Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rough Fabric

When the quiet waters lapped the shore
and the strong nets were in their hands
He called them.
He called them
rough fabric, as they were,
weathered within and out
unfit for much use (as some would think).

They left it all behind—the trappings
of their lives,
their sustenance and their families’ too.
The half-mended nets,
the boats still on the lake,
for He Who spoke as no other
had spoken to them.

Fishers of men…
how could they understand that, then?
or the road that would bend
to Calvary, and beyond
into all the world
to crosses of their own…?

When the sun shone on Galilee
and they labored by the sea
He called them,
and their hearts leapt,
hands shook,
feet eagerly stumbled
in haste to follow

Jesus Joseph’s son.
He, young, unafraid,
spoke the Words of God,
but they little knew then
He was their Consolation,
their Redeemer,
their promised Messiah,
and His fire would consume them—

rough fabric, as they were,
unfit for any use but something hard—
to be beaten, to be stretched,
to be wrung, or cut in two,
and in the end,
(though not by human hands)
to be all burned up.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Prayers of Sixth and Trinity

Sixth and Trinity were the cross streets in the "bar section" of town where I used to stand with my husband as he handed out tracts and shared the gospel. My primary job was to pray, and this poem is an approximation of the prayers I used to say, and the moment that happened again and again--it used to fascinate me--when they looked at the tract and it's bold print "Righteous for the Unrighteous," and then passed on.

Oh Lord, save her.
Here she comes,
the girl in the black halter,
rose tattoo, and eyes
of empty determination,
just like the others. Save her.
I don't know her, I can only guess
at history and heart breaks,
what sins, fears, friends,
justifications she carries in her walk,
or who she goes to,
but her life has been mapped out
in Your mind since before Time,
and I pray that You would
save her from all her sins.
By Your grace.
Your mighty grace,
strong like a battlement against Satan's
temptations, and all our sins.
We build our towers against You,
but You devastate them
with love, when You choose.
Oh, she's walking past now—she sees
the fluttering paper—
It's life! It's life! For free, take it!--
averts those
eyes You know, tosses
the blond hair, grips her
black vinyl purse a little harder.
Her heart! Her heart!
It must be changed!
Change it! Change it, Lord!
Even like Christ
changed the water to the wine,
and You changed Israel's heart from
stone to flesh.
For mercy's sake, and all that blood;
Did not He shed enough
for her as well?
One more! One more, good Lord,
to magnify
the forgiveness of the cross,
and the power of the sacrifice.
One more to speak Your praises,
one more to bring You glory by her salvation,
and Christ by her redemption.
How many did He buy?
The number of the elect out number the sand.
Oh, may she be one!
Forgive her Lord, forgive her. Forgive her sins,
as we all have been forgiven.
Give her mercy, Lord, as we all
have received mercy, not by our hand,
but by Yours, and Your Son's.
There, she's gone again,
the crowd has swallowed her up,
and she walked away
from salvation tonight, but You will
always know where she is.
Oh Lord, save her.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Complaint about writing rhyming Christian poetry

I need to vent.

I keep trying to write rhyming poetry, because it's much harder than non-rhyming, and builds good discipline, I think. Only there's a problem. If you are writing Christian poetry, the words you tend to use the most often just don't rhyme with much of anything.

For instance, take "Christ." Christ doesn't rhyme with anything but "heist" and "poltergeist". Try to write a poem using that, now!!

"Faith" doesn't rhyme with anything but "eighth" and "wraith" (which I did once use, which I guess means I don't get to do it again).

"Love" is famous for having only a few rhymes, two of which are "shove," and "glove." "Dove" and "above" are slightly more promising, but really overused already.

And then there's "hope..." Dope, mope, lope, pope, slope, nope, cope ... a larger selection, it's true, but not exactly the sorts of words one really wants to use in a poem about the Lord Jesus Christ. And "Jesus" doesn't rhyme with anything at all!

This is why I have such a large collection of two-thirds written sonnets. I start out strong, and then get to the last third and just can't make a rhyme to save my life. I have a bookmark for a website that provides you with a list of all rhymes for any given word, so I'll use that and find that the word I want doesn't rhyme with anything. I'll think and think to come up with something else that will also express the idea, look it up, and guess what? It doesn't rhyme with anything either!

Here's an example of a would-be sonnet that died an untimely death due to lack of plausible rhymes (and my inability to wrap an idea up in the lines permitted):

Afflicted, reviled, cursed, the scum
of the earth; destitute, stoned, sawed and slain,
the Saints march in. All Heaven, look—they come!
The Lord’s Redeemed come in a tattered train,
and trailing glory. Here not many strong
not many wise, not many rich when they
were called to leave their homes and start this long,
long journey of splendor and pain. Oh say,
you hosts, are these the ones their Father knows?
They’re clothed in sheepskins, goatskins, barefooted,
bloodied and beaten, orphans and widows:
they bear the wounds of Christ.

Here's another, about the book of Joshua:

From out the desert they came in, sun worn
and hardened, with their children and their sheep,
their tents and their God. Men from childhood sworn
to this: to fight to win, to claim and keep
this land that God had got for them. They learned
their parents' lesson well. Before their flood
of men great cities fell; they bled and burned
before the Righteous One to whom their blood
was due. What panic was in Canaan then--
when God hurled rocks upon their heads, and stopped
the sun above.

