Upon Seeing a Child Succeed

O silent Maker
Of my fragile heart

Thank you
for the bright, brief gift
of this borrowed soul.

We are blessed:

What wisdom is his!

With but a brief cry
Of complaint,
His soul
Set out again
Toward the mountain
He had
But recently climbed.

Let this child come to know
That it is your love
Which fills the lungs,

Your sparks
That light
The way.

Breathe into
This one
The presence of peace;
Let his hands work your will.

Your gift to me
Is your gift to him:
The strength
To move,
Full of sacred fire,
Aware of wonder,
Borne again
And always
Toward you.

--Mr. Gobley


When Other People Are Annoying

They breathe heavily.
They exude troubling odors.
They misunderstand you.
On purpose.

They lay traps.

They value dross,
Consume much,
And make prodigious waste.

They revolve around
Their imagined selves.

The world is their miniseries.

What does one do?
From where does one summon
The strength,
The equanimity,
The forgiveness;

The lofty traits of the

Whom to invoke?
Beelzebub, to impale
This fool
On the tines of his own

Jehovah, the vengeful Old Testament
To rattle this flea's
Empty skull?

Joan of Arc,
To win in righteousness
Or die at the stake
Of principle?

Or do we

Breathe and keep

i am sick
unto death
of blame
and vilification.

Anyone who wishes
To do me harm
Has already done so.

And so,
i must forgive,
Because in forgiving
i deprive them of drama,
And begin a new narrative.

Their unction is
My unguent:

i am healed.

My shoulders groan
With the yoke
Of their burden,

And yet the legs
Of my spirit
Grow strong.

--Mr. Gobley



i want to fight.

i confess it:
i feel my ribs
electric hatred
humming along
my blood vessels,
and i want
to stand
before one who will
cross me,
vex me,
dare me:

i want to strike.

Sometimes --
just now and then --
i am rushed by
rock-jawed brutes
in my brain
who want to
"settle things."

Their world
is a litigious

They push my heart up
through the ribs
and lower
a veil of blood
over my pupils

and all i can see

i watch
Inner Brute --
a companion
known to many men --

i hear his heel
strike the chin
of my tormentor,
i feel his knuckles
the cheekborne
of the oppressor --

and i realize
that all the world
is flowing through me --

So large,
this world,
so infinite
in its energies --
and sometimes,
this is the frequency
on which i come to rest:

that of battle.

i move on down
the cosmic dial,
and i do not wait for
or wait upon

the warrior.

He lives in me,
but i do not live in him.

i will embrace all of you
encircle you with my arms
and breathe you
deep into my lungs

and then,
my blood will know
the richness
of your ire.

i will not be danced upon --
not as long as i can
sing of you,
great heart
of compassion.

Beat on,
great heart.
Beat out
the rhythm
of time's ascent

Remove the barbed hook
from my heart
and my song will
never end.

-- Mr. Gobley


An Open Letter to God

i silently rail
at your quiet

i quake inwardly
at your omnipresence

i cannot reconcile the two:
why are we left

to destroy each other
with stories about you?

why are we made too loud
to hear your deafening quiet?

i wait to be pierced with certainty,
and yet i already know:

you are as evident and intangible
as breath,

certain as gravity,
as flammable as fear.

if we were any more certain,
we would cease to be.

why must we teeter toward you,
dancing on our wire,

shouting blood
shaking fists

sobbing, uncertain,
knowing and not knowing,

desperate for company
we cannot have,

imprisoned in this hermitage
to which we cannot return?

i rise toward you from the kingdom
of the unjust

i howl at you
from the crypt of compassion

i tear at your robe
with my teeth

deranged by
tsunamis of suffering.

Tell me:
if i seal myself in quiet,

will you come?

if i tune my soul
to your voice,

will you speak?

Will i finally

--Mr. Gobley


a friend in weakened light

we sat for hours,
in squares of light
the weak blue of skim milk --
over coffee in the morning,
beer in the evening,
dinner at night.

his monologue of heartbreak
would not end.

the love of his life
had kicked him
to the curb --

a writing table,
a stereo, a coffee maker,
and a set of towels

were all he could
summon the energy to take.

It is three years later;
he has not mended.

He had thought of suicide --
said he looked into buying
a gun,

then told himself:
Ah, the hell with it.
Too much work.

i spent two days
with him.
We warmed
our hands
at the hearth
of his melancholy.
i spoke
when he asked me to.

At the end of our visit,
he hugged me --
we trembled with the
force of the embrace,
ribs touching,
breath held --
a couple of slaps
on the back,
the way men will.

As i drove away,
there was snow in the hills,
fog in the valley.

On the branches of
the hemlock,
drops of indecisive ice
paused in mid-melt
to consider what had passed,
and to refract the
of our friendship
back into
the healing heavens.

--Mr. Gobley


Taught by Trees

with my little calumnies,
i am an arch-villain.

My sins
throw the world
from its orbit;
my loose lips
sink ships
with wisdom,
ships bound
for my shores
with a cargo
of glory.

from cube
to cube,
i become
a cube,
built to contain
all that is not
worth containing,
bent on completing
that which is never

Then, i go outside.

A winter wind
atomizes the rain,
punishes my eyeballs
for the gift of sight,
hurls coffee cups,
rolls trash can lids.

The detritus
of humanity
is whisked away.

But the evergreens,
bending and sighing,
even in a gale,
clearly love
being trees.

Puddles shiver and dance.
Boughs and bushes
in ecstasy
at the effortlessness
of the struggle
to exist.

That pure Nature
Of being,
to which
we once subscribed,
is their sap,
their soul.

returning from
the blasted heath,
my cheeks aflame
with cold,
i revisit
my manifold

they are tiny,
for birds of blame
to gather and sow
in other,
darker fields.

--Mr. Gobley


Getting It Right

in the hum and hubbub
of my work
thoughts and prayers
as if in amber --

they pause

and harden
into moments;
they look at me
until i look back.

Today, a seared and scoured
memory of lost love --
ancient history
for which i
have not
forgiven myself --

Not like amber, though;
it was regurgitated
at the shore
of my consciousness
and announced by
the crashing wave
that delivered it.

this nettled gasp
of understanding
stuck in my chest:

i had hurt someone
i was afraid
of not "getting it right"

and then ashamed
of getting it wrong.

Was i so new to being fallible,
that my shame should
burn this brightly?

Was i protecting
a spiritual no-hitter
into the late innings?

Sadly, no.

My fear
is the swimmer's
solemn dread
of the open ocean,

the pilot's resolve
as his craft rises to meet
the rowdy Spring sky,

and the mountain goat's
grudging respect
for the cliff.

All will eventually fall.

And i,
will i one day,
having fallen from grace
yet again,
learn to
fall with the grace
of forgiveness of self?

It is,
after all,
the only path to
Getting It Right.

--Mr. Gobley