Broken-down Poetry: November 2010


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Good morning

But friends, your dead will live,
your corpses will get to their feet.
All you dead and buried,
wake up! Sing!
Your dew is morning dew
catching the first rays of sun,
The earth bursting with life,
giving birth to the dead.

Come, my people, go home
and shut yourselves in.
Go into seclusion for a while
until the punishing wrath is past,
Because God is sure to come from his place
to punish the wrong of the people on earth.
Earth itself will point out the bloodstains;
it will show where the murdered have been hidden away.
-Isaiah 26.19-21


Oh yes.


Good morning. My favorite texts in the world are "good morning" texts from Nathan. They're texts that remind me that whatever happened yesterday--whatever stress, whatever fight or struggle--is gone. Good morning. It's a new day. It's fresh. Let's wake up and sing.

I've called grace many things before. I've called it a hug. I've called it plants that grow in the wintertime. But today, today I'm going to call grace morning.


In Iraq, the sun rose at 4:30 a.m. The Iraqi sun is bright; it's hot; it's disturbing; it wakes you up.

I think that's grace. Okay, so I say grace is the morning and that evokes some brand of fuzzies. Aw, it's like that 1990s worship song: "Though the sorrow may last through the night, his joy comes in the morning. I'm tradin' my sorrows...." But really, it's more than that. It's hard. It's bright and blinding.

I say grace makes you do something, take action. In the very least, it makes you get out of bed. Morning is here; you can't stay in bed all day.

For me, morning is planning time. If I am not running late (as I usually am), I think about where I need to go that day, what I need to accomplish, how I am going to do it all. Morning requires something of me.

Grace, of course, is the same way. Grace says that whatever happened the night before, is over. It's done, taken care of. Any wrong I've committed against God is forgiven, and I am washed clean. But, I'm still responsible. I'm responsible for the upcoming day.


Isaiah is all about the coming of the Messiah. The prophet warns Israel and its neighbors of God's wrath, but he tells also of a redeemer called Immanuel, God with us.

Remembering that, I'm trying to make sense of the second stanza above, the one after the exclamation about morning! and singing! and sunshine! The one that says to lock yourselves in your house to escape God's punishment.

In context, the joyful stanza comes after Isaiah's description of his people's current condition: "Oh God, they begged you for help when they were in trouble, when your discipline was so heavy they could barely whisper a prayer."

I wonder if that final stanza is a "sobering up." Yes, God is good. God will give you a new morning, a new life, some fresh dew on the ground. But remember what you're doing right now. Remember your current situation, the sins you're immersed in, your addictions.

I think of this stanza as a mourning (yes, a nice play on words for us to enjoy). It's like: go inside your houses and shut your doors and take a while to think about what you did. Give yourself a time out. Keep yourselves from sinning. Watch out. Be careful.


I write this post at night, anticipating the morning, anticipating grace.

All you dead and buried, wake up! Sing!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holy the Firm, pp. 60-62

His disciples asked Christ about a roadside beggar who had been blind from birth, "Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" And Christ, who spat on the ground, made a mud of his spittle and clay, plastered the mud over the man's eyes, and gave him sight, answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be manifest in him."

Really? If we take this answer to refer to the affliction itself--and not the subsequent cure--as "God's works made manifest," then we have, along with "Not as the world gives do I give unto you," two meager, baffling, and infuriating answer to one of the few questions worth asking, to wit, What in the Sam Hill is going on here?

The works of God made manifest? Do we really need more victims to remind us that we're victims? Is this some sort of parade for which a conquering army shines up its terrible guns and rolls them up and down the streets for people to see? Do we need blind men stumbling about, and little flamefaced children, to remind us what God can--and will--do? ...

Yes, in fact, we do. We do need reminding, not of what God can do, but what he cannot do, or will not, which is to catch time in its free fall and stick a nickel's worth of sense into our days. And we need reminding of what time can do, must only do; churn out enormity at random and beat it, with God's blessing, into our heads: that we are created, created, sojourners in a land we did not make, a land with no meaning of itself and no meaning we can make for it alone. 

