In so much debt even a metaphor fails

Realizing that I haven’t written a poem for a month was my inspiration. Also that my student loans are due up later this week, and I have, as always, no way to pay them. The poem feels unfinished and definitely unpolished. The loans … well, let’s just say that they don’t accept poems as partial payments, but they do (for now) have some helpful repayment options.

In debt
A month of devotions lost —
A bill overdue, a debt in default.
He who holds my note is fixed,
But He offers many repayment options.

Make no mistake; the debt must be paid.
It is one that requires all I have, all I am,
All I become.
My all still cannot scrape together
A minimum monthly payment.
I cannot even clear the interest;
It accrues hourly, compounded daily.
I am forever in debt.

He is a lender like no other; I would have myself
Beholden to none else.
Whatever measly payment I make, He accepts —
And deposits all interest accrued in debt
Into my own account, not His,
Enabling me to pay again.

Foreclosure is not His aim;
My ruin is not His end.
In paying debt to Him,
He frees me from other mortgages;
He cuts my bonds to them.
I grow always more in debt to Him,
But freer than I could be alone,
Pretending I had no debt.

Is my debt a burden? No,
A blessing. For He treat me
Not as bondswoman, but as houseguest,
Friend, potential heir.
My debt doubles as I partake
At His invitation.

Come to tea, He says. Come sit a while with Me.
Alright, I respond with slow smile, knowing
I can only pay a tenth of this debt. I do it
By inviting Him so wholly into my life.
10 Aug 2011

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Service by the Master

Two poems spurred by the last two weeks of church.

Last week (the 10th of July), the Sacrament meeting theme was in essence fulfilling our life’s missions, which I had “coincidentally” been thinking about all morning already. I pondered it over the day and when I went to bed, I still wondered. I had a fleeting visual given me of a big, heavy rock on a stack of papers, with wind ruffling about and threatening to blow the papers to all places. I wondered, depressed, if I was just a rock to keep the real parts of life from blowing away — a filler person to connect the generations between great forebears and even greater posterity. Then it hit me — that’s not something to be depressed over! Even if I am just a rock, just a filler, that is still an important part of the Lord’s plan, even if it’s not as worldly-glorious as whatever is on those papers. The papers couldn’t do much good if they were scattered everywhere.

Update on 10 Aug: I realized too late that I only posted the last stanza of the poem (though I refuse to admit how long it took me to realize as well as how long it took me to get back here and change it). I thought it seemed incomplete. That’s what I get for updating my blog at 10 at night, which seems to be the only time I ever do.

To what end was I born?
Fear eats at me that I’m a rock,
A paper-weight on a stack of life,
To hold it down from skittering
While waiting for real use.
Am I just a filler?

Yet if it’s true, then I would be
Still part of Father’s plan.
A paper-rock, though inglorious
Is still useful in the wind.
Generational filler is still matter
That weighs in the final product.

I am not the pen that writes so bold
the lines of life’s history.
I am not the music strung on the page,
the cantata that sums His praise.
A rock? Perhaps. A lump? Could be.
But useless? No, even if so.
I’m still a part of the Master’s plan;
That’s end enough to know.
10 July 2011

This week Jared told me almost defensively that he had signed up for a lot of service this week, since that is what we’ve promised the Lord to do during this jobless-and-writing period of life we have. I used to resent the time given in service, and I’m finally learning new perspective.

Freely Given
Service freely given brings us
Blessings freely sent.
The Master whom we serve
So served us, breath by breath —
From early awareness to final
Labored sacrificing gasp.
His service began before the sun first rose
And still will flow when stars blink their last lights.
What are His blessings, so freely sent,
For His service so freely given?
You. I. Each child of God who comes to Him,
Seeking His way of life as our own.
We are His blessings; we are His joy.
We are the fruit of His service.
17 July 2011

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Praises and Pleadings

These are two loosely-titled poems from earlier this year.

Daffodil Hymn
The beauty of spring daffodils still
Wilt when winter lifts its chill.
The glory of the morning star
Still fades when Sol-sun shines from far.
Though bounteous are the beauties here
Made by thy loving hand so dear,
My soul still faints for want of bread,
Best filled by Christ, my Living Head.
No beauty soothes my throat so sere
As water from thy Living mere.
Count beauties of all flowers and tree,
They tally little next to thee.
26 Jan 2011


My poetry teacher always scolded me that words like “soul” should never be used in a poem. He argued that such words, which this poem is filled with, were so overused that they have become meaningless. He has a point — but, then, he was also an Alan Ginsburg fan, and so I now am wise enough to know that I can only take his advice as just that — nice advice, an interesting thought.

True, this poem is full of overused words and predictable rhymes. From a highbrow poetry perspective, it reads like Victorianism warmed over. To some extent, that was the point. This isn’t supposed to be haute couture poetry. It’s a praise hymn, one of the most entrenched and well-loved forms of poetry in the English tradition. The best hymnsongs are very stale poetry from a modern perspective, and there’s a reason why, a reason that William Cowper understood and Lord Byron never entertained: when we write poetry with the desire to stun the readers, the poem ceases to be a hymn and becomes a statute of art to praise the writer, not the Great Creator.


