Matthew Cordella-Bontrager: Ground Cherries

Ground cherries are growing on the hell-strip
between the sidewalk and the street
in the scrubby patch where weeds grow wild, fertilized
by passing dogs and fed with tattered plastic wrappers,
peppered with asphalt-sand and broken glass and bottle caps,
seasoned with winter salt, savorless,
all tossed out and left-over and trampled underfoot.

Vines are splayed like a toddler’s legs who
crawled from under her distracted Mother’s gaze and
wandered to this place, precarious and low, and
fell backward onto herself and then sat herself up
alert, suddenly aware that she is unattended.
Early she begins to freckle in the sun, flecked
with glints of yellow and violet. Life and possibility, these,
shining forth from her bare knees, irregular and bright.

A kernel forms in the midst of petals; a baby tooth, a ball-bearing,
and nightshade sparks lengthen into tongues of purple flame.
They reach, grasping; they clasp as fingers,
a fist, clenching in their inner palm a pale-green pearl.
What was brighter and more beautiful, light and motion,
a flurry of sparks that rose up without warning from the earth,
has become by all of this clutching so heavy, dense, and dull;
a firm, fibrous pod whose grip designs to deny the precious bead
due water, wind, and light.

In the fullness of time, the hull
though once so thick and sturdy, becomes
a brittle latticework. It is a stained-glass window in a
long-abandoned church; glass all broken out, patched
for now with scavenged brown cardboard and grey duct tape.
A draft is whistling through the gaps. No image or order is
discernible in the bramble of intersecting lines.
These clinging cobwebs no longer can conceal the
life that has endured so patiently, welling up beneath.
Stretched to the utmost, the veil tears from the bottom up,
revealing a sliver of smoothness, roundness and regularity.

Soon, the Lord who sends the rain
to fall upon the just and the unjust both; who
makes His sun to rise on both the evil and the good
—the Lord Himself will come walking down the sidewalk.
He will find the ground cherries where
He planted them. He will stoop down and
pluck a cherry, pod and all.

The Lord will peel away the papery rind
which had striven to starve the fruit of sunlight, rain, and air;
a glove without a hand, empty, whose clasped fingers
could not choke the germ before its maturation.
When the glove falls empty to the hell-strip,
it falls having despite itself shielded the fruit
from salt, and sand, and smog,
from broken glass, and the haggard scraps of wrappers
run down and scattered by lawnmowers;
from the indignity of passing dogs
and from the insects which had come to devour and destroy
— all this, as the Lord had wisely ordained.

Grass withers and the flowers fade, and the Lord
rolls back the rotting hull like a scroll.
He casts it off as a worn-out garment, chaff
winnowed between His forefinger and His thumb.
He holds His long-awaited treasure up to His face:
it is a glowing coal, a jewel,
wet with life, running red and gold.
It was nourished in secret by the suck of roots
which the Lord Himself had buried.
It yields a subtlety of flavor
that no untroubled produce bears,
to be consumed with joy in season.

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.

Krislyn Shank: Alchemy of Happiness

In our dungeon cells of stone,
Wizened, recluse, all alone;

We are smelting with strange fire
Stranger things of our desire.

Wild ambitions, drastic schemes,
Mixed with pyrite, phantom dreams,

Poured into our molds. Grown cold.
Help us, God! It isn’t gold.

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

Julie Atkinson: Dream Planters

This is for the ones who walk
with their eyes open,
looking up.
It is for the wanderers
who live quietly . . . alive
at home,
dreaming of living wildly.

You are a Dream Planter.
A spark, lighting
the fires of imagination.

We do not know the end.
Only this moment
and moments past.
So walk boldly,
but step gently.

This is Life you are touching.
You are carrying keys to locked doors,
holding seeds,
and watering worlds.
You are a Dream Planter.

Some words from the poet:
“Dream Planters” is a poem about influence and awakening. Of being aware, but not afraid of this power we as humanity have.

DSC_1751 - CopyJulie Atkinson is a wanderer, who likes quiet green things, and silent forests carpeted with moss.

Kenneth Godoy: The Road from Sinjar

The Road from Sinjar, 9:15 AM

by Kenneth Godoy

My mind is broken like the granite mountains.
And they are fractured and fissured,
Shattered to a myriad shards of glass and stone.

Broken is a beautiful word.
Beautiful is a broken word.

But dripping through the fingers of these pinnacles,
And seeping up from the damp shadowed earth beneath the rubble;
Like poetry spilling from the lips of bards,
Like mercy raining from dusty forgotten clouds:
There, pooling in the plains
Is an ocean,
Is a purple sea.

Some words from the poet:

This poem is about a moment of humility, written with the impression of the broken mountains reflecting my pride. The phrase, “broken is a beautiful word; beautiful is a broken word,” transfers the thought from the mountains of pride to the resolution of peace and humility found on the plain.

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

Claudia Esh: Magdalene


by Claudia Esh

Her hands, the hands that dabbled in the coals,
caress the cool curve of serenity.
The liquid gold within is clear as dawn,
and smells of spikenard and prosperity.
In dreams, she’s cherished it a thousand times—
has touched it to the pulsing at her wrists—
and has gone out wrapped in its silken wealth,
aloof as moonlight, tall with confidence.

Who is this Man, alone among the men,
who dares to disregard her scented veils,
who walks among the shattered, yet unscarred,
smelling of desert winds and dust and nails?
He knows her, somehow. All her careful walls
are falling like the legends told of old.
What will those burning eyes see curled within
but starving dreams, dry rinds, and tarnished gold?

And yet His love unfolds her like a bud.
Unwillingly she finds herself unbent
and opening to the light. Is that a rose
unfolding red where all was desolate?
She holds a little back. Still this is left:
the fortune, the perfume clasped in her hands—
security itself, her future’s hopes.
He waits like light: He warms without demand.

