Poems

Jay

by Joe Chambers

this is a poem for my brother
a seer of deep secretes from dark eyes.
Though young, an old love tethers his ethereal soul
and keeps him a stranger in this land.

He sees, he knows, it is all inside
And small things cast long shadows

I found him sleeping

So, I will tell stones and feathers who you were
When you were young—about the
moon and hangman’s hut

Oh, to see!

But I have my eyes
And that is all I need—I know that now
this is a poem for my brother

 *************************************

How To Regain Your Soul

by William Stafford 

Come down Canyon Creek trail on a summer
afternoon
that one place where the valley floor opens out.
You will see
the white butterflies.  Becasue of the way
shadows
come off those vertical rocks in the west, there
are
shafts of sunight hitting the river and a deep
long purple gorge straight ahead.  Put down your
pack.

Above, air sighs the pines.  It was this way
when Rome was clanging, when Troy was being
built,
when campfires lighted caves.  The white
butterflies dance
by the thousands in the still sunshine.  Suddenly
anything
could happen to you.  Your soul pulls toward the
canyon
and then shines back through the white wings to
be you again.

****************************************************************************

Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House
by Billy Collins  
 
The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

*****************************************************************************

Need of Jesus

I am blind, be thou my light,
 ignorant, be thou my wisdom,
 self-willed, be thou my mind.
Open my ear to grasp quickly thy Spirit’s voice,
 and delightfully run after his beckoning hand;
Melt my conscience that no hardness remain,
 make it alive to evil’s slightest touch;
When Satan approaches may I flee to thy wounds,
 and there cease to tremble at all alarms.
Be my good shepherd to lead me into the green pastures of thy Word,
 and cause me to lie down beside the rivers of its comforts.
Fill me with peace, that no disquieting worldly gales
 may ruffle the calm surface of my soul.
They cross was upraised to be my refuge,
Thy blood streamed forth to wash me clean,
Thy death occurred to give me a surety,
Thy name is my property to save me,
By thee all heaven is poured into my heart,
 but it is too narrow to comprehend thy love.
I was a stranger, and outcast, a slave, a rebel,
 but thy cross has brought me near,
  has softened my heart,
  has made me thy Father’s child,
  has admitted me to thy family,
  has made me joint-heir with thyself.
O that I may love thee as thou lovest me,
 that I may walk worthy of thee, my Lord,
 that I may reflect the image of heaven’s first-born.
May I always see thy beauty with the clear eye of faith,
 and feel the power of thy Spirit in my heart,
 for unless he move me mightily in me
 no inward fire will be kindled.

 ************************************

Rooms

by Jay Chambers

Silhouette pines brush the night’s hair
her dark wandering locks tossed down around my shoes.
Tall and slender rhododendrons wear the bridal gowns to bed
whispering “Soon, soon”.
And tonight, the star-map above my head could guide you
to the Palace of God–
my thumping heart is one room in that great residence,
this silver clearing is another.

Tuesday’s Child

by Jay Chambers
I suddenly remembered my own death
while lifting a drink to my lips.
I paused.
Unsaid words, half-written poems, notes from my songs,
and apologies which I had been crafting for years–like
paintings on my soul’s ceilings–
all these fly up past me as I fall down.

Death has anasthesia in it,
A hypnotic whisper– it is your best friend’s voice
saying
“leave it.”
“It doesnt matter.”
I remember the last thing I saw–
It was my son’s face,
dark like a negative on an orange background
inside my closed eyelids.
“Where are the angels?”  I thought at the end.

**************************************************************************

Mount Tacoma

by Jay Chambers

I thrive on her perfection–her green gathered skirt,
her white maiden shoulders, and the casual wisp of clouds
she wears for a scarf.
Her constant staring has drained off all my restless preenings,
and has given me the cool blood of the trees for my veins.
She could not make of me a rugged, leathery carcass
such as what the ghost-haunted desert would have shaped.
Neither am i some round-tummied tropical native with a
broad-toothed grin.
I am not gaunt or wise with my bones sucking on my skin as
Africa prefers her lovers.
But this I have become:
A sullen, white-skinned muse, all sweater-clad and rain-soaked
working away in the garden she told me to plant.

**********************************************************************

MOUSE AND BIRD

by Jay Chambers

I sit in this dirt.
I sit in this worm-tunneled hole.
My feet are sore from walking in the ruts.
My ears burned red from the sun.
I have no hat.

It was just last week…
we bought a five dollar pass
and found the ancient path.
We lived near the sky for a day,
leaning against glacier winds.
You stood there, arms extended
facing the updraft.
You said, “Do like this! Like this!”
So I did.  I reached, embracing rows
of ridges and low mountain horizons
filed one behind the other.
I wished for that last pale ribbon of land.
It seemed to float in the low sky.

