I walked this life – lonely –

I walked this life – lonely –
Aware of shame – only –
Chiding Your apathy – to me –
I saw myself – painfully – alone.

In Your light I see – suddenly –
Always You are – with me –
Walking me home – lonely –
Never having left me – painfully – alone.


Psalm 35:4-9 (NIV): Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

image credit: yoksei @ unsplash

Continue reading “I walked this life – lonely –”

I had two grannies

I had two grannies
(Not everyone does, you know).
One tall and spindly like a soothsayer’s runes
And another short and dwarfish like a hoarder of rubies.

If they could have peeled the flesh off me
They would have when I was four
And grafted their skin on me with their
Surgery knives of fleshy steel called tongues.

I remember them: their eyes, and now I wish
— I wish I didn’t.
Except in those messy fairy tales where
Witches get pushed into ovens
And children find their own way home.

But they don’t.


Just as an addendum: I never saw my grandmothers again after the age of six when we moved and they died at a much later date. My dim memories of them are few.

For dVerse's "Grandmothers ..."

A Walk With You

When I walk down the street with you
it seems an avenue for the parvenu
who glitter and mime like bees round a cru
flush with cash, flush with dash, flush with boppity-boo.

I lean in, you lean out, you lean in, I lean out,
a flamenco we do, even a samba no doubt
while the white picket fences they shimmer and shout
“Oh look who! Oh look who!” like old aunties with gout.

And I’m so gorgeous and you’re larger than life
and if you’re honest, you’ll make me your wife;
but this world is so public and with catastrophes rife
its cerulean sky could change into a razor-sharp knife.

Would you stay with me, forever and a day
when the zinnias of summer turn a wintry gray?
When we walk beneath cottonwoods, will you turn and say,
“I’m glad you and I chose to go another way”?
Photo by Adam Bird

Continue reading “A Walk With You”

Christian Contentment

When, in a word, I write my
Contentment as a city
Founded by His Spirit
Whose boast is the cross

Whose streets are the Lord’s
Whose enterprises are the Lord’s
Whose possessions are the Lord’s
Whose provisions are the Lord’s

A city in which all is quieted in the Lord
All concerns are submitted to the Lord
All desires are centered in the Lord
All hopes are in the faithfulness of the Lord
All joy is found in the love of the Lord
All trust abounds in the goodness of the Lord

Then my soul glories in God my Savior alone
As enemies rail futilely against its walls
Fail to supplant the reign of the Lord
Every extremity under His sovereign control
Every lack a gain in grace upon grace
Every worry cast aside for the security of His promises
Every treasure in heaven stored from moth and rust and thieves

Then I am free to be satisfied in the Lord
Free to be satisfied with myself
Free to be part of the mystery
That is, Christ in me, the hope of glory.

Dreams from a Pilgrimage

photo prompt © Fleur Lind

word count: 100
genre: poetry

Dreams from a Pilgrimage

It’s just this way, she agonized, and
I won’t end where I’ve begun.
It’s the dream I’m waking up to.

I wonder, he antagonized, what if
today becomes your cannibal past tomorrow,
feeding on today’s life, keeping itself alive,
demanding its pound of flesh?

She knew his aim.
It was to lead her in circles,
to origins, not beginnings.

But each cross-road meant progress,
a royal one, or common as a pilgrim
on a well-worn track, peculiar as a dream

singular as a vision, a glaring blaze
of glory, immense as a grain of sand
sparkling in the New Jerusalem.


A three-prompt medley is the tune I'm playing off with Rochelle's Friday Fictioneers photo prompt & 100-word challenge, dVerse's Poetics: Visionary Poetry, and GirlieOnEdge Six Sentence Story ("lead"). Join us!

The Sphinx and American Ivy

A little fun combining three prompts: from dverse where I chose to use all the podcast titles to compose a poem (Articles of Interest: American Ivy, I Was Never There, Legacy of Speed, Not Lost, Pivot, Reveal: After Ayotzinapa, Rumble Strip, Serial, This American Life, Ghost in the Burbs); Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers (100 words or less using the photo prompt below); and GirlieonEdge’s Six Sentence Story (prompt word: VISA). Does the story poem succeed? Well, you be the judge!

photo prompt © Roger Bultot

The Sphinx and American Ivy

It isn’t fair, it isn’t fair, it isn’t fair: just some
articles of interest, American Ivy shouts.

The Sphinx runs behind Reveal (after Ayotzinapa,
he was never the same), columnar legs
standing astride this American life with a VISA card.

Playing the ghost in the burbs? American Ivy
taunts, the riddle and its answer are one!

I wasn’t there, Sphinx replies
(she’s a serial liar).

American Ivy laughs: Life isn’t fair, but here’s
the rumble strip to your legacy of speed:

neither’s love, the riddle YOU can’t solve.
Sphinx pivots: All’s not lost? and

Ivy laughs, says, Love conquers all.


The Curse

Unmasked by Michael Whelan (Pastels and Watercolor on an Acrylic Splash on Pastel Paper), 2011

It was the panther
she reached for.

My mother gave it to her.

Before she took her first breath
it bit her

in her cradle, in besotted arms,
no protection afforded (VISA’s terms
of use) from shadowed purity
from fatal slumber.

It took her a way
and then away.

The way back was a narrow gate,
blood of the Immortal in the mortal
through whom she found her freedom.

Doing cartwheels
on a blade, she lives,
a trust unbroken,
bless that day.

Passage: Verge, Michael Whelan (acrylic on canvas), 1989

Continue reading “The Curse”

For and By: Christina on New Year’s Eve

“It was a stark surprise of loss,”
she wrote, and then she stopped,
her hand stilled on the backlit keys
her eyes glued to the screen

where suddenly the lines misted,
metamorphosed in rain,
the world becoming watery,
a deluge full of pain.

She wiped her cheeks, she rose, she paced,
she spun about the room,
though memories of a dream-like shore
outran her pleas for peace.

Into her words she’d poured her heart,
into the poems she wrote
but from them she no longer found
the comfort that she sought.

None came but one, a fiery flare
that lit the distant sky
as if it came in search of her,
a foundling lost to claim.

“What joy is this, what Guest on high
has chosen this black night,
to show His love, to set alight
my dark and stormy heart?”

She cried, and in her joy she found
a new theme to set down
by psalm-borne winds she softly sang
of things divine, unseen.

Christina Rossetti, painting by John Brett, 1857 (Oil on canvas
Private Collection)

Old and New Year Ditties by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

1.

New Year met me somewhat sad:
Old Year leaves me tired,
Stripped of favourite things I had,
Baulked of much desired:
Yet farther on my road today
God willing, farther on my way.

New Year coming on apace
What have you to give me?
Bring you scathe, or bring you grace,
Face me with an honest face;
You shall not deceive me:
Be it good or ill, be it what you will,
It needs shall help me on my road,
My rugged way to heaven, please God.

2.

Watch with me, men, women, and children dear,
You whom I love, for whom I hope and fear,
Watch with me this last vigil of the year.
Some hug their business, some their pleasure scheme;
Some seize the vacant hour to sleep or dream;
Heart locked in heart some kneel and watch apart.

Watch with me, blessed spirits, who delight
All thro’ the holy night to walk in white,
Or take your ease after the long-drawn fight.
I know not if they watch with me: I know
They count this eve of resurrection slow,
And cry, “How long?” with urgent utterance strong.

Watch with me, Jesus, in my loneliness:
Tho’ others say me nay, yet say Thou yes;
Tho’ others pass me by, stop Thou to bless.
Yea, Thou dost stop with me this vigil night;
Tonight of pain, tomorrow of delight:
I, Love, am Thine; Thou, Lord my God, art mine.

3.

Passing away, saith the World, passing away:
Chances, beauty and youth sapped day by day:
Thy life never continueth in one stay.
Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey
That hath won neither laurel nor bay?
I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May:
Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay
On my bosom for aye.
Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away:
With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play;
Hearken what the past doth witness and say:
Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array,
A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay.
At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day
Lo the bridegroom shall come and shall not delay:
Watch thou and pray.
Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my God, passing away:
Winter passeth after the long delay:
New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray,
Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven’s May.
Tho’ I tarry, wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray.
Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day,
My love, My sister, My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say.
Then I answered: Yea.

This poem was originally published in Goblin Market and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1862) and appears in The Complete Poems by Christina Rossetti (Penguin, 2001). It is in the public domain.

I wrote the top poem in honor of Christina Rossetti whose poetry stirs readers and poets alike with their psalm-like appeal, as “Old and New Year Ditties,” on the cusp of a new year. Join us at Denise’s Six Sentence Story (using prompt word “surprise”). To my blog visitors, have a Happy New Year, one full of love and peace.

