Day 13: Erasure (Audio Reading)

I think you found your name at the center and top line of this page

And as much as you loved being the subject

You would not bare (bear) that I wrote it.

So you’ve been erasing yourself,

Fervently rubbing away your name

To remove it from under my hand

From the words that were mine and are now yours.

You also might love the content

The words might move you but you won’t let them have you

You might even hope they will form you as a portrait

Of your most ideal self that you are saving for someone else

And then we come to my name, my signature

The part you cannot fully ignore and aren’t entirely sure what to do with

You fold the page over my name so you don’t see it

But you won’t remove it

It’s the last vestige of me that protects you 

from feeling like you crushed me

or ruined my name to those closest to you.

You can look at me favorably and say I was sweet or well intentioned

But someone you could not like enough,

The one you will fondly return to one day in your poor memory

And tell your children about how I loved you and you, in order to

Continue to preserve a version of you I never fully knew,

Will leave out how you all but murdered me from existence.

That’s the crime of poetry

For every one I’ve written for you, 

there’s a stack of blank notes left for me

And a string of convenient half-truths

That the ones who’ve never read me have only heard.

*Authors Note- A Poem about being erased from someone’s life.

Day 12: A Talk With Your Father: Actually Two and a Father’s Day Goodbye (Audio Reading)

I really liked your dad,

Admired his vulnerability

His clear care for his family

I was happy to have those hard conversations

I remember leaving my dad early to meet you in a park

On Father’s day, June of 2015. 

I wish I could have been there for him, my dad.

Instead of entering into an end I did not expect.

But it had to come to an end for your sake.

I wonder how he is, how you all are.

You all seem well. 

I seem to dream of you recurrently more than anyone else.

He was generous with his time. 

I could have been a father by now 

But the children I conceive don’t see the land of the living.

And this year was the last Father’s Day with my dad

Spent in the hospital, him thanking me for a greeting card 

Preparing for a long and tenderly agonizing goodbye.

*Author’s Note- A poetic reflection that I started on October 10th of this year. I edited 5 lines of the poem that didn’t seem to fit. These father conversation poems were a collection I wrote over a several day span, heavily reliant on memory and emotion.

Day 6: A Talk With My Father We Never Had (Audio Reading)

The only time we ever talked about love

Was the month following my heartbreak

Around Thanksgiving of my 24th year.

I did not think I could keep going quietly, honestly

And you did not have much advice to give.

In the wake of that winter you visited once 

And I had very little left to run on.

What followed was a decade

Of no progressing news of romance. 

I never even really mentioned to you my relationships

because I was ashamed of myself. 

At my age you had one child

And did not necessarily want me, who was to come, 4 years later. 

Maybe not so much me, as want the whole packaged

Uncharmed American dream. 

A wife and two kids did not mean you made something.

And for me I’m teetering on the precipice 

Of whether or not I can make something

I’d ask you now:

How do you configure the controls of love?

Is romance something you nurtured?

Did you fall in with the same fervor in which you fell out?

How do you make time for cherishing and being cherished?

I don’t know if you would have offered answers.

I should have given you the chance though, no?

Ultimately, I was just afraid these questions would scare you

Or worse yet it would sadden you

That the thoughts that gnaw at the deep caverns of my soul

Would continue to eat me alive

leaving me unable to exist contentedly enough to be happy for a moment.

I Write to You Children

There is a beautiful piece of poetry right in the middle of 1 John chapter 2 verses 12-14. It is the center of a sandwich of intense passsages. The first describes: saying you walk in the light but have persistent hatred or rejection towards your brother; the second describes not loving the things of the world that are passing away, the lusts, the pride, the things we yearn for that take our gaze from God. Much could be said about 1 John 2:9-11 and 2:15-17 and the way that John is writing a tender sincere love letter about the radical commitment of living wholly for Christ.

But I want to write about the poem and the words he uses, writing to little children, fathers and young men. For the sake of context, I am a young man and in the literal sense still a child of someone, but not a little child. yet, to God, the Christian is never old.

Here is the text:

12I write to you, little children,
Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
13 I write to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
Because you have known the Father.
14 I have written to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
And you have overcome the wicked one.

The repetition is the greatest evidence of its poetry. The only verses in the poem that differ completely are in John’s address to little children, the basis to the beginning of every person’s existence. We all start as little children, some of us never leave this state.

