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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Poem 009


Why not come back? The Savior
has no end save light,
no thrumming rage; music

escapes God's page, clapping
timbers steady the roof,
the muffled bell ringer's

ringing wakes the neighborhood--
Something's going on, the Festal
food is good, and free; eat, live.

Silver pipes, tallow candles
know their part; bring in your art--
What if a radiant, stained

glass window depicts you? Read through . . .
and thin lead linings
hold you almost fast?

Sandra Duguid of West Caldwell, New Jersey is the author of the poetry collection Pails Scrubbed Silver (2013) from North Star Press. For twenty years she taught literature, composition, and creative writing at colleges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. "Invitation" comes from reflections on Isaiah 55:1-3, 6 & 7.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Poem 008

The Invitation

Come ye hither all, whose taste
-------------------Is your waste;
Save your cost, and mend your fare.
God is here prepared and dressed,
-------------------And the feast,
God, in whom all dainties are.

Come ye hither all, whom wine
-------------------Doth define,
Naming you not to your good:
Weep what ye have drunk amiss,
-------------------And drink this,
Which before ye drink is blood.

Come ye hither all, whom pain
-------------------Doth arraign,
Bringing all your sins to sight:
Taste and fear not: God is here
-------------------In this cheer,
And on sin doth cast the fright.

Come ye hither all, whom joy
-------------------Doth destroy,
While ye graze without your bounds:
Here is joy that drowneth quite
-------------------Your delight,
As a flood the lower grounds.

Come ye hither all, whose love
-------------------Is your dove,
And exalts you to the sky:
Here is love, which having breath
-------------------Ev’n in death,
After death can never die.

Lord I have invited all,
-------------------And I shall
Still invite, still call to thee:
For it seems but just and right
-------------------In my sight,
Where is all, there all should be.

George Herbert lived in Bemerton, Wiltshire, England at the time of his death in 1633, where he served as an Anglican priest. His famous book The Temple, from which this poem is drawn, was published posthumously. Visit Kingdom Poets to find out more. "The Invitation" came from Isaiah 55: 1 & 2.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Poem 007

Hide and Seek

She takes a long breath
and removes her shoes.
Between the toes of boots and slippers
it’s dusty. Long hairs have migrated
under the shoe tree and merged with
grey-coated carpet. She remembers

house dust is mostly skin, shed like snow.
Within seven years every cell is replaced.
Constant renewal. Yet we grow old. Her toe snags

a bag
of almost-ready-to-give-away clothes,
past indulgences one could almost forget,
but not quite.
The dirty things and hanging things
whisper with lingering
sweat and perfume,
the truth and the cover.

Go into your closet and pray.

Closing the door she
thinks about Holy God
kind of like a first and last name.

What does your name mean?
Hers means Graceful Lily.
Graceful Lily smiles

unable to conjure a face to go with Holy,

feels like: All heads down.
Mustn’t peek
even in the dark closet

with the door closed. Palms pressed
against her eyes,
bits of light whirl and sift
and she imagines an entry

into eternity,
shoe boxes and shelves, walls
fall away, openness reels outward,
gathering yesterdays and calling tomorrow,
the way the strike
of a church bell
announces beginnings and endings
and endless calling of the name...

Holy. Holy Holy
and nothing else seems
worth saying
so she chimes in
Holy Holy Holy and Holy


And she understands sorrow
because she is not

or even holy

and the closet is her cover.

And comfort. For a long long time…
was it time, or just being

with I AM?

She rises,
takes what she imagines to be
the hand
of the one who drove her home
on a dark night,

turns the palm up and places a kiss.
She opens the door with...

...thank you.


A few steps and she pauses,
shivers… and looks back… nah, nothing there…

…“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me…” —Psalm 23:6

Susan Cowger of Cheney, Washington is the Director of the ClearStory Gallery in Spokane. Her chapbook Scarab Hiding appeared from Finishing Line Press in 2006. She was a founding editor of the journal Rock & Sling, as was Laurie Klein. "Hide and Seek" emerges from reflections on Isaiah 55:1,6 and 12.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Poem 006

Isaiah 55:11 the word that goes from my mouth
does not return to me empty...

I am young and old and not of heaven;
My little becomes less though more is given.
A breath returns in secret thoughts of time
To a God for whose eternal mind
We are unknowing, we are dark unknown;
Somewhere he is praying to us alone,
Whose prayer is always to follow a breath
Through our burning tides of birth and death,
And we are the dark night of his deep soul,
A raw love, infinite and unconsoled.

I am young and old and not of heaven;
My little becomes less though more is given.
Breaths of my flesh, I count breaths from that fire,
Count them, respire, suspire, inspire, expire,
I count breaths of my flesh, breaths of his flesh,
Fire of my flesh, fire from him fresh,
Guttering, guttering always in time,
And never again in this world the fire of his mind.
Beyond the choices of a perfect love,
We love badly, love still, still we are loved,
Though breath is unfelt, that fire without flame,
Who has chosen never to be the same,
Or twice to love without new creation,
New fall, new prophets, new crucifixion,
To find new darkness in his darkened prayer,
The virtue of God to teach himself despair.

I am young and old and not of heaven;
His little becomes less, no more is given.
In my flesh I have breathed his last breaths,
I have counted one by one his slow deaths,
I have heard him gasp the thick syllables
Of a psalm, heard the slow bell ring knell
Upon knell in the season of his loss,
As the eyes of heaven closed on that cross,
The fire dead, the breath gone, the body cold
Heaven breathing away the broken soul.
The silence of God's prayer is agony,
In silence he is weeping bitterly,
For he cannot rejoint the twisted bones
Of Christ after Christ who must die alone,
And all his love is less than he intends:
Compassion is unbearable in the end.

I am young and old and not of heaven;
My little becomes less though more is given.
He bears alone as I could never bear
The slow duration of a weary prayer;
It goes ages in flame, ages in ash,
Recurring visions from a distant past,
The heat of breathing, the cold of time,
And his eyes more perfect if they were blind;
He pities though he may not touch the pain,
Dissolution, lives that will not come again
Into this world which alone has taught life
To the red clay, the chipped edge of the stone knife,
As the universe gave one moment
For evolution, each breath and movement,
Before the accidental mass was stirred
And only pity might recall the world.
Human pity passes, it will always end
In a distraction; it will always spend
Its force in time, though he must suffer
Without hope of time: he will remember.

I am young and old and not of heaven:
I shall live for he has known me living;
He has torn down heaven for our sake.
We shall die, we shall die, we shall never wake
In this flesh or in these bones or in this world,
But in that mind we will be remembered,
Who remembers all things, God of the living,
Our little no less for all is given.

Richard Greene of Cobourg, Ontario won the Governor General's Award for Poetry for his collection Boxing the Compass (2009). He teaches at University of Toronto, Mississauga. "Isaiah 55:11" previously appeared in Acumen Magazine, and in Richard's 1994 collection Republic of Solitude. Visit Kingdom Poets to find out more.