• Where God Hides

     

    Between the inhale and the exhale
    lies a house where God dwells.

     

    He rests in the lull after
    the prayer and before the amen,

     

    and curls up in the darkness
    between the match strike and the flame.

     

    He reclines in the crevice
    made by gently-held hands

     

    as well as in the instant
    between eye-close and kiss.

     

    Sometimes He hides in the furrows
    among ripples on a pond

     

    or in the head of a candle snuffer—
    yellow glow turned to smoke.

     

    Even a ubiquitous God
    has His favorite hiding places

     

    where He prefers to spend time
    while he’s also everywhere else.

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  • St. Dominic’s Patio Chair

     

    I have spent hundreds of hours
    praying in the blue patio chair
    in my office—across from the bookcase

     

    filled with rolls of duct tape and fishing
    gear and a tub of spackling paste. Plastic
    mesh pulled tight between powder-coated

     

    metal arms and legs—arms just far enough
    apart so my elbows don’t touch them
    when my hands are folded in my lap.

     

    Hands lie nestled one inside the other,
    fingers never intertwined; bare feet
    shifting back and forth on the carpet

     

    like grazing animals, until they find
    their perfect spot. Is it a paradox
    to find my sweet Lord’s presence

     

    in a place designed for drinking beer
    between games of cornhole? I wonder
    if the chair misses its compatriots, exiled

     

    outside in the rain around the umbrella
    table. Perhaps it is they who think
    the indoor chair has been exiled.

     

    St. Dominic surely would have included
    my chair in his nine ways of prayer,
    had he sat in it for only a few minutes—

     

    inserting the chair sitting position between
    standing erect with arms outstretched
    and reaching towards heaven like an arrow.

     

    When I get to Heaven and find
    a place prepared for me, I hope
    that place has a blue patio chair,

     

    for there are times when I imagine
    worshiping God for all eternity
    sitting in this chair. And I hope

     

    in Heaven, I meet St. Dominic
    so he can try my chair and comment
    how comfortable it is and how his

     

    elbows don’t touch the arms, as I watch
    his feet graze the floor before settling in.
    But for today, the chair and the bookcase

     

    and the rain outside are mine, as I sit
    with the Lord, my soul resting
    in a chair disposed to prayer.

    One Thing Remained

     

    Thumbs pressed firmly on his eyelids,
    fingers wrapped over his ears,
    while the crowd rustled and murmured
    amid the sweat and dust.

     

    Why had he answered, “yes,” when asked,
    “Do you believe I can do this?”
    He didn’t know if he really believed
    or simply had a desperate longing—

     

    if there was even a difference
    between the two. For seventeen years
    he had grasped at straws; deceived
    by both physicians and Pharisees.

     

    When the stranger said, “Let it be
    done for you according to your faith,”
    the man wondered if it was mercy
    or if he was being mocked for his lack

     

    of conviction; having so often been taunted.
    Memories swelled—dreams of the torrent
    of light that might again fill his body.
    With eyes still shut, he feared hope—

     

    as the years had taught him to fear it.
    Yet only one thing remained: To open
    with even the smallest scrap of trust,
    expecting brilliant blaze or enduring night.

    God Whispers

     

    When I told you My love was so great
    that I wanted to spend eternity with you,

     

    I didn’t mean an eternity at some far-off time,
    as if everlasting life was a clock wound

     

    by your death. Eternity began the day
    I conceived your soul—on that day,

     

    I unfurled within you, long before your birth;
    long before you first saw the world.

     

    Yet you forget our eternity is well underway,
    squandering our time as you imagine me

     

    in some far-off place, aloof and hidden.
    From your conception, no time will ever separate us;

     

    not a second of your earthly life or thereafter.
    You always have been and always will be

     

    Mine.

    Hanger Shirts

     

    Each year before school started, mother led
    him to the store, through the men’s department,

     

    past the boys’ clothing to the back room
    with the faded cardboard sign that said:

     

    Irregulars.

     

    He didn’t know what made him irregular—
    perhaps it was the birthmark on his left leg

     

    or the cowlick of hair he had to smash down
    with water each morning before the bus came.

     

    Heaps of clothing lay tangled in large gray bins,
    not possessing the common courtesy to line up

     

    for easy inspection on wooden hangers.
    Some pieces tried to escape over the bin edges

     

    and onto the floor, as if not even the shirts
    and pants wanted to associate with him.

     

    His mother plunged her arms deep
    into piles of cloth, like a scuba diver hunting

     

    for sunken treasure, trying to find a pearl
    that had gone undetected by other shoppers.

     

    As she grumbled, “awful button holes”
    and “horrible seam stitching,”

     

    he anxiously raised his eyes to see
    if any of the other customers had noticed

     

    he was irregular—the sign suspended
    from the ceiling like a lighthouse beacon,

     

    warning the richer families to stay away.
    He knew it was too much to wish

     

    for a hanger shirt: a shirt neatly pressed
    and arranged by size on a shiny metal rack.

     

    He had once asked his mother about hanger shirts
    but she had just shot him a look he knew meant

     

    he should be quiet and forget that question.
    Standing in front of the clothing bin, his head

     

    bowed, all thought of hope and hangers
    slipped away until a pair of pants hit him

     

    in the ribs, pressing his pendant Crucifix
    into his chest—the form of one irregular boy

     

    leaving its impression on another. And he heard
    his mother say, “Try those on in the fitting room.”