Thursday, December 28, 2017

Defining a Poem

by Jim Rapp

A poem: a picture, framed
with care to capture flames
or snowflakes in its sphere
to tease the reader’s eye, and ear.

A poem: a picture, drawn
with care to capture sun
and shadow in its plane
and leave the reader to explain.

A poem: a picture guised
in haste with cultured lies –
a subtle subterfuge –
with honey added to diffuse.

A poem: a picture, sketched
in sighs and yawns that stretch
from dark to dawn, then yawn again
and cause the reader to exclaim.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

a winter scene remembered

by Jim Rapp

with today’s temperature at zero
my screen saver has chosen
to show me a scene that
warms a winter-lover’s heart

it is a favorite old photo
of the world half frozen
immersed in new snow at
a depth of the farmer’s cart

oh, to once again go
to that child-chosen
haven and see the white
wonder ere wind comes
              and tears it apart.

The Unraveling

by Jim Rapp

They hated it from the very beginning,
it was visionary and they were blind,
it was moral and they, though professing
morality, were moral only to their kind.

They called FDR a traitor to his own,
a pragmatist, socialist, even a commie.
The moral giants began to double down,
waging a century long battle to stymie

his vision; to restore the status quo ante.
to unravel the web of protections for the
vulnerable, to insure the power of the mighty,
to deny the world his high vision of:

Freedom of Speech – everywhere in the world
Freedom of Religion – everywhere in the world
Freedom from want – everywhere in the world
Freedom from fear – everywhere in the world

They attacked  the United Nations
They attacked the New Deal
They attacked the Great Society
They attacked “Obamacare”

And now that the moral giants have gained a majority
they hope to dismantle Social Security and Medicare;
they are denigrating and defunding the United Nations,
and are working to dismantle “Obamacare.”

They have a vision of a sort, I guess you could say.
It looks back to “Four Freedoms” of a “superior” day
when only the rich and powerful had a right to say
on whom our laws (but few rights) would lay.

Freedom from International agreements
Freedom from Taxation
Freedom from non-Christian Aliens
Freedom from an “entitled class” of ne’er-do-wells.

They are fools sawing off the limbs they are leaning on,
They profess Christian faith but deny its teachings,
They’ll be crushed by the roof when the pillars are gone,
When their robe is unraveled they’ll stand naked and weeping.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Who/What is Depending on Me

I’m putting up with a nasty cold,
partly because I’ve been told,
there is no cure for the bold
pathogen, existent from of old.

But also I’ve been thinking
this germ must be working –
somewhere in a food chain lurking –
a chain that I should not be breaking.

Who knows what essential link
that holds all things together
depends on my cold germs – think,
my germs may be earth’s last tether.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Don’t Judge the Species by the Actions of a Specimen

It is not bacteria that makes us sick;
It is particular “germs”.

It is not ticks that are spreading disease;
It is particular ticks.

It is not rodents that infest our homes;
It is particular rodents.

It is not the human race that disappoints;
It is particular “humans”.

It is not Capitalism that rips us off;
It is particular “capitalists”.

It is not Christianity that dishonors Christ;
It is particular “Christians”.

It is not Politics that threaten our existence;
It is particular politicians.

Presumably all things have capacity to harm;
but we can’t dispense with “all things.” 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

God Has No Statute of Limitation

Thank the Lord for the result in today’s election in Alabama. I make no assumptions about the righteousness of any candidate these days. But we did not need to make assumptions to understand that Ray Moore was a flawed candidate and very likely an immoral one to boot. America wins because Ray Moore lost.

Sadly, we are going to learn more and more in the weeks ahead about the weaknesses of our elected officials. My prayer is that all those with skeletons in their closets will be revealed and forced from office. If their sins, like Ray Moore’s appear to be, were committed long ago, and if they have changed their way of living, then good for them. But don’t hide behind statutes of limitation. God does not put any limit on the time you stand guilty of being a liar. But he does offer grace and 
forgiveness to those who repent and turn from their sinful ways.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sorry Senator Franken

I like you, Senator Franken, like your frankness, like the side you are on . . . most of the time. I like your sense of humor . . . most of the time.

I was glad to see you knock Norm Coleman out of the U.S. Senate, in 2008 I held my breath during that long recount and court battle.

I liked the way you humbly responded to the revelation of your sexual impropriety with Leeann Tweeden. I expected you to do the honorable thing and leave the Senate.

Now you have done so but with less honor than I would have hoped.

In the process you deny your culpability, say your “confession” was misunderstood, was not a confession after all . . . you aren’t guilty – merely falsely maligned; unfairly treated, ironically condemned by those who voted for and defend our Sexual-Predator-in-Chief and “judge” Roy Moore.

True enough, your Republican Congressional colleagues have shown no moral backbone at all, in fact have callously put party above both morality and patriotism. But that does not excuse you in any sense. There are pictures to prove Ms. Tweeden’s accusations.

All sin is forgivable, all sinners redeemable. I personally thank God for that. But sadly the sins we commit often disqualify us for the positions in life we have sought and achieved. A child sex abuser should never, regardless of “time served” or tears shed, be put in charge of a day care center again.

The men and women we elect to positions of Trust must be trustworthy. Those we elect to make our laws should not flagrantly break the law. I wish you success in what you find to do after leaving the Senate, but I am not sorry to see you leaving.

