spoken words of magic…

as i’ve taught my students about spoken word the last few weeks, one of the cool things is to find fresh poems for them to have as examples. i’ve shown them my good friend James Wilson and slam poetry sensations Taylor Mali, Sarah Kay, and Buddy Wakefield. this is a wonderful poem by Buddy. by the way, i’ve been careful to edit for the students. enjoy…


Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars (Hope is Not a Course of Action)

By Buddy Wakefield

If we were created in God’s image
then when God was a child
he smushed fire ants with his fingertips
and avoided tough questions.
There are ways around being the go-to person
even for ourselves
even when the answer is clear
clear like the holy water Gentiles would drink
before they realized
forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past.

I thought those were chime shells in your pocket
so I chucked a quarter at it
hoping to hear some part of you respond on a high note.
You acted like I was hurling crowbirds at mockingbars
and abandoned me for not making sense.
Evidently, I don’t experience things as rationally as you do.

For example, I know mercy
when I have enough money for the jukebox.
You know mercy whenever someone shoves a stick of morphine
straight up into your heart.
It felt amazing
the days you were happy to see me

so I smashed a beehive against the ocean
to try and make our splash last longer.
Remember all the honey
had me lookin’ like a jellyfish ape
but you walked off the water in a porcupine of light
strands of gold
drizzled out to the tips of your wasps.
This is an apology letter to the both of us
for how long it took me to let things go.

It was not my intention to make such a
production of the emptiness between us
playing tuba on the tombstone of a soprano
to try and keep some dead singer’s perspective alive.
It’s just that I coulda swore you had sung me a love song back there
and that you meant it
but I guess sometimes people just chew with their mouth open

so I ate ear plugs alive with my throat
hoping they’d get lodged deep enough inside the empty spots
that I wouldn’t have to hear you leaving
so I wouldn’t have to listen to my heart keep saying
all my eggs were in a basket of red flags
all my eyes to a bucket of blindfolds
in the cupboard with the muzzles and the gauze
ya know I didn’t mean to speed so far out and off
trying to drive your nickels to the well
when you were happy to let them wishes drop

but I still show up for gentleman practice
in the company of lead dancers
hoping their grace will get stuck in my shoes.
Is that a handsome shadow on my breath, sweet woman
or is it a cattle call in a school of fish?
Still dance with me
less like a waltz for panic
more for the way we’d hoped to swing
the night we took off everything
and we were swingin for the fences

don’t hold it against
my love
you know I wanna breath deeper than this
I didn’t mean to look so serious
didn’t mean to act like a filthy floor
didn’t mean to turn us both into a cutting board
but there were knives sstuck
in the words where I came from
too much time in the back of my words.
I pulled knives from my back and my words.
I cut trombones from the moment you slipped away

and I know it left me lookin’ like a knife fight, lady
boy I know it left me feelin’ like a shotgun shell
you know I know I mighta gone and lost my breath
but I wanna show ya how I found my breath
to death
it was buried under all the wind instruments
hidden in your castanets
goddamn –
if you ever wanna know how it felt when ya left –
if ya ever wanna come inside –

just knock on the spot
where I finally pressed STOP

playing musical chairs with your exit signs.

I’m gonna cause you a miracle
when you see the way I kept God’s image alive.

is for anyone who needs safe passage through my mind.

If I really was created in God’s image
then when God was a boy
he wanted to grow up to be a man
a good man
and when God was a man
a good man
He started telling the truth in order to get honest responses.
He’d say,
“I know.
I really shoulda wore my cross
but I don’t wanna scare the gentiles off.”

just thought i’d post this

INVITATION-by Shel Silverstein


If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

that is the definition of community to me. it reminds me of my recreator friends who have gathered in Nashville and Austin the last few years to commune and diffuse great thoughts and ideas. to dream big dreams. they have been my brothers and sisters through great turmoil and minor victories.

i have fond memories of pizza, cigars and amazing beers

heartfelt discussions that often led to tears

singing loud to Gungor as we raised a sound

praying with Ian Cron as communion was found

life long brothers with Louis, Jim and JVo

creating amazing moments with Erik, David and Joe

so as recreate13 kicks off this year

i will miss you my tribe, live with no fear


so the invitation to create was afforded to me for a few years and i am truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part. thanks 


why i write in lower case…

when i started blogging, i wanted to have a “style”. i wanted to write well, but i wanted to do something a little different.

i’ve always admired the work of e.e. cummings(he’s actually my favorite poet, i bought his complete works a few years back). his orthography of not using capitalization or periods has always intrigued me. he’s quite a controversial poet who refused to back down from the subjects he wrote about.  even though he used avant-garde style, his forms were traditional in a sense. he was a master of syntax and many of his poems are actually sonnets.

Critic Edmund Wilson once commented “Mr. Cummings’s eccentric punctuation is, also, I believe, a symptom of his immaturity as an artist. It is not merely a question of an unconventional usage: unconventional punctuation may very well gain its effect… the really serious case against Mr. Cummings’s punctuation is that the results which it yields are ugly. His poems on the page are hideous.” 

to me, that means Mr. Wilson just didn’t understand. he probably didn’t want to spend the time to labor over the beautiful words and tricky word play that makes cummings so wonderful to me.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                            i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

From “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in” (1920) 
so that’s why i write in all lower case. it’s different and it’s an homage to one of my favorite poets. i do use punctuation, but only because i value the “pause”.
i’ll leave you with a few of my favorite cummings quotes.
“always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”
“America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.”
“be of love a little more careful than of anything”

“humanity i love you because when you’re hard up you pawn your intelligence to buy a drink”

“nothing measurable matters”

Psalm 96

i’ve been giving people snippets of Psalms on FB and twitter as i go through the 40 day reading plans in The Voice of the Psalms. it’s a great translation.  today, there’s not enough room to post this whole thing and i didn’t want to put 20 posts up, so i’ll just link to here and you can read the whole thing.

