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Poetry and Prose by Writers’ Workshop (February 13, 2011)

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 & Arts Sunday 2011.

2 a.m. Raging Calm

Pulsing lights rest on the tarantula

Legs dripping, entangling beats together.

Across the floor, visible musica.

 

Arachnids color the dim floor, Flora

along a black landscape, they maneuver.

Pulsing lights rest on the tarantula.

 

Hyper skanking to downbeats, Mascara

bleeds from their eyes, a frenetic fever.

Across the floor, visible musica.

 

Their language is oil; slick, swirly aura

Beats creating movements, resting for never.

Pulsing lights rest on the tarantula.

 

Creator hands moving them, Euphoria

spread by audible venom cause quiver.

Across the floor, visible musica.

 

Base surges. The nest disperses. Gamma

rays from a star, one remains the center.

Pulsing lights rest on the tarantula

 

Across the floor, visible musica.

Paul Benco

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Solo

Whispers of Mary fiddle and kiss the moon’s

white ring.

Scales of the neck hum, pierce,

release their tension. absence.

Wings begin to strum the night, dense black,

black joints fondle, brush its

neck. Dart upward, down. lotion fade.

Terra rises and falls,

waves of air rise and circulate

throughout the land, hashish coated.

Frequencies of light rupture

across plains, villages, intersections

guitarra held upside down, right side up under

the equator on “Highway Chile,” dilutes, soars

through masses’ life traumas.

Tears slip from owl’s gaze,

create valleys of slippery oil, crawl through

desert shade, deltas.

Blues scale back-up owl’s penetration

into the inner space of the octave.

Feather fingers slow their upbeat,

downbeat swirl towards its Sand castle. coast drift.

Peddles trill the floor, pebbles remain in motion. eyes close,

little Wings press in,

alone,

remains,

waiting for Tomorrow to come.

 

can’t.

 

Knife slits of two gray irises reverberates the owl’s

feather strings. shadow wings spread, flutter to the window.

Claws ravel the windowsill, splinters pluck

owl’s feet. Keeps grays on sill, feet swishing forth back,

red flow creates wet eyeliner to weep, red House.

Fever burn in wrists, neck feathers crumple together, He

looks up, scours the land.

voodoo hum.

Grip loosens, leaps, leaves red drips along desert pain. swivels long neck,

but never looks back. windowsill left open for other owls, but none

can find Jimi’s castle, soon to slip from existence. yet, his wings continue their strokes,

solos continue to bleed our lives, guitar our wings.

Paul Benco

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The Corral

Six months after CT graduated from the “U” in the spring 1923, Mr. Reynolds told him that he was going to buy a small farmstead in Draper with CT’s share of his mother’s legacy. They would move together to Draper, and both could commute into the city on the Interurban, Mr Reynolds to his post in the city government office and CT to the accounting job with Frank and Pearsall he obtained following graduation, with a little help from “it’s not what you know, but who.” Mr. Reynolds was not against letting people know he had married Louisa Taylor.

“Why?” CT asked.

“Oh, we’ll have a few chickens and a garden plot, maybe a beef calf for fattening”

“Why? We’ve never farmed. You’ve never even grown a garden. Why?”

“I think a new environment would be good for you.”

“Good for me? What’s going on?”

“Maybe you should tell me.”

“Tell you what?”

“You haven’t gone to church for over a year. You spend your time with rowdies. Folks have told me they’ve seen you on Second South going into some of the speakeasies. And you spend a lot of time with that....”

“With who?” CT demanded, knowing his father didn’t know Roger’s last name.

“Look, it’s time you started to live up to the church’s teachings. Your mother and I both come from stalwart pioneer stock. You should be preserving your reputation.”

“And what about Wilbur and Mary Louise and Lucinda? They probably don’t go to church either. The “change of environment” to Chicago and San Francisco didn’t make them active in the church.”

“I don’t care what you say, the decisions mine and the arrangements are made. I’ve had Mr. Boren, the realtor, find a place. He located two and I’ve already selected one. We move at the end of the year.”

CT did not really take to the farm work with a great deal of enthusiasm. After a day of office work in the accounting firm, then a trip by the Interurban, he didn’t relish feeding the chickens, gathering the eggs, and giving the steer some hay and grain and filling the water tub in his pen. Weekends could be worse. Eventually, the chicken coop needed to have the roosts scraped and the floor straw replaced. Chicken manure would get fairly strong if left to accumulate too long. Likewise the calf had a roofed shelter which over time accumulated a lot of manure. And of course CT had to buy and haul the hay, grains, and laying mash these animals consumed from the feed store.

