Respecting the awesome power of words!

anger

Violation

bd6BayazQKCRp1RXTD+wDgPhoto by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

 

Your courage is inspiring.
Never underestimate
or forget that.

  I feel a fire.
  At first I believe
  it is yours only;
  the coals of anger
  and rage, fueled
  by violations
  and their attempts
  to dehumanize you.

    After I stand uncomfortably
    near the heat
    for a while,
    my bare feet blistered
    from its remnants,
    I realize that I do not
    want it to be yours alone.

  I want — I need —
  for it to be mine;
  not because doing so
  will reveal the depth
  of your ache in ways
  I can fully comprehend;

but because a candle
flickers in my dreams,
dawning on me,
like the sun rising
across distant mountains,

  casting both light and shadows
  on my own identity,
  revealing a painting
  of worth and healing
  that is inextricably woven
  into this inferno.

    In morning’s light,
    I realize that we
    must have worth together,
    or we will have
    no worth at all.

  I know that my tears
  will not cool, much less
  extinguish the blaze,

but I also know
that their flow
is the path
that connects us,
not only to one another,
but also to the selves
of dignity and respect
for which we were created.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins
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Prostrate Psalm

26

 

Here we lay, prostrate —
  not because it’s our choice —
  but because the kick
    in the gut
    of this teenager’s suicide
    has knee-capped
    our expectations of reality,
  and our dreams
  of how it’s supposed to be.

Cower, with our lips
  in the dirt,
  or crane our necks
    toward starless heavens,
    seem to be our only options.

If it’s all the same with you,
  O one whose claims
  to fame include
    the entirety
    of the cosmos’s creation,
    I think we’ll grovel
    for a while,
    grinding our teeth
    against the grit
  of what might have been —
  what could have been.

After our molars
  have been worn down,
  long in the tooth on grief,
    when we once again
    find the emotional wherewithal
  to turn our spirits
  toward the heavens,

we pray you’ll hold us
  in your strong but tender palm,
  opening to us
    the vast universe of hope,
    undergirding us
  with the fabric of love,
  washing our tear-stained cheeks
  from the fountain of grace.

If you won’t do that,
  don’t bother to attempt
  anything else.

Selah.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Which One?

fullsizeoutput_2004Photo by Jennie Roberts Jenkins

     Hate thumps matches
     across the strike-plate,
     flinging infernos
     into a tinderbox
     of anxiety and self-loathing.

    Hope plants seeds
    across the charred landscape,
    sure that love will triumph,
    and grace will resurrect.

   Which one will you follow?
   Which one will be
   your modus operandi?

  #lifeisachoice

 Make it daily, even
 moment by moment.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Flow

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What is it about the thirst
for retaliatory blood flow
that blinds us
to the immutable truth
that no life –

  neither the first
  nor the second 
  nor the last taken –  
  can be conjured
  to return by violence?

    This river always empties
    into the oceans,
    where the only blood type
    becomes the universal commingling
    with salt water,
    which is the gathered sea
    of divine tears.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Blood Money

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Money, money, money,
money; money!

At some point
it becomes blood.

You don’t get
to decide
when and where.

That’s a weight borne
by those who pay
for the cemetery plots,
caskets, and embalming.

If you decide
to attend a visitation,
don’t you dare attempt
to excuse yourself
with either a disclaimer
or the cliches
of infotainment.

All you get to do
is listen and feel;
hear the wailing laments,
and sense the rage,
anguish, and grief.

Let death’s pallor
wash over you.
Take it all in
and then
take it home
and sit with it.

When it has run
its course
through your innards,
then you’ll be
allowed to speak,
to act, to enact.

For God’s sake,
find the chutzpah
to act!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Santa Fe

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      Words, words, 
   more words; 
and for what? 

      Bodies, bodies, 
   more bodies; 
and for what? 

            Bow to the 2nd, 
         blame it 
      on mental illness, 
   and brace yourself 
for the next one. 

         What will you say 
      to the grieving; 
   parents, friends, 
relatives, siblings? 

   Keep your thoughts 
and prayers to yourself. 

            Come back 
         when you’re ready 
      to DO something; 
   not something symbolic,
something substantive. 

