i’d never have wanted to live this life alone

to hear the sounds with just my ears

to touch the textures with only my two hands

see only my eyes in the mirror

hold my hands until they’re all wrinkled

lined with the story of our life

hold me up as I hold you too

carried to the other side

Cardboard Signs

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
Isaiah 58:10 ESV

And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
Luke 3:11 ESV

Everyday I see you.
In all kinds of weather.
Searching eyes.
On your regular corner
with your regular message
on your cardboard sign.

In the back of my mind,
where it’s not as painful
as the front would be,
I wonder if the six and sixteen year old you
were like the six and sixteen me.

Did your mom love you?
Did she make sure you had treats after school?
Did your dad yell too much?
Did he play ball with you?
Did things go awry later on?
Or were they bad always?

Am I that different?
What if the wind had blown from the other side of the compass
on the day I was born?
What if the breadwinner in your family hadn’t lost their job?
What if you hadn’t fallen in love with drugs?
What if you hadn’t just stopped caring
about anything?
What if you could abide being inside?
What if you thought you could live with people?
What if the bombs that went off in ’68
finally ceased their echo?

I have no interest in assessing blame.
I’m not so naive as to assume
you want to be me.
I can’t say you didn’t choose this life.
I just don’t know why someone would.
I just don’t know.

I won’t settle this in my mind tonight.
I don’t know that I ever will.
But that’s okay,
because I don’t think God wants us to be “comfortable”
with cardboard signs
and searching eyes.

© Joel Tipple



Fast walk
slow walk
quick around the block walk
stretch walk
sleep walk?
not recommended

shop n walk
can we talk?
strap on some tunes n walk
more fun if you rock walk
read while you walk?
probably not

stare up at the sky walk
watch out for the other guy walk!
pray and walk
sigh walk
river walk
streaming video walk
bring soap and shower while you walk?

ocean walk
forest walk
branch out and travel walk
crock while you walk
download while you walk
wash while you walk
or dry while you walk
don’t prance while you walk
maybe dance while you walk
pick a flower while you walk
avoid those cracks while you walk!
trim your nails while you walk?
are you kidding?

take your mate and walk
kid around while you walk
grand-kid around while you walk
love while you walk
keep it clean while you walk!
don’t be mean while you walk
or obscene while you walk
dream walk
but with eyes open walk
just walk!

© Joel Tipple


Today I found household chores to do inside, mostly because I was waiting for an important phone call. It was important enough that I was thinking about it when I went to bed last night, thinking about it when I got up this morning, and still thinking about it throughout the day as I willed the phone to ring. I suppose you could call the whole experience an exercise in patience. Now that’s an interesting phrase, “exercise in patience.” When I think of the word exercise, I consider military exercises, or the kind of exercise you might get during a work out. Any way you slice it, exercise represents effort. Think of all the patience learning exercises you get during a typical day: waiting in line, waiting at the stop light, waiting for your order to arrive, waiting for the microwave… all those seconds ticking away. Sometimes we take these lessons well, sometimes we take them very, very, badly. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like learning the same lessons over and over. I like to think I’m progressing. When I get to heaven I’ll say to God, “Wow Lord, can you believe I learned all those lessons you were trying to teach to me? It took some doing, but look at me now! Well, all we can do is try. So, the phone didn’t ring, but I did get some chores done, had some tea, played a few games on the computer and my phone, and wrote this. Oh yeah, I also remembered to thank God for being patient with me.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

I’d like to be…

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i’d like to be
as strong as a tree
that grows stronger
with the wind
turning over new leaves
while learning to breath
tasting news of where the wind’s been.
my roots would wind
toward the earth’s middle
halting before they burned
with so deep a grasp I’d survive
though swiftly the planet might turn
then after thousands of years
and lightning and wars and men’s tears
with one limb left green
teachers would take little ones to me
to wonder
and marvel
and dream


“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike…”

Somewhere I have a photo of myself standing next to my first faux Stingray bicycle on Christmas morning. My smile is huge. A bicycle for a young person means freedom. For the first time, you’re able to expand the physical boundaries of your adventures. The narrow, two lane road we lived just off of saw a lot of traffic because at the time, a small Navy base was located at one end, just off the beach. My family ran a tow service, and periodically a young sailor would drive too fast or too drunk or both. Later, you could tell where the accident had been, due to the new stretch of wooden fencing. I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike on that road since my parents were afraid I’d be run over. Later, when I was older, that five-mile-road between town and the beach was one of my favorite jaunts. bicycle

As I got older, of course, the bikes got bigger too. I put a lot of miles on a Schwinn Varsity that I saved my money to buy. I think it cost around $100. I later regretted buying the small frame, because I got my big growth spurt the next year and raising the saddle was not a perfect solution. I’ve never been much of a mechanic and some lessons along that vein are learned the hard way. One morning I decided to ride the 15 miles to our county seat. Later, I would make that same trip with my sister and my bike would be stolen, only to be returned to me by the police when we made our way there to report the theft. But that’s another story. The day before my first ride I had worked on my bike, mostly cleaning and doing minor adjustments. The brake pads on this model were mounted in such a way that they slid in one end of a bracket. It was important to have the open end facing opposite the direction the wheel was going, otherwise the pressure of the wheel would slide the rubber brake pads out and you would lose the ability to stop. I learned the hard way that I had put the brake pads in backward when they popped out about halfway down a hill connecting to the main thoroughfare. Several drivers witnessed my demise, so after laying my bike down to avoid the traffic at the bottom of the hill I got up and waved that I was okay. Later, after I had made it home, I was listening to a local radio station. The on-air host told about going to work that morning and seeing a bicycle accident. He described exactly what happened to me. The only thing that could have made it better would have been film.