from Dance On Fire

August 18, 2012

A GLIMPSE INTO PETE’S LIFE  (c.2000)

“You see an artisan skillful at his craft: He will serve kings, not common men.”  Proverbs 22:29

MY INTRODUCTION

Hello, welcome to my mind. The arts, I believe, exist primarily for the enjoyment of them. Beauty, thoughtful entertainment, and creative imagery fill a void in the human spirit and cause man to functuion happier and more complete in life. Just as God has anointed some as prophets, teachers, administrators, etc. for the rest of us to receive from them, so he has anointed some with talents in various forms of the arts for others to receive blessing from as well for the worship of our ultimate Creator.

There is truth in the saying, “You are what you eat.” What a person chooses to take into their minds becomes a little part of them as it shapes their view of life. Until recently, the message coming from the mainstream church generally rejected most forms of creativity. For so long the church had lagged behind with cheap imitations of what the world has done, usually after it went out of style. What if the best selling authors, the best movies, the most popular musicians were mostly Christians? We’d be living in quite a different society.

The greatest force that influences peoples thoughts and beliefs is the media. We are letting a huge, open, world-reaching mission field lay almost barren for Christ. In most cases, it is a cop out and lazy excuse to say our art is rejected because it has the name Jesus stamped on it. Although it is true that through integrity and moral character, Christians will have to deny many “advantages” offered by an industry dominated by so much sin; for the most part, the people at the top are there because of hard work and talent. And we serve the Creator God who had made us in his image and has endowed his creative anointing on many of his servants. Should we leave those talents buried, or should we risk their investment?

Most art that requires thought represents the artist’s views on life; there is usually a moral or point the artist is trying to convey. Although I don’t feel the need to sum up the gospel in every one of my pieces, I think the outflow of my heart on paper reveals my faith, strength, and love dependent on our Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Subjects of my work range from thoughts on something of interest to the daily struggles of life to the exploration of the human spirit in our relationship with God to pure and simple worship of him. Although we tried to match some artwork to poetry with common themes, all work was created separately and has nothing to do with the other on a specific level.

My deepest desire for my work is that by the grace of God it would somehow lift up and encourage you and move your heart closer to the Lord by knowing him in a deeper way. It is my prayer that in seeing my struggles some would in a sense learn from my mistakes and be encouraged to persevere and press on in what God has called you. At the very least, I hope you find my work interesting and entertaining so that the time you spend looking into my head is enjoyable.

Thank you sincerely…

21st Century Man

Running Running Running on and
Raging he went
Whipped around in a whirlwind.
His life was spent
Taking shots in the dark,
He never kindled the spark
Into a magnificent fire.
He was conditioned to be a liar:
A constant walk on the high wire.
Looking down,
The world went ’round
Without him.
He laughed and he cried-
Took in his breath and he sighed-
And he died.

Twenty-first Century Man-
That’s who I am.

Cycles 

A dark red glow is all that is left
Of the fiery bowl sunken
In the deep dark horizon.
Soon even the trees,
So perfectly silhouetted
Against the evening glow,
Will become a mere whisper
And a shadow.
The stars ride out
In their procession
Deceiving us with their faint light.
Everything is so beautiful,
So mysterious,
But the stepping stones stumble me
And I’ll be lucky to catch
Reflection
Of the lion’s eyes-
Devourer.
Enter the night.

We toss and turn in sleepless struggle,
Being held captive by blackness bubbles.
We don’t float away-
We turn and fight.
We search for light,
Find wisdom where she may be:

Awake,
O mother, sister in heart.
Sell us the fuel
To light the lamps
To guide
The way
To Freedom Road.
Your Father,
Your brother the King,
Our Husband, he calls us…
Plain bright mystery.

The horizon behind us,
The sun left behind.
The horizon beyond us:
A strip of pale blue
Pushes out purple, down black.
The Son is arisen,
My world is renewed;
My vision is back.

Patience

She talks go
But when I go
Red lights flash ahead.
Somehow…
I prefer to stop.
Fire burns red.
My flesh burns for you.

No. Far better
In me
A white fire
Of the core.
Purify…
Soul consuming.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you…

To my God: Jesus Christ, His Father, His Holy Spirit; Three persons in unity: One God Most High. The maker and giver of my talents and everything good in me.

To my ex-wife Letecia who has been a source of inspiration and a tool used to shape and develop my character.

To my boys Gabriel and Zed. My two greatest rocks of unconditional love.