There's more, believe me. (sigh) Maybe I'm not cut out to be a sonnet writer, but there's just something about it I can't resist--it's like a verbal puzzle (and anyone who knows me knows I like puzzles).

That's all now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Come Now, Death's Shadow

The experiences this poem discusses happened years ago. I wrote it awhile back as more of a reflection on them than anything else.

From dust we came
to dust we must return
some of us covered in blood and small—
a life that barely lived
a heart that barely beat, though fast,
beneath frail ribs and paper skin,
while blind eyes and downy brows
mark the image of God
being knit.

Hear me, Lord!
Hear my whisper, hear the flutter
of silent movements
stopped within my frame—
my fallen frame, too weak to hold
the life You chose to take.
The garden’s curse
exacts its toll again.
Bitter, familiar sin!
I feel its sting now,
deep within my body,
piercing to my heart.

My love
cannot dry up,
like my blighted child.
It flows in rivers down my face.
It carves its place
in the landscape of my life—

But that deep pool, clear
and only sweetened by salt-tears
shall water the seed of Your Word
within me.
Your will, Your mysteries, Your plans
for me and mine—
for that soul whose properties You know—
Your Providence and choice,
and mercy seen through mortal pain—
these lessons I will learn,
take from Your hand the grief,
call You blessed,
and remember

This child, too, belonged to You.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Abraham's Altar

I would like to give you part of a longer poem that I started working on some time ago. I made progress quickly at first, but have stalled now, unsatisfied but not knowing how to get from where I am to where I want to be. There's a lot to be said about this particular story, and I want to cover it all, but without running on forever.

Here's what I have written so far (the readable parts), with a warning that much of this may end up deleted:

*The first line of each verse completes the last one from the verse before. I indent them, but blogger won't let me do it here.*

On Abraham’s altar he laid
the weight of years, and tears that stayed
in his wife’s yearning heart while yet
she knew he loved her, and set
his mind to accept the servant
as his heir.

There the fervent
hope of God’s promise, their prayer,
and the sands of the lands that their
journey had traversed lay prostrate
in the body of a boy. Late
he had waited, watched the stars, seen
in them all his children between
then and eternity. They too
waited for their death. So he drew
his dagger to slay the laughter
of their old age, nor could, after,
Isaac say he wavered.

This man
by God’s call had gone in the span
of frail life from pagan Ur
to here—and though he was unsure
so often, though he doubted God,
and gave up his wife from fear, prod
the Divinity by taking
the slave girl, and made an aching
wound that history’s not yet healed—
His justification was revealed
at this hour, at Abraham’s grim
test, before the angel stayed him,
when all his heart’s desire lay still
and bound before him, and his will
strained against his heart.

believed. Nor did he need the ram
to understand that just one birth
was enough—that this child of mirth
would live, and death alone could not
kill the promise of He who brought
him here; he begged not mercies such
as he begged for Sodom’s children.
Could Sarah’s womb be more barren
that it already was?

And so,
in faith, he bound his son, and no
sooner did he take up the blade,
then God in graciousness stayed

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I am the man
who took the woman’s shame
upon myself, defied
those who murmured whispers
counting months
and sheltered her with my name.

I am the man
who trod hard roads
beside her, held her, swaying
bowing on the donkey
with the Life-Spring
of the universe
kicking in her swollen womb.

Long the hours
we journeyed on,
panted in the small shade
whispered to the waiting Majesty
prayed Him stay His coming
a little while yet.

Rough and awkward
I am the man
who was midwife
at the birth of the Eternal One,
and held Divinity
squalling, bloody in my hands
while the Prophets’ voices
thundered in my ears

and high above the stable roof
a new born star
burst into incandescent life.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Matthew in verse, pt 3

Now when they had departed there, behold
An angel of the Lord appeared in dream
To Joseph, said, “Arise and take the Child
And mother by night, flee to Egypt. There
Remain until I tell you; Herod soon
Is going to search for Him to destroy
Him.” He arose and took the Child by night,
Departed for Egypt and there remained
Until the death of Herod, that what had
Been spoken by the Lord through prophets might
Be yet fulfilled, that “Out of Egypt did
I call my Son.” When Herod saw that by
the Magi he was tricked, he then became
Enraged, and sent and slew the male children
Who were in Bethlehem and all of its
Environs, two years old and younger, that
According to the time which he had heard
From Magi. Then that which was spoken through
The prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled,
“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and
Great Mourning, Rachel weeping, weeping for
Her children; and refusing comfort, for
They were no more.” When Herod died, behold,
An angel of the Lord appeared in dream
to Joseph while in Egypt, said, “Arise
and take the Child and mother and go to
The land of Israel; those who sought His life
are dead.” And so he rose and took the Child
And mother, and came then into the land
Of Israel. But when he heard Archelaus
Was reigning ov’r Judea in place of
His father Herod, he was frightened to
Go there. And being warned in a dream by God,
Departed for the regions Galilee,
And came, resided in the city called
There Nazareth, that what was spoken through
The prophets be fulfilled, “He shall be called
a Nazarene.”