Trees

Thursday, February 08, 2018


On one forbidden tree,
Inside a garden of eternity,
Hung seeds of death deliciously
Enticing us to eat;

On one forsaken tree,
Within a withered world’s depravity,
Hung Christ, in joyful agony
Declaring death’s defeat;

The Tree of Life is freed
To grace the garden-city long decreed
By Christ, the resurrected seed
Who bids us come and eat.

________________
Originally posted at Lit Up. Special thanks to Colorado artist Eilee George for letting me post her beautiful Three Trees Triptych alongside this poem (© 2017 Linda “Eilee” S. George).

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Perspective

Wednesday, January 31, 2018



At the top of fame’s staircase
She stopped and stared, caged
By pathways too frail
For ambition to trace,
At the foot of the mountain of God:
Grace.
________________
Originally posted as part of a One Line Poem prompt I hosted on Chalkboard.
Special thanks to Jeremy Paillotin for letting me use his beautiful painting. (© 2016-2018 Jeremy Paillotin)

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Best Books I Read In 2016-2017

Saturday, January 27, 2018





Since I didn’t do this last year — my family moved halfway around the world and I wasn’t really blogging much — here are my favorite five books from the past two years. I love finding the next good book to read, and I hope these suggestions will point you toward a book (or a few) well worth reading.


Widen: A Collection of Poems
by Chris Rice (2016)

More than any other book, Widen compelled me to write poetry.

A veteran singer-songwriter, Chris Rice presents himself as an amateur poet; yet I found myself enjoying and re-enjoying this humble collection more than any poetry anthology I have read.

If you, like me, are wary of wading into the often-intimidating world of poetry, this is a place be at ease, explore, and widen your appreciation. Perhaps you too will be inspired to

“Create, create, create!
Rearrange the molecules
Of the already astounding universe.”

Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey Through the Book of Revelation
by Darrel W. Johnson (2004)

“Things are not as they seem.”

In this accessible book, Johnson makes the case that Revelation, the last book of the Bible, is not intended to be a detailed play-by-play of the end times. Rather, it intends to help Jesus’ disciples live courageously now by revealing (hence “Revelation”) to us a fresh and wildly artistic picture of the spiritual reality in which we all live.

This is less a commentary than a collection of sermons written with a pastor’s heart and an eye toward application.


The Martian
by Andy Weir (2011)

People sometimes describe this best-seller as a futuristic Robinson Crusoe. While Weir’s novel lacks the spiritual depth of Defoe’s classic, Weir weaves his own stellar story, relentlessly driven by the fight for survival.

The protagonist’s life-or-death ingenuity engaged me throughout, and some of the plot twists literally made me set the book down — jaw dropped — before reading on. The Martian is a thrilling and believable tale that, like most good books, is even better than its (very entertaining) movie.


Nineteen Eighty-Four
by George Orwell (1949)

This makes my list not for great storytelling (that would be The Martian, above) but for its prescient depiction (however hyperbolic) of key aspects of our current political climate.

This book didn’t impress me much when I first read it, yet it hasn’t stopped coming to mind since. Nearly seven decades after its writing, Orwell’s classic remains thought-provoking, illuminating, and shockingly relevant.

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
by Adam Alter (2017)

Do you feel like you lack self-control when it comes to social media, smartphone apps, online gaming, and all things Internet? If so, it’s largely because the design teams behind these websites/apps/games are experts at keeping us coming back for more.

Alter insightfully examines today’s widespread behavioral addictions and offers suggestions for how to engage with technology in ways that are sustainable, appropriately cautious, and beneficial.

What were your favorite books last year? Leave a reply and let me know.

P.S. In making this list, I realized that my favorite books apparently tend to percolate through me and end up as poems! Here are three poems I wrote inspired by books mentioned above:

  • Lines Last - Inspired by Chris Rice's poem "Our Best Minds" in Widen.
  • Sometimes Mercy Looks Like a Shipwreck - Inspired by Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. (I have yet to write a poem inspired by The Martian.)
  • crimethink - Inspired by (and written in "newspeak" adapted from) George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

P.P.S. You can also check out the Best Books I Read in 2015.


____________
Originally posted at Be Yourself.

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Strawberries

Friday, January 05, 2018
A One Word Poem





Sweet seas sew saber sweaters,
Brass stars beset rarest tears,
Berries brew,
Wait, bait.

We see, stir…
Bear a stare…
Bestir, rise…
Sit, bite.

Waters arise,
Assert, arrest,
Awe, sate — 
Art, ate.

_______________
Each word in this poem is contained in the word "Strawberries".

Originally posted at Lit Up. Photo by Pezibear.

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He Never Sees

Wednesday, January 03, 2018
A Lament








To her, he is a loaf of bread,
Plus diapers, books, and bills;
To him, she is hot love in bed,
His fantasies fulfilled.

Devouring, devouring,
He feeds the silent screams;
Despite his stares, he never sees
Her beauty or her dreams.





