Whatever It Takes

There’s something missing now—and there’s nothing I can do to get it back on my own. Nothing I ever did to lose it either, but rather something someone stole.

It was taken from me because the Lord saw fit to let the wolves inside, to sink their teeth into the soft-meat of his sheep. I know he did it for our own good— cracked our bones in two, so he could grow them back together into something we can keep.

But these wolves are not like those vile sons of Lucifer we read about in the stanzas of Inferno—holding pitchforks, buzzing around like nettlesome gnats— wearing wine-red, sharply pointed horns for hats. They don’t shriek out shrills like comic caricatures or caw like crows.

Even though we talk like they belong at the butt-end of some long-standing and well-developed joke. If I could only reason with you, show you what they look like though — these dark-formed, fear-forging, fallen foes, living in the shadows, feeding on droplets of unrecoverable hope.


I must say, though, it’s in no way all their fault. I am a mortal creature, entombed in the gloom by four cave walls,

writhing in and out of my skin, in a place from which at one point I’d escaped, but somehow made my way back to again

I’ve been sleeping on a bed of limestone rock Not far from where I buried the corpse of my old, inner man, where I thought I’d left it behind to rot


Don’t poke me. Don’t probe me. Don’t ask me to move. I’ve got stalagmites growing up through the open holes of my most sensitive and undiscovered wounds.

This is why I’m told I have to wait. Something deeper has to happen yet. Something ugly within each of us must be located, then shivved out with a surgical blade.

But I wanna hold her now. Hard and tight, nibble on her fingers and nuzzle in her warmth, while we tie into the roots at night, those curling up from underneath the tree of life, by candlelight.


I wanna go home. I can’t tell you how, but I know she’s home.

She’s the only one this shattered—this pulverized, into broken bits inside—for whom I’m certain every, single day that I’d be willing to give up my life

Within the gutters of my innards—in the barrel of my gut—in the heartbeat that sings the bass notes of holy hymns, as its chambers open and close again to pump my blood.

I would lay myself down on the altar, with my heinous, bitter, hell-built pride.. and I would gladly.. die.

I would die for her once. Then I would die a second time. As many times as It would take, I’d stand on solid ground, I would get back up again and fight.

I would lay down all the things that i could love above her with my schizophrenic, double mind. I would cut my throat and bleed out my darling bent toward self-worship with a dull, Swiss Army knife

I’d take a punch, I’d lose a limb, I’d take a bullet between the eyes,

She’s the one for whom, again, I’m sure that I could die

It’s true that I would even lose for her, because I know that walking, tripping, bleeding, breaking, healing, falling, rising with her, would only crush us into sparkles like the purest diamond cuts, It would shake us over ice together and pour us into a brand new cup.

Our suffering would surely bleach our wedding dresses white—it would make us perfect for the time we both await with baited breath, the day our groom comes back to reclaim his bride

I wanna go home. I can’t tell you how, but I know she’s Home. And humbly I hope, that someday soon, she’s the place I can return to


So This now, I do declare, here where I stand, I will follow you there, I will follow you anywhere— just reach behind your back and take my hands

Into the fire I will walk with you, even if you refuse to acknowledge me because you fear that I will hurt you, and just don’t trust what I will do.

But I will come, my dear, I will answer the call. Not even Hell can stand in my way. I have the seal of another’s name. his robe, his crown, his all

I will follow you. I will rise. I will follow you, close behind. I will follow you if you hawk phlegm into my face—even then, I will never leave your side

Beloved princess, you are worth more than any stretch of words could ever explain, even if you strung them all together yourself, into the longest sentence ever made.

You will never be alone. Your father’s holding you under your arms, so you cannot fall

He’s better than me, better than I could ever be—but he told me to stand up and battle for you and you better damn well believe I plan to do what he’s asked of me.

I’m going nowhere. Not ever. Not even when it’s hard. Not even when It hurts. Not when I come apart on the inside because my soul can’t bear the weight of other powers at work

I was born and bred to follow him forever. And he told me to follow after you. So that is exactly, what I will do.

Green-eyed, Spirit-filled, berry-lipped, sickeningly special girl. I told you I am here to hold you, and I will do it till the curtains close, at the end of the world.

How About That Day

We climbed a mountain together,
five years ago, we breathed in the salty, Multnomah air;
we trapped the vapor from the falls in our lungs and let it escape;
over and again, we tramped the manicured paths of God-cut rock at a sprinter's pace,
wondering what we might see beyond the next mint-topped limb—
Just full-grown men, just boys running in the woods.

We parted the curtains of fog with our finger-tips,
wide enough so we could get our heads through the white, ghosty vapor,
to glimpse the sea crashing against the rocks below;
the waves seemed to will the impact of their own volition;
they got close, made themselves known, hid their desires from no one.

Gentle man, angry with the way things are;
we showed you something and you looked, you listened;
under fresh Portland sky, we pruned your fruit that day;
the holy glow of seeing your brother wed shone against the shadows,
and we trimmed a layer of doubt off your heart that day.

We ranted over controversial books, drank freshly-roasted grounds:
black—French-pressed in heavy diner mugs;
we ate donuts with voodoo-frosting suits and cherry jam blood, too,
smiling, drifting into sugar-coma stupors;
you melted a little that day.

We puffed Parliaments, held stiff between our indexes and middle claws,
and chewed through cask-strength bourbon drams, bit back with oaky fangs;
we forged our bond of renewing hope over gray smoke and brown liquor;
you saw, if only for a moment, how a good God was possible.

You never knew I knew,
how your eyes turned glassy and twinkled through their clouds;
for a moment you could see the stars against the black autumn sky,
and you knew what they were for;
the waxen globs softened in your sound canals,
and you heard the first bar of our redemption song that day.

