Respecting the awesome power of words!

perspective

Courageous

IMG_9651

 

The human mind has a great deal
   of difficulty recognizing more
      than one kind of courage.

Our mental faculties
   are more comfortable
      with a single dictionary entry.

But the heart, and especially
   the interaction of living
      a particular life, have ways
   of opening other windows.

The brain is best-suited
   for comprehending courage
      from life’s intersection
   with outward bodily harm,
inflicted by things like disease or war;

and we rightly laud heroes
   who've stared down organ failure,
      chemo or radiation,
   an enemy's barrel,
or similar physical threats.

Courage also wells-up
   from the burden society loads
      upon the backs of those
   whose misfortune it is
to not fit the mold.

This is the pressure
   generating more subtle weapons:
      epithetic daggers of hate,
   dipped in the cultural poison
of rejection, hurled
   into mold-broken hearts.

Overcoming these assaults
   may not leave limbs severed,
      bones shattered,
   or organs inoperable,
but finding and living grace
   with clandestinely-scarred psyches
      can be equally as courageous.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Duplicity

ktelliot

Photo by Kally Thompson Elliott

In August of 2013, through the confluence of a number of circumstances and experiences, I was compelled to pull to the side of the highway one morning and record a new perspective on a portion Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus”. 

 

Give me your tomatoes,
your peppers, your hybrid  melons,
yearning to be consumed,
but not so much your tired,
your poor, your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free.

The wretched refuse of bowing
to chemicals and corporations
has our shores teeming with toxicity,
and our hearts quivering with xenophobia.

The tempest-tossed who dream
of hope will not so much be met
 with lamp at golden door
as laser sight and incarceration.

All the while, our consumptive greed
turns a blind eye to the duplicity
of deportation and the rending
of family's fabric, to which
we claim undying allegiance.

Who will resurrect liberty?

© 2013 Todd Jenkins

 


Entitlement

IMG_2980

When greed has run amuck,
words are turned inside-out,
like shirts that have missed
a much-needed trip
to the laundry,
stinking to high heaven,
and only discerned
by those who are
attentive to the seams.

Those in whose favor
everything's been tilted
for generations, and
in whose pockets piles
of plunder reside,
misconstrue language
to attack others
upon whose backs
castles are built.

"If they are without,"
the dictionary is rewritten
to declare,
"anything we allow them
to have must be entitlement."

And the one who created
the universe, via a vocabulary
with integrity, winces,
as tears roll down like
an ever-flowing stream,
because those whose hubris
is actually entitlement
have abandoned their own kin.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Enough

IMG_2826

To the person for whom
there's never enough,
there's always suspicion
others want your stuff.

The one who is
consumed with greed,
will never be touched
by hunger and need.

If comparison's the game
by which you thrive,
the train of joy
will never arrive.

Look at what you have,
instead of what's lacking;
it’s an important step
to send discontent packing.

Seeing the big picture
is a form of art
that fashions a glad
and generous heart.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


IS

IMG_7490Photo by Anne Shurley

 

So many stories surrounded
with 'splainin’ on all sides,
to help us engage
senses, mind, and spirit;
historical and geographic settings,
names and titles, details galore.

Did you ever notice
how little detail is provided
for the gospel accounts
of resurrection?

How the women arrive in the garden –
always the women –
with their minds set on one thing,
when their hearts are taken aback
both by the presence of angels
and the absence of a body?

How no one – neither narrator
nor character nor angel – 
wastes any ink
or breath to tell us how?

Nothing but active verb
in present tense.
He IS risen.

That's what we need to know.
From there, we follow,
letting the IS of resurrection
bring us straightforward
into the world's active presence.

Metaphor and poetry may be
the heart of our God-speak,
as no vocabulary or alphabet
are capable of capturing
the divine self;
but faith's foundational eruption
from the tomb simply IS.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Repeat

VT Joe StephensonPhoto by Owen Todd Jenkins

 

"Those who don't know history 
are destined to repeat it." 
(Edmund Burke)

What of those who know it
but willingly choose
to relive it?

Are not they more dangerous
than the uninformed?
To know what happened
in the past and seek
to duplicate it, with no desire
to learn history's lessons,
 
is to willfully subject the world
to a life lived backward –
a life turned toward and
tuned to the past.

There is no hope
in such a focus;
for hope, by definition,
is grounded in a future that
both learns from history's pitfalls
and visualizes a more gracious outcome.

Those who cannot unsalute yesteryear 
will always find the future behind them, 
its forward pull creating dread, anxiety, and fear.

Ignorance can be overcome
with education, but choosing
to hopelessly repeat history
can only be cured
by a seismic reorientation.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Reason

otj3Photo by Owen Todd Jenkins

When it comes down to it,
logic is really little more
than the fragile,
non-anxious branch
of confirmation bias on which
we temporarily light.

Once the bough breaks,
and our wings resume
their frantic flap, reason
goes the way of the wind.

The difficulty lies
in this big surprise:
truth, especially the kind
that resonates across
time and cultures, rests
not in the branches,
but in the one
who gives us wings.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Only

Processed with VSCOcam with c7 preset

Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins

 

There's a race going on, alright.
And the people who are trying
their damnedest to win it
are the ones who're missing
everything along the way:

sunrises and sunsets
with their daily-repeated,
yet once-in-a-lifetime
explosion of color and light;

rocks shaped like hearts,
four-leaf clovers, and 
even three-leaf clovers
whose green is gift in itself;

clouds who momentarily
form themselves into memories
from our forgotten dreams;

cats, dogs, and
other domestic animals
who entertain us
with their mischievous antics;

wild animals whose
majesty and mystery
lift us out of our myopic frenzy.

That doesn't even get
to the people along the way:

ones whose uniqueness
we mistake for ordinary;

ones who smile
for no discernible reason;

ones who volunteer help
without expectation of reward;

ones who inspire us
by the tenacity of their
own anonymous struggle.

In our measuring,
calculating society,
we call all these little things.
Remind us daily that
they're really the only things.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

DEC 21

fullsizerender-104

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

 


Election Eve

img_7574

                                                     Photo by Anne Shurley

The Alpha-born and bred
forever step forward, O God,
to lead communities and societies
from small to large; and
we are graced with opportunity,
beyond succession, coup,
or appointment, to cast
our ballots in participation.

However fair or free or open
the process seems to us,
remind us that, as people of faith,
our final hope is neither
in the champion of popular vote
nor the victor of electoral college.

Remind us that, from your people's
very first insistence on a human monarch,
you have provided a parallel voice
in prophets, who keep bringing chairs
to the table; chairs that socioeconomics
seeks to remove; chairs belonging
to widows, orphans, and sojourners,
to outcasts and underdogs.

Remind us that the math
that matters in the long run –
or eternity as you are wont to call it –
is not the math of budgets and bottom lines,
but the equation of community.

Come Wednesday, or whenever
the counting is complete
and a victor is declared,
whether or not our desired candidate
and party prevail, or even
if we couldn't find candidates
on the ballot with which 
to align, give us wisdom, 
compassion, and courage to 
speak with the prophet's voice,
walk in the prophet's sandals,
breathe the prophet's air,
and feel the prophet's pulse,
so that our society and culture
will both desire and move
toward a place where justice
truly is for all, where mercy reigns,
and hope springs eternal.

Give us the courage,
both individually and collectively,
to be sentinels of grace;
to be your loaf and cup,
blessed, broken,
poured out, and shared,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins