dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Archive for the ‘Christian Poetry’ Category

ORANGE Death

I think death–physical, spiritual, emotional–colors the first half of my next chapbook, ORANGE.

Terra Cotta Soldiers
“Let the dead bury the dead.” –Jesus of Nazareth

dried clay
brittle broken
cracked and fallen
astonishing detail of
upright individuals in
grand ancient army formation
layered soil and sand of the centuries
standing guard over a dead emperor’s tomb
all ready for war
yet they’re not moving
they’ve already lost

Image & Text Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

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This May Be the Only Way

I have a really difficult time expressing myself–my emotions, my thoughts, my knee-jerk inner reactions.  If I do they don’t exactly come out right. I tend to follow the proverb that says “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” [Proverbs 17:28 ESV]

Sometimes poetry allows me to compact those feelings and thoughts into verse; to say them in a way that if you really want to hear, you will.  I guess that way if you don’t understand, but you at least thought it sounded nice, my heart won’t be hurt too bad.

I dedicate the following to my dear brother and old friend, Greg Tomlinson. As we used to say…here, there, or in the air. Ever hopeful.

No One Dies Today

Sittin’ in the town saloon
sippin’ rot gut whiskey and
gnawin’ on stale bisquits
(I’m here more for the show
girls than the fine dining),
contemplatin’ how to keep
my homestead from goin’ under
and my bride of twenty-plus dyin’.

See, the Creek’s dried up.
Most scattered to the four winds
after the incident with the sheriff.
Some folk went to meet their Maker early on,
two widowed school marms
left living on both ends of town,
and I get a telegram
from the deputy ever’ now and then.

So in busts an old friend so hard
them swingin’ doors knocked
the dust off the rafters.
We used to ride the trail together
followin’ the Trail Boss
through desolate places,
searchin’ for them green pastures;
fought side by side in the Great War
behind the General
sendin’ the enemy back to where he’d come.

And he called me out
out of the blue,
ready with a pack mule loaded
with shotguns and scatter guns,
Gatlings and pistols and sabers–
an arsenal set for battle.
(He always was a straight shooter.)
Now I only had my old six shooter
with but only one bullet
and I hadn’t shot in years.
I used to could push heads
through tails of a fake gold
piece at three and sixteen paces,
but my hands are a bit unsteady now
and my eyes ain’t what they used to be.

And when I looked him in the eye
I recognized them;
I knew them
as the same angry ones I stared at
in the mirror every morning
with a straight razor to my throat
contemplatin’ the stubble.

I wanted to raise a toast
with a glass of house red,
praise the Trail Boss, the General,
sing the songs of the cattlemen,
and share a bit of hard tack,
a reminder of our days on the trail;
but I think he’d lost his taste for it
and I couldn’t find my saddlebag.

I felt a lump in my gut and
a tear push through my dry eyes
as he road off to the west,
but all that spilled out was dust
and a fond “See you on the other side,”
a whispered echo
from my dry and thirsty throat.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

Why Poetry?

image

At a recent meeting of our church hospitality team, we were challenged to ask ourselves why we do what we do. Over the past few years I’ve been trying to apply that question to why I write poetry.

I even asked the Lord, why the gift of poetry in the 21st century (as opposed to other forms of writing more relevant in this era)? He told me, “Because poets see things.”

I wrote this back in November and originally posted it on facebook.

Why I Write Poetry: A Confession

I wouldn’t say that I’m an emotional individual, but I do have them. Sometimes intensely. And in our culture it is not always socially exceptable to express them as I might like. And other times I’m not sure how to explain them. So I have to let it out.

I am not a person who has it totally all together. I don’t always use sound judgement or follow my own advice. But once in a while I gain a bit of understanding or knowledge, a touch of wisdom, an experience. And I want to share it.

I do not claim to be a good Christian. I am by no means perfect. I am a sinner saved by grace in the present tense. But for reasons known only to God, I am allowed on occasion to hear whispers from heaven, to see specks of eternity. I must record them.

And sometimes I’m just trying to fit all the chaotic little pieces together to see what the big picture might be, to arrange the multitude of garbled sound bites into a melodic arrangement.

Or maybe I just like the sound of my own voice in my head and want you to hear it, too.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

To God the Increase

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. I Corinthians 3:6 (KJV)

My grandchildren, AJ and Serenity, love to plant things. Green beans, tomatoes and potatoes, apple seeds, avocado pits, and flowers have been planted in pots and makeshift gardens in our backyard. They have enjoyed the harvest of some of these and anticipate possible fruits from others. I taught them to look after their plants, to weed and to water. And I taught them to lay hands on the plantings and ask God to help them to grow and bear fruit.

But I have not followed my own instruction concerning my writings–poetry chapbooks, blogs, and other projects. I write, I edit, I publish; but it is God who gives the increase. Ultimately, I can’t make this stuff I do grow, but my God can.

So now I ask Him to do with these words I scribble together, peck out on a keyboard, and send out into the world in their various forms what He will and all the glory to His name–Jesus.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

Let There Be YELLOW

I am currently about a third of the way through the list of poems for ORANGE. Since I’m  not sure which to work on next, I decided to start  on YELLOW. My mode of operation for the previous RED and ORANGE has been to scour the internet for examples of the color, both articles and images. I would create a list of common and uncommon items, events, songs, stories, people, and places associated or named for that color, as well as interesting notes and facts about them. To write the title list poem, I select those colored things that strike me most or that strongly suggest (at least to me) a spiritual topic or connection.