To my parents Richard and Catherine, my brothers Paul and Tom. A family filled with love and normalcy I once rejected but now so deeply appreciate your strong stablility in days so uncertain.

To Pneuma Books, the designers of this book, my friend Brian Taylor, who spent much valuable time on it, giving me the opportunity to present my work.

To Vivian Branton-Jones, who gave a shy, punk kid the ability to have confidence in himself.

To Harold R. Eberle, a prophet of God who imparted the commission of God to me.

To Bob, John, Darrell, James, Mel, Alan, and Misty; my buds from high school–almost Tens Years Gone–give me a call sometime.

To the elders and body of believers at Newark Christian Fellowship and East Coast Aflame Ministries. Thank you for the love, support and acceptanct you have given me throughout the years.

“…deep, heart-felt emotion… overflowing into perfectly-placed poetic words. They are a realization of unfulfilled dreams and a longing for perfection as a father and as a human being… desperately reaching… and finding solace in the understanding that only God is in control.”  -Susan L. Heisler, Delaware Artist & Author of Anthology of a Crazy Lady

Peter L. Richardson

To think about Elizabeth Bishop, one is forced to think about geography. Her friend and fellow poet, Richard Wilbur, speaks of her, “When she looked in her poetry for ultimate answers, she generally expressed the search in the key of geography, of travel.” But Bishop did not content herself to looking for answers only in geography. She was free to look in other places as well. In her poems, “The Moose” and “The Fish,” Bishop has an encounter with the natural world. It is in these creatures that Elizabeth comes closest to discovering an “ultimate answer” for the struggles she bears in each particular poem. Though each poem is very different in structure and style, each has similar themes. In both, there is an interaction of some kind between man and the natural world. Bishop describes each creature with a sense of respect and honor. Each creature comes to represent something deeper than itself to her. Through each experience Bishop learns that there are things in life that are bigger than she, yet that doesn’t serve to diminish her worth, rather each experience helps her to grow.

“The Moose” was published a good twenty years after “The Fish.” However, there are manuscripts that indicate she began the poem much earlier. Also, knowing a bit about Bishop’s biography indicates that “The Moose” is probably about an experience Bishop had as a child, while “The Fish” can be assumed to be about an experience she had as an adult. For this reason, I’ll begin with exploring what was going on with young Elizabeth, as Bishop reflects on her encounter with “The Moose” and then move on to explore her encounter with “The Fish.”

“The Moose” is dedicated to Grace Bulmer Bowers, Bishop’s maternal aunt. When Bishop was a child her father passed away and her mother had to be institutionalized. She was sent to live with her maternal grandparents in Nova Scotia until her paternal grandparents intervened and took her to live back in Massachusetts, her father’s origins. On the surface, “The Moose“ is a narrative poem about a bus ride in which the passengers encounter one of nature’s creatures in the middle of the road; however, a closer reading reveals that the moose standing in the road blocking the vehicle‘s path becomes the representation of all that young Elizabeth holds dear. “The Moose” is a poem about leaving home. It is Bishop’s journey away from safety and away from security; away from the sacred.

The length of the poem resembles the length of the journey. We know by Bishop’s vivid description that in the beginning of the poem we are in her hometown in Nova Scotia along the Bay of Fundy. As the poem progresses, Bishop casually names the places in Canada where the bus stops to receive and let go of passengers. As night darkens, an older woman enters and we find that she, and presumably Bishop, will take the bus “all the way to Boston.” Finally after four pages of this five page poem the bus encounters a moose. The poem is broken up in to six-line stanzas, each line roughly about six meters. There is no set rhyme scheme; some stanzas have very regular end rhyme, while others have no rhyme at all, and still others have only one or two rhymes which may occur in various places. Yet the feel of the poem is not at all choppy, rather the poem itself has a physical feel of a bus ride, sometimes speeding up with regular rhyming, sometimes slowing down, while the steady meter keeps us moving along with Bishop.

From the start Bishop sets the tone of leaving home with her description of the bay. She imagines the bus riding through her hometown towards her house and past the bay that was so familiar to her. In the first stanza we see how “the bay leaves the sea…and takes the herring on long rides,” and later in the second stanza the bay is “not at home.” By the third stanza the bay becomes “a red sea” and Bishop begins to mix the imagery of home with the imagery of the sacred. She imagines the bus traveling towards her “past clapboard farmhouses / and neat, clapboard churches.” By the sixth stanza Bishop enters the bus and says goodbye to her family, her dog, her farm, her woods. In short: her home. She continues the mixing of the sacred and secular as “the fog…comes closing in…on the…lupins like apostles.”

