Respecting the awesome power of words!





    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



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



The Psalmist’s Drawer



We all need a drawer,
  roomy and strong,
  where nothing but
our painful feelings are held.

Every day, and as many times
  as necessary,
  we can air out the filters,
  and let the hurts,
  injustices, and suffocations
  rise to the surface and
  be expressed with all the passion
and outrage we can muster.

When the fireworks subside,
  and respiration has slowed and deepened,
  the drawer will ask,
  “Is this going to define your day, 
or even your life?”

If our answer is, “No.”, 
  we can open the drawer,
  lay our feels to rest,
  and return to our life,
  assured that our emotions
  have been heard, and
that they’re real and valid.

Then, and only then,
  can we allow ourselves
to be raised above the ache.

Some days, new grief
  triggers memories of injuries past,
  tempting us to make a withdrawal
  from the drawer,
rather than a deposit.

This is when the drawer’s inquiry
  is crucial,
  “Is this going to define your day, 
or even your life?” 

By the way,
  in case you’re wondering,
the drawer’s name is God.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Wound Collector



His attention and memory
are legendary; both honed
to a steely edge
by the whetstone
of self-love’s dearth
and the absence
of self-worth.

  Whenever he perceives
  even the slightest slight,
  the moment is carefully
  catalogued and stored
  for future reference.

    The more publicly
    he is humiliated,
    the more driven he becomes
    to make a spectacle
    of his retribution.

      Lying awake
      into the wee hours
      of the morning,
      he plots his revenge,

    fully convinced
    that this time —
    in contrast to countless
    others in the past —
    retribution will soothe
    the fire in his soul
    instead of fueling it.

  Day after day,
  year after year,
  relationship after relationship,
  he gathers his scars,

and fills the cemetery
of his heart
with the bones of those
he’s sure he’s slain.

  Night after night,
  year after year,
  soul after soul,
  the star-flinger reconnects
  bone to bone,
  sinew to sinew,
  flesh to flesh,

    resurrecting crucified ones
    into a hope
    that still eludes
    the wound collector.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Sutherland Springs

sutherlandPhoto by Owen Jenkins


“Thoughts and prayers” screech
in my ears like fingernails
across a chalkboard,
regurgitate into my throat
like the most heinous of tastes
come back to haunt me,
a platitudinous chaff
of phraseology.

   In the motionless void
   that follows, my eardrums
   are pierced by the echo
   of gunfire;

      another mass shooting,
      further propelling
      the land of the free
      to an insurmountable lead
      in the gold medal chase
      for death by firearms.

   We cry “terror!”
   when we see difference,
   and “mental illness!”
   or “lone wolf”
   when familiarity surfaces,
   all the while
   doubling down on weaponization,
   as if terminal violence
   were the antidote to rage.

Is there a tipping point
where the right to die
of some other cause
rises to the level
of the right to bear arms?

   Or should we bury hope
   next to the latest
   bullet-riddled victims,
   shrugging our shoulders
   in surrender
   as the second amendment
   rises to the throne
   of supreme deity?

Lord, have mercy,
because we have
completely lost the capacity
to birth it ourselves!

   © 2017 Todd Jenkins



Hate rallies beneath its banners
of battles lost to hope and humanity,
frantically waving its flags,
furiously stoking fires of division,
refusing to let go,
doggedly extending the war,
unable to surrender to grace.

Together, we must all
keep marching toward
a narrative that brings us
to a place of peace
that passes understanding.

Until we arrive at such
a sacred respite,
the fighting will be interminable.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Table Talk

ztable talk

Those who prey upon our angst,
peddling patriotism and nationalism
beneath a thick veneer of anxiety,
glossed-over with a heavy coat
of exceptionalism, do not want us
to pray in the name of the Nazareth one;

at least not to pray
with the honesty and
depth he did.

They do not want us to read
the gospels with open eyes;

at least not to read
them with hearts peeled wide,
so that the ones he welcomed,
the ones he celebrated,
the ones he dined with,
the ones he fed, healed,
and lifted up will be given
a seat at the table.

Fear, and his cousin, Scarcity,
have constructed a tiny world
whose table has a limited,
manageable number of chairs.

These two cannot imagine
the magnanimity
of Abundance's story.

Their notion of Grace
is tightly throttled,
so it applies only
to a chosen few who
deserve and/or have earned it;
which, if you consider the meaning,
has nothing to do with Grace at all.

We must not be deceived,
however, into patting ourselves
on the back for recognizing
her face in a few other places,
for that is but another form
of competition and comparison.

She shows up every day,
not so much incognito,
as just plain unrecognized,
because we all have scars
on the retina of our narratives
blinding us to her presence.

When we pour our hopes and
dreams into the same story,
we will begin, together,
to help one another
more clearly see out of
and into our shadowed lives.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins





Far beyond a failure
to protect them,
intentional massacre
is heinousness
in the highest degree.

How frightened do you have
to be to declare all babies
two years-old and younger
acceptable collateral damage
for your political aspirations
and narcissistic ego?

It's easy to condemn
Herod for his atrocity.

What's more difficult
is admitting our own
complicity in failing
to leverage our privilege
and power to provide
basic dignity for today's children;

for lumping innocents
with those who've hijacked religion
for violent political purposes
so we can justify keeping them,
not just at manger's-length,
but exiled to places worse
than Pharaoh's Egypt.

Lord, have mercy,
not just on our souls,
but on our hearts and
the lives of children everywhere.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins



It’s a double helical deceiver,
at once hiding, minor-grooved,
beneath the surface,
waiting to attack any threat;

at the same time, shading duplicity
in a major-grooved attempt
to distract all involved, including self,
with irrelevant rage rockets,
pyrotechnics of shock and awe.

Unquestioned, facade of indignation
maintains self and others securely
beyond the realm of examination;
stealthily slinking beneath the surface
in preparation for next attack.

Pray for the day when,
by surprise or exhausted surrender,
fear-generated angst is laid bare
before Love’s salvific security.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins