A home begins life as a blank canvas of walls ceilings and floors, room upon room of precise measure, angles and architraves, plaster, brick, wood and glass.
Beautifully rendered surfaces effortlessly hide the strength of the solid foundation within and yet home is more than a design of rooms and things. Home becomes the unacknowledged witness to the raggedness of our living breathing humanity.
These floors know the first tentative steps of infancy, the stampede of children’s play, the collapse of a grief racked body failing utterly.
Doors that observe good night kisses are the same that are slammed in fits of rage. Dark corners watch frustrated tears, hear desperate prayers.
A home endures much as it’s inheritance sculpt it with their living. As life’s journey unravels a home is shaped. With human lives clutched close to heart, a home speaks a terrible and beautiful tale of humanities journey from and to home.
This home speaks of us.
A home is not merely a structure of wood, brick, stone and steel. A home speaks, its voice reflecting the terms of our occupation, reminding us of what we deem most important.
This world boasts its carnival of architecture, something for everyone and everything no matter the cost. Oppressive skylines crush the soul, hope struggling to breathe under the weight. Passion wains as the opulent man trades concern for apathy.
Our surroundings influence our thoughts more than we care to admit, shaping our identity, altering our perception of truth. Prone to wonder, the human heart is easily lead from its intended home to a lifeless counterfeit.
Presented with such choice, how then should one build? And to what pattern remain true?
Ever planning, the architects design is hidden to eyes that do not see, regardless this architectural portrays vividly who we might ideally be. Patterns, strength, intricate, unexpected.
How then to build with the majesty of a city on a hill and the humility of a swallows nest? A building poetic in its understated simplicity.
A home created to train hands for service, guiding hearts towards others.
A lamplight burning bright, a door open to those yet unknown.
Regret burns, the realisation of this great divorce made manifest. With heart bruised and hope fading, home is remembered once more.
Rebellion surrenders to remorse, repentance, and footsteps turn homeward. Eyes weary, hesitant.
Familiar recollections of home dimmed by the journey away are recalled. Glimpses of what once was and could be again.
In this place we are known, and we know it. This place of origin where we are allowed to simply be.
Every agenda surrendered to the will of the architect, every piece finds its appointed place. A single floor board with its individual grain and knots is not diminished when joined to the carpenters geometry.
Fixed in formation with iron nails, the single voice becomes a choir.
Steel tempered in the furnace graciously bends to a higher function. Vision giving strength its purpose.
Structured frames lend their support to others and together a home for the wondering prodigal is built. Freedom for many found in holy submission.
Some come with boldness and urgency sensing their inherited place. Others stoop on bended knee scarcely believing the invitation. Some bare wounds and enter with hesitant faltering hope. But it is the coming home that matters most.
This same final step shared by all. Acceptance is found within. Undeserved and scandalous favour.
It is in the dialog with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value and it is through great pain and sacrifice that this home is fashioned.
The table is set. The places long ago prepared are finally filled. Words always no, finally understood.
Returned prodigals from a disappointing land look around their former home and remember who they really are. Wondering hearts have come home to be free.
Don`t tell me of tomorrow ;
Give me the man who `ll say ,
that when a good deed`s to be done ,
"let`s do the deed today …….."
We may all commands the present ,
If we act and never wait ,
but repentance is the phantom
Of a past that comes too late !
Don`t tell me of tomorrow
there is much to do today ,
that can never be accomplished ,
if we throw the hours away ,
Every moment has its duty ,
who the future can foretell ?
Then why put off till tomorrow
what today can do as well ?
Don`t tell me of tomorrow ,
why i wait for tomorrow ,
i will do my work today ,
there is much to do today .
It’s been hard lately to have enough emotional maturity to sit down and process through much of anything. Life has demanded a great deal lately.
As a man I think it can easily become the mode of operation for us to shuffle everything under the rug rather than deal with what we are feeling or what is really going on inside of us. Just move on rather than processing through things.
But those things will catch up with us in time. I know this all too well…And no matter what we choose to name them or how we numb our emotions - these things should not be ignored.
As I sit down today in the midst of my whole life over these past few months shifting into something new, I come to simply one thing. That the business and busyness of my life these days is requiring a lot more of me than I can offer.
And although this is a selfish musing…I think somewhere along the journey I think we all come to this realization - that life is exhausting and in so many ways overwhelming. And maybe if you are like me you wonder some days if you’ll make it to the next - to meet the next set of challenges that arises.
It is in these moments if I’m honest I’ve seen a need to in some way completely fall apart but find myself unable. The habits I’ve formed in my heart and my mind are binding.
And maybe like me - you realize that the methods you’ve used in the past aren’t going to cut it in the new weight of the world and its frantic pace - because with new must come a lot of new. Whether that be lessons or learning- we can’t rely on the past to fill our present need or meet our present challenges and inner demons. We have to learn to care for ourselves - to let others in. To let our inability fuel our prayers, declare our need, entice our asking.
In this realization and the conversations I’ve had and heard from the older and wiser we all grow in our ability to handle more and more as life tends to throw us more and more throughout the years. And although true - it has yet to provide solice for me as some days I wonder if I will make it to the next day.
Ultimately we all have our own problems- this I see so clearly. We will have our own overwhelming days. This should not be a point of great sorrow. But so often the silliest things seem to break me and break those who are enduring or facing such things - In this I’ve seen if we were ever to meet the challenge before us we have to tackle it one thing at time and give grace. We have to take baby steps and rejoice in progress and forget about perfection.
I have a tendancy to retreat within myself. That type of fetal position, depression, that can lay wayste to my mind and my emotions. Even more so if I find myself in mourning and find myself in that fourth stage of grief.
Every once in a while I tend to have an existential crisis. The matter of the essentials and the non-essentials and their existence( life or death) is put on trial - to be deliberated on before a jury of my own making. It has been during these times I use to be able to retreat within myself, hibernate for months on end. But now I can’t.
The natural progression of my life and thoughts thus far has been to call into question purpose and how I devote my time and has served largely within myself to keep my life pointed intentional and guided. And It is in these crisis’ that I find the roots of my intentions. Because in truth the moments are not to dissimilar from Job’s moment with the whirlwind. They are moments of masked sabbath.
If I had no spiritual inclinations I would I call the tendency “the curse of the introvert”. That those who are of the myers brigg’s “I” tend to jump in and out of things so easily and can be stuck in decision making for months.
It is with these times in the past that I have course-corrected many times in order to listen to the wisdom God grants and heed His authoritative whisper. I would hope I could trust myself to do that same in this moment - but it feels heavier somehow. The waves seem bigger.
See, I should have realized at the beginning of this year that I began to have my first extissential crisis since I began my career and needed to give myself place for care.
But as was my habit I denied myself , buried my emotions for everyone and not being fueled into properly - its has slowly turned into anger, hatred and rage ( for someone so typically marked my passivity.)
I callously ignored what would eventually have to be dealt with. Somewhere between then and now I traded romanticism and hope for reality. Traded endorphins for chronic exhaustion. Traded in optimism for apathy. And in doing came to realize I need rest. Or at the least need to learn habits of heart and mind to silence the passion and effort I have put into my career and to work to put barriers in place to make this sustainable for life.
I am laid to waste - and the month or so I probably need to set up a trial and ask the questions that need to be asked and let God convict and remind me of salvation and reframing all of this new of life in a kingdom response which would course correct things still alludes me.
A short while and two years ago I began this “a different book”. It was meant to highlight the different life begun when I moved to New York City. Supposed to highlight the excitment and thrill of city living - my own delusions of grandeur all that was exciting and that which God had for me to do here - what he allowed me to see of His goodness. It was supposed to let others in - the lessons I was learning etc. Summarize and fuse the many fragmented thoughts.
