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Poems and Prose from Writers’ Workshop—2007

The Writers 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 examples of poetry and prose as part of Arts and Faith Sunday 2007.

LOST - - - -
       for a day.

Extra’s, extra’s, if you can

Upscale wedding held in Florida

Aunts and uncles of the happy couple.

Hey, that’s me,

I know how to do that

Will I “get the call”

 

Da Da dada

The phone rang

My glory—can it really be

That such an exciting thing

could really be happening to me.

 

Wardrobe—I’m not prepared!!!

What shall the “aunty” wear for

such an auspicious fete

“Thrift shops”—here I come

to set the style

You haven’t failed me yet.

 

Call time/early! Hurry and wait,

for that I was prepared.

But not for the overwhelming,

ridiculous glee that I would incur

Real “star” treatment for little ole me.

 

Make new friends, behave,

know your place.

A lowly “extra” you see.

Left gasping for breath

and thrill of it all,

"LOST” and refound

in my memories.

Peggy Anderson
11/12/06
edited 1/31/07

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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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Fair Exchange

The trio of travelers,

Treasures in hand,

Bend cautiously before the child,

Seated on the maiden’s lap.

The unlikely homage

For the magi—some will say kings—

Comes at the end of uncertain miles.

Matthew’s report—some will say legend,

Others parable, or historicized myth—

Still is classic quest.

 

Every tale is a quest—

So says Mr. Frye—

Searching for a pearl, a girl,

A secret passageway, a culprit,

A splinter of truth,

A glimmer of hope.

So we search.

 

But now—so ask some who doubt—

Has the quest become a question?

Is there any truth

Beyond one’s own perspective?

Is there any value

Beyond one’s own preference?

 

Can the exchange in this arched cove be our star?

Three gifts presented, yes—

Of some reported value.

Might the recipient be one who embraces value

In such a way to give value in return?

But what do the donors receive?

A splinter of truth, a glimmer of hope?

Every experience has exchanges,

Giving and receiving, reciprocally.

Every encounter exchanges internalized enrichment;

Value meets with value, mutually blessed.

Fritz Fritschel
Christmas 2006

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Cemetery Life

We arrived in the Texas noonday glare

with a fist of plastic flowers

to decorate mother's headstone

standing in a caliche field of cement bordered squares

 

Her wasteland garden of faded plumes

languished far enough from town to keep sorrow in its place

yet too far to pipe in moisture

to green its parched face

 

By day the yard is powdered with truck stirred dust

and shadow-blinked by vultures circling overhead

By night beneath the lonely dome of galactic light

it fills with coyote yaps and silence

 

A bony mongrel bitch with hesitant hobble

limped toward a central cedar dangling her prize

of flattened road-kill more than half her size

She settled in the husk of shade to tear her

dusty tuft of maggot-loaded jerky

 

I saw no den or refuge for the outcast

but marveled how this cemetery reject

existed above forgotten boxes of death

determined to savor every moment before

yielding her last breath

Donald K. Johnson
October 2006
Edited 2/19/07 2:55 PM

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Mouse Wisdom

Look across the way

a grey wisp of soft silken stealth

monitoring for terrorists

It's my neighbor

a wee gulp in the food chain

charged with homeland security

 

His binocular beads

scan for fangs of leather lightning

coiled in the shadows

Daily he twitch-samples the breeze

for creature stench fuming on the wind

Twin radar alert for fearful feather fans aloft

 

He too is concerned for the safety of his children

It’s a wonder how his kin learned to endure

dinosaurs

pestilence

and eons of bone crunching pounce

without learning hate and war

Donald K. Johnson
Rain Bird 2005

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Spin, Spin, Spin

I rushed toward home in a bubble of conditioned air and sweet radio spin

with a full trunk of groceries and a head full of projects

weaving the Saturday maze of people, buses, gutter-fumes

challenged by a blue fender on my left

A wall of white truck ahead with the moral demand in small black letters,

“If I am driving irresponsibly, call . . . ”

Suddenly my crowd of wheeled-metal boxes stopped

giving way to the intersecting lanes of gas guzzling chargers

In that moment I saw a rumpled young fellow falter by a bus shelter

bracing feet like his world tipped

a wave of body jerks hunched his shoulders

fingers splayed pushing against the air,

a wisp of agony twitched his lips fighting the smile

like an un-burped baby in sleep

Emaciated skull Vacant eyes Silent scream

The youth tried again to move down the street

tripping over his lack of childhood hugs

Blind without a white stick

Three more steps and he was startled by another spasm

The light changed and my traffic scrambled on

he slipped out of sight as the newscaster focused on Iraq

our national guard far from home died in droves today

nameless lives at war because we lead ourselves with flawed decisions

No Weapons of Mass Destruction

just destruction of their masses by our weapons

Not just crack in the head

Crack in the soul

Donald K. Johnson
2004 Rainbird, $100 prize

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Life

Light and dark

Hot and cold

Hard and soft

Sweet and sour

Spicy and bland

Life is full of surprises

Without, it would be dull indeed

That is why we seek the Lord’s Light

 

