The Great Game: Afghanistan; Tricycle Theatre, London

song for the taliban

stab out the eye (that reads)
cut off the fingers (that take)
slice off the ankles (that are seen)
beat the woman (who is raped)

but never, never, leave your old ones alone
never leave those without homes hungry
never leave widows ignored
(there are lessons to learn from you, in these things)

on blood-soaked poppy fields,
in immigrant districts like this kilburn
all i can think is, this
(this war, this exploitation, this history, this bastard child)
is so, so fucked up
and, come holy ghost

i don't mean to be offensive,
but these words lay down together on my lips
and that's all i got.


the blizzard's never seen the desert sands...

in washed-out fields of poppies, pale gold, dusty rose
your fingers against my throat
i will remember
your head in my lap
the smoothness of your back, red after every shower

and mourn for the swat valley, lahore, and peshawar
where, in such a wake, small things are forgotten

my eyes will still be closed when i see you again
but i will not forget


This morning I awoke feeling an excitement unexplained. In the streets of London, it all rushed back to me: last night my mother gave me a new name, a new middle name, like the ones Catholics receive at confirmation. It was hand-written on a piece of paper; it had come to her a long time ago, but she was just now telling me.

Though I am familiar with the word and interested in the idea, when she gave me this new name, I promised myself to look it up in the morning.

(1) a season of general joy.
(2) Every fiftieth year in the Mosaic calendar, being the year following the completion of each seventh sabbath of years, at which time all the slaves of Hebrew blood were liberated, and all lands which had been alienated during the whole period reverted to their former owners.

The year of Your favor. May everyone walking beside me know it in their blood and in their bones, this freedom of Yours.


for courage

Somewhere in the past year—a summer spent orcharding along the Columbia, a seasonless fall/winter/spring in my Santa Barbara home; a year full of trips to Bellingham, Seattle, Whidbey Island, Pasadena, Costa Rica, Mississippi, Alabama, New York, and now London; somewhere between two fires, two evacuations, and one graduation—I realize all the sojourning has poured exhaustion like milk into my bone marrow.

And while this is to say nothing of Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean, or quite how much I have loved our good, good earth and the many thousand faces and lands to which it has endeared me, the tent must still be pitched, and in mercy I will continue to build and abandon and rebuild nest after nest. But why not moderately? Why not with reservations, with jaded caution? I am not naïve, nor stranger to suffering, and I know You have melted my heart of stone, but does wisdom not demand a holding back of spirit? And yet this very practice remains foreign to me!

All this movement from friendship to friendship, from place to place, fills me with too much longing. How many more women can my heart be opened toward? How many more men? What else can possibly be grafted into my already deep and tangled roots?

Oh it's been years since I chose a (sometimes) lonely adventure over any storyless, comfortable life. But the work and joy of pilgrimage, or pilgrimhood, begs someone to walk beside.

These are days of relearning [that You are my closest friend].


[sunsets say goodbye: you've brought me this far]

in me like wire
you have grown, santa barbara
but i suppose this [east mountain walk, vineyard community, mission eve, jasmine]
is (really, for now)


difference is time / the mystic valley band

"Well, call me if you want to talk
There's a telephone on your wall
And the reasons are many and not too far apart
If there's some blood left in your heart

Difference is time
It's the best prison waiting in line
Difference is time
It's yours and it's especially mine...

It's hard to stand on my feet
With this weight of vagrancy
I've been trying to tell the difference
Between the road and my street..."


growing up

Addendum: we were evacuated a few hours after the last post.

But Graduation happened on time, and we celebrated among the ruins of carefully laid plans.

Because there is gratitude even in [our weak] adversity. And because yours truly now holds a Bachelor's of Arts in English. Rejoice!


the jesusita fire

Ten days of tears, and even several instances of the f word, and now graduation really is nearly (nearly) here. Fast and soon and crazy. The Jesusita fire has burned through almost 3,000 acres, and is only 10% contained. 5 of the people coming to see me walk the dais on Saturday will not make it now. My parents drove to Ventura tonight after being evacuated from their hotel and finding every other hotel in Carp and SB booked.

But we will make it, with strong doses of laughter and an increased appreciation for the ridiculous. Because this is how we grow up.


To dream of a time when spears will be beaten into plowshares
(while we are sick to our stomachs).

Shalom, Afghanistan.