Well, as I was going through this process for YELLOW, I came across a song by Coldplay titled, what else, “Yellow”.

Now I’ve heard the song numerous times over the years, but never really paid much attention to the lyrics. So I paid attention. Wow! Immediately I made a connection. And thus I conceived the following poem:

Perhaps to you
there is no significant meaning
to the shining of the stars,
the positioning of the planets,
the spinning galaxy
surrounding the tiny rock
you call home.

Don’t be a coward;
actually look at them–
the blazing chaotic
beauty of the nebulae,
the explosive order
in the gaseous dusty sea of space,
the seemingly endless cold expanse
pooled in the palm of My hand.

Now look down.
Look at the speck of dust
on that tiny rock,
that form of clay and spit and air,
that blob of skin and bone.
The crown of creation.
The question of angels.
The image of God.

They do shine for you.

And I am dry.

Now you may have noticed that this poem did not have a title. I usually don’t have a problem here, but this time I can’t seem to get it. Most of what I have come up with have used Coldplay in the title, but I don’t really like any of them. I certainly don’t want to use “Yellow” as the title, as that is for the opening poem.

So, I offer a challenge. Please title my poem. If I select your title, I will send you a signed copy of “RED” and recognition in the “YELLOW” chapbook. In the case of duplication, all parties suggesting the same title will receive the aforementioned.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

ORANGE Crush

Crush

OMG!
That girl’s for me!
Hair so fine;
eyes sublime;
keep my eyes
movin’
groovin’
down that body—
oh my goddy—
she’s a hotty!

Feels so good,
     you want your first crush
to last…

Gotta walk up to her;
gotta talk up to her.
Dude, don’t slumber—
get her number.
Get my feet to
move in,
groove in.
I ain’t shady,
be my lady—
come on, baby.

I’ve got my spine,
     I’ve got my

Yeah, you’re mine;
mine, all mine.
This will last forever,
we will be together
in my place you’ll
move in,
groove in.
Give to me your body;
you will be my lady;
I’m lovin’ you baby.

…you want your first crush
     to last,
don’t let it go
    so fast…

Why you sippin’ soda
with another dude?
Can’t you feel
my heartbeat
heart     beat
heart
beat
to a pulp.
Bruised fruit
not my fault
bitch.

Follow me,
     don’t follow me.

…don’t let it go
    so fast…

I set out to write “Crush” about infatuation, about fantasy love gone wrong. Refrains referencing early 1970’s advertisements for Orange Crush™ soda give the poem a feeling of innocence; whereas, inserting references to the REM song “Orange Crush”, a song about the American involvement in the Vietnam conflict, insured that the fantasy went bad quick.

So bad that the speaker ends the final stanza with the “B” word.

The obvious question here is, should a Christian poet/writer use profanity in their writing? Scripture is clear that we should be careful of the words that come out of our mouth, but a lot of that refers to the heart intent of those words. People can say very hurtful things using nice, family friendly words.

It is rare that I employ what are referred to in polite circles as “cuss” words, vulgar language, profanity. In this case, I felt the word in the context of the earlier innocence of the narrative hits the reader in the face. It shows that abuse, relational violence can come out of nowhere. My friend, Elizabeth, a Lutheran pastor and poet told me, “the word ‘bitch’ just kinda came out of the blue for me.”

And I think that may be how it is in abusive relationships. I don’t believe any woman starts a relationship to be abused. (And though men can be abused by women, it’s predominantly the other way.)

So the use of the “B” word in this instance is not to be vulgar or gratuitous, but to slightly shock the reader into a sympathetic understanding of abuse.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

Christmas Inspiration

I find inspiration in many places. My grandchildren and the things they say; people around me, their lives and deaths; nature; my own life, thoughts and feelings and circumstances; ideas and philosophies.

This past Sunday at Pointe North Community Church our pastor, Tim Dorn, spoke about “the Presence” as part of his Advent series The Gift. I must confess that my attention was briefly divided between the sermon and another poem that came upon me. (Sometimes I can remember the bits of inspiration for later; but I know I’ve lost a lot of lines to short term memory, so most times I try to write it down immediately. Such was this case.) But a single phrase stood out. Something I had not heard put quite that way before: “…the stable became the Holy of Holies.”

Now I have never viewed the birth of Christ as a sanitized event as depicted in most manger scenes. The earthiness of the first advent is something I have wanted to capture in a poem for some time. This short statement put it in a fresh light and gave me the inspiration needed to write the poem.

The Presence
“…the stable became the Holy of Holies…”
–Pastor Tim Dorn, 12/13/15

The bearer of the covenant appears
through the door of this urban shed,
imperfect in its dimensions,
from the dark veil of night.

Dirt and dung covers the floor
of this ungilded Holy of Holies;
beasts of burden and field mice
bed in its sanctuary.

Layers of dust and chaff shrouds
this open Ark of Testimony
cradling the true bread of life,
the living staff, and the law fulfilled.

Starlight scatters shadows
through the slatted roof
illuminating the glory of God
in the face of a blood-covered newborn.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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