Saturday, March 31, 2007


a little fire is
not always a bad thing
especially when it
is in the belly

~ Keith

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Distracted from Passion

I've tried my hand here and there at a little poetry. I think I have a pretty good eye for layout and a good ear for lyric.

Last night I attended an event that blew me out of the water: the YouthSpeaks PoetrySlam Bay Area finals. Eighteen young poets poured out their hearts in verse. At the end of the night, only six advanced to the International Finals (July, in San Jose).These teens I heard last night (aged 15-19) have been through more pain in the last year than I have my whole life, and they have more passion in their little pinkies than I have in my whole heart. It was truly humbling.

It made me realize the things in my life I thought were important to me aren't nearly important enough. And it made me wonder -- to get passion like that maybe I need to go through more pain?

But then this morning I remembered something else. When I was in the Philippines while in the Navy I had the privilege of hanging out with a couple named Michael & Denise Vrooman who pastored the Calvary Chapel of Olongapo near the Subic Bay Naval Air Station.

Olongapo was just across a sewage river from the base. The Navy had put up high fences because too many kids had been getting sick from diving into the river chasing quarters thrown by sailors. Magsaysay drive was the main drag where a sailor could get alcohol, mystery-meat-on-a-stick, and some company for the night -- and maybe some other company that stayed with you for a few days until you went to the Docs and got a shot.

Mike & Denise are from Michigan originally, and they moved to Olongapo to give their lives away to people. Their congragation was made up of the hookers and bartenders from Magsaysay, and also others who made their living by picking out stuff from their "neighborhood" (they literally lived in the town dump) and reselling them or picking up cans and bottles out of the gutter and recycling them for pennies on the pound. I walked through the neighborhoods with Mike one Sunday after church, and met 4 or 5 of the families in his life.

They lived in one room tin-covered shacks. The kitchen was clay pots out front and the bathroom was the ditch out back. When they met me, they'd offer me whatever food they could and the only chair they had (if they had one).

On the way back to his house (not a lot nicer than theirs) I reflected to Mike "Wow, these people are so warm & welcoming. Their character has really been shaped by their poverty." Mike laughed at me.
He laughed at me
I asked why and he said "Keith, they wouldn't see it that way. That shirt you're wearing probably cost more money than these families make in months, but they don't envy you. They just see you as being far more distracted than they are."

All I got out of my mouth was "Yeah, but..." when he interrupted me:

"They have a roof when it rains, and food when they're hungry. They have their family and extended family close, and they have the community they're a part of. They're trusting God for day to day life, and they're seeing Him rescue people from generations of being hookers and bouncers. They have more than they could possibly want in life. You? You're just really distracted."


~ Keith

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mom Was In The Hallway

i wasn't

expecting you at work today

thinking of you at all

ready for you to be here

...but suddenly...

you were

in the air: all around me

in my mind: sudden bright flashes

in my heart: surprisingly warm & close

...white shoulders...

fragrance favored by

you on sundays

my coworker today lasted...


a moment

a whole lifetime

...and so...

I miss




Thursday, March 15, 2007

Underdogs or Underhanded?

I'm a fan of American Idol. At first it is painful to watch because so many people are so clueless as to how little singing ability they have. I feel bad for them and want to ask: "doesn't anyone love you enough to tell you not to do this on national television?". But then as the season progresses, I enjoy seeing the folks with real talent shine, especially if it is mixed with a healthy dose of humilty. This season Melinda is the big winner in this department, IMHO.

Maybe that's because I've always been a fan of "the underdog" -- someone who looks way behind but comes back to win in an unpredictable way against seemingly insurmountable odds -- often someone who seems not only behind and down, but being beaten and kicked: "downtrodden". It may sound crazy, but if I am watching a sporting event, especially football, I always root for whoever is behind. If they score and take the lead, I switch sides and root for whoever is now behind. I'm more interested in both teams playing hard and overcoming challenges than I am in one team simply running roughshod over the other.

Somehow it just feels right to me to cheer for the ones with seemingly no chance to beat the bully. I suppose this is a bit autobiographical, but I also think this sort of hope-against-hope embodies the gospel as well. And who doesn't love a good Horatio Alger story anyway, huh?

Then, recently, I heard about a blog called what they're sayingI'm bummed by this! I understand their purpose and I suppose they "have the right" to do this, but it seems to me a poor use of technology; a mean reason to have a blog. It is a very underhanded (should I say it? I will: immoral) way to manipulate a situation. It's like a nationwide game of hogging.

This is not a good thing.

With friends like these, everyone gets more salt in their wounds.

The owners of this blog say America is helped because it makes the show somehow more interesting or enjoyable -- they're just giving the American people a little more entertainment, and thereby also giving the producers what they want: higher ratings. And after all, the person who likes to sing gets to stay on the show longer! Everyone wins, right?

I imagine being on the show as something akin to living in a fishbowl. VFTW folks seem to think the show and their blog is about the pet store owners and the little kid who gets the aquarium, and they say right on their front page: "We agree that a fish out of water is entertaining...". But the show, IMHO, is not about the American People. The show is not about the producers. The show is about the people singing their heart out. I think the show is about the unfortunate fish, living life on display. OK, OK, they auditioned and they want to be there on stage -- but I'm pretty safe in assuming they don't want to be patronized or intentionally humiliated for someone else's enjoyment.

Maybe in a cartoon online, abusing a fish is funny.

But dealing with real people is a different thing altogether. The way I see it the folks at VFTW are just bullies having a laugh at someone else's expense. It's Sanjaya Malakar at the moment, but who is next?

It would be bad enough if a bunch of people started a private word-of-mouth game to do this, but what makes me really steamed is they've created this blog and are ostensibly asking everyone to join in the "fun" of adding insult to injury.

Maybe their influence on the results is not statistically significant. Maybe Sanjaya is still on the show because a legitimate amount of people actually voted for him, and less people legitimately voted for Brandon.

I guess in this case the American Idol Viewer is the underdog I'm currently rooting for.

~ Keith

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bright Futures

An ancient poet, comforted, said
God who watches over us
Never slumbers; never sleeps.
I believe also:
He does dream.

Like father & mother,
First newborn in arms; rapt gazing
Envisioning bright futures.God dreams for us.