I Do Not Love That Dog (More Than I Love You) (“Doggie-Love” is only implied.)

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See how the title runs into the acrostic? This title really doesn’t stand very well on its own; so, I thought I would helpfully point this out to you since the typefaces I am allowed here don’t allow the acrostic to present itself as forcefully as it does in my regular format. I hope that is not too patronizing. Anyway, here is the poem, and the title once more:

I Do Not Love That Dog

My darling, beloved, loyal, good dog-soul,
Outside our sweet life together, at times—
Realistically beyond my control—
Every so often, I may chance to find
That another member of your great kind
Has found its way to me (I KNOW YOU MIND),
And, so we briefly meet, as just new friends,
Not wanting anything more. I am sure
I could never love any other dog—
Like this newcomer, for instance—more than,
Oh, Sweetheart, I have always loved you.
Velvety-soft fur did not turn my head
Even for a second from your good heart.
Yep. We did not kiss: we only touched.
Oh, please, do not let wild jealousy start:
Understand I do not love him too much!!!

for “Roosevelt”

by Gwennon
October 18, 2017

This was one of those compositions that started out with, “I wonder if this might be possible….”, continuing with the title and acrostic being captured, along with one of the lines at the bottom, followed by by other lines out of order, written into the note section of my iPhone (this is one of those times I am very grateful to have this phone, as it replaces stacks of messy manuscript papers in my purse), referred to often as I fixed myself a late breakfast (it being a school day, and my having driven my son to school before walking at the mall, then heading home), and unexpectedly finished less than an hour after it began. Some of my favorite, and most-fun acrostic poems have begun writing themselves quickly this way, and considering that some of my acrostic sonnets have taken weeks, and sometimes months, to complete, this was a very good surprise.

Those who like to analyze meter and rhyme schemes may notice a certain messiness between lines 5 and 12, which, I believe, accurately reflects the tone and message of the poem. Though there should be a constant, somewhat triangular tension holding a patterned poem, such as the sonnet, together, there are cases in which not all the elements (meter, rhyme, and story) exert equal pressure. In one poem, meter may be compromised to move the story along. In another, rhyme may the short leg on the poetry stool. Since the poem is simply a frame for the story the writer wants to tell at the moment, story is the one element that the up-front poet will want to protect above the other elements.

Moving right along, my lovely (I thought) poem spectacularly failed in its mission to enlighten and satisfy the beautiful, often-understanding doggie for whom it was written. If he hadn’t pestered me so frequently with endless questions about a dog I accidentally met, and only briefly, (the operational word being “briefly”) at the mall for less than five minutes, the poem may never have been written. In reality, my meeting with “the other dog” may have have less than three minutes before the dog left me to go on to the next person. Referring back to line 14 in the poem, you may notice that “the other dog” and I shared no kisses. And though I did not write about it here, we also shared no hugs. For me, that was huge. But my own doggie-love discounted all of that and allowed himself to marinate in insecurity and offense for the rest of the day, and I am not sure he fully understands what I am trying to tell him with this poem: he has not been replaced in my heart, nor will he be. Everyone says that dogs love unconditionally and are so forgiving. My answer to that is, “Yep. Usually. But not always.”

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The Trouble with Saints

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The trouble with saints
Is that they are a little too much
Like real people
Living in a real, fallen world
Full of faults and flaws
That are obvious to everyone,
Even themselves.
The trouble with saints
Is that not a single one of them
Even for a minute
Ever managed to live a sinless life,
So that the particular well-beloved saint
Who, from a safe distance,
Appears both shiny and appealing,
When viewed up close and personal,
Has great trouble
Standing firm
On the slippery pedestal
Of ever-changing public opinion
Where we motion for saints to stand.
The trouble with saints
Is that every last one of them
Desperately needs a Savior
Just as much as the rest of us.
So long as we keep our focus
Only on their ordinary humanness
Instead of gazing instead
At their Jesus-hungry hearts
And their faltering footsteps
Stumbling,
Crawling at times,
In the direction of
Holiness
And
Heaven,
We will always have
A problem with saints.

by Gwennon
September 13, 2017

In recent months, I was reading a book about a woman who formed a friendship with Mother Teresa. This woman was both enamored with Mother Teresa’s love for Jesus and people, and shocked that Mother Teresa was not actually perfect this side of heaven. It was pretty encouraging, actually.

