Between Lifetimes

on the other side,

i wonder if jesus

shares parables

to answer what we’ve always wondered.

then, to apply our wisdom,

we’re dispatched

naked and screaming

to parallel earths.

we’d flounder for awhile but adapt.

and on good days we’d radiate infinity,

just like now

whenever we share a mystic insight;

an idea we heard once

between other lifetimes.

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Peleg and Abiah

Peleg Austin & wife Abiah Knapp Austin were my fifth great grandparents on my dad’s side.  They were grandparents to Lucinda Griffin, whose story will come later.

An Austin family history was written by Edith Austin Moore.  She included a letter received in in 1929 from Lillian Manchester, which is the source for this story.

Peleg Austin was born in Vermont, the son of English parents.  In the 1790s,  he and his brother became the first white settlers in Franklin County, a wilderness area in upstate New York along the Quebec border.   The Austin pioneers were “thrifty, hard-working men and women of character and beauty.”

Abiah Knapp suffered teenage heartbreak, from which she never fully recovered.  She loved a medical student named Wyman, described as “a bold and adventurous youth, could swear and shoot, and had no money but plenty of brains.”  Wyman asked Abiah’s stern clergyman father to marry them, but he refused.  The relationship ended.

Several years passed, and Abiah’s parents feared she would become an old maid.  Tired of their comments, one day she snapped that she would marry the first man who proposed.  And that…was Peleg Austin.

Eight years older, Peleg was “uneducated and rough.  But he had land, some money, was religious and upright, honest and a hard worker and quite dependable.”  Unfortunately for “the dainty little Abiah, cultured, refined and beautiful”, Peleg was also “a man homely enough to stop a clock.”

They married.

A few years later, they settled in the frontier several miles further west. “Wild Indians” would come daily to their home, sometimes entering and stealing any provisions they could find.  Eventually, “the hardships and terrors of the wilderness was more than the delicate Abiah could stand.”  She never grew to love Peleg, and combined with her broken heart Abiah “became mentally unbalanced in a mild, harmless way.”  Three of her dozen children were born after this happened.

Abiah died at a daughter’s home at age 86.  Peleg, who also served in the War of 1812, died at 95.  They were buried together at a cemetery in Moira, New York.

Although I sympathize with Abiah, this story leaves me wondering.  What if the preacher Knapp would have been more lenient?  Or Wyman, a bit less callow?  What would have happened if Abiah hadn’t made such a rash promise?   Or if the unattractive backwoodsman Peleg had lacked the courage to propose?

Would I be here?

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I’m Back

Hello again.  Been dormant for awhile.  Nothing personal, dear and precious reader.  I’ve continued to write during my blogging hiatus, but haven’t hopped on here to share.  Too many shiny distractions, ya know.

Lately, I’ve been focusing on finalizing a purpose and theme to create a book.  I want to commit myself to getting it done…no more ass-dragging.

I spent last Saturday at the inaugural Iowa Book Festival. Heard some inspiring keynote national authors, went to some thought-provoking and informative seminars, and got biz cards from two local book publishers. And I made a great connection with Adam Carroll, financial expert and author of “The Money Savvy Student.”

We discussed blogging.  Told him about “Godservations;” he loved the domain name.  And the story behind “The Iowa Seer.”  He seemed genuinely interested in checking my writing (and no, I’m not name-dropping here in hopes that he does!)

I shared my idea for combining several of my passions into a book subject.  Genealogy, history, spiritual/transitional matters, story telling, and poetry.  I’ll weave these together by sharing my family mythology–specifically, the quirky twists that led certain couples to meet and produce offspring that eventually resulted in ME.   Like Mom and Dad meeting at Rowley HS–one a teacher, one a student.  And “Cookie Grandma” Olson, meeting her future husband when she found him sleeping in their barn.  How a grandpa–who by dying in an 1840’s barn-raising–allowed his widow to remarry and bring the first Grover to Buchanan County.  The story of homely Peleg Austin and his heartbroken bride.

I can even include how I met my wife.  Deb and I…seeing one another for the first time…on a locked mental ward.  I’ll include some transitory/spiritual Godservations.

I’m hoping the end result is an appreciation for the bizarre circumstances that could have only aligned in the particular way they did…to create US.  To have us realize how infinitely individual we all are.  And, newly enlightened,  to ponder our destiny with a increased awe and respect.

I plan to get all this written before editing.  That’s how the big kids said they do it–some of them even sold me their books last weekend.

Gonna try to work on this several times a week.  It’s a project I owe my ancestors, my parents, my wife and my kids.  My birthday present to myself will to have the first draft done by July 5th.  That’s about three months, and blogging will be a good way to crank out the story. It’s good to have a theme.

For now, it’s bedtime.


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Naked Hangers

They hang, sandwiched between an embroidered work polo and a snarky t-shirt.

They hang, isolated, on what used to be her side of the closet.  A year after she died, a bereaved widower has finally cleared out her blouses.

They hang as trophies to weight loss and donated XXXL football jerseys and handed-down Oxford shirts.

They hang, entombed in the musty basement of a foreclosed split-level.  There, they witnessed a necktie suicide.

They hang, once covered by padded shoulder dresses, pleated tuxedo shirts, and polyester leisure suits.

They hang, naked.

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Assuming we haven’t had too many beers, balance is something we take for granted.  Like our beating heart, blinking eyes, and breathing.

And we don’t miss balance until it’s gone.

Stand on one leg.  No fair holding on to anything!  A little tricky, but manageable.

Now close your eyes.

In a few short seconds, you’re teetering. No matter how hard you try to keep your body still.  Even if you tried, like I did, to focus on something before shutting my eyes to keep myself steady.  No luck.

If we forget our focus and go to dark places, it’s a short time before we lose our balance.   Both literally and figuratively.

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Sticks & Stones

Sticks & stones may break my bones

But words will never hurt me.

A stiff-upper-lipped, big-boy-who-don’t-cry

British dad probably came up with that.

He may have been trying to comfort his kids.

But maybe he used it to rationalize

a sadistic indulgence

to shame a bed-wetting daughter,

and mock her stuttering brother.

These words are neither sticks, nor stones.

They are knives,

Slicing hearts and dicing souls.

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God is the tower,

the all-powerful transmitter.

Holy Spirit is the signal,

the universal broadcast.

Jesus is the voice,

the midnight comforter.



we are the rock,

mesmerized by black screens

and tuned to silent radios.


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Some nights I’m immersed in a bottomless abyss.

I’m befriended by blobby, snot-colored, toothy, odd-tentacled creatures.

They’re hideous…puke-inducing…and alien to all reason.

They’ll be discovered some bright future morning on a post- tsunami shore,

Our secret dialogues

Deathly safe.

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Not Yet St Patty’s


Not yet St Patty’s,

But above average temps for a week

After a month long frozen-slump hacky (lung) sac stretch

Leads to smiley faces and hopeful endeavors and optimistic beginnings.

A red headed woodpecker builds a nest high just above a crotch in the neighbor’s maple.

Flashy cardinals chirp and fly horny.

Trees are still spread wide and winter stick naked

Though buds form on twigs nearest the sun,

Readying to burst forth renewal

And the validation spring promises.

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Although our parents conceived us,

we were crafted beyond an infinite horizon

where God wove His Spirit

into our flesh,

and Her love

into our smile.

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