When Flowers Were I n Bloom

When Flowers Were I n Bloom


The Loons In The Fox

The loons in the Fox
and the cosmos dark daggers
rip through me
even locomotive #7
chugging down the ole railroad line
has no passage to deliverance 

I will not allow you
O jocular Ghost
to alleviate or rearrange
a singularity I created
a golden calf I manifested

In this iniquitous moment
let me suffer
so I can be godlike tomorrow


Marvin Owen Berry

He was a Kentuckian with a Texas drawl acquired by forty years of life in The Lone Star State. He was sparse and deliberate with words, and they seemed to occupy space longer than normal before slowly dispersing like smoke. He wore jeans and flannel shirts and caps and boots and Buddy Holly glasses. He always sported a beard that articulated a certain symmetry of being. He wasn’t religious, but he was spiritual. Folks usually conflate the terms, but one can exist without the other. And in today’s volatile and turbulent days, when at times we can’t tell a Christian from a non-Christian, much could have been learned from a man who seemed to live life in peace and harmony with those around him.

I remember the first time I met him and within five minutes of exchanging a few words, I liked him. I felt a kinship and thought, “A man after my own heart.” He lived life as he saw fit; and in many ways, he saw this crazy world as I did. We had many things in common like being the eldest son and being honored with our father’s names and being passionate about the Cowboys and loving our families.

His siblings said he was a gentle soul and as they reminisced they couldn’t remember conflict or confrontation with him. I found it amazing, but believable. Time seemed to slow down with Owen. He lived life a second at a time and enjoyed the moment. He never worried family or friends with problems and never asked anything of anyone, and he cared less about keeping up with the Joneses. He was content with the essentials. He was who he was and made no excuses for it.

In the end, maybe that’s what moved me the most, his simple ways and the beauty in the way he embraced his life. And as birds began their morning song and the sun broke in the east, an old time gospel echoed in my mind, “There will be peace in the valley... There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow.” Unabashedly, I wept. I mourned a man who lived life in his own terms and left us way too soon. He will be greatly missed by his mom, brothers and sisters, and friends.

May the Creator be the guiding light on your final journey, Big O. I will miss you. Adios amigo...


The Third Being

This one was born in a river,
wrenched from the warm liquid
of a mother’s womb --
brought forth from water to water
and lifted to light by the hand of God ...

Listen --
day flees the wild country,
scurries beyond the belly of the Spirit
and abides in the Mansion of Infinite rooms.
Earth is void of light.
Dogs cower from the dark.
He knocks at my door.
Should I let him in to sup?
Who is this third being --
this colossal weight that tickles my sacs
and strokes my loins?

She waits in the kitchen.
Her finite hovel hurtles --
To the cesspool at the end of creation.
You take her.
Dance a mad tango.
In your fisted bones, a bushel of hair --
ruby beads --
strands of a hundred centuries.
And on your lips,
the stain of the Virgin Mary.
And in your groin,
the sting of Jezebel.

Why do you do this?
There is no honor in it.
Why do you allow this?
There is no honor in it.
Grandfather --
who is this third being
that stalks the night?

In my mortal heart,
three men fight;
in the broth of my bowels,
one butchered boy.

Did not my Old Man die for you?
His scream transfigured Golgotha.
Why, then,
why, then, this weight,
this third being

-- these strands of a hundred centuries.


On the birth of my grandson...

I remember the day dad passed away.  As he took his last breath, Alexis, my niece, took her first. One floor up there was jubilation, one floor down momentary despair. Momentary because we realized a life was coming into the family, and everlasting life was beginning for our father. The room was full with people that loved him, and we all  began to sing hymns, and the Holy Ghost comforted us.

Today, June 12, 2017, my thoughts are of beginnings and endings: the cycle of life. Life's arch is short and swift. But for Christians, the journey through this strange and sometimes wonderful land leads to the land of eternal bliss. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).  

Today, my thoughts are of my parents. How they lived their lives for The Lord and the legacy they left behind. Today, I think about my niece Mary and her courageous battle against ALS. Today, my thoughts are of my son, Christian, and daughter-in-law, Vanessa, as they bring their first son and my third grandson, Elliot Esteban Arellano, into a temporal world. 

