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Archive for the ‘Free Verse / Poetry’ Category

The day after your child is born

You realize that pain and discomfort can be worthwhile

*

The day after you utter piercing words

You realize that hurt cannot be taken back

*

The day after you are swindled

You recognize all the signs you should have noticed

*

The day after you receive that “thing” you thought would change everything

You recognize that no “thing” has the ability to do that

*

The day after you enact revenge on someone

You realize there is no satisfaction in it

*

The day after you lose someone you love

You recognize the void they filled in your life

*

The day after a “One Night Stand”

You find the emptiness within you

*

The day after you forgive someone

You realize that it is you who have been set free

*

The day after the “Dark Night of the Soul”

You find that God’s mercies are new every morning

*

The day after a tragedy

You realize how blessed you were two days ago

*

The day after you see one of your children step into their destiny

You find yourself being thankful for the sacrifices you made for them

*

The day after you compromise on the things you truly believe

You realize the power of shame

*

The day after you die

You’ll realize that how you lived really mattered

*

The day after Jesus comes back

You’ll realize that the truth was never really negotiable

*

(Proverbs 14:12)

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I could speak of the place that the Lord first found me

& of the great saints who have gone before

*

I could tell of the mighty battles that have been fought

& of the miraculous deeds that have been done

*

I could sing a hymn of God’s great holiness

& of the wonders of His ways

*

I could paint a portrait of the splendor of the heavenly city

& of the angelic host that await us there

*

But in truth

it is only the

faith

& hope

& love

that I carry within my heart today

that has the potential to change anything

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Last night, our daughter spent hours trying to convince one of her classmates not to end their life.  I wish I could say that this is a first, but all of our kids have been pulled into this sort of thing before.  It was late, and the situation was far from settled when I finally forced her off the phone.  This morning, she woke up troubled and exhausted.  As I sensed her emotional state, I was impressed to write it down.  Please pray for our young people, these are difficult times and their struggles are real.

 

Are You Still Here?

*

As my eyes reluctantly crack open, I can see that it’s still dark

And I wonder whether you’re still here

*

It was another night of tears and prayers

And words that seemed to fall to the ground

*

I tried everything I could think of

But eventually, I ran out of things to say

*

You seemed to have a counterpoint for every encouragement

And ultimately I could not carry you to a place you refused to go

*

When we hung up the phone, I cried out to God

But I knew that He wouldn’t force Himself on you

*

I know that you’re looking for someone who will take away the pain

But you’ve grown immune to the love that’s already around you

*

No one has the strength to pry the hurt from your clinched fists

No one else can provide you with the desire to go on

*

Hope can be an elusive thing

But it’s not because it’s complicated

*

You don’t necessarily need to believe that things will get better

But you have to be open to the possibility that they could

*

For whatever it’s worth, I really do love you

And it’s hard not to feel as though I’ve let you down

*

I keep searching for a remedy

But the shelves of the medicine chest look empty

*

So I lay here in the pre-dawn hours of the morning

And I wonder whether you’re still here

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I will call your name

But I will not plead for an answer

*

I will knock

But I will not open the door for you

*

I will invite you

But I will not beg you to come

*

I will speak words of life to you

But I will not bend your ear

*

I will set a table for you

But I will not push you into the chair

*

I will love you with all my heart

But I will not coerce you to accept it

*

I will bring you to healing waters

But I will not dunk you into them

*

I will instruct you in the ways of wisdom

But I will not mandate that you learn

*

I will warn you

But I will not compel you to take heed

*

I will make you aware when you have strayed

But I will not turn you around

*

I will guide you to a clear pool

But I will not induce you to drink of it

*

I will give you food for thought

But I will not demand that you think

*

I will bring you comfort

But I will not require you to be consoled

*

I will unlock your shackles

But I will not take them off of you

*

I will always tell you the truth

But I will allow you to believe whatever you choose

*

I will prepare a place for you

But I will not force you to dwell there

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You’re the One who gave me breath

even though You knew I’d use it to curse Your name

*

You’re the One that came off Your throne to find me

even though You knew I’d go my own way

*

You’re the One who gave me freedom

even though You knew I’d use it to liberate myself from You

*

You’re the One who gave me gifts

even though You knew I would use them to glorify myself

*

But in Your sovereignty You also knew;

that one day I would bless Your Holy name,

that I would find that my way leads to death

and

that I would see that apart from You there is no freedom nor glory

*

All praise and honor and glory be unto You O Lord

My hope and my salvation!