And we became kites together like that,
Angled high up, gulping thin air,
intoxicated by height,
lording our place over the clouds.

How our skin glowed pink that day,
and our free hearts fluttered
in their casings like unborn babies
in their mother’s wombs.

You have gone south now
and I am back in my tunnel,
but the dark speaks of you.
I hear “Do like this!”
And remember our day
Now growing yellow with age.

**************************************************************************

Saint Michelle Falls

by Jay Chambers

Breeze filters through
the cascading mélange
liquid snow.
Breath on my body,
and frothy white noise
on my soul.
Sun dips his burning finger
tormented in his hell,
spray flashes bright like lightening
and she trembles in his spell.
Current dance under the ledge
shine your light on the stone…
mirrored reflections on ceilings
carved blood against bone.
The Mountain’s faith is stolen.
He longs to keep this pulsing vein
in each pool he tries to hold her
but she cuts him when it rains.

*************************************************************************

GRANDMOTHER’S BOOKS

by Jay Chambers

“You must keep us dry,”
comes the whisper
through the dark hallway
and the cracked bedroom door
to me.
Out of their curled-up, wrinkled skins
and yellow pages–
strings showing like exposed nerves
on their spines–
“You must keep us dry,”
they repeat softly,
softer than faint breath
we hear form the cradle
in our sleep,
softer than the frightened wind,
crying–caught in the chimney,
softer than the pad of cat’s feet
on the kitchen floor–
“You must keep us dry”.
And I, lying so still,
hear rain pelt the housetop
and see visions of condensation on windows,
and mildew spreading in the corners of closets
when it comes again–
so close this time
I can feel it on the back of my neck:
“You must keep us dry.”

************************************************

Sioux Haiku

by William Stafford
On a relief map
mountains remind my fingers:
“Where Crazy Horse tried.”

**************************************************

Place is Ancient

by Clinton Chambers (age 15)

It is silent.  My thoughts are the only noise.  This is somewhere I long to go every year.  It is a place of seclusion.  This place is ancient, you can tell by the erosion on the rocks and the pictures in the snow.  I spend all summer preparing for the trials and journeys of the mountains.  I push my soul to run, and run forever, preparing for the loss of breath when I see the mountains.  I have memories of a different life.  My thoughts would keep me company.  My father tells me he should have been born here, this is where he lives and dies.  This is where I live and die, in Deadman.

*************************************************************************

Psalm in a Hotel Room

by Joseph Bayly
I’m alone Lord
alone
a thousand miles from home.
There’s no on here who knows my name
except the clerk
and he spelled it wrong
no one to eat dinner with
laugh at my jokes
listen to my gripes
be happy with me about what happened today
and say that’s great.
No one cares.
There’s just this lousy bed
and slush outside
between the buildings.
I feel sorry for myself
and I’ve plenty of reason
to.
Maybe I ought to say
I’m on top of it
praise the Lord
and things are great
but they’re not.
Tonight
it’s all
grey slush.

*************************************

 “BEYOND THIS GOD CANNOT GO”
 by Creath Davis
 

Behold! A world! And worlds!
 Light. And dark.
 Sun. And moon.
 From where?

 Before time. Before light.
 Before anything, was God.
 “In the beginning God.”
 God created!
 
 “And God said,”…and it was so.
 Firmament. Dry land. Heaven and earth.
 Wasters together.   Seas.
 “And it was good.”
 
 Before – nothing.  Now – so much.
 Galaxy beyond galaxy.  Time
 Living things.  But all “things.”
 No “one.”
 
 Again, God labored.
 In the mist,  He knelt.
 In the dust,  He toiled.
 In His own image, He created.

 Ah!  A new creature.
 More precious than all before.
 God cradled this creature.
 Into it, He breathed His life.

A living soul!  Some  “one.”
A person.  Man!
Man to share His creation!
Could God do more?

Creation.  Man.  God.
Perfect fellowship.
Until …

Sin.  Broken fellowship.  Separation.
How to bridge the gulf?
How to offer His life anew?
How to let man know?

Christ!  His own Son!  The God-Man!
First-born of a new race.
Man – in Christ – now sons!
Children.  Heirs.

Sons, to share His very Life.  And,
Beyond this God cannot go!

***********************************************

Mystic Mountains

by Cole Chambers 

Majestic sirens beckon to me across the expanse that divides us

They seduce me with their glory

Inviting awe and reverence all the while content knowing their wonder evades my soul

Never knowing their intoxicating presence, my heart would be mundane

How do others who gaze upon them not feel the sweet addiction they inflict upon the soul

They haunt me these mystic mountains

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