What do we do?

It looks to be a Christmas
warm enough for hiking.

We will kick up the leaves,
decide which fellow travelers we greet

With a ‘Happy Holidays’ and which we
greet with a ‘Merry Christmas”

And because this year is different
from all other years, we will peak

inside each and every house to see
which ones light their candles

despite the lack of oil. Despite
the lack of snow, we will still

light our own candles in the deep
of a warm winter’s night, proclaiming

both a myth and reality; a belief
and a certainty.

And certainly, I will remember the
gifts of this season, a trail

open for bonus days, stockings
that keep my boots from chaffing my

feet, and a sunset that staves off
the darkness just an hour more.

Some mornings

Some mornings

Dreams are the cost

Of waking.

The kind that

Feel both tragic

And ordinary

Foreign

And real.

Last night

I dreamt I was

Back in college

The semester’s

End was near.

I had done nothing

All semester

And no one reminded me

No one could tell me what I hadn’t

Done, either

I would be leaving.

I would fail.

I awoke, trying to hazily

Remember if that actually 

Happened, nearly twenty

Years ago.

Introduction to Theodicy

She believed that evil
was, ultimately, something
banal.

She liked to tell her students
that she learned about original sin
sharing a refrigerator with two roommates.

The darkest cruelty she ever experienced
was brushed off by a high school principal
who would drink himself to death years later.
“Boys will be boys,” he shrugged. “You’ll survive.”

Boys will be boys. Dogs will eat their own shit.
It’s how things are. People who would never in
their life put a child in an oven or sic a dog
on one or drop the bomb will, at the same time,
never lift a finger until it affects their property’s value.
There’s nothing supernatural about evil. It is what we do.

“It’s like trying to wrestle a Rubik’s Cube,”
she liked to tell her students. “Don’t try so hard.
All this talk of God and ‘Why?’ We love to say that
we are the builders and the discoverers and
the makers. We forget that we are also the
ones who pluck, the ones who break, and the ones
who cover it all up.”

Still, there were nights, when the old puzzle
with which she always opened her first 8:50 AM
lecture of the Spring Semester:
“If God is Good, God is not God; If God is God,
God is not Good” kept her up till all hours.

She turned it on all of its sides, tried to make
the pieces fit, the colors match. They never did.
Perhaps it is not what they do, she’d muse, twisting
her wrist one more time, on a hunch and something
like a prayer.

Just off Campus

The quiet of a University
campus once classes finish
is a familiar joy to me.

The goodbyes as the air grows
cooler. The relief once the
tests are finished. The promise
of another semester echoing through
the emptying dorms.

Today, I walk out of my office
and see the lights still on in
an old chapel on the campus
just across the street. Quiet,
its wooden doors await the next
season.