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Poems and Prose from Writers’ Workshop—2004

The Writer’s Workshop is a group of church members and friends who meet once a month to work on their writing together. Everyone is welcome to bring something they have written that they can share with the group.

Group members displayed the following poems as part of Arts and Faith Sunday.

The Child

A child born in love
A child to be loved
A child to give love
He crawls in quickness
He takes his first steps
His tiny legs race
His mother chases
His father laughs
He seeks to touch
Oh, how he questions
Watch careful this child
He was born to know
He was born to teach
He was born to heal
To give and give more
Beware of the leaders
Bewildered they scorn
How short was his life
Ending so quick
So cruelly to die
His cross was so heavy
He carried mine
 

© Robert G. Ahlstrom 2003

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Autumn, 2003: Haiku

Grey clouds dragged shaggy
bottoms in rose colored light
across evening sky.
 
Two skies: one, fiery
gold; one, blinding white gash through
grey, not bleeding red.
 
How accute Hesse:
soft glowing October day
Autumn at Snowbird.
 
Glowing October
day; bleak December
twilight: farewell, Jay.
 
Grey, cold, December
driver turned left to see him
too late: Jay Bell, dead.
 
“Do not ask for whom
the Bell tolls....” December fills
October’s promise.
 

James F. Cartwright

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In Memory of the Crucified¹

Matthew the Lord is my Shepherd²
I shall not want
five foot two eyes of blue
my what those five feet
could do
Terrible trampling out the vintage
frightening
one hundred pounds ah
Matthew you are too light
for this and the darkness comprehended it not world
 
They were frightened by your terrible
not the hundred pounds nor the five foot two eyes of blue
but the my what those five feet could do
the very essence the being the thought
 
Five foot two eyes of brown mother
intimidated the Elders of the Ward
she knew scriptures front and back
better than any of the young RMs³
 
Frightened intimidated they used silence
to put the woman in her place not pistol handles
held by the barrel
 
Terrified also when he said this my son
was dead and now alive
why begrudge me that I pay
the last the same worthless pittance
I pay the first?
the meek shall receive the earth
revolution five-foot two what you would do terrifies
scribes pharisees Church men ensconced.
 
Crucify him! crucify him! lashed flogged pistol whipped
fastened strapped to a pine log fence
wind blasted cold calculating hatred
fear left you
abandoned
alone
 

James F. Cartwright
January–May 2003

¹First line of Mormon hymn, “In Memory of the Crucified.”

²Matthew Shepard, five foot, two inches tall, 105 lbs, gay man enrolled at the University of Wyoming, was picked up by two young men about midnight 6 October 1998, taken out of town, beaten into unconsciousness, tied to a fence in the prairie and left to die. Discovered, by two bicyclists eighteen hours later, Matthew was taken to the hospital. He died in the hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, 12 October.

³RM is an acronym for Returned Missionary. In Mormon wards, the returned missionaries were the leaders in priesthood callings and were supposedly most informed in the scriptures.

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Two Visions of Divine Love¹

Tomoko Uemura lies diagonally across the bath,
her eyes set too far apart in her swollen face
staring at the ceiling
her boney arms and legs with knarled hands and feet
at awkward angles
floating yet held
in the outstretched arms of her mother
who looking down at the daughter's face
radiates gratitude for this
lovely daughter.
 

The body of the son, vacant, white, broken,
lies draped across the father’s arms
the whole of the father, visage, head,
torso, arms, exudes a colossal
grief, not merely sadness.
A tiny spark of light
flickers in the wings
of a dove in the
brooding sky above
but not from the
father only
somber grey
grief

James F. Cartwright
January–May 2003

¹With gratitude to the artists: W. Eugene Smith, Tomoko Uemura in her Bath (photograph), 1972; and Levi S. Peterson, “Trinity,” Canyons of Grace, 1982.

