In Darkness

Friday, October 27, 2017

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

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

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

“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

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

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

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

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

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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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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Thursday, June 29, 2017
A Recipe in Pantoum

Toasted bun
Smoked bacon
Melted Brie

Melted Brie
Sliced tomato

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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I Will Not Let You Go

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
A Villanelle

You know
There are places in my heart
I will not let you go,

Where shame retreats to shadow — 
At your soft footsteps, departs.
You know.

You’ve known since long ago,
Yet still you promised from the start:
“I will not let you go.

And from my love, no sea of sin, no
Wickedness within, can part
You; know

I will not leave you bound below.
Though death itself tear us apart,
I will not let you go.”

And so you set me free. It’s slow,
But shadows flee and I start to believe unfinished art:
“You know
I will not let you go.”

Originally posted as part of Chalkboard's Imagà Imaginings image-inspired poetry project.
Image by 제딧.

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Beyond the Burning Sea

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Beyond the burning sea
Of demagoguery,
Whose faultless captains steer
Their captive crowds around
The promised perils found
In water colored fear —

And standing further still,
Beyond the bustling hill
Of bright democracy,
Its wagered hopes heaped high
On people to defy
Their own hypocrisy —

There calls a king once crowned
With thorns who, dying, wound
Into his soul the fear
And pride that live inside
Of us — to open wide
The door to heaven, here.

Originally posted at Poets Unlimited. Photo by Sebastian Voortman (public domain).

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017
A Quatrain

In places where we cannot breathe,
Where pressures press on us to leave,
There, hidden in the underneath,
God, in our souls, his pearls will weave.

Originally posted as part of Chalkboard's Imagà Imaginings image-inspired poetry project.
Image by Richard Fitzpatrick.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017
An Abhanga

Falling apart faster
Than I can build my bliss;
Who will save me from this
Body of death?

Originally posted as part of Chalkboard's Imagà Imaginings image-inspired poetry project.
Image by moonassi.

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Fool's Game

Saturday, May 20, 2017
A Quadruple Cleave Poem with Tamyka Bell, Zev., and C. Duhnne

It’s a fool’s game:
our hungry hearts,
delusioning, start
making gods out of

Wonders found, then lost again,
feast on fashions ever falling
to dust. Reforming parts
ourselves, we pretend to be

Perfect in defeat.
Our appetites ever rising
as a phoenix of a summer,
new starts controlling our lives.

Originally posted at Chalkboard as part of the Cleave Chain project.
Individual poems: Wild ride by Tamyka Bell; Feast or Famine? by Michael Stalcup; Summer by Zev.; Growth by C. Duhnne; Babel by Michael Stalcup

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Where Was Failure?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

In two faithless feet
Beginning to sink
Or eleven pairs huddled in fright —

In three loud denials
Exposed by the fire
Or the rest hid away in the night —

Where was failure?

Originally posted at This Glorious Mess.
"Peter’s Denial" painting by Anton Robert Leinweber (public domain).

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