Sonnet on Psalms 130 & 131


Out of the depths I call to You, my God
Open Your ears to hear my desp’rate cry
Count not my sins, raise not Your fearsome rod
Forgive my doubt, protect me lest I die

I wait, I wait through life’s hard trials and fate
In blindness, loss and dark despair I grope
As watchers seek for dawn’s first light, I wait
Though faith is faint, in God’s sure Word I hope

With eyes downcast and meek heart I endure
No off’rings great nor wonderful have I
On God’s great breast I long to lie secure
With Her to succor me and still my cry

Oh Israel, I wait on Love’s bright shore
And put my trust in God forevermore

History Beautiful and Terrible



“When you step on this, you are stepping on history,” Woody said as we left the small screen room he built to one side of their Bremo house. Of course when we sit in the screen room we are sitting within history since Woody built it entirely from reclaimed lumber, some from an 1815 barn. But that stone that we step on outside the entrance? That was part of a lock on Thomas Jefferson’s canal that ran from Richmond to Lynchburg before the railroad filled it in and built the railroad line there.

And I stand on this stone, almost certainly put in its original place by enslaved people, as I leave the room timbered with beams almost certainly put in their original place by enslaved people.

The Caryatid at the Gates of Hell

[Rodin’s great never-completed Gates of Hell fascinates me, both in its entirety and for the renowned individual figures like The Thinker, The Shades, The Old Courtesan and, especially, The Fallen Caryatid. I also liked it for these purposes because Rodin’s sculpture started as a representation of Dante’s Inferno: today’s challenge from Rebecca was to write an ekphrastic poem: a poem about a work of art. So I tried to write a poem based on a sculpture based on a poem.]

Stone, fixed stone above me, squeezing

Me down into stone

Below me

Twisting, writhing


Men and women, demons and gods

Half-formed, straining, stretching, beseeching, reaching

Children and Shades

Squirming, thrashing

Abandon hope


[Where are my steady sisters

Standing so straight

Carrying their weights above their heads

So straight, so strong, so long

Where once I stood]


Now fallen I find myself among these struggling fallen

Francesca and her Paolo

Never then crippled

Now they coil forever in hell’s whirlwind

Ugolino and his children at dinner

Not where they eat but where they are eaten

The thinker, poet, sculptor, dreamer


Unfinished plaster cast in his studio

And my new sister

That shriveled old courtesan, the helmet-maker’s once beautiful wife

Twisted arm, poking ribs, hanging teats

Is this what I have come to? Is this where I must stay?


[Once I stood slender and strong

Surrounded by my sisters bearing our impossible loads

Our robes flowed soft in liquid stone

Our hair, thick and long, like Samson

Held our strength]


Until collapsing, crumbling, folding

Defeated I crouch forever at his gates of hell

Living in Two Worlds

A British psychiatrist once said, “We live in two worlds simultaneously, the internal and the external, and constantly confuse the two.” Or something close to that.

I think, similarly, we live in two worlds simultaneously, the eternal and the now, and constantly confuse the two.

Christ died to save our eternal lives.

Christ lived to show us how to live our best now lives.

The eternal is eternally taken care of, once and for all, once for all, by the cross and the empty tomb. Even if they be but symbols (as sometimes I think they are) what they are meant to symbolize is clear. Death has lost its sting.

But that does not mean that life has lost its challenge. We do not try to live the Beatitudes and the two great commandments to earn eternal life. Eternity is God’s business, not ours. And God has taken care it. We do not earn salvation like a Scouting badge. We are gifted salvation like a birthday present.

Ah, but holiness – now that is quite another thing. To be whole in the now. Wholly loving, wholly forgiving, wholly just, wholly confident of God.

That, now, is something we can work at, get better and worse and better again at. That is why I rewrite psalms, teach Sunday School, work for social justice, and pray.

That is why in eternity I will need neither faith nor hope but will live in Love.


[This is very much still a work in progress.]

Dark horses crash through my dreams
Crushing grasses and wildflowers
Muddying meadows
I run, clutching my fraying rope
Determined to catch hold and surmount
Tripping on roots and rocks
Bloodying my hands and feet
Panting, gasping, I run
With the dark horses
Finally, finally, atop my borrowed thestral
I turn back, always back, weeping for
The flower here, the grass blade there
That survives

Survives until the scraggly
Ravenous, sneaky day wolves
Devour the world
The pack hunts so quietly, so efficiently
Even my thestral, tethered,
Falls beneath their multiple mouths

No rope, no whistle
No charm, no psalm
No cross, no garlic
No holy water
Sprinkled sparkling drops
Banishes these memory hunters
These future eaters

Forgiveness is no kind savior
She does not offer herself for me
She will not still the horses
She will not feed the wolves
She will not carry my cross

She waits, crouching behind
One small flower growing
In the fork of one twisted tree
Almost out of reach
She waits
For me to stretch
Yawn, open my eyes
Rub away the sleep and tears
Stretch up and grasp
Her flowered home

Hansel and Gretel: The Movie Scripts

[Just having some fun today, after watching the second episode of the trilogy that Peter Jackson created from The Hobbit.]

