Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Poetry Personified

(With Thanks To Mrs. Elizabeth B. Browning)

When I say Christ is the only hope of humanity,
you say the scriptures are insanity,
of which you know all you need;
I think you know not Christianity,
and have not ears to heed.
Someone told you Christ was grim --
who surely never met him --
did they tell you how he cried?
Somebody decried Jesus as severe --
Somebody lied.
Did they tell you how he neared
to the men in farthest sin?
Did they tell how he was to sinners friend?
Did they tell you how he cried?
Did they tell you how he died?
I know not them --
but I know this: they know not Him.

Christ's religion is essentially poetry
-- poetry glorified: artistry reified.
The Lord Jesus Christ is poetry personified;
His Person and Work unite in rhyme deified.
See him, a Lion? Next glance, a Lamb.
He is the iambic I AM.

All verse tends toward affection,
and the Lord Jesus is affectionate perfection.
His is Love; Love is His.
He is where Love lives.
He is that which Love Is,
and that which Love gives.

We want not more rhyming infatuation;
we want the sense of the saturation
of Christ's blood upon the souls
of our souls. We want his blood our shoal
and his blood our deeps --
with his dying love dyed -- from head to the soles
of our feet -- in this love steeped.
We want poets, and bards,
and prophets, and preachers, and seers
and dreamers -- by believing --
to see blood on the moon and the stars,
and feel Christ's blood weaving
in their veins unto their hearts.
We need poets who have fled wrath,
and found shelter in a blood bath.

We want not flimsy infatuation

made my moments of skinny elation
spread across dim durations --
we want to be saturated
with love persisting, love unabated.
We want to be dyed the color
of Christ's red rose raging righteous blood --
which is to say, in words other:
we want to live in Christ's love.

We want not more cheap love tokens;
We want to be broken 
with searing shards of souls
so that Christ's love might shine pole to pole,
and let hope in;
then, and only then,
shall we make the halved whole.
O, may his love cry through us
in answer to the ceaseless
wail of the sphinx of our humanity.
May it cry, expounding agonizing renovation. 
We want not more self demonstration.
We want poets of Christ's poetry.
We want you. We want me.

Something of this has been perceived in art
when its glory was at the fullest.
Something of a yearning after this type heart
may be seen among ALL poets.
Something we want that hearts touch;
Something which would have been much
with many in this present generation 
if they had more heavenly deliberation,
and a stronger faculty of poetic perception,
combined with sincere human connection.
Of Christ, this generation knows nothing;
thus, we live in such dejection,
and our poetry is rusting.

What was Shakespeare, but Christian mythology?
What Donne? Milton? Even atheist Shelley?
What was Keats, or Byron, or Browning?
What was the trump they were sounding
but love eternal the darkness confounding?
What did they speak of?
They spoke most, and often, of Love.
What is Love but Christ's other name?
And what love is this? The love same
that sent him bleeding for a bride.
For love lived; for love, he died.

Thanks to us, our dreams were dross.
Then, we found, upon a dusty shelf,
a volume of Hamlet marred by moss --
before we read it, we were lost.
Before reading, we were expiring
in blindness; we were dying.
After reading, we were well.
Before reading, we barely felt;
Afterward? We knew health,
and ascended in the sunshine like young doves.
Thanks to us, our dreams sank.
Thanks to Shakespeare, we fell in love --
but who did Shakespeare have to thank? 

He thanked Christ, and so might we.
For Christ is the poet of poets: poetry, essentially.
Long before Shakespeare,
wrote Sonnets, or Hamlet, or of Midsummer Dreamy --
when the world was benighted in misery,
a child was born on a midnight clear,
in a harsh place, to a poor family,
in the dead-end town of Bethlehem:
His tiny heart beat poetic rhythm
as the stars blinked above in blank verse.
Some distance, a band of ragged shepherds
were keeping flock on rugged plains
when angels accosted them with news
too good for heaven to contain.
The angels lifted their voice in a couplet then:
"Peace on earth has come again;
for God has goodwill toward men."

