Poetry

Poetry

Water and Presence

Note: This is an assignment for the English Spirituality and Mysticism course I'm currently taking:

I was very excited to read this week’s assignment to write a Celtic prayer. Poetry is an important part of how I express myself, and I’ve really enjoyed reading the Celtic Poems and Prayers. I misread the assignment and ended up writing two different prayer poems which I am sharing here. As part of the exercise, I’m including the poems for everyone to read.

Water

Blessed Father, pour us down upon the earth,
like the winter rains in times of darkness,
like the spring rains reawakening the fields,
like the summer rains nurturing the crops.

Blessed Jesus gather us together,
in small pools of community,
in streams of Peregrini,
in the mighty ocean bringing changes.

Blessed Spirit draw us back to you
like the dew rising up off of the fields
like the mists of the moors
like the blown spume of the ocean.

Some of the themes from Celtic Christianity I’m trying to incorporate: The importance of water. This poem uses water as a metaphor for our relationship with God. The Trinity. Following the example of other Celtic prayers, it is addressed to each member of the Trinity. Darkness. I only really touch on darkness in the first part of the poem, but the references to the ocean also meant to invoke thoughts about glas martyrs. Peregrini. I bring in the idea of being an exile for Christ, or the journey. Community. I also bring in references to community, which seems so important to me in Celtic Christianity.

Presence

Father, creator help me to see you
in everything you’ve created,
in the wolf of St Francis,
in straw of Brother Lawrence,
and in the mud puddle at my feet.

Jesus, savior remind me of how near
the kingdom of heaven has come
in the people around me
the ill,
the sinners,
and all of us caught up in our daily tasks.

Spirit, sustainer guide us on our journeys
wherever they are leading.

Like my first prayer poem, this one also focuses on members of the Trinity. Another key focus on this is panentheism and God being present in the creatures and other things created around us. I step away from Celtic Christianity a little by invoking Saint Francis and Brother Lawrence, but both of them seem to me to be part of the same approach to spirituality. I also bring in the aspect of the journey, without a clear destination which seems so important to me. I break with the first two stanzas which each have three examples of what I’m talking about in the stanza when I get to the final stanza. It helps communicate in an additional way, the uncertainty and incompleteness of the journey.

For me, writing is a very contemplative experience. I mostly compose poems in my mind, mulling them over and over before I put them on paper. Then, I spend time revising what I’ve written. So the practice of writing and sharing these prayer poems has a nice combination of contemplation and action.

Celtic Christianity as I’m understanding it right now, feels very comfortable and familiar to me, giving me words and constructs that match how I approach life, prayer, and writing.

Hero's Journey

I grew up on the Hero’s journey
from the classic Greek tales
to the story on the silver screen
and I wondered about
my own call to adventure
with its road of trials
and where it would turn.

Then
I discovered counter narratives.
What other metaphors are there
besides a journey?
What other genders are there
besides the masculine hero?
What other roads
and other adventures?

When the Ethiopian lioness
tells the story
what will be
glorified?

(Written for a writer's prompt, read at the Wallingford Poetry Group)

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It will be okay

It will be okay
they told her
when the lump,
that lump
turned out
not to be
benign.

Years later
after chemo
after radiation
after therapy
after tears
after unexpected joys
it turned out
to be okay,
not great
not painless
but okay.

It will be okay
they told him
when his mother died
in a car accident
during one of those
freak storms
that seem to be
more and more
common.

Years later
after the funeral
after the grieving
after cleaning out
and selling
the family home
after memories
dredged up
from the deeps
on unknown anniversaries
after tears
after unexpected joys
it turned out
to be okay,
not great
not painless
but okay.

(This is another one of the poems that I wrote in 2016, but never posted. It didn't feel finished. Perhaps I'll come back to it later.)

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At the Clark Art

Something stirred
in my adolescent heart
as I pondered
the pastel clad ballerinas
in a nineteenth century
Parisian studio.

What did they talk about
after their lesson?
Did they the think of boys?
Giggle?
Would one of them
perhaps
have glanced at me?

Later,
would they tug at a satyr?
Dragging him into
a wooded pond
and a watery death?

Or would they themselves
be saved
from a watery death
in an undertow?

Would they sit
half naked
for Renoir
or well attired
for Sargent?

(Another poem written and read in 2016, but not posted until 2017. It was written for a poetry group writers prompt and still feels a little incomplete)

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Number 2 Pencil

With my Number 2 pencil
I take notes
on our history,
the American Dream,
of those who came to our country
seeking a better life,
religious freedom,
to be a city on the hill
and I don’t hear
about those who were
already here,
or those who came in shackles
longing for any freedom.

With my number 2 pencil
I take notes
on our arts
the great writers, painters, and musicians
who have given us such great legacies.
Were they all white European men
because everyone else
was too oppressed
to create
or simply because
that’s all the writers
of our histories
managed to see?

With my number 2 pencil
I fill in the ovals
on standardized tests
that will be used
to appoint my place
in society,
and I long for God’s law
when we shall know the Lord
and be God’s people.

(Note: This poem was written in 2016 and presented at a Poetry Sunday, but was not posted on the blog until 2017. There are a few poems like this I hope to catch up on.)

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