Long Live

I only write this way when there are so many thoughts yet none at all. I wanted to go to the top of the hill but I only came halfway (which feels like the story of my life) cause there’s a group of guys up there and I came to think and pray, not play the flirting game. Today is a red kind of day. The colour you wear when you’re too emotional to wear black and you suppose that’s cause you’re angry but you don’t know why. This micro red lipstick helps me stand out just enough to hide and these black lines framing my eyes are because I felt far too plain on a day I desperately wanted to feel alive. And thank God for the sunshine cause it’s life to my soul and this gentle breeze blowing makes me feel less alone. Ans I’m wearing these burgundy converse from Allison Kummer that have been all over the world and remind me that I am a poet, and you know what? I don’t know why it’s so important for me to feel known but it helps if there’s somebody who notices when I’m below average cause they see the fear of numbness in my eyes and the way my smile lies and I’m trying to remember the last time I was up here and why, but all I remember is the way I was laughing when he and I took pictures of dandelions and how he said he liked the way I read my Bible…we didn’t come up here enough but I think our friendship began the day we did, even though his girlfriend was dominant and I didn’t know she hated me till after the fact and it’s so strange to be back here now, the place that so slowly was added to my list of homes even though I’m still not tied down and I always thought I’d enjoy the taste of freedom but it turns out being held feels a lot better than letting go and God? Like a roll call – “did God show up today?” and I’m so used to hearing Him say “Present!” but now there’s not an audible trace of His Presence but I feel watched, like He’s daring me to declare that He’s not there, like He’s staring at me from behind one of those mirror walls that’s actually transparent from the other side but every time you look you just see your frightened, lonely self. And there’s gotta be some reason I’m on the inside looking out for any form of a friend, good grief I can’t even see around the next bend and I’m realising that somewhere along the line I became someone who ran away – from the look in their eyes, from the chaos in my mind, from the ache of feeling empty inside – but not this time. This time I choose to stay. And maybe that’s why I’m on this hillside trying to find the meaning of my life, by faith not sight, and why I stay awake some nights cause it doesn’t feel like my day can end without me having made a meaningful difference somehow. I study myself like a textbook hoping to see history changed but all I find are the same mistakes because I keep making the same choice to tell God He’s not enough but maybe I don’t need to feel like He’s here for Him to be willing and able to hear, maybe He’s a bit bigger than my predisposed ideas of His capacity to reach me and the people I spend hours weeping for on my creaking knees – maybe that’s what He means when He says His grace is sufficient for me, and I guess if true faith is being certain of what you do not see, to be sure of what you cannot currently experience with any of your five senses, that’s where a sixth sense comes in that so easily slips from our memory; the sense of hope. Because a life without hope is not really a life at all but a living death and I promise you, I’m past that now. I’m a new creation and my end product is perfection so maybe it’s time for there to be a resurrection of all those things I thought were dead, a rejection of the soothing slumber of depression and the ache of being afraid. Long live hope! Long live gratitude! Long live faith! Because that’s what Jesus paid for when He bought abundant Life. Really, we’re just getting His money’s worth.

Un-known

An ocean, an ocean

All I am is the waves of an ocean

I do not belong

To any one specific pattern

I come and I go

I dwindle and I rage

My glistening eyes, reflections

Of so great a sunrise

It leaves me nearly blind

My seeping breaths,

A silence and a sound

A groping lostness

And a being found.

I Raked Leaves, Today.

I raked leaves, today.

 

I raked the whole front yard.

I wasn’t told to – I had to.

I wanted to.

Because I missed you.

Because I’m trying to embrace this new season –

this Autumn season.

Because it is something I know how to do.

Because it somehow represented my whole journey

in this foreign-familiar land they call Steinbach, Manitoba

and I wrote poetry in my head

as my hands dragged the rake-head through the grass –

too tall, cause I was supposed to mow it,

But I was too uncomfortable for that.

 

I raked and I missed you.

 

You, with your dimpled, pink cheeks

that I have kissed saltwater tears from

Every time we say goodbye.

 

You, with your catch-me-though-you-can’t enthusiasm

and your lost-in-the-middle-of-somewhere blue eyes –

the artistic science of your ever-reaching mind.

 

You, with your family-sized heart

slowly bursting, breaking, tearing apart at the seams

that knowing smile, that doesn’t know why anymore.

 

You, with your strong-armed embrace,

though everything inside is slowly eroded,

still, that sweet-salty taste, with sweat and cologne, my home.

 

I raked and I tried to appreciate this place.

 

The climate of my soul,

like Autumn winds – blowing everything apart

loosening ties, reversing growth

or so it seems.

 

Merely a time, a season, a cycle

this too shall pass, right?

but why is it so hard to find a reason

to greet the mourning with fresh eyes?

 

All this empty space, all this meaningless space

do they even realize it is there?

do they even see me, on the opposite side of the street

trying to make all the fly-away pieces of trees meet?

