Respecting the awesome power of words!


One and the Same Time


By memory we define ourselves;
bits and pieces of days gone by,
fed by stored mental photographs,
watered by emotion's tears
of both sorrow and joy
at one and the same time.

Through memory we anchor ourselves
to pasts cringeworthy and exemplary
at one and the same time.

Growing memory, we construct ourselves
into observers of each present moment,
anchored by virtue's roots and
rising above villain's graves
at one and the same time.

In sleeping memory,
we dream ourselves into tomorrows,
slogging through valleys of despair
and wafting on currents of celestial breath
at one and the same time.

Searching for  memory,
we watch loved ones lose
bits and pieces of their story,
lamenting fragments
faded long-past sepia
and rejoicing in brief flashes
of love and cognizance
at one and the same time.

In memory we hallow special days,
honoring so many brave ones
who've sacrificed and pushing back
against the hell of war's existence
at one and the same time.

Resurrecting memory,
we weave a sacred response
to grace's unfettered gift,
lamenting all the times
it steadily swirls around us unnoticed
and praising Yahweh for the glimpses
convincing us to dive in headlong
at one and the same time.

By memory we were and
are and will continue to be held,
when we've forgotten all and
when we’ve remembered scarcely enough
at one and the same time.

Memory: our deepest curse
and richest blessing
at one and the same time.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins



They demanded and
even forced your labor,
offering no or little wages.

Silly me; I assured myself
I was doing comparatively well,
and somebody had
to be at the bottom,
mostly glad it wasn't me.

They took your dignity,
with images and cultural narratives
painting you as lesser,
or airbrushing you out
of the picture altogether.

Foolish me; I looked
in the mirror and saw
the right shade and shape,
assuming I still had
shreds of my own remaining.

They kicked you out
by banning and deportation,
as if culture, language, and religion
were legitimate wedges.

Trembling me; I fell
for scapegoating, ignoring
the malignancy
of systemic dis-ease.

They broke your spirit,
kicking you in the gut
with insufficient opportunities,
boot on your throat
with charges of laziness.

Ignorant me; I thought
I could prop mine up
with consumption and dogged pursuit,
not of my dreams, but
of what they told me to desire.

They're here
to steal your soul,
and it slices through my own,
clearly awakening me
to our eternal tether.

Now, I realize I've been
a part of "they" all along,
with my blind eye,
my silence, my privilege,
my vested interest votes.

Maybe we can't go back,
but I know that,
wherever we must go from here,
it will have to be together.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins



In the end, as in the beginning,
and every place and time
in between, God refuses
to accept our rejection;

both our personal distancing,
and our sociocultural writhing away.

We are divinely desired,
and we will always be
sought by the sacred.

It is the uniqueness
of this seeking that makes it
both confounding and compelling
at one and the same time.

We have experience and metrics
for a whole host of stalkings,
all of which are unyielding
and often even violent;

but the steadfast pursuit
of unconditional love is
another creature altogether.

It is aromatic breath
from the depths
of the darkest places
into which we flee
or are pulled;

not necessarily the scent
of a sweet dessert
to which we are irresistibly drawn;

more like a mysterious fusion
of spices and herbs
gently tickling our olfactory imagination
in places we never knew
sensation could exist,
wondering us toward a depth
both haunting and hopeful.

Pay attention to your nose
because, when it comes
to paths toward the holy,
it knows.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Anger River


Old Stone Fort (Manchester, TN)

Anger River is sourced
from three primary tributaries:
plans gone awry,
predictability thrown out the window,
and control dismantled.

It doesn't matter whether
these creeks flow
through the mirror or
the magnifying glass,
the outcome is the same:

a raging torrent sweeping away
all hope of mercy, forgiveness,
and especially, love.

Sometimes, you just need
to struggle to the shore,
sit in the sun until
your clothes are dry,
and choose to wade
into another creek.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Timid Rain


I woke to low visibility today,
not so much in my mirror
as in the world
outside my window.

It was as if the rain
lost its courage somewhere
between clouds and earth,
afraid it might cause pain
if it fell full force, or somehow
became sidetracked on its fall,
and didn’t want to arrive
in the wrong place and time,

so it hung mid-way,
clustered in large numbers
of small particles,
attaching themselves
to anything and anyone
within the vicinity,

forming a sheen of moisture,
weighing down any and every
thing with pockets to absorb
its molecules of moisture.

There are other forces
lingering mid-way
in our lives like that; some
for better, others for worse.

Be careful which ones
you allow to saturate
the fabric of your life.

When fear, anxiety, and
mistrust are fogging you in,
you might as well
leave on your slicker;

but soak up compassion,
pocket generosity,
fill your pores with hope;
these are the mists
of divine hydration.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins


Home by Another Way


So much of what's important
in life is learned
from paying attention,
which is precisely
what the Magi did.

That, and risk an adventure
to a faraway place
to behold a sight no one
had ever seen before.

Herod was a hoot,
quite sure they had come
to blow smoke up his royal robe;

but when they confessed
their desire to find a child
who'd been born to lead
the very people
he was sure he controlled,
he flipped his lid.

Surrounded by yes-men
attuned to his agenda
and his alone,
he never stood a chance;

but that didn't stop him
from scheming
a murderous plot.

First, he feigned interest
in also worshiping
this new king.

Never mind that Herod's
idea of worship included
a slit throat.

The sojourning stargazers
were nothing, if not persistent,
trekking all the way to Bethlehem,
where they were not disappointed,
paying homage and leaving
their now-famous
trio of gifts behind.

Of course there would be
one more dream
in this mystical tale;
this one urging them to go
"home by another way."

Now that we know the story,
how seekers from a faraway land
were first to bow the knee,
how a displaced family became refugees,
how dreams drove the whole story, and
how God chose this precarious tale
as a path to arrive in-the-flesh,
do we have the courage
to live with such imagination,
expectation, and abandon
in our own incarnational narratives?

The children are waiting,
and hoping that our answer is yes;
praying that our answer is life.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

DEC 21


The shortest day leads
to the longest night.
This goes without saying,
except when you
need to say it.

When the phone rings,
and your doctor's number
appears on the caller-ID,
it's not magic, but it is
the news you've been waiting
for and the news you've
dreaded, all rolled into one.

All these years you've held
others' hands, both literally
and metaphorically, while they
walked their own valleys
of winter solstice.

You thought you knew
what they felt, but
now you wonder.

It's the gentlest winter of all,
not just because of climate change,
but because of the
flickering phraseology:
one of the slowest growing forms;
early detection; treatable;
high probability of cure.

The seasons help keep
it in perspective;
their rhythm, a sort of breathing:
spring, summer, fall, and now.

The image is coming into focus.
Beneath the snow,
rotting leaves, and chilled tundra,
the roots are resting;
getting ready for their own cotillion.

Light's absence is no deterrent
for those who are
determined to dance.

I think I hear music.
I know I see light.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins


Traveling Mercies


Traveling mercies
for you and all
of your peeps
this holiday season.

May the road rise
to meet you,
the wind be
at your back,
the sun guide
but not cook you,
the rain fall gently,
and all vehicular maniacs
be providentially hindered.

May the spirits of clarity,
joy, and wisdom
rest underneath you,
woven as a strong
but tender palm,
so you can each take
the psalmist's wings
of the morning and
reach the sea of sacred
understanding and connection.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins


Wait, Wait…


To be told that waiting's in our future
is a great dread for many.
Of course, it depends on the thing
for which we're destined to wait.

If it's something dreadful, it's not so much
the wait that bothers us as the knowing.
If, on the other hand, it's something desirable,
the knowing can sometimes make it bearable.

Perhaps that feeling of not-yet
for something our heart desires deeply, 
is the very definition of hope.

That's what makes the timing of Advent
in the northern hemisphere so appropriate.
As fall gives way to winter,
both existentially and literally, the sun
keeps to itself more and more,
leaving us to wonder if the solstice
really is a turning point; casting shadows
of doubt on the notion that,
even though a season of cold is upon us,
the solar arc will enlarge,
leading to the gift of spring.

This is the season in which
the Advent promise unfolds;
the descending darkness into which
we light more and more candles each week.

This season, may we all smell, hear,
touch, see, and taste the deepest desires
for which we wait; may we become,
ourselves, candles of hope in all
of the stories opened to us.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Homo erectus


And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
(closing lines of W.B. Yeats' "The Second Coming")

Slouching's a culturally
unacceptable way to stand
or sit, triggering
critique from our elders.

As a means of locomotion,
it also leaves much to be desired.

And yet, slouch is what we do,
maybe even who we are,
so much of the time.

Slouching into cultural expectations
we aren't yet ready
to claim as our own.

Slouching past those
by whom we'd rather
not be recognized.

Slouching down the road
to exhaustion, still searching
for meaning by a life
of perpetual motion.

Slouching back from
one too many rejections.

Slouching across a life
of broken dreams.

This year, again,
will we dare
to slouch toward Bethlehem?

I'm sure we will,
if for no other reason
than this: our greatest hope
is that the journey,
if not Bethlehem itself,
will form us into
Homo erectus at least,
and let us see through
the mirror less dimly at last.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins