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Poetry and Prose by Writers’ Workshop (June 1, 2008)

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 Faith and Arts Sunday 2008.

Eyeing Weakness

What is it Saturday night when two

Phalanx each with eleven undamaged youth

Seek status through this popular civil sieve?

If not for thousands of enthusiasts the

World over to revel in their success,

Judge their skills hate weakness

Boo error covet win and

Suck up vicarious dominance?
 

What is it

When living-room-safe arrogant eyes

Ogle images on little glass walls of gladiators

Banging each other in left-brain brawls?

If not to sic cagey corporations into blue gloom

Rooms where they sink financial fangs into unsuspecting fans?
 

What is it Sunday morning

When a fragile bit of birth flawed life

Joins ten healthy hula girls at an altar

Singing and swaying right brain awe?

If not to grace a congregation as it honors the Holy One

Adorning all with a garland of poignant prayerful pulsing?
 

What is it

When the awkward moves of the Down's Syndrome girl

Are always late?

She fails to follow her mentor

Gently forgetting what comes next

Innocently unaware

Enjoying her place

Proud

Smiling

If not our weakness dancing in the eye of a loving God?

Don Johnson

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The Ins and Outs of a Good Mouth

Love smells of snuff and garden sweat coffee stains and urine

It permeated grandpa’s blue velveteen chair with its shinny sitting spot

“Eh poike yuu set herr unt still No yumpin yust set”

Out came the apple for pocketknife slices

One parchment thin so he could gum-munch it the next boy-dream thick

Followed by a wild knee-bouncing gallop with his chuckle-song

“Ree a ree a runken

hesta brate da brunken

ar skan nee go

yaska go a hymmmmmmma”

The coda a strong armed toss toward the ceiling
 

As a youth Grandpa escaped starvation’s mass graves in Fagerhult

Sweden dug each spring for the frozen cadavers of the winter dead

Successful American gardening showed at the waistline of his baggy pants

Suspended on canvas straps by weary buttons.

Each pair had a little round snuffbox memory on the back pocket
 

Safety smells of soap and old spice

The Third Reich had his son in Poland behind barbed wire

Slimming him down with turnip soup

So the family regularly gloomed around the war news

Sanctuary became a pew snuggled next to grandpa’s solid bulk

Feeling him rumble with song

He wore his teeth to church on Sundays and

To avoid an open mouthed musical oops

He slipped them back into a pocket for the hymns

Don Johnson

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Daughter of Violence

Rainbird 2005

Watching a ragged bag-lady on a

safety island by a cement freeway

column near the Kahala Mall.
 

I see them     I see them     hunger

tentacles     they think I'm rotting

blood slithered from that cement

column     shadows  

they have knives

blow a kiss to that car

then they'll think I don't see them

come window faces

eight dies for you

I will die again

left face march half face no face stop

red light about face

yellow flight   no light

this island lost its safe

lake water lick my toes

orders are disorders

lick my toes

do you like them?
 

Jesus Christ lady,

watch where you're goin!
 

oop American Legion

present harms

hedge hide

scream

vine the hedge

vining under my cloth   look

a place to grow

soap the corners

so Legion you have come

for the night

sun is dead
 

Mother, is she O.K?
 

Come child, the light is green.

Don Johnson

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Cemetery Life

I took piano lessons because I was anxious to play the piano. My first piano teachers were not professional piano teachers. They were school teachers who happened to play the piano. Sometimes there were no school teachers who played the piano. But I practiced.

My mother ordered a music magazine from St. Louis, Missouri. It had a religious bent. (Have you ever heard ‘Will there be Any Stars in my crown’ with variations?) I also ordered music books and popular ballads from Sears-Roebuck catalogue. My parents enjoyed hearing me play.

One day Lovise Christianson was visiting my mother. She was an elderly widow we had known for years. After some visiting, my mother said, ‘Gerda, why don’t you play a piece for us?’ As a dutiful daughter, I sat down to play one of my mother’s favorite pieces. I was playing and had almost reached the end, when Lovise asked my mother, ‘Are your hens laying any eggs in this cold weather?’

I continued playing and finished the selection.

Gerda Turner

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She Had an Addiction

We had a dog, Lana, raised from a puppy, that we dearly loved. She was a mixed breed. She weighed about 27 pounds, had a body like a pointer, with a tail that pointed. She had Weimaraner eyes.

We gave her the run of the house, but she slept in the kitchen.

At various times my husband smoked. He’d quit awhile and then resume the habit. As was the fashion, we provided ash trays in convenient places. Many of our guests smoked.

Suddenly we noticed that Lana would drool when she saw a lit cigarette. She’d stare at the cigarette, and actually drool.

We were horrified. Actually we hadn’t emptied the ash trays frequently enough. From now on, we emptied the ash trays as soon as they were used.

Whether Lana had withdrawal attacks, we don’t know, but she no longer had access to cigarette butts. There was no longer any drooling.

Gerda Turner

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revisiting the verb factory

a verb for standing under a tree motionless watching the rain

a verb for swinging down the railroad tracks weighing 24 tons and belching smoke

a verb for watching sunrise looking different every day

a verb for the packing up of yesterday’s unfinished woes

an adverb to keep things going

a verb for gathering friends and family into one

a noun for the celebration of finding one’s place

a verb for joy

and an adjective forever

say, did you know?

