Gaudete Sunday: Light the Candle of Joy

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione et obsecratione cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob. [“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.”] Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85 (84):1

The incipit for the Gregorian chant introit from which Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, gets its name.
James Tissot, “The Magi Journeying” (c. 1890)

The Journey of the Magi

The nativity creche sits under the tree
Not of cypress or palm, but a fragrant fir;
Out in the hall, the magi make their way each day
A few feet closer, here in the dead of winter.

We catch our toddler chewing on a magus
Whose eyes, pointed up to the ceiling,
Now contain the consternation of ages
Before being released to his camels.

The five-year-old wants to know why
The magi can’t fast-travel to the manger
Their journey so slow and prey to perils
Between them and what they seek.

“We’re taking care of them, aren’t we?”
The nine-year-old says, retrieving an errant
Praying magus from the bathtub, bobbing
Beside duckie and the inconsiderate toddler.

Each advent day they get closer to the Desire
Of nations, the Messiah born to save His people
And on Christmas, they’ll be nearer, in the doorway
Rejoicing in expectation of welcoming their King.

Somewhere

Somewhere
I can find a rainbow
smuggled in like an overcoat
thrown across my shoulders
in chilly December.

Somewhere
I will see a dark window
where a winged angel sits cradling
a homeless soul on a grimy ledge
over D.C.’s VIP traffic.

Somewhere
maybe what we don’t yet know
will be all that is true power
faith beyond snip and tucked illusions
on venal wrinkling faces.


Carrie's Sunday Muse #190 photo prompt
Sammi's Weekend Writing Prompt#239: 66 words exactly, "smuggle"

Into the Epode with Grover Lewis

The day before the Ditty Bops came to town,
the ghost of Grover Lewis prowled the backstage
canvas tent smoking with one hand and fuming
with the other like a dumbshow player.

While the painters and the carpenters hammered
and brushed, Grover stood on the amplifier
overseeing the pandemonium like he was
in someone’s grandfather’s pulpit preaching

from a fragrant text of his mother’s hallowed
last words, and the sunset didn’t stop him talking,
nor the dawn, nor the scudding shadows
before the storm broke in an early morning shower.

The university town was in west Texas,
the splendor of short grass barely dried
when the educated girls came to lay territorial
claim like locusts, and Grover cursed

like the sailors he never knew but the father
he thought he knew when he emerged
from childhood’s wreckage, a fever growing
as evening fell and the once relaxed crowd

grew restless with the opening act’s mulligans
when someone pulled down the curtain
and the Ditty Bops were forced to appear
before their time, the stage lit like a firecracker,

Grover watching like some stricken, besotted
lover holding his mother’s tatted lace, singing along,
“And all the voices shut you up
-Someone put a brick in your coffee cup.-“

until the show shut down and the last sound
he heard was his own, as the carnival packed up
and the stars in the big west Texas sky, one by one,
lit up with all the wideness of a father’s arms

and the transport of a mother’s smile, spelling:
who? a geek; where? here; what? endless mystery;
when? now; why? where’s your notebook, you’ve
a new story to write, past the strophe and into the epode.


Click here for lyrics to “Walk or Ride” (2004)
See Shay/Fireblossom's "Word Garden Word List #3 (Grover Lewis)" for challenge and prompt words. In researching for this post, I read "Grover Lewis: An Appreciation" by his friend, Dave Hickey, written for the Los Angeles Times in 1995. It and Katy Vine's "Return to Splendor" really gave me a great appreciation of who Lewis was, the man, the journalist, the poet/writer.
I'm sharing this with dVerse's Open Link Night #305 December Live Edition, our host Björn. Click on Mr. Linky and join in!

I took a tree for a chapel

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

“Everything is fine”

Lillian at dVerse asks us to "write a poem that includes one line and one line only, from the lyrics of ABBA’s Dancing Queen. The line must be word for word." I chose to use the line, "Everything is fine." Click on Mr. Linky and join us!
photo ©dorahak

For Julie

Don’t fall away
Turn from lies
With Jesus stay

Embattled, your nerves fray
Deceiving half-truth with faith vies:
Caboodles of falsehoods the serpent will say

Peace bereft, you say you can’t pray
All night in darkness your hope dies
Thinking you’re lost forever to Day

Call to Christ though skies seem gray
Your guilt he knows, hears your cries
Hung on a cross, your sins to pay

Your enemy slay!
Resist, despise!
Don’t fall away
With Jesus stay


Rhyme scheme: aba,aba, aba, aba, abaa in semi-villanelle fashion 
Sammi's WWP #229: "caboodle" in exactly 78 words
Eugi's Weekly Prompt: "Peace"

Image credit: cocoparisienne from Pixabay

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.

