by Hal Dendurent


Washing Dishes

I don't much enjoy putting them away,
returning them to routine places, stored
where they can easily be found by one
who does the cooking, though reluctantly.

But washing them is pleasure. I mean by hand.

Not simply for the warm and ready suds,
but for the messy forks and spoons and knives,
smeared platters, scrubby pots and pans;
and dainty vessels, children's plastic cups,
plates, bowls, and tea cups, glasses, mugs,
and all the detritus of vanished meals.

Who cares that I must pile them on the mat
to dry them, leaning plates together, balanced
with caution on small bowls, precariously
astride the counter, stealing space, unlike
the neatly ordered load so safely hid
inside the dishwasher?

Yes, that is more convenient, and, I own,
dishes get cleaner. But it's soulless, boring,
everyday. Of course, I use it daily.

But even so I find it calmly pleasing
To clean the heavy mixing bowls and beaters
that spawned the cake, and the gigantic pan
which housed the turkey, and the dish that held
cheesy potatoes that my daughter brought.

For this is what it comes to, in the end:
I wash the dishes for all those who eat.

The Old Man

The old man walks his dog,
leaning on his walker
in the morning cold.
The wan sun
will later dissipate the chill.
He shuffles on and
reaches home,
opens the door,
takes off his hat and coat,
settles in,
drinks coffee,
watches TV.
The dog, meanwhile,
settled in its cozy nest,
dreams outside joys
and wags its tail.

Hanging Sheets

Sunny, perfect wind,
happy glittering leaves,
heat gone east,
it really isn't that bad hanging sheets.
Clothespin bodyguards
save eager pillowcases from a fall;
the clothespin bag awaits a later hour,
when bodyguards return at last to rest.
Worse jobs, and many,
wait a later day.

Border Collie

She chases
whatever runs; and her eerie eye
halts quickly ever gently erring lambs
both black and white, as she is. Frayed, restrained,
they grumble bahs, but she, respectful,
guides them firmly, gently,
with outbursts digging broadpawed after them,
asserting wisdom, knowledge of their ways, and power,
yet loving those dumb creatures, loving them,
she never nips. She loves those silly sheep
she teaches.


Millions of leaves are scattered on the ground;
fall's leaves pile up to test the hapless rake.
Neighbors abjure the rake, and fire up
their blowers, scooting the leaves toward the curb,
piling them up to await the pickup day,
for it is banned to burn them in the city.


Red cars that highway cops will stop.
Stop signs that warn,
while brake lights ease the risk.

Fall's leaves pile up
to test the hapless rake.

Red rubies grace a sovereign's crown.

Hell's fire is red, so Dante says,
Christ's blood is holy crimson.
The priest dons martyrs' garments on holy days.
Prelates parade in cardinal array.

Red lava scorches land
and steams the sea.

Rosarians cultivate roses,
including red ones.

April Days

April days in November are nice but mysterious;
Record polar ice melts, not so much.
Floods and tornadoes, out of season, out of place;
species moving north, wine grown in more northern latitudes.
Denial for political purposes. Whoa!
"Higher Temperatures.
More Droughts.
Wilder Weather.
Changing Rain and Snow Patterns.
Less Snowpack.
Melting Glaciers.
Shrinking Sea Ice.
Thawing Permafrost."
Facts drawn from five seconds of Google search.

Being able to say Yes

Being able to say Yes to past present and future,
recognizing that there is only Present,
that God has a plan for me,
that it is what is predestined for me,
and that I am completely free to make of it what I will;
To accept it or reject it,
to accept God or reject God;
To fight against it or accept it,
to go with the flow or struggle against it,
to have my way or find my way;
To make it or break it or fake it, or take it;
To see and understand things as they are
and also perhaps with God to co-create things as they are with me;
To find my true self, what God made, and
to find my way back to my maker,
and to become one, in being with my Creator,
losing myself to Godsself, for Godssake,
and this not for sometime, but for now, Now.

Hounding Heaven

With each breath I call to you, my Lord,
Hasting to find you, searching high and low,
Bending my body-mind-and-spirit, sole
In this soul purpose, seeking after you.