To the extent that there are others in the Senate, House of Representatives, Supreme Court or Whitehouse who stand guilty and whose similar sins are still hidden or being denied, I am praying that they will be revealed, brought to justice and the accusers veracity affirmed.

Sorry, Senator Franken, but that is the way it is. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Good Choice, Time Magazine

by Jim Rapp

I’m pleased with Time’s Person of the Year award
though it didn’t confirm my intuition.
It is time these sex abusers fall on their sword.
And of course, “sword” I’ve chosen with intention.

Our land has never been a righteous nation,
and it isn’t likely to become one soon,
but God – the God of Righteousness and Action –
shines his light as bright in dark as at high noon.

How many “silent ones” have hidden in shame
to protect their livelihood or their good name?
And now the mighty tremble – fearing their fame
will turn to ash, their noteworthiness lost in flames.

It is said that “hell will be made to pay” for
sins long hidden – Right will win on Judgment Day.
But God has deigned that in this world nor wealth nor
wile can long hide sin, nor hand of judgment stay.

Some count themselves fortunate, I would suppose,
that their reputation remains intact “til,
slipped beneath the sod, no one their secret knows;
until rival lawyers open up the will.

Then “hell is made to pay”; reputation too. 

My Choice for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year

by Jim Rapp

According to our POTUS, Time Magazine
has offered him a rare and tempting honor:
“Person of the Year,” second year a-running.
He, in typical humility – to Time’s discomfiture –
declined, though knowing he’d be breaking
a 90 year tradition, when Time’s storied cover
went blank . . . no one can displace the Twitter King.
I seldom put much stock in who is chosen
to be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year,
but this year I would drop my lederhosen,
dance in public in my underhosen, cheer
and hug a couple dozen, if I saw the honor goin’
to some soul that Trump’s subjected to his sneer.

Perhaps they’d choose Barack Obama,
or better, Chelsea Clinton’s Momma,
I’d dance for Senator Pocahontas,
even let them push Jeff Sessions on us,
but above all, Time . . . give us irony. Can
you feature, please, the “Little Rocket Man”?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Time’s Peek Preview

Time Magazine is teasing us with their “shortlist” of candidates for Person of the Year. Here is their teaser with the names in no particular order:

Jeff Bezos
Donald Trump
Kim Jong Un
Colin Kaepernick
Xi Jinping
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
The #MeToo movement
“Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins
Robert Mueller.

Just to let you know, my pick is on Time’s short list. Check in early on December 6th to see how prophetic I turned out to be . . . or not to be. My choice will post at 4:00 a.m., several hours ahead of Time’s announcement.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Spoiler Alert: My Person of the Year

(Haiku Form)

If you are dying
to know MY Person of the
Year, you’ll find it here.

December sixth at
four a.m.; hours ahead
of Time’s announcement.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December’s Gifts

by Jim Rapp

December holds the memories
of all the previous year,
and dreams, in reverie,
of future things held dear.

Though singing, “Old Lang Syne,”
we pray for a tomorrow,
bright as storied times,
with joys from which to borrow.
Auld Lang Syne = Long, long ago

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Difference: In the End, None at All

by Jim Rapp

It appears, more often, as though
Liberals admit their sins when caught,
apologize and go on to something new,
something hopefully less fraught.

Conservatives seem to feel that they
have no culpability, are virgins so to speak,
that those accusing them will fade away
when the powerful confront the weak.

And of course we know Conservative is
synonymous with righteousness – they
tell us it is so – and that being Liberal is
tantamount to giving one’s soul away.

If judgment follows this life we’re in,
then there will be no place for anyone to hide.
If not, Liberals’ confessions are in vain;
Conservatives' claim to righteousness, a lie.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sunshine and Shadow

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

Some love the sunshine,
I prefer shadows, but know
each compliments each.

Sun, shining without
shadows, would show us little;
would merely blind us.

Shadows too are fraught –
devoid of light, they’re formless,
filled with emptiness.

But together they
colonize the world with forms
we know and cherish.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Drab November: A Shareholder’s Complaint

by Jim Rapp

I have a right to complain
that November drags its feet,
digs in its heels, strains
to hold back snow and sleet,

In short, denies us winter –
that delight of children
and old men – the Enchanter,
cold without, warm within.

I have a right to expect more;
lured to desert my Illinois abode
and seek Wisconsin’s winter’s store,
I bought shares of winter’s lode.

So thus my owner’s right to complain
that these November days lack cheer,
that fields and forests still remain
leafless, snowless, bleak and drear.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Raising the Dead

by Jim Rapp

I had not thought I had those powers –
ability to call into the gloom
and command a soul who cowers
there to attend me in my room.

Yet there they were en masse –
souls thought gone forever,
populating my palliasse,
fuelling my night-time fever,

Proving that the dead do not really die
‘til thoughts and dreams by those who knew
them are, at last, a well, drained dry;
'til no one bids them come anew.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In Lieu Of

by Jim Rapp

How often have you asked someone to “step in,”
to venture in where you were afraid to go,
to say what you wished someone else would say,
to do what everyone agreed someone had to do;
to act in lieu of you and those afraid to act?

There will be times enough when
substitutions must be made, Lord knows;
when things well planned evolve another way
and folks we counted on are “unable to”;
when Estelle must act in lieu of Zach.

But . . .