Today, I'm full of joy and hope and pray that our Heavenly Father bless and keep my grandson safe throughout his short journey. Today, I am simply in love with God's  Word --

My Old Man

Early in my parents marriage, back in the 1950s, dad drank and smoked and didn't have a personal relationship with God, but mom having accepted Jesus Christ as her savior at the age of eight had become a fearless prayer warrior. And as they say, God works in mysterious ways.
Dad, a newlywed and a little jealous, would follow mom to church every Sunday. The worship house was a small country church in the Texas brush with big screen-less windows which were kept opened during service to let the breeze in. Dad would crouch behind bushes and flowers that lined the church walls, and would peek through the window to see if any man was trying to sit with his beautiful bride. To pass the time he'd listen to the sermon, and wait excitedly for the invitation when mom and her two sisters, tia Helita and tia Linda, would sing. The Spirit was moving in dad's life though he didn't know it at the time.
Dad started to question long held beliefs; and when mom wasn't around, he'd search scripture in her bible the pastor had quoted in his sermon. One cloudless, beautiful day when the world around him seemed more vibrant and alive with color and filled with invigorating smells, and electricity was in the air, it happened.
As had been the routine for several weeks, dad waited a half hour before following mom to church, but the anxious unsure feeling was replaced by excitement and anticipation for the word. It was a strange and exhilarating emotion he didn't quite understand. But as he crouched by the window listening to the pastor's closing statement and mom and her sisters began to sing, something stirred within his soul. And when the pastor gave the invitation, dad, struck by Holy Ghost lighting, jumped up.
Suddenly, as if by a great wind, the church doors were forced open. The congregation startled turned to see dad standing in the entrance, then in an instant, he was running down the aisle, and collapsing to his knees in front of the pastor and weeping, he surrendered his life to The Lord. Mom hugged him and wept with joy and they were joined by the pastor and my aunts and the congregation. They sang praises and my dad felt a piece of heaven in his heart. My dad's life changed instantly. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here (2 Corinthians 5:17)!" From that moment on, his life would be filled with beatitudes, and he would forever follow the rugged cross...

Dad's first pastorship was in Wilson, Texas, population 50.  We lived in a farm just outside of town. By the back porch, in a corner, there was a burrow. One day my sister, Mitzy, and I were playing close by when she dropped her doll in it. Reaching for her doll, she suddenly screamed. That's when I heard the rattling. I rushed to her rescue with my Roy Roger's six-shooter; and with the butt of my gun, I aimed at the snake's head. It coiled and struck, but I was just out of range. We were in a death dance for a minute before mom heard the commotion and screamed for dad who was about ready for a bath. He rushed out and pushed me out of the way. He grabbed a hoe that was near by and quickly disposed of the rattlesnake. In the midst of the cacophony and my innocent "I would have vanquished the serpent" bravado, sudden realization, like cool breeze in a hot summer's day, set in, and the paroxysm of fear turned into hysterical laughter as dad stood in the hot Texas sun nude as the day he was born.


If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, then you have a serious problem.
-- Toni Morrison

We'd lived in Levelland, Texas, for a short time when mom decided to take us to see "The Bible: In The Beginning."  My brothers and sisters were squealing and yelling and running and jumping. They were like firecrackers on the 4th of July. I, being a mama's boy, straggled behind and stayed by mother's side. As we approached, she hesitated, stared for a second, then solemnly shook her head. She said, "When I was young, we worked the fields in this area. The first weekend we were off we drove into town to watch a movie. We came here to the Wallace Theater, but when we were ready to pay, the lady in the booth said, "No!" "But we have money," I replied. "No, no Mexicans allowed," she said. I nervously asked mom if they would allow us in. She laughed and said, "Things have changed. They have to let us in."

But even back then, I understood "having to" and "wanting to" were different concepts and therein lies the problem. We can change the law; but unless we change the heart, hate will morph and reappear as, if not something good, something acceptable...


I should have been a snapshot in your life;
not a life's story.


Just Before Twilight

forty miles west of Chicago,
a herd of whitetail cross
bone splintered cornfields
to a tree-line  in the south
where white oak feebly reach
for the winter moon.  

I light a cigar
and wish for a shot of tequila,
wish it were summer,
and I was pulling up
to the Baptist Mission in Texas
where my old man spoke the word
and the choir rejoiced,
when I believed in tongues,
in heavenly utterances,
and the Holy Ghost was immense power
seething within,
and you the sacred vessel
I poured myself into.

My thoughts are of a time
when wind surfed the treetops
and apple blossoms swirled down
on an insouciant world and covered two beings
in its mystical cloak,
when I pressed you against earth
as it spun and traveled
around a star that moved
through space and time
to a point
that exalted you
and love
sacrificed self.