If I Had My Very Own Pterodactyl

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It will—SIGH!—probably never happen;
Well, not this side of heaven, anyway.
Of course, I can’t help dreaming of snappin’
Up an orphan pterodactyl someday,
Like other people might adopt a dog.
Desperate for a good home of its own,
Jealously studying all other pets,
Upset when this one or that is shown
Someone who has chosen to rescue it,
That lonely dinosaur waits now for me:
Looking hopefully for my deposit
Of cash and paperwork so it can see
Very soon an end to its loneliness,
Expecting food, hugs, and kisses to share.
I know our meeting will bring us both bliss,
Taking us both into each other’s hearts there.

by Gwennon
May 26, 2017

I think this would make the most fun cartoon-y children’s book, set in an animal shelter, filled with all kinds of zoo animals, each with a sign (in the animal’s own handwriting) on the front of the cage that said, “Choose Me!” and with each animal sitting at a desk, writing a love letter to its future family on fancy stationery.

I apologize for posting this twice. It needed four major punctuation edits that I did not see until after it was posted. Then I had to also go back into a couple of files to make the changes there. Sigh. And I call myself an English major!

Petrol and a Sausage Biscuit

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When I started the car this morning, I
Had a lovely surprise: a full gas tank!
AND a hot sausage biscuit standing by.
This kindness I must remember to thank—
Carelessly forgetting would not be wise!—
Oh, LORD, help me hold this in my heart and
Understand I am precious in these eyes:
Loved in action by my husband’s great heart.
Distracted by other things, I sometimes
Believe I am not important to him,
Even as he proves me wrong. Many times,
By the time I at last think to thank him,
Embrace him, appreciate what he does,
The moment has passed, and we’ve both forgot.
That’s not a good excuse, of course, because
Each of these gifts show the treasure I’ve got:
Really, I ought to give that man a kiss!!!

for “Sergei”

by Gwennon
October 13, 2017

Higher

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A hunger for a higher joy
I need to fill my heart.
This greed to taste a lower joy
I need to make depart.
This lowly joy entranced my thoughts:
I did not want to leave.
But consequences following
Now make my low heart grieve.
I can’t outrun this lower joy;
It won’t refuse the chase.
Perhaps the LORD can send a joy
That may this one replace.
Some joys bring joy for just a bit,
And this was one of those.
I need my God to give me joy
Much higher than I chose.

by Gwennon
October 9, 2017

After writing this poem, I enjoyed a lovely, good harp practice, which was definitely a higher love and joy. That was a gift straight out of heaven.

Not Everyone Embraces

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All reported statistics shout, “DANGER!
Leave! Get you to a place of safety! NOW!!!
It’s true: to this creature be a stranger.
Volatile beast, he would never know how
Even to begin being gentle. Mind
Precious life well. Please let him have the space
To breathe without interference. You’ll find
Enough to do giving distance. Don’t chase
Ravenous beasts which many call extinct,
Or make yourself his meal. It’s not worthwhile.
So keep all visits (and reports!) succinct.
Antipathy runs strong through rank and file:
Unwilling to accept, though tales increase,
Religious crowds are praying these will cease.

from Jonathan David Whitcombs’s book Searching For Ropens and Finding God. The sentence, “Not everyone embraces a live pterodactyl” (which, for some reason, always throws me into fits of uncontrolled laughter–I mean, really, when was the last time you saw someone embracing a pterodactyl?) was taken from page 117, and again from page 118, but to fit the acrostic, “pterodactyl” (a specific type of flying monster) was changed to “pterosaur” (a larger group of flying monsters). I somehow (while I was not actively engaged in embracing pterodactyls) didn’t see this until the poem was finally completed. It was so much work, I just can’t force myself to change it now.

by GwennonR
May 1, 2017

I want to caution anyone wanting to read further about reports of living flying reptiles that while Mr. Whitcomb’s book is very well-researched and well-presented, he does occasionally espouse (and advertise) a worldview that I believe does not align completely with scripture. However, in the long haul, this is probably true of most of every single one of us most of the time. So, my reading friends, whenever you see me veering off in something unbiblical, you are more than welcome to call me on it. We so seldom see and recognize our own errors.

Wasted

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Contempt for this time they’re displaying
When choosing to show up so late.—
If only we’d pray when we’re “praying”!

Alone I had started my praying.
Late comers some problems create:
Contempt for this time they’re displaying.

I’m wondering when we’ll start praying.
This prayer time is not a play date.
If only we’d pray when we’re “praying”!

Such carelessness is quite dismaying
Since doctors and lawyers won’t wait,
But contempt for this time they’re displaying.

The call to pray now not obeying,
To visit they won’t hesitate:
If only we’d pray when we’re “praying”!

