READER BEWARE

If you read my poems
   and listen with your heart...

  You will see me naked
       --as I would thee--

      but if nudity offends
                      or embarrasses you
                      or invites more intimacy
                              than you care to risk

     then laugh at my warts
             close your eyes
       or run and hide

      because I fully intend
                 to keep my soul
                on the sleeve
                of my words

     and to throw my poems
                           before you
                
             **********

         LIMITS ON SHARING

I love the truthfulness
     of opening my head
                          and heart
                            and history
     when I can be responded to honestly
               inviting the same from another

But I will close
      like a clam
  when I smell
         a detective
              judge
               parent
        or curiosity seeker
            voyeuring after my soul

I want to share myself
                          my certainties and doubts
               the facts of who I am
    but I never again intend
               to play show and tell
                           hide and seek
    or volunteer for anyone's cross

         Jesus, I'm told,
                     did enough of that
                                         for us all

                         ***********

I write
       probably
  for the same reasons
              a painter paints or
              a dancer dances

   to give form and expression
               to the unspeakable
                          joys and anguish
                          pains and paradoxes
                         questions and dilemmas

               to the gracious gifts
                   and harsh inevitabilities
                   of our common humanity

      We do it, don't we,
                                to heal ourselves

                   to enable our fuller becoming
                                            and being
                   to sing life's songs
                                both sweet and
                                bittersweet

      Otherwise
                    we would weep alone

                                **************
      

(From: SECULAR CONFESSIONS OF A RELIGIOUS PRIEST)

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