Father

Daddy, Dad, Papa, Father,

the names we have for our own,

the names our own call us.

So much bound up in one little word

for the man we invest with our trust.

 

“I’ll fix it!”

 

Baby, if you only knew

how new you are to me.

But how complicated can you be?

Just some biology, right?

 

Honey, where’s her mute button?

She didn’t come with one?

She’s fed.

Her diaper’s changed

I’m sooo tired…

“I can fix this.”

 

What kind of homework do you have?

A project?

When is it due?

Tomorrow morning?!

Okay, let’s get started.

 

The school dance?

She’s not that old!

She IS that old?

How did she get that old?

 

“I can’t fix this.”

 

High School, maybe college, a job, her own baby

and the cycle’s complete.

Like shampoo, rinse, repeat

and I still can’t get any sleep.


“God, help me fix this.”

A grandfather?

I can’t be that old!

I AM that old?

How did I get to be this old?!

 

One day I’m carrying you,

the next you’re holding me.

And in a flash life happens,

filling the pages in between.

 

God, our perfect father,

If we’re wise, we look to you first

To help us raise little humans

at their best and at their worst.

 

There is a book, after all,

though dads are loath to read instructions.

But first things first, can you help me

find my reading glasses?

©Joel Tipple
#6/16

Allergic Reaction

Sandra walked into the living room, where her mother was relaxing in a corner chair, reading. “Mom, what’s up with Dad?” she asked. Looking up, Sandra’s mother replied, “Why do you ask, Sandra?” “Well, he’s at his desk, writing. He seems upset.” “Oh, he’s fine. It’s probably just his allergies,” she replied, the corners of her mouth turned up a little. Sandra drew her eyes together in a frown. “What’s he allergic to?” At this her mother’s smile broadened and she chuckled before answering… “Your father says he’s allergic to ‘happy… and sad.'” she replied.

©Joel Tipple
#2/15

The Gravel Pile

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There was once a very nice home at the end of the street in an average small city neighborhood. Where the house once stood there is now a small mountain of pebbles. None of the stones are larger than the end of your little finger. It stands as something of a warning to those who remember the couple who lived there, and sadness, like a blanket of fog, still lingers over it.

The man and woman who lived there once were happy, and looked forward to having a long peaceful life together, raising their family. They would pour their lives into each other and their children, and someday, they hoped, look upon this house as the place where their fondest memories had been.

One day, the man noticed his wife had a habit of dropping her wet towels on the floor of the bathroom. He told her it was a bad habit, and she should stop doing it. A pebble fell into the yard. But no one noticed. The man had a bad memory about some things, like taking out the trash. His wife told him she was tired of reminding him. Another pebble clicked onto the roof and startled the bird perched on the gutter. Other than the bird, no one saw it. As time went on, the list of things the couple disliked about each other grew. Each time a complaint was added without the compensation of love, the pile around the house grew. The couple didn’t stop to wonder where the pebbles were coming from. They only considered it something else to complain about, since outside maintenance was a duty they shared. In fact, it was an activity they once enjoyed doing together.

Eventually the neighbors noticed their friends’ property taking on the appearance of a construction dump site. The couple would fight their way into the house and fight their way out, through the gravel mounded up like snow drifts. But no one took the responsibility to clean it up, since that would be admitting it was his fault or her fault. Then, one night, when they couldn’t remember all the wonderful qualities they once admired in each other, only those things that were annoying, the decision to divorce was made. By now the pile of pebbles reached the eves of the house, but when the couple left for good, a small avalanche fell and covered what was left of it. The noise made everyone in the neighborhood who was home at the time step outside to gawk, but again, where the pebbles had come from that erased the home, no one knew.

After the home had been vacant for some time, a few neighbors were standing around near the gravel pile talking. The subject of whether the couple might ever reunite and move back came up. “I don’t think so,” one man said. “Why not?” said another. “It just all looks so heavy,” he replied. Then a woman at the edge of the group chimed in, “I don’t know. What if they just took away a little at a time?”

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18 ESV

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:8-9 ESV

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 The Message

© Joel Tipple
357

Please, can I go too?

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Going to the store?
Yes, I’ll go. Sure, I’ll go.
Please, can I go too?
Anywhere you go, is where I want to be.
I want to go with you.

Lift me up onto your shoulders.
I’m taller than everyone.
Give me your rough hands
to use for reigns;
we’ll ride off toward the sun.

Going to the beach?
Yes, I’ll go. Sure, I’ll go.
Please, can I go too?
Anywhere you go, is where I want to be.
I want to go with you.

Sand is a world of adventure.
We’ll put it in my sandbox.
The ocean gives it up for free.
God knows I like to play.

Anywhere. Anything. Anyhow. Anywho.
Anywhat. Anyone. Anyis. Anydo.
Yes, I’ll go. Sure, I’ll go.
I want to be with you.
I want to go with you.

A Grandma’s House

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The other day my wife came home and announced something that clearly had her somewhat distressed. We have a pleasant enough front yard, I suppose: a couple little trees, some lawn, a nice flower bed. The house is a Victorian. It’s over 100 years old, and is dark gray with several shades of green trim. There’s a little porch in front of the red door, which has a nice wind chime next to it. Apparently, Lori was fine with everything until I added the hummingbird feeder. That took her over the edge. Anywho, back to my wife’s distress. When she walked in the door she announced, “Joel, I have a grandma’s house!” I asked her if it was the pictures on the wall in the living room of our two granddaughters that provided her with the first clue. If my comment amused her, she made a good show of hiding it. She said that when she parked her car and got out, she looked (apparently really looked) this time. “It’s just all so nice. And now, with the hummingbird feeder, something clicked in my head and I realized that I live in a grandma’s house.” I believe she’s come to terms with this now. However, I may want to run changes by her in the future, just in case. First though, I think I’ll fix her a nice cup of tea, with maybe a few cookies.

Sheep Drive

I’m told my grandfather,
who was on my mother’s side,
used to drive loads of sheep
from the saddle
on a sheep drive.
And when I say sheep drive,
I don’t mean the latest
Apple iteration…
You know,
like all those operating
systems
named after wild animals.
I think they’re mostly
predators
anyway.

Back to our topic…

I don’t suppose he called them “doggies,”
the sheep,
that is.
But I’ll bet he had some great dogs,
the kind that pretty much did the job
on their own
without a lot of input from the guy on
the horse,
maybe just a finger point here or there
or some sort of code
known only to my grandfather
and the dog.

So he would drive
those
sheep
to the railroad terminal
where they would board the train
which would take them to market.
I wonder if they made it all the way
to San Francisco?
I wonder if they were told the trip
was sort of a fun
getaway?
If they bought it, would that mean someone
had successfully pulled
the wool
over their eyes?

Use Your Words

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Use your words child when you cry I know that
something
is wrong I just don’t know exactly
what
that
could
be

It’s terribly
frust-er-ating when you carry on
so
must I tell you how I tear my hair out
yell-
ing bloody murder ain’t
en-light-en-
ing me to the cause of all this conster-
nation
Give me patience Lord I haven’t asked you for much
in the
last
five
minutes

Use your words child no not the ones daddy said the other day remem-
ber
he told you those are not nice
It’s just that daddy was kind of angry
oh I get it
yeah you’re right daddies misbehave sometimes too
let’s start ov-
er

We’ll use “our” words
did I tell you how you’re the answer to the prayer your mommy and I prayed
let’s find some pictures of your mommy when she was little like you
see
how much alike the two of you are
Sure we can read some stories
as
many
as
you
want

We’ll read some words
maybe we’ll learn some togeth-
er
that would be fun
My favorite word
that would
be
your
name