Towards the end of the summer, CT had the chore of finding a butcher to slaughter the calf and cut it up for storage. He found a meat company in nearby Sandy which had freezer space to rent to customers who didn’t own home freezers-most people, in fact, in the south end of the county in the 1920s. He paid them to come to Draper, pick up the steer and haul it to their facility, slaughter it, cure it and cut it up and freeze it. The terms were half of the animal and five dollars a month freezer rental. CT had no idea whether that was a good deal or not. He accepted and signed the agreement. It was nice over the next few months to have a roast of beef or good hamburger. In early spring, when he went to the locker space, Mr. Snow asked if he wanted to buy another yearling calf that spring.

“I think I can find you a nice Hereford calf if you like.”

“What is a Hereford?” CT asked.

“That’s a good breed of beef cattle. Most people around here use Holstein steers cause they’re available from all the diaries. But they don’t make as good a beef animal. They’re tall and lanky; Herefords are squat, broad shouldered, with shorter, thicker legs. More meat on them.”

“Sure, I guess. I mean it’s been good to have the beef we’ve had this winter. I guess I should ask how much it will cost before I commit.”

“Tell you what. I’ll locate the calf and if it costs too much for you, maybe we can make some kind of a deal. I have customers here from cafes in Salt Lake City who don’t want diary cattle, so I can sell any Hereford meat I get.”

So for his second summer in the country, CT had a steer to feed and water.

James F. Cartwright

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Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” as if written by Ambrose Bierce

A young woman stands on a high, rocky cliff, off her island realm,

stirred by the passion of the swirling waves of the sea below.

All is bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine,

She thinks only of the man she loves and his love for her.

 

Ah, how beautiful she is!

She turns, fresh and cool and sweet, and steps down to meet me.

Her smile is of ineffable joy.

With matchless grace and dignity she moves, my Annabel Lee.

 

In our kingdom by the sea, without thought of time or world,

we loved with the greatest of loves.

I, her life and breath, and she, the treasure of my heart.

The winged seraphs of heaven coveted us.

 

Now, again, my bride lies near me, her gown fluttering in the breeze.

One last time, my hands touch her soft, flowing hair.

Caressing her skin, I disregard the distant call of my regiment.

Holding back, I stay in the embrace of my memory of her.

 

Two soldiers come over the ridge pulling a wooden cart,

looking small, but purposeful, in the expanse of the timeless landscape.

One waves his arms, motioning for attention;

they are pressed to gather the troops, bury the dead, and reassemble.

 

Annabel Lee lays strangely stiff on the returning cart.

An expression of anguish still registers on the remains of her face.

One of her arms falls freely over the side, dangling by the white tendons.

Occasionally, her fingers sweep across the wet, green meadow grasses.

Karen Fay

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Feeling lonely?

Even making a simple meal involves many people in a grand human chain. Some have produced the ingredients, some have provided transportation and distribution, and some have designed and made the tools we use. In everything we do, many hands join.

And then, think of prayer. Some individuals, ailing in bed with faith alone to hope in, send up prayers each day for our struggles. Others have turned away from the activities of life and are devoting themselves even now to days of fasting for the troubles of humanity. Many offer prayers for us in monasteries, quietly and faithfully, day in and day out. We are never truly alone in our journey.

Karen Fay

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Feeling powerless?

We were each born with a wondrous and unique essence that transforms the world. We have an important role to play. As Thomas Merton writes, without our love, others may not become who they were meant to be. Stated simply, we belong. In the same way, receiving what others have to offer is also important in becoming who we are meant to be. Even if we find others difficult to relate to, we can grow and change in response to their God-given nature. (Merton, T. (1955). No man is an island. New York: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. )

Karen Fay

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Feeling penniless?

It’s true; the most precious gifts we can give others are free and transcend all eras. Some of the most influential people have come from lives of poverty, yet have risen to great heights because they have been given true riches in life. These gifts include honor, integrity, charity, courtesy, goodness, kindness, humility, decency, and clemency, to name a few. There will always be an immense storehouse of these treasures to draw from.

Karen Fay

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She Looked Up

She looked up; the light drops of rain brushing her face meant a downpour on its way. Instead of hurrying on, she lingered for a moment, content to let the changing landscape fill her senses.

