The Ones Who Wait To See (Empat Empat)

The Ones Who Wait To See (Empat Empat)

The ones who wait to see aren’t blind,
their torch can only reach so far:
the next few paces ahead find
rocks, roots, and holes to stumble o’er.

Many insist on seeing now;
the ones who wait aren’t blind.
The ones who put their hands to plow
dare not to even glance behind.

The eyes of their hearts are inclined
to strive and strain to pierce the dark.
The ones who wait to see aren’t blind;
they fear only to miss the mark.

They do not yet have blood-tipped hands
whose fingertips the Scars outline;
they shall see when they reach the land.
The ones who wait to see aren’t blind.


What is an empat empat?

April 2020 Poem-a-Day Challenge #10



There’s a point in the ocean
where depth and pressure
are more than a hull can take.
All that water, bearing down,

The darkness

There’s a point in the sun
where depth and pressure
are more than an atom can take.
All that mass, bearing down,

The light



Beneath His Wings He Shelters Me (Psalm 91)

Common Meter

Beneath His wings He shelters me
And there I will be safe.
He is my God; I trust in Him.
I will call on His name.

I will not fear the hunter’s trap,
Nor deadly sickness’ spread.
No nightmare dark nor arrow bright
Nor enemy I’ll dread.

A thousand fall beneath the plague;
Ten thousand more my war:
It will not reach as far as me
When my God says, “No more!”

His angels charged to guard my way,
To keep me in their grasp.
My feet won’t break on stony ground
But trample lion and asp.


Darkness Is My Only Friend (Virelai)

Over me Your rage has passed,
Your horrors destroy me.
They surround me like water all day long,
they encircle me completely.
You distanced lover and neighbor from me.
My friends––utter darkness.

Psalm 88:17-19, Robert Alter

A warm, firm handshake
loneliness will take:
No tiny spark breaks
darkness, for God’s sake,
I can barely make
out my hand and face.

Did You just forget?
Decide that You’d set
this ache
in my heart and let
me, full of regret,
fall away?
If I die, who’ll get
stabbed by bayonets’


What is a Virelai?

Ain’t No Sunshine

This is another excerpt from my journal, this time on Psalm 27. Be sure to read the poem inspired by this same text: Hand in Front of Your Face.

Pictures of lighthouses usually accompany quotes of Psalm 27:1, but the Psalm is one of straining to see that light rather than basking in its full strength. (The lighthouse isn’t a bad association, but the pictures are usually too bright.)

Then, further, if Jesus prayed this Psalm during the three hours of midday darkness, this Psalm stands in an even more different light (pun intended).

In the midst of darkness at noon, Jesus cries “Yahweh is my light!” In answer to cries of “Save yourself!” He answers, “Yahweh is my salvation!” Armies of enemies—human and otherwise—deploy against Him, yet He will not fear but be confident in His Father.

The light in the midst of that darkness is the hope of dwelling with God, in His very presence, basking in the full strength of His radiant, glorious beauty. Vindication and freedom are found there, even if they can’t be seen—literally—now.

Now in this darkness, that light and that deliverance and that rest can seem impossibly far. Rely on His truth, His nature, His promises:

LORD, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about you:
“Seek His face.”
LORD, I will seek your face (27:7-8 CSB)

You don’t have to seek what you see clearly; you seek what must be found. When we don’t see HIs face by feeling or experience, we seek Him where He may be found: in His promises and past deliverances.

Everyone else is fallible and unreliable, even parents. Not Yahweh. His way is the only sure footing. He is the only trustworthy guide and compass.

Though He does not see now, hope says He will:

I am certain that I will see the LORD’s goodness
in the land of the living (27:13 CSB).

He will have to travel the valley of the shadow of death, but He will see Yahweh alive. This is resurrection hope that is resurrection power for us. This is eternal life.

Until then, until the three hours and the three days of darkness end,

Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart be courageous.
Wait for the LORD (27:14 CSB).

Hand in Front of Your Face (Fornyrðislag)

Hold up your hand before your face:
Darkness dims the lidded windows,
Prevents the palm from being seen
Even at such a close span.

When sight obscured so fully thus,
A little lamp can blaze with fury.
The smallest spark jumps and yells
And holds hope to desperate sight.

The torch toils vainly in day-view,
Blazes brilliant in midnight’s gloom.
The fog forces forgetfulness
Of merry mead-halls’ joyful clamor.

Rake and rasp hard the flint and steel,
Send many sparks aloft in the dark
That weary warriors may stagger home
And drain draughts of home’s own ale.


What is a fornyrðislag?

Cognitive Dissonance (Petrarchan Sonnet)

The placard serving as a nametag read
Correctly, but it still seemed somehow wrong––
Like when a face and voice just don’t belong
Or when a word looks wrong inside your head
Though dictionary’s proof before you spread.
How do you fight a dissonance so strong?
How do you prove the label does belong?
How to endure the heavy lies, like lead––
Not only drag you down but pull aside,
Turn you away from who you really are
Toward the dark despair and loneliness?
Hope lifts your drooping, weeping, heavy eyes
To see the faintest light, a dim, small star
Whose shining heralds something glorious.


What is a Petrarchan Sonnet?