I wrap myself in a season
when I walked in the hullabaloo
of a day,
in the bell
of a lost Sunday,
when tulips were a lover's bed
and wild violets were a bouquet
arranged for you.
I remember a ruckus,
a riot
in my heart,
a hooligan love,
a rapture.

I recall
a time
as north winds rage
at the winter moon,
and the Big Dipper pours
into evening sky --

my thoughts are of you
as I follow the North Star home,
a thousand stars
lighting the way.
 Science reveals God's power and majesty. The mysteries that unfold are gifts. We should search the heavens by faith without fear.   

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him."
-- Galileo  

 This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.
-- Newton


I recall those long ago summer days when mom or dad would call and ask me to stop by after work and have supper. While mom and the girls made flour tortillas, chile con queso, frijoles refritos, and pappas y carne de supa, Shio would bring out the guitars and tambourines and maracas, and we'd sit aound the kitchen table and sing coritos. We'd sing late into the evening, and there was joy and laughter, and we were filled with the Holy Ghost; and the Honey Moon, a witness to our jubilation, blessed summer blooms with lover's light and peaked through our window as the curtains flapped in the breeze. This corito reminds me of those days and had me clapping and singing and making a ruckus. My wife wondered if I was touched. Yeah, touched by the Spirit... 


Buddy Holly Glasses (For My Father)

All spring
I crashed through doors,
reached blindly for walls
too far for support,
sacrificed my insides
to Arabic numerals that
appeared and disappeared
on crinkled leaves of wisdom.
All because I loved you.
Because I adored you.
Because I idolized you.
Then one day you saw
the unseen
and removed the revered
Buddy Holly glasses.
And the only spectacles that remained
rested on the tip
of your dark brown, Moses-like nose.

All because I loved you.


This Spring-like Day In Chicago

This spring-like day in Chicago,
I relax on my back porch listening to the Byrds.
Two Mexican women scurry along my sidewalk. 
They balance bags of clothes on their heads.
Their alien tongue fade around the corner
as they head to the laundromat
on Broadway Street.
Their children dark, black stone eyes,
unafraid of a strange world,
roam and ramble across my yard.
Their laughter made for this land.

If I close my eyes and listen,
I hear the laughter and footsteps of my grandfather's mother.
A basket of  dirty clothes balanced on her head,
she follows a narrow path to the river.


Sometimes we have to sit quietly and listen ...

After He Spoke, I Dreamed of Angelfish

Moon above,
sea below
-- Sturm und Drang
-- under the quilt of guilt.
And still I feel His presence,
this night of  Eucharist.
Beneath the star of Bethlehem
a million fry flounder,
afflict my soul.

I slam shut the shutters.
Thrash hopelessly till I school.
A billion angelfish and I
through the blue pool of heaven.
-- in body
-- in water.


American Mason Jar

mason jar
canning jar
jar to preserve
jar to seal goodness
jar to forbid sickness
jar to eliminate isms
things that possess
head flop
arm flap
seized by 
the creation
mason jar
canning jar
jar to preserve
jar to seal goodness

100% All American Mason Jar: Cap, Lid, and Ring!




who does not love your gown
of green?
In each of us a flower blooms,
and in it is a word.

May mine be strong and full of wonder!


When Light Breaks

When light breaks
across La Sangre 
de Cristo peaks
and leaves shimmer 
along the pathway
when beams burst 
from the towers 
of St. Francis 
of Assisi
and Living Light
the cobble streets 

of Santa Fe
when flames dance 

above my head
and prayers drone 

from Cristo Rey 
to San Miguel
when hymns drift 

along the walkways
and Holy Faith

is a golden glow
the park bench 

becomes a pew
and father stands 

before me
hands firm

on my shoulders
voice tenor

and beautiful
years fade 

and I remember
I am 

my Father's son
and sings my soul
I am 

my Father's son
and sings my soul 


Keith Olbermann Prophecy 7 Years Ago

Science is more than a body of knowledge ...

"Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness."
-- Carl Sagan

When we hear a black man ...

