the “not” or put it in

around each lie)

A different kind of foolishness

Made wise

Toward what we need

And where to have it, here

And on the other side

In certain testimony,

Something about rooms in mansions


Finally, though, we must face the hurt

We won’t want to, which is a good


We’re on the way to something real

Don’t worry about being smart enough

Unless it’s also made aware

How to get smarter

Don’t let your ego, on another hand,

Make choices for you

Finally, you know, it’s faith

It’s choice

It’s a choice we make

It’s the kind of choice that anyone can make

And if you think someone cannot make that

Choice for deficiencies,

God will think this, too,

In God’s way


Nothing needed will be withheld

To guarantee the offer

Or the taking

We all can be there in

Graceland, one by one

And all together, starting

The process anytime


C L Couch



Photo by Mahmudul Hasan Shaon on Unsplash





Hi, Earth

I hope you’re doing well

Though I know you’ve

Been beset with challenges

The heat is rising

Water, too

Islands in the Chesapeake are


And I know this because

It’s local

What is going under elsewhere?

I’ve read about the polar regions,


That’s big news

In every way

What about the corners I don’t

Know of

Who is in those corners who

Know nothing of me?


Oh, Earth

You’re probably in trouble

And it’s probably our fault

I count on nature’s

Indifference, but I think it’s getting angry

Could a tornado or a hurricane

Be vengeful?

Hail in indictment,

Earthquakes cracking open

Rage, eruptions open wounds

That must have their way?


I don’t know

There is romance in nature, too

I don’t want to lose that

There’s gold in the ocean

Silver in the sky

Diamond where’s there clarity

Gemstone colors everywhere

Though the real wealth

Should be love and understanding,

Which of often indicates

A partnership

Is that still possible?


I want to know you, Earth

Travel all your courses

And maybe, were it possible,

To find something new

We could meet around a rock,

So many of us

Celebrate your sponsorship

Of human possibility

Resources for



But we must give something

Of our own, speaking for

My kind

We can’t attend the rock-table


With something in our pockets

No tricks up our sleeve

It’s too ideal, isn’t it?

We’re too cantankerous on

Either side

I wouldn’t be surprised to find

We both have our illusions

To fool each other, yes

Also to keep us going

You there,

Us here

It’s cynical

It’s fearful

It’s not, to use another idiom,

(we make idioms of you

salt of the you,

for instance)

Cards on the table


So what to do, then

We simply go on, as is?

I cry

You rain

We terrify each other

Ruin things as well

Us by force of will

You by an imbalance

That certain Protestants would say

It our fault, too

Finally, I can only speak for us

And our own

Will and ingenuity

For all you have and all we take

Oh, Earth, I ask of all

We must find ways

To give each other chances


C L Couch



Photo by Denis Linine on Unsplash


Cheating Death

Cheating Death


Who cheats anything

And gets away with it?


I get it

We must make a foe

Of death

To be defeated

Even if that never happens

Not by us

Where is the sting of

Death might be

As close as we can get

Death hurts,

Though finally it doesn’t

Have to


That’s faith

That is not personified

Except for centuries ago

In morality plays

Maybe we should bring them back

With all the characters in tow


Grace, Good Works


Faith and Judgment

Parts of a spiritual life

With the hero Everyman

Whose name will

Have to change to Everyone

I must admit, I like

The sound of that

And how it might play

Upon the stage


That is mortality

Where Death will win

Though it will not hurt so much

For the dead,

For those left behind


C L Couch



Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, 75008 Paris, France, Paris

Don´t spill the light of truth onto me — I prefer to live in the dark.


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