Love from Heaven
God of heaven, I seek thy love
To rest in me this day.
I seek this great boon, like a dove
Lest I my stewardship betray.
The love I have is moonlight at best,
A waning sickle late at night:
The love I need is sunlight zest!
So whole it leave no room for fright.

Make this thy love a part of me,
Set deeper than my heart,
That I may give such love to he
Who plays my young son’s part.
A God in seed, I know he is,
This spark of the divine—
Needs love to fill this life of his
And know it’s thine and mine.
31 Jan 2011

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Peace and Safety

The opening stanza is actually lifted from a song I wrote for one of my husband’s books. I wrote it seven years ago, long before I learned what true peace is and where to find it.

Peace and Safety
Peace as the river floweth
Safety as the birds in the trees
Calm as a summer’s bright morning light
Close as a babe at his mother’s breast.

These are the symbols man uses for peace,
The measure of safety found in the world.
Yet peaceful and safe, calm and so close,
All break, fragile, and shatter into lost.

Rivers flow fiercely, rumble white over rocks;
Birds fall from nests or are prey from above.
Summer’s soft sunlight bursts into loud riot;
The suckling babe fusses and bites and cries.

Where is the safety, the peace that we seek?
Where is the truest calm, not a mask?
Where can we find the closeness and love
That even a mother’s love cannot give?

In God’s arms, in God’s heart;
In God’s path is God’s peace.
His is the peace not findable in
This bellicose world, this myopic life.

In Him lies safety, in Him shines light —
Light brisant and pierce, to cleanse and reveal —
Light, healing with gentleness unreplicable.
He who is Light gives safety and peace.
5 July 2011

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Perfectionism and Perfection

Impossible! I cry. Unfair! To hold it mine alone
Responsibility to do it all—so well—right now!
Impossible! I cry. Unfair! Then plunge I in headlong
Determined to do better best—to do best better yet.

There’s Failure lurking in my wings, a vulture at my door,
A darkness eating at my brain—companions known before.
The darkness floods me in and out, sprung from my very core;
The vulture roosts within my thoughts, flies hungrily no more.

Impossible! I finally cry. I weep and tears roll hot.
Responsibility I cannot take, I cannot hold.
Impossible to me. I fail. A no-good failure, me.
I cannot do better or best,—just give more mis’rable me.

I know, He says. That’s why I ask impossible of you.
Because you cannot shoulder perfect doing on your own.
I can. So come to Me and find ability not yours
To do the tasks I’ve set for you, a better best than good.

Come trust in Me, O weary one, with misery depressed.
Come put your burdens in my arms, and let Me choose from there
Which ones you need to learn yourself, which ones I’ll do with you,
And which I cast aside, just dross, to burden you no more.

Perfection is a life-long road, a journey, not a place.
You cannot reach it with a jump, nor scramble there this month.
Walk quickly, yes, determined sure to reach that final Joy.
But quiet steps will guide you there more than a furious work.

I am Perfection. I am the One who makes your burdens light.
I am the Path to Happiness, which you have vainly sought.
True life is found through Me, not in your frenzied, worried state.
I am the One who gives you Life—so come and be at peace.

1/22 Jun 2011

Here’s another poem about perfectionism, something I’ve been pondering a lot lately. My friend Colleen Harrison calls perfectionism something like the compulsive need to appear perfect. I couldn’t agree more. What an exhausting compulsion.

This poem was spurred by seeing last month’s glitter-filled Mother’s Day project I had my boys make. I was making a late-night snack. Why did I see it then? ‘Cause it’s half-stashed under the microwave, waiting for me to put a coat of fixative on it, which will hopefully keep the glitter on.

I don’t know about anyone else, but my desires for perfection(ism) take such a strong toll that I just kinda give up even trying. Strange bedfellows.

Unfinished Projects

Unfinished projects, late at night,
Creep into my eye-view’s edge.
Unfinished projects in the hectic morn
Flash as I kneel down to pray.
Unfinished projects at quiet mid-day rest
Leave glitter on my son’s fair head.
Unfinished projects clutter the day,
Remind me I can’t project myself
Into perfection: Under my won power, I remain
An unfinished project.

24 June 2011

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A Partial Explanation

For reasons unknown to my daughter today,
I’ve asked her to write me a poem.
Her voice would dry up and her pen hand constrict
If I told her the true reasons why.

I love her, and poems are the words of the Gods,
The fruits of the finest of words.
I want her to speak with the tongue of the Gods
For angels and all men to hear.

She is my voice, only one, but still Mine,
A sound that can shatter the night:
A clarion call and a beacon of light
In her world all o’ershadowed with fear.

I am her muse, but she is my hand;
Her faltering diction I guide.
So when she takes paper to pen in her book,
I smile, knowing I can’t deny

The pleasure it gives her, the pleasure that’s Mine,
The peace from a cov’nant well kept.
So how could I tell her, this daughter I love,
That poems are her life-blood divine?

Would she believe me? I think that she would,
Yet fear all the same at my touch.
I’d want her to know, never doubting, just trust
That poems are a touchstone of Life.

9 March 2011


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