The Bell-ringer

A short story of 100 words (for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers using photo prompt) and in six sentences (for GirlieonEdge’s Six Sentence Story, “knot”).

photo prompt © Dale Rogerson

The Bell-ringer

Remember the bell-ringer, Sundar!
Mummy, just now I’m trying to find . . . !

There once was a bell-ringer whose job it was to . . .
ring the bell at dawn announcing Christmas.

He was born without . . .
no, born with a heart of gold that shone . . .
and stomach in knots he’d walk remembering Christ Jesus,
all alone, in the dark town
past sleeping people.

Look up, Sundar, you’re almost there and . . .
I can see you, Mummy, I can see you!

———
NEWS ALERT: Elderly man found dead in church bell-tower.

Giovanni Segantini – The Bell Ringer, 1879-80. Image via Arthur Digital Museum.
Continue reading “The Bell-ringer”

In Sheer Joy

Ice Dawn by William Hays (Colour Linocut, 2010)

O LORD, sheer joy with you,
Israel, in exile Homeward bound
From among a people of strange tongue
Gone forth in sheer joy

Shouting Hallelujah!
Out of Egypt have I gone forth with you,
True and Faithful by name
In sheer Joy!

How heavy the moment
Is with eternity, Lord Jesus,
Yet each flows after the other
Like water escaping
The hand that captures
The eyes that see
The thoughts that would knot
Them into a jeweled chain
To be adorned not as memory
But as presence

Cradled birth, my life in your hands:
Tenderly kept as shepherd with lamb
Hurrying at angelic proclamations of peace
Heavens ringing hallelujahs
Your delight brooding over the waters
Breaking over this new life, moments Spirit-born

When come the magi bearing each —
On a camel fresh out of the box
Of ornaments and sweet scents
Frankincense and myrrh unpacked —
Mystery like knots unraveling sheer

Joy, O Lord! You give each new
Moment flowing rapidly bringing you
Nearer, sheer joy as I await the
Long-awaited coming in sheer joy!

Advent Cry (based on Psalm 18)

I wept and You heard me
I cried out and You helped me
I knew no rest, only loss; to You
O LORD, I stretched my hands:

“I have no words
No pleas to offer
The wind is strong
My breath is gone

There is the desert
Where there’s no succor
Here is the sea
Where I will drown

Unless You come
To deliver
The world will take
The life you own.”

So I cried and in love You answered
You came down from Heaven’s splendor
Down, down, down as it was written,
Born of virgin, clothed in flesh.

From cords of death You unbound me
Shedding Your blood to release me
Nailed to a cross my guilt You bore for me
From the grave rising my life You saved.

Now I stand on solid ground
Upon the Rock You set me on
All the darkness flees before me
As with Your light I abound.

Like a deer upon Your holy mountain
New heights of glory I can see
Though rising waters still pursue me
Lord, my eyes are set on Thee.

Come, then, Jesus, as once before
You came Your children to deliver
Now return and never leave us
On that Day when all floods cease.


image credit: Gersom Clark

Snowballs in the Snow

Love:

let me be
your candy
sweet fantasy

of reindeer snow
of red-nosed glow
from snowball throw

aimed happy crazy
on mouth soft and saucy
and your eyes that melt me

gleam a Southern summertime
of delicious crime
as time spins on a dime.


A recipe for Peanut Butter Snowballs (pictured above) is here. Of course the earliest reference to peanut butter can be traced back to the Aztecs who would not have been acquainted with snow. Written for dVerse’s Quadrille (44 words, “candy”).

Gaudete: Rejoice!

Jyoti Sahi (1944–), Holding the Flame of Fire, 2005. Kolkata, India.

Being found by You, I find everything:
the sky a brighter blue, the leaves a happier hue
of glistening green, the river’s melodious

sounds rising high and low, bandying mountain notes
to valley tunes, and sun-washed strands of ocean
shores joining moon-drawn tides of marshalled harmony.

Being known by You, I know everything:
Love stronger than Death, darkness overcome by Light,
Peace past understanding, Hope unbounded, Joy unspeakable,

Faith that Hell’s gates will assail in prayer, Strength of soul,
Patience through trials, Your Life eternal flowing
through me, Your Blood that washed every stain of sin.

