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After Words

After Words

(Lent 41)


There must still be words

We’re stuck with them, I guess

Or at least I am


We could end here

Or yesterday

But we won’t,

Which is not a matter of words

As it is of life


Yet we should be ready


To pause when needed

Maybe turn the pause to play

Whatever is called for


It’s called for often

Snow day

Day in the sun

Comp time (whoever has this)

Playing hooky

(you can look it up)


Work will resume

With its kind of

Awareness, learning, deciding

Not in cryptic ways

Or inaccessible

Though recall that there’s a mystery

In pretty much everything


The kind that moves a martyr’s heart

And for other reasons, too, can thrill the heart

Of each of us

Of the sort like

Joan, Priscilla, Rachel, Esther

Judith, Hrosvitha, and Hildegard

Who found their way with God

While in the world


And for the Joans, Priscillas, Rachels, Esthers

Judiths, though I don’t suppose we’ll be

Naming anyone Hildegard or

Hrosvitha for a while

We may

We will


I don’t know, I think we’ll find

What we need

As long as we don’t keep the process to ourselves

Or the results



I thought I should say something once it’s all over,

Our Lenten experience

We’re comingling times and traditions

Of the end of Lent (for those still counting),

The Passion, the Triduum, then

Easter and the Easter season


I pray

Together and apart

These are all good for you

The way spring days, clean from rain,

Can be


C L Couch


note for the blog

Counting forty days from Ash Wednesday takes Lent through Palm Sunday, which might seem odd given the reflective nature of the season maybe abandoned in triumphant celebration.  But the count of days in Lent can take out the Sundays and Holy (Maundy) Thursday (when the celebration of the Eucharist occurs) and add in Good Friday and Holy Saturday to make up a count and observation of forty days.  Timing of events for the Passion and the Triduum might overlap this way of counting, and it’s also true that some have it (more or less officially, according to one’s tradition) that the length of Lent (even the sense of forty days) be taken metaphorically.

I guess I’m counting forty days from Ash Wednesday and let the paradox of Palm Sunday prevail.



Photo Credit: Wikimedia User John Morgan CC-BY-2.0

Lent 40

Lent 40



Try again

Sometimes it’s hard

Though not harder and less rewarding than

A life inside a cage

Kept without a lock


Some count the season from day one

As I have counted

Some take out Sundays, a timeslip in

The forward flow of days

Any days that might allow for

Contrary feasting

Some leave the season longer

And forty is a metaphor

For wilderness experience


If we count forty from first Wednesday

We are here today

Triumphal entry, as it’s said

As songs are sung

As palms are waved in happiness

And salutation

For the one who’s here


While our invested time is closing

A passion time begins

When blood with flow with water

In a garden, on the streets, and

Later on a cross


What have we done?

What do we do?

How many who are cheering now

Will spit the words out later

Broken of humor into mocking?

How many will be caught

And tried by Caiaphas

With a nod to Pilate?

How many, at least, will try war

The worldliest of ways

In bids for freedom

With endings still debated in

The courts of heaven?


Well, we have something

We have had our season

And know without expectation

Any more than making

That another season follows

It’s today

The end and the beginning


But keep the palm fronds close

Maybe contrive a reminder

For the window sill

Over which we view into

The next spate of days

And on into forever


Take us with you

Some things we do alone

So many more need not

Go that way

We may go another


C L Couch



Photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash


Lent 38

Lent 38


Today must be the day

After a season of surrender

Otherwise, loss becomes a vacuum

Other things that we don’t need

Will come to live

Because nature will otherwise abhor

We cleared out distractions

Others are in line


But what do we want inside?

A virtue of busyness awaits

Preoccupations that are less than healthy

Frankly old sins, patterns of

Destruction that laugh like imps

Want to be reinvested there


We turned out the fat and sugar

Turn out some devils, too

Let them abscond with what they have

Escape into the darkness

Where exorcism

Or psychology might reach them


Some battles are beyond us

Some are right at home

The war at home


C L Couch



the chariot driven by Norse deity Freyja for whom Friday is named (in consideration with Frigg—yes, the chariot is drawn by cats)

(Detail) from the Fresco Cycle “Aus dem Sagenkreis der Edda” in the Neues Museum, Berlin. The fresco was damaged in WWII and abandoned until the unification of Germany.

(fresco by) Robert Müller, 1850


Lent 37

Lent 37


After rain,

Sometimes the closeness of humidity remains

And sometimes the world feels washed

For a while

It’s a good feeling

In autumn we might call it crisp

Though that is more for morning air

Cold from night, first breathed

The seasons turn, we know this

The watery rush of spring

Becomes the lush, rising life of summer

Before the time for

Earth to prepare to rest again

I know I say this for the northern part

In the southern, it’s reversed


But we share the notion that

All things are passing

Everything moves or is moved

And it is not in the nature of molecules

Or constituent atoms

To cease in function

Stop, whenever


Do you have a craft?

I think you do

Something you make or on your own

Pursue to make the time

Your own

Don’t be discouraged if the only thing you see

Is need

It is sadly that way for too many

And where does need allow for contemplation,

For an unhurried gaze into the world

On all sides?