But coming out of college and certain ways of thinking, ways of acting, ways of relating - I could have never predicted what the world would hold and how all those good intentions would play out. Although I had an inclination I didn’t realize how much I would have to relearn everything once again - I think in my pride and my romanticism I was foolish - that I had what it took… and that life would be a ” yoke is easy burden is light” type of thing.
But as I’ve come to realize- this - its the same old thing and is seldom marked by the new. My post’s growing infrequency may in fact be an indicator that as the most independant of all the personalities I’m finally not limiting myself to who I’ve been but opening myself up to other ways of being - because it means I’m growing more and more tired with what this is “that which is without works” .
The inherent nature of this city, career, and constraints of many types have proved to unfound and unravel the original intentions for my purpose here alongside the time able to be devoted to it. Old means of working through thoughts, of digesting life were now unable to be stomached in the same way. Old patterns of thought of fundamental logic proved unable to handle the load. And this is good. Change - difference is good. I need to remember this.
And so I continue to unravel - I imagine the writings will become less and less frequent - I will trade in my net for a spear continue to trade my own abstraction and romantisism for more specific and real things and we’ll see what comes in the uncharted path.
AWAKE, our souls! away, our fears!
Let every trembling thought be gone!
Awake, and run the heavenly race,
And put a cheerful courage on.
True, ‘tis a strait and thorny road,
And mortal spirits tire and faint;
But they forget the mighty God,
That feeds the strength of every saint.
O mighty God, thy matchless power
Is ever new, and ever young;
And firm endures, while endless years
Their everlasting circles run.
From thee, the ever-flowing spring,
Our souls shall drink a fresh supply;
While such as trust their native strength
Shall melt away, and droop, and die.
Swift as the eagle cuts the air,
We’ll mount aloft to thine abode;
On wings of love our souls shall fly,
Nor tire along the heavenly road.
For anyone who does art for a living these are very articulate and insightful thoughts from those who have practiced for years in the business world. Well worth the watch.
So I’ll admit it - I kinda have a crush on instagram. I hated on it originally - that is when I created my login info back when I first got my iphone 2 1/2 years ago. Sadly the account lied dormant - I mean the filters were lame and you had to do that awful square - but now I have found the light and truth about Instagram thanks to my wife
Here’s the truth- Instagram is a pretty awesome means to an end and is useful in solving a complex problem in our complex world when it comes to social media.
See - Instagram is a filtered version of everything good about social media minus the square and I would argue is one of the few things out there that actually helps verses hinders actual interaction.
Let me explain:
My generation swims in a vast shallow sea of information and novelty - I hope you know this by now. Due to this reality whether we admit it or not we’re probably overloaded with information most of the time and distracted when we find ourselves in actual face-to-face and thus do not use actual interaction well. Our conversations typically become trivial and the conversation become blips rather than sustained thoughtful interactions that impact each other’s lives - which is what actual relationships are about (chiseling and shaping each other)
Enter Instagram…(duhn dun duh)
See- Instagram inspires people to take photos of things to share thoughts on them or simply say nothing at all. It allows people to enter the lonely little worlds we all inhabit and say “wow I like that - this beauty you notice, see and pick up on, I actually want to be sharing in your experience.” It creates a longing inside of me and probably others to say I need to share this and encourages me and others to do so simply because its so simple and we crave the interaction.
In a community that seeks to really be available and in each other’s lives there is a need for depth that is hard to sustain in our culture, society, and small talk tendencies - and we need all the help we can get - Instagram helps with the frequency and allows us to enter into a depth that is more regular : sharing of our food work and our pleasures creating a shared non-actual interaction that inspires actual interaction. Its awesome!
All that to say I love Instagram - it has given me a means to share my world with those people who I may not be able to utter in words what its like. Which solves a big problem for someone who struggles to communicate my reality through words to those people I surround myself with the small circle of my latest version of life and those people I care to bring into this one from other places.
So in the spirit of opening up my world to others I say this “Welcome to my world and follow me on instagram Hope you enjoy some depth from it. Looking forward to grabbing coffee or dinner at that place you took that picture at and you can ask some very pointed questions. It’ll be great!”
Christian worship should immerse people in the reality of the tragedy of the human fall and of all subsequent human life. It should provide us with a language that allows us to praise the God of resurrection while lamenting the suffering and agony that is our lot in a world alienated from its creator, and it should thereby sharpen our longing for the only answer to the one great challenge we must all face sooner or later. Only those who accept that they are going to die can begin to look with any hope to the resurrection.
Pascal observed the problem in seventeenth-century France when he saw the obsession with entertainment as the offspring of the fallen human desire to be distracted from any thought of mortality. “I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room,” he said. And: “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.”
Today , entertainment has apparently become many people’s primary purpose of existence. I doubt that it would surprise Pascal that the world has increased the size, scope, and comprehensiveness of distraction. It would not puzzle him that death has been reduced to little more than a comic-book cartoon in countless action movies or into a mere momentary setback in soap operas and sitcoms. Indeed, he would not find it perplexing that the bleak spiritual violence of mortality leaves no lasting mark on the bereaved in the surreal yet seductive world of popular entertainment.
But he might well be taken aback that the churches have so enthusiastically endorsed this project of distraction and diversion. This is what much of modern worship amounts to: distraction and diversion. Praise bands and songs of triumph seem designed in form and content to distract worshipers from life’s more difficult realities.
Yet tragedy is a vital part of entertainment.
Of all places, the Church should surely be the most realistic. The Church knows how far humanity has fallen, understands the cost of that fall in both the incarnate death of Christ and the inevitable death of every single believer. In the psalms of lament, the Church has a poetic language for giving expression to the deepest longings of a humanity looking to find rest not in this world but the next. In the great liturgies of the Church, death casts a long, creative, cathartic shadow. Our worship should reflect the realities of a life that must face death before experiencing resurrection.
The psalms as the staple of Christian worship, with their elements of lament, confusion, and the intrusion of death into life, have been too often replaced not by songs that capture the same sensibilities—as the many great hymns of the past did so well—but by those that assert triumph over death while never really giving death its due…
A church with a less realistic view of life than one can find in a movie theater? For some, that might be an amusing, even entertaining, thought; for me, it is a tragedy.
-Carl R. Trueman
Professor of Church History
Westminster Theological Seminary.
In the madness of our modern age
INFUSE & IGNITE
life in a world that seems bent on the meaningless.
Bind me to truth - to You
VISION & KNOWLEDGE
undoing and unmaking
Bind myself to meaning to purpose and substance
ENDEAVOR & BREAKING
my heart on the border of breaking.
Broken by condition by choice.
Let me see truth ( the gospel)
The intersections in our world.
May I no longer fear the days where I break my silence
Bind my heart to endeavor
to the reckless choice to pursue what I have dared to.
Bind me to substance
Bind me to life in radical action
To face the deep brokeness
WORLD & LAW
Shine joy into darkness - Your truth and your Whispers
Bind me to live in this age and in this time
FIND & SHOW
Meaning in a world without it.
Broken by condition by choice.
Show me Your Wisdom
Let the King reign.
Let the Spirit come .
Let your word dwell among us
May it be foremost
Bind me to substance
Bind me to life in radical action
On my heart and mind
INSPIRE & MOTIVATE
May I not walk in this sorrow.
Grant me peace and joy - May I know them
SPEAK & HEAL
The voice of God to the age of Kings.
Thread the eyes of the needles.
FOCUSED & UNCOMFORTABLE
Sing a better song to this world.
Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say,
He’ll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.
He Who Would Valiant be
A hymn by John Bunyan
There is a single word that resounds throughout the bible. It is the word “remember” ( 2 Thess 2:15).
I stumble upon it everytime I find myself in the Word.