Sing a new song to the Eternal One; Sing in one voice to the Eternal, all the earth.

Sing to the Eternal of all the good things He’s done. Bless His name; broadcast the good news of His salvation each and every day.

Enlighten the nations to His splendor; describe His wondrous acts to all people.

For the Eternal One is great indeed and praiseworthy; feared and reverenced above all gods, the True God shall be.

For all human-made, lifeless gods are worthless idols, but the Eternal plotted the vast heavens, shaped every last detail.

Honor and majesty proceed Him; strength and beauty infuse His holy sanctuary.

Give all credit to the Eternal One, families of the world!

Credit Him with glory, honor and strength!

Credit Him with the glory worthy of His magnificent name; gather your sacrifice, and present it at His temple.

Bow down to the Eternal, adorned in holiness; lay awestruck before Him, trembling, all people of the earth.

Shout out to the nations, “The Eternal reigns! Yes, indeed, the world is anchored and will not shake loose. He governs all people with a fair hand.”

And so, let the heavens resound in gladness! Let joy be the earth’s rhythm as the sea and all its creatures roar.

Let the fields grow in triumph, a grand jubilee for all that live there. Let all the trees of the forest dig in and reach high with songs of joy before the Eternal One, for He is on His way. Yes, He is coming to judge the earth.

He will set the world right by His standards, and by His faithfulness, He will examine the people.

another poem of sorts…

thinking these may be better in a spoken word context.

what are you afraid of?-Chuck Harris: June 2011


do i know how to do that anymore?

or do i crave the ludicracy of safety that’s not even promised

nothing is promised, but i like the illusion

the illusion that i might have control of it all

so i crave the safe, fake reality when what is real doesn’t even enter in

what is real? i can’t imagine

i can’t see

i can’t believe

real things that i actually long for will never happen, or so i think….

but then….

i catch a glimpse of life….life more lived

not a life that is crippled by control and fear

i wonder what it would be like to begin being again

to not just be doing, but to live….really live life

to have a story….to create anew…to live in the moment

to do what i need to be….

to RISK!

felt good to write….

Chains-Chuck Harris: June 2011

is it painful to continue to walk around in these chains?

do they chafe my ankles and wrists enough that i long for them to be gone?

or do they bring some modicum of comfort?

do i continue to allow them to bind me because i’m used to them?

because i can’t imagine life without them, or is it something else?

truly the only reason they’re still clasped to my appendages is because i continue to clamp them back on.

i pick them up. i turn the key. the key i still hold in my hand.

my freedom i hold, but i can’t seem to put it in the lock and let them fall.

they’ve become a part of my comfort.

but am i really comfortable, or am i just afraid?

thought i would write about one of my great loves today…

Old Trafford-Chuck Harris April 13, 2011

Glorious smell of lawn and lager

as the players take the pitch

supporters chant and sing the songs

of the club, a heritage so rich

the sides today are even matched

should be a bloody good game

it’s football played on the most hallowed ground

of Manchester United fame

So Glory, Glory Man United

as songs of heroes current and past

float through the rafters of Old Trafford

and days like this would ever last.


just some musings

a thousand suns cannot outshine a mere glimpse of You

this same glory dwells in me, but i’m so blind and feeble that i miss it.

mere words don’t seem to touch or express all that You really are

even in my most eloquent moments i fall drastically short of even a depiction of you

Your glory shines in every color that i see and every sound that makes it’s way to my ears

yet i often miss it, bored and preoccupied with lesser things.

extraordinary-just taking on the “Resistance”

extraordinary-Chuck Harris 2011

when you stop dreaming, you start dying….what do i make of that?

am i already dead, or was i dead before?

what am i dead to?

am i dead to me, or dead period?

i long to be among the living, to live like i’m meant for something

something bigger than me

am i living in the middle of a movement…or just dwelling in the middle of death

time to get moving….time to dream big

dreams that carry us away, imaginations that run rampant

often i go to that delusional place where i can escape reality and exchange it for a creation of my own

how can the very things that push and drive me also make me pretty much useless

power. creativity. control….reel it in. harness it’s fury.

use it….

to move. to create. to react. to relate.

don’t face reality and become mediocre

create reality and become….extraordinary

i’m writing today

I’m Writing Today- Chuck Harris 2011

i’m writing today.  i don’t really know what will come out, but i’m going to write.

i’m going to write because it makes my head clear. i’m going to write because my heart overflows with it

i’m going to write because i have something to say or nothing to say

i’m going to write because in writing hopefully i’ll uncork the things in my heart that i really want to say

i’m going to write because my tribe has encouraged me to be who i am

i’m going to write because in unleashing pen to paper something happens

i’m going to write because out of creating the habit, quite possibly, magic will happen

i’m going to write because i want to feel alive. i don’t want to just exist. i want to LIVE

i’m going to write because i need to, and actually today, i want to