A few small grey birds on bare branches nearby held their posts, arranging and rearranging their feathers in the gusting winds. Straw-colored field grasses flattened as random breezes raced in various pursuits through the low hills around her. Dried leaves whirled up and took flight. Scatterings of sturdy perennials waved long stalks of faded purples back and forth in the expanse before her. Across the way, the deep, majestic stirrings of air rushing through the heavy boughs of evergreen trees began to rise and fill the air. Such a sound! She took in a deep breath, her surroundings now redolent of wet earth smells.

Steadily, silently, heavier clouds descended. The air chilled and colors began to darken. The birds took flight. She shivered; thoughts of shelter gathered momentum in her mind also and she, too, ran towards home.

Karen Fay

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Musings on Cantata 28

Ecclesiastes 3:1–13; 2 Revelations 21:1—6a
Text of Cantata 28
This is an English translation of the sermon Pastor Fritschel delivered in German as part of “German Vespers for New Year’s.”

About halfway through
Cantata 28, Gottlob! Nun geht das Jahr zu Ende,
the solo tenor enters singing
“Gott ist ein Quell...ein Licht....ein Schatz...ein Herr.”
A treasury, a wealth!!
The tenor enters as if into a grand ballroom, an imposing auditorium.

 

It is architecture—at least architechtonic.

It is all laid out—the music—

in fine lines,

like streets,

lanes

and sidewalks.

With stoplights —musical rests.

 

The music—like a building, —like the Louvre,

the Palais Royal,

Schloss Charlottenburg—

has entrances and exits.

an alto goes out.

A tenor comes in,

The music is architecture, spatial —

Baroque, Rococo, Classical, Romantic, Modern or sometimes Postmodern.

The plan is all there, printed with detailed accidentals. The music is there.

 

But of course not!!

What is Cantata 28 but the hearing of it—

Or was it the first performance in 1725?

Or is the cantata the ideal one in rehearsal when musicians were transported beyond the mundane present?

Or perhaps the cantata is the memory of it after the performance?

Or the cantata may be the idea of it in the composer’s head?

Everything in order: Aria, chorus, recitative twice, aria, chorale.

Like a blueprint. The virtual form of a cantata.

Over 200 of them that we have extant from the hand and mind of the Leipzig composer.

 

Everything in order. Order!
What do Germans know about order? What don’t they know?
As if order is inbred, natural, taken for granted.
Until—until someone hits a wrong note.
No— it could not be...but perhaps he meant it that way, a bit of dissonance.
A bit of di   sor   derrrrr.
But even that bit of dissonance can become a part of the new order—
the evolving order, as if it were alive,
an organism, improvising as it goes along.

 

No, no. It cannot be alive—the musicians are alive [at least we hope] but
not the music!

The music is—could it be that the music is life?

 

We have no assurance about this music—
no offering of it remains the same,
even when the notes are all written down.

For can one trust that the oboist will not add a little twirl,

a squeak

or a squawk,

or the soprano an unaccounted melisma?
For are not all these musicians free—free creatures?
Creative creatures.
They know the tension between being created yet creating.

 

Listen to the chorus “Num lob, mein Seel”!

Free-wheeling, I call it.

Tenors, altos, basses all doing their own thing while the sopranos try

valiantly to maintain a melodic order. The tenors compete with the

sopranos for our attention while the basses, unperturbed, act as if the

wholefoundational structure rests on them.

Who can control this mass of creativity,
this explosion of sound,
if not this mysterious demand and desire for order?

 

Whose demand? Who demands the order?

Where does it come from—this lust for order—this desire for beauty?

You think you know? That beauty and goodness and truth are innate?

Really?

 

The same as greed, sloth, and gluttony are inborn?

Is it the demand of a retiring cantor that accounts for order?

For goodness?

For beauty?

Yes and no.

That begs the question for where does the composer’s sense,

the cantor’s sense,

the musician’s sense,

the librettist’s sense of order originate?

 

From where does it come-goodness?

What is the source of human goodness?

Is it that elusive gene, the altruistic gene?

Inborn compassion and empathy?

Is it that hovering presence of the Code of Hammurabi,

or the tablets of Mosaic law cloaked in patriarchical apparel?

Is it the Justinian Code, Sharia law?

The Constitution of the United States?

The source of goodness?

Is it the fear of punishment?

 

Then the tenor sings:
“Gott ist ein Quell, wo lauter Güte fleusst.”
God is a source where pure goodness flows.
Right in the middle.
It sounds Platonic—where there is a storehouse,
a treasury,
a wealth of as yet unactualized potentials.

