Monday, March 30, 2015

Big Poetry Giveaway 2015!

We're two days out from April, which means we're teetering on the brink of that massive, ink-and-font-filled chasm known as NaPoWriMo (National Poetry-Writing Month). I'll be taking on the challenge to write 30 poems in the 30 days of April, and if that intrigues you, I encourage you to take it on as well! You can learn more here.

Before we jump over that cliff, though, Kelli Russell Agodon over at Book of Kells is once again hosting the Big Poetry Giveaway, that massive book-of-poetry swap where poets and bloggers hold contests to give two books of poetry to two randomly selected people. I've done this for the past couple years, and I always enjoy it so much, so I am joining in for another year of giveaway goodness.

You can learn all about how the giveaway works (and how you can participate and host your own giveaway, if you wish) at Book of Kells, but here's the quick gist of how it works:

When: The giveaway is open to be entered from now until midnight, April 30.

How to Enter: Simply comment on this post with your name and email address, and you're in!

What Two Books? I will be giving away the following two books, to two randomly-selected entrants...

Ars Golgothica, my first book of poetry, released in 2012. The poems collected here speak to the varying shades of experience -- grief and suffering, love and joy -- through the lens of life in Christ. The poems transcend the expectations of the often-alienating genre, digging into the dirt and finding the Eden there, the hope to be found in ruin, and the significance of sorrow.

Slow Dance With Sasquatch by Jeremy Radin, an incredibly earthy collection of poems that I can't see any lover of literature having a hard time falling head-over-fur-cuffed-heels for. You can learn more about it, as well as read some samples, at the Write Bloody Publishing store.

And that's it! I'll be giving away one copy of each, to two people who comment on this post with their name and email. After the contest ends, I will enter all the entrants into a random number generator and contact the lucky recipients for their shipping info. No hassle, no cost -- just lovely collections of word-dainties and thought-entrees. It's surprisingly easy, and just as fun for me (maybe more so).

So, yeah...have a great month, enter if you're inclined, and I'll be back in a couple days for NAPOWRIMOOOOO.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Unknowingly Bereaved

I saw a post on Reddit where someone shared their way of mourning their brother Taylor's passing, by revisiting his saved game in Skyrim -- not playing, but simply looking at the last screen he saw. The sacred, memorial aspect this experience lent to video games is something I'm still processing, and I can't help wondering the thoughts of Taylor's character, Bear, so promptly hollowed of the person who literally moved him. There is a surprising sympathy here (between the bereaved, digital and flesh) that all my years of gaming didn't seem to prepare me for.

The Unknowingly Bereaved

It's as if the will that always filled
my ax with intent was extinguished.
I stand, and watch a pantheon of autumns
play the shade of Solitude's trees.
I trace the soundless shrink-and-sprawl
whereat that adventurer under my breast
fell strangely quiet and still,
no poison or green-fisted spell to explain
the paralysis in my dew-stained mantle,
the lichen and grass finding pathways
up my boots, the quest to quest more fragile
than any in Skyrim would have had
this Dragonborn dark elf believe.
What wind came down from the hills
and whipped the fire from my tongue
so suddenly?
This world, this whole continent,
forgone for an eyeful of stone and wood,
a scene the occasional glimpse of which warms
just short of knowing what I lost,
like a breath on the back of my neck,
or a hand on a pommel
forever left to cool.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine (or, the Poem that Will Make Me Seem like a Cheapskate)

Valentine (or, the Poem that Will Make Me Seem like a Cheapskate)

Show me how to crown this thing between you and me,
how to reduce our years to so many half-chewed chocolates.
I'd treat you like a valentine, but there's something amiss
in the way the sobriquet fits you, loses
your ink-and-ivory contours in the folds of its oversized hoodie.
Does a day like this suit us? Or can it?
We, for whom seasons shed their names for the better dress
of Daykiln and Petrichor, the latter's damp thickets
weaving their aphrodisiacs between