         Until then, 
      stay home, 
   stay off the air, 
just stay. 

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Bam!

IMG_3734Photo by Owen Todd Jenkins

 

Our culture of violence didn’t appear
like 4th of July fireworks,
bursting on the scene in technicolor.

It was more like Virginia creeper,
slowly suctioning its way
up the facade of society,
one wall of war,
one generation of weapons,
one identified enemy at a time.

It thrived when lethal force was baptized
as the answer to differences,
legitimizing an economy freighted
on escalating weaponization.

Under the guise of order and law,
we not only sanctioned it,
we also sanitized it,
so that, in our eyes,
it was not gruesome,
but glorious.

Soon, it became the framework
for much of our entertainment.
We praised our children
for emulating it in their play;
we secretly desired to be its heroes.

The only time we notice it —
the only time we object —
is when the tables are turned,
and it’s used against us
by ones who perennially
feel its boot on their necks.

By then, it’s too late.

It courses through our veins,
a toxic cocktail of rage and blame,
embalming our souls
for useless photo-op preservation,
as if it’ll somehow matter
when they say,
with venom oozing
from sharply cornered sneers,
“But they look so nice,
so respectable!”

Lord, send legions
of your angels,
for we have dispensed
with most everyone else!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Prayer

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    As I watched video from a group
   of people offering a vitriolic prayer
  for violent success in their
imminent encounter with others
  who were identified as different,
   I contemplated the definition
    and purpose of such supplication.

  Perhaps the only thing we can say
 for certain about prayer is that
it is a petition offered on a level
 other than the realm
  in which we physically function.

  It can be a request for self-validation,
a plea for deliverance,
  or many things in-between.

  It might be offered
to the creator of the universe,
a deity of our own construction,
  or an unknown entity.

   We all do it, and probably
  more often than we realize;
sometimes with prescribed
  forms of hope, and other times
   with generic invocations of desperation.

To say that ours have been answered
is to lay claim to their recipient’s legitimacy.

  It seems to me that the genuine mettle
of our god surfaces, however,
not when results coincide
  with our requests, but when they don’t.

  Who and where is your god
when your petitions disappear
  into the abyss of the unrequited?

  There, in the vulnerable nakedness
of “No.” or “Not yet.”,
there remains the possibility
  of divine presence or absence.

    If you find yourself,
   in the deepest darkness,
  convinced that you’re walking alone,
you might want to consider
a different way of sensing,
  an alternate trajectory
   for your pleas and praise,
    or both.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Blood Ash

26

 

I didn’t want to say
the words this year.

“You are dust, and
to dust you shall return.”
kept asking
to be transposed
with something more honest,
like, “You were
in high school this morning,
future slowly unfolding;
but now your blood
is pooled on the ground,
your organs motionless,
your body lifeless,
your family screaming
a caustic cocktail
of rage and grief,
cameras intruding
like uninhibited perverts.”

How dare we regurgitate
a vacuous litany
propped up on
flimsy thoughts and prayers!

If we can’t be honest,
and say we’re not willing
to change anything
to slow the parade
of body bags,
then we need
to just keep our
damn mouths shut,
hunkered down
behind the walls
of our callous indifference.

Who will compose
a liturgy of lament?

Who will sit in this bend
of hell’s river,
sieve net in hand,
scooping the shrapnel-torn fragments
of hope as they drift
toward the abyss?

Answer me!

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

 


Yes and No

IMG_8937Photo by Ashley Goad

Let your word be 
‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; 
anything more than this 
comes from the evil one. 
(Matthew 5:37)

Say yes to the rhythm
of your marrow;
yes to walking deliberately;
yes to listening attentively;

yes to considering prayerfully;
yes to speaking gently;
yes to acting compassionately;
yes to holding tenderly;

and as these yeses unfold
into the world,
you will find the wisdom,
strength, and courage
to say no;

no to division;
no to fear;
no to othering;
no to assuming;
no to hoarding;
no to hurrying;
no to spontaneously reacting;
no to violence;
no to abusing;
no to anesthetizing.

Learn the way of yes,
and the way of no
will follow close behind.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins