Break, break the splitting cataracts

Break, break the splitting cataracts
Send skin-sharp torrents to set free
Remold with Spirit-sinew mottled clay
Jarring-fiery Sinai-thunderous
The deep unseen core.

Hide me there upon the Rock
See me a revelry of particulate force
Lifting light, water, earth, and air
Across a timeless mist of song.

You, O God, who overflows my praise
Falling upon sun-spun life baptized
Fathomless One who fathoms me
To dance in the compass of Thy heart
Break, break the splitting cataracts!

Fay Collins, “Full Spate,” Lodore Falls, oil on board

Sarah at dVerse asks us for an ekphrastic poem, "to choose a picture, and let it inspire your words," with the picture being one by artist Fay Collins. Click on Mr. Linky and join in!

Journey (4)

A lone tree
alone tree

parched finger roots on limestone
see:

above the clay
careening

this Rock has a hold on me

as winds, storms buffet free pride
of trunk unbent:

steady in heat of day, laboring:
oh Lord my God, I thank Thee.


Image credit: Splitshire.com
Lillian at dVerse Quadrille (44 words) prompts us with the word "careen"
Click on Mr. Linky to join in!

Apple-spent (A Compound Word Verse)

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.

Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels
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!

An (Un)Earthened Riddle

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.

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com
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.

Continuum

Salvador Dalí. (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Persistence of Memory. 1931

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!

Sandy Foundations: A Zéjel

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.

Enter Stage Right: Cicindela

Cicindela sexguttata, also known as the green tiger beetle, Catoctin Mountain Park

It was my walk you were on
hunting caterpillars, spiders and ants:
cicindela sexguttata, tiger beetle
after its prey in a flashy fluorescent kind of way

I stopped, you froze, neither of us camouflaged,
me turmeric topped in white jeans,
you in green metallic sheen
me on all fours to examine you better
you on all sixes to beat it if you had to

I exited stage left, you stayed put, focused,
a cirque du soleil wanderer, stray spotlight hoarder
ready to celebrate with a juicy meal
of tang-colored butterfly puddling nearby

When comic relief: a crow flaps its wings
while you race for your prey but your timing is late,
the butterfly flutters off and I shout off the bird
and you meander onward, a green blaze of disgust.


Join the dVerse poets as we write on "Creepies and Crawlies," for Poetics Tuesday.

Freedom

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.

Photo by Masha Raymers on Pexels.com

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!

Not Our Will, But Thy Will Be Done

For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light. (Psalm 36:9)
Not Our Will, But Thy Will Be Done

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.

In Honor of Daniil Kharms

“Today I wrote nothing”

on Twitter

as people fell out of Windows

on Amazon’s Prime Day sale

like cats and dogs

and me heart-less

in the cell on Facebook

padlocked

when the famine came

and the rations ran out

and the rats came in.


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.

Knife-walkers

Girl with Balloon or There is Always Hope, original mural by graffiti artist Banksy (2002) on Waterloo Bridge in London’s South Bank; photo Dominic Robinson, 2004

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.

En Pointe

Sarah of dVerse asks us to choose a poem we’ve read over the last year and write a response to it in conversation, as it were, with its preoccupations. I’ve chosen John Updike’s “Fine Point,” written just weeks before his death in January 2009. His consciousness of our tainted public and personal history, and faith’s endurance as he alludes to Psalm 23, is what engages me most. And so my response, “En Pointe.”

En Pointe

What divinity is this that tempers our clay

with hammers of wrath expended on temple,

church, in our uneasy play with pagan tunes

of lust? Even as we covet our neighbor’s lamb

we would sing tuneful papyrus songs in our Babylon

with lyres hung under willows, calling out as children

“Abba, Father,” knowing we are heard by the Name

of One who bore the curse of our sinful rebellions.

O Son of David, thou whose lips have tendered infinity –

“It is finished” mercy and justice united blood

spilled and body spent on the cross so that Surely—

yes, “surely”— and all the days of my life wilt thou

pursue not merely “follow”— poor substitute

for the ancient tongue which reaches out in mercy

as unbounded as a lover’s song of songs to me

now to dwell in the house of the Lord, forever. Selah.

Wingless Phoenix in Wal-Mart

360px-Mosaïque_Phénix_01

A wingless phoenix in Wal-Mart
By Special K and Quaker Oats
Stands mid-aisle, stock still, face pinched.
His eyes shift blank and stare
At a nightmare in the lightning flashes of his brain
Even with the doctor’s little pills, Franken-Berry,
Untethered chemistry, synaptic discord
A conflagration he could barely control
Or it would blaze into fiery immolation

As it was doing now
Had done a thousand times before
But for the clenched claws
Would knock down the hazy stupor of the day
Into wide Tartarus.

Storm-flash gone, he lifts his hand
Past packaged heads, past canned voices
Past paranoia, past schizophrenia
For the Lucky Charms
Broken bits of childhood psalms
Crayon memories
Of a Man walking on water
Leading him home
A child of God by name.


Nota Bene (June 10, 2021):

I wrote this poem some time ago but it remains my favorite, not least because it deals with a subject close to my heart: children and adults who deal with various forms of mental illness ranging from autism to schizophrenia. If you yourself or someone close to you suffers in such a way, you know that life is a daily obstacle course in ways we can barely understand. This poem is dedicated to them and those who care for them. May God’s grace be their strength and their stay.