Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category

Irreversible Change

June 3, 2013


I’m thinking about the story
A man and a woman
And an apple
Was that a tale of our beginning
Or of our end?


Down by the lake
On the shore
By the lake
Lies a pebble
One of millions, actually
By a glacier
Long, long ago
Where was it yesterday?
There or nearby?
Moved maybe
By a wind-blown wave
Or a passing boat’s wake
If it was moved
An irreversible change
To the entire universe
Took place
Tiny, but irreversible
What about us?
What are we doing?
How’s our piece,
Our allotted portion
Of the universe, doing?
Irreversible change
I’m thinking about sunlight
Stored sunlight, stored energy
As in an apple
As in coal, gas, oil
Why is the oil there?
The coal?
The gas?
Is it for us?
If so, to do what?
Are these tangible things,
These stored solar energies,
Here for our good?
Or are they the forbidden fruit
An apple … a poisoned apple
Perhaps that mythical tale
Two people and an apple
Is a story of our end, not of our beginning
A story about hubris and selfishness now
Rather than providing for those who follow
One bite or too many
An abdication of our stewardship?
Our misunderstanding of dominion?
A failure to faithfully respond?

© 2013 Thomas W. Cummins


At 71, A Reflection on Luke 13:6-9

March 7, 2013


No fruit
After three years
No figs on the tree
Give it another year
A fourth quarter
Another period to express its being
Life’s fourth quarter
For many, a final period
Something is being asked
More is required, expected
But three and a half quarters
Have already passed
Fatigue is present
Yet must be ignored
Fruitless time is over
Unrecognized, but over
Something is being asked
More is required
Not more activity,
Better results
Enough is being done,
Just needs to be better
More rewarding, more loving
Something is being asked
More is required

© 2013 Thomas W. Cummins

An Immeasurable distance

January 23, 2013

I must admit that this came forth very painfully. I’m supposed to be writing for my book on prison ministry, but this came out instead.


An Immeasurable Distance

A young black face
In profile
Through the narrow cell window
Just his profile
He was leaning
His back against the wall
Less than two feet away
But the door
The cell door
The solid steel cell door
Imposed an immeasurable distance
Between us
A gulf socioeconomic, judicial, racial
A span of years, experiences, hopes, dreams
Separated us
He spoke softly
“It’s hard,” he said
“I know,” was my only reply
Flowed instantly
Glistening on his dark skin
Catching the light from the small window
Twelve feet away
I also wept … inside
Silently, invisibly
Carrying on my own tears
Hundreds of young men
Hidden behind those doors
For the past twelve years
I’ve stood at those doors
This young man facing life
Without parole
Now 25 years old
He was eighteen
The day I first knocked on his door

 © 2013 Thomas W. Cummins

I continue to hope

July 1, 2012

Fear, hatred, and bigotry. A palpable presence in our civil and political discourse. The coded language, positions taken, and policies subverted abound. Nevertheless, come Wednesday I will put up our flag and continue to hope.

An Immigration Reflection

May 7, 2012

A reflection on an interview of Luis Alberto Urrea by Bill Moyers on PBS, May 6, 2012


He says he looks Irish
He does –
His mother’s side.
Once had an accent
From Tijuana –
His father’s side.
An American –
With a border heart
That feels and shares the pain
With ears
That hear and convey the hope
With eyes
That peer through the desert heat waves
Toward a better life – a mirage?
Writing and writing, he writes
Writing for us to read
Reading that we might listen
Listening that we might understand
Understanding that we might share
And lend a voice
How many voices
To fill the silence?
How many “illegals”
Before our brown brothers and sisters
Are seen?
How many rejected souls
Before we give refuge,
A loving refuge?

© 2012 Thomas W. Cummins

Urban Desolation

April 22, 2012
The vacant stare of broken windows
Empty sockets not seeing
Lifeless – no calls to passersby
No glow of lamps in the evening
Curtains no longer move in the breezes
Another crouching nearby
Disconsolate in weeds and glass
Wears a plywood blindfold
Nothing seen, nothing noticed
Weary of watching decline and decay
Where are the children?
Where is the laughter?
No mothers keep watch
From the front stoops – silence
Hellos and goodbyes long absent
A few occupied
Airless rooms where fear huddles
Barred and locked windows
Lean against the summer heat
Air conditioners, none or few – comfort
Youngsters work the corners
Cars quietly come and go
Some with the fun and excitement of a parade
Others, desperate, unwitting,
Ride in their funeral cortege
Time catches up
Years of rejection take their toll
Generations cycle
Two or three bring permanence
Permanence, but not hope
Those who could, left
Others, hostage to meager means, stayed
Role models of doctors, lawyers, teachers – gone
Many young fathers ran away or were taken away
Young mothers struggle to hold the pieces together
Society indifferent in its ignorance
Misery unseen, unfelt, unknown, unacknowledged
 “Welfare queens” become real to the uninformed
Misinformation yields certitude of solutions
Certitude of solutions, but no action
© 2012 Thomas W. Cummins