Matthew Cordella-Bontrager: Assurance

Suspicions be damned. Know this:

He gave His decree to the Sea
when He appointed the foundations of the earth,
that the waters should not pass His commandment.
Do you not fear me? says the Lord:
I have placed the sand as the bound of the Sea
by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it:
and though the waves toss,
they cannot prevail; though they roar,
they cannot pass over it.

We do not pass over His commandments
without crossing that sandy, sun-scorched bound
into the refreshment of cool waves which are death to drink.
We wade out and dig into the shelf; we plant our feet
like anchors, our torsos rising up from the water
like the pilings of a dock, stable against the surf.
A swell rolls past and breaks on the shore behind,
and its receding rush grabs at the backs of our ankles,
wrenches us loose from the bottom, and far out;
down, down into the Great Deep.

Rolling blind beneath the surface,
we breathe the icy brine. We are become part,
indistinguishable from that seething mass
without form and void. We are the roaring,
wild waves, casting up foam of our shame.
And the Spirit of the Lord was hovering
over the face of the Deep.

Here, in the deep water, Simon Peter casts out his nets.
The apostle hauls us to the surface and heaves us in.
We who had thought to make our home with Leviathan
thrash like dying fish on the floor of Peter’s boat.
We choke the saltwater from our lungs and
our chests seared by the saving breath.
We mouth soundlessly from the net: Oh, oh, oh. . . .
Against those hard, wooden boards,
we feel our bones again and know our shape.
Our eyes are wide and round, but less
unblinking than a fish’s eye. Our pupils narrow;
it is bright on the shadeless surface of the waters.

He who gives the perpetual decree,
whose commandment cannot be passed,
and in whose presence all Creation does rightly tremble;
His decree was that Simon Peter cast out into the deep water,
to put the light in your eyes; his commandment was
to put the saving breath in your lungs.

Suspicions be damned. Know this.


601545_475166119247979_909596721_nMatthew Cordella-Bontrager is a member of Yellow Creek Mennonite Church and lives to the west of Goshen in Elkhart County, IN.

Roger Biehn: Daybreak over Sinai

On the summit when the breeze hit my back
I turned to take the wind on my face;
the moment of triumph dissolved in capitulation,
in wondering why I had made the climb;
a heretic’s question, with no orthodox answer.
They don’t ask it in classrooms. They won’t discuss it in
boardrooms. The doubtless mask is king.

Here is the mountain top, the pinnacle,
the prime location to laud success, no elbow room left
for the soul to find satisfaction. Tears run
down the slopes, hidden in the mists, blown aside
in the gales, always running under, why, why, why.

Who can solace when the peak is the basement
of the soul; when the fight’s end enlightens
deep in the secret heart the icy thought
on which resolve slipped? I am no better,
no wiser, no higher, a crossed-off to-do
list summed to nothing.

Where is the touch of Midas, where is my gold,
where among the scraps of left-over conceits,
where I fashioned strength, victory, knowledge
plated like armour on the image: when did this dullness
set in, was it always there? Here I salve my knees,
raw with kneeling to my own ambition.

When did this climb become such steep descent?
As I dodge along the precipice trail,
there’s a hail of deafening crescendo,
the hollow voices faltering up the scale,
but a whisper broke me.

In the fire He will not be burning,
in the wind He will not be moved
in the flood He will not be covered.
His burning voice will fire my flickering heart.


Some words from the poet:

This poem is a reflection on the underwhelming taste of earthly success, with thoughts of Elijah’s visit to Sinai layered in.


rogerRoger Biehn is a corporate controller and part time poet.

Roger Biehn: American Thanksgiving

Branches, black bones of November
damp against putty sky;
maple, basswood, poplar, ash;
bleak sisterhood against the whisper
tasted, of cold, of snow.
Heaven’s refugees evacuate, strident in angles;
songbird, starling, grackle, goose;
waiting, clustered velvet on barren
maple fingers or queued upon
hydro-electric cables watching
the road or the stubble-strewn fields,
witticisms growing frantic
before spreading their shield before the sun
or razor-like splitting the sky;
strangers and exiles on the wing, inhaling and
exhaling some promise not yet received.

To a greener lighter feast on
forest, plain, island, coast
perhaps I too should flee:
instead of lingering here in damp,
sullen winds, with my freezer lid
closed against the flurry of a
white Christmas, my ripened stacks
of wood meekly awaiting, my snowblower
augers starving on the concrete, my winter
Bridgestones on their wheels:
or am I bravely holding out for homecoming?
for the first robins dueling
at the borders of the forest;
for the blackbirds and their frenetic
scarlet signals at the roads edge;
for the cardinal to find its voice
and sing, brightly but unseen.


Some words from the poet:

This poem is an attempt at unsentimental reflection about the beauty and bentness of creation, and ourselves—inspired by my least favourite month, November.


roger.jpgRoger Biehn is a corporate controller and part time poet.

Claudia Lehman: Perhaps

Perhaps the angels tell the story
as we would tell a fairy tale.
Perhaps they whisper it into the hush
between the stars—
the adventure that is the great Reality
behind these dreams of ours—

(the crystal kingdom shattered by
an oil-tongued invader
the prophecy murmured over the cradle
of our broken race
the warrior-in-disguise
facing down the darkness
all for love)

Perhaps the angels gather
behind the fragile skin of the sky
to watch as the breath of the Maker
blows the pages of history
toward the fire and thunder of
The End.

