Building Our Poem

Posted this recently to my Innerwoven blog. But, it’s just as timely and appropriate here. I hope you enjoy. Peace, friends…

innerwoven

“…in thy voice I catch

The language of my former heart…”*

“The Bud,” 1987

I love poetry. I love its exactitude, its wide-eyed innocence wed to unflinching honesty. The unforced rhythms of perfection, like Grandma’s gaze over well-worn glasses. It is the art of lovers, the science of thinkers, the wisdom of doers.

Poetry gives up her secrets cautiously, altruistically, slowly. Every word, like every note of a great symphony, is fully intended, placed unequivocally in its place with an eye, and ear, to building something remarkable out of simple things, something well beyond the sum of its parts.

In a thousand ways, we are the amalgam of our carefully written words; each one added to the emerging poem of our lives. In this process, there are no real mistakes. There is only the discernment asked of us in the changing turn of phrase that will ultimately become…

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Found

Another good one by fellow poet and all round great human being, Kelly Belmonte. Check out everything on her page (https://allninemuses.wordpress.com). Well worth your time.

All Nine

Are not all poems found poems?

Are not all poets failed poets

failing in a form fated to fail?

Poetry is not truth, but the last

gasp of revelation after hearing

the truest word. The poet

speaks in tongues to a world

that cannot bear truth, whose words

are woodpeckers at the rotting beam,

wind rattling against the eaves.

The poet is found a poet

as a poem is found in the ruins

of a dying language, the last breath

of truth in a truth-famished land.

Find me in these ruins.

*****

Photo by Jiannis Tsiliakis on Unsplash

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8

Some of my favourite poetry is that which wrestles, dances with the rich imagery at work in the Bible. It doesn’t preach. It simply tells a story. It helps us picture what the original authors might have been aiming for. This is a poem written as part of a homework assignment for a theology course I’m taking.

It plays around a bit with Psalm 8. Let’s dance. It’s always God’s idea.

8

God, you have scattered your way

among stars, heaped about in the easy

wonders of your winking eye.

Our small and stuttered stance, hands

perched on brows, we squint against

the brilliance and tuck our ignorance

inside curiosity, piqu’d at your

grand and noble gesture.

We shine bright inside your shadow.

From there, at your behest, we are noblesse oblige.

It is in the suppler clay of faces you

do your best work –

the weary eyes of fawning mothers,

the stretching yawns of nipple-fed wains,

tossed high by fathers and friends,

and high school herds, stalwart tribes

trumpeting tales of borrowed conquest.

Foe, fallow-field, and fission –

all made from the same stuff.

What careless shrug dares dismiss so noble a kiss?

Who would think it wise to cork this wine

so ably poured from heaven’s fire?

God, you have scattered

my way among stars.

February 14, 2021 ©Robert A. Rife

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes to the Hills…

innerwoven

A favourite Psalm of mine proclaims the following, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” The simple act of looking to the hills does not, of itself, bring promise. It is an act of desperation, the longing for salvation wrought of shared hopeful faith. In the end, our help doesn’t come from looking to the hills, but from the hand of God whose hills they are.

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris will have their work cut out for them. We are in times of unprecedented division, delusion, decrepitude, and chaos. But, in all the good and hopeful things coming out of the Inauguration yesterday, none was so moving than this from young poet laureate, Amanda Gorman.

Normally I post poetry on my LitBits site. I felt it required…

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As you tell me

As you tell me

the woes of the world,

of all that is wrong and out of place,

the injustices, the unfair dues of your space

carved out of a world you help build;

as you tell me

how the air is now

too thin

to breathe,

the ground,

too heavy

to dig,

the people,

too deaf

to hear your valid cries,

too blind

to support

your team’s placards, your tribe’s war-paint,

those with the correct branding on your

well-vetted t-shirts;

as you tell me

of apocalypse and my need to

wake up, and see Jesus in your message

of #allthismatters and #allthatmatters and

#fuckyourmatters because #onlyImatter;

as you tell me

about all we’re losing

if that guys wins, or this guy wins,

or some guy wins, or we all win

if my guy wins; so, get on board

the happy train your bunch

is driving, with the right conductor

on the right track, going the right way,

for the right reasons, to make things right,

again, the way they were;

as you tell me

the world is going to hell-in-a-handbasket,

my neighbour hasn’t heard your news,

she cradles a dying child.

