“Without hope we live on in desire.” Sanza speme vivemo in disio.
Dante, Inferno, Canto IV, line 42
Love ran through his island heart From springes freed took flight Left swallows’ cries of yesteryears Desire-torn in apple-bright
Bone-white his wings that beat the air And strain bent low his neck Wind beat hard his sinews bare Yet Hope grew clear his sight
Quiet-warmed as kingly deer by brook Calm shattered shivers of doubt Drawn unseen through cloud and dark Dew-quenched his thirsting heart
Love and Hope together sang He heard their various strain Not far the wing-breadths that remained To reach the One he loved.
“That without hope we live on in desire” The pagan poet found But pity more each one whose fire Burns for themselves alone.
Before Canto 4 of the Inferno where the pilgrim Dante is introduced to the virtuous pagans among whom is his guide through Hell, the poet Virgil himself, Dante first crosses the gate of Hell whereon he sees inscribed, “Abandon hope all who enter here” (Canto 3). Here, he sees the first sinners in Hell, a craven company who lived for themselves, filled with envious desires, whom Virgil describes as “the sorry souls of those who lived without infamy or praise. They are mingled with that base band of angels who were neither rebellious nor faithful to God, but stood apart.” Being disengaged from the battle, this endless line of souls have no hope of death’s oblivion, “mercy and justice disdain them. Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass on” (trans. Charles S. Singleton). Virgil won’t even name them for they have reduced reality, reduced the world to a show, a spectacle for their own amusement. These rage and wail as swarms of stinging wasps and flies follow them and worms engorge on their blood. In contrast the virtuous pre-Christian pagans whom Dante meets next in Limbo live in a bucolic garden, their great sadness, desiring yet remaining apart from God.
A-lone, a-bed, a need to rise, arise, remembering, sighing to rise sight aroused, upraised
dawn-drawn in fulness of cloud tears of consummation, gathering
gathering, a communion of praise for One whose work completed upgathers to raise me, to rise,
arise, walk in new life.
Luke 5: 18-26And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the man who was paralyzed–“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God.
And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
To use the word "work" in a quadrille of 44 words is our Labor Day task from Lisa at dVerse. My labor? To look on the work of Christ Jesus upon the Cross for all who believe in Him.
Unlooked for. You were unlooked for. Unhoped for. You were unhoped for. Where I was You were not. Where You were I was not. Sudden. Then. It was sudden. Not the shuddering of wings, not of swan. Angels watched. Unwatched for. What are you looking at? Put ‘em back, your hallelujahs. Because I’m a mess. A blubbering mess. Mess of sticky goo, sin. Call it what you will. It was painful, this birth. This death. At twenty. A resurrection in You. In You. In You. In You. I can’t get over You. I can’t get over You. You know me through and through. You know me through and through. You swaddled me not in a manger. You fed me at Your breast Your Holy Spirit milk. You hid me in Egypt. You found me at Jacob’s well. You suffer me a cross to bear You bore it as well. For me. For me. You birthed me. You loved me. It’s not a fluke of biology this Light as in Damascus. This Love, this Light, this manger this cross, this thorny crown this night, this life over which this darkness cannot roll. This Love is Light is mine.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:1-5, 9-13
Grace at dVerse asks us to write either in the form of Kwansaba or write a poem of blessing or praise in the style of David Whyte. Click on Mr. Linky and join us for the last meeting of 2021 at the dVerse bar.
Image credit: Photo by Andre Moura from pexels
“What is all this love for if we have to walk into the dark?” (M.R. James)
This is no country for old women Scavenging among the shops of younger Birds feathered-fit for triumphalist high-fives Impatient of scarecrow’s creaking shoes, masked Grimace reaching for a tin on a grocer’s shelf.
Pain exacts through sickness and age Its own price, even as we gingerly kneel To find the lisolia of those now lost to sight, Praying hands held aloft, clasping light In the aftergloom of laughter’s ghosts.
In the heartmoor of these days and nights Visions appear, and I press forward into the dark Of words that like crumbs from the children’s table Fall upon me, as manna, as showers, as stories Of love that even scarecrows can laugh to tell.
Linda at dVerse asks us to choose one or more words from a list of neologisms to write a poem. Click on Mr. Linky and join in! I've chosen "heartmoor," "aftergloom" and "lisolia," definitions of which are given in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:
Aftergloom: the pang of loneliness you feel the day after an intensely social event, as the glow of voices and laughter fades into a somber quiet.