Hansel and Gretel
Adapted for Peter Jackson

Episode One:
The Family Menace
A young man
Dominated by his
Secretly evil mother
Meets a brave young warrior
A good witch
Who gives him the courage
To join her fight
Against the Dark Web
A league of evil
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead

Episode Two:
Attack of the Gnomes
The good witch
And her brave
But psychologically damaged
Warrior husband
Lead the fight
To keep the forest free of
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead

Episode Three:
Revenge of the Dark Web
Our valiant pair
Fight on
As more of the forest
Falls to the Dark Web of
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead
(Pausing only
For the good witch
To birth her children
Hansel and Gretel)
Spoiler alert:
The good witch dies

In between Episode:
Rogue Witchkiller
Another valiant
But doomed
Mismatched pair
Find love and adventure
Stealing the plans
For the Candy Cottage
Being built by the Dark Web of
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead

Episode Four:
The Children Lose Hope
Ten years later
Our widowed warrior
Unhappily remarried to
A beautiful but evil
Warrior witch
Trains his children
In warrior ways
While his wife
Tries to kill them
With help from
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead

Episode Five:
The Witch Strikes Back
The evil stepmother
Tries harder
To kill the children
With the help of
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead

Episode Six:
Return of the Children
The original fairytale
Is contained
In its entirety

Episode Seven:
The Gold Awakens
Fourteen years later
Hansel and Gretel
Use their magical gold
To finance an army
To destroy
The bigger, better
Candy Castle
Being built by
The Darker Web of
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead

Episode Eight:
The Last Witch-burner
Gretel’s daughter fights
(Can you guess?)
The Really Very Dark Web of
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead

Episode Nine:
Working title: Black Gold
Not yet plotted
But we know
There will be
A good witch
A troubled man
Witches and warlocks
Goblins and ghouls
Orcs and ogres
And the Walking Dead
And possibly, probably
A bigger, better
Candy Citadel

For The Boys In The West

[Rebecca’s challenge for today, the middle of April, was to write a poem around the idea of a middle. The background of this poem is a tragic bus accident that killed 16 young men who were all members of a Saskatchewan youth hockey club. The poem is about this video]

“For the boys in the west
And all their parents
And everybody hurt”
In the middle of an empty

Hockey rink
Beneath the
Canadian flag
High on the far wall

A man

Chunky in dark clothes
Plays Amazing Grace
On his harmonica
As 16 young men

Skate invisible circles
“For the boys in the west
And all their parents
And everybody hurt”


Entries in a Dream Dictionary

[The “official” NaPoWriMo prompt for today was “…to write entries for an imaginary dream dictionary…” using one or more of several words. I was having fun, so I used all of the words.]

Tempest cup, my world and worries
Spill over your brim, into my dreams
Brewing ground for nightmares

Thor’s hammer, you strike my fears
Nail them into my dreams
Tethering bolts for nightmares

High flying gull, you carry away my pain
Soar me through sleep’s ether
Gripping talons for sweet dreams

Ballet slipper:
Soft slipper, you firmly tie my longings
Bind them for my waking
Dancing shoe in night’s sonata

Sharp-toothed shark, you pierce my failures
Chew up my efforts on razor edges
Blood-drawing carnivore of regrets

Wobbly table:
Uneven table, you hold my hopes
Balance them on too few feet
Shaking confidence in myself

Fearsome doctor, you excise my wisdom
Hold it up for me to mourn
Exacting physician of folly

Oared boat, you challenge my love
Dare me to risk the deep
Offering room for one more


Psalm 148

Praise God! Praise God with my best and highest
Praise God with all Her angels and great cloud of witnesses
Praise God in my light and in my dark, in all my shining possibility
Praise God in my best times, my brightest thoughts
Praise God who created me
Praise God who keeps me forever and ever, secure in Her embrace
Even in the depths and monsters of my depression
Even in the frosts and fury of my doubts
From my high points and my low valleys
With my best gifts and my worst faults
With my wildness and my work
When I am flying high and when I am barely creeping
When I think I am ruling my own life
Now that I am old, as when I was young
Through it all, let me praise God
God of glory, God of wisdom, God above all
May God hold me close, may God keep me faithful. Amen

With Apologies to DT

[Rebecca’s challenge to us today was to write a poem “answering” another poem. I chose to answer Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night]

I hope to come gentle into Your good light
Though now I burn and rave all my days
As I rage, rage against the rule of might

Though wise women know power is not right
Because their words drown in warriors’ brays
I hope to come gentle into Your good light

Good women, my last hope, shining so bright
Their bold tangos dance in rainbow bays
As I rage, rage against the rule of might

With wild women who sang the goshawk’s flight
But learned, too early, of jesses and hooded ways
I hope to come gentle into Your good light

Laughing women, wanting life, grab the radiant sight
Bound no more, our comets’ trailing fires blaze
As I rage, rage against the rule of might

And You, my Mother, there on Your glad height
Bless me now with your sweet smile and gaze
I hope to come gentle into Your good light
No more to rage, rage against the rule of might