God grant a world in which we all “step in,”
innerve the very timidest of us to go,
embolden all to say what they should say,
enrich the world with deeds we do
by acting in lieu of demanding others act.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Observer

by Jim Rapp

In the beginning there were no observers,
at first only seeing ones, seers adapted for survival,
no creatures who cherished, no witting preservers,
no one to note with joy, with awe, each new arrival.

Until, in time, the knowing ones arrived,
made in the image of the Knowing One;
commissioned to till and make the world thrive
through wisdom gained by observation.

Now Adam (anthropos), is beside himself,
(no fellow creature known has shared that trait),
self-conscious, introspective, self-seeing self,
his mind and conscience bears the freight.

He knows, knows what he knows; and that, he names –
earth’s varied lode, the stars, the far flung galaxies –
then proudly (loudly) with his hands on hips proclaims
the namer,  Maker, or at the least, the Maker’s proxy.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Intended Juice

by Jim Rapp

Ancient ears are a hazard;
hearing what was never said,
ancient brains can find it hard
to sort out sounds thus made.

But baby ears are faulty too;
for years I heard my Mother pray
the table grace, and knew –
precisely knew – exactly what she’d say.

She thanked the Lord for
all the food we would consume,
for health and peace and more,
for juice . . . miracle juice, I presumed.

In fact, juice was what we seldom had,
unless water or milk counted,
and still she always prayed that
our food would – prayerfully anointed –

Be transmuted from its normal state,
like water turned to wine, no less;
I heard her pray the food we would partake,
thus blessed, would serve its “intended juice”.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A World That Only God Could Love

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

It is good to know
that You love our world, Lord; a
torn, a shattered world.

I’m finding it hard
to love it myself given
its unruliness.

And yes, I know that
my unruliness mixes
with that of others;

There is no one who
is righteous, all have sinned, do
sin, and spoil this world.

Oh, Maranatha!
Come Lord Jesus! Come, retool
this rebellious world.

Your will be done on
earth as it is in heaven,
Come, Lord – love our world.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Taxes Filed on a Postcard

by Jim Rapp

I’ve spent much of the day pulling records together
to claim our refund at the earliest possible day . . .
before identity thieves get at it, one way or another.

I suspect it is the rare individual, these days,
whose vital information hasn’t been pilfered, grifted,
lifted, sorted and sifted in nefarious digital ways.

It is only the luck of the draw if your “secure” vital info
didn’t fall into the hands of Russians, Chinese or Koreans
bent on using it to enrich themselves and their kinfolk.

But soon – once our Congress enacts tax reform –
I.D. theft will be a thing of the past – blessed obsolesce.
The post card you’ll file with the IRS they will return,

revealing your  name, address, and Soc. number;
your earnings, your taxes . . . and what of your refund?
Taped to the post card! Or perhaps something dumber.

The way they put scammers and crooks out of business
is legalize what they do; hand them our cash and
IDs – on a postcard; eliminate all the legal duress.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Earth Angels

by Jim Rapp

Something went nutso with my keyboard today.
I was typing so well when suddenly the cursor leapt
into a different line, devouring letters along the way.

I blamed the touch pad; accused it of duplicitousness –
a live touch pad is loath to coexist with an active mouse.
But it wasn’t the pad; it was a case of anomalousness.

Anomaly is – without doubt – the first word a child
should be taught, and they must learn how to spell it.
Anomalies are ubiquitous in this temporal domicile.

Don’t fight them, curse them, or attempt comprehension.
Earth Angels, with no carnal form, no terrestrial abode,
they are givens, gifted to alert us to other dimensions


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Habakkuk Remedy

My e-mail just brought me an advertisement bearing the Subject: Almost half of all evangelicals believe this...

The publishers of Explore the Bible, a set of study guides for small group Bible circles, are astounded that two thirds of Americans believe that God accepts the worship of all religions. That astounding fact is supposed to startle Christians into subscribing to the Explore the Bible study guides.

But if knowing that two thirds of all Americans believe that God accepts the worship of all religions isn’t enough to draw you in, the second astounding fact will surely do so – hear this: “48 percent of evangelicals believe the same thing!”

Knock me over with a large print copy of The Message!

The ad goes on to ask, “How did half of us somehow miss the first commandment?”

Interesting, I’ve been asking a similar question since last November, i.e. how did 85 percent of Evangelical Voters fail to see that they were in the thrall of a vulgar, spiritually ignorant, politically ignorant, untruthful demagogue, who is a confessed serial adulterer? And why, one year later do they continue to support him?

It is sadly a contagion that even the Explore the Bible study guides are unlikely to eradicate. It may require a Habakkuk remedy. Look it up. Habakkuk is a short little three chapter prophecy from the Old Testament. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


by Jim Rapp
(Haiku Form)

The media calls
the Sutherland Springs victims,
“those who were ‘taken.’”

And who, we should ask,
took them? God? The gunman? Or
purveyors of guns

suited to kill, enmasse,
a churchful of innocents
worshiping their God?

Taken? Yes, taken –
cold-bloodedly taken – for
malice and profit:

Malice of a gun
obsessed man; profit for a
death-dealing business.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Swords Into Plowshares: Thoughts After the Sutherland Springs Massacre

by Jim Rapp

We’ve moved beyond swords
to millions of military grade weapons.
And less than one percent of us
have any need of a plowshare.

