Song of the South: Cosmological Constant

As  write, I have enjoyed getting my hands dirty, working with others in the local community garden here in Carrboro.   Being near the earth, hands dirty with the stuff of new life, is a core part I think of our heritage here in the south.  On both sides of my family, there have been those who worked the soil through many generations.   Working with the soil in my own plodding way connects me with that heritage and fills me with memories of helping my mother in her garden as a little boy.

Some years ago, with that in mind, I wrote this poem which reflects on some of the themes of our current series on the Lord’s Prayer.

May it help you connect with what you find holy this day.

Your progressive redneck preacher,



Cosmological Constant

“Split a log and I am there;

lift a stone and you will find me”

So, they tell me, you have promised.


soil worms

But I remember my little hands,

fingers growing blackened and dirty

from splitting rain-softened logs,

in which I found

but damp worlds unexpected

grubs and bugs crawling in tiny colonies

dug deep into ancient wood

which were as busy and full of life

as the exhaust filled asphalt streets

which are surrounded not by echoing bird song

or crunch of leaves

but the squeal of tire and honk of horn.

Stones I then lifted

only to feel damp earth beneath

full of red worms

that wriggled wrapping round my fingers

as tight as that red forget-me-not string

I once placed on my pinkie

to remember an upcoming birthday.



I cannot but wonder

had I heard you whisper those words then,

while gathering those night-crawlers, crickets, and grubs

preparing to ride with daddy

to the lake behind Uncle Charles’ old place

in search of bass, catfish, and brim,

might I have thought

that those insect eyes

I found staring back at me

were yours,

the very eyes of God?



I remember too,

while sitting with Cecil

in biology class


that drop of water, pressed into thin slide,

expanding under borrowed lens

into a world

where little galaxies

of amoebas, bacteria, and algae

danced as if across some newfound patch of sky

just like the schools of fish

daddy and I watched when, our chore done,

we sat pole, in hand, waiting for our first bite.

Those moments I would look up

surrounded by the song of owl cries and bobcat calls

mingling with the music of overeager crickets

who were unaware of their fallen brothers

hanging like victims of some forgotten war

upon our fishing hooks

and I would witness

the same dance there,

in pinpoints of light

circling a crescent moon

as bright and radiant as the lights

of Los Angeles were

when they gleamed beneath the lookout point

in the La Crescenta hills

where my love and I later sat

in soft embrace.




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