“When we hear a black man describe police violence; when we hear an undocumented immigrant describe exploitative labor; when we hear a prisoner describe institutionalized brutalization; when we hear a young gay woman describe homelessness – our first response must not be to attempt to discredit, to rationalize, to explain away. Rather, we must give them the credit we would expect others to give to us, and try to understand experiences that differ substantially from our own. . . . This doesn’t mean credulously accepting every narrative or policy proposal that is accompanied by a claim of oppression; we still have to apply our rational faculties. It does mean treating every story with the solicitude we would reflexively grant to members of our own economic, social, racial, and religious tribes."
-- Brandon McGinley


evening notes ...


"Mary, it was nice breaking bread. I guess Amanda and Gabriel are officially hooked on tortas al pastor."

Mary, at twilight, I always look for the Big Dipper, then off of Alkaid, the star at the tip of the handle, I find the North Star. Afterwards, I settle into my lawn chair, turn on my music, pour myself a drink, and light a cigar. I often wonder if in another galaxy, in a faraway solar system, another being is star gazing and contemplating the existence of other intelligent life.

Usually on clear, star filled nights, I drift back to my youth in Texas, to my grandfather's farm.  In the evening, after a hard days work and after dinner, our dessert would come from the garden. Albert and I -- Shio straggling behind -- walked down row after row searching for the juiciest meloncito, cantaloupe, or honeydew. Before we ate our fruit, we'd place it in the fresh, cool water of the irrigation ditch, then we'd recline and wait for the stars.  We'd talk about extra-terrestrials, alien creatures, and space exploration. Time would fly and soon the moon would appear, and the Texas sky, aglitter with stars, would transport us to another world.

In those moments, I'd marvel at God's creation, and my believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being was reaffirmed. And underneath the umbrella of God's hand, my imagination ran wild unable to contain the infinite power of the Creator's glory. But ultimately, my thoughts would turn to the existence of man and what lay beyond: spirit, soul, afterlife, paradise.

When I sit in my lawn chair and gaze into the star filled night, I am face to face with God, and the universe makes me feel important and immense not small and insignificant. I am anchored by faith and His creation.  The stars call me home to the infinite, to the eternal. One day, somewhere beyond the Milky Way, beyond the hundred billion galaxies that swirl in space, I will abide in my Father's mansion.

Mary, I just want to say you're an inspiration, and I love you; and maybe some night you can treat me to a cigar, and we can stargaze together. And if you're nice, I'll even show you my special star which burns in the northern sky like the Star of Bethlehem. What do you say?

Well, talk to you later. And you know I love you more ...

evening notes ...


"How are you Mary? Hope you have a great day."

Saturday night, at around 10, I was in my back porch smoking a cigar and having a drink. Across the street neighbors had a fire going and were roasting marshmallows. I guess it was a fellowship of Christian women. They were singing hymns and such. I was listening to Al Green on my music box surrounded by my flowers and chimes.  Occasionally the chimes played soothingly as a breeze caressed them. It was a beautiful night. The moon hung like a pearl above the roofs and beside it, because of an astrological occurrence, Mars shone bright like the Star of David.

So there I sat smoking my cigar, drinking my tequila, letting my thoughts drift into space, when the women began to pray. I lowered my music, turned out my cigar, and listened. An older woman led the prayer and soon others joined in. Their voices rose to a crescendo, and my heart broke, and I also prayed.They prayed for healing of church and family members. They prayed for the worlds healing. I prayed for you, for your family, for me, that He would hear me. I prayed His will be done despite I wished otherwise. There I was in the dark, on my porch, in the midst of this crazy, weird, beautiful moment, praying.

I hadn't spoken to God in some time, but this wasn't planned, and it wasn't for me, and it just happened. After a while a hush fell over the gathering, until a gust of wind brought them out of their deep meditation. They hugged and there was laughter and hallelujahs. I remembered my walk with the Lord, though it seemed like a century ago, and a longing came over me. This was a hallelujah moment, and I reflected on my life as I stared into the vast universe and listened to their songs of worship. The moon, the Creator's unblinking eye, shinned its light on me, and it was good.

Mary, I sat there for a good bit thinking of you and how much I love you, but more importantly, how much our Father in heaven loves you. I felt mom and dad's presence and all our loved ones and it brought me peace.  Mary, I'm here for you, but the most wonderful thing is the Great Comforter dwells within you. He will always be there.

Well, I just wanted to share my moment with you. And you know I love you more ...


It's gone.
35 years obliterated.
Swirling water:
churning, boiling, crashing.
A tolling ebb and flow.

Nothing is left.
No one to cry.
No one to mourn.
Only frothing sea
and a cerulean sky. 


