triptych

limbo

I. ABSENTIA

I wake to the wrong
in this unfamiliar,
for never have I known a day without breath, or
a moment bereft of Divinity.
It is all anti- and un- and non-,
a string of empty sentences,
a filmy negative:
Absence.

It sticks to me,
seeping in through cell walls.
Pitch and tar: a network of scars dissolving under
translucent skin,
as if blood was black
and black was blood.
Midnight is needling in my veins,
and for a moment there is
the violent silence between spark and ignition,
and blood bursts into consuming flame.
I, too, consume
the void.

II. LIMBO

Waiting was never easy.
The frequent settling frosts coat the fields in cobwebs.
My ancient static stations have (of old) been places picked clean, and
the cross circles my dead, suspended by a thread invisible.
What place do dreams have here?

To me it is less about
isolation or overpopulation
and more about the amount of me present nowhere and now.
To me it is less about
blinding light or stifling dark,
and more about who is blocking both.

In limbo, loss has a name, and you hear it echo
in the sobs of songbirds,
in the chimes of bell towers,
in the muttered mantra:
“He left.
He left.
He left…”

I notice the dive
more by motion than intention, as it stutters on my cheek,
and blinks an eyelash on my temple.
How close you are, and how far:
close enough to be tremulous, far enough to prove it:
What place does hope have here?

To me you are more about
incense and entrance through thicker smoke,
than you are about breathing easy.
To me you are more about
affection and caress and the touch of lips to life and limb
than you are about washing hands.

In limbo, loss has a name, and you hear it echo
in the weeping of the women,
in the ring of nail through bone,
in the splash of viscera on sand,
“Come back.
Come back.
Come back…”

What place does
love have here?

III. ABSOLUTIO

Once I dreamed
of a blackness silent but once, to speak:
“Release”
and all else fell silent.
In the after-echo was a gathering storm
of pinpricks,
as if the veil overhead was pierced by
a million falling angels
and filtered through the ensuing sieve a beckoning increase.
It was the edge of glory,
the very margin of a sweeping light.

Then the microscopic became fearsome
and tore the world from its hinges,
picked it up and shook it in joyous canine frenzy.
We were fetched, and brought forward,
and thrown far afield to return,
to ever return,
to ever turn.

And the light blinded us so that we might see,
through spit and mud, the ceiling we knew
split from side to side as a ribcage parted,
to reveal
the figure of Utter Fullness
ascending,
a Lamp to light the way and to gather all lamps in radiance.
In the train of rising trumpet blast,
there was a thrum of budding thunder
as infinity bloomed.

I paused,
remembering my hell.
My Lover slipped His left arm under me
and embraced me with His right,
and stripped me of my chrysalis,
and I took flight.

new wine

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(for Easter Sunday)

This day is relief,
As the earth vomits up Someone it is not equipped to keep,
As the weight that dove graveward two days back
Now stretches the world
Beyond taut belief,
Beyond boundaries and limits.
The tension builds to climax
And glory vaults skyward, in trampoline spring.

And we are stretched also,
Pressed down, shaken together, and running over
With the Undefinable that defines all things.

It tires me out, this glory.
The resurrection is both half and whole,
A seamless salvation in a sewn and tattered soul.
I just keep waxing worn and thin.
Who’s idea was it to put new wine into an old wineskin?

Brothers and sisters,
(Speaking of wine)
Today is the day to drink deep and be merry!
Let yourselves forget for a moment
The troubles of life on this earth.
Heaven’s hilarity has crashed in upon us
And laughter is echoing inside and out.

See it, green and tensile, bursting in buds and wild with heat.
Breathe it in, fragrant and alluring,
Feel it, rippling and supple to the touch.
It repeats itself time and again until we listen,
It copy/pastes until we see:
That He will make what is not, to be.

Everything is beautiful, now and then.
This day may be the brightest now,
But we have yet to see the rest.

“What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.”
Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler)

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
hatch

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

hatch

IMG_6932-2

(for Holy Saturday)

Much of life seems to be waiting,
In spaces between events.
And somehow all I want to do in those silences
Is fill them with speech.

Better yet to forego the making of many words
And instead sit quietly for a while,
Being, not doing,
Letting God do the heavy lifting.