So how can we reach the accord
envisioned in that millennium
of peace Isaiah promised us;
a peace of a thousand years?

A well-regulated militia being
“necessary”, we dare not beat down
our Rugers and Kalashnikovs
into anything less lethal;

In God we trust? Yes, but seeing
our arsenals – our weapons of renown –
reduced to farm tools is foolishness of
a magnitude unconscionable.

Isaiah – dear softheaded boy, dreaming
a peaceable kingdom – could not have known
the enthusiasm that some would have
ginned up for guns, To Isaiah, inconceivable!

When God planned to bring in
a thousand year peace, He must have known
He’d need to render millions of
Kalashni-swords inoperable. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

November’s Purloined Carpet

by Jim Rapp

November winds stole Autumn’s
Coat of many colors,
Using it, no doubt, to deck some
Fairy prince’s parlors,

Spreading it to blanket
Elven-forest chambers;
A wind-wove autumn carpet –
Reds and greens and ambers


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thieving Wind

by Jim Rapp

A late October
wind has ripped away the leaves
that decked Yesterday

with Autumn’s amber;
tucked the gold in windy sleeves
and then fled away.

A theft – cold sober –
to share with other wind-thieves –
brothers, down the way.

Alas, November’s
pledge is fraught with bare-limbed trees,
drab and snowless days.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Strong Meat

(Hebrews 5:11 – 6:3)

I used to wonder why repentance, ritual, faith,
laying on of hands, baptism, resurrection,
eternal judgment, were not meat, strong
enough to please God and sustain one’s soul –
our theologians have never ceased to
dish these out to hungry parishioners.
So what exactly was meant by “strong meat”?

And then today I saw it, plain as day:
righteousness; knowing good from evil.

While reading Marilynn Robinson’s essays,
The Givenness of Things, I sensed that I
was moving from “milk” to “strong meat”,
that she was not “laying again the foundations,”
but leading into, calling for an understanding of –
indeed insisting on a meaty commitment to –
righteousness, which discerns between good and evil.

It is possible to cram our Christian heads
with doctrines, practices, beliefs, even “faith”,
but fail to love our neighbor as ourselves,
to shut our hearts to those Christ called “neighbor”,
indeed to not even know who are neighbor is.

We are quick to blame society for its sins but
blind to the unrighteousness of our ways?

We profess to love God with heart and
mind and strength, but cannot discern
good and evil when we are in their presence;
resisting good while delighting in evil?

Repentance, ritual, faith, laying on of hands,
baptism, resurrection, eternal judgment,
have the ring of “sound doctrine”, could be
mistaken for “strong meat”, but Hebrews says
they are milk, not meat prescribed by Old Micah –
do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.

Milk Christians risk hearing Christ’s dread words,
“Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


by Jim Rapp

Marilynn Robinson reminds us that the “debris”
we bequeath to our children, or send out
through neighborhood thrift sales may be
put to uses not to our liking, indeed may flout
the uses previous generations cherished proudly.

A man’s reasonable “arsenal of carnage”
may someday reside with son or grandson
or total stranger, whose choice of usages,
dictated by warped or wounded obsessions,
may betray the collector’s benign purposes.

Grandpa’s insistence on a glass of wine
and his favorite pipe at the end of every day
may not impair his health or shorten his time,
but a couple of generations down the way
his posterity may have to “pay the fine”. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Beauty is Hard to Kill

by Jim Rapp

I am amazed that in a world consumed by sin
A rose still blooms, a sunset never fails to thrill,
A child is born to mother love, and even when
The NRAges, flowers deck the scene of the latest kill.

I am amazed that so much beauty remains
Despite the spite of Satan working through
The greed of man who ever trains
His aims upon this earthly slough,
Content to be a King of Mud, to reign
O’re lands denuded, streams polluted,
Cities festered, families shattered.
Content with husks to feed upon
And stagnant springs from which to drink.
Content with false prophets – lying demagogues –
Who serve the Lie and seem to think
No judgment waits Satanic mystagogues.

I am amazed that in a world polluted by sin
A rose still blooms, sunsets never fail to thrill,
Children are born to mother love, and when
The NRA rages, flowers deck its latest kill.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Price of Righteousness

by Jim Rapp

Habakkuk was in a pickle,
Unrighteousness was all around him;
He wanted Yahweh to tackle
The issues he saw as a problem.

And Yahweh was more than willing
To solve the problems Habakkuk raised;
To purify the land of its sinning;
By Babylon the land would be razed.

Not Babylon, Habakkuk protested,
They are greater sinners than us,
How can you use the detested
To cleanse the land of promise?

Habakkuk, the whole land is corrupted,
Filled with lies, bloodshed, unfaithfulness.
To purge such sin everything must be disrupted,
Nothing is worth saving from such a mess.

