“Crossing the Jordan”, Matt Alberswerth

 

From the journal Prometheus Dreaming ,  I liked this poem by Matt Alberswerth which has strong echoes of Ted Hughes:

 

 

Crossing the Jordan

Did the fish hear me when my ankle broke the surface of the water?

They followed your steps with their glassy eyes.

What moved the branch as I walked beneath it?

It was a hungry wind.

When it touched my hair did I feel cold and scared?

Only as scared as you should. Only as cold as you were.

Were my feet cut by the creek’s rock bed?

It drank what blood there was.

Something warned me as I crossed water. What warned me?

It was a barred owl.

What warned me?

A horned grebe.

What warned me?

A fox, its belly full of stars.

At the middle of the river, the water was up to my knees. What saw me?

The fox kept watch, its belly full of stars.

How did I know?

You saw its shadow from bridge. It was cast by the moon.

What did I see?

You saw the fox was a wolf. Mother of darkness, specked with snow.

What did I see?

You saw the she-wolf drag the moon down.

What did I do when I saw the moon fall?

You dunked yourself in the water.

Did the cold water choke me?

It did and it does.

When the dark water cloaked me, did I feel cold and scared?

Only as cold as you were. Only as scared as you should.

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“My Life by Water” – a found poem by M. Stone

I greatly enjoyed M Stone’s found poem “My Life By Water”, constructed using… well, you can follow the link to find out – and does it matter? It stands on its own merits as an evocative piece of writing with some interesting juxtapositions.

MY LIFE BY WATER
I rose from marsh mud.
I knew a clean man
I married
in the great snowfall.
Consider at the outset—
I am sick with the Time’s
tradition.
Keen and lovely man,
alcoholic dream.
I lost you to water, summer.
Now in one year
my life is hung up.
July, waxwings
hear
something in the water.
Along the river,
the graves—
traces of living things.

Writer M. Stone

I’m thrilled that my found poem “My Life by Water” is included in the new issue of Unlost Journal! Many thanks to the Editors.

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“Machinery” by Robert Wrigley

On what would have been my father’s 87th Birthday this poem by Robert Wrigley seems fitting. It captures something of the tension between the worlds of literary endeavour and the practical, literal workaday world ; a world with, as Wrigley writes, its own evocative vocabulary and moments of poetry:

Machinery

by

 

My father loved every kind of machinery,

relished bearings, splines, windings, and cogs,

loved the tolerances between moving parts

and the parts that moved the parts,

the many separate machines of machinery.

Loved the punch, the awl, the ratchet, the pawl.

In-feed and out-feed rollers of the thickness planer,

its cutter head and cutters. The barrel and belt sanders,

the auger, capstan, windlass, and magneto.

Such a beautiful vocabulary in his work, words

he knew even if often he did not know

how they were spelled. Seals, risers, armatures.

Claw, ball-peen, sledge, dead-blow, mallet,

hammers all. Butt, mitered, half-lap,

tongue and groove; mortise and tenon,

biscuit, rabbet, dovetail, and box: all joints.

“A poem is a small (or large) machine

made of words,” said William Carlos Williams.

“To build the machine that makes the machine,”

said Elon Musk. Once my father repaired

a broken harpsichord but could not make it sing.

The chock, the bore, the chisel. He could hang a door,

rebuild an engine. Cylinders, pistons, and rings.

Shafts, crank and cam. Hand-cut notches

where the hinges sat. He loved the primary feathers

on the wings of a duck, extended and catching air,

catching also the tops of the whitecap waves

when it landed. Rods, valves, risers, and seals.

Ailerons and flaps, yaw control in the tail.

Machinery, machinery, machinery.

Four syllables in two iambic feet. A soft pulse.

Once I told him what Williams said,

he approached what I made with deeper interest

but no more understanding in the end.

The question he did not ask, that would have

embarrassed him to ask, the question I felt sure

he wanted to ask, the one I was too embarrassed 

to ask for him, was “What does it do?”

Eventually the machine his body was broken,

and now it is gone, and the mechanically inclined

machine in his head is also gone,

and most of his tools. The machines that made

the machines are gone too, but for a few

I have kept in remembrance. A fine wood plane

but not the thickness planer, which I would not know

how to use. A variety of clamps I use to clamp

things needing clamping. Frost said

“poetry is the sort of thing poets write.” My father

thought it was the sort of thing I wrote,

but what mattered to him was what it did.

What does it do, and what is it? 

A widget that resists conclusions.

A crank that turns a wheel

that turns. A declaration of truth

by a human being running at full speed

in a race with no one, toward nowhere

except away from the beginning and toward arrival.

Once my father watched the snow

and noted how landing on the earth it melted.

He said, “It’s snow that doesn’t know it’s rain.”

 

“We have to remind ourselves constantly we are not saviours”: Jean Vanier RIP

Another appreciation of Jean Vanier, which ends with this quote from Vanier himself:

We have to remind ourselves constantly that we are not saviours. We are simply a tiny sign, among thousands of others, that love is possible, that the world is not condemned to a struggle between oppressors and oppressed, that class and racial warfare is not inevitable. have to remind ourselves constantly that we are not saviours. We are simply a tiny sign, among thousands of others, that love is possible, that the world is not condemned to a struggle between oppressors and oppressed, that class and racial warfare is not inevitable.

From Dante’s Woods: The Patience of Hope

From the Dante’s Woods blog:

The Church should model this too, as [Rowan] Williams says, “This suggests that the Church needs to be marked by profound patience: patience with actual human beings in their confusions and uncertainties.”3 There are some hard truths for anyone who chooses to belong to a spiritual community:

It takes time to grow up into Christ.

We grow at different rates.

Sometimes we reverse our growth.

“And if it takes time for us,” Williams says, “then it takes time for the Body, the community, to grow overall. Hope and patience belong together. Only a Church that is learning patience can proclaim hope effectively.”4

I witnessed this first hand in a little church in Canada, the last place my stereotypes of such a church would have allowed me to imagine it. Soon after we were married, my wife and I joined another couple in volunteering for a year to teach in a K-12 school and help out at the local church in a town in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

Not long after we arrived in the fall, a young couple was baptized into the church. Nothing unusual about that except that the two candidates were unmarried—and the young woman was vastly pregnant. The pastor, a kindly and humorous man in his fifties of Ukrainian descent—one of many Ukrainian families in that area of Canada—had a mannerism of fixing his eye on a spot up in the corner of the church while he preached and speaking with a broad smile on his face.

I can’t recall much of his sermon after the baptism, except his comment that this young couple had decided they wanted to join with the body of Christ and they wanted to bring their child up in the church from the start. It was now our privilege and responsibility to see that they had the love and support they needed from all of us. And he said, with a smile on his face and in his voice, that we could expect to see them up front again soon and we were all invited to witness their marriage.

My stereotypes—conservative church, conservative pastor—hadn’t prepared me for this. The community I had grown up in made such people invisible. While they would never have been publicly called out for censure, they also wouldn’t have been baptized. Conventional religious wisdom said these kids had gotten the prescribed order wrong: first you date, then you marry, then you have children, and, of course, you bring them up in the church because you’ve already been baptized, probably about the age of twelve. But here they were, a bit bashful but joyous, clothed in their robes and immersed not only in the waters of baptism, but also in the assurance of love and acceptance by their community.

This raises a fundamental question about the kind of community we think the church should be. Is it a place for perfected people who are safe to admit to the kingdom? Or is it a home for the spiritually halt, the blind, and the lame? People like you and me, in other words. Do we accept people into the fellowship in order to let them grow or grow them first and then bring them into the fellowship?

” L’amour, ce n’est pas faire des choses extraordinaires, héroïques, mais de faire des choses ordinaires avec tendresse” – Jean Vanier (1928-2019)

” L’amour, ce n’est pas faire des choses extraordinaires, héroïques, mais de faire des choses ordinaires avec tendresse” – Jean Vanier (1928-2019)

Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, has died aged 90. From Caramel Caramelo:

« L’amour, ce n’est pas faire des choses extraordinaires, héroïques, mais de faire des choses ordinaires avec tendresse. Je rêve d’un monde d’amour où les hommes n’auront plus peur les uns des autres. Il ne faut pas avoir peur d’aimer et de dire aux gens qu’on les aimes. » Jean Vanier.

Une lumière s’est éteinte. Si vous ne le connaissiez pas, je vous recommande vivement de voir qui il fût, simplement par Internet.

A light went off. If you do not know who he was, I recommend you look him up through the Internet.

“From birthday to death-day we continue to collect and weave together the materials of our minute private universe, as a bird builds its nest “

“From birthday to death-day we continue to collect and weave together the materials of our minute private universe, as a bird builds its nest “

From the always interesting First Known When Lost here is a post with a wonderful piece of 0rose (rather than poetry, FKWL’s usual beat) by Walter de la Mare:

“As for our waking traffic with the world-at-large — and how infinitesimal a fraction of that is solely ours — what a medley this appears to be: loose, chancey, piecemeal, formless. From birthday to death-day we continue to collect and weave together the materials of our minute private universe, as a bird builds its nest, and out of a myriad heterogeneous scraps we give it a certain shape and coherence, wherein to lay our treasured brittle eggs. But how little life itself respects the rational, adapts itself to our convenience, discloses its aim, explains the rules — despite the fact that every thread of it that is ours is weaving itself into a gossamer fabric thinner even than dreamed-of moonshine, which we call the Past; and which, when in recollection we attempt to record and arrange it and to give it something of a pattern, we shall call autobiography. Nature, inscrutable mistress of her vast household, even although man assumes himself to be her fairy godchild, shows him a fickle favouritism, destroys him if he ignores her, and is indulgent only if he obeys to the last iota her every edict, her every whim. She is; she perpetuates herself; as if she herself were bemused and in a dream — with her seasons and her weather, her greenery and stars and her multitudes; creating, destroying, never at rest.”