Time waits for no body
But the one who hangs above the Skull.
I can wait a day,
And anticipate the hatching of the Sun.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler)

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

black and blue

img_0679-2_28383424416_o

(for Good Friday)

The gloves are off.
And on this black and blue day,
The earth is beaten systematically,
Bowed head to bloodied toe,
Bruise upon bruise and
Blow upon blow,
Until rips radiate from rendings,
Unsewable and unsalvageable,
And black and blue mingle to crimson
And the blood on the floor is
The blood of God.
Would that we groan under this gravity,
And buckle at the breaking of His heart.

Here,
Naked God is
Affixed to naked cross.
And in response
The clothing of the temple is torn in two,
Revealing all, to all, for all.
This is intimacy at its most shocking, and unashamed.
Here is God, the Exhibitionist.
Nobody wants to see that.

Look at Him.

See Him bleed.
It’s not pretty.
See Him suffer.
It’s not simple.
See Him die.
It’s not easy.
It’s never been easy.
It’s not supposed to be easy.

So shut up for a second and
Look at Him.
It’s not Easter yet.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to tear, and a time to sew…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler)

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
hatch
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

we gather together

img_9120-2_28337675181_o

(for Maundy Thursday)

Eat with us,
Here on dirty floors, redeemed with threadbare cloth.
We gather together
To eat with You,
People of dirty and barren hearts.

“Loyalty and courage”
Ideas of importance and impracticality,
Ideas that hold weight in our mind’s eye
But won’t hold water in Your world.
You know that stones scatter.
Despite all our grand and daring schemes
To be better,
To be holier,
To be closer,
We remain, scattered in dust.

But even stones can sing.

You,
Who nailed Your arms open
To gather the world under Your wings,
Gather us now in this place and the next.
The willful and the weak,
The pompous and the poor,
The ruined and the rash,
The hopeful and the whore,
As stone-hearted as Pharaoh,
As forgetful as Your people,
As fearful as Your disciples.

Break Bread,
Pour Wine.
That we might eat and drink of Thee,
And not just remember, but be.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler)

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
hatch
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

all will be new

IMG_6665-2

Hello little flower,
Welcome to the world.
Spring is wide and full of wonders.
You are born of something wilder than it,
That shoots up through new stems
And pulses in the bud.
You will slake your thirst on rain
And curl your toes in soil,
And grow.

You’ll survive the bluster of summer storms in the company of many,
And push clouds back by iridescent proclamation.
You’ll lose some petals, and maybe even come away bent,
But you’ll still spread your fragrance and be visited by bees
In the long languid tracks of the day.
In the brief nights you’ll close your eyelids tight against the cool,
To wake again at dawn and be beautiful.

When autumn comes
And nips at your heels,
Muster your courage.
The days will shorten fast.
Knowing your end,
The bending down to earth
And the partaking in the fall,
You will curl your petals in close one last time,
And burst in brutal release.
Frigid dawn will see you hang, brown and withered on the stem.

White winter will cover you
In a snowy grave.
And you will be forgotten
Under drifts and pillows,
Solitude and iron earth.
Winter will think it has won
And mock at your death.

Wait until spring, little flower.
All will be new.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler)

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
we gather together
black and blue
hatch
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth
battle-blind

battle-blind

IMG_6789-2

(For Palm Sunday)

Trample our foes
Under metal-shod heel
Under ramrod doctrine
And volumes of steel.
You are, in our red-rimmed and battle-blind sight,
A war horse for nothing but wild-eyed fight.

Wield your savior,
Oh tyrants and slaves,
Sharpen him,
Ready your god for the war.
Forget all about how He came on a colt.
It’s foolish to think He would come for the poor.

Palms ready now,
To deliver the blow
To the face of an enemy
You hardly know.
Arm your children with verses
Hosannas arise!
Raise them up in the knowledge of
Shrill battle cries.

Brandish the Infant,
The Shepherd, the Lamb.
His Gospel is Peace
And Mercy toward man.
When He bleeds in a week
And your paradigms die,
Just focus on future pain
Etched in the sky.

When true judgment comes and you’ve spent lives in war,
And the blood of the nations drips thick from your sword,
Perhaps you’ll be shocked at His judgments that day.

Perhaps you forgot Whom He came down to slay.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time for war, and a time for peace…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8b

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler; illustration by Pauline Baynes.)

Words for the Church: Holy Week
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
hatch
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth