Yearly Archive 2020

ByKevin Kuzma

A prayer released

From my lips the prayer is released.
I watch it go up on something like angel wings
riding wherever the wind takes it,
but always climbing,
angling,
rising through a patch of clouds
and up into thin, cold air
through the blue
until the blue turns black
entering a fiery barricade and finally passing out into the glare of stars
giving way to darkness
more darkness
until suddenly everything turns bright
goes gold
into … a presence
singing voices
gathered around a throne
creatures worshiping
praying
attending to the source
then over them
where it enters the creator
where he weighs my supplication
and decides whether to grant it blessing
or in its denial, lead me to deeper surrender.
My prayer released from these lips
all the way to His hearing.

ByKevin Kuzma

Undoing our graves

Pilate told his soldiers to make the tomb as secure as they could. I’m sure they followed orders, sealing it off with a barrier no man could ever defy. And yet, on this morning, they found the stone … rolled away. The man who was spit on, beaten and nailed to the cross was gone. His followers and his captors stared at the tomb in wonderment. The Son of God could’ve walked right through the massive stone—leaving the grave sealed. Or, if he wanted, he could have lifted the rock up in the air and smashed it to the ground in a million pieces. But he didn’t. He simply rolled it open and left his burial clothes as a sign. Jesus is risen. And no grave we make for ourselves is ever too great for him to undo.

ByKevin Kuzma

Three days without Jesus

I wonder sometimes what those three days must have been like. After watching him pierced and humiliated came the endless hours and sleepless nights without a Lord and Savior in the world. (Millions of people live like this everyday. I did, for a time.) Before sunrise on Sunday, the Lord kept his promise … he always does. He finished it. Death. Life as a slave to sin. If you aren’t following him, he can end it for you—give you a new life. One worth living. And a heart that causes you to love even the one or ones who pierced you deepest.

ByKevin Kuzma

In your prayers

In the gospel written by Luke (a physician), he mentions that Jesus was in such anguished prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” I imagine every time Jesus prayed, it was fervent prayer—a moment to reconnect with his father. But this night (tonight) he knew all he was going to suffer the next day. Death, Satan himself, and maybe worse than that, the rejection, hatred and betrayal of the very people he came to redeem. Remember that in your prayers tonight. Remember that … whenever you pray.

ByKevin Kuzma

A poem written in my bathtub

Of course, it depends on the woman. But generally speaking, it’s not looks or money or anything material. The desire isn’t a certain lifestyle or destination, the aptitude or potential of a man. The longing is for one different than the others. Who knows what no other man knows. She wants a man willing to exchange souls: a man stripped down to his core. Keeping no secrets, dedicated to her heart. And when she finally finds it, she passes her soul on—to the man whose window light clears her morning fog. He hears her. Available and near her. This all runs contrary to what a man is. The brute at his core who savages. Collects bodies. Conquers prey. We were devised this way. Both, one born from his rib. A Creator’s hands shaped us and we set ourselves at odds. But when the impossible aligns and souls go floating, the perfection He intended cannot be broken by any man, especially the commoner.

ByKevin Kuzma

Poor penmanship

Better than a padlock
or security alarm
is the garbled handwriting
with which I keep my journals.
Printed in faint pencil lead,
the words go
from margin to margin,
(crossover margins)
to the edge
of the notebook page.
Front and back,
the hard-pressed words
push through
to the other side
of the paper.
My dreams lean
helplessly
on blue lines.
Each entry
tells a fantasy.
Gives confession.
Each entry
arranged by date.
You are welcome
to come read
them sometime.
You are welcome
to try
to make them out.
But you can’t.
They are hand-written
poorly
with intent.
A soul poured out
on paper
yet still cannot be read.
Any decent writer knows:
you give it all away,
day after day.
But there is that one bit
no one can get at.
No one can reach.
You keep it for yourself,
whether it is worth something
or not.

ByKevin Kuzma

On the way to church

Ahead, a car flinches as its brake lights slam red.
From nowhere, a hawk comes gliding across the country highway.
First, the two northbound lanes.
Then, the median of dead grass.
Then, the southbound lanes.
And finally, over to the bare tree branches at the edge of the wood.
The branches bend under its weight as it flutters its wings closed and finds its perch.
In a moment, the ruckus is over and the traffic immediately resumes its rush.
I drive on, my mind still in the tree branches and open air with the hawk,
looking down on the strange flow of machines.
Unbridled by laws, by lanes, by time.
Wild and free from the rest of us animals.