Always in Season

I met the devil at the crossroads
he was holding a basket of fruits

summer fruits: heightened in blush
eloquent in fragrance, tickling ears
choreographing sinuous guitar-strung blues

I asked him what he was selling
that I could afford, ‘cuz I had no money

peach skin: fuzzy ripening soft
dizzying delectable drippings
through juice-famished fingers

The night was thick with Southern mist
the road steamed where darkness sifted

sweet desire: the devil smiles
the basket away and disappears
like will-o’-the-wisp

sifted, sifted my soul like chaff, alone
at the crossroads looking after him


Mish at dVerse Poetics: "Always in Season" asks us to write about fruits or berries, giving us a broad flexibility of topic, from concrete to abstract. This poem was inspired by legendary blues singer and guitarist Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" (1936).

A Better Life

“Poetry makes nothing happen: it survives”¹
unlike young Icarus² who would fly to freedom
under the belly of a giant whale ascending
but he plummeting, free-falling, down to his death
while a world watched, still watches in horror
through that silver screen of the mind’s eye
as of an oracle that survives in the folds of memory
forecasting doom, like the poetry his heart sang
of a better life, a New World of winging hopes
now a land in chaos helmed by venal fools
where yet survive as in the Ark the few
whose hope shies not away
in whom Life supplants death
to whom Bread is provided and thirst quenched
whose city is built not with human hands
whose cornerstone is the Lamb that was slain.


1From W. H. Auden’s “In Memory of W. B. Yeats”

2On Monday, August 16, 2021, seventeen-year-old Zaki Anwari fell to his death after clinging to a US military plane taking off from Kabul as he tried to flee the Taliban takeover. He was one of several Afghans who rushed onto the tarmac of the capital’s airport and desperately held onto to the side of the C-17 aircraft before takeoff, captured in a widely-shared video that encapsulated the chaos of America’s exit from Afghanistan. A member of Afghanistan’s National Youth Football Team, Anwari was described by a spokesman for the sports federation as “kind and patient. He had no hope and wanted a better life.”3

You Were Four

Her father died on June 27, 2021 of covid.

You were four with a Daddy
when you laid out dancing colors
of pink, blue, green and purple

When you were four and a day
the colors went orange viral
of corona, corona everywhere

You sat half-hidden in shadow
your diamond father stolen from you
with black words like ICU

Now pink, blue, green and purple
have fled a world of frightening red
your mother widowed in white

And you are four and counting
looking back at days of gray
a rainbow shining over you: we pray


Reena at Xploration Challenge gives us an update on the four-year-old pictured above: “I came across a heart-wrenching picture of a drawing by a 4-year old, whose father [was] battling lung failure due to Covid in hospital. When asked what was it she had drawn, she said “Corona, Corona …. Everywhere Corona.” The entire family was infected, but all others have recovered…. She lost her father today. Her mother, whom I see as an exceptionally strong woman, fought till the end, staying afloat with her Buddhist beliefs and chanting “Nam myth renge Kyo.” It kept her going, if nothing else. She is totally deflated now, after the incident. She, who led a fatherless life (her father being a drug-addict), just uttered the words ‘My daughters will meet the same fate.'”

Body Politic, or Intensive Care

Whom the fire burned
is under gauze.
Was it once black or white or non-white?
What the closed eyes?
What myriad colors swirl beneath the bandages?
Sins of color stain even a child.
What absolution have we
if we offer such sacrifices as the gods decree?
And if it walks like blind Tiresias
what will it prophesy
but death which comes to all
and judgment.

“Yellow School Bus” © Glenn A. Buttkus: “A school bus must have a plethora of pulsating and reflecting lights, because nothing is more precious than its cargo.”

In keeping witht the theme of minimalism in art, Sanaa at dVerse writes: “I want you all to select one out of the twelve photographs shared … and write a poem. It can be an Ekphrastic poem, if you like. Go philosophical. Go dark or romantic or solemn. Share what you feel about Minimalist photography when you see it. The idea here is to provoke an emotion, and what better way to pour them out other than poetry?” Click on Mr. Linky and join in.

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.

The Table

Sitting across the table from you
Wonder what you’re thinking
Is it just the food? Something more?
You look up. The sweetness in your eyes
Dispels all doubts in wedded bliss
All conversations merge into one
There’s no one for me but you.

Sitting down at Your table with You
Dark the vagrant thoughts in my head
Not on the bread, nor on the wine
Your living Presence hid to my eyes
Your tender, humbling gaze on me, I look up:
Enthroned majesty cloaked in a naked Lamb
Slain for the love of a sinner like me
There’s no one for me but You.