She kneels at sandalled feet. The righteous glares
of righteous men can never hurt her here.
This kingly radiance of white-hot grace
shields her: He takes Himself the rush of fear,
and here she honors what He will become,
with fragrant bleeding hands and tangled hair.
The sacrifice anoints the sacrifice
and rises to the heavens like a prayer.

claudiaClaudia Esh loves exploring the world of words, teaching children, and feels most at home in the woods.

Obi Martin: Unto Thee, O Lord

Unto Thee, O Lord, Have I Made My Supplication

Obi Martin

Song like song that is song,
bright as world’s-birth, but widening,
Shattering, out of equilibrium of nothing,
out of balance, out of essence, cries existence,
screaming joy, a pleading to be born and be,
your voice, it now reminds me
of the day the morning stars rejoiced.

Your voice lights up the space
and firmament within my little room below the sky,
aching my heart slow like snowdrops melting upon glass.
Still, but strong and sure and insurmountable,
like redemption swallowing doomsday
up completely, from the blackened scowling
bottom to the scowling blackened top.

Then revelation, and epiphany on Patmos;
cracking skylights bleached by years of searching sunlight
now give way and burst like broken crystal chandeliers
engaged with unsheathed swords of lightning.
Song of reconnection’s climax, worlds merging into one.
Now your song comes down, and animates the breath and morph
of each and us and every wiggling caterpillar.

Some words from the poet:

This poem is essentially freestyle, and demonstrates that freestyle poetry need not be unhinged from meaningful or important subjects. I’ve considered several different titles for this poem, though all perhaps nearly equally unwieldy. One of these was “The Three Stages of Redemption: Creation, Regeneration, and Recreation.” These stages correspond to the three stanzas or line-groups of the poem. Our Lord’s voice creates, convicts and redeems, and re-creates into union. The current title expresses our complete dependency upon our Lord for any meaning or progress in these three areas.

Obi_ProfileObi Martin’s values of vitality and expression inform and influence his interests and use of language and literature.

Lynn Michael Martin: Mortality

Ah Death, cold-throated king of impotence,
Robber of powers, lord of the certain peace,
Thou world where we are borne, and all worlds cease,
And all songs end, all cantos and laments—
What leads from thee, dark dominator, whence
No living thing returns? And what increase
Escapes thy belly, or that black-dyed fleece
That spans all bones bereft of skin and sense?
Thou takest all, and none gainsays thy will,
Not king, nor god, nor health, nor youth, nor skill;
Thy maw licks up all lands and loves they’ve sown.
And so I’ve been, and so thou’st treated me,
Ah Death, I’ve left my fairest things to thee!
And now they’re gone, and I’m once more alone.

A word from the poet:

This poem is less about physical death and more about the power which brings all human endeavors to nothing in the end. All civilizations fall; all kings are forgotten; All those whose beauty we admire grow old. Our friends and family die, and at last we follow them. Perhaps it’s right to hope for redress, but mourning the curse of death is also right.

lynn_martinMr. Martin loves stories and epiphanies, and believes that good poetry expresses humanity’s deepest longings.

Kenneth Godoy: Warsaw

Impressionistic Poem No. 3: Warsaw

9:18 PM

I could find no substance to my thoughts;
I searched and found naught but sweat,
and the scars here and about from old temptations.

Then, from yellow corners
and the cracks in the tiled corridors,
through the paneled walnut door
of my meditations,
I heard the intimations of a song.
An ebb and flow,
like sirens chanting Cherub’s hymns;
yet distant in their descants.
Such lovely echoes
to the smell of must.
Such comfort, in contrast to
a strange bed,
and an unfamiliar sunset.

Ah, but beauty is more aptly worshipped in its subtleties.
The anticipation of beauty is more compelling than beauty itself,
and the memory of some hallowed chords sung
in lonely rooms of my mind,
is far fairer still then to have tasted such,
and have it end.

No, but give me hope,
give me the memories of beauty;
I am content with these,
and I will find healing in them.

A word from Mr. Godoy:

The poem you just read was written in Warsaw, Poland about the impressions of a moment of inspiration when I heard choral music echoing down the halls to the room where I slept. I tried, to some extent, to capture the colors, smells, mood, and thoughts of just a few fleeting minutes, which is why the location and time of day is part of the poem. This specific style is what I call impressionistic poetry.

Conrad Martin: One Blade of Grass

One blade of grass.
One stem,
one leaf.

If this were all we had,
what sacred awe—
what pure delight
would dance about this marvel!
How we would sit, enthralled,
around such excellence,
and dare ourselves to touch
the mystery of green!
The naked purity of line,
the shimmering symmetry,
the image of the sheerest fact—
Divine simplicity.

Not one, but a field—
that spills into a world.
Not one, but a world—
that reels, and overflows!

How shall we walk among such wealth?
Shall we tiptoe through this treasure?
If abundance swallows rareness,
shall it swallow wonder?

Climb a stem, and leap
from folded leaf to leaf unfurled,
Run down blowing sweeps of field,
And revel, dancing, through the world!

Divine abundance, see?
Extravagant simplicity.

portrait on brickMr. Martin loves words for their ability to create deeper awareness and experience of life through connection between minds and hearts.

Michelle Martin: Power Lines

tall steel ladies
dance across the prairies
lifting lines
with deadly voltage
their whirling skirts
to never thaw

other ladies in other places
among trees and roofs
lifting lines
with heavily bangled wrists
their silver tiaras
and slender waists unnoticed
skeletons of metal

michelle_martinMiss Martin loves tiger swallowtails on purple blooms, hunting cucumbers, playing with chords, and absorbing wild stories.