Arabic has a verb for “cutting off the upper end of an okra”

Kathryn Klingebiel

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the jam what am

jam wars: homemade jams

by the dozen dozen

girls, get out your spoons

this lady says plum

that lady: too sour

that lady says pear

this lady: so sweet, dear;

yonder says cherry

apple peach no berry

(each in her assured role

as jam judge of the universe);

each loves the others dearly,

but . . . when it comes to jam . . .

each only has the jam what am

Kathryn Klingebiel

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Ode to the Green Man

Smiling eyes, upon his gentle face

Green fronds spreading like lace

Little known spirit of Nature

We need you in this time obscure
 

We are late to see how

Nature is our nurture

We must be good stewards now

A base of our culture
 

Feeble but are we

Greedy for progress

Sawing branches on which we press

Save for the trees what are we?

Jean-Paul Klingebiel
Poem89 20080309

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Ode to the Trees

Leaves limbs and trunk

Only dust remains from the saw

Green memory in our eyes

Sadness in our heart
 

Alas all living things

Are but transitory

New life sprouts

Old trees fade away
 

They were faithful friends

Shelters from the sun

Yet they leaned over

A danger in our courtyard
 

There will be new saplings

In new places, new landscapes

New leafy friends to grow

Nature is in God

Jean-Paul Klingebiel
Poem 90 20080427

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Psalm on Liberation #1

And she said to me, “You have changed....”
 

Have I changed? Oh my God, have I changed.
 

I was enslaved. Enslaved to fear their words might apply to me:

fairy queer sissy girly,

you who could not catch a softball or make a free throw.
 

Enslaved to loathing me for not matching the ideal;

for not lusting to touch a woman on her breast,

for not yearning to worm my finger along her thigh;

loathing my being, yearning for the touch of a man.
 

Enslaved to the language of hatred and fear.

Captured by their misreading of inhospitality and cruelty as sexual sin.

Made captive of selected abominations:

men with men,

but not eating shellfish or mixing fabrics or marrying two sisters.
 

Have I changed? Oh my God have I changed.
 

Touched by God’s finger I heard

The good tree does not bring forth evil fruit

I had used the power to heal the sick, to comfort the distraught, to bring peace to the fearful

The fruit had been crisp apples, grapes, plump peaches, sweet and juicy

God’s finger touched me

I saw God made me what I am, part of the whole creation

When God looked upon that creation, he said, It is good
 

Have I changed? Oh my God have I changed
 

Free to choose. Daily, hourly, momently, I choose to be what I’ve always been, to be free, to rejoice in my wholeness

And if that basic choice were given I would

choose with loud voice and singing

Yes!, yes, I choose to be me, the whole gay man God intended.
 

Have I changed? Oh my God have I changed
 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Amen

James Cartwright

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Psalm on Liberation #2

I heard thy voice in the time of birds’ singing; in the dayspring thy voice spoke peace.
 

Isaiah heard thee and said he was undone;

the cherubim touched his lips with a coal from the altar

and he was made clean by fire throughout.

The burning beginning with his lips,

searing throughout must have brought pain,

Like the poet’s feeling your finger and finding you.
 

How long, O Lord, have I hidden away from you;

as Adam heard your voice and hid,

How long have I refused to hear, lest I find you?

How many times have you called in the evening.

How long have you murmured peace at the dawning of day, but I could neither see nor hear.
 

My voice in the evening was weeping; in sorrow I mourned for you.

The pain of judgment cut me to my core; the judgment of the people condemned me.

I mourned my loss and believed their evil report; my heart within me despaired of thee.

You are evil throughout; God has abandoned you for your perversion.

A lying tongue, a thieving hand, can receive again God’s grace; but you are an abomination forever.

Oh my son, you spoke, men do not gather grapes from thorns nor figs from thistles.

In the dawning, I heard thy voice and was made whole throughout.
 

Thanks be to God.

James Cartwright

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Earth Day Hymn

878744477
Tune: Bryn Calfaria

Stars have burst with blazing brightness,

Sending rays through spacious time.

In the dark galactic wideness

Points of light appeared sublime.

Stars a-whirling

Comets swirling

Planets twirling

Worlds are made from starry dust,

Worlds are made from starry dust.
 

Fossils tell a silent story

Of some creatures once on earth.

In the stones lie ancient glory

Of a time before our birth.

Dinosaurs

Mesosaurs

Pterosaurs

Of God’s constant lure to life,

Of God’s constant lure to life.
 

What was once mere formless matter

Now appears in beauteous shape.

Soil and water once a-scatter

Now becomes our treasured scape.

Lovely isle!

Precious isle!

Fragile isle!

Where we live in trust and hope,

Where we live in trust and hope.
 

In the forest and the ocean

Forms of life compete for food.

Many times in fierce commotion

They all seek their private good.

Nature’s violence

Victim’s silence

Fragile balance

While God calls the world to peace

While God calls the world to peace.
 

Now we humans have a mission

To sustain this wondrous world.

Filled with hope and daring vision

All our will must be unfurled.

For the future,

For our planet

For all children

And the world’s own common good.

And the world’s own common good.

Fritz Fritschel
April 2008

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