Corona-daze: just breathe

Viral Dailies, Day 23. Today…a prayer.

innerwoven

bridge-19513_1920.jpgWhen the walls of fury and dystopia threaten our made up worlds,

just breathe.

When coughing madness spews upon us its pointless fury,

just breathe.

When those bent on denying as “fake” anything “those ones” have said,

just breathe.

When “those ones” spend all their time trumpeting the correction as the end,

just breathe.

When hints of community are abandoned for mutual blaming,

just breathe.

When neighbours and friends respond to us as foreigners and enemies,

just breathe.

When social distance becomes an excuse to deepen selfishness,

just breathe.

When social distance deepens our loneliness, broadens our fears,

just breathe.

When time and brilliance and humanity once again find their way,

just breathe.

When the disparate voices of the many find semblance of singularity,

just breathe.

When the despair from our losses kisses the tears of our gratitude,

just breathe.

When the detritus of our streets, our homes, our world…

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Pushing breath from blue

Viral Dailies, Day 21

Rob's Lit-Bits

By Valerie Dodge Head By Valerie Dodge Head

We push out, breath from blue,

like the breaking waves, alone with their thoughts,

and catch ourselves among the reeds.

Passing alone through districts of enchanting knowledge,

we cough up our meal of bones, still hungry to drown

inside a conundrum bigger than our shoes.

______

Our little oceans, best of our times, rimmed ‘round

with shortening days, the noose of our shrinking

humanity; allure, the currency of dreams.

Still, one swims in what one drinks and drinks

what washes down and around all that looks

for more horizon. Let the four-quartered moon

sing what is only heard when deafness prevails.

______

The tragedy of the good, the irony of evil, foisted

upon hearts ill-suited for the journey in.

So it seems that the only way to bleed to life

is in the unmooring of our punctured ships.

There is more room to bleed when splintered…

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Poetry from a Distance

Friend and fellow poet, Kelly Belmonte, adds some zest to our busy social-distancing schedules with a few poems from her wonderful blog, allninemuses. Thanks, Kelly, and keep up the good words!

All Nine

How do poets respond to a global crisis?  Some friends and I got together (virtually) this week to answer that very question. Turns out poets do in a crisis what they do most times: They write, of course… and read, and think deep thoughts, and listen to jazz greats, all from a safely introspective distance. Praying peace and poetry for all at this remarkable moment in history. ~ KDB

What good does a poem do?
The fragility of quiet work,
wind-beaten daffodils,
nature versus the nurture
of a few famous words
forgotten once this crisis passes.

My floating anxiety is a family
of spiders on the smooth surface
of a slippery lake. Too bad
I don’t like spiders.

~ Kelly Belmonte

We said we’d always do it then,
when life didn’t push so hard
and time was a friend we still called an enemy.

We told ourselves that responsibilities
came…

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Merry Christmas from Ours to Yours

Blessings of the season to you and yours!

innerwoven

50382-full_christmas-paintings-wallpaper-thomas-kinkade-wallpaper-memories.jpgA fire makes its heartening presence known, tucked under the hearth upon which hang individual stockings and an antique clock I inherited from my Dad. A delightfully chaotic looking tree, augmented with bobbles made by growing dexterity of little boys’ fingers, the accumulated little boy detritus of Christmas past. They are now men of humour, virtue, and creativity.

Snow falls without sound just past living room windows that shield from the oblique, grey winter, and all I can think is this: if Christmas – the incarnation, God with us – means anything at all, it must mean more than the homegrown Thomas Kinkade painting I’ve just described.

It must mean that God is longing to burst forth into our own souls, finding enough room to receive the gifts of our own inner Magi. It must have the rough and tumble character of a once upon a time, ramshackle stable…

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Thank you, Yakima Herald!

innerwoven

I’m especially grateful to Tammy Ayer at the Yakima Herald who thought our storyinteresting enough to include the following piece about our final Celtic Christmas Eve. 

80867692_10156312679816895_1439314918951092224_o.jpgDetails for how you may choose to support our venture are found in the article. The link goes live tomorrow. Blessing and peace to you all as the Yule is once again upon us and the smell of food fills the air to meet with laughter, fellowship, hopefulness and gratitude!

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