My mother-in-law, a beautiful human being, passed on from this life today. It’s been a difficult day for the family, and as my wife boards a flight to head home to be with loved ones during this time, I was reminded of one simple word: Hope. It’s a word I strongly believe in. And as I processed the day with that word in mind, here’s what I wrote:


Hope is not a homeless cast-off, living in squalid conditions on the edge of the sunset’s shadows.

Though you will find it there.

Hope is not a forgotten word, buried under scientific jargon, dying an abandoned existence in a dusty appendix.

Though surely you can scan the final pages with your index finger and find it there too.

Hope is not an empty, opiate-filled wish, meant to pacify the cravings of a desolate heart.

Though hope is comfortable in emptiness, tucking neatly in an upside-down crevice of a turned-out pocket.

Hope is the undefinable assurance, proved to the heart by a million micro-steps of life, that joy can never be fully extinguished.

Hope is as high as a thousand-mile mountain peak, yet as thin as an inch-thick stream spreading out indefinitely in all directions.

Hope casts off doubt and lingers until despair yields to its indomitable message.

When the world doesn’t choose hope, hope merely grows stronger, encouraged in the throes of life’s storms, emboldened on the faces of the faithful, ensured that the weary will find their way, that the righteous will find their reward, that a simple seed planted long ago will find its way home.

I Wrote This Last Night

I wrote this last night. No particular reason, and I’m not even sure what it means. But I kind of like it. I’m thinking folk-rock.

Vagabonds of Mercy   by  Mark W. Sasse

Ghostly kin collared high and smart, rolling out till we hit the dawn,

Pardoned souls with sing-song hearts, Hit the road until they reach the dawn

And the shadows cover field and vale, where it spreads it’s really hard to tell

As we brace for impact from the eastern gale, remember truth is the hardest sell


A girl in jeans and a ragged smile, waves a knife at the quarter mile

I duck my head from her pensive sight, but the battered soul gives up the fight

Proffered dreams, deferred hearts, testing limits with spare parts,

But the mileage wanes around the bend, when you’re headed home and then back again



And the vagabonds always know where they’re going,

Cause the road welcomes everyone who floats on the wings of the sun

And the vagabonds always know who they’re traveling with

Cause they understand more than most the feeling of Judas’ kiss



Part of the reason I joined this quest, was to get something off my chest.

I understand your hesitation, but I really need your participation.

Mercy ends in the empty void when shattered dreams lay half-destroyed

But walking men and talking girls, know the dance of the underworld


And those who dare to reach inside, might find release on the other side

But those who laugh at the high employed …


May find the lost key

May say a quick prayer

May join the party

Of the unaware



And the vagabonds always know where they’re going,

Cause the road welcomes everyone who floats on the wings of the sun

And the vagabonds always know who they’re traveling with

Cause they understand more than most the feeling of Judas’ kiss


Don’t let the night take you.

Don’t let the light break you.

Don’t let the fight leave you.

Don’t let the might beat you.



And the vagabonds always know where they’re going,

Cause the road welcomes everyone who floats on the wings of the sun

And the vagabonds always know who they’re traveling with

Cause they understand more than most the feeling of Judas’ kiss.

A Vigil for a Starry Night

On a night when the clouds cover the stars like an impenetrable mountain cliff, I wait for a sign. A small tinge up my spine. A desperate plea for the ancient ways to speak once again. I wait for the light, hoping it will come, hoping it will be enough. .

The stars, spread brightly out like colored snowflakes flickering across the onyx sky, reflect a distant constellation, and begin to re-enter the atmosphere, piercing through the fractured clouds, giving faint and distant light to the voidless black, the empty sea, the sandless desert, the vacant abyss that is deep within me. The light, hushed and dimmed by a millennium of travel, is all I have. Is all I ever had.

I wait for the reflection to reach me, hoping one refracted beam from a star long ago still exists, the same ancient light that awakened the shepherd’s eyes one cool and lonely night. Can the light that ushered in a new millennium, awaken a new epoch within me. If so, it might be enough for my heart to go on.

In the midst of tears, in the solitude of our inner being, we yearn to be on that impoverished hill, to understand the magnitude of that sight, a heavenly light illuminating a darkened heart, a heavenly chorus rising to a crescendo of glory.

Will I choose to believe its truth, not blindly though because I know what the light can do for one’s soul.  And though the unbearable pain releases not its grip, I have a question to answer. Does the light still exist for me?

Does the same sky, which God ripped open that night with his right hand, planting angelic heralds of peace on the clouds to rustle awake the shepherds, still exist for me? Can he reach into my clouded heart and announce the truth like a heavenly chorus? If it is so, all suffering and cause of angst still present throughout the world will be no match for the blessed announcement: “A Child is born.”


