A poem for Lent.

TEMPTATION

For forty days and forty nights
the waters crash above the land
and storm clouds hide the two great lights.
An uncreation is at hand.

For forty days and forty nights
on Sinai, Moses sits in cloud
and eats no bread, nor drinks, but writes
the words that will convict the crowd.

For forty years of weary days
the manna falls, the daily bread
enduring though the people’s praise
decays, and grievance grows instead.

For forty days and forty nights
the Lord endures the tempter’s scorn.
Alone on desert land He fights
to see our undone souls reborn.


(For those who aren’t familiar with A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, this is a rejoinder to Housman’s brilliant poem “Terence, This is Stupid Stuff”)

A REPLY TO TERENCE

After A.E. Housman

Terence, lad, you’ve missed our point:
If we’ve our noses out of joint
It isn’t Milton who’s to blame,
Nor any poet of his fame.
’Tis just your stuff that’s tough to bear,
With dead lads heaped up everywhere.
If what’s-his-name — your clever king —
Had had your dose of poisoning,
He’d not have made it to the meal.
(Though granted, you’ve got sex appeal —
If one thinks dying young is sexy.)
Don’t let this quick riposte perplex ye;
We’re not quite the dolts you think,
So lad — shut up and have a drink.


DAVID SOMETHING?

That middle-aged old-school Republican dude
Who broke with his folk in a Trumpian feud;
Who writes for those center-ish left or right mags;
Who thinks that extremists are all scalawags;
Who argued the case for the war in Iraq
Then later took some of his arguments back;
Who — wait, there are two of them? Different guys?
How do you distinguish or characterize?
Remember: the French one was born in the States
While Frum’s from Toronto and grew up on skates*.

*(probably.)


HOW JUST, HOW LEARNED, HOW WISE

I once heard loud shouts, which seemed to gurgle up from the lower regions through waters, one toward the left, crying, “O how just!” another toward the right, “O how learned!” and a third from behind, “O how wise!” …


19th OF JUNE

Let earth with heaven ever sing
The good news the apostles brought:
The Lord God Jesus Christ is King.

The Word, His armies marshaling
With sharpened sword and bowstring taut
Let earth with heaven ever sing.

Now hear their anthem echoing:
O’er kingdoms His own hands have wrought
The Lord God Jesus Christ is King!

And yet when night is darkening
I see with shame where I have not
Let earth with heaven ever sing -

Where I abandoned suffering
For comfort, as if I forgot
The Lord God Jesus Christ was King.

But wake, my soul, from hopeless thought.
Up! There are battles to be fought.
Let earth with heaven ever sing:
The Lord God Jesus Christ is king!


MEMORIAL DAY 2020

In memory of Spc. Tristan C. Smith

A hundred years have passed since trench and gas
Laid “dulce et decorum est” to rest.
And since the sequel wars have all worn masks,
The reasons and the right not manifest.
A soldier now, they say, will die for friends
Who march beside him, comrades in the fight,
And not for noble causes, higher ends
Or far-off unseen strangers in the night.
But on my friend’s last living visit home
He played us all “God Bless the U.S.A.”
And told us he’d fly back across the foam
To give some kids a fighting chance to play.
When manmade mottoes proven false are gone
The greatest love a man can give lives on.


HOLY SATURDAY

Housebound
on the Sabbath,
not allowed
to see the body,
say goodbye,
anoint the dead;
not allowed
to touch finality
and move on.

What grief
for Mary
on the other side
of Saturday
to find
an empty grave.


SHELTER IN PLACE

The tidal wave is cresting,
and those of us with half-built houses
on the rock are eyeing the sandy shore,
considering a scrabble up the dunes
to higher ground. We’ll pitch a tent there,
maybe get a yellow raft from someone,
ride it out a little further back
and then come down to build
our houses once the storm has passed.

Coleman Glenn

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