On the Occasion of Mike’s 40th Birthday (or “Gather You Fires”)

There are band of good people that I know, and Mike Rusch is the chief among them. I’ve penned this for him, and them, on the occasion of his 40th birthday.

I promised poetry this year. Here’s one of the first installments.


There are kin-lights recognizable
in the best brothers–
the spark of saints’ names spoken,
wive’s held like own Aphrodites,
Somali-starred stories,
the memory of the frailest soul
the mention of village where
daughters, nieces, neighbors, sisters
were born into an acquired taste for
air, for our wounded lungs, for the
notion of forgotten,

Gather you fires–
awake in the collective–
rare though it gathers,
short though it’s lived,
small though it seems;
We are.

Lights are again and again,
like the ashes of last year’s
Lent, and next year’s,
the dogged birthmarking
of our natures, best and worst,

Gather you fires best–
awake in the collective–
in the feasting, in
communion wine, and there
find that we together are
more than ashes.
We are,
a briliant, unforgettable

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4 Responses to On the Occasion of Mike’s 40th Birthday (or “Gather You Fires”)

  1. Two of my good brothers, Slate Ballard (the one from Fayetteville) and Ben Hart, did all the web design for your good brother’s Pure Charity. Small world, this. Wish him the happiest b-day from me!!!

  2. Tell me more about “under Somali-stars”! 🙂 I lived in West Africa for years…

    Blessings to you and Amber,
    Jennifer Dougan

    P.S. Happy birthday to your Mike, and thankful for the coolness of “kin-lights recognizable in the best brothers.”

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