ByKevin Kuzma

Drive down to Wichita

On the drive down to Wichita:
The last dead days of February beginning to blossom.
Rolling prairie and mounded hills ready to green.
The surviving winter birds and the first of spring circle over bare trees.
Road going on and on, the entire countryside fenced into fine squares.
So many times I’m drawn to pull over and walk into it all.
Sun-covered hills and not a soul in sight.
Just passing cars and diesels and trucks, going and going to someplace.
I think about Ginsberg and his poetry reading in Wichita.
Pass the home of William Allen White.
The prairie is full of great poets.
The words are riding on the clouds and thick in dusty wind gusts.
I roll down my window and let them glide through my fingers.
No one wants to read anything real anymore.
No one wants to read truth.
In comes the arm and up goes the window.
I have caught enough words.
The last poet on the plains.

ByKevin Kuzma

Moderation

Not too much, the Lord says. Not too much. Moderation. Pace. Your time will come when I say so. He keeps me this way. Tempered. Living life. Developing my faith. Careful not to give it all to me, because he knows what l’ll do with it. I’d spoil it. On women. On riotous living. You know, a real prodigal son wasting his inheritance. And so I keep my heart open and put the words down. What he teaches me goes deep into my soul and comes out through my fingertips. I walk the streets an unknown. In perfect seclusion. A poet of our Lord, writing the words he gives to me to share. Never given an ego to trip over. Never trying to swallow too much success. Life with him is moderation. Balance. So I take the ills with every step forward. I owe everything I am to him, which is not too much, and never too little.

ByKevin Kuzma

Morning coffee

The boy didn’t seem to notice that his mother looked lifeless. She sat rigid at the table in the coffee shop, unblinking and lost in a deep stare. If I’d seen her on the streets and not sitting in this Starbucks just a few minutes after its doors opened, I would have thought her dead. But she was alive—just entranced by her depression. Or maybe reliving the horrific realities that brought her and her son to this moment.

I was traveling on business that day in Emeryville, Calif., and stopped for coffee with some business contacts as we walked toward the office. The place was already full of customers and every table was occupied, including a few with the obviously destitute.

One homeless man sat alone with a drink of his own. His face was lit by the sharp, orange glow of the new day angling through the windows. Once he caught my attention, I began filling in his backstory on my own. He likely slept all night out on the bay, where the temperatures dipped into the upper 40s, and he was finding his first real warmth in several hours from his steaming coffee.

This man was also oblivious to the business around him, but he was clearly with it and alive. His eyes blinked. He moved his hands around his coffee cup and he occasionally looked down at it and lifted it to his mouth to take a drink. I carried my coffee past him and waited at the end of the bar for my friends to pick their orders, and that’s when I saw the woman and her boy.

She wore a beige trench coat that showed the dirt from sleeping out on the streets. Her skin was deep-dark brown and her hair was pulled back and tucked into a pink hat that resembled a towel-wrap she’d spun halfheartedly around her head after bathing. I couldn’t guess her age, but I thought her to be much younger than she appeared.

Her son sat to her left, leaning over a drawing book. He was maybe 10 years old. He balanced himself with his left arm and made long, elaborate pencil movements with his free hand. I was glad he was occupied and that his attention was diverted from his mom. Her eyes were lifeless and dull like unpolished marbles, and her facial expression was locked into a combination of physical agony and a sick hypnosis. And she never moved, not even a slight lean, for the several minutes I observed her.

The boy continued moving his body with his pencil strokes, shifting to one side or the other and pursing his lips in concentration, but that did nothing to break up her stare. I was instantly haunted by her. If this had been my own city where I’ve done work with the homeless before, I might have felt less helpless. When I worked downtown, I carried packaged food, bottled water and Bibles to hand out. I almost never gave money and it didn’t occur to me to buy them another coffee so they could prolong their stay. I did nothing but look at them and wonder what would come next. Where would they go? Would they stay together? Did she have enough life left to care for the boy? I just didn’t know.

After a few minutes, my friends and I had our coffees and we stepped out into the new morning to get on with our purpose there. This moment I just described occurred about three weeks ago, and I still wonder about those two, mother and son. I read a headline today that said California is home to about half of the United State’s homeless population. I believe it. They are everywhere in San Francisco Bay area, lining sidewalks and pushing shopping carts. The warmer temperatures and relax law enforcement have to be the draws.

In scripture, there is place in 2 Samuel when David begins to feel uneasy that he is living in a palace and the Lord’s Ark of the Covenant, which he has just re-acquired in battle, is resting outside in a tent. When he determines to build a temple for the Ark, the Lord tells David, “I have never lived in a house …” I read this passage in 2 Samuel 7:6 last night and it reminded me of what I saw on the streets of my hometown when I would hand out food, water, and occasionally Bibles. The Lord has his hand on the homeless. He protects them and rescues them on the coldest nights when they couldn’t possibly survive on their own. Many of the people I met on the streets were Christ followers and more than once I stood silently while one of them preached their own street sermon to me. God puts his own roof over their heads—a veil of protection that deepens my belief in him.

All this time later, a thousand miles separating me from that coffee shop, and my thoughts still tell me to worry about that woman and her son. My faith, though … my faith, tells me something different.