Category Archives: Faith

My One-Note Song

Last summer I entered my first poetry book, Light in My Darknessin the Writers Digest Self Published Book Awards contest. Riding high on the coattails of being named a finalist in the Cascade Writers Contest in the published poetry category, I decided to submit my book on the last possible day of the contest and see what happened. I didn’t really expect to win, but I thought the feedback I would receive might be valuable.

I received an email with the judge’s comments just yesterday. I was a bit surprised to find that my submission was only read by one judge. Given the price tag on entering and the national scope of the contest I figured they’d have at least two judges per book.

At any rate, I thought I’d share the less-than-glowing review here with you all. I know, it seems weird to share a review that doesn’t just rave about my book, but I do so for a reason. Although the judge found fault with my labor of love, it was the very fault that he or she found that made me smile. Here’s the review, copied and pasted with grammatical errors and all, with my favorite part in bold:

Judge’s Commentary*:

This book of Christian devotional poetry is written by a woman who pulled herself up from the depths of depression through faith, and she should be admired for it. I also appreciate is that the poet uses many different forms of poetry to express herself:  pantoums, sonnets, villanelles, cinquains, triolets, sestinas, ghazals, acrostics, and even a concrete poem, as well as other rhymed verse and free verse.

My problem with this 127-page book is that it is composed almost entirely of poems of praise, and after a while it becomes a one-note song. The entire first section uses the metaphor of darkness into light to describe her salvation and coming up from depression. One can say the same thing only so many ways. There are five more sections to the book, on themes of “bring light to the darkness of others”, “being set free from the past”, forgiveness, “god in the midst of pain and suffering”, and a last section of what I would describe as “pure praise”.  Recurring themes come up in poem after poem: darkness vs. light, Jesus vs. Satan, “jars of clay”, etc. Most of the poems have an addendum of a Scripture quote too. Also, the poet chooses to label the type of poetic form beneath the title of most of these poems. This isn’t necessary, and many rhymed poems here are mislabeled as “free verse.”  The book conveys its message through its cover too – a kneeling figure on a cliff looking up to an image of a cross on a mountainside. The type size is quite large- was it meant to be a “large-print” book ? (I’m not asking this facetiously.) The bio and blurbs on the back cover are well-presented.

Granted, I am not a devout person, so maybe I don’t take the message to heart as a more religious person would. Still, I think even a faithful reader may find this book a bit repetitive after the first twenty or thirty pages.  My advice to the author: Use your interest in poetic forms to your best advantage, and diversify your themes and subjects. There is so much you can say from a perspective of faith about nature, your family and friends, social issues, even your career.  Don’t be afraid to bring in more details of your life and less of the language of praise, and your next book may be even better.

I am thrilled that this reader saw my praise of God so prominently in my poetry. If that is my one-note song, I’ve succeeded in doing what God has called me to do. I’ll keep singing that song until the day I die. To those struggling with depression, I want to clearly reveal the love and hope of Jesus so that they might one day praise Him, too, for being the Light in their darkness.

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Exhale Fear

Pain in childbirth
Holding my breath
Breathe nurse prods
I must inhale oxygen
exhale carbon dioxide

Watching him grow
Often I held my breath
Amazed at his creativity

Now he’s grown
Finding his own way
I must inhale Spirit
exhale fear and trust God

___________________

Today is Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and the word of the day is breathbreathe, or some other form of the word.

 

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Prayer Sparks

Despair sparks desperation
sends me to my knees
I want to cry
I don’t know why
Sobbing turns to prayer
deep in my soul

Mercy sparks forgiveness
sends me to my knees
I find healing
for this desperate feeling
Life that makes me whole

———
This is my writing for Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. The word for today is spark.

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What Is Bravery?

Why say I’m brave?
You don’t call robbery victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call shooting victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call mugging victims brave
when they tell
Yet your clouded view calls me brave
when I tell
I was raped

_______________________________

Today is Quadrille Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. The prompt will be up at 12:00 PT, but I learned that the word for today is “cloud” from Victoria who has access to the prompt earlier than I do. But I wrote the first draft of this Quadrille earlier this morning not knowing what the word was and then worked it in later. I think it’s better with the change.

The impetus for this poem was something that happened last week when I told a group of people in a meeting that I had been raped. I won’t go into the context of the discussion, but during and after the meeting several people told me how brave I was to speak up. As I pondered those comments over the past week I felt an anger welling up. To me, those comments were indicative of the stigma that still remains on victims of sexual assault, like somehow we are partly to blame for what has happened to us and we should be ashamed of what we’ve been through.