_______________
Inspired by the intelligent, courageous, talented women — former prostitutes — I had the privilege of getting to know as a volunteer at The Well in Bangkok.

Originally posted at Intimately Intricate. Original public domain photos by skeeze and Nikolay Osmachko.

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Breathe

Sunday, December 24, 2017
Christmas Eve, 2017

This Christmas Eve
My infant son
Lies wrapped in swaddling cloths
And oxygen tubes.

Vulnerable.
Our hearts have held their breath
Too many times
For love of his little life.

Tonight I marvel
That an eternal God
Would make himself
A breathing baby boy

And, vulnerable,
Sleep in our sin-sick world — 
That, having died,
We might breathe again.

_______________
Originally posted at P.S. I Love You.

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In Darkness

Friday, October 27, 2017
Nonet












When my infant son hears the creaking
Of the leather chair, smells the scent
Of his mother there, feels her
Presence even where he
Cannot see, he stops
Fussing and waits
In hushed hope
For sweet
Life.

_________________
Originally posted at Poetry in Form in response to a call for night-themed nonets.

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Love Me Like Pajamas Do

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Love me like pajamas do.
Let your familiar embrace
Erase all pretense;
Accept me as I am,
Morning breath and all.
Let the facades fall.

Stay close to me through all
Life’s dreams and nightmares.
Let the times of tossing and turning
That try to wear us down
Only make us more
Comfortable together.

Solace me on sick days.
Curl up on the couch next to me
And my ugly pile of tissues;
Blanket my back with warm
Unspoken whispers
That you are still by my side.

Welcome me at my most vulnerable.
Without a word of condemnation
Or comparison, quietly
Cover my nakedness;
Hold me through the darkness
Until the dawn of a new day.

Clothe me in your love anew.
There is no other I pursue!
Of course we’re an imperfect two
But love has always seen us through;
I’ll take you as you are, grateful you
Love me like pajamas do.

_________________
Originally posted at P.S. I Love You. Photo by Amy Jane Gustafson (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Inspired by Anna Breslin's imaginative Love Me Like Ordinary Things series.

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I Know Not Where I Go

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Sonnet after Charles Spurgeon


I know not where I go, but know with whom
I brave these bleak and beauty-broken lands
And know that though he leads me through the tomb
Yet even there my life is in his hands;
Like Christ I cannot see around the bend
Of death except believe the Father’s call
And pour my life out, trusting him to mend
This tattered soul so ravaged by the Fall;
For all the paths of God will end in pure
Unmingled good to every heir of grace
And though the world would with its fires lure
Its warmth cannot compare to his embrace.
So lead me through the valleys when you must,
My Father — only this: help me to trust.

_________________
Based on Charles Spurgeon’s Evening, September 18.
Inspired by Steve Frank's poetry project Psalming Spurgeon.
Originally posted at This Glorious Mess. Photo by Robert Pastryk (public domain).

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I See You Like I'm Standing on the Moon

Sunday, September 17, 2017
Petrarchan Sonnet


I see you like I’m standing on the moon
And drinking in your blues whose hurricanes
Are silent swirls that dance the windowpanes
Of paradise; I do not see their ruin
Or hear the heartache in your hopeful tune
Anticipating freedom from your chains
And rest from all the sin that still restrains
Your promised restoration, coming soon — 
While you pen songs of me but not my scars,
See craters carved in this romantic glow
And think you know. You only know in part;
You have not seen my darker side — but stars
Have seen, and their Creator long ago,
That light bids even deepest dark depart.

_________________
Originally posted at Poetry in Form in response to my own Seeing Sonnet guest prompt. Photo by NASA's Apollo 8 (public domain).

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When Ancient Time Shuts Tight Its Rusted Doors

Monday, September 11, 2017
Shakespearean Sonnet

When ancient time shuts tight its rusted doors
And fastens keyless lock upon its stair,
Beforehand emptying its storied floors
Of all who have traversed and mingled there,
What din or silence will those halls release
As, ushered out into the last frontier,
The throng of nations and of centuries
On lush eternity’s expanse appears!
The hallowed King emerges from the haze
With beauty for which words hold not the hue
Yet still so many cast their longing gaze
At time’s worn inn, the only home they knew;
But home at last, my heart and eyes will race
To rest upon my risen Savior’s face.

_________________
Originally posted at Poets Unlimited. Photo by Tania Van den Berghen (public domain).

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Would You Rather...?

Thursday, September 07, 2017
Senryu


I would much rather
Be an honest nobody
Than a hollow king.

_________________
Originally posted as part of a One Line Poem prompt I hosted on Chalkboard, which resulted in over 50 poems posted in response. Photo by Trey Ratcliff (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).


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You Come to Me with Breakfast

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Chiasm



“Whoever would deny me before men,”
You said once, “I will too deny
Before my Father God in heaven.”

I denied you
Three times
In one night,

Left you to die alone
And ran outside to cry,
A grown man like a child.

I warned you once, beside a treasure haul of fish,
“Away from me! I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
You told me not to be afraid;

I was.
I am.
I failed.

