Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “words

Conversation Stopper


We know the world is filled
 with naysayers — those whose actions,
auras, and words are pins pricking
our dream-inflated aspirations —
because we see and feel them
pressing-in on us every day;

proud to recite a litany
of their prognostications,
like a search engine
of Nostradamus snippets
strung together to match
reality, after the fact.

It’s a bit more challenging
to face the they-sayers, however,
as they mostly quote shadowy majorities
of influential figures who’re either
too polite or too afraid to come forward,
all the while, as mouthpieces
claiming neutrality, if not skepticism
on their own behalf.

Once you’ve been trained
as a they-sayer, it’s difficult
to see that your regurgitation,
allowing the clandestine mob
to remain anonymous, clearly signals
your complicity and agreement,
while denying us all the opportunity
to participate in conversation and discussion.

If you’re not willing
to claim ownership
of the bull, you shouldn’t
be letting it out of the pasture.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Spoken Hearts



Those who are
  and/or overcome by fear,
  often feel forced
 to abandon oral communication
in favor of violence;

the bravest, or perhaps
 the most desperate,
perpetrate physical aggression;

those with lesser gumption
 often assault language itself,
  waging battle against long-held meaning,
 gas-lighting society
into lexical confusion.

The rest of us
 are then tasked
  to hold firm
   to the tension
    between conflict
     forced upon us,
    and the eternal possibility
   of language,
  refusing to abandon
 the common ground
of our shared meanings.

In the end,
 war’s horror cannot
  stand on its own;
  and words, with their
 community interpretations,
will win,

because our common story
 outlives every other blitzkrieg,
  and love’s vocal evocation
 eventually woos
even frozen, trembling hearts.

          And now faith, hope, 
          and love abide, these three; 
          and the greatest of these is love. 
          (1 Corinthians 13:13)

© 2018 Todd Jenkins


Here We Are

FullSizeRender (75)

I wanted my words
to make a difference;
not just the words
that leaked out of my mouth
in the heat of the moment,

but the words that seeped
out of my veins, carrying parts
of me from the deepest places
I’ve yet to plumb,

when your pain stabbed me
with the dull side of its blade,
its razor edge sunk
to the hilt in your heart.

I wanted my blood
to make a difference;
but it didn’t.

At least, it didn’t effect
the wispy dream of reconciliation
I constructed with letters,
punctuation, and space —
lots of space.

So, here we are,
on the far side of words —
on the dried side of blood —
and the wet side of tears;

still groping for the edge
of the grave,
still hoping for breath
not squeezed tight
by pain and rejection.

Here we are.

Here we are.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins

Borrowed Ears


(a preacher’s dream/hope for a new year)


Some folks are great
at telling stories
with their mouths.

Theirs are the most detailed
and most accurate.

They are also the longest
and often the most boring,
stumbling and fumbling
over facts irrelevant
to both the point of the story
and their listeners.

Other people are great
at regaling you
with their own ears,
keenly aware of how
their tales make them appear
 in the eyes of their audience.

Whatever else you’ve learned
when they are finished,
you now see them
in a more ethereal light.

Help me, O Lord, learn how
to unfold narratives
using borrowed ears,
so my listeners hear,
not me or
my most presentable self
or their pretend selves,
but their deepest, richest selves
in the story.

Even more, let their ears
tell me how to verbally reveal
glimpses of grace,
calling us all to a hope
that is deeper, broader,
more connective,
and more accessible
than before vocal chords strummed
and ear drums beat
in synchronized rhythm.

© 2018 Todd Jenkins






Poetry, like parable,
  is a powerful strain
   of subversive resistance.

        In parable, most often,
      by the powers
    of familiarity and comfort,
  we are lulled into sidling up
to prophetic truth
  with no more hesitation
    or anxiety than a carefree child
      lounging in the autumn grass
        with a magnifying glass
      or a beloved, snoozing family pet.

    Poetry seduces us,
  by a trinity of brevity,
wherein we find
  both breathing room
    and a niche for inserting
      our own narrative;

        simplicity, refreshing us like
      a summer rain shower;

    and a turn of phrase,
  opening neural pathways
of imagination we’ve either
  long-forgotten or never knew existed.

    Our first few encounters
      with these radical forms
        of blood-fueled ink
      can be chalked up
    to inexperience or naïveté.

  Eventually, however,
we will probably have to admit
  that something deep within
    hungers for such
      a revolutionary soirée.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins





Story is neither magic
nor medicinal,
in and of itself.

It is simply a way
of connecting yesterday's thread
of existence with today's,
laying groundwork
for the possibility of tomorrow.

It can be weaponized,
like most any tool,
when the tales told come
from a single source,
and one that’s oblivious
to every character but self.

If you want to feel
its purest form,
let a child spin you
yarns of truth formed
in the crucible
of innocence and vulnerability.

Then, you'll understand
the lines on which
the world turns.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins



GJK 36Photo by Gay Jenkins Howell

The truth of Adam and Eve,
a friend told me, is
"A fig leaf is no substitute
for a therapist."

So much here to feast on;
so much here to run from;
so much here too real to face,
yet too close to reject.

Let us dare to live and breathe
in a naked now, O holy one,
not as tawdry exploitation
of bodies as objects,

but as death-defying risk
of abandonment to no less
and no more than our light-reflecting
and shadow-casting selves;

for the truth of creation's story
cannot be told
without such revealing.

Let both our poetry
and our prose
stand and fall
as blood-pumping gamble
of allowing the narrative
of who we are
to pulse out of
our own woundedness,

for it is in and from
our stories that we'll live
and die and be resurrected,
not just in the end,
but also in the breath
of their telling.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins


IMG_9436Photo by DeEtta Harris Jenkins

To borrow a book title from one of my seminary professors, 
Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Finally Comes the Poet.

space-maker, mold-breaker, heart-shaker…

thought-drifter, shape-shifter, dream-sifter…

bell-ringer, tear-bringer, sweat-wringer…

trip-booker, fresh-looker, love-cooker…

beast-tamer, peace-framer, grace-namer…

risk-taker, earth-quaker, hope-baker…

© 2017 Todd Jenkins




I watched a male Eastern Bluebird
sit on our deck rail,
his eyes askance and body
shifting side to side
in search of predatory danger.

When he took to his wings,
it was as if an iridescent stream
of shimmering blue flame
traced a launching rocket.

As he faded from my sight,
I wondered if my own
leaving of a place – any place –
would ever generate
such a brilliant trail to follow.

Deciding that the answer
was, "No." I resolved, again,
to desire less the sparkling beauty
of bluebird in my eye,
and more the steadfast reflection
of poetic hope simmering
in my marrow.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins





I've never known a leader
who expects to be taken
seriously, but not literally;

someone who repeatedly
begs me to believe and
trust him, while the words
coming from his mouth
are hyperbolic at best and
blatant fantasies at worst.

Usually, the only people
who desire to match
this description are poets and
authors of children's books;

those who dare us
to aspire to more, by painting
word-images that pull us
toward a vision of grace.

The key ingredient
missing here, in
this time and place,
however, is hope.
It is wholly AWOL.

Without it, my imagination
is being pulled into
a vortex of fear.

This is not a story
I want to read,
much less live.

Stop the book,
I want to get out.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins