words are wasted to
make lines work; a poetic
form doomed to failure
words wasted to fill
out lines, a poetic form
reduced to white noise
to fill the lines words
are wasted, a poetic
form of impotence
too many words just
for the count, poems flabby with
a poet adds words
to force lines, sheer chaos, you
don't get your wordsworth
Steven's Poetry/Writing: April 2005 Archives
of heaven painted on things
as we see them now.
Object of desire--sure sign
of its maker--Lord of life.
In not holding on
to things we know, need, and love,
we grow heavenward.
The sky is His-promise-blue--
beyond blue--no clouds--no rain.
Learn now how to be--
see--autumn sky, fall leaves--cool
promise of winter.
Desire--good as it seeks He
who is end of all desire.
Desire--ill wind that
keeps blowing as it is fed--
seeking self alone.
Desire teaches us good, shows
us how to see, be, and want.
I want the ocean
broad salt, the great rivers, I
want and do not need.
Desire stretches want into
need. It doesn't know its end.
Stalk the white egret
for its plumage finery
for a woman's hat
whatever we want becomes
the end to which we will go.
The heart's home, the warmth
of the breath breathed at the start,
Holy Spirit's flame.
How then can we know the line--
want and need, shadow and light?
Seek first the kingdom
and His righteousness, all else
comes to you through these.
But the human heart is trained
to want far beyond its means.
Trained to desire, chained
to desire--the will gives way
in the face of it.
So we must learn to not want
to have without having now.
To enjoy all things
both for themselves as they are
God's own goodly work.
But also to see within
them God's shadow. Taste God there.
Desire would hold you
bound, pining, dying not
for itself but for want.
Desire is the spur, the goad, God's
direction arrow pointed home.
Love without keeping,
take without taking, gold chips
in the chilly stream.
Glint for those who come after,
for you, the moment God spoke.
Hear Him in every word,
see in every motion, not one
thing is without Him.
Desire calls us home-answer
and discover where home is.
Okay, it's only a start. There seem to be much, much more to say on the matter, but I must come back to it. Too much compressed poetry squeezes the mind and the japanese forms were not meant to do this. Nevertheless, it comes off rather like the Analects, so not a complete failure--and by way of an answer to one at Lofted Nest.
Between the heron
and the wren--silence builds a
home, spring comes early.
Okay, I suppose I shouldn't, but I'll share the draft of this--the longest poem I've written in twenty years and it is simultaneously about three or four quite different things, so it may be a muddle. Whatever--it does need some work--but here's a start--or at least a finish of a draft. Please note due to my lack of ability with HTML coding, the line below that begins "Consider this" should start immediately under the second space after the period in the line above. Doesn't matter to most, but makes a great difference in how the poem is read/intended.
Long ago, this laughing water flowed
straight over the plain, seeking its level
in the sea. It danced and played in its banks,
it jumped and tumbled in its rough channel.
So it should have flowed, straight and true, through time
but rough water holds its own mind, obeys
its own rules. And so the curling tumbles
shocked the rock and mudsteeped banks into new,
unknown shapes. And so the silver flow laughed
its way into channels shaped by wayward
yearnings and wanderings, still swift and cool
running yet headlong, following now not
just its own way, but the way it had shaped.
No longer the true straight path that runs so
swiftly to its close, now bending, winding
turning in churning pools that roil nowhere,
pools that spin and turn and cut and shape, change
to no end but that the water might move
and keep moving, now more slowly than it
had ever known. Still the wayward currents
shape and change the bank and channel, bending
ever more from the straight and true start. Does
water have thoughts? Regrets? Does water know
its past? Do the fingerling currents feel
for the grip that they knew in the straight true
days? If so, to what end? The bank has changed--
the water runs quietly, quickly moving
even more slowly. But the old power
is there, strong even in the slowness, now
renewed by a surge of spring, a summer
thunderstorm jolt. It cuts away, changes
its own changes endlessly. At the end
it travels ten times its length to arrive,
to merge with the ocean.
as a stream--the frustration of being there,
seeing the sea-glint, the sun-spot that marks
the rampant waves, surging forward to find
your course suddenly changed. You cannot get
there from here and the sad thing is you made
this place yourself. Longing for reunion
with its ocean birthplace, the stream winds in banks
of its own making. The water here might
never reach the great salt, it might simply
vanish, drawn into oblivion, skyward
reaching only to condense, a cloud or
less, drops falling even further away.
But one spring the silver winter sun-warmed
thaws into a flood and strikes downstream--rage
in water--passion throwing banks aside.
The graceful surge, the fresh tide, forces banks
to bend, rock to sway and break, and what was
an age of swerving away and back, now
becomes a breakneck flash, a raging white
that plunges to its end, its shape reformed
by sun and snow and surge and sea-longing.
The straightaway leaves stranded crescent lakes
carved scars that pock the land surface beside
the silver stream that freed from itself, flows
swiftly jumping joyful to join the sea--
the birthplace and the end. Where it began
where now it slows and mingles with the salt
and never loses shimmer, glint, and light.
There you have it. There are some lines that I really, really love, some that need some work and probably some excesses and some repetitions that need to be excised. But this work is respectfully dedicated to our previous Holy Father, John Paul the Great, whose teaching and whose courage renewed my own and gave me something worth writing about. It is also dedicated to the poet trio of Lofted Nest who sparked an urge to speak in this language again.
My two way heart cannot decide
which way to let you go,
with rejoicing at your triumph above,
or mourning for us below.
That you have been our father now
for more years that I can know,
I cannot think of you above
and all of us below.
That God has made His place for you,
I cannot help but know,
that you rejoice with Him above,
and pray for us below.
Longtime your flock has prayed for you
and watched your spirit grow,
do not think it lack of love
that lays my spirit low.
I rejoice in God's peace with you
and home my spirits knows
that forward, onward you lead me
to where I would not go
Except your love had made it clear
all paths to this end lead--
I may take it for good or ill
for living or for dead.
But your voice, your staff is there
leading ever on,
"Be not afraid," your strong voice said,
and pointed ever on.
I follow you, my shepherd
now with greater Shepherd met,
and ask myself this question--
Do I ever let
My selfish heart keep loved one home?
Or rather do I let
my spirit soar to the abode
where faces are not wet--
where I might see
our loved one now
embraced by heavenly kin,
and know that sinners though we be,
we are God's chosen ones.
Dear Father you have spent your life,
to show us all this truth.
Grant through your prayers
I can see it now,
when I most want you here.
Grief is fresh
and tears will pass,
and then there will be only joy,
that the God you know
has shown Himself,
through His gift of you to us.