And to them, John writes first, “I’m writing to you because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.” That in itself is interesting wording because it does not say for our or your names sake; it says for His name’s sake. In other words, for Christ’s sake! He (God) has a vested interested in our being forgiven.

In the second stanza John’s address to little children lets us know he is writing because we have known the Father. This is also perplexing, not in that the Father can be known; He wants to be known. I believe He is more easily known the more childlike our faith, the more desperately needy and trusting we are that he will provide for us as a Father to his kids. The only way we could know the Father is from a posture as adopted sons and daughters. We do not father God, the only brotherhood we have is perhaps with Christ who became our advocate, intercessor and propitiation. He is both our replacement yet all of creation is by and for and through Him. All of it so we could be reconciled as children to have access to the Father, so we could know the Father.

After little children, John addresses the father in 2 stanzas giving them the same rationale in both, as to why he is writing to them. The fathers have known Him who is from the beginning. That past tense phrasing of known indicates that their is a history of intimate knowledge. The fathers in this verse presumably have children either genetically or spiritually. They are responsible for someones development and growth and care. They are a father like the Father and their knowledge of God and Christ has historical value. It has a currency of knowledge based in reality and repetition of understanding the character of God.

And finally he addresses young men, the last, the often forgotten, the historically most dispensable in war and tragedy, whether slave or free. You could argue among slaves, young men were valued higher for their strength and ability to work but work is a curse, a byproduct of sin. Men are exploited to keep up with the curse. Young men especially because they are past the point of provision in the sense of relying on someone else to work for them, yet are not viewed as valuable caretakers or providers to a spouse or children or presumably a parent. They are floating in the middle which has placed them last and which John sees and addresses with the most words.

Dear Son: Letters to My Son – Journals For the Soul

John writes first “because you have overcome the wicked one.” Have they? Have we? Have you ever met a young single Christian man that has overcome the wicked one? I have been a young single Christian man for lets say 16 years if we go by the age of adulthood we kind of agree upon as Western society or we could say 21 years if we are going by most agreed upon Jewish standards. Suffice it to say whatever the timetable, the majority of young single Christian men I have met have very little figured out. I’ve met a few superstars, maybe John did to. The disciples aside from Peter and Thomas and Judas all seemed like superstars. To be fair though Peter was married so he might have had kids. Who knows?

My point is overcoming the wicked one hardly feels like a consistent reality. There is too much self doubt. There is too much telling young men they are expendable, replaceable, comparable. Vocational rejection, Relational rejection, Competition, dizzying disappointment and unclear even more dizzying expectations. This is getting all the more complex not less. Yet in John’s eyes young men have overcome.

In the second stanza he makes an even more audacious claim. “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” John lets us know why he believes young men have and can overcome. Because of strength and because the word of God abides in you. God in Christ by His Spirit willingly abides in you and me in the midst of our sinful predilections. God stepped in and seemingly has stayed. So John writes and he writes a letter with poetry.

He writes so our relationship would remain, so our love would be strengthened so we’d not lose heart.

I write to you and to myself to not lose heart.

Letter to a Beautiful Woman

You Dear,

look like a friend from antiquity

the one in whom the seasons changed us more than they change themselves

I’m sorry I could not circumvent the grief we’ve shared and caused

Our rotation caused collision

and carried us further and further and further….

Kind Hearted Woman by Keelyart Paintings

and then away

I keep looking, staring really, passed the painful parts

the lovely parts too,

yet there is the image of your face floating in my hope

I’ve asked it to leave with you towards whatever boundary

you can run to without looking back.

Looking back

my affection for you became the trowel

digging away, grinding the roots of my insecurities

unconvinced that any hurt would wed itself to my identity

and I, helpless under your hand, try to shield myself from

the kindness, the unmatched countenance, the tenderness

to keep myself from whatever goodness would prevail in me.

I would fight you to the death instead of

laying down and dying

to the same result

just without rest.

I would fight for you but you’ve run a race

finishing at a line that was not the one

where I pray you into the place of choosing

and you carefree in your tears

attract an audience

with the songs, the sonnets, the sentiments

that the world (or at least mine) has signed its salutations

Excerpts from Firsts

Bubble tea in Princeton

on the verge of tears between telling me about biology and eating vegetarian patties

Science and research,

where are your glasses?

