Showing posts with label Poems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poems. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

52 Verses | a year of poems

As I've mentioned a few times recently, I've had a new project in the works. Unsurprisingly, it's another blog, which went live a few minutes ago.

52 Verses is an art experiment, and an opportunity to declutter Thoughts; A Flame a bit. I realize that this blog has not, historically, been very focused. Its content has ranged from the whimsical to the theological, from poetic reflections on good and evil to proasic descriptions of my life. I am in the process of slowly changing that—hopefully allowing my readers to pick and choose what they'll read from me. 52 Verses is a first step in that direction.

Just as importantly, however, at least for me, it is an opportunity to develop discipline and increase my skill in an art form I love: poetry. I have long enjoyed expressing my heart through lyrical turns of phrase, often to the detriment of my prose. I have also never really practiced poetry. Over the next year, I will. Every week by Friday at 7 pm, a new poem will be up. Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly poetic, more than one will go up in a week, but the premise and the promise is one per week, for a year.

When the year is done, the project will end. (I'll have to find a new home for poetry at that point, but that's okay: part of the fun is putting a definite beginning and end to the project.)

I am very interested in constructive criticism, because part of the goal is becoming a better poet and a better writer. Take a look, and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sky (vi)

What would and will be dew
    hangs instead a curtain
    'tween me and near horizons
Red-gold flame of sun hangs
    occluded by a wrack
    of clouds 'round far horizons

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What do you do?

So what do you do when your everything is weary
        (and you don't know why—or even if you do)—

When the songs won't come and the piano refuses to echo your soul
When the words won't flow and the lyrics refuse to spill out your thoughts
When the notes won't sing and the harmonies refuse to run across the page

You just keep singing
You just keep writing
You just keep setting the lines to melody

And hope
And pray

For light

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sky (v)

It was just after sunrise:

                He lavished the canvas with watercolors to start:
                                Off whites and soft yellows and blues, mingling
                Then after it dried, switched to another art
                                Layered in textures with oil paints singly

                He painted over the backdrop of pastel hues
                                First puffs, then feathers and long strokes and scales
                And determining to generate something new
                                Hooked upside-down egg-cartons to their tails

It was just after sunrise.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sky (iv)

"This will not last forever," he said:
    For far flung fields of blue and white
        show'd through one ragged tear in
        the gray wool blanket sky
    This will not last forever.
        This shall not last forever.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sky (iii)

Puddleglum's lantern shines
   in the steel blue
   of our green-brown
   cavern's ceiling

It's casting shadows
   of imaginality
   across our broken

And as it swings,
   we wonder if these hues
   are not at all the deepest truths
   but premonition-memories
   of life beyond these boundaries

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Holy, Holy Holy / Awesome in Power

This is a draft. I very much want your feedback. I think it is going to be set to music as a hymn of sorts, so think of it that way—it has to be singable. That makes for a good, helpful, challenging constraint on poetic language. Help me make it better.

Holy, holy, holy are you Lord
Exalted one, the ancient of days
Glory, glory, glory to the King
Awesome in power and mighty to save

Torrent pours from the sky
Waves rising, cresting, tumbling
Tempest and shadow and storm
The heavens flash to white
The works of men's hands crumble

Night fills the midday sky
The earth trembles in its depths
The temple curtain rent and torn
And dead men walk alive
God the Man bought hope by death

Holy, holy, holy are you Lord
Exalted one, the ancient of days
Glory, glory, glory to the King
Awesome in power and mighty to save

Dawn coming splits the sky
The veil of night is sundered
The final curtain rent and torn
Horns shout aloud their cry
Ten thousand thousands thunder

Holy, holy, holy are you Lord
Exalted one, the ancient of days
Glory, glory, glory to the King
Awesome in power and mighty to save

No mourning, or sorrow, or tears
An unending offer of praise
No wars, no arguments, no fear
Hope and joy, gladness and love
And knowing God for all our days

Holy, holy, holy are you Lord
Exalted one, the ancient of days
Glory, glory, glory to the King
Awesome in power and mighty to save

Sky (ii)

Gold (white) fire pours heat and light
Through white (gold) curtains of humidity
Into cool (blue) summer airs

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sky (i)

Pale blue bowl (inverted)
Glazed with indigo and gold around the rim
And two purple brushstrokes to the northwest

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A little bird knocks

A little bird knocks
On my window seeking some
Respite from the rain

gentle morning

And the gray world slowly lightened
From occluded night through slate blues
Until a dome of dimm├ęd white
Blessed the world with gentle mourning

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A cubicle poem

Poetry is harder to write
when you're under the influence
of hard, fluorescent lights.
Word choice is harder to summon
when people through cubicle world
are steadily comin'.