Over the next few stanzas the imagery becomes very lonely. The landscape the bus passes by becomes “A pale flickering. Gone…” and later, “An iron bridge trembles…A dog gives one bark.” Until they enter the New Brunswick woods. Bishop hears “Grandparents’ voices…talking in Eternity.” They talk about misfortune and conclude that “’Life’s like that. We know it (also death).’” These grandparents remind Bishop of her own; they talk “the way they [Bishop’s maternal grandparents] talked.” They talked in “Eternity” where Bishop feels safe. Children exist in Eternity, they don’t think about anything but their current situation, their home is eternal, and their home is sacred. Bishop had already lost so much in her young life. She was probably very familiar with the “half groan, half acceptance / that means ‘Life’s like that…’” as loved ones took pity on her. And with thoughts of home she began to feel safe; “Now, it’s all right now / even to fall asleep.” But the bus “–Suddenly…stops with a jolt” and we finally meet the moose.

The image of the moose embodies everything Bishop feels that she is losing by leaving home. It comes out of “the impenetrable wood.” It comes from a place of mystery, a place that is eternal. It comes out of the natural world and confronts man as it “looms…in the middle of the road.” It is something that happens to the passive onlookers in the bus. Bishop describes the moose as “high as a church, / homely as a house / (or, safe as houses).” This moose becomes for Bishop her last connection to her childhood place of safety, the place that is “’Perfectly harmless…’” The place where the sacred and the secular are one, the place where home is an eternity. The moose is revealed to be “a she;” she becomes maternal, and yet she is still “otherworldly.” Bishop asks herself “why do we feel,” and she adds, “(we all feel) this sweet / sensation of joy?” The world of nature has a spiritual quality to it, “otherworldly,” and man’s encounter with a rarity of nature causes him to reflect on, perhaps even connect to, his sense of eternity. But the bus must move on, and Bishop is left with only a moment to look back upon her fading connection to home. The poem ends with Elizabeth being left with “a dim / smell of moose, an acrid / smell of gasoline.” The word “acrid” leaves a sense of overwhelming discomfort. As the moose represents Bishop’s home that she is leaving, the bus is the only image she has for the place she is going to. As the smell of home fades in the background, the “acrid smell” of her future overwhelms her. The poem ends with Bishop feeling overwhelming pain from leaving her home with her maternal grandparents.

In Bishop’s poem “The Fish” we once again have an incident of man’s interaction with a natural creature, only this time under very different circumstances, resulting in a different type of poem with different conclusions. This poem is a story of Bishop out fishing one day when she “caught a tremendous fish.” In “The Moose” the creature for whom the poem is titled doesn’t show up till the end, yet almost the whole of this poem is focused on her description of the fish she caught. This poem begins very much like a “fish story” in which the facts are exaggerated or simply not true. This is something common among fisherman and it suggests that Bishop may never have had an encounter with this fish, perhaps she simply dreamed him up one day while she was waiting for a bite. But whether or not he is real or imagined, what he represents for Bishop and what she comes to realize through him is a genuine experience of revelation and growth.

“The Fish” is a free verse poem with bits of alliteration scattered about. Bishop emphasizes important points in the poem by incorporating the use of repetition. The first of which is; “He didn’t fight. / He hadn’t fought at all.” Bishop is intruding into the fish’s world with her bait and hook. As the fish is caught, this time, he remains passive, he gives in to her. It is interesting to note that it was Bishop’s moose who walked out of his habitat and interrupted man’s world while the passengers on the bus remained passive onlookers. Here there is no “sweet sensation of joy” among a group of people, no feeling of the spiritual world mingling with the natural. This time it is only Bishop and the fish alone together. Yet as she looks upon this fish, she begins to describe him with a developing sense of respect and awe. In this poem Bishop is not being forced to leave the image of her home behind, rather she is in control. She holds the passive creature in her hands and begins to understand and relate to him in new ways.

