Something Wonderfully Wrong

What a lovingly honest story. And delightfully put together

Mitch Teemley

trudy2-1982I met this girlwho loved God and Shakespeare (in that order). She was smart. Creative. And as pretty as English china. Outwardly decorous, inwardly stubborn—Jane Austen meets the Rebel Alliance. I thought I’d found heaven. I had and I hadn’t. At first we flared up like a firework stand, but then we got scared and put on our flak jackets.

We were a mismatch. She was a soft-spoken church girl who’d secretly turned away from God, then privately clawed her way back to Him; I was a former atheist with too much personality and a very public passion for God. But somehow we thought we could make it work. Same God, same Shakespeare, and yet it wasn’t enough. After two tumultuous years of dancing in flak jackets, we gave up. We’d apparently done something wrong.

Four months later I ran into her at the same coffee house we’d gone to…

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If we were having coffee today…

I we were having coffee today, I’d tell you how I spilled coffee all over the leather couch at my doctor’s . I’d sheepishly admit it got all over my butt and upper thigh. I cleaned the mess and high-tailed it to the restroom where I stuck my butt as high as I could in front of the wind blower.  The air rushed on but only when I held my fingers under the fan as well.  Luckily, I was wearing brown so if it stained, once dried it didn’t show.

I’d sigh and, with a bit of remorse, tell how I also had bought my two favorite pastries at Au Pan Bon, where I go every time I see my Doctor in his Hartford office.  I’m grateful that isn’t too often for I’m trying, albeit sometimes  defeating the push to loose weight.  And that was before 9 AM.

Water Pump

There is so much irony in this world. In some places, families and communities live without this so precious commodity. Though two thirds of the Earth is water bound, it is not evenly distributed. Wells run dry, underground water tables move or get over used. Water is but a myth to some. Mismanagement creates contaminated, lead based pipes, pollution. Dams steal water from where it is vitally needed.

I gaze at this pump. Old, rusted, making clear water unattainablel with a much newer locked. In the midst of well managed and preserved waterways, there still is no water to be had. The new lock has so much to say …


Among the Food Lines

food line in winterThe line is long – 200 deep
some people  standing here for 2 hours
shifting foot to foot
sitting on cold cement
mostly quiet although some know
each other way back chatter away

An amorous couple
display their affections
to the ire of those around them
she plies her wares among those
with a few dollars to spare

Mentally challenged
follow steps they’ve taken
0ver and over again
sad, sometimes angry,
depends on whether they
have medications to take.

Drug addled young people
laughing, jumping, in their cliques,
checked out of traditional paths
sleeping bags strapped to their backs
pandering for spare cash

An old man talking
about his campsite at the river
off the beaten path
the squirrels and birds he feeds
comfortable and safe

men with hard eyes and tough frowns
others sad – no jobs available
mothers keeping children close
families struggling –
without the lines – nothing

Physically challenged
approach lines in walkers, with canes,
one man has motorized wheelchair
he rides around town with.
some stumbling, limping, in casts
many lack medical coverage
to assist glaring needs

Old woman curled in her tattered blankets
bothering no one
no home to go to
hoping the shelter
will have a bed tonight

These are the ones
not too proud for hand outs
so many others go without
but won’t associate with
the poor unworthy
who go home with food

Trivial Pursuits

There is an utter senselessness
in trivial pursuits,
a numbing of the senses,
filling the void with the mundane,to pass the day,
dulling the churning of subconscious,
until sleep is a final cessation.

Racing to the pointless errands,
dallying with lovers you know will not do,
washing clothes endlessly
to carelessly be work and easily discarded,
reading pointless articles
on meaningless subjects,
only to say you have read them.

Perhaps the trivial pursuits
do indeed have a purpose . . .
for in the doing of them
we no longer have to think,
to reason, to feel free from the depths,
to take  definitive action,
to make a stand for your convictions,
to look within, discover your soul,
and own it.

For it is in the owning of your soul,
that accountability lies,
when you can no longer hide
behind rationalizations and justifications
that pass for answers, for the reasons
which make up your very existence.
Better yet to squander the moments away
than to stand and be counted
as a person of worth.
,than to stand and be counter

Passover – Who would I be?

When he rode the donkey into Jerusalem that fateful week,
would I have been one of the palm wavers,
dancing before him, singing psalms of his glory,

Or would I have been the cynical one,
or one too reserved to let loose my inner craving for him
and to bless him for all he had done.

Would I be a pot stirrer, easily swayed by Pilate’s men
to decry him, to rabble the crowds against him.
to cheer as he was whipped and beaten.

Was it foretold I would be Judas, his betrayer?
Would I run and hide as Peter, denying my intimacy to him?
Or refuse to watch as he was tried for crimes unknown.

Would I have been Simon the Cyrene, the man who picked up his cross,
shouldering a burden he was too weak to do all by himself.
Or perhaps faithful Mary Magdalene,  following his footsteps to Golgotha

After the betraying, violence, cruelty I participated in,
would I then grow quiet and cry watching him move in such pain.
Or have cheered for Barabbas, the murderer, to be released rather than the King?

I want to say “Of course I would be faithful!
But as human nature would have it,  I could have been the good Jew
that jeered and plotted and planned, scared of new thoughts and feelings.

Could I have opened my mind enough to accept the New Path,
and act against traditions millennia old, that my ancestors revered?
Could I have the strength of purpose to preach, to spread this new religion?

Or would I have done nothing, nothing at all . . .



Broken crystal shattered on the floor
prisms of light blinking blinking out – forever gone –
as darkness slips over the furniture, around corners,
swallowing whole remnants of refracted glitter –
so lie the pieces of my heart.

As a child, night terrors were sent scurrying
by the broad sweep of my father’s arms –
bringing back the crystal sheen of safety and warmth,
his finger gently wiping away tear’s glistening on my cheeks,
letting me know there was one person in that terrifying world
who could send monsters scurrying away from beneath the bed.

Here, an orphan of middle-age extraction,
with no Daddy to wipe my tears
I stand helpless, my fumbling fingers quivering
as I stumble upon shards of glass
raggedly thrusting into my darkness
as I look for answers to age-old questions.

Not able to strike a flint
to illuminate the deep chasm of midnight’s void,
or encourage the wisp of a kerosene flame
to thrust back the clammy darkness
of a cavern’s awesome void,
that echoes in the
space of my childhood heart.

I lost the flare –
I can move through the motions well enough,
but, my feet torn jagged
from slivers unseen in the dark,
my child staring with eyes that can’t see –
sharp edges, piercing through the deep,
to stab the tender spaces of my soul.


You never heard me,
Nor I, perhaps, you.
words were disjointed, convoluted,
twisted, obscure,
making no impression on the other.

All those many words,
a decade’s worth,
and still we couldn’t hear . . .
So now our words
are born witness
through the lips
of an interpreter
in weekly sessions.

Can you hear me now?
Or are you still
hearing me speak in tongues?

Lessons from Mother

As a child I learned the rage
of a woman whose life
had been supplanted
by the needs of others.

I fearfully watched, tiptoed,
practiced walking so my footfalls
left no sound, the prints left no trace
so as not to provoke, to bring attention.

This woman whose life
held more horrors than mine,
which had twisted her soul,
corrupted her heart,
so she had no choice
save to learn the ways of men
and do them better . . .
It was her only hope.

But I find no solace
in the answers of men.
Life seems too bleak, too crushing,
when lived by their ways.

Yet those are the ones
which grew in me,
teaching harshness,
anger for anger,
pain for pain.

My children sleep in their beds,
seeking my lightness of touch,
begging for my arms to
encircle them in warmth
so they are strengthened
and approach life
with love and balance.

The richness of their potential,
of the beautiful spirits
resting within them,
cannot be wasted
on the futility of looking without.
They cannot be destroyed
by angry eyes and venomous words
which crush fragile spirits
before they are buds
meant to bloom.

Let my anger become love.
Let my pain be the understanding
inherent in their nurturing.
Let me be the softest of blankets
They can wrap themselves in
To blossom and grow
Without the burdens
Their foremothers carried within.

Thoughts in Solitude

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain
Where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that
I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am
Actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
Does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that
I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that
Desire. And I know, if I do this, You will lead me by the
Right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I
Will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the
Shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and
You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

This is one of my favorite prayers.  It has always brought me comfort in times of need.

Maybe we were all born for one moment.

Richard Zimmer   “The Seventh Gate”