What is card stock and lace beside the moonrise
my lycanthrope heart has always known you as?
There is a hymn in my chest wont of the love-songs of wolves,
a pining for whatever it is that lends emerald-petaled eyes their sway,
and I'm supposed to settle for confections?
A bouquet and a heart-shaped solace for words
either too elusive or too untrue, neither sitting in hand
the way thought of you does in this temple of breath and flesh,
a spear agonizing in its sweetness, jubilant in its ache,
a pulse more God and ghost than my own

beside which any store-bought sentiment seems a crown of crabgrass
wrapping roots through the silk at your shoulders.
How, then, to serve this love, this marriage of anguish and bliss
on the day when love must matter most?—
marched out like a year-round ball-and-chain
made a momentary chain chomp to keep up with everyone else.
How do I condense all of this into something that says I love you?
In a gift? In a gesture?
Or in a pair of unpinned lips?—
at last saying some words worth saying.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Howl (a Final Fantasy VII poem)

Been having a hard time finding time to write lately. Not for lack of desire, just as with everything, choosing to do one thing is choosing not to do a dozen other things. My dilemma.

But regardless, I finally sat down and devoted a couple days to nothing but poetry, and got this piece finished. Remember my SoSOPP from last Summer (the Summer of Sometimes-Otaku Persona Poetry)? It may have started early this year, because I've been getting a lot of ideas for poems based in fandoms and I'm excited to get them out.

For now though, enjoy this poem from the perspective of Final Fantasy VII's Red XIII (or Nanaki, as we learn his real name to be). There are a lot of back stories in FFVII, but for me, not many of them rival Red XIII's. It gets me in a deep and sensitive place every time.



To you who grew with a closed door for a father, or a mother
who seemed to keep the Midgar Zolom beneath her teeth,
yours is a thorn whose sting still steals the spirit from my paws
but, try not to empty your chests of them just yet.
The father-shaped hollow in my ribs saw me
scrabble my semicentennial youth across the walls of Cosmo Canyon,
equal parts pining and shame
winding lines into the rock of its perennial dusk to find
an escape from the shadow of the last of my kind.
My father
was little more to me than a moonlit spine disappearing into the dark.
I've learned how children are supposed to see their parents,
a flowerbed of expectant orphans
or the stars Marlene blinks away when her hero
takes her in the one good hand he has left. I understand that
the same way I understand the tendrils of energy
that tie my life to the world's. That is, in picture and word,
a moon known by name but too shrouded in cloud to howl to.
I knew fatherhood as the brush of a whiskered goodbye, the idea
that it's better to flee and be a ghost in the throats of your children
than risk the war of a life lived beside them –
the razor-edged headdress and claws hennaed a clumpy red
in keeping your people from whatever may come.
Fatherhood was an excuse to disappear until
I saw where he disappeared to, this wound
with a face just like mine, the moonlit spine that I remember perched
an arrow-pierced bastion at the back of Cosmo Canyon, no place to
pin my inventory of blame between dart and quill and petrified mane.
My father.
For fifty years I carried my heritage a crater under my lungs,
not knowing the heartache that draped his whiskers over mine
or the gloaming-hued stone that froze his bones in place,
knowing neither sacrifice or stone, or this,
his marbled eyes, the moons
this bay in the pit of my stomach had always been looking for,
and the twin trails of moss beneath them, glistening
as if freshly watered.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Underneath the Ferns

Underneath the Ferns

As those delivered to the soil in boxes,
the elk's breath left it an antlered slump underneath the ferns,
between the carpet and eaves of that temple where nature
has yet to grieve the god throbbing an omnicidal solace
for a time before teeth were whittled inward
and the dead turned its dirt.
In such a habit, earth exhales plumes of mandible and wing,
crowns the rack of its sundered quarry in clouds of a darker,
southernmost glory, the anarchic mantra that inspires nature
to glut and ruin and writhe
unaltered, reveling as much in this maggot-blanched vanity
as in the pomegranate that insinuated our shapes
back into the embrace of root and worm,
of decay and retrieval,
of oak and soil and mold, no less quarry
than the thing with antlers branching through the ferns.
Like rows of storm-gnawed limestone, the tines
denote whatever grotesque the seasons have secretly crafted
of something once so beautiful,
but more,
the gospel in ivy ascending their pallid homage,
tendrils studding this rot with the triumph
that turns death upon itself and pulls existence from its ashes.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

(More than) A December Sojourn

Happy New Year! I hope, as always, that this is finding you well. I had a resoundingly uneventful New Year's Eve, but hopefully yours saw you wringing out 2014 with good friends and many a hopeful, love-filled embrace. Here's to 2015 (and yes, I'll be one of the innumerable people you know who will say it's weird to write 2015).

