Kyle Lehman: The Long Winter

And so I give myself to pain.
I give myself to lilies, broken by the rain,
To weariness, to wasted fields of grain.

I face the twilight all alone,
And staring down the emptiness, I dare the sun
To set upon the dreams I choose to own.

And so I give myself to pain.
I wrestle through the darkness with the ropy rain,
And give my strength for tiny ears of grain.

Red blood, beneath a brooding sky,
Flows. Faith peels back the questions with an open “Why?”
And from the rubble, I raise my hands and try

Again. To give myself to pain;
Bathe ancient scars where Heaven’s grief falls down like rain:
Her tears, among these tares, bear precious grain.


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

 


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Claudia Lehman: Interlude

You dressed in common clothes, and walked
beneath the galaxies You made.
You bore the whispered insults and
you wore a borrowed father’s name.
There was dirt beneath your nails,
and there were blisters on your palms,
and when storms caught you on the road,
you did not speak a Maker’s calm.

For thirty years you wept at tombs
and did not stop the mourners’ cries.
Day after common day, you watched
the rolling rhythm of the skies
within a sunburned little town,
your shoulders bowed beneath the curse—
just smoothing wood and driving nails
and holding up the universe.


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


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Kyle Lehman: Passion

His shirt came off, and every man fell back
Before the scrawl of skin and bone. His rack
Of ribs we counted one by one, and knew
This man, exposed. He flung His arms from beam
To beam across our sky; those stretched sinews
Of weakness! Antithesis of our dream!
We gape. He welcomes us to enter in
With Him. Shakes from our brains and backs
Our made-up manliness, forgives our sin.
And makes our withered limbs, exposed, attack
The scoffing with a givenness that breaks
And pours out all its aching as bold strakes
Of light. He takes our cross, we climb the slope
To die with Him, and stake ourselves to hope.


A note from the poet: This poem is inspired by Francisco de Zurbarán’s The Crucifixion. There is something hauntingly human about the Christ Zurbarán painted. I noticed especially His weakness and His exposure, two things that most men disdain. Yet perhaps these two things are very close to the center of the power of the Crucifixion and the response Christ asks of men today.


kyle_lehman

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


Art by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)

Lynn Michael Martin: The Feast

Come, said my Father, and I came,
but as a stranger and a guest,
for he had pledged eternal rest
and the protection of his name.

Yet when I bowed to thank his grace
and praise the honor of his feast,
my eagerness and praise increased
seeing a vision of his face.

My Lord, I said, I praise your name,
I praise this table set with food—
back where we men are poor and crude,
I heard your majesty, and came.

I praise you as a gracious king,
and generous in food and gift,
and thus within my mind I lift
your glory over everything.

Then I was silent, and he said,
I did not ask you for your praise,
nor in your gratitude to raise
my cup to laud my wine and bread.

Why should you come and go as one
who praises me yet knows me not?
Have you not known; have you forgot
that we are kin, and you my son?

You are my blood and so I say
that you must let me raise you up
as one, who drank my bitter cup,
was raised, one yet more bitter day.

For I extend this birthright, one
not sweet in either drink or rest;
yet if you drink, you’ll be no guest,
nor yet a stranger, but a son.


dover castle (2)Lynn Martin loves stories and epiphanies, and believes that good poetry expresses humanity’s deepest longings.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Obi Martin: Confront Me With Words

confront me with words
when there’s every reason
to do wrong, or worse, or nothing.
when every emissary
of other
is around me chanting
beyond chant with
even the rhythm of natural
life itself.
there speak to me in language.
explore for me perception and wood-smoke,
linens and pepper corns.
show me new things in old ways
and old things in new,
speak as solemnly as a child.

when I’ve set myself up
some mock of God
to fix me through the moment,
there speak to me in language
using writing to unbirth
everything I knew but never thought of.
build strong words up like bridges to me
plasma-fitted together arching
even slightly beyond intention.
speak the possibilities of spacing inside paradox
speak beyond possibility and construct
for me a logic of love.
speak to me with the words spoken
confront me with the words of
rappers, slam-poets, and mothers.
speak to me in the language of tree-work
roots and pen strokes.
write for me in booklength,
speak longer to me than a brother.

confront me with words
as soaked and wrapt
and all-encompassing attention
as dawn warm rain on early
winter-ending mornings.

 


Obi_ProfileObi Martin says that the times he feels most alive come often when reading or writing.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Roger Biehn: Benjamin Gate

(Jeremiah 20)

Lord of Hosts, 
let me see your vengeance upon them, 
let me see it. 

This is the trick God played upon me—
I sought to be reason and thought,
inspiration, the man of the generation;
the voice of comfort and tower of strength,
a trumpet rousing the people to believe—
I sought to be that man, but I was tricked.

When I open my mouth to speak,
“Violence!
Destruction!
Doom!
Desecration!”
The word of the Lord is a burden to me,
a source for my disgrace and ruin.

The coldness of that priest, Pashur,
angry eyes measuring me, freezing in anger;
He said to the crowd,
“Denounce him.
Humiliate him.
Stop his mouth.
Make him fear to speak.
Lower him to the dust,
so he will say no more.”