You pray, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done;
On earth as it is in heaven. Are those your wishes?
It will be done, but on that day when I will come
I’ll sweep away all unrighteousness.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Babylon Burning

by Jim Rapp
(Haiku form)

Lord, You must have known
that this iniquitous world
could never be saved

The light is so dim;
the salt has lost its flavor;
the prophets are stilled

It’s time for you to
come – the Spirit and the Bride
say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

This time the fire,
consuming wood, hay, and straw;
Babylon burning

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Autumn’s Philanthropy

by Jim Rapp

A golden canopy,
a golden path;
Autumn’s philanthropy
is more than I should ask.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Essential Information for the Digital Age

by Jim Rapp

It is easy to forget in this digital age –
Yes, I know, “age” sounds rather grandiose in a
World speeding through cycles where whim is the rage –
The most important thing to remember each day,
When your cursor won’t deliver your favorite page,
Or your “smart” phone’s games refuse to play,
Is to gather the digital devises with which you engage;
Reboot the rebootable; – throw the incorrigible away.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Nailed Again

by Jim Rapp

“Would you like some nails, boys?”
Nails were always at a premium,
Along with screws, bolts and boards to make or mend our toys –
Old or new, bent, rusted; anywhere on the continuum.
We’d find a use for them, employ
Hammers and anvil to straighten them.

“There are some nice big nails
On the stove board, back of the heater.”
An announcement like that couldn’t fail
To initiate a stampeded or
A major war – four arms, four legs flail . . .
Only to halt at the living room door
At the sight, on the stove board, of a neat little pile –
Twenty neatly trimmed nails – he'd nailed us once more.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Sudden Autumn Shower

By Jim Rapp

The deck chairs are shuffled
Together as they always seem to be
Each time a gust of wind scuttles
The prescribed arrangement, pushing three
Together like old women, cuddled
In a corner, sitting knee to knee.
One, a male, I reckon, to avoid the huddle,
Slid defensively against the table, clinging desperately.
All are decked with glistening puddles,
Flecked with ripples scattered generously
By a slowly passing rain cloud, shuttled
Deckward, doubtless just to please the likes of me.

Friday, October 6, 2017


by Jim Rapp

October is the best month of the year,
Summer’s heat is past and winter’s not too near,
The fields and forests astound us with their beauty,
And autumn’s harvests promise winter’s bounty.

Monday, October 2, 2017

A brief Explanation

I know I've been pretty quiet the last few days. I'd like to say I've been off on a deluxe vacation but the truth is that my computer has been in the hospital. I'll be spending the next several days getting it back up and producing again.

I do have a few new poetic offerings waiting their turn so please come back in a few days.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Eulogy for Donald Gene Rapp

Sunday Dec. 16, 1934 – Thursday Sept. 14, 2017

When brothers are as close in age as Donald and I are – just 15 months apart – it is inevitable that they will clash over something. To be honest I can't recall what we clashed over, except that we both wanted to be the exclusive buddy of Marvin, our older brother. But we did clash and sometimes it got nearly lethal.

I recall one Sunday afternoon battle when Donald was armed with a large steel bearing that Dad had brought home from the rail yard and I had a bow with suction cup tipped arrows. At the heat of the battle he threw his bearing at me and I shot him with an arrow. We both reported the incident to Mom and she solved it in her usual – make the punishment fit the crime – manner. She threw all the weapons down into the muck in the outdoor toilet.

Those outdoor toilets served many purposes, from club houses, to refuges, to conference rooms, to say nothing of their intended use. I do recall Mom applying her – make the punishment fit the crime – method when she arrived to visit the toilet and found it filled with the aroma Donald and I had created by stirring the contents with sticks instead of pulling the nails from the wood as we were supposed to do. She locked us in the toilet for several minutes and let us enjoy the fragrance of our efforts.

But we were not always opponents and I can attest to the fact that you needed no other bodyguard than Donald when you were involved in a dispute with an outsider. As the youngest in the family I benefited more than once by having two brothers and a sister who were fiercely loyal to the family and willing to take on anyone who threatened any of us. It is a little scary to think that I'm on my own now.

But I knew Donald intimately for only 18 years or so. You who sit before me have known the kind of man he has been for the succeeding 62 years, more or less. I've known him from a distance, seeing him at family gatherings, hearing about him and his growing family in letters from Mom over the years, and enjoying his many visits when he brought his grandchildren to Eau Claire to watch one of our Easter dramas at church. How faithful he and Carol were in coming year after year. And, for a few years (four I think) we were able to bring all the siblings and their spouses – our Group of Eight – together for a special extended weekend at some place chosen because it had meaning for one or more of us.

In those brief glimpses I saw the kind of man I know you all knew him to be: still fiercely loyal to family – including HIS boisterous, growing family; generous to one and all – our children have warm memories of his kindnesses toward them (Cheri, our youngest, seldom failed to ask, during a phone conversation, "What have you heard from Uncle Donald?" or "How is Uncle Donald doing?"); supportive of his grandchildren in the things they chose to do, and so proud of their accomplishments.

I know Donald and Carol would like to have had a daughter or two, but in the end I don't think they would have traded any one of their boys. Hey, boys bring home wives, and they adopted their daughters-in-law as their own. Donald treated them just like they were . . . one of his boys.

But boys also bring home vehicles of all kinds in all kinds of condition and Donald loved nothing better that fixing, or helping to fix a troubled motor vehicle. I gave him plenty of opportunities to do so with my jalopies on my frequent visits back home. He was generous with his time and meticulous in his labor. He was a mechanical artist.

I know that Donald carried in his mind a fuller and more accurate history of our family than I do, and I will often wish, in my remaining years, that I could talk to him, mining some of that knowledge. Who knows what we will choose to talk about when we are reunited with those we love in heaven. Perhaps the things of this earth will have no meaning then and there. But somehow I think there may be some carry over; that some of the thoughts we've had here will find their completion there. If so, I'm going to ask Donald if he still thinks it was a good idea to scare me half to death by hiding in that dark coal shed and pretending he was being attacked, forcing me to decide whether to run for my life or go to his assistance.