I am thankful that God doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t call me brave; He calls me beloved.

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Anger Gone Awry

She told me I had a right to be angry
And so anger became my constant companion

Thoughts of self-defense courses fled
I dwelt on thoughts of revenge instead
I was obsessed with Murderous meditations

If I had a gun I’d shoot him
If I had a gun I’d shoot him
If I had a gun I’d shoot him
Like a never-ending echo

I wrote in my Journal my bloodthirsty plan
I’d line up Mike and Russ and all the others
I’d blindfold them and shoot them all
with hollow point bullets
Aren’t they more painful than regular bullets

In hindsight, reading this Journal entry
I wonder if the blindfold represented
my deep longing for Mercy
They wouldn’t see death coming

My plan never came to fruition
which is probably just as well
God’s plan of forgiveness
released me from my hell

I know that what they did was wrong
but vengeance is not mine
It would consume my life
if I let anger my pain prolong

I may have a right to be angry
yet anger gone awry
is no saving grace

So I choose peace

______________________________

Thursday will be Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub and I will be linking this poem. I was going to wait to post it until then but changed my mind.

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Light Shines in the Shadows

Lurking in the shadows
of my mind, of my heart

Anger, hatred, fear, doubt
dwell where they think
they escape the light

I dare not enter
the shadows alone

With Light in hand
I reveal that which hides
in the shadows
of my soul

________________________

It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub once again and De has assigned us the word “shadow” for our 44-word tomes. Head on over and see what others have to say about their shadow or shadows.

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Missing You

It never leaves
the pain, the heartache
of losing one so dear

Or one who should have been dear
but for youth and shame
that kept me
from truly knowing
and being known by you

I hid so much from you
I didn’t let you be there for me
as a mom should be

It’s not your fault
I know that now
but then I was afraid
I would disappoint you

Even at 23 your love
seemed scarce
but was only hidden
behind my own doubts and fears

If you were here today
I would tell you how much I love you
I’d share the love of Jesus with you
tell you how He opened my eyes
to your love that I could never see

I would celebrate with you
I’d make you your favorite pecan pie
with fresh whipped cream for your birthday
just as you always made my favorite
lemon meringue for my birthday
We’d marvel that you made it 90 years

But you didn’t, so we won’t
I’ll just miss you like I always do

___________________________________

Shared for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Head on over and see what others have to share.

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Safety of Your Wing

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I am safe
Safe to rejoice
Safe to weep and mourn

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I am secure
Secure in my future
Secure from the former things

Here in the shadow of Your wing
I will rest
Rest in peace
Rest in harmony and grace

I seek You and I find love
Here in the shadow of Your wing

___________________________

At dVerse Poets Pub today, Victoria is calling for poems about feathers, wings, or birds. At first I was going to write about bald eagles, which remind me of my mom. But then when I went to get lunch the song “Shadow of Your Wings” by Casting Crowns came on my iPod in the car and it gave me the idea for this poem instead.

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Gospel Clerihews

The apostle John
dropped his nets at dawn
followed Jesus with the ten
all became fishers of men

*********

Simon’s son Judas
by his betrayal showed us
it’s not enough to meet God
if a different path we trod

*********

Today’s Form for All prompt at dVerse Poets Pub is a lesson the Clerihew. I just started an in-depth study of the book of John so thought I’d write about a couple of famous people from that book. Head on over the dVerse to see who others are writing about in short verse.

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Endless Roller Coaster

It occurred to me the other day
that I’m on a roller coaster ride
The Cyclone on Coney Island perhaps
or Goliath at Six Flags

I chug up the hill on encouragements
Your story needs to be told
You are such a good writer
I love your perspective
You are so brave

I reach the top, elated and determined
Ready to conquer all my doubts and fears
Ready to write my memoir
and tell my story to the world

Then comes the drop, racing downhill
at breakneck speed to the bottom
to unconquered doubt and fears
No one cares about your story
You’re no Mary Karr or Maya Angelou
You can’t let people know everything about you
What will your family think?
You must be crazy, just give up now

Then just this morning I realized
if I was on a roller coaster ride
it would be over by now
because they only last about two minutes

Guess I’ll get back in line for another ride

_____________________

Sharing for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub today.

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