Being loved by You, no other love compares:
not love of man or woman or child; not the charms of all
the world’s delights, not health nor fortune, not lands

nor houses, neither knowledge of every secret
on earth or above it, nor wisdom to confound
and bring to their knees every earthly might and power.

There’s nothing on earth for me if not for You:
there’s nothing in heaven if You be not there:
Mary’s little baby boy would be just another child

if he had not been You come down to earth, taking
on our flesh, suffering on earth the plight that is ours,
to give to us, Your children, by faith the glory that is Yours.

Maranatha.


The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday.

Gaudete, 16th Century Christmas Carol (wikipedia)

An Absent Parent on Advent Sunday

She’ll be singing, “Lo,
How a Rose E’er Blooming”
But I won’t hear it
Her voice so dulcet
Her face pink, all aglow.

To God she’ll give the glory
As her heart attuned soaring
Sings out its praise
Sad hearts to raise
To Him our Savior and our joy.

Somehow I’ll know, my spirit sense
The words when she is singing
Rejoicing knowing
In Christ she’s growing
And that makes all the difference.

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith– to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Romans 16:25-27 [NIV]

Galo Ocampo (Filipino, 1913–1985), Nativity, late 1930s.
Oil on canvas. UST Museum, Manila, Philippines.

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
(15th c. German, trans. Theodore Baker)

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came, a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half-gone was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind:
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright
She bore to men a Savior
When half-gone was the night.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load.

Continue reading “An Absent Parent on Advent Sunday”

The Medka

The nurses flocked, they flocked to me
              like jackdaws thirsting
And me without a jaw left behind
              in the mouth of a Kamchatka brown bear
Airlifted and onto trolleys, recomposing surgeries
              discomposed, composing
(Is my jaw now compost? Half my face for gruel)
              their reinvention with chalk lines drawn
And I with hymns and old prayers, half-remembered
              in dragon’s mist, tamping
Down hysteria, breathing, breathing, wondering
              at my new name, Even-given, transfigured
By suffering into medka, call me medka, half-
              human, half-bear,
Conflated by misunderstanding, or was it evil,
              this force of Nature’s kiss
Which bit off more than it could chew at one sitting,
              to make of an anthropologist
A believer in transfiguration, to wish for the Other
              when left to the mercy of human hands.


N.B. This poem is solely my personal interpretation based on what I’ve read in reviews of a recent book by Nastassja Martin, an anthropologist studying the indigenous Even people of Siberia, in which she recounts her experiences after a Kamchatka bear “went off with a chunk of my jaw clenched in his own.”

Continue reading “The Medka”

This Long November Day

This long November day
unravels, filaments of self
unthreaded spin in disarray
seek a coalescing glance
from Thee, my soul’s desire.

This long November night
defeats, malingers yesterdays
that moon in shallow doorways
guilt-shadowed, hammering refrains
that only Thy voice can silence.

Hasten to send Thou, Oh Lord, Thy Word,
Thy Light by day, by night, my sight
unblind, my thought overspread, unroll
yard by yard Thy seeded spring
in frozen heart by Thy Spirit’s warmth.

And then shall November night become
as day, November day as night unfurled
in Thy blanketing love, and like a traveler
who spies a bridge o’er torrents harsh, I’ll race
to cross encircling time, and so abide in Thee.

An Advent Song (For the First Sunday of Advent)

ADVENT STARRY NIGHT 5, Virginia Wieringa, Acrylic 2011

An Advent Song

Clothed in the armor of Your light
We walk by faith throughout the night
As darkness fades, so all earthly fear
With the long-awaited dawn, when You appear.

All the prophets spoke was true
All that they prophesied of You
We knew it then, we know it now
That every knee before You one day will bow.

In the fullness of time You came
As babe in manger, Jesus by name
Now ascended King, when You departed
You left us not alone, but the Holy Spirit imparted.

Yet out of our sight You reign on high
Until that day when You again come nigh
The dawn of that day we will shout and cheer
Not an eye will be dry when You, O Lord, draw near!

Now, Father, keep us faithful and strong
Singing ever onwards the Gospel song
Knowing it is the power of God to save
By believing in His Son whom to us You gave.


Romans 1:16 (NIV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NASB) But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Lyrics: Psalm 121 (sung in Arabic) I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where my help comes from My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going from now until the end of time