I want to close with a beautifully expressive poem by Emily Dickinson. So many of her poems seem to have been written after observing a funeral or a burial. This poem struck me because, like her I've been through this loss twice before, with the death, first of Marvin in 2001 and then of Istra in 2009, and felt the increasing weight of loss. And now this leaves me holding the entire corpus of our family unit for the years I have remaining. Dickinson's poem reads:

I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod;
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels, twice descending,
Reimbursed my store.
Burglar, banker, father,
I am poor once more

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Guardian of the "Crest"

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

With the exception
of baby Lowell Ray it
has gone by the book,

Lowell, a toddler
killed in an automobile
collision at two.

Dad next and then Mom;
no anniversaries missed;
sixty-six all told.

Marvin leaped ahead
of Istra, clearing the bar –
three score, ten, plus two.

Istra at eighty-
two, and today, Donald gone
too at eighty-two.

And I at eighty-one
am left holding the fam'ly
"crest" (there is no crest).

Left to while my years
wishing I had asked, had said,
could know what they knew.

A keeper of tales
never told, custodian
fumbling in the dark,

A parable for
those who still, from elders, can
repossess the past.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Bug's Prayer

by Jim Rapp

Behold the bug navigating her world,
creeping along a blade of grass,
then over an adjacent gnarled
chip of bark to examine a shard of glass.

Does she know where she is headed?
Has she plotted on some bug's map
Her journey's course, or calculated
The route using a bug's travel app?

Perhaps her meanderings are unplanned –
Like mine, uncalculated – or if calculated,
Conceived in ignorance and inclined
To end, an edifice of hopes, disarticulated.

Creator of bugs and human beings, guide us,
Especially we who think we know the way:
Install in us your GPS –aim our aimlessness –
Bring us to your hostel at the end of day.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Innocence: Full of Less

by Jim Rapp

"Allow the children to come to me."
A welcome denied the callous-hearted –
Scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees –
Scoffers, turning on their heels as they parted.

Why the children? I think today I saw
In the faces of my great grandchildren
Glimpses of the traits that draw
Children to the Lord, and Him to them.

God loves those who have no guile –
Ask the apostle Philip, he'd know I guess –
"Of such is the kingdom"; their smile
Is full of less – yes, full of guile-less-ness.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Streets of Gold

by Jim Rapp

Are there really streets of gold in heaven,
Or is that image the best that John could do
To convey the wonders of his vision,
Reduced – scaled down – to a human view?

I drove today through thoroughfares of gold.
Three hundred miles of God-made, autumn laid,
Golden leis, vying for attention – bold
Golden Rod and Brown-eyed Susans bade

Me look and look at risk of life and limb,
Bade me try to find the words, as John of old,
To name the names, of what I saw, and then
Convey to all how I had driven streets of gold.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Tiki Torch Parade: An Ode to the Charlottesville Cowards

by Jim Rapp

Men love darkness because their deeds are evil,
but evil men fear darkness because they know
the evil deeds, sown in secret, some dark night will
overtake them, and result in their own overthrow.

So their nights they light with torches to dispel
their fright and, by empeopling a pompous charade
of menacing lights, their fears they hope to depeople;
cowards marching in a Tiki Torch Parade.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

the house divided against itself

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

if you can speak your
mind without fear of losing
a cherished friendship

it is pretty sure
that you are living somewhere
besides America

it has never been
otherwise in this land of
nearly countless wars

rare has been the day
in which no guns were fired in
attack or defense

wars indigenous
wars of words and violence
brother-bleeding wars

political wars
racial wars, religious wars
industrial wars

wars in families
wars between the states, wars in
the halls of Congress

"The United States":
sad relic of a past that
never came to be

Thursday, August 10, 2017


by Jim Rapp

A while with God
is as a thousand whiles,
and a thousand whiles
as merely one.

a while is indeterminate –
a century stained with the
carnage of war or a decade
remembered for peace

an instant poised at the height
of a roller coaster
seventy-five years married
to the same spouse

in seven whiles God created
a world and filled each with
with all manner of things
that he declared good

a mortal while we're told
averages three score whiles
and ten – too few to while
on frivolous pursuits

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Million Photo POTUS Shoot

by Jim Rapp

A million and a half photos of one man
seemed a little excessive
until I remembered that when using my cam
in ways quite aggressive,
snapping gold flowers (I'm a gold flower fan),
I too got a little obsessive.

I'll buy Pete Souza's book just as soon as I can;
and display it with genuine pride
alongside Michelle's photo-book; that is my plan.
Now I know it sounds snide
but I'll opine that pics of the new POTUS man
won't draw a dollar out of my cowhide.
Pete Souza, the official White House photographer
during Barack Obama's eight years in office is
publishing, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, a 300+
picture record of Obama's tenure as President.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Looking for Ezer-kin

by Jim Rapp

Lord, help me see past hypocrisy
to the fifteen percent.
Fifteen may be too high, actually
if we cut to the renascent –
the "born again" –  who probably
are roughly reminiscent
of the percent who stood faithfully
as your body was rent.

In "Christian America" we've come
to believe a lie,
that saying makes it true, so some
make the claim, "I
am evangelical," offering only a crumb
of proof to signify
that they march to Jesus' drum
or hold his banner high.