Image by Bouf16 from Pixabay

Arsenic and Old Lace

For Laura’s dVerse Meeting the Bar prompt “of poetry craft and critique, ‘to turn again, about turn again‘ we are employing the device of ‘epiphora/epistrophe’ which makes use of consecutive end line repeats of words or phrases. The optional extra is ‘Symploce’ – a consecutive repeat of first and final words.”

Laura points out that ‘epiphora’ is also “a medical term for excess tear production,” which can result from both comedy and tragedy. And so I have incorporated quotes from the classic Frank Capra film, “Arsenic and Old Lace,” to write a farce and an omen, reflecting perhaps something of the state of the world today.

In Melbourne one night I dreamed of you
Cold-eyed in June with summer roses hanging tough
Knew I’d meet you when the four horsemen rode
With plague and famine and war on their hooves
With plague-driven carts bouncing off their hooves.

Continue reading “Arsenic and Old Lace”

From Tree to Tree

Ribbed, malnutritioned, unhallowed eyes knuckle mine
And without turning I see in wintry desert climes
A thing to be desired above all others
A taste to consume and be consumed by
A reign of terror sublime where worms meet flesh
Of tree-fruit hung, mouth-watering pulp of initiation
Plucked, bitten off, in excess of secret concupiscence

In ravishment of the verboten, for that which I hate,
I had done, and thus doing, am undone, the unmaggoted
Fruit in its rainbow pride turning to dust and ashes
in my mouth. For I have traded a Love without price
For emaciated fruited-husks littering the fields of deceit
Yet again, an unslumbered hungering malice ever-stalking
At my heels, until out it comes, the vinegared indigestible

Bulk of it spilled vomitously, wretched retchings of a fool
Words and deeds like knives ungorged flying mercilessly
And I with unclean hands, naked in the cool of the evening
Hidden, yet sought, drawn to the hallowed treed shade where
Gratuitously, there is room for me, manna for me, Bread of life,
Water that quenches my thirst, Whose wine-dark blood
Spent in mercy divine washes over and covers me so
To walk at last in honeyed valleys and orchards free.



Song of Songs 2:3
[She]: As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

Continue reading “From Tree to Tree”

A Mother’s Joy

As clouds curl and stretch above a ginkgo tree
a twilight gold wreathes three small figures
their Dad quickening his steps
as they race toward open church doors
their laughter echoing in its depths
and I still warm from the summer’s smile
sit waiting on the benches of sung psalms
there to worship the living God
who knew this moment
before it began
a moment
that began long before
my conception in the dreaming womb
of a mother returned to the songs of her land
and I cold from her lost embrace, lost lamb
carried in the arms of the Shepherd to sail motherhood
embraced by the cossetting arms of a sun-kissed husband
and the eager hands of ebullient children whose mouths
warble love like songbirds in the Sabbath twilight
as clouds curl and stretch above a ginkgo tree.

For my husband and children on Mother’s Day with love.

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.

Last Year’s Snow

When last year’s snow is slow to go
The chill hanging on, no mellow glow
Arrives, freeing wintry branches and briers
Beneath the ice like frozen desires.

So may our hearts harden, slow to thaw
When too long we don’t withdraw
Our gaze from yesterday’s wrong
Mistrusting forgiveness for which we long.

Then what loss we bear to gain instead
A bitter disbelief in what had once been shed
Where warm blood flowed from pierced side
Christ’s sacrifice unheeded and despised.

Look up, dear soul, see who’s risen above
Healing in his wings to bear your judgment in love
He enthroned in power, has power to melt
Your shame-hardened heart, set free from guilt.

Journey (2)

Image credit; Evan Clark@ Unsplash

Journey

water still
log submerged
balanced feet
journey of the mind

what do you see,
what do you understand?
“to reach the shore
keep your eyes on land”

feet submerged
the sky above
you whisper, what now
as your heart gives out

from misty shore
a Voice calls out
“to walk on water
you can’t look down”

can faith hold firm
Who do you trust?
what your eyes can’t see
is what bears you up


October Fire

Once, a child alone when October came
I hear his footsteps just in the next room
and when I rush to see him there
he wasn’t there. He was everywhere.

Much later I cross a river, climb the embankment
of trees, upwards to the plains, dry and dusty
their breath, until I choke, my breath raw
diseased, my bones on fire, the pain rasping
pits of agony, feet twisted into unnatural screws.
He stands clothed like a burning bush in wilderness
autumn’s cloak across the mountaintop
a fire unnatural, burning yet not burning
for blind eyes to see, deaf ears to hear, “I AM.”

Now as another October comes
I feel him near, the warmth of his presence
a river running through the weatherized
windows and doors, invisibly clear.

I know this darkness before light
I know this voice before sound
I know this death in life
where bush burns but is not consumed.

I wait.

Mish's Open Link Night #275
Click on Mr. Linky for more poems and join in.