The child kept time in oh so human tears,
as his mother drew him near,
and sang to him a sonnet
Moses had written on parchment in Egypt:
Something about a garden defiled;
something about how a child
would be stricken 'til he bled,
but rise to crush a serpent's head;
something about how God's whimsical devotion
rises in waves of a red ocean;
something about a son on a throne seated;
something about guilt by grace defeated.

When I say Christ is the only hope of humanity,
they say the scriptures are insanity --
I know not them --
but I know this: they know not Him.
Christ's religion is essentially poetry
-- poetry glorified: artistry reified.
The Lord Jesus Christ is poetry personified.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Some One

by CWK

I am not used to people caring.
I dare you because I want to be daring.
Secretly, I hoped that you were staring –
not because I am freak of nature,
but because I am a creature in need of nurture.
"She hurt him; he hurt her."
This is all I've ever learned of
love. I admit. I've never known of love.
Hurt people hurt people – dead people kill.
I admit, I touched you to see if I am real;
I loved you, for me, to see if I can feel.

Don't stop; I can't stop; I won't stop; I need this.
I cut myself to bleed this –
but please know, stranger,
if and when you read this:
I typed on my knees in a dungeon of danger,
in a slight and fearful crevice,
on a fading screen shouting No Service,
with a voices in my head red raging in anger –
it was a moment of weakness
when I broadcast my deepest fear into the ethosphere.

Don't say, you say, I said it.
After I wrote, I wanted to edit,
but by then you, and the world, had read it;
besides, keep in mind – when I wrote, I was dead
with what my doc has since said
is an entirely new and unnamed disease.
Listen to me, please, pretty, pretty please –
but I need you to forget what I said.

Well then, friend, I have a confession:
after pouring out my inner being
on pages printed with nothing
but invisible ink. Some Thing
started to harass me – let's call it discretion.
That, and this sense of endless misdirection:
lies on top of lies; lies of omission, and selection:
lies polished unto a shiny neat perfection.
I -- the true me -- was some other where,
but there, on the screen, right there:
the invisible ink was glaring.
I felt the world's careless stare,
and I regretted every word and every bearing.
I needed to share,
but I regretted over sharing.

I wrote it all: more, even, than I understood:
more than I could, or should.
I was reaching more for a hand
than a display so bland, so grand, so canned.
It was me, yes, but not me at my best – me, only virtually –
tt was that part of me; the start of me – but not me, really.

What you read, I wrote, but not I.
The truth was in the lie.
That was me, but only at a distance;
the real me was hiding: deeper; further.
Can't you see the difference –
even if I didn't say so?
I wanted to be played like a lullaby, softly:
not like a fool, and not with such cruelty.
Can you see? Can you see me?
Is this thing on? Is anybody out there?
Anybody? Any Body? Any Where?
I'm lonely down to my bones;
I'm lonely, and alone.

I am not used to people caring.
I dare you because I want to be daring.
Secretly, I hoped that you were staring –
not because I am freak of nature,
but because I am a creature in need of nurture.
"She hurt him; he hurt her."
This is all I've ever learned of
love. I admit. I've never known of love.

I want to visit Rome, and Athens
Georgia, and bookshops and Athens
Greece, and quaint inns, and lion's dens
with you, or someone. Any One.
I want to cook spaghetti and Won Ton
for you, or anyone. And when I'm done,
and ready to die, I want to be buried in Avalon
beside my true love.
I admit. I never knew love.
I want to know someone. Any One.
I want to know myself better, and I want
you to know me: That Some One
that is me behind the disguises and familiar hauntings
of that web of worlds I have been caught in.
Some One? Any One?
I'm here -- if you would only listen
to me, and not my words.
I''m here. Right here – helpless; hoping to be heard.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Then, And Back Again

by CWK

You said I never held your hand,
and I was ashamed to say,
I didn't know how.
You said I didn't understand,
and I was afraid to say,
I didn't know how.
Well, that was then,
and this is (another man) now.
You said I never held your hand,
and I was ashamed to say,
I didn't know how.
But I do now.

God only knows what it took
(and he arranged it like a perfect plotted book)
to change my hard heart.
It was good for Him to break us apart,
and then me.
I have had my doubts,
and I died, near death, a time or three.
But I'm alive now.

