Category Archives: Poetry

The Cold Is A Sharpener

The cold is a sharpener. A whetstone on the world.

It makes the sky stronger, like marble, more vivid in its crepuscular color.

It makes the air thicker: the crunch of my boots on the sidewalk’s new coat of snow slices through it, so clean and clear.

It makes my body taut, every breath in and out a miracle of muscle and will. Even the golden porch-light is bolder in the cold.

It makes my mind work harder: with every blink I fight its paralyzing touch on my thoughts. Every thought is a thought of cold.

The cold makes us sharper. And that’s just the way I like it.

Wild Strawberries And A Poem

I recently watched Ingmar Bergman’s achingly doleful Wild Strawberries, and one particular part stood out: the poem read by Isak Borg, the lonely old professor, when asked to resolve a lunchtime debate over the existence of God. After some Internet research, I learned the poem is an 1819 Swedish hymn by Josef Olaf Wallin called “Where is the friend I seek everywhere?” – which a helpful blogger translated.

The full hymn is eight stanzas, but here is one English translation of four of them that captures the plaintive yet uplifting tone of the film:

Where is that friend, whom everywhere I seek?
When the day dawns, my longing only grows;
When the day flees, I still cannot find Him
Though my heart burns.

I see his traces, wherever power moves,
a flower blooms, or a leaf bends.
In the breath I draw, the air I breathe
His love is mixed.

I hear his voice, where summer winds whisper,
where groves sing and where rivers roar
I hear it best in my heart speaking,
and me keeping.

O! When so much beauty in every vein
of Creation and life fail,
How beautiful must the source be,
The eternally True!

This poem can’t resolve the debate over God’s existence, but it certainly favors one side. The film focuses on Borg’s struggle to grasp his life’s meaning and the consequences of his callousness more than questions of faith. But with this hymn on his mind, how can the remorseful professor, at the end of his life, not think about What It All Means?

those three words… part 2

Those words
Those three words
The end all of every phone call
The start of every time apart from you
The definition of what we are
Together apart, either one is better than before
Sitting in neutral, afraid to say more

Those words
Those three words
They flow like a wave away
Crashing on the dock of the bay
With grace and sometimes misplacement
But I’ve faced my demons of sentiment
We stared off until I won the race

They’re my own prophesy fulfilled
The heart-hole I’ve been covering
That wouldn’t stay still
The story of they’re conception:
Oscar-worthy, critical reception
But too sublime to fully realize
Too special for a TV special

Those words
Those three words
We’ve finally met, again and again
Would you meet my family and friends?
They haven’t seen us together
Now is the perfect weather
To say “I love you.”

those three words…

Those words
Those three words
The bane of my existence
The thesis of the paper I’ve never written
The end of the date I never went on
The kiss goodbye I never got or gave

Those words
Those three words
They end every phone call
Every birthday card, every letter home
Except mine
I can’t send these three little words
From my head to an utterance
It’s become an inconvenience

What do they mean anyway?
I can’t be a rank sentimentalist
With every word I say
Now I’m stealing lines
From the only things that make sense to me
Where whatever they say, they mean
No ifs, ands, buts, or truths about it

Those words
Those three words
My finale, my comeuppance
The end of every well-meaning sentence
They’ve become to me a penance, a nuisance
Something I’ve unknowingly stood against
One of these days I’ll learn what love is

tension and release…

Intro. The weather is music to my ears. Crescendos and decrescendos, tension and release. Today started out without a cloud in sight. Pianissimo. It was hot, but things were moving along fine.

As the day went on, the clouds appeared. Then a few more. Then a bigger batch arrives. The orchestra builds on harmonies and nuance. Pretty soon there is a solid overcast. A cadence sets the rhythm of the day, soon to accelerate.

The clouds become more dense, darker in tone. The brass pound out a minor melody, setting the stage for things to come. The strings soon follow, accentuating every chords, dark and deep. The sun is shut out, little by little, note by note, until it is but a faint melody on the wind.