Whether it’s need or want of need,

We are made for giving and receiving

And while so much is in motion

Newtonian claims notwithstanding

A part of us must stop

From time to time

To orient the brain and other organs

Where we are,

In what direction we might be going


Have a care for all seasons

Try them out

Let’s try ourselves

In patience and in

Openness for recollection

In spirit, an attitude for gathering anew

All the better parts

Gifts to receive

So many gifts to bestow


C L Couch



Image by illustrated Cottage from Pixabay


Lent 36

Lent 36

(for storytellers)


Do you have a storyteller?

I mean a good one,

One who dives into the past and

Brings it to the surface as a treasure

I hope you do

I’ve only met one from time to time


Her name is Esthelle

I shouldn’t wonder there is

A star in her name

She is a teacher

More, an educator

Learning- and learner-committed

And when it was time,

The story changed to song in medium

And temperament

She’d pass out the books

To have us sing along


We have good stories

God bless the tellers

So that words might live in mortal ways

To make us good


C L Couch



David Bradley, White Earth Ojibwe Storyteller, 1980s ink on paper New Mexico; United States Gift of James and Margie Krebs Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

Peabody Essex Museum – Own work, CC BY 3.0,


Lent 35

Lent 35

(a reverie for stories)


It’s Tuesday, day of Tiu

A Nordic personality

Part of a family that respected

Power and defeat

And waiting after for

The judgment of all nations

Beautiful and terrible,

The people and persons of

The Norse

The stories cut into the center

Of all mortal talent and ambition


There, in all, is a lesson

One no single person’s written

It shared by people first and

Then in song, finally in letters rendered

We have these gifts now


The gift of story

Testimony, opera

Thanksgiving in the moments of the telling

God sends us song

And frames all telling inside nature

Praise God today

Thank God for all gospels

Good news that grows us into

Better people

Workers, players, servants of the day


C L Couch



name of Týr in its rune form [in English, Tiu]

Moshroum – Own work, Public Domain,


Lent 33

Lent 33


Gray light filters through

A window pane that should be cleaned

For spring

Porous curtains reach to the floor

The house is yellow

There is a Lincoln emblem on the front

This is where I live



You live somewhere else

I hope it is a good place for you

If not, I hope that changes

I hope that you are well today

If not, I hope that changes


The season turns toward conclusion

We didn’t make that happen

We didn’t even have to count

So many things inexorably

So many things we change

If we can,

If we want to


Maybe what you have is good

I’d like to think so

Though I know too many patterns that

Imprison and a lack of catalyzing


Maybe this has been a waiting time

There are several days left

Maybe you’re learning to

Lengthen your breathing in one way

Or another

Maybe you can count

And it doesn’t keep you in

Maybe freedom with rules

Is understood, at last


These passages are ours, you know

As all seasons that we have

Belong to us

We could turn the circle over

Beholding nothing that we own

As well

That’s all right

We know what we can take

It’s not much

And it’s the most important


Have what we have

And enjoy the passing


C L Couch



Muhammad Mahdi Karim – Own work, GFDL 1.2,

A dhow in the Indian Ocean, near the islands of Zanzibar on the Swahili Coast.


Lent 32

Lent 32


Is there a mood for Lent?

We could light a candle

Or set a dancing flame inside

A lamp

We could cross ourselves into

A meditative frame,

A shape that’s somehow both

Relaxing and attentive

(from yoga, we might learn options)


We can clean our minds

Dust out the mental bunnies

That distract with

Rapid-fire hiding

Leave the nightmare-horses go

That otherwise fence our thoughts

And predilections


A prophet might say

Make straight

The roadway to the Lord

Monarchs might proclaim

A day for silence and in

Contemplation find peace within

Oneself and in the realm


But kingly days are done

(we have the prophet’s words)

Except for self-styling

Which days should be numbered, too

Leaving us with our unbloodlined


Choice and determination

Know thyself, someone says

(sooner or later in nostalgic king’s English)

It’s a democracy of souls

To find direction


We are free

As we are

To seek out something

That we need

In and for each season

That we have


C L Couch



Michelle Kinsey Bruns – Mood LightingUploaded by Fæ, CC BY 2.0,

Meals are by candelight on Great Gull Island. The candleholders have been around the block a few times.


Lent 31

Lent 31


I’m sorry


Just then, did I seem weaker?

I shouldn’t have,

Though I struggle with confession, too


I don’t know how good this is

Balm for the wounded soul, I guess

Maybe a strengthened bond

In the community


Necessary, I don’t know

For all the secrets that die with

Persons who left unspoken

Matters of regret,

Even tragic

I might do that

You might


It isn’t peril for our souls

Since all is known by

One who judges perfectly

We won’t escape a reckoning

Though there’s a bias in our favor


It is cleansing act,

I think

Not until the next time

But for all time

Technically, it’s preparation

For worship, life in spirit in

A fuller way


Open for distraction

Into heaven


I think I sang in dreams last night

In daytime, it takes practice

Rites partake in that

A life open to soulful beauty in

The music, as is said, of the spheres


But it can go ugly, too

Rough, tear-scoured

Anger exorcised against the

Truth and amelioration

As apology works its way

Through tears falling

One side or the other

(meaning inside or outside)




Let sunlight be cleaved unto the darkness

Patchwork living

At its best

This side of things

All sides of things


C L Couch



by ‘Speculando –, CC BY 2.0,

Songpyeon, a variety of tteok, Korean rice cake

for Chuseok, celebration of the autumnal equinox


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