I used to have another blog through the Bay Area Writing Project, but it was cancelled some years ago and all the blog posts were lost. The Gubbio Project had seen a poem I had written, asked for permission to print it and later posted on their blog. I herewith share it:
St. Boniface in the Tenderloin
Jesus doesn't smell of beeswax, plaster statues, or polished wood. In this Franciscan church, Jesus smells of unlaundered clothes, of smelly socks, of sun-dried perspiration, of soiled shoes, of urine and used underwear. He smells of last night's dinner, of stale beer, of cigarette smoke and marijuana. Here one smells poverty and weariness, one smells not enough sleep and lack of privacy, and one smells the great, humble efforts of pride and human dignity. My mouth fills with sweetness for the smell of God envelops me. There is no need for incense to carry my prayers to heaven. God is here.
When I first started teaching, I was part of a literature
selection committee in my district to select children’s trade books for what
would then be the use of authentic literature and a whole language approach to
reading. Two books that took my breath away were Maurice Sendak’s Where the
Wild Things Are and Ed Young’s Lon
Po Po. “That’s what I want to be—an
illustrator.” Arne Nixon, from Fresno State, was a wonderful storyteller who
told the story of Max and his wild rumpus. He and the story were inspiring.
Three years later I moved to San Francisco to go to the
Academy of Art to become a children’s book illustrator. He told the truth to
children, in order that they might have courage to confront life in its
fullness. He was a mentor. Later I found out he was gay, but somehow it
affirmed who he was.