 

A different world, a new world

not really such a bad thing

I feel that burning of muscles and tell myself I will simply stop

but I don’t, I won’t quit before I’ve finished.

 

I raked because of the unexplained impulse to rake.

 

I know I have darkness inside.

I find it there, when I lie awake at night

imagining the stars are pinpricks of celestial light

and the sky is merely the temple curtain,

soon to be torn in two, from top to bottom

when this all ends and eternity begins.

 

Maybe my pride is just an attempt to hide

hide from the lies that pry open the gaping emptiness

the loneliness, the fear that I am truly incompetent at independance

maybe it is a barricade, a compulsory boundary

since change is just an occupational hazard of living

but I am shriveling, shivering, like these leaves every time it freezes.

 

I was cold, not just my hands, which are always cold

but I worked up a sweat, I wanted to feel the effort, the respect

I wanted to be passionate, to accomplish something

I didn’t want to forget what motivation felt like

even motivation without any specific cause

because often there is nothing to grasp but the handle of your own decisions.

 

I raked because Jesus said “I am the Way.”

 

The way for the Church, His Church,

the ultimate Guide, Shepherd, herded his people

into great, colorful piles of humanity of which a good few

He knew the wind would drive away

despite his care to reach each one, draw them towards Himself

but others would remain buried deep

in fellowship, tightly pressed with barely room to breathe

but sheltered, safe, gathered in His name.

 

The way, upside down, for this world.

and I made clean, neat pathways with the fingers of my rake

like combing through the bedraggled hair of “the least of these”…

What if that was me?

Wouldn’t I plead in my wildest dreams for someone to touch me

see me, feed me, just be with me?

Why do we get so entranced in all of our comfort and convenience

that we forget we are the privileged, on the surface

But inside are we not rotting?

like all these dying leaves, we know no endurance

we need practice none of the everlasting, the persevering

we live for this world, this moment, this day

we forget what it must feel like to have faith.

 

The way for the never-changing story

of what was, and is, and is yet to come

I finished, stepping back, taking it all in

“It could be better,” I say, “But then, it could always be.

Perfect is for Heaven. Overall, it’s not too shabby.”

And then, thinking of the contrast

between the enchanted beginning and the decidedly stagnant present

thinking, that when Jesus stepped back

took a breath and gazed at the work his hands had shaped

He declared it was good with such finality

because it was His best, He’d done His best

and it was all of Him, all He wanted it to be,

there was nothing better, there could not be.

 

I raked leaves today.

 

And I had an epiphany that consumed all this beautiful-broken life:

We cannot linger here

not for very long, certainly

not forever

And that is how it was always meant to be,

how we were always meant to receive

with open hands, eyes, hearts

open to now, open to next, open to never

Mostly, open to Him who changes the seasons

Who demands from us a loss of control

and offers peace in its place

Who claims our broken hearts for His own

and begins His mission of restoration

Which finds its completion the moment we see Him

as we were always meant to

in fullness of all that is holy, all glory, all beauty

and discover the immensity of the truth

that this life was always supposed to hold more for us

than we clung to throughout it

and He, He was always meant to be the Most.

 

What it Takes

What does it take to remain?

 

The first eyelid fluttering decision upon glimpsing the new day

The first moan of being awake

Both by sight and sound, choosing to want to be alive.

 

Pressing flowers and leaves, pressing hands to hearts

Accepting all of the impressions they leave on you

Granting them the right to rub your corners and edges off.

 

A breathing in, the rain, the hazy glazed summer sky

Surrendering to the envelopment and development of the atmosphere

Staying still, standing in the grating and shifting of change.

 

Open hands, palms up, inviting,

All of the ways they will define you, being redefined

Celebrating the way it feels when your soul reaches back towards them.

 

Remembering, soaking in the quiet whispers of yesterday

Trickling water-colored moments down canvas cheeks

Surrounding yourself with solitude, just to hold the past in tenderly cupped hands.

 

Mostly, the steadfast art of hoping

Being lifted up and above, transcending the need to belong

Knowing, keeping the faith, that the best is yet to come.

 

That’s what it takes to stay, that’s how it is to remain.

The Scandals and Grace (IV)

Grace, amazing Grace bursts like lightning

Into my consciousness, into the room

There is wetness pressed to my lips

It slides down my throat, the sweetest extinguisher

Putting out the fire inside,

My eyes adjust to the light and I am shocked

To see the kindness with which He is gazing at me

He presses the jeweled glass to my lips again

An elixir made of freedom and unmerited love

It brings color back to my cheeks

I feel my charcoal soul restored, glowing with purity

My entangled, twisted mind is offered clarity like oxygen

A robe as white as snow is wrapped around my shrunken form

And strong arms encircle me in celestial warmth

How I always long to be held!

