Domestic Incident

I hear my neighbor smashing his guitar
against the wall. He’s done it once before
when in a rage. This time he can’t afford
to get another. They’re expensive things.
And yet he loved that wooden box with strings
more than his wife. (Their daughters sit afraid
and wordless under his bizarre tirade.)
Should I call 911, report a case
of spouse abuse? He hasn’t touched her face
or body, simply bellows that she keeps him
from his writing, hovers while he sleeps . . .
She wouldn’t thank me. She remains unmoved,
shelters her little girls and simply waits
while he destroys the only thing he loved
rather than strike the woman that he hates.

“Domestic Incident” by Gail White

Published in First Things, November 2015

Narcissus” by Caravaggio, 1597

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Rest, Truly

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Dear refuge of my weary soul,

Bastion for this tired heart

Outstretched arms that wait for me

Is this true? Are You not?

 

Come home, all ye heavy laden,

Wandering feet, stumbling tread

Painted on these signs and songs

Yet unsure of this path and end

 

Dear saints, I will give thee rest

But truly rest, from this, from You?

Is this burden from your arms

Or these sleepless hours gifts undue?

 

Jesus, I am resting, resting

Restless in the hands of rest

Hands that give and take and reach

How can these thorns be Your best?

 

Nearer O my God to Thee

Against these that would woo my soul

Out from under, up from below

Wondering, waiting, yet unwhole

 

And yet, How Long, O Lord?

For weary souls to wander home

And will they, Lord? Will they surely?

Will we find Your rest alone?

 

Be Still, my Soul, truly still,

Still in arms of wrathful love

Quiet in a spacious place

Waiting for He who does

 

Before the Throne of God above,

Though we did not ask to come

Footsore, forlorn,

Learning of the love of One

 

O Love that will not let me go,

Incarnate Lover, Severe Mercy,

Wrath of God, Son of Man

Joined to us, the too-long weary

 

It is well with my soul

Well and good and healing yet

Knit with Spirit, flesh and blood

Marked as His toward final rest

 

When the shadow lands are done

When the saints come truly home

When my faith shall be my sight

When my flesh shall seek the light

When this pain shall have no grip

When these feet shall never slip

When these hands shall be remade

When this crown at His feet laid

When all is right and all is new

When this soul knows this as true

 

To You, O Father, let us come

Joined to Jesus, heirs with Him

Marked by Spirit, paid by blood

 

This is rest; life within

This is rest; love undimmed

This is rest; truly Him

Ode

“Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

Comparisons

If I set the sun beside the moon,
And if I set the land beside the sea,
And if I set the town beside the country,
And if I set the man beside the woman,
I suppose some fool would talk about one being better.

-G.K. Chesterton

12 DEC 2016 [safe journey, little brother]

Safe journey, little brother.
Hand high, head higher
Tall with things promised
Tall with self to prove
Sworn to be selfless
To bear and defend and
Become less of one
You will yet bear more weight
Than the promises you swear
While the things forsaken
Forever weigh heavy

Safe journey, little brother.
Firm stance on yellow footprints
Firm feet on solid ground
Heart flag staked
To God and country
Or country and God
Where is your heart?
To Whom are you promised?
To us, to them, to all
That you truly love?

Safe journey, little brother.
With sun and sand
Water and wind
Overcoming with struggle
Easy, someday
Less so than words
Unrelenting and seeking
Your heart and soul
And body. All.

Safe journey, little brother.
While Christmas comes
We will make snowmen
Melting shapes, making cheer
With sticks and stones
You will be remade
By words and men,
Sticks and stones

Safe journey, little brother.
We will pray and write
Pennies and postage
Sending words, just words
Pieces of our days
Words that you will not hear
There, until home again.

Safe journey, little brother
Keep your oath
We will keep ours
Prayer for your journey—
In Whom do we hope?
That you might be kept

Safe journey, little brother.
These words and prayers
Threads between coast and heartland
Will not spare you
From the breaking of self and soul

Safe journey, little brother.
Come back as new
Remade as a man
By God first, country second

Safe journey, little brother.
In losing self and all else,
Do not lose Him

Safe journey, little brother.
Hand high, head higher

Safe journey, little brother.

A Cradle Carol

Lord Jesus, Savior, infant weak,
Why come to earth as one so meek?
A newborn babe, helpless and small;
And yet Creator of us all.

Thou hast no beauty, form, nor grace;
No fortune, rank, no fame, no place
That men should see Thee and adore
A babe so humble and so poor.

But to the soul whose eyes are healed,
To whom the Truth has been revealed,
Thy glory challenges the sun;
Thou art a thousand joys in One.

Though strangers see a babe in straw,
Thy children see the Lord of all
Who laid aside His rightful reign
To take away our sin and shame.

This sacrifice of love divine,
This condescension to mankind
With beauty robes Thy lowly frame,
And sanctifies Thy simple name.

O aid my worship, Mighty King,
That I might with the angels sing,
“Glory to God on high!”
Now crowned again beyond the sky!

Oh, help me see Thee and adore
This little child, my God and Lord.

Lyrics by Rebekah Pringle

Autumn Movement

 

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I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman,
the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things
come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go,
not one lasts.

“Autumn Movement” by Carl Sandburg

photo: mine; what once was.