Why do you spurn me, oh my precious one?
Have I not sought to do your holy will?
Will you not answer, calling me by name,
And show the way that I may know your love?

But why do I insist upon your love
As if you worshipped, acted in my name!?!
I must be still. For not my human will
But yours be done.

I would that we were one;
Yet as you will, the manner is from you.

Oh mighty Godhead, quiet, calm my soul.
Empty my anxious heart and bring me low.

Do your own sweet work in me, dear Lord.

When You Come

Advent Hymn

Lord, your people wait for your coming,
And we long to look on your face.
Bring us peace and justice and mercy
When you come.

Your sweet wisdom teaches us prudence,
May we all grow wise in your ways;
May we sit at your feet as you teach us
When you come.

You were sent to be our redeemer,
With your arms open wide in your love.
We will follow your law in contentment
When you come.

Root of Jesse, deliver us swiftly
From the pains of the world we now know;
Set us free from death and affliction
When you come.

Key of David, you open the prison
Of the darkness in which we now sit.
We shall know the blessings of freedom
When you come.

From the east your light comes upon us,
And your brightness conquers the night.
Sun of Justice, we wait for your glory
When you come.

King of nations, you can unite us
And cause all our divisions to cease;
We shall walk as sister and brother
When you come.

Come and save us, Emmanuel, Jesus,
Come again and rule over the earth.
We'll rejoice and sing praises forever
When you come.

Lord, your people wait for your coming,
And we long to look on your face.
Bring us peace and justice and mercy
When you come.

By the Waters of Babylon


By the waters of Babylon we sat and wept,
As we remembered Zion.


Our captors required of us a song:
They said, "Sing us a song of Zion!"
But how could we sing Yahweh's song
In that strange land?


That strange land was a place of our own making:
We were brought there -- but then we left the Lord.
We thought we could live lives of ease
Without the Lord!


But God, full of grace and love and patience,
Refreshed our souls and turned our hearts to him.
And now we desire the Lord again
To sing his praise!


Arise now, and come with me to Zion.
We will return to the God who made and loves us,
And sing all his songs once again
In His own land!

Our Call


Oh Lord, you are good, and we want to return
All the blessings that you've given us.
But how shall we know what you want from us now?
Lord, how can we know our call?

Our call is here, our call is now.
Our call is to love one another and strive
To bring glory to the name of the Lord.

Lord Jesus, you came to be with us on earth,
And you showed us the way we should live.
Please give us the strength to be like you, oh Lord;
Help us to accept our call.

Our call is here, our call is now.
Our call is to love one another and strive
To bring glory to the name of the Lord.

Lord, we have been blessed with abundance and wealth;
You have given us comfort and peace.
May we look on the ones who have much less than we.
Help us gladly to act on our call.

Our call is here, our call is now.
Our call is to love one another and strive
To bring glory to the name of the Lord.

The light of the world is not something to hide,
But to share, so that all might see.
We love you, oh Lord, we rejoice in your grace.
Lead us now as we reach out by your call.

Our call is here, our call is now.
Our call is to love one another and strive
To bring glory to the name of the Lord.

I know you by the pixels on my screen

I know you by the pixels on my screen,
the bits of light that constellate the words
you write, your thoughts and moods that always seem
so like my own, both brilliant and absurd.

Your insight gives me strength, reminding me
that I am not alone, and that the dawn
I’m seeking (and you too) so restlessly
will come, and we will both behold the sun.

Bright light that warms in winter always brings
relief to us dark refugees of night
who shudder, lonely, try to stretch our wings,
take hold, leap up, achieve some sort of flight.

It is your light, extended generously
that kindles mine, and now we both can see.

The Other Woman

Sometimes I see your lovely smile in hers,
So fresh, spontaneous, gladly greeting me;
Sometimes she utters tender, loving words
That swell my breast with what was meant to be;

Like yours, her lips caress mine, warm and whole;
Embracing, we’re imprisoned and set free;
We do become one body and one soul,
One seamless substance, bound eternally.

Yet there is no confusion in my mind,
Or guilt in loving both of you as one,
Or fear that you might know of her, and find
Reproachful remedies, and then be done.

The other is the one with whom I live.
You are the other woman whom I love.