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Our culture has an endless fascination with the rich and famous, which becomes especially acute when an iconic star passes away (e.g. Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston…).  Last week’s untimely death of pop music star, “Prince” is a case in point.  For days, or sometimes weeks, the media is saturated with images of the star, clips of weeping fans, tributes from other celebrities, intrigue about the facts surrounding their death, a sudden burst of interest in their catalog from decades ago, often times revisionist retrospectives of their body of work, a slow parade of alleged insiders who claim to have some new tidbit of information, and sometimes even a star-studded funeral to send them off.  We tend to view their life through the lens of their glorious accomplishments and their vast renown; but I would suggest that more often than not they pass from this life broken and alone.  The myth of fame and fortune is stripped bare by death.  I doubt seriously that anyone has ever asked that their gold records, or Grammy award, or Oscar, or Olympic Medal be brought to their bedside as they face their final minutes.  Ultimately, the quality of a life isn’t defined by its shiniest moments, but by those day to day instances when no one is looking.  In the end, it will be about who we have loved, and who has loved us.  The piece that follows is something I wrote years ago to portray the emptiness of such an existence.  For me, fame and fortune is like this hollow mansion.

*

Hollow Mansion

*

My eyes flick open to the dim light of the pre-dawn morning

and my head throbs with the dull ache of the night before

There is a beautiful woman lying beside me

but I find myself straining to remember her name

When she wakes, I’ll have to pretend that last night meant something to me

but for now, I couldn’t be more alone

*

As I stare at the ornate ceiling of this massive room

I can see all the cracks along its edges

They not only speak of the sandy soil on which this estate was built

they testify to the weak foundation of this new life that I have established

While everyone else’s eyes are naturally drawn to the beautiful gold trim

all I can see is the fractured façade

While they all seem to notice the extravagant furnishings in each room

I find myself focusing on the vast empty space created by every high ceiling

*

These thoughts take me back to the water stained ceiling of my childhood bedroom

and I find myself wondering whatever became of that little boy

I also remember lying awake in a little trailer, many years ago

wondering how I was going to support my young bride & our new baby

Back then, paying the bills was my greatest struggle

but now that those debts are more than covered, I’m struggling with the price that was paid

*

I’d trade everything I’ve gained to erase the hurt and confusion in my children’s faces

as I pulled our family apart on the way to making my own dreams come true

I’d give it all back for the woman who loved me

when I had nothing to offer other than a desire to share her life

I’d gladly forfeit the drafty halls of this hollow mansion

for the warmth of the place that I used to call home

I’ve finally figured out that it’s better to have one person who loves you for who you really are

than to have ten thousand who love the person they imagine you to be

*

Unfortunately, by the time I came to understand this, it was too late

As the raging waters of my desire had already swept away any moorings for a bridge back

So as the first rays of the sun begin to creep across the windows

I swallow a couple of painkillers to prepare for the day that lies ahead

And as the beautiful stranger lying next to me stirs from her sleep

I push my face into a smile and utter, “Good morning darling”

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This is an unusual post for me (Bryan), and I hope you’ll find it offensive. I heard it in my head as a rap song, so that’s how I tried to write it. There is some explanation at the end.

“Be My ‘B’ (A Player’s Anthem)

*

I’m sittin’ by myself
Again my plans fell through
Got nothing goin’ on
So I’m reachin’ out to you

*

Certainly not my first choice
But for now you’ll have to do
Ur grateful for my attention
Not thinkin’ bout what’s true

*

Quick to give a shout back
I can always count on you
You got nothin’ goin’ on
And I’m tired of feelin’ blue

*

Don’t like to be alone
All them voices in my head
We could cuddle on the couch
Maybe make it to the bed

*

(chorus)
Come on little baby
And be my Plan “B“
Not sayin’ that it’s cheap
Fact is that it’s free
Ain’t talkin’ bout love
Cause it’s all about me
Come on little baby
And be my Plan “B”
(background singers echo – Be my, Be my “B”)