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Unexpected Water

What to do with unexpected water from above
     that washes smog from the sky and
          stripes the Ko‘olau with white
     that spills rainbows into ravines and
          fills nostrils with nature perfumes
     that flounders toads onto golf greens and
          shows the body beneath the blouse
     that sheens the walk with slick and
          provides puddles for little feet
     that awakens alley cans with a percussive cascade and
          muffles the park in petal-patter hush
     that opens umbrellas and
          slams windows shut?
Curse the gift?
 
Umbrellas are for those who would not be wet
     or cleansed
          or distracted from other plans
     for those who resist and
          choose not to take pleasure
               in the moistening mist
 
Too often we are umbrella people
     thunder in the brain
          heads down
               moving through
                    shrouding pain
 
So what to do with unexpected water from within?
 
Celebrate the gift!
 
Eyelids are soul umbrellas
     that block a meddling stare but
     do nothing to dam the cleansing flood
     that lushes what is parched and bare
 

Donald K. Johnson
5/18/2003

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On the Day of Pentecost
          for Calvin Henry Francis, Sr.

Down Westchester Avenue he tramps
Following the tracks of the El
Through the broken borough,
Trains thundering overhead
Like the sound of a mighty wind.
A new kind of Francis, this Francis,
Far from the fields of Assisi,
Far from the flow of nature’s beauty
Where birds and moon are family.
 
He walks with a flame of fire on his head,
The red wool cap pulled over his right ear,
Greeting confused people on the street
In slurred speech, each in native tongue:
Shalom Aleichem! Buenos Dias! Grüss Gott!
As if he were chief host at Ellis Island
Welcoming novices into the new world.
 
Hardly anyone notices anymore
As he shuffles from block to block,
Singing “Glory, Glory, Alleluia!”
Stopping to pick up a coded message
On a discarded candy wrapper or match folder
Announcing cryptically an apocalyptic end;
Picking a rose—“Yellow for the Holy Spirit;”
Smoothing out a piece of tinfoil—
“God shine on you and your family.”
 
Losing teeth, losing strength, losing time,
He plods down streets seeking a son or daughter,
Mother or father, human arms
To grasp, to clasp him in comfort and warmth
Removing the chill of lonely hallway nights,
Providing a household believing he is who he is,
Not drunk or drugged, but dreaming
Dreams belonging to old men.
 
Only phantom folds, not earthly embrace,
Cradle him, guard him, throw him
At the altar prostrate
Where, like home, without shoes, without shame,
Known beneath all knowing,
Drawn yet dreading to such holiness
He hears the gifting-gifted voices
Of angels singing in clear harmony:
“For he’s a jolly good fellow.”
 

Fritz Fritschel

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Woman, Behold Your Son

“And when did you have to leave?
I should know,
I know I should.
But the days are scrambled,
Cluttered in a heap.
Is it Tuesday?
It seems like Saturday.
And it’s only ten o’clock.
Only ten o’clock.
Time has no intention of flying when—
I thought it was afternoon.
And when did you have to leave?”
 
My time, end time,
Little time for—
“Where did I put...?
What was it I was going to do?
What did I come here for?”
Seems like Saturday,
People mopping up the floor,
Moving beds and pails,
Nurses scurrying down halls.
And when did you have to leave
To get here?
You came through L.A.?
I thought you would be coming
Through Lincoln and Wymore.
I don’t know why,
I should know—
I know I do,
I know I should.
 
Did we tell you?
The lady at the table is from Germany.
She doesn’t speak English.
We talk to her daughter when she comes.
     The next holiday is Presidents’ Day.
     The season is winter.
     Today is Tuesday.
They write that on the board
So we don’t forget.
 
The fleet of wheelchairs
Inches toward the dining room,
Silver-haired matrons
Outnumbering male drivers
By seven to one.
“Did I take my pill yet?
I don’t remember.
I should know,
I know—
So little
Time left.
What time is it now?
Just past ten?”
 