Pressing my face to His chest I weep gratitude

I cup confession and repentance in my shaking hands

Knowing they are not enough but they are all I have

Taking them with an aching, adoring smile,

He stands, lifting me to my feet with a force of acute care

Pressing me to his side, He addresses the cowering forms

Trying to mold themselves into the dust

I can only look at His eyes, blazing with abundant life

Listening intently to His voice, ancient and alive

Resounding with untold fury, ringing with unparalleled power

 

“Dark and Light are the same to Me

Because it was I that separated them at the beginning of Time

What is lost to you, is found by Me

And this child?

This precious, creature of My glorious design,

She is MINE.”

The Scandals and Grace (III)

Guilt, cloaked in black, the shade of hopelessness

Props up my head,

I feel as if I have swallowed the whole ocean in a single moment

I am choking, heaving,

Ever a gentleman, he cannot bear that I should suffer

Preserve my life why don’t you

Though I stumbled into this hell hole myself

His fingers are ice, his presence is the absence of comfort

He whispers more nothingness into my ears

Than my mind can bear to process

A deceiving lullaby, meant to perpetuate my anguish

Light is growing silent, fading

There is only the sluggish pump of my scorched heart

Shallowly aware, I resist the urge to stop breathing

It seems this would be the greatest injustice

That I would be free in everlasting sleep

Somehow released from the prison that is due me for my crimes

But maybe that’s the lies resounding in my skull

I can’t tell…I can’t tell anything apart anymore…

Maybe all that I am…all I was…is no more…

The Scandals and Grace (II)

Shame, with her sultry temptress smile

Offers me a look of mock pity

She has never seen anything beyond herself

I stagger backwards and she turns away

Idly reapplying dark lipstick

Her reflection flatters her

As if I am not drowning, from deep inside

I hear her muffled chuckle

I watch, frozen in a semi-conscious state

As her groping hands pull me close

The scent she wears is suffocation

With sickening calculation and precision

She smears dark streaks down my face

Slowly, deliberately, down my neck,

To my shoulder, slipping my shirt over my head

Removing my dignity, my pride, my pretense

Till I lie at her feet naked, shivering

Quiet, undeserved tears, leak from the corners of my eyes.

The Scandals and Grace (I)

Failure; a raucous, rancid joker

Taps a small glass bottle of some dark substance

It drips into a glass

Clear, pure liquid now growing dilluted

Tipsy, already laughing, he passes the cup to me

It sloshes in his unsteady grip

I reach out for it, before the stains spread

To any place other than the sides of his sneering mouth

And my trembling insides

I drink it, tasting the poison, knowing the bitter

Crying out, truth and lies wrench within me

Blending and mixing, burning with agonizing ferocity

All the way down my throat, into my stomach

Rushing through me, it knows its path

It has traveled there before

It has ravaged me before.

The Meaningful Sequence

(preface)

Like a dream within a dream within a dream

Are my worlds to me

I peer steadily at the fading shapes

Through a telescope fixed on the galaxies of my history

 

(I)

A childhood, a story book, pages turning

I twirl patterns through my room

With lilac walls, I am a princess inside

An immovable concept, the treasures of my sight.

 

(II)

A shadow, a darkness, a cloud blots out the sun

Endless streams of question, stained faces

Duly recalled and forgotten, we move

Whispered cries, rainy nights, Ich weiß es nicht.

 

(III)

Ice cold fingers, awkward loneliness

Home-less, quiet emptiness, my brittle core

Your little boy eyes tore me up inside

Go back to sleep but please don’t cry anymore.

 

(IV)

Mottled mixtures of sun and shade

But I still remember your face in the car

Your fingers laced through mine, sleepy goodnights

Echoing sidewalks, aching sides, laughing.

 

(V)

And then a swirling rush, torrential downpour

I screamed out for more and was swept away

The meaning of life, the feeling of truth

But where were you?

 

(VI)

A trying summer, a dying summer

Shrunken and dazed, a fallen star

Watery prayers, gathering glass pieces of me

With hope, only hope, to be whole again.

 

(VII)

Greener pastures, gulping, gasping relief

That night you held me as I cried

You challenged me to believe in grace

Returning, relearning, refining.

 

(VIII)

A mouth full of praise, a prisoner set free

When you taught me, you claimed me

Nothing to offer you, nothing without you

Every sunrise, every life, a being re-made.

 

(IX)

A picture window, a queen size bed

A battle to release everything they said

A stepping out, a diving in

Anything that ends must also begin;

Goodbye II

I broke into jagged pieces at the bonfire that night
When you said goodbye and the whole sky streamed stars
Falling and falling for us, for you
And when I collapsed to my knees the stones dug into my skin
And my words grew too thick or too thin
And I thought of heaven
And I thought of earth
And I thought that there's too much worth 
In tears and tight embraces
For us to remain in God's good graces
But there's so little value
In losing you
That it doesn't matter anymore 
Whether I get out of bed and crumple to the floor
Or stand resolute and choose
To never feel again.