Heartmoor: the primal longing for a home village to return to, a place that no longer exists, if it ever did.
Lisolia: the satisfaction of things worn down by time, broken in baseball mitts, the shiny snout of a lucky bronze pig, or footprints ground deep into floorboards by generations of kneeling monks.
It was coiled and glowing in a single ray of light, speaking of treasure maps
and I am there when she gives it to you, the thin gold filigree weaving delicate
through coral one after another, jostling into the tender skin of your palm
cupped like a boat that had sailed too far to be retrieved by a golden hook
that cut into the bark of heart and home but landed somewhere between reality
and the wound that never heals: “I’m leaving it with you,” I hear her say
to you. And you look at it like the sum of all mysteries and said to her, to me,
“Where will you go? Can’t you stay?” and I said, she said, “It’s no more use to me,
maybe for you,” and you tore the coral off your neck and your hands bled for a season
and a day, until you drew its poison out of your body and praised the Light that stayed.
Image credit: Amrita Sher-Gil, "The Little Girl in Blue" (detail; 1934).
Merril at dVerse asks us to "write about a historical artifact…You may write about any object—a family heirloom, a museum piece, a monument, or a palace. The choice is yours, but there must be some link to history and the past. You can write in any form or free verse."
Thank you, Bjorn, for your fearless leadership of dVerse and your unflagging encouragement to those of us who gather at the dVerse pub from this most appreciative admirer of your poetry. Here’s to you and the ancient librarian! Cheers!
I took a tree for a chapel I took a bird for a priest I ate a heart out of ginger root Its enflamed sighs my prayers
Out of my back a tree grew one day Sparrows fluttered in my blind branches Until feather-gorged down a smooth-skinned maw One soundlessly disappeared
Out of my ginger-rooted chest A giant water bug starving crawled To pierce into liquefaction A spring peeper, sun-warmed frog.
I dreamt there was no heaven I dreamt there was no rest
No sunsets that spoke of design No kindness that spoke the divine
I fancied stardust my homeland And entropy was my life
In the scheme of all that’s unholy This is what I wrote
An inch the moon moved, me eyeing through sleepless lids I lay dying: apple-fed.
Dim my sight, breath weakening death’s poison ever strengthening: apple-cursed.
Whispered prayers, hurried words of flesh plead soul’s deliverance afresh: apple-damned.
Darkness now floods the mind distraught I would, I could, but I cannot: apple-bent.
God’s Son whose flesh my guilt impaled On cross for me o’er death prevailed: apple-freed.
Grace at dVerse challenges us today to write a Compound Word Verse, an unfamiliar form to most ous I daresay. She writes: "The Compound Word Verse is a poetry form invented by Margaret R. Smith that consists of five 3-line stanzas, for a total of 15 lines. The last line of each stanza ends in a compound word and these compound words share a common stem word which is taken from the title. (In the first example below the stem word is “moon” from the title “Moonlighting”; the compound words related to the title are moondust, moonbeams, moonsongs, etc.)
The Compound Word Verse (3 lines) has a set rhyme scheme and meter as follows:
Rhyme Scheme: a,a,b
Syllable/Meter: 8, 8, 3
Click on Mr. Linky to read more and join in!
I watched you go, the empty sleeve of your coat brushing my cheek long before the final goodbye
on riddling ground east of Eden, west of the moon, where dead roam among the living as infernal winds sweep through like furies spitting over our destinies
in the wasteland where visions die where banshees howl, half-formed men bay round fires of Cain’s wandering offspring; yet the eternal revelation, tri-folded, goes forth to the hungry and the poor in spirit
on ground riddled with the treacherous dust of history, walking as quickened ones, lilies of the field, dandelions harboring the unsearchable riches of Christ showing forth the unassailable purpose of God
as dumb to the world’s riddles, we carry on, spinning out of bereft arms into shrouds or across canyons of a diseased mind losing each other to time’s grasp, till time stops, and we, with joy unspeakable, walk on new ground.
Ingrid at dVerse's "Poetics: From a place of pain" asks us to "try your hand at writing your way out of a place of pain" which I have done combining fragments of poems from the past. Join us by clicking on Mr. Linky.
Five minutes ago insurance was on the phone something needed watching a chore couldn’t be ignored prescriptions waited in the hallway voices cluttered up the inbox the sun was breaking hot motes star-fished into eyes death landed on the floor space folded into halves you went into your room the music turned up loud in the spaces of my heart where you still pace and pray the speakers turned up high distance crumpling in my hand the clock stretched round a bend five minutes ago
For dVerse's Open Link Night 293 hosted by Lisa. Click on Mr. Linky and meet us there!