But you’re gone now;
you listened to whispery hisses, breathed from slippery, forked tongues;
you had no ear for the precious rumble of your Father's voice,
wailing groans of tenderness above your head in the end:
notes of gloom and glory both.

How little you could do to keep him away from you;
he held you in his arms as you faded,
when you hung the rope that day;
the Liar named you a thief,
and you stole from those who loved you on that day.

Chest of Drawers

Before me stands a timber relic of the life I used to live, A tree I once axed into smaller pieces, and carved into boards with a clean-cut edge, I forged the frame from scratch out of the crudest cedar wood, I pounded, hammered, and nailed all its lonely parts together, And I turned it into something—on the outside, at least—that looked to me, well, pretty good

I sanded down the dents and scars, on the outermost layer of its wild, rebel trim, I plugged its dimples in with a putty knife, And slathered on a shiny coat of satin-polished skin

I can see my reflection on the outside of this chest, when I hover my wooly face above the finish at the perfect angle,
when I allow the pure, white, light to settle down on the surface and rest, When I straighten the ropes in my soul, that I followed out of line, until they tangled

But I don't do that very often. No. I struggle to see myself as I was made. Beautiful before I ever did anything, a beauty never bred to fade

But I let those other voices in, don't I?! Do you ever do it to? Do you know what I mean when I say that sometimes I have to steal something from someone, before I can stand up straight and face them in a room?

I can see all the blemishes, all the dirt-filled pores that have grown in size, but not enough to be seen under a microscope by anyone else's eyes but mine

I can see it all at once, Everything I was, all I am now, what I might have become, The different shapes and sizes, colors, and textures I could have been, And even the other types of trees I could have been cut from,

How many sets of drawers could I have forged before, with my old white-knuckle will? disciplined myself to bear down in the shadows, in my stubbornness to build? Those secret compartments rolling back smoothly, greased on tiny, little wheels into their grooves, Locked into place, out of light, into dark, and out of view

What had I resolved to hide in these compartments? along the walls and at the back of these drawers? underneath my clothing, veiled, on the bottom near my gym shorts?


Under polka-dotted tank-tops, and cotton, white crew neck t's, were plastic, ziplock baggies filled with weed— a dime bag or more, maybe a pinch I had stolen from my dad's stash at the time, right above the kitchen cupboard doors, not far from the skylight

I always had enough to make me forget, enough to get me to the point where I could finally just say "fuck it" ! It could make me say I didn't have to worry, that things for me were just not that bad. That I still had two parents, good friends, and at least two women in mind, at a given time, Who could make me feel half-whole when I was sad,

while I slept, a sturdy roof still loomed above my head, I had my own car to get me wherever I needed to go — no! there was nothing wrong, I swore to myself! nothing missing, nothing empty, nothing trivial I was chasing after, no one I was looking to who didn’t need the exact same thing as me, to be free—

But I found out later on, it was a person I would need,
The only one who could give me love, anyone like they deserved to be.


In the back on the right, under balled up socks, emo band t's, and boxer briefs,
were Trojan condoms, mix tapes, and lip-glossed letters stained with tear drops and spotty ink. We used to feel, as teens, much more than we allow ourselves to now, didn't we?

How many innocent girls with big blue eye and wider smiles did I have to take down with me?into my upscale brand of Walmart sheets? convince them they should hate me, just as much as I did she, The one who packed up my insides into a suitcase and walked out on me.

I used to crawl into my closet, high at night, to record voice journals about how I knew I wanted God in my life, Followed by three simple words. . . Just. Not. Yet.

I could smell it in the air, all the pain that I produced and all the hurt that I induced. How I slithered into the ears of unsuspecting, untrained listeners, and used my words to charm my fingers under their skirts.


I was an ugly man when I was living in the grave before the ferocity of unnecessary love chopped me to knees— it quickly brought me all the way down, then slowly lifted me back up out of the weeds

It weighed down on my soul, this burden of responsibility inside, Some undefined sweetness that compelled me to apologize and make things right, So I confronted all the ones that I had damaged and impaired, Driven by some foreign unction, in the center of my heart, That unveiled compassion and empathy I didn't even know I had in there

This love found me, 7 years ago. It picked me up. And everything came to a head at the surface, when that volcano finally began to erupt.

So I guess I'll end with this. My timber chest is lovely, even with all of its scars. Because I know they'll always grow back together, No matter how deep, wide, or how far the holes are set apart.

I regret nothing, since there's no telling how much love can do with broken wood. I regret nothing, because now I have something living inside me, making all my hideous into good

Life & Death of Waves


Back against a velvet wall in the hull, under an oil-painted glow, Hangnails clawing on the deck above—I sit below.
I smell the mold,
I can feel the slimy filaments, pressing against the ciliary hairs inside my nose.
I can taste disease, clinging, swirling around in the way-back of my throat.
As the salt does wash and dry my lips, with a soak—the open-mouthed kiss of wet waves,
this old ship that I call home, may soon become my grave.
The sea has come to swallow me up, I see no calm on the horizon, My lacquered, wooden, floating home is crushed to dust—thrust of trident—my Poseidon


My corpse walks the shore at sunrise, sees the skeletons of whales,
Once ferocious fish, brought waves to capsize weaker ships, with only power from their tales.
Cluttered, boney frames, held together tight by naked spines upon the sand,
This boneyard mirrors wooden boats, left in lockers deep at sea—here on the land.

Powdery soft, calcified crumbles,
broken little brothers drift against the water’s edge,
To form these fearful, brittle structures—fragile, standing poles—of ivory-tower ribs.
Cold and wet they ride the tide, crustless under cloudy, sea-foam bubbles on the beach,
Sun-bleached bones, freckled with salty nodes, make homes for men who know that death is well within their reach.


Shane Langford