Thursday, May 19, 2022

Pacifist Poet

William Stafford, sweet poet,
said that one in every ten poems
he wrote was good enough for publication.
That encourages me
‘cause I write a lot of bad poems.
But, like Stafford, I’m a pacifist.
I don’t kill any of my poems.
For the nine poor poems
I find a comfortable spot,
lay them down, and let them sleep.
You get to read the tenth poem.
Lucky you.

                                Eddie Lobanovsky

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Poems from the book of Colossians

 Last year I adopted the spiritual discipline of meditating, praying, and writing poetry through the books of the Bible. I'm building up quite a collection. I'm not sure how good the poetry is, but the practice is causing me to read Scripture in a new way.

I begin each early morning time with the prayer from Proverbs 119:18: "Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things from your word." After reading and spending time listening in silence, I converse with God about the portion I read. That's the poetry part. Simply conversing with God.

Recently I spend several weeks in the book of Colossians, Paul's treatise on the doctrine of Christ. Here are a few of the poems (likely to be edited and polished in the future).

Hold Fast

Colossians 1:17, " him all things hold together."

Jesus is the gravity
that keeps our feet on the ground.
He's the centripetal force,
the reason we don't fly
off into space, lost forever.
He's the magnet
that binds us to faith, hope, and love.
He's the compass
that heads us down
the true path.
He's our superglue;
we need never come apart.
Someday all things
will join in him,
a vast and holy reconciliation.
In the meantime,
Jesus is what keeps
you and me

Colossians 1:24, "...I fill up my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions...."

Christ suffered
for our sakes,
but he didn't keep
it all for himself.
The bucket of miseries
is not yet full.
We get to add to it.
We get to fill it
because Jesus knew
we'd want to suffer
for his sake.
So as we carry the good news
to all people, we weep,
we laugh, we bleed,
we bind our wounds.
We serve with joy.

Well Dressed
Colossians 3:12, ..clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."

They many not be the latest fashion,
but your new clothes fit perfectly.
You've never looked better.

Colossians 4:1

"... Provide your slaves
with what is right and just."
Free them.

Remember My Chains
Colossians 4:18

When you pray
include those in prison
paying for the harm
they've done to others
and to themselves.
Include those
unjustly imprisoned
for faith, race, or human error.
Imprisonment has a way
of dismembering people,
ripping them from family,
values, and life's normalities.
Re-member them
in vision and petition.
Re-member all the broken ones--
refugees, victims of war or rape,
neighbors beaten down
by domestic violence,
loved ones battling cancer or addiction,
those suffering rejection and divorce.
The lonely.
People have so many ways
of being enchained and broken,
of being torn and dismembered.
Your task is to remember them.
Remember them everyday.


Monday, April 25, 2022

I'm good with languages

This morning on the path to the beach
the wind whistled through the scrub brush
and I answered back in the vernacular.
The ocean, unusually talkative,
threw waves and words on the shore.
I understood her perfectly.
Two sea gulls bandied a joke back and forth
in their dialect. I got it. Laughed out loud.
And while the rising sun chose to be silent,
I knew what he meant to say.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, Saturday

 Questions for the Father

Jesus called you Father
even more than he called you Lord God Almighty.
Daddy, he whispered in those early morning conversations,
surrounded by silence, waiting for the dawn.

He told us stories about you—
a sorrowful father missing his lost son, waiting, waiting,
a woman losing her money,
a shepherd losing a lamb.
He told us how you searched for the lost
and how you turned happy, so happy,
at the return of what you held dear.

Even with these stories, it seems presumptuous
to attribute human emotions
to the Creator of the universe,
the Lord of Hosts, the Name above all names.
Sad? Angry? Happy? Aren’t you above all that?
So I approach you tentatively, on tip-toe
with my wonderings.

Were you with him in the garden that night?
When your son begged for mercy,
for release from the coming horror,
did it cost you to tell him No?
Even knowing the end of that dark story
(a story you wrote), did his tears move you?
Did you feel the dread with him?

Did a shudder run through the universe
when your son was betrayed, denied justice,
degraded, abused, and crucified?

Did you actually abandon him?
What did that cost you?

I’m a clumsy, bumbling pseudo-therapist
asking you, And how did that make you feel?
Forgive my presumption.
But I really do wonder,
my Father.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, Good Friday

Luke 23

Like beach volleyball
played with a live coal,
Pilate and Herod
toss him back and forth.
His innocence scorches.
As the crowd grows
angry and restless,
they drop the coal.
The crowd wins.
Jesus loses.
(The whole world wins.)

The Politician’s Question
John 18:28-40

What is truth?
the politician asks,
not sticking
around for an answer.
The question hangs
in the air while
the man born
to be king awaits
his coronation
in silence.

Mark 15

Along with T.S. Eliot,
I also wonder
why we call
that Friday

Last Breath
Luke 23:46

With a loud voice
Jesus committed his spirit
to God and breathed his last,
we’re told. Last breath
from the One who was there
when God breathed life
into the human race.
Blew revival on a pile of bones,
embodied the Spirit wind
that enlivened a people for God.
But this breath was not really
his last. It would only lead
to a new and living way
for people to breathe.
The last breath would become
the first in God’s strange

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, Thursday

No Way
Luke 22

Lord, there is no way I can make good poetry from this story.
No way I can journey with Judas, you as my merchandise.
I can’t sit at the table with your disciples, drink your blood, eat your body, even in metaphor.
I also love to pray in gardens, but this bloody sweat makes no sense.
I’m angry at the kiss of death and the rough seizure with you refusing resistance, at the mockery and the insults.
And I’m dumbfounded when you look at me, just as you looked at Peter.
Forgive me.


I Am He
John 18:1-27

I am he
is the seismic center.
It spreads in expanding rings.
The bodies fall outward,
circle a setting sun.
Torches, lanterns, weapons,
a bloody face, arrest
and betrayals spin,
but the center holds.
Even so, night deepens.
Even so, this unbearable cold.


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Poems of Passion Week, day 3--a preview


The Anointing
John 12:1-19

Judas seems to be
the only sane human
in this scene.
The wastefulness
of Mary’s impulsive gesture
—in the midst of third world
poverty, political unrest,
and untold suffering—
demands an angry response,
whatever the ulterior motives.
The only act more
extravagant than Mary’s
anointing is Jesus’
of its appropriateness.
Surely this time
love has gone too far.