Click here to see all of the poems in The 55 Project.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Poem 005


she treads the rocky path
through high desert
familiar in a distant
primeval sense

cactus and mesquite
lie in wait, claws bared
among sharp rocks
in harsh mountain terrain

drawn on by hunger
thorn-bushes scratch her underbelly
briers catch her woolly coat

following her own path
far from the Shepherd
she cries in pain

the Shepherd rescues her
replaces briers with sweet myrtle
thorn bushes with cedars and pine
quenches her thirst by still waters

led in peace, she joins the procession
mountains and hills burst into song
before her the trees
clap their hands

Irene Fridsma of Grand Rapids, Michigan is one of the members of the Festival Circle where this blog was first introduced. At last month's festival, she won an ekphrastic poetry contest; her winning poem was displayed in the Calvin College art gallery, next to the painting which inspired it. "Ensnared" grew out of Isaiah 55:12 & 13, and Psalm 23.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Poem 004


This had been a difficult week, us at cross purposes,
spring lagging behind, dragging its feet, and days
on end of steady rain. The calendar said t-shirts,
flip flops, sandals,
but we were hunched in sweaters,
stoking the fire. And then, and I know it was not
a miracle, the rain lifted, and the grass was a jolt
of electric green. The quarrel we were nursing
evaporated like morning mist, and there,
at the feeder, after years of trying—making
nectar, slicing oranges—was a pair of orioles, startling
as if the sun decided to fly down from the sky,
a flashy splash of citrus soda in my ordinary backyard.
Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.

Barbara Crooker of Fogelsville, Pennsylvania is the author of four poetry collections—the most recent being Gold (2013) which I had the honour of editing for the Poiema Poetry Series (Cascade). Visit Kingdom Poets to find out more. "Passerines" takes wing from Isaiah 55:1 & 12, from which come the poem's last two lines.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Poem 003

God's Bakers

Three days a week
in rain, drought, or dark
the monks from St. Benedict, LA
drive across the thirsty waters
of Lake Pontchartrain
over the narrow causeway
that separates holy abundance
from thinning poverty
delivering loaves of bread
to those who cannot pay
exiled from their own identity
in the national void of half
way houses, shelters, nursing homes, jails.
The monks are God's bakers of grace
at no charge; they are as steady
as a covenant made with an Old Testament king.
Brother Joseph, who keeps God's books,
turns pennies from the faithful for bread
into a langniappe from God.
His old delivery van—a 1997 Chevy Astro—
goes to New Orleans packed full of bread
and returns to the monastery bursting
with the scent of myrtles.

Philip C. Kolin of Hattiesburg, Mississippi is the author of the poetry collection Reading God's Handwriting (2012). He is the Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Southern Mississippi. Visit Kingdom Poets to find out more. "God's Bakers" rises out of Isaiah 55:1, 2 & 13.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Poem 002

Lauds in a Pocket

. . . go out in joy . . .

More alive than your average giant,
the backyard pine rocks with song.
Blackbirds, four-and-twenty? Yes,
and more: we’re talking hundreds.

Bronze needles whirly-gig down,
cabled roots creak like halyards
beneath twenty leagues of sky, the day
trilled so raptly by gleaming beaks
that one expects hymns, fanfares—
not this racket.

Curiosity reels you in: Imagine
this black-robed choir launches, as one,
and the tree weighs anchor, dragging
its mile of taproot and ivory mesh,
ground roots afloat like rigging . . .

A passing semi spits gravel,
the birds jump ship with no teamwork
or plan, just those reckless
arpeggios, iridescing across the dawn.
Pocket a feather, stride home.

Laurie Klein of Deer Park, Washington won the Predator Press Chapbook Prize for Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh (2004). She is also the winner of the 2007 Thomas Merton Prize for Poetry of the Sacred. "Lauds in a Pocket" is inspired by Isaiah 55:12.