The media makes the claim,
based on exit polls,
that eighty-five percent who name
you Lord, told
reporters they voted for this profane –
insane – old
man, clamoring for fame,
grasping for gold.

Straight the gate, you said,
and narrow the way,
and few are they who choose to thread
that narrow gate.
No, the eighty-five percent who tread
the broad highway
share no cup, break no bread
with the Truth, the Life, The Way.

I'm seeking for Ezers, Lord,
looking for kin –
desperate for followers of your Word,
haters of sin,
despising the lies they've heard
again and again,
daring to stand out from the herd –
I'm looking for Ezer-kin.
Ezer: Hebrew for helper, comrade,

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Late-night Guys Quote the President

by Jim Rapp

the late-night guys have
got Trump pegged – he has built the
scaffold where he'll swing

every tweet, every
speech secures his fate as he
nightly does his thing

five nights of every
seven his feces-laden
lies they 'gurgitate

and if not Trump's then
Scaramucci mini-Trump's
they excoriate

the critics of the
late-night comedians can
hardly take offence

the salty language
they employ was first deployed
by the President

and not on late night
shows, but before our youth at
Boy Scout Jamborees

in sacred spaces
before men of the cloth – with
mega-ministries –

by invitation
no less – they volunteered to
anoint him as "king"

with solemn laying-
on-of- hands imputing their
god's care and blessing

giving cover to
inequity – excusing
gross iniquity

have at him late-night
guys – QUOTE 'til he chokes on his
words – QUOTE ceaselessly

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thankful For the Rain

by Jim Rapp

The rain came today –
before dawn – persisting 'til
it sated the earth

Accompanied by
lightning illuminating
each raindrop's passage

Celebrated by
thunder applauding ev'ry
inch the gauge records

The parched earth gives thanks –
by sending forth abundance
to feed the thankless

and the thankful too
God sends blessings on the just
and unjust alike

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Waiting for the Storm to Roll In

by Jim Rapp

You promised
it would rain; for
my sake

bring it on:
thunder, lightning
and rain.

Your honor
and repute are
at stake.

I'm waiting,
don't let me down

Weather man,
now is your chance;
rain make!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Memory's Emulsion

by Jim Rapp

It is never too late to remember,
always too soon to forget,
letting time's glowing embers
consume old hurts and regrets.

Memory's an eternal emulsion,
designed, intended, bestowed,
to salve wounded emotions,
restoring their luster and glow.

Wincing, memory draws back
from re-summoned slights,
but love, impaled on the rack,
forgives all in its all-seeing sight.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Weather as Theory

by Jim Rapp

It was safe to run for groceries;
the weatherman assured us that
the storms had exited our vicinity,
no need for a jacket or a hat.

The problem with weather rooms,
they don't allow the weather men to see
the actual weather; they're doomed
to forecast what is shown on their TV.

I was fated to endure real weather,
coming first in droplets from the sky,
then hail and wind of which neither
was foreseen by the weather guy.

Meteorologists have honed their theories
to such a point that they can predict our
weather from a cave; with wizard's ease
they turn sunshine into shower. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

by Jim Rapp

Subject: you should not wait until your lover will divorce with you

Oh my, shall I click on this email from or should I not? Oh what to do!
My lover and I just recently got done
celebrating sixty years of marital bliss and now this note from you
throws me in a panic, leaves me plum
flummoxed and wondering if she's gone and found someone new.

New I'm not, my youth is gone.
Is cutting in? Oh dear, what to do!
Will my bride of sixty years be gone –
divorced with me – or is wellykuswanto messing with me, trying to
get my password, or putting his long
arm in my contact list? Kuswanto . . . to e-mail hell with you.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Magazines Are Gone

by Jim Rapp

Things are changing in the waiting room;
each room has a TV tuned so low
that only the least impaired ear can tune
the voices in from the Today Show.

Chairs are arranged in a clever way
so no one has direct view of the screen;
all necks must crane to see, or turn away
to view a show on a hand-held machine.

No one seems to miss the ubiquitous mags
that used to clutter every table top,
donated, I was told – brought in by the bags –
to be rifled, read in snippets and dropped

when the nurse called the holder's name.
I surmised they had been superseded
by smart phones but, alas, a more sane
reason's given – germs, unseen, unheeded.

It scares me half-to-death to think
of all the germs I've absorbed, breathed,
ingested, with the printers ink,
reading, hands and face unsheathed.

Our children's children may curse us
for the germ-free world we've bequeathed;
free of our germs, but not the cussed
bugs their antiseptic selves cannot defeat.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kindling 451

by Jim Rapp
(Haiku Form)

The bookshelves recall
a library boasting a
thousand cherished works.

Repurposed now, they
display a gallery of
faces, old and new.

Two low shelves suffice
to save a tithe of that once
August collection.

The rest? Kindling now;
fuel for fire, etched in sand,
seared on silicone;

my vast library,
Amazoned. And not one jot,
not one tittle lost.

Ashes to ashes,
words as digits reborn – a
hand-held library.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


by Jim Rapp

The ease with which
two rivers flow together,
giving, each to each,
with only slight annoyance,
is an object lesson
for the sentient,
tethered to their banks.

Two streams, conjoined,
can bear more freight
than either could alone;
by yielding rights,
by sharing might,
they shape their flow
in grand alliance.