I'm left with slant rhymes and failing
mis'rable tries to generate
metrical smooth sailing.
I'm stumbling and grasping at straws
with a mind now doomed to create
grand poetic faux pas.

These sorts of trials no poet should bear
for not even Seattle's gray skies can compare.
Else they will soon be completely consumed
by the madness that dreadfully o'er them looms.

They'll be starting a fresh, new stanza,
a crazy poetic bonanza—
Poof!—their minds, lost!

"Computers," he said," are a delectable delight, best enjoyed with a side of whipped cream."

Friday, November 13, 2009

A poem fit

I was struck by the simple power of these words this week:

Ah, my dear angry Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve;
And all my sour-sweet days
I will lament and love.

— George Herbert
HT: Desiring God

Saturday, January 31, 2009

American dreams

There is something in me that simply cannot be expressed, but comes welling up whenever I read stories like Tang Xiaozhao's. There is something about every story of people saying, "This is wrong, and that is right, and I'm willing to fight for it." There is something about every story of people yearning to break the chains of tyranny and have freedom. There is, in short, something about the American story and the way that it continues to prove a model - however broken - for millions around the world.

People love America. Plenty of people hate America's actions. Very few hate the idea of America. Tyrants do, of course. But the people? People love the idea of America.

America as it was meant to be, you understand: not this self-consumed and bloated picture of consumerism, but the land of noble people who will put others ahead of themselves and the good of their country above their own advancement. It's never really been that. But it has been the hope of that.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride form land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, you rpoor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Emma Lazarus' Statue of Liberty-seated words still move me, and deeply. Not because America is any of those things. But rather because there is something in the image painted in them that is far deeper than America. There is, you see, a promise of a better country - a really better country, where every man is every other's equal, where freedom is more than an unvoiced dream, where every man is every other's brother as well as neighbor, where justice is actually done, where pasts are washed away and every man has another chance.

America has never been that - not in its best moments, and certainly not in its worsts.

But people keep dreaming of America as what it dreams of being.

I figured out why.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in my heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11.28-30

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to reeive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Hebrews 11.8-10

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a temptest and the sound of a trumpet a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them... But you hve come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gather, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel... Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12.18-19,22-24,28-29

For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to e a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
nor more shall be heard it in the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
Nor more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who doe snot fill out his days
for the young men shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for liek the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
the wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
and dust shall be the serpent's food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain,"
says the Lord.
Isaiah 65.17-25

People are dreaming of a city with foundations. They're hoping for a kingdom that cannot be shaken. They're looking for heaven. People love America because in the dream of America - only in the dream, but very deeply in that dream - there is a taste of heaven, a taste of what we long for, what we were made for.

All we dream of in America will be so far surpassed by heaven that we shall look back on it as but the shadow of an echo of a quickly fading dream.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. An dI will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31.33

My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Ezekiel 37.27

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In retrospect, and looking forward —

In retrospect, and glancing forward —
I find myself at edge of precipice
With endless fall below and
Crumbling cliff beneath my feet
But no fear

For I have leapt from jagged face before
With nothing 'neath my feet but faith
And ever certain, ever true
The hand of God has carried me through

The glory of a free-fall step
The glory given to the King of Kings
Whose grace and strength become my wings
And there is no greater prospect
Than falling fully, truly on His word
For truer, surer than the dawn
Is all that we have heard
Is all that He has said

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Untitled Poem

To stand at the edge, and look upon the falling path before
To stand at the edge, and look up on the ascending path before
Is to be almost alone
Is to be surrounded by masses

