Archive for category: Poetry

A Monday Poem (Yes, You Need Poetry)

The world is off kilter (if’n you ain’t noticed). There’s no need for me to provide the laundry list of proofs. You feel it, don’t you? These seasons beg me to remember the gentleness of faith, and today, I’m offering this poem as just such a reminder.

And as a brief reminder, let’s discuss how to read a poem. Consider the title, what it might say, or foreshadow. Then, read the poem slowly, line by line. Using your imagination, see the text come to life. Then, move to the next line and do it again. At the end of the poem, ask yourself: How do I feel? or What was the takeaway?

***

To my Sons #2

Some days you will race toddler tipsy,
water balloon between your knees,
against children more adept at
the awkward waddle of boyish games.
Carry best as you may–careful, careful—
these sorts of events occasion failure,
joy falling like eggs from the sky,
spilling into a pool of whoops and tears.
There, let your father’s faith be gentle,
like that of a mother lifting last born
from the embarrassment of empty can’ts
and into the crook of forever
where life’s perfume lingers.

***

Tomorrow, I’ll turn my thoughts back to vocation. These posts, as it turns out, have been among some of my most popular. Why? Who can say, but there seems to be a universal itch when it comes to the careers we choose. I hope to see tomorrow.

***BECOME A PATRON***

Do you like the content here or in my Tiny Letter? Then I’d like to invite you to join my Patreon community. What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

powered by TinyLetter

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

The Poem For Redeemer, Kansas City

A few years ago, I stumbled across the poem “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke. It’s a villanelle, a nineteen line poem characterized by rhyme and repetition. Roethke does something with the form, turns it into a sort of personal devotion, and when I read it for the first time, it seemed to work its way under my skin, got into my veins, did the thing any good drug does once it found the proper neural receptors.

This is your brain on poetry.

This spring, I spoke to a group of pastors in Kansas City. Before taking the stage, I sat in the greenroom, praying, light music playing over the speakers.  A song began playing, and I recognized it two notes in (bass lines have a way of sticking with you; yes?). It was a deeper cut from Kurt Elling’s work. It was his musical interpretation of “The Waking,” and it seemed the perfect song for the moment.

“God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.”
~Theodore Roethke, “The Waking”

The week after that conference, I sat in the quiet of my office and penned this homage to Roethke’s “The Waking.” I hope you enjoy it.

Ages and Ages (The Poem for Redeemer, Kansas City)

We watch for signs of life lived youngly sweet
and take by this some memory of being
too small to know the sun’s burning color.

Imagine soft clover on your laughing
cheeks, as a child, and in another age
remember signs of life lived youngly sweet.

Until this waking to noon heat, were we
smiling with carefree children faces raised,
too small to know how the sun’s color burns?

Now we raise cups to living old concerns,
like knowing good, evil, not remembering
to watch for signs of life lived youngly sweet.

Of all the things that come from forever
our laughing child’s shining eyes were most pure,
innocent to how the sun’s color burns.

Age brings knowing that cannot be unknown,
like how lovers hold hands, walking, silvered,
Watching for signs of life lived youngly sweet
And lifting eyes to sun’s burning color.

***

Now, enjoy this version of Elling’s “The Waking.”

***BECOME A PATRON***

Do you like the content here or in my Tiny Letter? Then I’d like to invite you to join my Patreon community. What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

powered by TinyLetter

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

Rejection, Dementia, and a Really Bad Breakup

I took the month of July off (more or less) because I needed a break, a vacation. If God took the seventh day off, couldn’t I practice his character by taking the seventh month off?

Okay, that’s a stretch. I ain’t that holy.

I’m scratching out words again today, but it’s really just a toe-back-in-the-water attempt to break my mini-sabbatical. I’m here to draw you in, to lure you to follow me elsewhere.

I wrote a poem a while back, a poem for my friend John Ray. I submitted that poem, “Dementia,” to a poetry contest for a magazine which shall not be named because I did not win, and if I’d dead honest, I’m still feeling as if I were just dumped by my crazy ex-girlfriend. Sure she’s nuts. We all knew it. My friends tried to warn me. But she was so pretty and artistic and promising and how could she dump me? 

This is the wretched and regular feeling so many of us in the writing world feel. Rejection: it hacks our egos into tiny, buriable pieces.

I was lamenting how my poem managed to swindle a rejection letter from that magazine which shall not be named with my friend and fellow writer John Blase. He liked the poem, I suppose, and posted it on his site of stupendous poetry. (You really should spend some time there.) So today, I’m here to ask you to go there. And if you need a bit of a foretaste of my non-award winning poetry, read on:

 

Dementia

He asked for the third time who organized this dinner,

who scheduled its courses of salad, the pizza

with whole basil leaves; who’d ever seen pizza

with whole leaves of basil? This He asked

for the third time.

 

His thumb and forefinger held a tremoring fork;

the back of his hand shivered, even in the blanket

of April’s warm humidity. Skin thin as purple onion peel

stretched over bird bones, everything forgetful of youth—

this is the way all men grow into dust.

 

To continue reading “Dementia,” visit John’s place.

***BECOME A PATRON***

Do you like the content here or in my Tiny Letter? Then I’d like to invite you to join my Patreon community. What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

powered by TinyLetter

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

The River

This is how a river loves:
shedding the linen fog of spring,
she opens herself
to the naked feet of men,
whispering what it means
to be made clean.

Step into my body of love,
the dust of living washed
from the soles of your feet.

Spinning new linen at dusk,
she repeats the words
she’s always known:

Having loved my own
who were in the world
I loved them to the end.

 

***TINY MEMBERSHIP DRIVE***

The content here takes hours (and no small amount of spare change) to produce. If you enjoy reading my content, whether here, in the bi-monthly Tiny Letter, or in any of my free email campaigns, would you consider SUPPORTING THE WORK? (It’ll only set you back a cup of coffee a month.) And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, sign up to receive it straight to your inbox.

powered by TinyLetter

 

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.

If Dandelions Could Speak

Where the cinderblock of the coffee shop
meets the pavement of the parking lot,
there in that infertile groove
a lonely dandelion grows,
face spread to the sun.

Lift up your heart;
I lift it to the Lord.
Let us give thanks
to Lord our God;
It is right to give him
thanks and praise.

It is right to praise him, she says,
for the redeeming acts of love,
for the fertility of chance
and the life that brims
from the dust
of foundation
cracks.

 

***TINY MEMBERSHIP DRIVE***

The content here takes hours (and no small amount of spare change) to produce. If you enjoy reading my content, whether here, in the bi-monthly Tiny Letter, or in any of my free email campaigns, would you consider SUPPORTING THE WORK? (It’ll only set you back a cup of coffee a month.) And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, sign up to receive it straight to your inbox.

powered by TinyLetter

 

Want to receive my updates in your inbox? Click here. Also, follow along on Twitter and Facebook.