You look different with glasses

you love your tiny dog

spinnakopita and a walk

saw you 7 months later

wearing glasses and maybe with your tiny dog at a small town coffee shop from afar.

Indian food because you were craving it

in a mini mall you didn’t love

you said you were too loud for this place

and that you’d only had it once

and didn’t know what to order

was in Scranton for 5 years

and couldn’t tell me the name of a single bar or what you did for fun

took 2 phone calls from your mom

and didn’t try to leave

fell asleep in my car driving back from also bubble tea

I said goodbye with a backwards hug

because it felt appropriate

Mini golf got rained out

so I took you to my favorite restaurant a few towns away

got pulled over because I didn’t know how to properly install a single license plate.

did a scavenger hunt from the car

my creativity was on point then.

you were as kind as you could be.

The first second and third restaurant were closed for lunch

We found Thai downtown

the waiter wanted us to share a straw

the first time I had bubble tea.

We did not

went to some stacks in a park after a walk

took pictures of you on your camera

an awkward goodbye in the car

awkward two months later when you said you’d go out again.

I am from….

Template Adapted by Levi Romero 

Inspired by “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

I am from expensive pens on borrowed time

From cat graphic tees and clown figurines 

I am from the farmacy

a honey hive of hospitality

I am from the barely living banzai tree

The Palmettos a little more alive 

whose long gone limbs I remember

As if they were my own.

I’m from Christmas Eve and Italian Pride

From Janice and Anthony and the 2 Catholic Mary’s

I’m from dunking bread in red sauce and fighting

And from telling the same stories. 

I’m from Jesus’s heart and the never satsified

And somewhere over the rainbow 

I’m from sotftball games

I’m from Trenton, New Jersey and Italy, Pietregala

chicken parmagiana and ego waffles 

From my grandmothers resolve to live like she’d never die

her calm

her seated smile, family costumes, and inquisitive expressions

on the shelf, in boxes in the garage, in the pages of my journal

from homes that hardly felt like homes but yearned for the ones who lived in them

I am still from a place I’ve never been.

Love Theories: Not Soup nor Slumber


It can’t be stirred in a pot until it tastes better
Can’t be set a top a stove to heat up
Can’t be baked at 450 and set before us to satisfy our hunger
It can’t be shaken out of slumber or kissed alive like a fairy tale

It’s timing is a mystery when it chooses to awaken, when it chooses to be given

It must be wait upon, served when ready, not served when wanted


It is not self-seeking, it doesn’t wave you off, it doesn’t point you in the wrong direction, it doesn’t see the opportunity you provide, before it sees you

It doesn’t try to perfect your body before it takes you as it’s own, it doesn’t let you go when you can’t make yourself well. It doesn’t ignore your call or get back to you only when convenient

Love is not convenience, it’s not angry when it’s presently healing and freeing others; it rejoices in that kind

It reciprocates goodness, does not hedge its bets or hedge its heart; it entrusts itself to potential hurt recognizing that it cannot fail even when wounded.

Love is the overcoming currency of the world, yet it never insists payment

But when it’s missing you will hear it, you will see it, you will see the blood in its absence, carry the dejection in darkness, feel the rage when it is replaced with indifference

Love is not another lecture, though it will endure far longer than one

Love will never lose its luster, though it will fall frequently to wash feet

Love isn’t interested in leverage, it holds loosely and is delighted to walk along

Love when perfected eliminates fear, brings near, keeps here

When love lays down or conquers, it looks the same because it leaves a wake of life

When love awakens, we are full


Settling the Stages

IMG_0013I’ve been in Charleston for 3 full days settling in, meeting neighbors, sending my brother off back to New Jersey and tonight will be my first night sleeping in my new apartment alone (with Jesus).

It hasn’t occurred to me yet that I’ve moved. It partially feels like I’m staying at a hotel with all my stuff on a short vacation. I’m sure it will feel like it soon, maybe next week, maybe when I start my new job, maybe when its fall and doesn’t feel like a typical Northeast fall, which in the past few years I have grown to love.

I feel like this process will continue in stages. I’m anticipating the break down and crying while asking myself what have I done stage to come soon. We are all waiting for that one with bated breath, hoping it will produce some strong writing and insight. Maybe that’s just me.