She Hears Him


She dreams
he scurries across the floor,
and through any nook or cranny,
disappears into the walls,
then she awakens to an empty crib --
the house settling,
windows rattling.

All night
she hears him crying
behind the woodwork. 


Happy Union: A Path To Enlightenment

Happy Union, Texas
at the waterhole north end of grandfather’s farm
where Kirby keeps his cattle.
It’s evening and a hundred and ten degrees.
Barbas de Oro is whooshing in south of El Rio Grande.
The chaparral throbs and the cornfields rattle like pissed-off snakes.
I float in a pond, listen to killdeer and scissor-tails.
Frogs plop in the water and ripple after ripple
pass through me.
I’m a buoy connected to Yahweh.
My head bobs in the swish\swoosh
body of water and I muse –

if Jesus is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent;
if He is here at this moment,
has He counted every hair on my head;
if He knows me completely,
and I know Him,
having consumed  body

and drank blood,
if He is here, now,
does He ascend in golden plumes,
arms raised, palms turned outward,
pale face, blue-eyed, and blond;
or, is He in the water
dark, shiny as a stone;
hair raven and in curls,
eyes black and catholic?

“Well Rabbi," I begin,
"It’s like this --”

We talk late in the evening.
Just me and Jesus
-- neither here nor there --
in the heart of Texas,
in a slow spiral,
our heads bobbing
in the swish\swoosh
body of water.


When Flowers Were In Bloom

When flowers were
in full bloom,
I saw you.
You were more beautiful
than any blossom
in any garden,
in any city,
in any state,
in any continent,
in any planet,

You were more beautiful --

When wildflowers sweetened
the bee laden days,
and sudden northern winds
blew those strange Saturdays
into so many lost Sundays,
I danced like a dervish
whirling, whirling
till flames burned
above my head.

And though I offered days
of bells and honey,
your heart walked
down a narrow road
to a temple in the east
never  to return --
I lost myself.

And in evening light,
I sat in a pasture
with a thousand bluebells
and waited for the stars,
and the cosmos dark daggers
shredded my heart,
and I hung naked
on the North Star
and wept --

I thought,
You were more beautiful
than any blossom
in any garden,
in any city,
in any state,
in any continent,
in any planet,

You were more beautiful --


my daughter screams
all you do is drink and write poetry
it's not true
i've never been drunk a day in my life
i've written plenty of bad poetry   


An ocean of emotion. How cliché.
If that’s the case, then all I have is driftwood.
“I love your eyes, your smile, your lips.
The way you say my name.”

“Let me hold your hand.”
A kiss. A hug. I disrobe you.
Lick lines of dissent on your body.
“Let me love you?”

There is no shoreline.
Twenty-five years of flotsam
keep me from drowning.
I hang on in desperation.

“I love you,” she says.
I take a deep breath.
In this infinite sea, it exists for me.
It must suffice --



And It Was summer

One night,
as I smoked a cigar in my backyard,
the old lady from across the street
walked over with her pit bull
and complained about the smell.
“You smoke mucho marijuana,”
she said pointing at my Backwoods.
“It’s a cigar,”  I explained.
“No,” she said, “You stop.”
“Listen, your dog barks all night long,
do I complain?”
“You stop,” she demanded.
I said, “I stop when he stops.
Whatever his name is.”
She said, “Doe no.”
“You don’t know his name,”
I asked.
She said, “Doe no.”
“Don’t know,” I asked again.
“Doe no,” she replied.
“Wait a minute, his name is Don't Know?”
“Doe no,” she said as her freaking dog
took a crapzilla on my lawn.
She gave me the bony bird,
and marched back to her fort.
There after, every morning
I’d find a steaming pile of dog shit in my yard.

One day,
I planted jalapenos in the enriched soil;
and when the plant was full,
I picked and gave them to the old lady.
It was summer and days were long:
bees buzzed the honeysuckles,
children played in the fields,
wives giggled like high school girls,
old men played cards,
and young men serenaded their sweethearts.
The old lady walked across the street with Don't Know
and brought ice cold horchata.
We sat by my garden and talked  about the old country,
and the breeze made circlets of her hair,
and Don't Know barked at passersby,
and I smoked my Backwoods.

And it was summer and dreams were long,
and bees buzzed the honeysuckles,
and children played in the fields,
and we sat in my garden,
by the jalapeno plant,
and drank horchata
and let evening light
wash over us.