The sun now sets, leaving us no choice but to embrace the storm upon us. The clouds fill with rain, as the tuba drones and the woodwinds swirl the trees wildly. The trumpets sound the alarm. The people run for solace, the snare drum marks their steps. It’s but a matter of time.

I sit inside, secluded from the madness. I have to make it back to my dorm before I get swallowed in the storm. Do I dare take on the beast? I have no choice.

But as I depart; the tension builds unbearably, the clouds and cellos rumbling on in force, the violins screeching blinding light, the percussion drives it to the brink. I can’t go on. I must yield.

Then, the release. The rain sprinkles down, a cleansing wash. The flute sings a glorious song, easing us back into stillness. I allow myself to be overtaken by the tender coat of raindrops. My clothes will be dry again, but now, they need to feel alive.

oh, the world we live

The great outdoors just came out of the wash
The birds they sing a song under my close watch
Millions and millions of fallen raindrops
Oh, they make me stop and realize

We congregate, we come around to see
The smallest leaves grow from the biggest tree
Millions and millions of colors shining
Oh, they open wide my open eyes

Breathe in the air, it’s divinity
My outer shell is cracked, now I am free
Living and loving the world around me
Oh, the world we live

I fought you for so long…

Imagine: Darkness, accompanied by golden light from surrounding “Narnia” lamp posts. The snow slowly permeates everything in sight, including your face. The path you’re on shines like diamonds and swivels oh so gracefully alongside a sparkling river. Soft piano music dances into your ear, choreographed perfectly with the falling flakes. Now, tell me that God is not with you at that very moment.

Snow is commonly thought of as a metaphor for a sense of renewal or rebirth, but I see it as being able to see our worth. God drops this stuff down on us to show us that we can sparkle like diamonds and are so clean and new if we choose to be. Go outside the next time it is snowing at night and see what happens.

P.S. If you want to experience a living and breathing God, listen to Relient K’s album mmHmm. He is all over those lyrics.

Brightest

Walking back to my dorm from chapel last night, I saw the coolest image I’ve seen in a long time. A full moon against a dark sky with the slightest shade of the darkest blue you could imagine. Clouds shaped like cotton ball clusters slid by the moon so gracefully. Coincidentally, a Copeland song called “Brightest” was playing on my iPod as I looked up at the sky. The clean, crisp night air refreshed my senses and the whole experience broke through to my soul. The moon shone so brightly that all the beautiful buildings I passed were ever so tinted with a faint light, making the moment seem all the more surreal.

It’s moments like these that prove God’s existence. He is in the colors and the sounds and the smells that invigorate us everyday. These images are always out there waiting for someone to take the time to sit back and look at them. You don’t have to go to Hawaii or the Rocky Mountains to see something spectacular. Just open your eyes a little wider than they’ve been recently and wait to see what happens.

Souvenirs

It’s fall outside, of orange and red
there’s a chill on the air
winter’s biting at my front door
and I’ve plunged into despair

The sun is setting, the wind’s suspending
on the golden horizon
the leaves crunch to my ears
the colors are souvenirs
and they’re saying ‘come home son’

This is the life
this is the listening
of words we miss
of songs we’re singing

Tonight’s the night
winter’s finally here
accompanied by the flakes of white
it’s a new beginning, a new song we’re singing
that’s better than before

for you, Blue, wherever you are…

Hidden smiles beneath furtive glances
a fluttering heart stops any advances
for fear of reveal

The world is small today
’cause you’re the center of mine
“beautiful” doesn’t do you justice
and that terrifies me
your soft eyes define mine

The world is yours today
’cause you have what I have
you are what I have

Your deft approach
shuts me down
sends my heart burning, head spinning
“act naturally” is not an option
fumbled words create the mood
the world is alive today
and my eyes can see that truth clearly

A laugh tears down the wall
all senses are a go, overwhelmed
a scent from heaven
the touch of an angel
my soul is at ease

The world is mine today
’cause you are my world