Who are we do demand explanations of God? (And what monsters of perfection should we be if we did not?) ...


I think I finally get it, Annie.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Some things are better left unsaid.

“Talk to me,” he says,
caressing her hand
and fondling the wrinkles
of her numb fingers.
She says, “I’m fine.” Not
that he asked.

They walk with naked
stares into the night.
She pulls out
her hand from his hand
and shoves it into her pocket.
“Baby, come on. What

She thinks
of a better lie to tell,
but she can’t. So she says
the same thing again
only slower, harder.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Future/Present poem

I bought an e.e. cummings poetry book: this is what resulted. (Okay, this hardly exemplifies my admiration for cummings, but I did split a word between two lines.)

Also, it's fiction. Geez.

Also, also: three syllable lines!!

Dear future
husband, I
am sorry
but I have
(in retro-
spect) cheated
on you. Love,
forgive me
because I
didn’t know
you yet and
I thought you
wouldn’t mind
if I kissed
a man who
isn’t you
and let him
touch my breasts.

Dear present
wife, it’s fine.
I love you

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And eat it too.

He baked you a cake?

Yeah. Isn’t it great? I’ll never want to finish eating it.

He obviously likes you.

Well, I thought so. Before, I mean, when he gave me the cake. But I know he doesn’t.

Caitlyn, he baked you a cake for crying out loud. How could he not like you?

He’s just home-broken. House-broken. Whatever you call it. He bakes.

No guy bakes for a girl he’s just friends with.

This guy does.

I don’t believe it.

Oh, believe it. You should’ve been there when I met him.

Tell me.

We were at McConn.


No, no. I was in line, and he was in front of me.

Did you say hi?

Not right away. I just kind of stared.

At what?

His hair.

His hair?

He has really nice hair. He usually covers it with that silly hat.

But underneath it?

Really … great … hair.


So then you said hi?

No, I touched his hair.

You didn’t?

I did. And you know what? It’s soft. Just like you’d expect it to be.

You’re joking, right? You just went up and touched his hair.

I wish. I asked first.

That’s a little better.

I said, “You have really great hair. Can I touch it?”

Oh, Caitlyn, that’s hilarious! What did he do?

He leaned over and let me touch it.


The rest is history.

Then he likes you?

Not exactly.

You just said the rest was history, like it’s the end of the story. So it’s not?

Well, that was a month ago. So much has happened.

Like what?

The date.

You went on a date with him?

Sort of.

Tell me!

It was nothing. We just watched a movie at his apartment.


Well, yeah alone. It was a date … I think.

You mean you don’t know?

It seemed like a date. He flirted.


And he walked me back to campus.

Did he try to hold your hand?


Then it wasn’t a date.

He could be a prude.

Yeah, Caitlyn, get real. Did he know that you liked him? On the date, I mean.

Oh yeah, it was pretty clear. Lots of signals.

But he didn’t hold your hand?


Then he doesn’t like you.

I told you.

But there’s more, isn’t there?

Well, that happened two weeks ago, so yeah there’s more.

What next?

He called me.

He didn’t!

The next day. He called me just to talk.

Oh, guys never do that.

They don’t.

Surely he must like you.

I thought he did. When he called me, I was sure of it.

Then what changed?

Well, he gave me the cake.


He gave me the cake Thursday, then yesterday we talked. We DTR’d.

Defined the relationship. Got it.

I told him I liked him. I told him I liked his hair and his smile and the way he says his vowels.

Then how’d he respond? What’d he say?

He said, “Huh.” He just brushed it off, like it was nothing.

That doesn’t mean anything.

Of course it does. It means everything.


So are you sad?

Kind of.

What’re you going to do with the cake?

Eat it, I guess.