Grace at dVerse engages us to try a new poetic form: the Zéjel,
a Spanish form with Arabic influence related to the Qasida
and adopted by the Spanish troubadours of 15th century.
The rules for the most common form:
1) 8 syllable lines.
2) stanzaic, opening with a mono-rhymed triplet followed by any number of quatrains.
3) rhymed, the rhyme of the opening mudanza establishes a linking rhyme with the end line of the succeeding quatrains. Rhyme scheme, aaa bbba ccca etc.
Click on Mr. Linky to read more poems.
Image credit: Roman Odintsov.
Universes and grains of sand Threading dreams, like daisies, by hand Unstrung the quicker when more grand.
I sought the visions of a dream Where suffering ends and life would seem Heavenly, as every soul would beam To see wishes fulfilled as planned.
Long I searched by day and by night Like Eldorado by the knight The end I sought grew dim not bright As all my hopes came to a stand.
Now gray and old, I do decry The day I fell for that old lie: Apart from God to live and die And build my towering hopes on sand.
There she was: I realized she was me crouched in the beating room, hateful she, a thing that cried piteously ugly she, crying stupidly, screwed up she, she ugly, she stupid, she dumb, nothing deserving.
Dark, glassy the room: no color, but a stink of loathing a stink of putrid fear, foul abhorrence disgust mirrored through the open door of midnight huddled waiting for the next well-deserved blow.
The rustling of leaves: standing many a time at the doorway dreaming she was never there, the she that was me this still-born excrescence, but now she, suddenly shielded with the cloak of pure light of the Ancient One, holy, whose right cannot be denied, his blood the price for she, for me.
Romans 7:14-25 (NET) For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate. But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good. But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 8:15 (NET) For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”
2 Corinthians 3: 17-18 (NET) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
For dVerse: Poetics - Dungeons and Dragons, Sanaa asks that we "play a poetry game called,'Dungeons and Derivatives.' The idea here is to select one (from a list of eight sentences) and to change at least one word or more by replacing it with a derivative. Once you are done, unlock the muse from its dungeon and write a poem with the existing sentence." I chose the line from one of her poems which runs: “The rustling of leaves; I have stood many a time at the doorway of dreaming.” Click on Mr. Linky to read more and join in!
Silvery strands, hair falls in brush-fulls one saint’s covering glory thread-bare every thread-count, hair-count numbered tears bottled, not nameless not in a warehouse, but in the house of the Lord, O En-hakkore, on Zion’s mount, where nations stream one day, El-Shaddai, that day don’t delay, Yahweh, that hour cry the faithful weeping from hospital beds prison cells, beside mass graves, the suffering martyrs, broken families soldiers and civilians mere fodder for power, numberless babes murdered in wombs: hear our prayers, O LORD our God, for the coming of Thy Son.
For today's dVerse Poetics, Ingrid asks us to "try to complete the poem as far as possible without writing it down. Think about the devices discussed above: regular rhythms, repeated phrases or ‘motifs’, alliteration and rhyme schemes – anything to aid the memory and help the words to flow....Make an audio/video recording of your poem and post it to your blog and/or transcribe your poem, so we can read the finished version." Click on Mr. Linky to join in and read more poems.
Writer Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) is one of Russia’s great absurdists, his black humor seemingly politically opaque, but troublesome enough to alert Soviet authorities who threw him in prison where he died forgotten by his jailers.
Join us a dVerse where we are writing a quadrille (44 words exactly) using the word "heart." Click Mr. Linky to read more.
writers are knife-walkers we walk to make the final cut where the blade ruptures the heart
surgical artists dissecting ourselves in the Circus Maximus for the amusement of the gods in their curtained prosceniums
they, eviscerating each other, we rip ourselves up to see the truth in fictional lives stitched up later as scarred tissues of lies
only to find we’re not hopelessly alone that our arteries flow into one another through artful bridges of aqueducts leading one to another’s aortas
in ancient tides and ocean swells, each as wombs incubating embryonic lives of who we are meant to be where the bone meets the marrow.
Today Tricia Sankey guest hosts at dVerse Poetics, and she challenge us with writing about risk. Inspired by Tricia's own poem, well, writing poetry is a risk for me, but as I tried to say, one well worth taking when it's done in community like the poets at dVerse. Thanks to one and all.