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The Day before Tomorrow

(x = space)



The Day before Tomorrow


Last day in Advent

Made it


Rain, snow

Overwhelming cold

We should be postal carriers

To endure

It all

Strange meeting place

This junction of

The Northeast, MidAtlantic

The weather comes

From north or south

Or east or west

I’m trying

To get used to that

It’s only taken

Twenty years so far

There are forecasts

But better to wait

To know what happens

Though encounter


How to plan a picnic

Must be an undertaking,


Requiring options

(bring the ants)

Sometimes the living

Is absurd

If not cartoonish

But these are the days we have

And the environs

Those who stayed

Or passed back through


To stay


And all the world has

Its places

Its challenges

Its practices


And now (among

the practices)

It’s Christmas Eve

And there are days in Hanukkah

This year correlating


To light our way

The world could breathe easier

Except in Ukraine

In Myanmar and Yemen,

Oppressive parts of China

And of Russia

And in the manipulative

Shadowed corners

Of the USA

All the places where we watch

For detonation

Also the human heart

The battlefield it remains


Sin and virtue

Pounding and pushing

Pulling circulation


(Sturm and Drang),

The devils on the inside

On the outside

Rendering Christmastide

So perilous


And yet we sing into

A night

We wish were silent

Save for children’s cries

For all the reasons

Children cry

Among them to receive

First oxygen and hope

Into the world


Render the night

Impossible in virtue

We’ll sing it,


We’ll kneel

We’ll try to light our way

We’ll quietly acknowledge


Some will party

And some will do nothing,

I suppose

Though the world is affected

By what we do this night

And for a thousand years

And in the time

Remember birth and


And everything

That circulates a world

Keeps it moving

In the spirit

In the flesh


Though maybe for an hour

Let all mortal flesh

Keep silent

And in fear and trembling


To receive

To hope for blessing

In the night


Let fighter planes

Fly so carefully

Perforce keep watch

Like shepherds

Over continents

And there might be songs

At crowded borders

And the lines

Kept distant

From welcome

Because mines have barred the way


Peace on Earth

The ersatz wish

Some must believe

(yet some must believe),

Withholding war

The practice

That must be enough

For now


Into the world

The child comes

The children come

And everyone

And everything

Now have responsibilities

To keep it together,

To throw

And try to seal patches

The worn places

And to keep watch

For the tearing places

On the outside of Earth

And, you know,

On the inside


And hell

The human heart


Anxieties may end

Because it’s here

Our plans are done

And in place as they are

Out of necessity

Of time

As chronos

So might we have


For a day

Twelve years

Perhaps a brief era

If only hours


A spiritual time

A cultural invention

Arms reach out for a change

Hand in hand

In brave hope

To sing a silent night

To sing in glory

Once the vigil is completed

And there is indeed

There really is

A dawn of hope


Glory and hope


Because a child is born

That for a time

Affects the government

In minds

As well as capitals

Until when all time is done

And in a kairos of eternity

It’s Christmas day

And all the other graceful days



C L Couch



Photo by Monisha Selvakumar on Unsplash


Puritan Winter

(x = space)



Puritan Winter


Snow covers

Rain reveals

Ice seals it all in

Now comes the

Revealing time,

The winter

Against all our

Boasted showings

The green is gone

The brown and black reveal

Who we are

What we have

How plain it can become

Without verdant protection

Without the sheen

Of summer


But this is good

We have the chance

To be ourselves,

To rely ourselves

On heat

And goodness from above


The goodness of our neighbors

And the sovereignty

Of God above


Wherever is


And the mortal need


C L Couch



Migrating birds over the misty forests of Norway.

Photo by Fredrik Solli Wandem on Unsplash

Heggenes, Norge


Unrelative Truthing

Unrelative Truthing


Even in dim pre-dawn light

On a Sunday morning,

The colors are clear

Finally, it’s fall

The leaves are turning into glory

And should one think there is a subtext

About the beauty of all races

Well, that’s not really there

But, now I think of it,

Why not

There is beauty in all races

No need to place that truth under

Something else


Now, fall’s late arrival

Something of a pattern

Might also beg

The warming of the planet

Let’s go with that one, too

It’s not progress to have that understanding

(though another kind of progress is the cost)

It’s the kind of sense

The ancients have employed


Coffee’s ready

Time to get it

I am thankful

I hope your day is good

And for your neighbor


C L Couch



West Virginia Fall Colors







A depiction of a death

So that insurance might be sold

That’s all right: I appreciate


Investment in exigency

But in the advertisement,

A door is shut with the grey world outside

The small things of home within

As if the employment of the product will

Close off death itself

For a time, at least

What are we protecting, then?