Friday, July 14, 2017

An Old Pair of Shoes

by Jim Rapp

What binds me to you – makes me
blush to think I contemplated separation?
A world-class super glue, that's what –
a thousand dances danced in unison.

Worn, creased and rumpled, we.
We'll never know our youth again;
not you, the shoes, nor I, the man
who stands and walks in them.

Shineola's magic cannot hide
the water stains and grease drippings.
Bare threads, dangling where sole
and body meet, evoke the brevity of life.

Nor man nor ought has ever sought
more ardently for synchronicity;
you've shaped – enwrapped yourself –
according to the roles assigned to me.

Narrowly you missed the donor's box,
my weathered friend, but if . . . well . . .
no doubt you'd have served a new master
with the same fidelity you tendered me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


by Jim Rapp

One price I've paid for longevity;
the strident world has grown more muted.
And with the clamor good sounds too have
ebbed away; voices stilled, and nature silenced.

Last night, I heard the thunder raging.
Lightning flashed as rain and hail disputed;
pounding eaves to make their point, they
accorded me a fleeting aural renaissance.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Prayer Against the Anti-Christs1
(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

God save us from these
anti-Christs who, no semblance
share, with your dear Son.

Though tens of thousands
flock to them, Christ's words ring clear,
"I never knew you!"

Jeffress2 disavows
candidates who follow Christ's
"Sermon on the Mount".

Trump3, whom Jeffress loves
denies in word and deed the
loving Savior's creed.

Brutal force, their creed;
"Do unto others ten times
what they do to you."

They pray, "Our kingdom
come, our will be done on earth
now and forever."
1Any who deny the teachings of Christ or proclaim a gospel claiming salvation through any means other than Christ's death and resurrection.

2Dr. Rev. Robert Jeffress, Southern Baptist pastor of the 13,000 member 1st Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. Organizer of  pro-Trump rallies, most recently at the JFK Center in Washington, D.C. July 1, 2017. 

3President Donald J. Trump

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Weak Things Confound the Mighty

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
I Corinthians 1:27

The invisible
wind bends the mighty oak, drives
straws through two inch boards.

The gentle mountain
stream carves a canyon through the

Her baby's fevered whimper
moved a mother's heart as a
tyrant's roar could not.

A drop of water,
frozen, shifts a mountain; breaks
it from its moorings.

The Jonquil jostles,
with its fragile energies,
rocks two times its size.

Rain on the mountain
sides can carry, grain by grain,
mountain chains away.

A cobweb is a
universe; a spider's whole
life work on display.

A thought, embedded
in a brain, can save or dash
mankind's hopes for gain.

A lie can turn the
course of events in Eden
or in Washington.

Truth on a cross, the
fulcrum God will use when he
sets the world aright.

Prayers from infant lips,
from peasant lips, from sinners
hearts are heard in heaven.

Prayers are stored in vials
of bronze against the day their
answers are revealed.

Tiny things can do
great feats with focused effort
ceaselessly applied.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Just Talking To You Lord
(Don't Listen, Mary)

Lord, you know . . .

Saturday our President was called to speak
to a gathering of evangelicals assembled
in our nation's capital at the Kennedy Center
by the pastor of a large Dallas church.

Dr. Rev. Robert Jeffress, the organizer,
has been known to speak in glowing terms
of Trump to crowds assembled in stadiums
overflowing with enthusiastic evangelicals.

I quote the Rev. Jeffress: When asked during
an NPR broadcast,

"‘Pastor, don’t you want a candidate who embodies the teaching of Jesus and would govern this country according to the principles found in the Sermon on the Mount?’”

Jeffress said.

“I said, ‘Heck no.’ I would run from that candidate as far as possible, because the Sermon on the Mount was not given as a governing principle for this nation.”

Jeffress further said,

"I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find - and I believe that’s biblical.”

Now, Lord, I thought your teachings were intended
for all aspects of our lives; that in point of fact
our lives were to have only one aspect, not many.
You said, "You cannot serve two masters."

But Rev. Jeffress appears to know you meant
us to be gentle only at specific (unnamed) times –
certainly not when we are in places of authority –
and mean son's of you-know-whats (pardon me)
when dealing with the heathen who aren't American.

Kind of like you dealt with the Romans when
they tortured and crucified you. Wait . . . that's
not what you did . . . now I'm really confused.

And now today, Lord, our President released a video
clip (you know about those Lord) purportedly showing
him being the meanest, toughest, son of a
you-know-what (pardon me again) beating the snot
out of a CNN reporter.

I have to assume Rev. Jeffress approves.

So now I have to decide if I will stand with Rev.
Jeffress and his wildly cheering evangelical throng
at the Washington rally or follow you to Calvary.
Jeffress' way is so attractive; it has the feel of
victory; it seems to march in time with history.

Your way leads only to death, Lord. How can you
ask me to go that way. "Take up a cross and follow you?"
The throng at Calvary is jeering, not cheering,
they threaten any who seem to be as weak as you.
Surely Jeffress and the evangelicals are right.
If I have any sense at all I'll go with them.

Too bad, Lord, you weren't a meaner, tougher,
son-of-a-you-know-what (pardon me Mary). But
Lord, you weren't, and you aren't. So I'm still
with you, Lord.

Makes me wonder what mean, tough, son of a
you-know-what Jeffress and all these evangelicals
are following.