The stop-time they won’t be delaying.
Real reverence let’s here reinstate:
Contempt for this time is dismaying—
If only we’d pray when we’re “praying”!

by Gwennon
July 12, 2017

I’m not going to even try to pretend that I’m not a part of this problem. And I know we need to give grace. Before leaving for church this morning, I already gave myself that pep-talk, all the while praying desperately that if others in the group wanted this time for social reasons, they’d just not show up. One hour after we were scheduled (according to the church bulletin and the website) to start praying for people, we still hadn’t started praying seriously. Seriously, our so-called “prayer meeting” ended up looking like a tea party in which each newcomer became the latest special guest speaker. I wish I could say that I had never seen anything like it. I simply can’t. This behavior is typical these days, and a couple of times (yep, you can see my self-righteousness at work here) I have arrived early, started praying through the list, then had to stop while late comers shut the whole thing down. But you know what, even though the time was short, and the written prayer list was long, the meeting ended up concluding “on time”. Oh, the irony of it all. I think Satan laughed all the way to the bank over that one. I feel a little sick at heart over this whole thing.

Will you pray for us? I think this may be a world-wide church problem. Especially in rich lands where lack of persecution lulls us to sleep so that we no longer see the need the for church, prayer, and God in our lives. You expect to see those things outside the church, not inside. Oh, unwelcome sorrow! How unhappily we have met again!!!

Here Am I

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Send someone who won’t flub the job,
Especially a job so grand
Now calling for a well-trained mob
Delighted on Your plans to stand.
So, please send in a substitute!
Oh, do not let ME be the one:
My strength is small, my wisdom, too!
Excuse the soul who seldom won
On merit and whose faults aren’t few.
No, You need better souls than me
Engaged in such a worthy task.
Exempt me. This is not to be.
Love, You know better than to ask.
Send someone better far than me:
Enlist a soul who cannot fail.

by Gwennon
June 5, 2017

I’d like to say, “Look how humble I am!” But that is not true. What you see here is 100% pure, unadulterated fear: a panic-attach prayer on paper. Which perfectly matches the wandering rhyme scheme. Notice the staccato rhythm of the lines.

Anyway, on reading this poem, my friend Gail asked if God was sending me to do something in particular. I told her the scary details, concluding with, “I am just not adequate for the job.” Her answer startled me: “Of course you are not adequate. What you want is for God to work His power through you.” After a few more encouraging words, Gail finished with, “Remember God chose a little shepherd boy to be king. He deliberately looks for those who are humble enough to let Him be the power.”

So, now you know how to pray for me.

How can I pray for you today?

Fearfully,

Gwennon

Philosophical Crumbs: Haiku for Kierkegaard

I hope this will both inspire and challenge you. Please be sure to thank Mr. Pullar for writing this lovely poem.

The Consolations of Writing

A friend of mine recently said that he had tried to read Kierkegaard but hadn’t made it. “I need the children’s book version,” he said. Probably not an unusual experience. While I’m not sure I’m the one to provide the children’s book, I thought I could do the next best thing: to try to put a few key ideas of Kierkegaard’s into haiku. Because what else are school holidays for?

So here are my first few offerings.

Kierkegaard Haiku I-III

In the moment, pause.
Life’s a reality, but
The crowd will deceive.

Anxiety means
Choice: the potential to do
Wrong, or to find God.

You must stand alone
Before His face and be known.

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Living Well

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Today, on Acrostic Sonnet Monday, I want to share with you a poem I wrote by the grace of God and with the prayer support of a large number of friends. It celebrates the 50th wedding anniversary of two of my friends and mentors, Lola and Don Compton, without whose prayers and advice I would have floundered many times. Twenty-three years from now, I hope this poem will define my husband’s and my own marriage of fifty years.

Living Well

Learning to look for the best, they can both
Overlook irritants as they arise,
Viewing each other through Jesus’ kind eyes,
Engaged in seeking and proclaiming truth,
Delighted to serve and share God’s good news.
And we look to their example of love
Never failing: God’s deeply rooted love.
Driven, both on the street and in the pews,
Leading many souls to Christ, they are blessed.
On their soft hearts, God’s word they emboss.
Victorious, even when life looks grim,
In Christ, “from Whom all blessings flow”, they rest.
Nearer they grow, through triumph or through loss,
Giving God the glory as they serve Him.

for Lola and Don Compton
April 28, 1967 – April 28, 2017
and the adventure continues

by Gwennon
April 26, 2017