I hope it’s home

And not mortality


We can’t keep it out

It dwells inside

In every room


I don’t recommend the dance of death

A final scene of The Seventh Seal

We don’t have to step out with it

Or nurture it within

But it is reality

(you know)

And isn’t it a wonder

That, if we relent a little,

Death will not have to break through the door

Or turn over everything that’s good



It will happen nonetheless

And regardless

Our rituals might help

And family life

Give it some time, if there’s time

Comfort each other

Talk about good times

But not cowering on the other sides of walls

Walls at best

Are not for that


Not for shouting down an enemy

On the other side

Do good fences make good neighbors?

When privacy is called for, without doubt

But not for death

Death is not unusual

It does not have to separate

It can bring us over barriers

Home in better ways


C L Couch



Paul VanDerWerf

Stone Fence

Taken in Harpswell, Maine.





My neighbors have the touch

I don’t


College plate on the car

Bumper stickers back of the van:

Honor students ride here

Gymnast and ball player

Two girls I know

Boys, too


Existential crises don’t rate

Stickers (until maybe they do—

Do you brake for existential crises?)


My place rests in piles

They don’t match

Books have melding themes

No organic particles (the

food stays in the fridge)

But nothing else set right


Aesthetes inattentive

To theory or approach

To dissertation on the better handling

Of things


They do it with unconscious serenity

Of their own way, my

My friends who live original rites


Small-town perfection

East Main Street


C L Couch

East of Eden

East of Eden


Earthquakes split (6.4,

7.4), volcanoes feared

In a paradisal land that

Has such virtue in

Nature and humanity


Anger of nature, the

Patron’s rightful wrath

For it has been a place

Of crushing empire, too


Or is it in imitations of

The west, of surrendering

Ancient code, ritual, and

Ceremony to impose

New rule of the

Incorporated world


Residents sleeping inside

Comb-shaped cells like

Unfeeling bee-keeping


Perilous excesses in

Manufacturing and energy

Production, making Japan

Truly like the rest


In the wake of nature’s

Lightning crevassing the

Land in whatever form

Is invoked, attitudes

And disposition are not

Enough to take on



Our neighbors need

And though we might

Cry that we’re not able

Or we are too far

No excuse is enough


Our neighbors need

Muslim Tribulation

(drafted before an officer was shot
many times in Philadelphia, the
shooter claiming the cause was Islam)


Muslim Tribulation

We live to follow God,
to know the will of God
and continuously prepare
our lives so that we might
follow that sacred purpose
and intent.

There are religious
destroyers everywhere
in every tradition. But those of
us in unreasoned extremes—
these are sadly, specially alight
in the world just now.

We want peace. We believe
most do.

We want to be neighbors and
to welcome those into our
homes. But our hospitality is
challenged now of its

Do you want to be defined by
The remnant cause of woe?
Certainly, you don’t.
And neither do we.

We want our lives of faith
to delight our friends and
all those near us. Please
remember this.

We want to think
and believe
the best as well.

The Dessert that Never Was, a response to a Jacki K prompt

The Dessert that Never Was

a response to a Jacki K prompt

I think my favorite Thanksgiving dessert—and I believe my siblings will concur—is the dessert that never happened. While growing up in Pittsburgh, we had the annual Thanksgiving feast, of course. We also invited over the two women, mother and daughter, who lived next door. They were delightful company (all year), and for Thanksgiving always offered to bring the pumpkin pie.

One year they were late. Late enough to make me wonder if something had happened to the mother who, naturally enough, was on in years. But they both showed up, chagrined and with a story to tell. They had baked the pie, as they had each year, with everything whipped up by them and typically starting in the morning. As the day progressed and with that the pie in the oven, something smelled not right to them. And when they pulled out the pie and looked around their kitchen, they discovered what they forgot to put in the pie.

The pumpkin part.

So they baked another pie and brought it over late. So embarrassed were they, they only brought the good pie over. But I guess we made them feel at ease enough about making a mistake that anybody could make (well, not anybody) that they brought us over later to view a pumpkin pie without the pumpkin. As I recall, it was a round brown mess, sunken into the pie plate.

None of us is in that neighborhood now, and we are scattered some. But in our respective homes we tend to tell that story every year. And, while all of us were at one home and our neighbors continued coming over, we’d tell that story and laugh—together—every shared Thanksgiving day.

(Cue image of empty pie plate.)

C L Couch

for the image, (from Google Images)

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