At first Bishop begins to see the fish through her own terms and describes him in a familiar sense of home. She says “He hung a grunting weight, / battered and venerable / and homely.” She continues to use images that are like a home; “his brown skin hung in strips / like ancient wallpaper, / and its pattern of darker brown / was like wallpaper: / shapes like full-blown roses…the course white flesh / packed in like feathers.” Bishop continues to describe areas of the fish that would not be very pleasant to look at with the pleasant images of a home. Right in the middle of this type of analysis, she describes his gills; “–the frightening gills, / fresh and crisp with blood, / that can cut so badly–” She is trying to relate to the fish in terms she understands, in terms of a home, yet it is also as if she is saying that the home is not such an ideal place anymore. It is not as safe, perhaps, as a child may perceive it to be. The “frightening gills” are what a fish uses to breath, this fish is now drowning in air, and yet they “can cut so badly.” The need for a home is almost as great as the need to breathe, yet there are times a home can hurt you and make you bleed.

As Bishop looks “into his eyes” she begins to see the fish in a new way. The fish’s eyes “shifted a little, but not / to return [her] stare.” The fish is unresponsive to her. He is not intimidated by her; he is not concerned with her presence at all. He no longer seems as a passive victim; rather, he becomes patient, awaiting the next move. Bishop describes the fish’s eyes shifting as “more like the tipping / of an object toward the light.” The word “light” here could also carry the meaning of understanding. Bishop now begins to understand this fish on his own terms as she begins to describe him with masculine terms; she “admires his sullen face, / the mechanism of his jaw.” She begins to see him as a warrior; his lip, “if you could call it a lip,” becomes “grim, wet, and weaponlike.” The fish still has five hooks lodged into his mouth. All five hooks are still bearing the strings attached which the fish broke and snapped in previous struggles. We see that the fish is not so passive. That he has war wounds which he bears from past struggles to survive. To Bishop these hooks become “medals with their ribbons / frayed and wavering;” the fish is not only a warrior, he is a hero. He has survived the fight and shown himself worthy. She describes the strings as “a five-haired beard of wisdom / trailing from his aching jaw,” and the fish becomes an elder, an old wise man who commands respect and honor, who still feels an ache from his wounds. This fish, who has battled through life and survived, becomes the image of life itself to Bishop. We are not to be passive onlookers, waiting for our homes and spiritual peace to come to us; rather, we should be active partakers in life, gaining wisdom and understanding through our struggles as we bear the medals of each wound we survive. We cannot force life into a pattern that is safe for us, we must let life be what it may be, and learn to let go of what we cannot control.

At this revelation the poem dramatically moves from a concentrated focus on the fish to the larger picture. Bishop “stared and stared / and victory filled up / the little rented boat.” The victory is her new understanding of life she has received, or caught if you will, which is the dignity that the fish possesses. In “The Moose” the “acrid smell of gasoline” overwhelms the young Bishop; however, this time some spilled oil mixed in the bilge becomes a symbol of beauty as it makes a rainbow. The elderly “know it,” that “Life’s like that…(also death).” It is through our trials that we gain wisdom. The wounds we bear and survive, the pain that we face, ironically can add beauty to our life and dignity to our character. We need to find the wisdom to choose the right battles to fight and the wisdom to know when to let go with dignity. As Bishop expands her focus away from the fish, she continues to describe “the little rented boat,” and  Bishop’s revelation comes together as this free verse poem pulls together with the last four lines ending in rhyme:

     from the pool of bilge
     where oil had spread a rainbow
     around the rusted engine
     to the bailer rusted orange,
     the sun-cracked thwarts,
     the oarlocks on their strings,
     the gunnels–until everything
     was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
     And I let the fish go.

Bishop realizes that she can’t go back to making home a completely safe place anymore, that there are some parts of life that she must learn to accept on their own terms; she must learn their language. As she lets go of the fish, she lets go of her need for control and deep safety, and she is able to see the beauty of life despite its pain and struggle.

In each of these poems we see how an encounter with nature gave revelation to Elizabeth Bishop, and she was able to find answers to her heart‘s search. In “The Moose,” Bishop was a child taken by members of her father’s family from the home she knew and felt safe at. It is a testament to how sacred the home is to a child. Elizabeth shows through the imagery of this poem, through her image of the moose, how important it is to provide a place of safety and security to our children. Yet in “The Fish,” the adult Elizabeth comes to realize that life really isn’t a safe place, but neither is it an entirely bad place. As we grow up and learn from our mistakes, we find that we can embrace life for what it’s worth. We are able to gain wisdom and dignity through the trials we bear. When we accept life on its own terms, we learn when to take control and when to let go, and our eyes are free to open up and see the rainbows.