You said we’d fish together, filled my hands
With broken bread and scraps of fish
To feed the hungry crowds — I touched your miracles;

I promised I would go with you
To prison and to death,
But all my courage died there by that fireside.

Yet now, at dawn, you come to me
With breakfast on the beach
And bid my lips repeat, three times, “I love you.”

“Follow me,” you said once
By a treasure haul of fish;
“Follow me,” you say again — even after this.

_________________
Inspired by the final scene of The Gospel of John.

A chiasm, after the Greek letter χ (chi), ties ideas together using inverted parallelism, often to make a larger point. This poem’s nine stanzas can be thought of as: a b c d x d’ c’ b’ a’.

Originally posted at The Coffeelicious. "Feed My Sheep" by David Koch used by permission.

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Beautiful Cacophony

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Pantoum



Our well-worn hopes we bring
To life, that beautiful cacophony.
An orchestra still tunes its strings;
We long for more than prophecy.

To life, that beautiful cacophony,
We come with desperate cry.
We long for more than prophecy
And dread the day we die.

We come with desperate cry
For wealth, significance, and fame,
And dread the day we die
And have to give them back again.

For wealth, significance, and fame
Will sprout and fade like grass;
To have to give them back again
Our hearts can hardly grasp.

We’ll sprout and fade like grass
For now — that splendid final movement,
Oh, our hearts can hardly grasp! — 
Somnolent, weary, and sweetly spent.

For now, that splendid final movement’s
Orchestra still tunes its strings.
Somnolent, weary, and sweetly spent,
Our well-worn hopes we’ll bring.

_________________
Originally posted as part of the Passing Pantoums collaborative poetry project, which I hosted on Chalkboard this month. I borrowed a pair of lines from Rachel B. Baxter's Pantoum for the End of SummerPhoto by Pexels (public domain).

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The Nine Months' War

Monday, July 24, 2017
Cinquain



We slam
Our screens and spray
On poison’s sheen. You stay
Away from her and from that child
Inside!

_________________
Originally posted at Poetry in Form in response to a prompt for cinquains about creatures.
Photo by Arun Ganesh (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Portland, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Villanelle


He says just before going in for the kill
A string of epithets I will not honor here,
While it’s getting harder and harder to sit still.

She looks away and hopes the man will
Satisfy his rage with this tirade of racist smears
He says. Just before going in for the kill,

The stranger yells at her: “Get out of my country!” A chill
Creeps down my spine; I know this happens — but not here.
While it’s getting harder and harder to sit still,

Another man, a real man, stands up: “Will
You leave her alone?” But hate declines; instead into her ear
He says, just before going in for the kill,

“Muslims should die!” Her hijab frames her face that fills
With fear, praying his tone will soften, disappear,
While it’s getting harder and harder. To sit still

Is not an option: two more rise into the cold, unwanted thrill;
Love pushes back the hands of hate. “Touch me again, I’ll kill you!” Fear!
He says, just before going in for the kill,
While it’s getting harder and harder to sit still.

In Memorium: Ricky John Best & Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~Edmund Burke, paraphrase

_________________
Originally posted as part of Chalkboard's Villanelle Vestiges collaborative poetry project. I borrowed the refrain lines from Rachel B. Baxter's villanelle Drillanelle.
Image by Engin Akyurt (public domain).

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This Type of Perfect

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
An Acrostic Golden Shovel* after Propaganda




Pay attention. This
Emptiness will yell and flash and type,
Ravenous for hype and heaps of
Fresh attention, scheming to perfect
Enchanting arts on every girl and boy,
Convincing with the ploy that “this new toy is it!”
Teasing us to think the brink of joy is just
Incremental acquisitions away and that it ain’t
Outrageous to let the stuff of earth define our worth.
No. Don’t believe it. You don’t need it.

_________________
*Original line: "This type of perfect, boy, it just ain't worth it" from the song I Don't See It.
Originally posted at The Coffeelicious. Image by Negative Space (public domain).

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Gethsemane

Saturday, July 08, 2017
A One-Word Poem*


Tense.
The stage set.
Sent as man’s easement,
He sang an ashen amen.

_________________
*Every word in this poem is contained in the word Gethsemane.
Originally posted at This Glorious Mess. Image by Waiting for the Word (CC BY 2.0).

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Flatland

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

What is a cube unto a square
That sees not off its plane?

What is an answer to a prayer
When faith is ruled insane?

_________________
Originally posted at Poets Unlimited. Photo by Pexels (public domain).

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Pantoumburger

Thursday, June 29, 2017
A Recipe in Pantoum


Toasted bun
Aioli
Smoked bacon
Melted Brie

Aioli
Avocado
Melted Brie
Sliced tomato

Avocado
Lettuce leaf
Sliced tomato
Grilled ground beef

Lettuce leaf
Smoked bacon
Grilled ground beef
Toasted bun

_________________
Originally posted at Poetry in Form. Photo by Engin Akyurt (public domain).

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