I would imagine it is written into that collection of 66 books ,the liturgy, the theology, and the sacraments to point to the fact we forget often - get distracted much…
We forget of our God working in us, around us, through us, (Roman 11:36) and in our world’s history…that events are there for reasons and are to be reflected upon. That there is a logic and purpose to the linearity of events and people’s placements in specific timelines…and there is a great need to remember and to cling to the word…our hope in these things.
There is a single word that resounds in this city. It is a latin word “excelsior” .
I stumble upon it every day on my commute as I look up to the sky and see the buildings rise…
I would imagine it is written into the fabric of our city, the hopes, and dreams to point to the fact that within the heart of man is the desire to move “ever upward” …just like that tower at the beginning of time ( Gen 11:4)…
Move on past, who we were, the success or failures of yesterday, finding out what’s within, and writing a new future…
These two words lie in conflict with one another… “excelsior” and “remember”
We forget… in our pursuit of the present moment the “excelsior” that we only have a vague understanding of our eventual future if we stay this course. Choosing to work in every moment, forgetting the importance to be still -forgetting the heart and the history of man - of ourselves. Forgetting to Remember…
In that pursuit we see the rise and fall of man. We see sin…and the clever devil. We see the numbing of great pain through the vices and many distractions crafted throughout our ages and we can hear the sound of sorrow - the sound of it wailing throughout the loudness of this place. It’s sorrow pervasive for those with any perspective or sober-mindedness.
For someone who is young and still forming thoughts on how to live in this tension- I find myself in the in-between - between the words still in training -The weekend my remembrance - my sabbath…away from the intensity of working and finding within myself “uncommon boldness and unbounded nerve”…coming to the end of tmy week with nothing left to give…feeling on the borderlines of myself most days. The weekdays my excelsior…a very fast paced exciting thing but with a propensity to spiral out of control.
-not that these tensions and these feelings and emotions are new. I have felt the weight of them many times over the course of my short quarter of a life.
But no one told me the weight of the tension the culmination of the beginning of the rest of my life would bring with it such a need for a savior , such a need for the “remember” and rewrite much of a lifetime’s understanding on Him. Finding Him truer more relevant than ever known before.
And in that great struggle you realize the fragility of oneself the fragility of the world He holds together and the resistance forming..the sorrow and tension and battle growing, the desire to be found in prayer growing - and you wonder where is the sound of the wind and where is it going? (John 3:8)
There are battles waged in the mind and heart, motivation, and heart-felt yearning to discover hope. The practical and actual needs of a very needy place, and practical questions about where to even begin?
And I find myself at a loss for words…in so many moments…but slowly finding them in the people and community He has placed around me…a testimony to togetherness forming even if the excelsior must be kept at bay in this “remembering” - this carving and this shaping - this etching and this writing upon the hearts and minds of those who have seen this city know the Lord.
The Father formed this world round His heart
To orbit around the sun and the glowing light of magma beneath.
Roots radiating in a perfect circle round the heart of the earth - His Son who lay beneath
Great darkness set in, and the storm and clouds and the damp despair came.
And to the earth He returned- joining the roots , His flesh and body preserved new in that cave.
Amongst the best attempts of the stones hewn by men. He waited as the world waited…in faith.
And the earth bellowed its hollow melodies - refusing to cave in under the weight of its sorrows, storms, and griefs.
And it remained - supported by the glowing light of He who remained underneath.
His hands aged in praise by His work all those years to set things anew.
His sore frame, spread lifeless - left alone
Echoes in the deep of the Father’s first words growing louder. “let there be light.”
- in whisper and authority into the hollowness - “let there be life after death and darkness”…
I remember over and over my father speaking these words that have stuck in my memory for a while now. “true christianity is lived out in the world” I believe I would speak to his particular perspective and represent it accurately by simply stating that what he saw and sees in the world is a largely cultural christianity and the resulting implication being that practice and study are increasingly separate from one another and it is no easy feat to live out a proper and true christianity in our modern world, balancing that which is required of men - to fight against the culture, our particular form of american christianity largely disconnected between what we do and what we speak as christians.