Enlightenment is our hope

The source of our faith

Jean-Paul Klingebiel
March 3, 2006

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To a Grand Daughter

It only took a glance

And I knew she was mine

So small at two weeks

And bigger now she is one

She knew she was loved

And she readily returned that love

 

She never forgot her Grand-Pa

Even after three more months

When she was but six months old

Long ago, then, she learned to snuggle

Her head leaning against mine

Angelic face and earned trust

A beginning of patient understanding

 

Eager for her rewards and her care

Never tiring of my being there

Always fond for my return

My reward but a heart melting smile

Jean-Paul Klingebiel
November 11, 2006

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AMAR AMARYLLIS

AMAR

mouth like a flower alive

she hides her petal lips

bitter heartbreak in the eyes

ten fingers weep

the window is too small to see through

 

heart like a flower in death

he lies asleep

like the jesse tree of the bible

living life pushing up flowers

from his black and white still-life of a body

 

red flowers of love and lust and life

kimonos with pale petal flowers

 

who envy the real thing in that other reality

which side the city of dreams and life and death?

AMARYLLIS

Kathryn Klingebiel
November 4, 2006

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Maia on her way

Maia’s b-day number one

now she’s one year old

number one girl

all those active teeth to come

number one smile

all that hair to shine in the sun

all those words shaping in the wings

number one heartstopper

take us with you

on your way to number two

Kathryn Klingebiel
October 2, 2006

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“your imagining”: subjective genitive

is it that I imagine you

the so-called subjective genitive:

does it subject me to you, taking me as subject?

or that you imagine me:

(indeed, objective genitive,

taking me to be the object of your dreams)

imagining of me long past,

a thing of memory in the night;

 

no matter:

my imagining of you stays

with me still, sees you clear,

object of desire the very subject of delight

Kathryn Klingebiel
April 10, 2006

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Chapel, Chaplain

In the fourth century, a young soldier named Martin served in the Eastern Roman Empire. He was converted to Christianity.

Showing great compassion one day he used his sword to cut his cloak in half and wrapped the other half around a poor beggar.

After his discharge from the army, he founded a monastery in Gaul, aided and advised by the great St. Hilary. Reluctantly he accepted the position as Bishop of Tours. He was known as St. Martin of Tours.

He became famous for his numerous miracles and his saintliness. So many sought his works that he finally took refuge in a nearby monastery, where he died in A.D. 400.

He became known as the patron saint of Tours. More than 200 miracles were attributed to him.

His cloak was preserved by the Frankish kings, who carried it with them into battle. Other times it was kept at a secret sanctuary. The sanctuary became known as a capella. Those who were in charge were known as cappelini. Those terms became chapelle and capelain in Old French. In English they became chapel and chaplain.

Gerda M.Turner

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Fascination

From earliest times, and even today, superstitious people believe that some individuals have the power to cast an “evil eye” on another person, or animal, destroy crops or cause injury.

In Greece this power was called baskania. In Rome it was fascinatio. To thwart this power, not knowing who might threaten one, it became the custom to wear an amulet, which was believed could nullify this evil eye. Because children were believed to be especially vulnerable, Roman mothers were very careful to see that their children were provided with an amulet whenever they left home. This amulet, or talisman, was called fascinum.

From this origin, fascinate meant to put the evil eye on another person.

This strict meaning is no longer used. However, fascination means holding one’s attention irresistibly. We are fascinated by a person’s pleasing qualities.

Gerda M.Turner

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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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Standing

God’s love—beyond understanding

God’s power—beyond understanding

God’s plan—beyond understanding

 

And here I am standing

Out in the rain

Here I am standing

Deep in my pain

Here I am standing

Again and again.

 

I see you standing—in spite of all

Your faith so strong—in spite of all

And envy you—in spite of all

 

Unfair in the standing

That you should have pain

That you should be standing

Out in the rain

And that you must fight

Again and again.

 

But you have courage—born of your faith

You have strength—born of your faith

You have hope—born of your faith

 

And there in the standing,

You are inspiration

Where others are standing

And live in frustration

When others stand lost

In pain’s undulation.

 

God’s love—beyond understanding

God’s power—beyond understanding

God’s plan—beyond understanding

 

God sees you standing

Out in the rain

God sees you standing

In spite of the pain

He knows you’re outstanding

Again and again.

Nedra Walker

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Who’s Screaming Now?

I am deafened by the screaming

One hears out in the night—

Hate, distrust, anger, pain,

Frustration, despair, fright.

 

I am deafened by the screaming

In the cycle of abuse—

When people will condone the power’s

Insane abject misuse.

 

I am deafened by the screaming

That doesn’t make a sound—

Yet manifests in hatred,

And echoes all around.

 

I am deafened by the screaming

That isn’t even there—

When vacant stare accepts despair

And silent din rips the air.

 

I am deafened by the screaming

That goes on in my head—

As the scope of human blindness

Fills my heart with dread.

 

Then when injustice comes to call,

Deaf, and blind, and waiting,

Ready to embrace us all—

I am deafened by the screaming,

And the screaming,

and the screaming,

and the screaming...

Nedra Walker

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