Here. Hear, Dear.

by CWK

Forgive me if I stumble,
or meander now and then, or mumble.
The important thing is, I’m here, dear.
My heart is clear, dear,
even if my words are jumbled.
My words are gentle; they are humble;
they are near, dear.
So incline your ear, and hear, dear.

I wanted to tell you, I can only live here,
not there, and not just anywhere.
I’m barely here, here
I think, I hope, I might be fine –
but it would be more than just a line
to say I had a frightful scare, dear;
to say I’m living scarcely, on a prayer here.

Not that long ago, I fell out of reach.
I was ebbing like a castle of sand
at dusk, when the tide floods the beach.
My soul felt pale, faded, and bland:
like a Rembrandt, awash all in bleach.
I could barely stand,
and I could not understand
why or how to heal the breach
between me and me.

In habit of heart, I reached for your hand,
but it was missing. You were distant,
out of touch, away a thousand miles.
I feared I had been beguiled.
I feared our love a lie from my own tongue,
or worse, a dream from fever flung.

Was it your hand I held when… 
Whose was it then?
I lay at death's door for awhile, 
then another while.
I longed for someone to come to me and smile
anxiously, and say, 
"I came soon as I heard!"
What sick soul doesn't pray
to hear those words?

Meanwhile, I wondered, whose smile
I had seen all those times – Yours? Or, were
those dreams of some you I never even met?
Was it some you I missed – just barely –
but still, against my will, could not forget?
Such are the thoughts of mad men;
such are the thoughts I had then.

But I need to tell you: I am barely here, here:
holding on for dear life, dear:
making it through a day as if a day were a life, dear.
I can’t live outside these summer winters.
I have just enough grace to thrive here.
Like Manna, I have only a daily supply to survive here.

But, the important thing is, I’m here, dear,
and heart is clear, dear.
My words are near dear.
So, incline your ear, and hear, dear.

Too Soon: Too Soon

by CWK

"I hate you – 
I love you."

"I don't ever want to see you! Ever again! –
I hope we can be friends."

"It's over, and done, this time, forever! –
maybe we should get back together?"

"I swear: this love will never cease.
I will never leave you! Not now! Not then! –
goodbye, my love, I wish you peace:
this is the end of the end."

It's too hard to say, and too soon to tell:
what was theirs – what was mine;
what to take – what to sell;
what to lose – what to find;
what to forget – what to mind;
where to live – where to die;
where to fail – where to try;
what to leave – what to leave in;
what was true – what was lies;
what to believe – who to believe in.

And now, at the end, where would we even

begin to find a place to begin?
Where? How? And Who? And When?
It's too soon to ask such questions: 
too late, tonight, to ask them again.
It's too soon, much too soon to unravel
such roads as take a million miles to travel.
Still at the beginning, where and when
could we find the time to tell
what was broken? – what was well?
what was good? – what was sin?
where was the start? – where was (is this?) the end?

It's too hard to say, and too soon to tell:
I suppose I should leave well,
or leave well enough alone; 
but how can I leave; I'm not sure that I'm gone.
"If only" – if only, there were no if onlys.
It's too soon to know if I am lonely
for you alone, and you only,
or just plain lonely, and feeling alone.
Too soon, to say "I don't," "I did," or "I do."
It's too soon to blame me, or you.
Also, too soon, by far, to exonerate:
too soon to set the record wrong,
and way too soon to set it straight.
It's too, too soon, to meet at noon,
and come together, or forever separate.
It's too soon to sing sad songs,
and yet, I can't seem to celebrate.
It is too soon to go; we have not time to wait.
It's too soon, and I fear it is too, much too, late.

I am starting to realize something amazing –
all of the answers to all of my praying
may come down to this:
Some questions can't be answered;
Some uncertainties are sure.
Some things, some times, remain a sweet regret:
a chance taken, and not amiss;
and yet, an opportunity, just missed.

