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Archive for April, 2015

While crossing the campus at Fresno City College, I spotted an English instructor from whom I took a class a few semesters ago. As soon as she greeted me, she searched through her backpack and presented me with a piece of paper. “It’s poem in your pocket day,” she told me. The slip of paper had three poems. The first, “Ars Poetica,” was written by Archibald MacLeish, who died the year I was born.

If you enjoy the read as much as I did, print it out, put it in your pocket, or share it with a friend.

Happy “Poem in your Pocket Day”!

 

Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute

As a globed fruit,

Dumb

As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone

Of casement ledges where the moss has grown–

A poem should be wordless

As the flight of birds.

A poem should be motionless in time

As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases

Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,

Memory by memory the mind–

A poem should be motionless in time

As the moon climbs.

A poem should be equal to:

Not true.

For all the history of grief

An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love

The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea–

A poem should not mean

But be.

 

– Archibald MacLeish

(1892 – 1982)

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willow in breezeKiss my face with warmth, with life

Let not my spirit fall to shame

Whisk me up in nature’s dance

Of order, glory, never blame

 

The world beyond moves through its maze

Of space and time and joy’s pursuit

Let me step back and breathe deeply

Of meaning, sanctuary’s fruit

 

Dead leaves dangle from the trees

Trembling in the gentlest breath

But when storms rise with brilliant blows

They fall in silence to their death

 

Faking life seems but a breeze

Until it sweeps into a gale

Let my heart breathe the real thing

Or all my efforts, harsh, will fail

 

Let the sun kiss winter’s face

And bring life to its frozen vein

Let not life, time, love pass me by

As a single hourglass grain

 

But diamond pressed, me, lump of coal

Beneath the earth through time, through time

Let me emerge well pressed, aglow

A lasting taste of earth’s deep rhyme

 

[Posted in honor of National Great Poetry Reading Day]

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need rain in Central ValleyThank You for the rain. Lord, You know how much we need it in the Central Valley. How dry it has been, and how much we lack.

Thank You also for Your grace. Lord, You know how much we need that. How desperately for everything. You do know … and Your grace falls like rain. Not like rain here in the valley, where we see for days “a chance of rain” and “a chance of scattered showers,” and wait in vain but nothing happens. No, Your grace, Your forgiveness, Your mercy, is a continual deluge that seeks to revive our hearts and bring our souls to life once more.

Thank You for Your rain of mercy, Your torrent of grace, Your flood of forgiveness.

Let me open my soul to it as a thirsting ground. For I know that I have nothing inside me that is worthy of such attention, of such generosity … still, You give it freely.

Come, You say, he who is thirsty, and Your living waters flow and bring the world to life. They bring me to life. But only when I open my heart, my soul, and drink deeply of You.

Let my heart always be as joyous of the gentle and torrential rain of Your perpetual grace as I am of the rain that falls outside my window now. More joyous. For the downpour from the sky gives life to the earth. But the downpour from Heaven gives life to the soul, and promises life eternal.

You are the well of Living Water that never runs dry [John 4:14].

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