That Next Place

Everyone’s here. That’s the feeling I kept having, this pulsing sensation of joy that everyone’s here. It was a late summer picnic, people were wearing shorts and there were stop-traffic legs but also regular-old legs. I say that to indicate the qualities of handsome and plain were still a part of the picture. Speaking of legs, there were all these vets whose legs had been stolen in their earthly service and lo and behold their legs had all been returned and man they were running around chasing each other like boys, grinning like soldiers at ease, while their dear mothers stood with tears in their eyes and hands on their hips saying Now wouldja just look at that. Suddenly I thought Damn, there won’t be enough food for everyone and then a young lady I’d adored as a boy cleared her throat and pointed to a circle of children nearby but it was clear to me her concern was not with the word Damn but with my language of scarcity. She said John, there’s so much here, you simply have no idea of the abundance. All my family and friends were there, plus the famous people I’ve followed over the years like Johnny and June Carter and Philip Seymour Hoffman (he looked brighter, happy). But there were also people there I wouldn’t have invited to my picnic. Nothing was necessarily wrong with them, they just weren’t the people I’d choose to invite. But yet there they were, and when I saw their faces I could not help but feel a gatheirng tenderness toward them so I walked over and shook hands, gave a few of them hugs, and was surprised to hear myself keep saying I’m so glad you’re here. Then one of them, an older man who shot himself when I was a young preacher, said I’m so glad you’re here too. It was then I began to weep because I could see it was not my picnic. I was an invited guest. And with God as my witness that was such a gorgeous thought because I’m a first-born who usually tries to ensure everyone’s having a good time at the party but there in that next place I could tell we were all free at last to lay down every role real or perceived, every burden great or small. Everyone was there, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone. And I remembered the line from a poem I underlined one quiet February evening as a man: we were laved in the eternal light of talk after dinner.
Was this a dream? Yes. And it was so very beautiful.

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  1. Chris Hunt on February 12, 2014 at 4:49 am

    Thank you so much for this; it’s the first poem that’s ever moved me to tears. I believe there’s a longing in all our hearts to belong, to be accepted, to be whole, and this is one of the most profound ways of expressing those feelings I’ve ever read. Well done, sir, so very, very well done!

  2. R W on February 12, 2014 at 5:23 am

    Such a dream! Thank you.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 13, 2014 at 5:37 am

      And thank you for taking a moment to comment.

  3. Tim Franklin on February 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    This was the first thing I read this morning. I will carry it with me into this day, and much further. May such dreams become reality.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 13, 2014 at 5:38 am

      I appreciate your words, Tim. Yes, may such dreams come true…

  4. Roadkill Spatula on February 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Excellent stuff. There will definitely be a lot of people we wouldn’t have invited.

    I got a chuckle from this phrase: “a young lady I’d adored as a boy”. It reminds me of the ending of Land of Oz where the young boy Tip turns into a beautiful princess. Frank Baum had some strange ideas…

    • thebeautifuldue on February 13, 2014 at 5:39 am

      Thanks so much. And the Baum reference made me chuckle too.

  5. Sallie on February 12, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Can’t do much more than nod my head and feel my heart swell. Thank you.

  6. kelliwoodford on February 12, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    “I began to weep because I could see it was not my picnic.”

    That’ll preach, yes. But it makes me weep along with you. So much amen in this one line.

  7. Gwen Acres on February 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    That dream was heaven sent, I do believe. Thank you for the Joy and Hope.

  8. Megan Sayer on February 12, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Reblogged this on Megan Sayer and commented:
    This was written by a guy called John, who is one of the best poets I’ve discovered writing today. He writes poems over at his blog just about every day (and, if you’re so inclined, you would do well to hop over and read them). He wrote this yesterday, and it made me gasp and sigh with truth.
    I look forward to that picnic.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 13, 2014 at 5:42 am

      Thank you, Megan. I think that’s going to be a top-drawer picnic, huh?

  9. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on February 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I came here from Megan Sayer’s reblo, and I’m glad I did.

    As one who is looking down the barrel of infinity at the moment, it’s both heartwrenching and infinitely hopeful.

    I’d looked at Heaven as a place where I could at last stand down, and you captured this. Honestly, I’d wondered what might happen there…whether perhaps the Big Fella would sand me a beer, and then toss me another weapon and a bandolier and cut my next mission frag.

    But I hope not. I’m tired.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 13, 2014 at 5:43 am

      Andrew, thanks for your words, man…I can feel the tired in them.

  10. accidental devotional on February 13, 2014 at 1:16 am

    This is holy ground. I couldn’t even breathe while I was reading it.

  11. pastordt on February 13, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Holey moley, John-boy. (I can call you ‘boy,’ my friend, because of my advanced age). Amazing. Wonderful. Breath-stopping. Thank you.

    • thebeautifuldue on February 13, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Diana, you can call me ‘John-boy’, seeing as how I still watch The Waltons. Thanks.

  12. guatboy on February 13, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Darn it, John, you made me cry on the way to work. Might not meet you here, but counting on the picnic-master’s mercy, I’ll share a ham sandwich with you there.

  13. thebeautifuldue on February 13, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    David, a ham sandwich it is…see you there.

  14. Rain on February 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Such tears. Thank you, John. For writing this and for Being

  15. jessieheninger on February 13, 2014 at 6:50 pm


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