Shopping, Christmas Eve

“Wal-Mart at Night – Menomonee Falls, WI” by Tom Boese, Flickr

“Shopping, Christmas Eve” by Sharon Rauenzahn

Momentarily blinded by the light of the star
Shining down on me from the Walmart sign
I gather my courage, enter in
Seeking, following
Where has my heart led me, again this year?
Looking, as ever, for that one perfect gift

Will it make someone happy?
Knowing only love would lead me here
This day of all days
Searching out that long-awaited, eagerly anticipated
Representation of love

For what else is a gift, any gift
Freely (or expensively) given?
Socks, slippers, this year’s fought-over Furby
Forgotten tomorrow

Yet there is love even here, even at Walmart
One more shopping day before Christmas
I know Christ died
I know
That things are only things
Grass fading, flowers falling

But today, this day made for man
I will be battered and bumped
I will seek and not find
I will wish for something simpler
A little more real

All the time picturing
Little boy Jesus
Playing with Myrrh
Wishing for a bicycle

December, 2005 (rev. 12/7/2018)


Advent: Emmanuel


“Advent: Emmanuel” by Sharon Rauenzahn

Where do you go?
We go to school, to the office, to the job
To the busy, the hard, the responsible
Going, go, go
Out and away

But the old songwriters knew
Years and centuries ago
What we need now is to return
To return to
Come back to

Back to the beginning
Back to Bethlehem
Come, faithful and adoring, joyful in song
Come to the cradle, to the crib
The birthplace, your native land

“Come, all you who are weary”
Says our Lord

Here we arrive
Here we rest
Here we come back
To the small, central heart

Mother and child
Man and wife
God with us


December, 2008

Shake Out the Beach


Shake Out the Beach” by Sharon Rauenzahn

Let love go.

Let the tide roll in, washing
from the sand, washing
from the shore, washing
out of tears.

Shake out the beach and go home.

9/4/1992 (revised 11/25/2016)

Photo: “Ebb tide, Sandsend” by Pauline E. (cropped)


Photo “Flatirons” by Michael W Murphy, via flickr

“For Tom, in Colorado” by Sharon Rauenzahn

You see the world from here, atop your rock,
Spread wide before you in the summer haze.
So guard this memory, and pray it stays
To comfort you, when like a rust-bound lock,
Time’s distance bars this beauty from your sight
And you must dwell below, confined to earth.
I cannot measure what your heaven’s worth:
Though swearing not to leave without a fight,
Yet you’ll go quietly, and quiet weep
For days spent far from home, and endless nights
Spent staring, not at stars, but at the clock
In some hotel room, wishing you could sleep.
No earthly peace awaits, where you must fall;
You’ll carry it within, or not at all.

July 23, 1993 (rev. 11/25/2016)

Window Shopping

“Shop window reflection” by Henry Bloomfield, via flickr

“Window Shopping” by Sharon Rauenzahn

sometimes as we pass
she touches my reflection
smiles through me like glass

May, 1992 (rev. 11/25/2016)

Harvey’s Coin


“Harvey’s Coin” by Sharon Rauenzahn

Round, heavy, cold in my hand
One Rhodesian shilling
Smooth in my hand, cold
The classroom bustles around me
Harvey’s coin collection
Brought to school for show and tell
Spilled across the floor
Six kids around sets of three tables
Harvey sat at the end of our set
The coins spilled under our table
I don’t know why I took it
Held it, kept it, pretended not to know
When the teacher offered amnesty
I was terrified, guilty, full of shame
I hid the coin, in a pocket, in a drawer
Tried to forget, and often did
Now and again I still find it
In a box in the garage
Because I still keep it
Because what else can I do?
Facebook has far too many
Harvey Shapiros
If I’m remembering right
If it was his collection after all
And not the tall, blond boy
Whose name I can’t recall
Thinking it over, it might have been
But in my mind, it’s always
Harvey Shapiro
Hot-headed, stubborn, fast-talking
That way he leaned in when he argued
Elbows bent, hands pointed forward
Brilliant, handsome
I’m not sure he ever noticed me
I’m not sure I ever knew
Why I watched him
Why I stole his coin
Round and heavy
Cold in my hand

November, 2016

Cast Iron


“Cast Iron” by Sharon Rauenzahn

The smell of blood is a cast-iron skillet
Salted clean, ready for oil
Our parents preferred non-stick pans
Disposable razors
Free love, if they could afford it
We put our kids in “back to basics”
We sign up for war
We cook with cast-iron

February 26, 2010 (rev. 9/5/2016)

Some Bruises


“Some Bruises” by Sharon Rauenzahn

The bruises are almost gone now;
those were not your fault.
My too-thin skin betrayed me once again,
and kind fingers left unkind marks.
“Pea Princess” you called me;
I’ll bet you don’t remember.
I never forget anything:
Each word, each look,
each touch, the rarest gift.
Everything of mine that once was yours
I know and keep by heart.
But now and then I do forget:
my self, my pride,
tomorrows and yesterday.
All that’s me can disappear,
in your kind and unkind eyes.
Some bruises last longer than others.

January 30, 1993


Photo: “Askew leads Crayford.jpg” 1976

“Askew” by Sharon Rauenzahn

Just for you,
my heart breaks anew.
down the middle, or maybe off to the left,
like the little cleft
that mars your otherwise perfect chin.

but what’s to do?
i shall starve myself thin,
just for you.

you grin,
marvellously askew.

May 11, 1993