As I reflect on this piece of wisdom, the year of career, and to a larger extent my life It has truly only been in the first real year of growing up and holding all the things that make one truly fully an adult ( married, career, etc.), out of the years of study into the years of practice, that I have discovered this truth for myself. Discovered the difficulty of living it out : this true and proper christianity in the world.
In lament, I have found myself to be in part what my father observed, that is disconnected between what I’ve studied and come to know that I should be living out and the practice of living it out when it comes to my career and the many multifaceted aspects that need to be balanced in that which is the fully adult life.
As I’ve lamented this fact and been rather stuck in a season of sorrow lately stuck on myself : believing lies about my inadequacies and failures and wondered what to do with it I’ve chosen to not curl up in my little introverted bubble as is the typical response for me and instead although imperfectly I’ve begun the long process of sharing with my wife and the men in my life who inevitably will as time continues on will become those who hold me accountable to the demands of scripture to living out christianity in the world for the good and joy of the world, these realizations and truths.
By there grace and my newfound sober-mindedness, and some realizations I should have come to a long time ago, I’ve come to realize that christianity is lived out in community, in a family that is full of grace and I need them more than I would admit- and I can’t do this alone because like it or not I’m living out christianity in the world in practice no longer in study -and its no small feat. I’m on mission even if I hate the word missionary and I need to walk alongside others to get it right. Which is inevitably what this all boils down to - mission and gospel centered community -what I am doing here in NYC.
As I’ve settled into this fact and my failures to balance all that is required of me and seeking to get over my prideful self in this adult life and truly reflecting on what the word says what this world needs in terms of mission and balance I’ve come to realize that what I believe and what I live out in regards to mission I also can’t do alone , because I’m doing it also poorly. BUT as I reflect its good to be here - because it points to the gospel, to Jesus, as it has never really been before , at least I’ve never seen it lived out in growing up in a cultural christianity and it sheds light into this rather uncharted and these unprecedented things we attempt.
In that sober perspective of oneself and the mission I can see my motivations more clearly, more soberly: knowing that they need to be more in keeping repentance that leads to change and seeing that if I am not doing something it is because I do not want to be doing it- I am called for joy into better things the only way to get there is by letting the spirit speak through those who he has empowered, his sons and daughters.
As I see that, I see that it points to the fact I can’t do it alone and I don’t want to be doing it alone, I find myself discovering that if I am not in the scriptures it is because I can’t handle what it says, because I think somehow I can bare the weight of its truth alone when I see it for what it is - a sword- BUT I can’t - it’s together we can share these weighty commands, weighty burdens share these loads. I find myself discovering that if I am not on my knees in prayer it is because I do not like the position and posture because it reminds me I can’t do this alone. I don’t like brushing up against my inadequacies, inabilities, fears etc. BUT if I truly let those things speak as they are meant to it means someone else has to step into the clean man’s mess and point to a savior who has already come and the truth that I’ve ignored the most wonderful thing ever done for me alongside the weight of it the powerful words confessions of love declarations of never being alone again, spoken into this very lonely world.
I am discovering if I am in sin in thoughts and patterns of life that are off it is because the center is off Jesus. To live in this city means that I’m not living comfortably and I’m not living on my own strength, not living alone- but brushing up where purity and sin collide. Discovering that its worth every ounce, effort and honesty to find yourself not capable and reread the gospels in a different light - feel the love of Christ as it truly is reaching into the mess and bringing forth art and beauty out of what has been destroyed and poisoned. And there in lies the beauty of it. The purpose of it.
