Grandpa James "Jim" Wesley Dunn

February 26th, 1929 - January 23, 2019


Careful, grandfather:

on this last visit, anything you say

I may attempt to turn into poetry.

How much of what we say gets canonized in verse

depends not on our own significance

but on the skill of the poet.

I am not so good with words

to make mundane days

become magic.

But I watch your gaze

trace blank page space

in between us.

You only asked one thing of me before:

that I tell you what you could pray for.

Now, you leave me, after my third of your ninety years,

with one inheritance.

Now, eyes fogged over but no less locked on mine,

you make what will be your last request of me,

for the moment

and for the remainder of my own stay:

“Would you pray?”

And so the Great Poet rests his pen on the paper

in between us.

Here we share the one bond, the one chain, the one trust

that can free us.


At the speed of light

no time passes.

When I was little

(you prayed for me)


was measured in seconds.

When I grew


became months.



will mean years.

When you meet him, face

to face,


will have been a lifetime.

When you shift a gentle turn

into light

no time passes.

I will see you again



What great illusion you have left:

your body frail, in a futile attempt

to hide the herculean soul

buried in your chest


You pressed the issue of consistency,

set the standard: be faithful, stay.

“Walk humbly with your God” as if to say.

You quoted verses endlessly,

were tested, tried, steady-handed, you testified.

“Walk humbly with your God” you implied.

I left you today, soon to leave.

I drove back into dusk;

you forward into dawn.

I will walk humbly with your God

when you are gone.

battering down the gates of heaven

towing your son,

and his sons,

and their sons

close behind

(a few brief decades).

This struggle beneath all struggle,

the war for the foundation of a person:

here it is, well-fought.

Here you are,

and here am I,

going where you went,

following where you follow,

meaning what you meant.


For as long as I can remember,

I will not forget you

because you remembered me.

The day you pass away,

God will suddenly have too much free time.

For as long as I can remember

you have spent hours every day in prayer.

My mom has always credited my faith

to your prayers.

I don’t even know what I owe you.

No wonder death for you

is a small change of pace,

a wrinkle in time,

a wink in place.

I do not know exactly what he told you already.

But I picture something like

“Let’s continue the conversation over dinner.

My place.”

Brunch date

We’ve been struggling lately. Trying to figure out how to eat new foods and keep eating the old way too. Trying to figure out how to sleep all night, all three of us, like we need to. So this morning I decided to just pack you up and take you for some breakfast because everything’s been hard so let’s eat some eggs over-easy. It worked wonders on both our moods, but mostly mine as I watched you smile at everyone you saw, and eat everything in sight. Please never stop going on breakfast dates with me, little Charlie Boy.


7 Months Young

10 years since you walked me home from school

To  befriend someone is to become acquainted with their mind. To agree to walk side by side with their sentiments and keep beseeching, "show me". To search out their thoughts and see what trails they've wandered and which ones they've avoided. It's to become familiar with the places they say seem dark and impenetrable, and to patiently say, "I see that darkness, I have darkness too." It's to move with them — speeding at their speed and slowing at their slow. It's sitting quiet and still at the edges of their cerebral and emotional maps and dreaming together that the page could continue, perhaps. It's apologizing when you trip over the roots that have overgrown some paths. It's marveling at all the landscapes you discover in your friend.

If falling in love is free-falling down in an unexpected and destined ecstasy, becoming friends is the intentional sweaty trudge up a mountain for a view few live to see.

Not one day have I ever regretted our climb towards friendship. Not one day have I lamented traversing your mind — first.

I say rather to those just getting started, if you're going to fall in love, do it on a mountain top, like I did.

Happy New Year

If a 7 month old doesn’t need any resolutions, maybe I don’t either.

dec. 30

In places where history

perpetually confronts you

it is easier to remember roots

but harder to follow new seeds.

Where I grew up

there were no old buildings.Only old trees.

All I can remember

is counting their rings

and following their seeds

on the wind.

To My Bride Become Mother


If there's a chance you'll forget

don't take it.

Slice clean through an orange


The veined lines are never straight

but nevertheless delightful.

To be perfect

is not to be precise

but to give delight.

You are flawless today;

Every day.

Take two onions and compare:

full of water, 

and increasingly inner 


Never two alike.

To be perfect

is an absolute state

of infinite degrees.

No matter how you change,

you are always the choicest variety 

of my happiness.

Huddle against the hurtling chill

the freezer breeze brings its own kind

of charm,

candles in the night

early dark and slower Dawn

Christmas, cinnamon, steam

and all the hope we need to carry on.

Little Wallybug

When I was little my mom called me and my siblings “wallerbugs” when we couldn’t sit still and would move all over the place on her lap. These days, I’m starting to think that’s a great little name for one of my favorite nephews, since every time he sees Wesley, he wallers all over him with affection and cuddles.