Peter L Richardson
20th Century Poets
October, 2003

The Moose
For Grace Bulmer Bowers

From narrow provinces
of fish and bread and tea,
home of the long tides
where the bay leaves the sea
twice a day and takes
the herrings long rides,

where if the river
enters or retreats
in a wall of brown foam
depends on if it meets
the bay coming in,
the bay not at home;

where, silted red,
sometimes the sun sets
facing a red sea,
and others, veins the flats’
lavender, rich mud
in burning rivulets;

on red, gravelly roads,
down rows of sugar maples,
past clapboard farmhouses
and neat, clapboard churches,
bleached, ridged as clamshells,
past twin silver birches,

through late afternoon
a bus journeys west,
the windshield flashing pink,
pink glancing off of metal,
brushing the dented flank
of blue, beat-up enamel;

down hollows, up rises,
and waits, patient, while
a lone traveller gives
kisses and embraces
to seven relatives
and a collie supervises.

Goodbye to the elms,
to the farm, to the dog.
The bus starts. The light
grows richer; the fog,
shifting, salty, thin,
comes closing in.

Its cold, round crystals
form and slide and settle
in the white hens’ feathers,
in gray glazed cabbages,
on the cabbage roses
and lupins like apostles;

the sweet peas cling
to their wet white string
on the whitewashed fences;
bumblebees creep
inside the foxgloves,
and evening commences.

One stop at Bass River.
Then the Economies
Lower, Middle, Upper;
Five Islands, Five Houses,
where a woman shakes a tablecloth
out after supper.

A pale flickering. Gone.
The Tantramar marshes
and the smell of salt hay.
An iron bridge trembles
and a loose plank rattles
but doesn’t give way.

On the left, a red light
swims through the dark:
a ship’s port lantern.
Two rubber boots show,
illuminated, solemn.
A dog gives one bark.

A woman climbs in
with two market bags,
brisk, freckled, elderly.
“A grand night. Yes, sir,
all the way to Boston.”
She regards us amicably.

Moonlight as we enter
the New Brunswick woods,
hairy, scratchy, splintery;
moonlight and mist
caught in them like lamb’s wool
on bushes in a pasture.

The passengers lie back.
Snores. Some long sighs.
A dreamy divagation
begins in the night,
a gentle, auditory,
slow hallucination. . . .

In the creakings and noises,
an old conversation
–not concerning us,
but recognizable, somewhere,
back in the bus:
Grandparents’ voices

uninterruptedly
talking, in Eternity:
names being mentioned,
things cleared up finally;
what he said, what she said,
who got pensioned;

deaths, deaths and sicknesses;
the year he remarried;
the year (something) happened.
She died in childbirth.
That was the son lost
when the schooner foundered.

He took to drink. Yes.
She went to the bad.
When Amos began to pray
even in the store and
finally the family had
to put him away.

“Yes . . .” that peculiar
affirmative. “Yes . . .”
A sharp, indrawn breath,
half groan, half acceptance,
that means “Life’s like that.
We know it (also death).”

Talking the way they talked
in the old featherbed,
peacefully, on and on,
dim lamplight in the hall,
down in the kitchen, the dog
tucked in her shawl.

Now, it’s all right now
even to fall asleep
just as on all those nights.
–Suddenly the bus driver
stops with a jolt,
turns off his lights.

A moose has come out of
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus’s hot hood.

Towering, antlerless,
high as a church,
homely as a house
(or, safe as houses).
A man’s voice assures us
“Perfectly harmless. . . .”

Some of the passengers
exclaim in whispers,
childishly, softly,
“Sure are big creatures.”
“It’s awful plain.”
“Look! It’s a she!”

Taking her time,
she looks the bus over,
grand, otherworldly.
Why, why do we feel
(we all feel) this sweet
sensation of joy?

“Curious creatures,”
says our quiet driver,
rolling his r’s.
“Look at that, would you.”
Then he shifts gears.
For a moment longer,

by craning backward,
the moose can be seen
on the moonlit macadam;
then there’s a dim
smell of moose, an acrid
smell of gasoline.

