Prompted poetry: new

I have been told by traffic experts that speed itself is not nearly as great a danger as differences in speed between vehicles traveling the same road.

Speed differential

Each day in our bodies cells die and new cells
grow in their places. Skin and stomach turn over
every week or so; bone and muscle take years.

Heart cells, once thought irreplaceable, regenerate
so slowly we would live at least two
centuries before all had been renewed.

And so we exist in a state of wide and varied
flux, but our hearts refresh at such an incremental rate
they wear out before they can change completely.



Prompted poetry: dream

I turned this prompt over in my mind all morning but couldn’t decide which of several ideas to pursue. Then I took a nap and woke up with the material I needed.


Driving in an unfamiliar city, I take an exit
that becomes a parking lot. I brake hard, but the car continues
too fast to stop before an approaching fence. I close
my eyes and think, This is a dream.
Can I rewind this scene, or levitate
the car, or change the setting? I open them to find
myself and the car in a driveway on the other
side of the fence, unscathed. For a moment
I consider the parking lot and the freeway
beyond it. Then I shrug and drive
out to the street, wondering which way to turn.



Prompted poetry: go

Discipline is practice, and the reason practice can make perfect is that one is not perfect to begin with. So after an unexpected Sabbath break as well as a planned First Day break, I take up my discipline, my Lenten practice, again.


What you seek is not here, the bright young man
told the weeping women. The one you look for is out there, always
somewhere ahead, leading the way, calling you
into the world of saints and sinners who suffer and love
one another. Go and tell the others
what you have seen, what you have heard, and ask them
to join you in the search.



Prompted poetry: witness

Some days are busier than others and the poetry piles up in my head but I don’t have a chance to write it down. Most times I lose it, but this one just stuck there until this morning.


I can truly say I never saw it coming, the bolt of light that dropped
me blind into the dust, ears ringing with the roar. Stunned speechless
and bewildered, my companions led me into the city where I sat
three days in darkness with the sound of that thunder rolling
in my head so I could not eat or drink or talk. The household moved
about in hushed tones, fearful – who could blame them?

At last a man came to me, touched my arm to let me know
he was there before placing a warm hand on my shoulder. His voice was gentle;
he called me brother and something fell from my eyes. Vision returned and I saw
my enemy had healed me. My life was never the same.



Prompted poetry: death

This feels wordy and cumbersome to me; I suppose I need to find some better words so I can use fewer of them. I can’t stay up fiddling with it any more, so here’s a poem for the eighth day of Lent.

Bedside vigil

to the suffering, death is an angel
whose feather-soft hands smooth
lines from the face and untie
knotted muscles

to the watcher, waiting, death
is a cloud shadow that leaves
the landscape radiant
when it passes



Prompted poetry: listen

Sometimes a poem takes me somewhere I didn’t plan to go. This is one of those poems.

Hearing loss

most days it is difficult to listen, to remember
that the world was spoken into being

sounds of our busy-ness drown out
those words that still echo

in the vibration of atoms: Let there be—
It is good.



Prompted poetry: kingdom

I wrestled with this prompt quite a bit; several pages of my notebook are filled with half-formed ideas that may someday yield poems. This one just popped into my head as I was putting away groceries at the end of the day.

Out of phase

the kingdom is all
around, so close it touches
each cell, each moment
deeper than air
or water or light, thicker
than blood or bone
or grief – it saturates
everything, if only
we perceive it