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Poetry

New Pictures

For sad people like us it helps to have pictures— or rather, new pictures to displace familiar ones. Old pictures don’t change. I once had a picture of a chicken in mid-flight. I used to laugh at it. Now it seems utterly banal compared to the picture of you tackling your sister. In it, you are goofy-gorgeous. I used to think of life as an ocean of pictures; these days I think of it as a river in linear motion.…
December 31, 2015
Poetry

Dramatis

Poor lovers, we know our parts none too well, nor our cues. We kiss in the dark, backstage, under the glow of EXIT, near stacked chairs. Music emanates from an orchestra pit out there in the lights, in the heat, and we strain to hear through velvet the arrow that points to our time to stumble out, screw up, a thousand sleepless eyes gazing, papers rustling, no applause but the rain falling in sheets across the theater roof, gurgling in…
December 31, 2015
Poetry

Transcription

Let us romanticize a monk, hunched-over, candle-lit, a sackcloth habit snuggled close to repel the winds besieging his abbey, medieval, dark, his stylus tracing pregnant sounds, presumably Latin, though perhaps Greek, Hebrew, some proto-dialect, or the heathen’s vocabulary in their stories he loves, Grendel, demonic, of the line of Cain, one tale redeemed by the one he believes which questions if Unferth, kith-killer, is beast or man. This ink stands opposite the page, black versus white, and yet our grey-cells…
October 31, 2015
Poetry

Profession

After Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, still will I trust Him,” seems a rhetorical boast, easily made, for who can comprehend this claim’s worth when even at funerals, death remains abstract? Yes, a tangible corpse lies stiff, dressed, and prone in a woodcrafter’s pride, next hoisted by dove-feigning fingers in soft cotton gloves onto broad shoulders, who then carry this cross out to the hearse, to the church, to the earth, where, seed-like, it is planted, expecting a glorious…
October 31, 2015
Poetry

Ruth Pregnant

I bask beneath this eye, sun roving our marriage bed, sheets bunched together like gathered wheat. Your side empty and cool now, already you work the fields. I take more than my portion, I turn slow as the moon in daylight hours. You, husband, have always given me more than I can carry, such weight I’ve not known (only, before, a dead husband’s hand, an old woman weeping). Even good things have weight—a harvest, a child turning his slow discoveries…
September 1, 2015
Poetry

Consumed

Ruth and Boaz Dine Grapes, sweet and cool, ornament the table. Blue-veined cheeses on wooden slats, rosemary and garlic. Bread with gold-toasted crust, a soft-melt inside. Olive oil pooling in bowls, gleaming eyes. She bites a pear, breaks the skin. She tears the bread, dips and dips again. I would like to be the bread in her hands: warm, broken for her, sustaining. Renee Emerson is the author of the poetry collection Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). Her…
September 1, 2015
Poetry

Decreasing Heat

How has so much of your on-fire certainty cooled despite your tossing on another slab of cedar and more kindling? Surely this is a failure of your divine pursuit, you think, believing the heresy that passion is the logical outcome of faith. What of the dark night of the soul? What of wrestling questions into a chokehold only to have your grip pried away? Like Peter, you say, Lord, to whom should we go? That is what you return to,…
Poetry

Prayer Diagnostics

Most often, your trouble is beginning – so many activities more alluring. Try as you might, you’ve never regretted having prayed (once you’ve finally started). You know of others in your church life who gush, sincerely, about prayer times. These people discomfort, fascinate you who can’t view yourself in a drenched state. And yet (and yet), you are jealous, desiring what you do not possess. You know their pools of deep communion did not create themselves, did not appear some…
Poetry

Under This Roof

My brother has come to live with us and how could we know how deliberate his hands would be: at the sink, thawing beans stringy from too hot a June, smoothing hairs that whisper about my sons’ ears, locking the door against the snow. His hands move slow as a dream, the kind where no one watches out for you as you slip over the edge and sprawl wordlessly down mountains of air or time or floors of people doing…
April 23, 2015