With My Own Eyes (Shakespearean Sonnet)

Tis not the thing, but after, gives me pause,
A shudder running through me, down my spine,
What will incorporeal eyes, be-awed,
Behold when, at last, I pass beyond time?
It forces upon my shoulders a freight,
A momentary fear: is it all real?
For then there is no room for such debate,
But now finality to face and feel.
For others have gone and beheld that land,
And seen and felt finality’s caress,
By Love they, loved, now wait and hold that hand
That led them, fearing, all the way to Rest.
Be-steel my spine, be-flesh my heart so I
May neither blink nor cringe but joy to rise.

2-6-2019

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By the Sweat of Your Brow (Shakespearean Sonnet)

Hands blistered, calloused, cut from pulling thorns
Holding on for dear life, gripping the earth––
Grip slipping, readjusting, by sweat shorn
From traction; brow furrowed deeper than dirt.
Tools breaking, crops failing, fruit unyielding:
The harvest of frustration that we reap.
We begin again, repaired tools wielding,
New crops planting, collapsing in a heap
As each work day ends, exhausting, taxing,
Harvest unimaginably distant;
Body spent and mind still unrelaxing,
Longing for some hope, for just an instant,
That all this digging and sweating may be
Worth it somehow that we may live to see.

1-31-2019

What is a Shakespearean Sonnet?

Tin Foil Rose

It took all lunch hour
to work up
the courage
to ask her out.

Los Portales: doorway
into an
opportunity,
a chance.

Here goes.

At the checkout.
Lunch paid for.
As I take
a breath
(go for it!)
to ask her out…

At that moment…

The waiter,
smiling,
so smooth,
folds a rose
from the tortilla foil
and gives it to her.

Are
you
kidding
me?

(She still said yes.)

1-19-2019

Movement (Spenserian Stanza)

Striking with bare hands or blunt objects,
The lung-gales laying low both reeds and trees––
The synchrony of limbs for one subject
Battle voices lifted in harmony.
Plans and maps of movements lay out the scene,
When and how and where and whom are able.
Percussion, rhythm made by moving feet.
Orchestration of all: incomparable.
Melody and movement are inseparable.

1-29-2019

What is a Spenserian Stanza?

A Darker Valley Than You Think

From my journal, meditating on Psalm 23.

Psalm 23 is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry ever written, and it is rightly loved and righty famous. Its context in the Psalter is intriguing; its placement is no accident, so the surrounding Psalms (and their potential usage) provide further insight into this masterpiece among masterpieces.

Jesus’ Cry of Dereliction is Psalm 22:1, and His final words are Psalm 31:5. If He prayed the rest of the Psalms between, only vocalizing those two verses, then He prayed Psalm 23 on the cross. (Even if He didn’t, the editors/compilers of the Psalms were inspired to put it here, but the possibility––likelihood?––is fascinating and appealing to me.)

In that light, Psalm 23 becomes a grueling battle rather than merely a serene pastoral scene. Jesus is suffering unspeakable physical torture and the outpoured wrath of God––both wholly undeserved––when He prays,

“The LORD is my shepherd;
I have what I need.”

Psalm 23:1 (CSB)

It is in complete faith beyond circumstances that He prays,

“He lets me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside quiet waters.”

Psalm 23:2 (CSB)

Think of the taunts hurled at Him: “Come down from the cross!” His response is to trust that His Father––Yahweh the Shepherd––will lead Him to green pastures where He may lie down.

Think of the anguished cry, “I thirst!” He trusts His Father––Yahweh the Shepherd––to bring Him to quiet waters to be refreshed.

But not yet. The “darkest valley” (CSB), the “valley of the shadow of death” (KJV), must be traversed first. But there is no need to fear: He is led to and through it by His Father’s­­––Yahweh the Shepherd––hand.

These enemies­­––the bulls and lions snarling and slobbering to destroy Him from Psalm 22––have to watch as a feast-table is spread before them. Bread and wine fill the Holy Table where all who believe may eat their fill and be satisfied with rich food.

The oil of the Spirit, the oil of gladness, anoints Him (for He is Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One), and He gives the Spirit with His Father as an effusion of their own love.

His cup overflows. He is drinking the cup of wrath to the dregs, but the cup of blessing (see Psalm 16:5) can’t contain the wine of celebration that’s coming.

Death and sin are so completely defeated that the only pursuers seen over the shoulder are goodness and faithful love. There in the true house of the LORD, the original from which Moses copied, He will dwell––the very place He has prepared for us by cleansing us from every stain.

Weekend Roundup

Here are the posts that went up this week (plus a little explanation):

Hand-to-Hand Combat (Logolilt)
This poem was inspired by Beowulf’s insistence on fighting Grendel with only his bare hands.

Birnam Wood (Fornyrðislag)
This form is a Norse/Scandinavian form marked by rhythm and alliteration rather than end-rhymes. (It’s a lot of fun to write.) This is inspired by Shakespeare’s magnificent Macbeth.

The Valley of the Shadow of the Mundane (Italian Sonnet)
This is a sonnet that deals with the struggle to keep doing the same old daily routine over and over again.

Scales (Spenserian Stanza)
Saul of Tarsus came into Damascus with scales on his eyes, and the prayers of faithful Ananias made those scales fall away. That’s part of the “Damascus Road Experience” we need over and over again.

One Day, Some Day
Fathom Magazine solicited pieces about laughter. This was mine (it wasn’t included in the issue) on the hope of future laughter.

One Day, Some Day

Those who sow in weeping,
their seed-tears heavying the sack,
often find the furrows long
and freshly turned.

Those whose megaphone
is the altar before the Lamb,
are told their echoing “How long?”
must wait a bit more.

But in the Age to Come,
when harvest time begins,
when the answer comes, “This long,”
then This Age will end.

The myriad multitudes
and countless crowds will sing
the Lamb’s Song all eternal Day long,
and the echoing sheaves will be

Laughter.

1-23-2019