I don’t know when that stage comes either, but I can tell you about the stage I’m at. It’s the writing late at night after eating fast food (Cookout) and wondering what I bought at Kohls that managed to cost $60.00 and why I bought it (candles, spatula, chocolate, tootbrush holder). I’m embarrassed for typing that.

I’m embarrassed for not bringing dining room chairs with me or a DVD player or a video game system. I’m embarrassed for leaving behind or misplacing fashionable articles of clothing. I’m embarrassed for being the only single dude, almost only dude walking around Kohl’s at 9 pm not having a clue what to buy.IMG_0220

Maybe scratch all the times I wrote embarrassed above and replace it with inadequate. It’s a reality God wants me in. I must be completely reliant on God, on the Holy Spirit as the source of my breath and my strength, as the one who settles me in.

The truth is I don’t want to be contented, I don’t want to be at rest within myself, or pleased with myself unless I am experience that sense truly from God the Father. I want to be right with the Father reconciled to the Father by the Son as a son.

I don’t want to feel like an idiot or foolish for spending $60.00 at Kohl’s but am willing to if he speaks to me in the process.

This moving process makes Moses’s life make so much more sense to me. God doesn’t give a hoot about my inadequacies. God does give a hoot about my sin versus spotlessness which is why God is willing to wipe those sins away through the blood of Christ. But God does care about our willingness to obey without excuse, without hindrance, without weight.

God cares deeply about my freedom through Jesus Christ to live a life of trust and love. I want both without measure and at any cost. I want it even if it leaves me utterly poor and destitute. I want it more than riches and praise. I want to be faithful, sacrificial, and marked by contentedness in Christ.

And I think part of that process is enduring the stages and meeting God in every moment along the way.

It’s settled. Let’s meet God in our moments before after and during  and even on this stage.

What do I do with these blank pages?

makale-yaz-para-kazanIn 2010 I wrote to be funny, more specifically I wrote comedic fiction for a class to counterbalance writing my thesis on Islamic extremism in Southern Russia and what exactly that looked like.

But what I was most proud of is a story called the Cheesebringer, which was a dumb coming of age story about college graduate who landed a dream job delivering cheese. It was sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, poetry. A whole chapter takes place in a port-o-potty at a festival. It had a cliff-hanger ending. The sequel was going to be a rom-com called The Bridewinner but I was too heartbroken (heart shooken) to write “funny” by the time I finished.

What I normally do with blank pages is entertain myself, sometimes others, and if you have ever read this blog I try to write reflectively about how God rebuilds us and loves us into something beautiful. I usually fill my blank pages with things that inspire me from Scripture.


I also try fairly hard and hopefully, nobly, to live my life the way I hope I’m filling those same pages.

But I’m nearing a part of my story that God has warned me about. I’m 30 years old and I’m moving; I’m starting a career/season that in many ways I can’t prepare for the day-to-day. And I’m also in a tender-hearted place.

I’m about to say bye to so many people I love, so many people I love being able to see with regularity. I’m about to say hello to people I will grow to love and see with regularity. I’m about to try to love people I will meet for a moment and might watch them leave the next.

And it has dawned on me, heavily, painfully, that so many of these pages I don’t get to hold the pen for, most of these pages more so now than ever I am watching being written. Because to carry the metaphor to its authentic conclusion, I am the page.

I am having to trust, to relinquish my nervousness, to give my heart to Jesus and say, I don’t know it well enough, but you do, and you led me this direction, at this time, even though everything here and now is so so good.

Why do things get so good just before I’m about to go?

I ask this like it always happens this way. But it doesn’t. In fact, I never would have imagined that every month in 2018 would get better, but somehow it has for me. Not only has it gotten better, I’m often asking why I am going all the while knowing I’m called to go.

I’m aware that I’m not running away because I would never want to run away from this season of life. Yet, with these pages, though it has been building for 7 months, feels like, on one side of the open book is my life here in New Jerse, and without much of a transition, I will wind up on the next page in South Carolina.

Is that how every transition actually is? One day we just wake up and after all the preparation, we’re just in a new place and it was everything before and after that actually changed us.

Some of you I wish I could take with me. I wish you would pop into these pages as effortlessly and as enjoyably as I feel you do now. I wish our names or the pronouns that pertain to us would continually occupy the same sentences again and again day in and day out.

And maybe they will again soon.

For now, I’m blank. But God knows what to do with these pages.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1 John 3:2

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.