Meanwhile, I—
daughter of Eve,
clay-wrapped, heaven-sealed soul,
bewildered child—
I walk gray pavement
on a frost-crackled afternoon
and wish to be something
more
Exciting.


claudiaClaudia Lehman lives in Lebanon city with lots of books, tea, and her favorite man ever. She loves exploring the world of words, teaching children, and feels most at home in the woods.

Krislyn Shank: Vagabond

I am a vagabondish soul,
lugged about in a knapsack
of breathful dust;
restless feet beneath it
plodding,
—– plodding,
——– plodding,
over this cramped space ball,

wanting something
—– bigger,
——– truer,
———– more eternal,
than is here.

It’s a somewhere,
it’s a city,
it’s a Someone living there,

and the soul tramp
—- looks
—– and
——————————— wanders
aimlessly
and hopes to find.

Do not say that it should settle
In a quiet little space,
For until it finds the city,
It will pace, and pace, and pace;

Up
and
—– Down
this tiny planet,
until the dusty, fragile knapsack
———– falls
——————————————— apart,
setting the vagabond
————————————————– free.


krislyn_shankKrislyn Shank is happily living in inner-city Philly and loves sharing the gospel there.

Kenneth Kauffman: Restless

He woke me from long night;
Crusty eyes cracked,
Dreams of daylight dawned,
Hints of laughing light.
I looked and longed

And long the longing lives;
Shadows share secrets,
Taunting and teasing tales
Of tassels instead of tares.
I stretch and groan.

Why the sleep disturbed
In this endless dawn?
Why the stabs of light,
Fleeting flickers
Breeding foolish flames?

He woke me from long night
To agonizing ache,
Synced with the singular song,
Pregnant and painful,
Creation’s loud groan.


Some words from the poet:

This is a very personal piece to me, written at a time when we had just discovered that my wife had pregnancy complications and our unborn daughter was at risk. I joined in Creation’s groan and this is what emerged, restless words in a broken, restless world.


kenneth_kauffmanKenneth Kauffman is a husband and father, charmed by simple pleasures, like jumping into leaf piles.

Sheri Yutzy: Death at Summer’s End

This morning, as the green fades to gold,
I think Grandparents are put here
To leave us behind.

How do we love them
So long and without fear?

So alone now we stand
Nothing between us and that black door
But a memory of a wrinkled hand.

I dream he’s still here
With twinkling eyes
And that chest-shaking laugh.

But he’s gone into shadow
And I stand waiting
Words like tears running from my fingers.

But in this waiting
Something stirs deep
Beneath the leaves from other summers.

After its feathers fall
Summer is reborn
Like a flaming phoenix.

So shall we all
When we have faced the black door
And entered alone.


sheri3Sheri Yutzy loves to write words that illuminate the longings of the world.

Kyle Lehman: Must Summer End?

Must Dogwood buds that sprang from April’s warmth,
break loose and fall;
The work of June: this twisted twig sloughed off
at Autumn’s call?

Must cranes cry out at night when blades of green
succumb to brown;
And thirsty swamps sustain a broken mass
of reeds, bent down?

Must Sockeye leave the freedom of the sea
to swim upstream,
And waste their flesh on unknown gravel bars,
where ravens scream?

Must summer end?

Today there blew across my path
a yellowed leaf.
September takes her gong and fills the sky
with throbs of grief!

If summer ends . . .

I too shall slip away, as sap flows back

Into the tree.

I lose my hold . . .

Descend to rest.

This borrowed spirit ebbs—

Returns to Thee.


kyle_lehman

Kyle Lehman is a teacher and poet who loves to watch things grow, like seeds, strange ideas, hay bales, and the moon.

 

Gloria Kurtz: October Clouds

Out of grasp of the golden stunned leafy light hills
See the skies set adrift, and those heavy clouds spilled
On the crisp lit panorama crowding piled, ripped
By a filament panning its thin yellowed light, nipped
Of a wind. Softly stacked vapor, cold colored height
Tumbling blue in the purple, and iced by the white.
Stringing out far flung space, slicing skies to a V,
Stream the silhouette wings of the lonely geese,
Crying sharply on down to the fields of the night
And a bit of the moon curving out lambent light
Through the dark crush of clouds, shatter-gleamed by her lance.
And a star pricks the dark, as she sings with the dance
Of the cold and the crisp; sees the blue of her shrouds,
Then lays softly her dreaming in October clouds.


IMG_0621 (2)Miss Kurtz finds joy expressed best in teaching first and second grade, and delights in writing the poetry of life found cupped in the beauty of her Upstate NY home.

Kenneth Godoy: Oil City

7:21 PM
Oil City

by Kenneth Godoy
It’s that kind of town,
that rains
two hours until twilight.

A drench that soaks the dry space between my fingers.

Teenage girls with cut-offs stand lock-kneed on the stoop
adjacent to the burned house.

It’s that kind of town,
where things burn sometimes
and the heat of afternoon drips from the corner of the ACs into red buckets.

2

When the rains took over,
we crawled underneath a bridge then as a shelter,
and we surrendered ourselves to the moment,
like a child,
because his mother’s breast is all he knows.

He does not comprehend change of matters;
that lives collide
and old skin peals away
and souls rejoin;

he doesn’t feel the angst of love. Does he?
He doesn’t hate himself.

3

Blessed is the man who is that constant child.


kennyOf his writing, Kenneth Godoy says, “Poetry is bound to my soul.”