 

How such sentiment seems to be mocked in our century!
With books by Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris
who battle against straw versions of theistic belief.
The gods such critics challenge are certainly not worthy of worship

in my estimation.

Our world, a pluralistic universe with multiple agents,

shows some semblance of order.

Our globe, consisting of a community of multiple free events,

a pluralistic universe,

a double or triple chorus of botanical and zoological choirs,

of competing economies,

allows, no— requires

a divine influence from whom order and goodness flow.

 

Consider this:

Since every event,

every cosmic song that is sung,

every singer singing,

every particle pulsating

has some degree of freedom,

a single, all-pervasive influence is necessary to account for

the world’s order—

not perfect but nevertheless real.

 

but an inspiration.

The divine order is not an imposition,

but a challenge.

The divine order is not a predetermined plan,

but an inner lure.

The divine order is not an external law

It is not the intelligent design so often spoken of—
but an intensive desire that permeates
the events of the cosmos to reach for beauty.

The divine dream,

the beloved community,

communitas

the reign of God is not automatically present,

but a lure.

 

Every Vespers repeats that lure, that dream

when the words of the Magnificat are sung.

A tenor enters, again about halfway through the Kuhnau version,

singing with quiet reassurance

of divine mercy being extended to generation after generation.

This includes our own generation...being filled with good things.

It is the kindness, goodness and mercy that encourages us to continue
to strive for truth, beauty and goodness in our own communities.
 

Fritz Fritschel

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All Children Need Art

All children need art. Art education is important to stimulate a child’s highest levels of thinking. It fosters courage to act independently, self-confidence to risk trying new ways, and the will to be creative. I’m guessing that manipulating paint, play-dough, and scissors is where the youngest in our village start to acquire skills that will help them cope with difficult exigencies in adult life. Art opportunities all through a youth’s student years are vital for nurturing healthy adults.

Last week, I watched a young fellow pick up cigarette butts at a Windward City bus stop. Next, he sorted through a trash barrel sampling several half empty drinks looking for sustenance while the bus-waiting teens giggled and shoved ignoring him. He was encrusted in greasy dirt from weeks of wearing without washing; his inner verve visibly gone. I wondered how a world full of art opportunities would have changed his life. How sad that in the United States we have young trolls living in cardboard bedrooms pushing their worldly possessions around in grocery carts. Kindergarten art with clay and colors might have sparked their spirits. Junior High art might have given them emotional space to repair some of their early cuts from careless parents. Here was a “child left behind,” not because he didn’t get enough math and English, but because he never grew his inner courage and coping skills.

What private school doesn’t have a strong art education curriculum? They know art is essential in educating effective citizens. But good private schools do not make a great nation. Quality public schools do. Mexico, Afghanistan, and all weak governments have access to great private schools for those who can afford them. But as Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) once wrote, “Out of the public school grows the greatness of the nation.” A great nation must finance quality public education, or lose its creative edge. Trickle down economics didn’t work for this young man: too many sponges at the top. It takes a village to raise a child. So we are the village artists who need to insist that all of Hawaii’s children have an abundance of art opportunities.

Donald K. Johnson
Windward Artists Guild Newsletter (August 2010)

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A Courtyard Exchange

Being clear about your priorities...

“Oh,” she said,
“I thought you’d drop out during tax season.”

“No,” I said,
“Singing is even more important during tax time.”

Bud Klein
LCH bass chorister

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Green Man

What is that face hiding in the leaves?

A radiant yet reserved smile conveys its wisdom

Complicit eyes add to the air of mystery

The Green man is everywhere to be found

Protector of the trees, consort of Mother Nature

We all owe him our good life and much of our food

 

Partly hidden within the trees he cares for

Happily looking over green grassy expanses

Managing the seasons when leaves must fall

Springing their growth and blooming buds

Hoarding the sap in the wintry colds

Strengthening the branches in the summery warmth

 

Yes we can dream of the leafy benefactor

Not a God nor a Saint but a good disciple

The Green Man is here to stay

As he has for immemorial times.

Jean-Paul Klingebiel
JPPoem110b
20100914;Green Man

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How green is GREEN?

Yes we are striving to be “Green”

Yes we have accomplished some good things

Yet have we really become “green”?