To start things out, I have a new poem. It may be January 1, but it's also the eighth day of Christmas in these parts, so I've still got a few more days of holiday left in me (although this may be my last Christmas poem for the season. I don't have any more plans, but who knows what the Muse has in mind?). So, I have some more Christmastime ruminations for you to chew on. I had a lot of fun writing it, thinking things out and just reveling in the beauty and hope the Advent brings to mind. If we love Christmas because of what it says about God and Jesus, it's a love and joy that we don't need to put away with the Christmas tree and lights (nor should we, actually). Hold that love and goodwill with you every day of the year. Eternity has been opened to you in the humility of the manger. That's a cause worth rejoicing over every second of your life.

Live 2015 with the joy you're entitled to.

Photo credit: Vladimir Fofanov

(More than) A December Sojourn

There is a reason we wrap our years around Bethlehem.
Like its blanket, these birth-readied folds of footstep and sigh
hold the makeshift cradle an organ beating
from the breast of December
for the things grown shingled and still in ours.
What day could find nothing of worth in those hills?
Where a song longer craved than sung
at last broke its annunciatory oil over our heads and we
lick it from our lips something Wonderful.

Breathe again the hosannas that spun Bethlehem's sky
into an impressionistic nocturne
of angel wing and awe, telling the news
of a God stooping to dance with His beloved eye to eye,
a love that emptied Heaven for the court of cattle and night,
preferring the lesserdom of flesh if it might refill His arms
with children a pantheon of heartbreak
had done nothing to dislodge from the throne between His lungs.

Glimpse again the trough, the bundle of body and cloth
never again so bread-and-wine until altar
calls to altar and another hillside puts the point in fists
here thought to reach so meaninglessly, a baby learning its limbs.
If Christmas sings joy from under the months, it's for this,
the likewise-swaddled jubilee
whose birth tore our darkness with the reflexive elation of angels
and constellations, of mothers and shepherds and kings, of chests
nestling too much sehnsucht for Eden
to not erupt at its gloried arrival, at His gloried arrival.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Singular Love of Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve! Taking a break from last-minute gift-wrapping/crafting, I want to share another unposted Christmas poem from my book.

It's easy to fall in love with the things Christmas comes dressed in. The joviality, the love, the eggnog (of course!). But let's not forget that the core, the news of a God stooping to dance with His beloved eye to eye, is what gives everything else its beauty. The lights, the gifts, the love - they are the wrapping paper made wonderful for the wonder of their gift.

Christmas is made glorious for His glory, beautiful for His beauty.

May this holiday be a blessing and cause for reflection and introspection. Most of all, may it be a time of reorientation around He who breathes jubilee into the mundane, without whom this holiday would never have been anything more than an obscure festival smelling of age-old ox blood and sage.

The Singular Love of Christmas

Wafts the crisp crystalled waltz of wondrous Christmas snow,
arraying scenes the things of dreams as it collects below.
Softly spill these silent seeds so sown from Heaven’s heights
whose harvest reaps more joy than even the season’s finest lights.
For with the advent of their ice there also arcs to mind
the time when angels left their clime to ‘prise all of mankind,
the time when God the grave allayed in giving up His seat –
choosing in its stead a meager bed twixt cloven hoof and wheat.
That wintry joy, like drifts deployed, can only come from there:
the fact that God afar stayed not, but came to know our share.
His majesty neath infancy, our frailty-furled messiah,
fulfilling every vow foretold through vision-blessed Isaiah.
Of the Christ the prophet penned the reason Christmas sings;
of the Lord he wrote and answered why the bright bell rings,
why all the mortal throng by instinct yearly ‘comes enthralled
and summons love nigh unseen since last the season called.
To this namesake scriptures point: Born…the Prince of Peace.
There shall be no end of His government nor of its increase.

Thus, the calm enrapture all the snow-wrapped hillsides spy.
Thus, the felt serenity lit evergreens descry.
Within the wintry, wind-whipped wisps of Christmas come again,
the Prince’s gift is hard to miss in every yuletide grin –
peace, the ceaseless increase of the coming Christ’s lone sway,
of which the world but glimpses now on every Christmas day.