It’s not the number of hours that hurts,
But the how and the why—
Whose time, first time,
Last time, end time,
Drifting time, slipping.
Forgetting.
“And when did you leave to get here?”
I should know,
So far away—
I know I do,
I know I should.
I know I should
Know your name,
My son.
 

Fritz Fritschel

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Green Man

Clump of leaves
Branches of tree
What do you see
 
Take the time
Then you may see
A gentle face
 
Patient smile
Shows awhile
Nature’s style
 
Nature is nurture
Life force endures
Green Man’s nature
 

Jean-Paul Klingebiel
01-20-03

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antithesis of fusion

is not fission
cold or hot
is not always one-to-two
but sometimes two
that grow apart
on different lines
to otherness
where once was one
 
tonight the twosome’s only fusion view
is looking at the stars
 

Kathryn Klingebiel

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organo oceano

solo splendor on the high c’s
blaring, thrilling, rumbling g’s,
reeds, trumpets, whistles, bells,
half hour voyage through the night
with a thousand voices pealing
fingers and toes rowing
through the show-off swells of sound
the powerful flux of dark and white,
bright lighting here and there,
the moon above the storm shining
teasing whispering blaring groaning
the immense wonder thunder
 
the player barely seated, flying
rapt to steer the course,
ringing, roaring, resolving
 
head bowed, eyes closed
twenty digits on the final chord
bringing the organ into harbor
 

Kathryn Klingebiel
 
After hearing:
Franz Liszt: Fantasia e fuga “Ad nos ad Salutarem Undam”
Francesco Filidei, organist
Concerto d’organo (Organ Concert)
Chiesa Santa Maria dei’Ricci, Firenze
9 giugno 1999 (21:15)

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The Man Called David
          for David Breggren

A few would say this man
     gives just a token
But really he’s sure footed
     and soft spoken
 
Rest assured, we have all fought
     Only to question whatever was taught.
Was it attempts to please and try
     And then, it all go awry?
We just couldn’t see
     Eye to eye.
The days dragged on
     What to feel, say or do
Our jobs, that we all knew
Alas!
 
The mission came clear
     What each enjoys, right here.
It’s hope!
It’s friendship!
It’s value of self!
 
What else could this man, David,
     Ever have wrought?
 

Arlene Buss
 
David Breggren, director of PDMI
Physically Disabled / Mentally Ill Care
passed on November 30, 2003

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Ode to the Ohana Group

The task assigned was to discuss
A topic controversial—
Interconnectedness between
The sexual and spiritual?
 
In this regard, how can the Church
Be meaningful today?
Embracing diff’rences and same,
And bid Her people stay?
 
We did not know what to expect;
Did not know what to say—
We started slow, then snowballed on
Til time got in the way.
 
Different genders; different ages;
Backgrounds quite diverse—
We found that we were able to
Quite openly converse.
 
We shared secrets and confusion;
Shared some hopes and dreams—
We shared some values and some goals;
We shared some plans and schemes.
 
As we talked and listened and
Discussed our way through this—
God was watching over us;
Most present in our midst.
 
We’d come together just a few;
A grouping to discuss—
And in the process we did find
There was much more to us.
 
Perhaps if all the Church could be
A group like our Ohana,
The answers to Her problems would
Arrive like heaven’s manna.
 

Nedra Walker
 
1992
in response to LCH study of ELCA draft document
The Church and Human Sexuality

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Old Friends

We became friends, you and I.
I don't know when; I don't know why.
We were apart, then suddenly
It seemed you were a part of me.
 
We grew together, you and I;
We talked and laughed and sometimes cry
We moved together; moved apart —
Somehow we grew a single heart.
 
Now, even when we don't live near,
I hold your love for me most dear;
I give it back to you and then,
You send it back to me again.
 
This love that flows 'tween you and me,
Is oh, so rare; how can it be
That I was gifted finding you,
To be my friend my whole life through.
 

Nedra Walker

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