They tread not the paths
They tread not

Another way would seem easier, where there are no edges
An other way would seem better, where there are none but edges
And those who would tread beside
And those who would never dare

They fear to fall
They fear

To see the vista, to look upon the beauty from the peaks
To see the vista, to gaze up on the beauty from the valleys
Is to be daring and true
Is to be timid and unsure

They do not love the valleys
They do not love

Another vantage point would call, where the vistas are unnoticed grandeur
An other vantage point would follow, where the vistas are ever-noticed grandeur
And those who would tremble but walk
And those who would tremble and stop

They hesitate to strive
They hesitate

And there is love
And there is joy
And there is life

And there is apathy
And there is despair
And there is the cold of death

To fail to live
To fail

To dare to love
To dare

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shadows and Light

Light skitters across the ground, chasing shadows.
Or are the shadows chasing the light?
'Tis not of no import, who chases and who follows,
Though the two're not always distinguishable by sight.

Mirror images fight.

Meaning, there is, in the chase:
Meaning that truth is here to be found.
Dancing and mingling the twain, 'cross a child's face
An innocent child, or guilty, here's all fate bound.

Dichotomies abound.

Light could be the chaser and darkness the lead.
Or be darkness the follower, light e'er in front?
Difference is weighty, though oft hard to be seen,
And hope or despair seem to in equal parts come.

Hidden here a ransom.

Matters, it does, trivial seeming:
Matters of color and palettes and shading.
The play of the fire and thrill of its gleaming
Of just as great import: day's into night fading.

A line and a gating.

When mingling the two, which wins wins the day
Does shadow in mystery eliminate light?
Or does light in her glory destroy all the dark?

the twain never joined,
yet paired close indeed

Who sings this refrain?
What voice carries song?

What ray can this be
that splits night in two?

Now leaping the lame,
And blind see the dawn.

Light has been seen
and hopes all come true.

darkness is banished
shadows are vanished

Coming of day!
Rushing of gold!

Splendor and majesty!
Glory and might!

Voices are raised,
the timid made bold.

The grandest of amnesties,
Purchased by right.

'Tis darkness that follows, and night that's the lie,
In daybreak, in sunrise, is true truth proclaimed.
For shadows are vanquished and go now to die:
And true hearts forever are rightly enflamed.

Photo: this poem, transformed into visual form by

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


A season that speaks, for me, of opposite.
Promise and broken promises,
Bright dreams and nightmares,
Crumbling expectations and great hope.
Summer has been all of these and more.
Year by year, summer has meant something different.
All seasons run thus:
But summer...

Summer, at least in these scholastic years,
Is when everything changes,
When everything falls apart or comes together.

Two summers past I struggled through pain and sorrow:
The greatest I had yet known,
And saw the course set for a year that would be much the same.
It was good.
It was hard.

One summer past I enjoyed the deepest fellowship,
The greatest joy I had yet known,
And saw the course set for a year that would be much the same.
It was hard.
It was good.

And summer has come again: I know not what she holds in store;
I know not
What great or terrible
(Or great and terrible)
Purpose may come to be
As days and weeks and months unfold.

I know that summer sun and summer storm are oft birthed as twins.
I know that peace and tranquility
Are sometimes jarred by the swift assault of fierce tempests.
I know that great thundering rain
Is sometimes beatified with gaps of blue sky, and rainbows.
I know that storm and peace
Are not in such fearful opposition as they sometimes seem:
For peace may be birthed most deeply in the midst of the greatest storm;
And, true, can be known most deeply only in the tempest.

These days now slowly passing by:
They hearken to days ahead and days behind -
Reminding of all that has come before and promising of all that is to come,
For good or ill.
In moments of loud sunniness or quiet gale,
As green and brown and blue mingle gloriously;
As lightning flash and thunder echo across the plain...

Summer comes, and I know not what she holds.
She speaks to me of opposites.
And wond'ring I am left here
Gazing at the sky.
Answers will come
In time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

after rain

Golden light falling tilted from above
Through green leaves and brown boughs
And green earth after the washing
Blue skies - as though for the first time
Puffy white and gray clouds tugged quickly
Like intermittent curtains on high
It is always quiet after rain
As now