It was too soon, just barely, when we met –
and yet, somehow, a second late.
It will always be too soon to remember, to forget,
and always too soon to love, to hate.
Some perplexities there will be,
some blindness will abide, even unto those who see.
You and I will be, to me, ever a mystery.
Our love will stand, before me, ever a maze,
and behind me, forever, in a haze.
This love will ever loom, 
a miserable, but magnificent, rune.
It will always be too soon.

I swear: this love will never cease.
I will never leave you! Not now! Not then! 
Goodbye, my love, I wish you peace:
this is the end of the end.

When Lazarus Awakes

by CWK

We came; we saw; we wept.
We bowed our heads.
In resignation, then, we said,
"part of life is death."
Then, we packed up and left
the dead in dirt still fresh,
and beat retreat in sorrowed silence 

Well, I am back, defiant.

– back, but not to grieve.
For the life of me, I do not believe
that part of life is death.
I believe that part of death is life:
I believe, with every breath,
that death leads 
like the point of a knife  to life.
Death is not a part of life;
It's a small part, just the start, of life.

O, Death, where is your power?
you are just the seed of life's flower;
just a second in life's hour;
just a note of life’s symphony.
Death is big; life, way bigger:
Life is the tree of which death is the sliver.

Anyway, here is what I came to say
(besides what I just said).
Here is why I came today:
I came to raise the dead.

I have not come to make amends,
(or make  more (or more, or less) friends),
(or play the game inside your head).
I am come, again –
I am come to raise the dead.

I am back, with hunger lean –
not to make things quiet.
I'm back to make a scene;
back to rouse a riot;
back to start a fight;
back to cause strife;
back, with life, rife.
I am back to see earth shake.
Back, to raise the stakes.
Back, to see the look on your face
when Lazarus awakes.

We have lain in graves
things we ought have saved.
It may be hard to figure,
but I did not come to mourn,
or weep in sackcloth torn.
I have come back bitter.
I have come with my hair shorn
and my hand on the trigger;
I have come, the grave digger.
I have come to make waves.
I have come to rob the grave.

I saw your heart break.
I saw you standing, frantic,
by a tombstone in the winter,
and lay a flower by the grave.
My purpose is much different;
I come to pull
a flower from the ground.
I come to cull
life where death was found.

I came to turn things around;
I came to turn
the world upside down.
I came to undo crimes,
and turn death on a dime.
I am here to extinguish the pyre,
and break open the urn.
I'm here to light a fire,
and watch it burn. 

I have not come to hope for the best,
or lay anything to rest,
or say my last peace 
I came looking for a fight;
I came to set things right,
and set in motion the deceased.
I have come the chains to break,
and see the look on your face,
when Lazarus awakes.

Have you not been remiss
over things lost? Endings worst?
Have you not wished
that it all could be reversed?
I have wished so often:
wished to dig up coffins;
wished to jump inside the hearse
and put it in reverse.
Do you believe in fish and bread?
I do. And I have come to claim the dead.

I have come to see earth shake.
I have come to see
death retreat in shame replete.
I have come to raise the stakes.
I have come to see
the look on your face,
when Lazarus awakes.

Anyway, here is what I came to say
(besides what I just said).
Here is why I came today:
I came to raise the dead.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Missing Stanzas

For Coleridge

Their lives, in Porlock, a dear friend mine,
but is has been a full seven years
since he and I raised cheers.
Silver quick does seven years pass,
but it seems only yesterday 
he and I made repast
on supper of locust and dandelion.
That night, we treated till break of day
on subjects sublime in arrays.
That night, we spoke of endings that last,
and suppositions divine.
Of friends, he is the best of kinds:
though he often is at fast --
he is oftener at feast.
Though, he often weeps,
he ever seeks for joy to find
in all things great, and all things least.

Yet, it came to pass, through circumstance
that we went near 7 years
without a single word.
We were not in the least perturbed
with one another.
We remained, as ever, brothers --
but never could we seem to cross our paths.
Our hands were too full; 
our days were too fast.

It so happened, a fortnight ago,
I fell into a mystical trance,
and traveled time and distance
to the place where dreams furlough:
a place for which I had longed,
but could never seem to go.

When I awoke, I held in my hands
a poem so grand as has not been scanned
since the creation of man.
I did not conceive it, I readily admit --
but I possessed it; or rather, I was possessed of it.
Though unworthy of its words,
it had been given, on some whimsy, unto me.
In a stupor of joy, 
like a sober intoxication,
I stumbled about for hours on end,
cherishing every last word of this, now my, poem.

It was a composition of beauty as made my soul pine
for things I had never even heard of.
It was a vision so pure, a vision I was so sure of,
as made me repent of past thinking.
At once, in my poem, I saw before me everything,
and I saw down to the heart of the universe;
I comprehended, in celestial verses,
a web of beauty spun with delicate design.
Suddenly, mysteries made sense;
suddenly, I could read the signs
which had 'til then been jumbled fragments.

It was a vision of such expanse
as made me wish I had a vaster mind --
it changed, forever, many of my --
till then, mistaken -- notions.
It was a vision of such expanse --
I held it in my hands 
like a child holding up the ocean.

To my surprise, when I regained my senses, 
I could still remember it:
all the verbs and all the tenses --
arrayed in immenseness,
with embroidery fine --
down to the last line.

I quickly set myself to copy this majestic poesie,
and wrote down 7 full stanzas straight from memory
in a matter of a minute.
I had 42 stanzas yet to copy,
but I was not in the least worried.
I wrote quick, but not in a hurry.
For, the remaining verses
levitated just above my eyes, steady, 
waiting only to be plucked from the air
the moment I was ready,
and set down gently upon paper.

I began the eighth stanza when
I was interrupted. Of a sudden,
there came a loud rap -- urgent, but not unkind --
at my door. I rose, anxious to return to my work,
to bid my visitor call another time --
but, there, on my door step -- Who should I find?
It was my friend from Porlock!
It was my friend! Returned, after 7 years!
It was my friend; my friend was here.

I greeted my long missed friend,
and then related to him that just then
I could not stop
to talk for I was engaged in a masterpiece --
or rather, was by a masterpiece engaged.
He would not be put off;
his visit, he said, could not be delayed --
it had been delayed too long already.
He burst in, and declared this day a feast.
I had not even known it was a holiday.
I tried, but could not, turn my friend away.

And so, we spoke for hours, and laughed, and sang,
and dined like kings on grace and wine,
and conversation nourishing to the soul.
All the while, in my mind, my poem rang 
with less and less volume until
it seemed only a tiny bell drowned 
in the voice of my friend, and the din of our laughter.
My friend left at dawn, or not long after.

It was only then, while lighting a candle,
I remembered that I was forgetting something of moment...
my poem!
I rose, and searched my mind for the remaining stanzas,
but found it hard to find my handle
on my pen. I tried to write;
I tried to write faster --
but the remaining stanzas had vanished complete.
They were gone; this gift given 
so soon was just as soon taken.
I admitted my defeat,
and tried to write another poem akin
to the one I had seen in my vision,
but word after word fell at my feet,
a medley of inartistic imprecision.

The words of the verses I scribbled
before the arrival of my friend,
I have still.
I have transcribed them, or one day will
in other rooms, with other pens.
The other words still unwritten when 
I was interrupted by the arrival of my friend
are lost forever,
and I must leave them for some other man better
or worse than me to write -- when the time is right.
Those 42 stanzas are lost to me, but I have no doubt
that someday or other some man or other
will stumble forth into the light 
and find them in a vision before him
and record them.

My extant poems are
just a fraction of the full vision
given in my trance --
out of 49, only 7, no more --
and I often read them with regret for 
what I might have written.
But, be not surprised if I tell you:
if I had it over to do,
I'd make the same decision.
If I had it over to do,
I'd still put aside my poem.

If given the chance to relive that night again,
I'd once more open the door;
I'd once more let my friend in.
I count that poem a treasure, 
and I have counted the cost
of hearing it sink beyond sound.
What a poem I lost!
Yes -- but what a poem I found!

I count my friend met again after 7 years absence
a better gift than all the words of
all the poems ever written
by me, or other men.
I can stand to miss a poem;
I cannot stand to miss a friend.