It has been such that with each progression of life if I soberly reflect, Practice is different than study and we are all in this process together. I suck at the living out of practice perfectly BUT there is grace and power in the family and in this world- to be a true follower of Christ and to balance also the demands of a career that requires all of yourself, I have found I have not the will and effort to be what I want to be what I know I should be alone. BUT I choose to not doubt the father’s love lavished on me and His desire to do so in this place - this great and very challenging city in which I have brushed up against the borders of myself and brushed up against my sinfulness more than I’ve ever known. And I choose to dare to believe that our great God can do the impossible here in me and in this place and infuse this place with His love and His grace and the knowledge, practice, and the change already underway.
The sins of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson. The sins of Kalamazoo are a convict gray, a dishwater drab. And the people who sin the sins of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson. They run to drabs and grays—and some of them sing they shall be washed whiter than snow—and some: We should worry. Yes, Kalamazoo is a spot on the map
Saturday night is the big night. Listen with your ears on a Saturday night in Kalamazoo And say to yourself: I hear America, I hear, what do I hear? Main street there runs through the middle of the townAnd there is a dirty postoffice
And a dirty city hallAnd a dirty railroad stationAnd the United States flag cries, cries the Stars and Stripes to the four winds on Lincoln’s birthday and the Fourth of July. Kalamazoo kisses a hand to something far off. Kalamazoo calls to a long horizon, to a shivering silver angel, to a creeping mystic what-is-it.
“We’re here because we’re here,” is the song of Kalamazoo. “We don’t know where we’re going but we’re on our way,” are the words. There are hound dogs of bronze on the public square, hound dogs looking far beyond the public square. Sweethearts there in KalamazooGo to the general delivery window of the postoffice
And speak their names and ask for lettersAnd ask again, “Are you sure there is nothing for me?I wish you’d look again—there must be a letter for me.” And sweethearts go to the city hallAnd tell their names and say,“We want a license.”
And they go to an installment house and buy a bed on time and a clockAnd the children grow up asking each other, “What can we do to kill time?”They grow up and go to the railroad station and buy tickets for Texas, Pennsylvania, Alaska.“Kalamazoo is all right,” they say. “But I want to see the world.”And when they have looked the world over they come back saying it is all like Kalamazoo.
The trains come in from the east and hoot for the crossings,And buzz away to the peach country and Chicago to the westOr they come from the west and shoot on to the Battle Creek breakfast bazaarsAnd the speedbug heavens of Detroit. “I hear America, I hear, what do I hear?”
Said a loafer lagging along on the sidewalks of Kalamazoo,Lagging along and asking questions, reading signs. Oh yes, there is a town named Kalamazoo,A spot on the map where the trains hesitate.I saw the sign of a five and ten cent store there
And the Standard Oil Company and the International HarvesterAnd a graveyard and a ball groundsAnd a short order counter where a man can get a stack of wheatsAnd a pool hall where a rounder leered confidential like and said:“Lookin’ for a quiet game?”
The loafer lagged along and asked,“Do you make guitars here?Do you make boxes the singing wood winds ask to sleep in?Do you rig up strings the singing wood winds sift over and sing low?”The answer: “We manufacture musical instruments here.”
Here I saw churches with steeples like hatpins,Undertaking rooms with sample coffins in the show windowAnd signs everywhere satisfaction is guaranteed,Shooting galleries where men kill imitation pigeons,And there were doctors for the sick,
And lawyers for people waiting in jail,And a dog catcher and a superintendent of streets,And telephones, water-works, trolley cars,And newspapers with a splatter of telegrams from sister cities of Kalamazoo the round world over. And the loafer lagging along said:
And an old, old mother will lay a green moss cover on my bonesAnd a green moss cover on the stones of your postoffice and city hall. Best of allI have loved your kiddies playing run-sheep-runAnd cutting their initials on the ball ground fence.
I have loved the white dawn frost of early winter silverAnd purple over your railroad tracks and lumber yards. The wishing heart of you I loved, Kalamazoo. I sang bye-lo, bye-lo to your dreams.I sang bye-lo to your hopes and songs.
Smoke and Steel c. 1922
People Who Must
28. The Sins of Kalamazoo