Now, in the stocks, in the square,
wrists bruised, back bleeding
(friends conceal their faces,
pass away on the far side,)
hands gather splinters,
face gathers spit and refuse,
eyes blink against dust and sun,
cracked lips purse to blow at flies,
my back inventories every blow;
every time I shift a newly forgotten pain
shouts its name, I shift again
and the pain I quieted shouts louder
and then they are a mob of accusers,
one chained to another.

The word of the Lord is violent as the warrior
crueller than the Assyrian, harsher than the Chaldean,
covering my steps, shielding me from enemies;
the many blows of my countrymen cannot take me down.
I have been overwhelmed a thousand times;
the Lord of Hosts rescues me and hears me and preserves me.

But why was I born? 
Why did I leave the womb? 
For what purpose did I come into this world alive? 

The Lord is a mighty warrior;
I am ground down to powder,
a fire burning in the midst of the people,
a cry that cannot be silenced,
tears that cannot be stanched.


rogerRoger Biehn is a corporate controller and part-time poet.

 

 


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Sheri Yutzy: Healing

Let your proud eyes fall
and let the world fall
from your shoulders.
For one moment
like silent, circling snow.
Your eyes are tired.
Let them fall
and let the muddy Jordan
sweep over your head
one last time
and you will find healing.


sheri3Sheri Yutzy loves to write words that illuminate the longings of the world. You can find more of her work at sheriyutzy.com.


Photography by Elisa Knicely.

Conrad Fisher: Sleep Well

You said someday you’d ride a long white Cadillac and
Roll into town dressed up to kill.
But I just laughed and said we’ll never get that far,
But sure enough, it turns out you will.

And you used to dream about a place up on the hillside,
A little spot to call your own.
I can’t believe the way your dreams are coming true now that
You’re six feet down and all alone.

Chorus:
But I hope you
Sleep well my friend.
May the angels lead you in.
May you be safe in heaven’s arms
Before the devil knows you’re dead.
Sleep well my friend.

The preacher said, “Thank God! You’re in a better place now!”
I said you liked it here just fine.
And he said, “Let’s sing, Hallelujah! You had found a friend in Jesus.”
But I told them all you were a friend of mine.

They laid you down, sang you a song, and tucked you in, Lord they
Put you away like a paper doll.
But I think you’d laugh at all these flowers on your grave because
It’s just not much like you at all.


You can see more of Conrad’s work on his YouTube channel.


conrad_fisherConrad writes: I am an artist/songwriter who grew up in Lancaster County. My earliest influences were accapella groups like The Garments of Praise, Cathedrals, The Miller Four, and Keith Lancaster. In the past several years, I have been focusing on honing my lyrical abilities by studying the work of John Prine, Tom Waits, Jason Isbell, Merle Haggard, as well as by reading poetry of the classical poets. Although I consider Pennsylvania home, I currently reside in Brentwood, TN and work part time as a musician, and part time as an undertaker’s assistant in a funeral home.

Sheila J Petre: The Manic-Depressive

This is what I mind the most:
When I tire of medication, everybody knows.
I sit at home and sulk, and mind it,
Missing bits of something, one thing at the most.
(I could know, if only I could find it.)

This is what I fear the most:
That this stray thought, which comes and goes,
Will go at last, and I will never find it.
It will not free me when I need it most.
(Housebound, I wrap myself in me, and mind it.)

This is what I seek the most:
Some sure whole center where a new life flows
For those who know full brokenness, nor mind it.
I seek and pray, and when I seek it most,
I fall, free fall, am caught up close–
and find it.


sheila with childrenSheila is a Pennsylvania housewife who shares love, laughter and the hope of the resurrection with her welder husband, Michael, and their seven children born from 2007 through 2017.


Photography by Kenneth Godoy

Kenneth Godoy: A Miracle on Tuesday

A Miracle on Tuesday
by Kenneth Godoy

1.
These fingers don’t write enough poems that plead for God.

Though indebted to a world that can magically heal its wounds I am still too ungrateful.
The fool has said in his heart there is no need for thankfulness:
God isn’t who he says he is.

And, there are two kinds of Jobs:
The one who endures hardness like a man;
And the Job who curses God for even one dead sheep.

I know the Job I am
If I never experienced a full destruction or the boils or the ashes
Except in my dreams;
Where I am tossed to and from the jaw of one devouring dream to another.

2.
Yet, I wake this morning to a world sculpted in silver dust,
The whole earth is wrapped in a new skin covering the black oaks The evergreens, the shrubs, cascading through every spearhead of grass.
The wind bears down and breaks fine grit whirlwind spume from the snows surface,
Hurls it in my face then roars at the trees and they bend in mockery.
And while wading this blue white deluvion.
I suddenly remember what I lost;
By epiphany, I recognize who I am,
By faith; I know and am known.
And I weep without weeping.
And I weep in gratefulness.

And the sun still shines despite me,
Because of me, perhaps.
Granting one day more to this rebellious child.
Mercy is a beautiful word
Beautiful is a merciful word:
Though this winter slay me;
Yet will I rise.
Though my flesh is weak
Yet my lips pray to God;
With tongue and hands made alive from the dead.


Spoken, recorded, and edited by Kenneth Godoy.


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