This child is born.

vigil starry night sketch sheet

A Partial Poem at Midnight

I rarely write poetry anymore. It’s been a long time. I write a lot of lyrics, but for some reason I have completely stopped writing poetry. Which makes this post all the more strange because here’s a poem I wrote last night during the last fifteen minutes before midnight. Your interpretation is as good as mine!

A partial print

Tiny crooked paths, cut and twisted, half extended to nowhere

Obstructed by the partial print

Which leads us back to a partial heart

A partial direction

A partial urge to partly know what right becomes us

In the deadness of the night

A full print

Would reveal itself too candidly

A gaudy reminder of the obsolescence of our will

A tawdry reminder showing off our childish traits

Unable to make decisions on our own

A kowtowing puppet to a Powerfuller than I

No. A full print cannot navigate a partial world.

Partial people need partial prints.

Half-truths and hidden doorways.

Forked roads and overgrown hearts.

Back country dirt paths to nowhere.

Dead branches on live trees.

Partial people need all of the partial print.

But no more.

An Old School Love Poem for Valentine’s Day

I found this poem I wrote twenty-six years ago. It still applies to my very same Valentine.

Meet me tonight amidst the darkening trees,

The lunar view they call the lover’s land.

We’ll gaze with wonder at the sparkling sea,

And walk our world together hand in hand.

The lamp lights flicker wildly through the wind,

But my heart steadily wants beyond the light.

I leave all cares a million thoughts behind,

And search the shadow of my heart and night.

For, aye, I see the starry silhouette,

Who stands with grace among the timber pine,

And lights my soul as sun of after set;

I long to understand the endless shine.

For I shall laugh and love and lose my load,

That wears me down this long untraveled road.

A Taste of Poetry

Here’s something I don’t post too often. A poem or perhaps lyrics I wrote a while back. Bonus, it even rhymes!

When danger lurks do I run and hide,

or do I fall full-force to the other side.

Does it dance with ease like brilliant light

that glitters the eve at the break of night.

Or does it harness maddening villainous taunts

which feed desires we foolishly flaunt.

Or does all-embrace impart a plan

which molds me to a second man.

Come to think of it, I was always a writer – Part I

It wasn’t that long ago that I made a decision – I’m going to call myself a writer. That may seem like a stupid pronouncement, but it came out of years and years of thinking I’m not a good enough writer to write anything that anyone would want to read. I lacked confidence. And because of that, I didn’t write. That great novel I started 13 years ago lasted two pages and was finally trashed. But within the last 6+ years, I’ve felt a renewed call to write, and I’ve written so much more than I ever thought would have been possible. So now, as I sit with three completed novels behind me, more than a half-dozen plays of various genres, I looked back on my life and realized that I had it all wrong all this time. I always had the heart of a writer. It was just manifested in different ways. So I thought I would share how my writing evolved over the years, not that this is anything ground-breaking or even very interesting, but sometimes the perceptions we have of ourselves are not completely accurate. Sometimes it times time and perspective to really understand how we have developed and grown as a person. I hope the message is clear: if you love to do something – do it! Regardless of praise or criticism, regardless of days when you feel invincible or desperate. Just live the dream and enjoy. And if others happen to enjoy what you do as well, then all the better.

Come to think of it, I was always a writer – Part I – 1975-1989.

My first play: I must have been ten or eleven and I wrote a play about the Biblical story of Esther. I remember showing it to my mom and being so proud that I added in two sentries for comic relief to lighten up the thick drama.

Lyric Writer: In my high school years, I wrote many different song lyrics, creating all kinds of tunes and even made-up bands and artists in my head. I still remember some of those old tunes. I especially loved to write songs when I was mowing grass. If the song was good, I’d sing it over and over enough in my head so that I’d actually remember it.

College Poet: My college years were my poetry years. I probably wrote hundreds of poems or fragments – most of them I still have in a red binder. My poetry was all over the place. I wrote an epic poem modeled after Alexander Pope for one of my literature classes. I got a B simply because my professor said it was too ‘dense’ and difficult to wade through. He was right. I wrote love poetry to my girlfriend, and one of the poems ended up being in our wedding invitations.

Little did I know that my writing would take a great turn once I headed overseas – because I never expected to go overseas. But I’m sure glad I did.

Next Post: 1990-2006

Smashed in Phoenix circa 1988

I came across some old poetry of mine.  Trust me, some of it will never see the light of day.  But here’s a short one I always kind of liked.  

Smashed in Phoenix

The pigeon-toed fool walked a fine line that night.

That night the lights flared in his eagle eye.

Strong he stood, staring vulturously into the eye of the fire.

Waiting, as if the ashes were to form into some apparation.

An apparition that would rise up, fly away and be forgotten forever.