*

Again I’m feeling lonely
My plans ain’t workin’ out
Feelin’ sorry for myself
So I’m giving you a shout

*

We could chill at your place
Or ride around the town
But ya need to take the backseat
Case I want you to duck down

*

See I’m lookin’ for a starter
But I guess I’ll have to wait
So we can do some time
Til I find a ”real” date

*

You keep me on a pedestal
I’ll keep you on a shelf
Keep dreamin’ all about me
I’ll keep thinkin’ of myself

*

(Repeat chorus)
Come on little baby
And be my Plan “B“
Not sayin’ that it’s cheap
Fact is that it’s free
Ain’t talkin’ bout love
Cause it’s all about me
Come on little baby
And be my Plan “B”
(background singers echo – Be my, Be my “B”)

*

Need to pick up when I’m callin’
Ya know I’m keepin’ score
Keep you hangin’ by a thread
Keeps me comin’ back for more

*

We could do some dancin’
And let our bodies sway
When someone comes along
Need to get you out the way

*

Act like we got somethin’
Like you’ll win me in the end
The lie you tell is to yourself
You’re choosing to pretend

*

Don’t show me that sad face
Never promised what we’d be
Don’t be hatin’ on my stuff
Cuz, I’m just doing me

*

(Repeat chorus)
Come on little baby
And be my Plan “B“
Not sayin’ that it’s cheap
Fact is that it’s free
Ain’t talkin’ bout love
Cause it’s all about me
Come on little baby
And be my Plan “B”
(fade out with background singers repeating – Be my, Be my “B”)

*

I don’t know which is harder to understand, how someone can treat a person this way, or why someone would allow themselves to be a “Plan B”. Everyone deserves to be loved and cherished; everyone deserves to be someone’s “Plan A”. Don’t ever settle for being a backup plan. Wait for the one who’ll love you for who you are; who will care about making your dreams come true.

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I, the Lord, have set before thee,

Life and death

Blessing and cursing

Truth and deceit

Generosity and greed

Perseverance and self-pity

Choose life!

*

I, the Lord, have set before thee,

Life and death

Blessing and cursing

Compassion and apathy

Sacrifice and indulgence

Peace and hostility

Choose life!

*

I, the Lord, have set before thee,

Life and death

Blessing and cursing

Fidelity and treachery

Gentleness and brutality

Redemption and condemnation

Choose life!

*

I, the Lord, have set before thee,

Life and death

Blessing and cursing

Integrity and corruption

Contentment and covetousness

Unity and dissension

Choose life!

*

I, the Lord, have set before thee,

Life and death

Blessing and cursing

Forgiveness and bitterness

Diligence and complacency

Grace and judgement

Choose life!

*

So that both you and your descendants may live (Deut. 30:19)

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“Survivor’s Guilt” is a term used to describe a mental & emotional state, that arises when a person perceives themselves to have done something wrong, by surviving a traumatic event when others did not.  And while this term is most often associated with life and death situations, I would argue that this same phenomenon can occur in people who simply choose to get off the path of destruction.  That could be overcoming addictions, or leaving an abusive situation, or deciding to surrender your life to God, or any other thing that causes a radical change in the trajectory of our lives.  As I think back on my own experiences, I can see that the decision to depart from certain destructive patterns has often had the unintended consequence of alienation from people I genuinely cared about.  All I really wanted was to escape the carnage, but that often entailed distancing myself from those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, negotiate that same turn.  In those life-altering moments, you have to seize the opportunity, push every hesitation aside, and drive yourself across the threshold of a new life.  But after the fact, it’s easy to feel guilty about those you left behind.  I expressed some of those feelings in a piece I wrote some years ago, which I called, “Homeless” (see below).  It was bore out of the revelation that my decision to pursue God had put me on a different path from some people that I truly loved, which eventually caused us to live in very different worlds.  Sometimes the chasm between those worlds has been too wide to reach across, and you can begin to feel selfish; as though you are the kind of person who is unwilling to run back into a burning building.  But ultimately, it’s a real struggle to convince someone to evacuate their home, when they can’t smell the smoke, or sense the flames.  And trying to save a drowning person, when you yourself can barely swim, generally ends with two funerals.  I have found that the only person who can really change a heart, mind, or life is God; and that all rescue attempts must be orchestrated by Him.  We just need to prayerfully stand at the ready, and play whatever role He assigns to us.