 

Going Green is not a finite thing

It is but a reasonable guiding process

Much like Jesus’ theology

 

So we are not there yet

But we are on the way

One step at a time

That is to say

Jean-Paul Klingebiel
JPPoem112
20110115

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two-liners

red white and blue

a flag for me and you

 

in remembrance

four syllables full of regret

 

the world without me

a strange place, not to be

Kathryn Klingebiel
2010-09-20

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for Gerda beyond

beyond and above?

beyond our knowing,

the last cupcake,

chocolate-loving friend:

 

one last time in the white bed there

no need to cry

one last quiet farewell:

let the message be clear,

 

we are here

we care

chocolate love

goes with you to the end

Kathryn Klingebiel
2009-12-07

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Trinity—The Father

Beautiful, ugly grey boxes

We started Sunday school this last Sunday by talking about the Trinity.  As part of the lesson we took a field trip.  It was out to our own parking lot to see our beautiful, ugly grey boxes.   These boxes are the inverters for the new photovoltaic system LCH installed on the roof of the church.  (For more information on the system see the article in the September Heartbeat.)

You may wonder why we wanted the Sunday school children to see these boxes. We were talking about God the Father, creator of heaven and earth. In the lesson we encouraged the children to be stewards of the earth that God has created and given into our care. By using the sun to generate electricity we are being good stewards by making more energy than LCH uses. It is as if we are planting over 1,000 trees every year we have the system. (Over 1,000 trees! Every year!) LCH is teaching our children, by example, to be stewards of God’s creation.

forest graphicSo when you see those grey boxes, see the forest they represent and be proud that we are doing what we can to help care for God's earth.  That's a pretty good Sunday school lesson, don't you think?

Linda Miller
Notes from Nana Linda, August 19, 2010


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I’VE BEEN HERE

In 1880, Hans Peter Seemann of Brodersby, Germany was selected as an agent for the Hamburg-American Steamship Line. As a “perk” of his appointment, he was awarded a trip to America to enhance his ability to convince his friends and neighbors of the opportunities of immigration to America by way of the Hamburg-American Steamship Lines.

When his ship arrived in New York, he was escorted about to see the wonders of the Great City and learn how amazing it was to live there. He then boarded a train to Iowa to visit two German settlements, Dubuque and Woodward, where there were immigrants from his area.

When he returned to Germany, his enthusiasm for America was so strong he easily convinced his brother, Jurgen Heinrich Seeman, my grandfather, to immigrate. In 1882, Jurgen (H.J. as he became known in America) boarded the steamship “Phoenix” to travel to New York and then on to Woodward, Iowa by train. He found work there on the farm of a relative who had immigrated earlier.

While employed on the farm, he searched for a piece of land he could farm and call his own. He located and purchased 80 acres of level Iowa farmland within the German community which was to become the family home where he lived the rest of his life. He returned to Germany in 1884 and persuaded his widowed mother to return to America with him to be his housekeeper on the farm. The following year, other German immigrants arrived in the area. He met Margaretha Thompsen, her brother Peter and sister Catherine. Grandfather courted and made Margaretha Thompsen his bride on March 5, 1886 and in the winter of 1886, Margaretha announced that she was expecting her first child to arrive in March of 1887. Great-Grandmother assessed her situation and decided that she did not wish to be anybody’s baby-sitter. She told the family that she would return to her home in Germany as soon as arrangements could be made.

Her parting words as she boarded the train were, “Don’t spend a lot on postage writing to me unless it is something important. As far as America is concerned, I’ve been here and seen everything”.

Ernest Petersen

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Blue Moon on New Years Eve in Rio

Glimpses of full moon through wisps of cloud

Visit crowds of white clad happiness.

Who dance, sing, toss white blooms on the waves,

Sip drinks, nibble dinner, sit by the friendly kiosks,

Snap pics as the hours fly by.

 

Cruise ships circle, jockey for best position

Throbbing metal drums raise excitement.

Clouds obscure moonlight

Then open to display the round white moon.

Moonbeams slip across bay and sand

 

Cell phones snap sky memories,

Shutters click on posing smiles,

Videos record bright ship lights

TV cameras transmit scenes of the millions

Packing beach to water edge.

 

Champaign bottles lift high

When red fireworks burst from barges

Fountains, falling flashes, flim flam boom,

Cheers, songs, shouts, pop corks pop

Announce New Year 2010 has arrived.

 

Blue moon watches, listens,

Accepts celebration with pride.

The third December full moon

Serenely floats high

Above Rio’s Copacabana Beach.

Gail A. Vachon
15 March 2010

Original poem with photos (PDF)

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