 

Homeless

As the shadows begin to crawl across the walls of my little room

The memories emerge from the corners of my mind

Not so long ago, we roamed these streets together

And I guess we thought that’s how it would always be

But here I am living a couple of floors above the pavement

And you’re still out there somewhere

*

I admit that this place isn’t much of a home

But it has running water

And is shelter from the weather

And it has a door that locks

And most of all

It has room for you

*

I never meant to leave you behind

I just assumed you’d want to come with me

But what I saw as a pathway to freedom

You viewed as a cage door

I can’t pretend to understand that

But I miss you just the same

*

I remember the time I stepped on that broken glass

And you wrapped my bloody foot in your only shirt

And the times we huddled together in the cold

And the way you’d hum the tune to “Silent Night”

Because of you, I never felt alone

And yet, that’s how I left you

*

I’m sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to stay

But when you can’t lift your head, you’re apt to drown in a puddle

It wasn’t so much the eating from the dumpsters

Because everyone does that at one time or another

But I couldn’t handle the never ending nights

And the hopelessness of it all

*

Tonight, I’ll once again leave a light burning

And I’ll unfurl the bed sheets from my window

I’ve tied them together so that they’ll reach the alley below

And I’ve anchored them to the radiator to support your weight

As I lay awake, every peep from the alley will stir my hope

And when I sleep, I’ll dream of you

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I originally wrote this piece when the “Fifty Shades of Grey” books were ruling the best seller list.  Now that the movie is being released, I find it sad to see how much further our society has progressed down this road.  Obviously, the “Grey” referred to in the title of the book is the name of the main character, but to be sure there is an intent of blurring the lines of what is reasonable and acceptable within the context of the story.  While the book tries to come on as some sort of psychological intrigue, the draw is ultimately the explicit sexual content.  It’s really just fluffed up porn, but we like to think of it as being somehow more sanitary and appropriate than renting videos from the local “Adult” superstore.  That seems to be the pattern in our culture.  We keep looking for ways to push the boundaries of what is acceptable, and then find ways to legitimize it in our minds.  We’ve got phenomenally popular artists like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Nicki Minaj, who are trying to sell our young women on the idea that flaunting their anatomy will ultimately empower them, when in fact; it leads to the most ancient form of slavery known to mankind.  Check out the cover of the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.  We rationalize that this has something to do with sports or swimsuits, but it’s just another repackaging of the same old thing.  For most men (& boys), it will be the only Sports Illustrated they purchase this year.  All of these things are meant to activate the same trigger, and they do.  But like a patient who is provided with a button to dispense their own medication, we quickly find out that it never really gets us where we want to be.  We can convince ourselves that all of this is really harmless, but make no mistake; it’s carrying us, and more importantly our children, down a path that we are sure to regret.  The fruit of these things is already beginning to blossom, but we as a culture are unwilling to connect the dots.  There is no blindness as profound as the refusal to see.

 

50 Shades of Gray

There must be 50 shades of gray

Maybe even more

But they’re nothing more than shadows

And a place to lose our way

*

No one ever sets out to be a hypocrite, or a liar, or a cheat

Yet, every day we find a way

*

It’s not the things we call “evil” that so entangle us

It’s the things that we’ve justified as being “good”

*

It’s the pursuit of “having it all”, that so often costs us the things that matter most

*

*

There must be 50 shades of gray

Maybe even more

But they’re nothing more than shadows

And a place where we can hide

*

No one ever sets out to be an addict, or a prostitute, or a thief

Yet, every day we find a way

*

It’s not as much a question of our history

As it is the conclusions that we’ve drawn from it

*

It’s ultimately self-deception that paves the road to self-destruction

*

*

There must be 50 shades of gray

Maybe even more

But they’re nothing more than shadows

And a place for us to perish

*

No one ever sets out to be a pedophile, or a rapist, or a murderer

Yet, every day we find a way

*

Many of us choose to explore our dark side

But none of us ever finds the bottom of it

*

The poison gets harder to detect when you take it one drop at a time

*

*

There must be 50 shades of gray

Maybe even more

But they’re nothing more than shadows

And only the light can set us free

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