Elizabeth Bishop

The Fish

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled and barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
–the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly–
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
–It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
–if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels–until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Elizabeth Bishop

"Mending Wall" by Ken Fiery, 2007, from the Robert Frost Series

http://www.kenfiery.com/gallery/pages/080.html 

There is an accepted idea among lovers of poetry that a poem is a shared experience between the poet and the reader. Though the poet will never even meet the majority of his audience, there is a relationship that exists between he and they in the shared experiences of his poems. Robert Frost opens up his second book of poems, North of Boston, with the famous poem “Mending Wall.” It is his first word and the reader’s first impression of the book. In “Mending Wall” Frost explores a relationship between himself and his neighbor who is not named; his identity remains vague to the reader and, as it seems, to the poet as well. It is Spring in the poem, and Frost and his neighbor walk the stonewall that divides their properties to make repairs after the Winter. Towards the end of the poem Frost questions his neighbor about the need for walls. His neighbor simply replies that “Good fences make good neighbors,” and Frost ends the poem with that thought.

“Good fences make good neighbors” is a cliché that Frost is questioning in this poem. The poem ends with that statement; however, it begins with “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” The conflict that arises between these two lines which encase the poem is the dilemma that the poet faces in the lines which are physically between them. Frost emphasizes this conflict in a number of ways. Not only is one the first line and the other the last line of the poem, these are the only two lines which are repeated in the poem. Also, “Mending Wall” is written in blank verse, Frost will often add an extra syllable in order to make a line stand out in his blank verse poems, and he does this for each of these two lines.

In the beginning of the poem Frost considers what it is that doesn’t love a wall. While he and his neighbor are making repairs Frost asks him, “Why do [fences] make good neighbors?” and argues against the need for a wall. There is little debate that the wall represents relationship boundaries between people. It would be easy to conclude that Frost is arguing that there is no need for these boundaries and people should just trust each other and accept each other unquestioningly. Yet upon a closer reading there is much evidence in the poem that may reveal Frost is closer in agreement with his neighbor than it seems at first. After all, Robert Frost says about writing that “There is no story written that has any value at all, however straightforward it looks and free from doubleness, double entendre, and duplicity and double play, that you’d value at all if it didn’t have intimation of something more than itself.”

From the beginning of Frost’s argument in line 23, he uses language that sounds playful, almost as if he is teasing his neighbor. Such as in line 25:

          My apple trees will never get across
          And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
          He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Before Frost continues to dispute with his neighbor, he confesses to the reader that “Spring is the mischief in me.” So it is evident that Frost is not taking himself so seriously; in fact when he repeats “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Frost considers the something to be like “’Elves’… But it’s not elves exactly.” If we look at Frost’s ideas of what exactly “wants a wall down” from the first half of the poem, we find he doesn’t have anything very flattering in mind. It is “the frozen-ground-swell…the hunters [who] would have the rabbit out of hiding, / to please the yelping dogs.” If this were a poem arguing against walls, Frost would probably have thought of the things that doesn’t love them as more positive. I believe that Frost does truly question the use of walls, but he never questions the value of them.

“Mending Wall” is a poem that reveals a healthy relationship between the poet and his neighbor. If the wall represents personal boundaries, the title itself is an analogy to repairing relationships. It is Frost who contacts his neighbor so they can make the repairs “And set the wall between us once again.” Frost and his neighbor respect each others’ boundaries, and they meet regularly to make repairs on their relationship. In line 15 Frost says; “We keep the wall between us as we go,” a perfectly regular pentameter line, but Frost again makes an emphasis in the next line with an extra syllable; “To each the boulders that have fallen to each.” Frost and his neighbor each take responsibility for their part of the disrepair of the wall. However, in the next four lines Frost talks about the compromise and work it takes to repair the wall:

          And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
          We have to use a spell to make them balance:
          ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
          We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

It takes a lot of balance, i.e. compromise, to repair some issues but when our backs are turned from each other we often let the “balls” drop. Relationships are hard work. It is at this point that Frost playfully questions his neighbor on the need for walls. While Frost is not rejecting the value of walls, I think that he is lamenting the lack of access to his neighbor that their wall makes. While he questions his neighbor he states:

          Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
          What I was walling in or walling out,
          And to whom I was like to give offense.

Frost expresses the down side that sometimes walls create a lack of understanding of the differences between neighbors. He uses the description of his neighbor who is grasping a rock to repair the wall; “I see him there…like an old stone savage armed.” But his neighbor remains elusive to Frost, which he expresses in two lines that he emphasizes as a loosely rhyming couplet; “He moves in darkness as it seems to me, / Not of woods only and the shade of trees.” That darkness is Frost’s ignorance of who his neighbor really is. Frost values and respects the boundaries in their relationship, yet he desires more access to his neighbor, as he says; “I’d ask to know / what I was walling in or walling out.”

Psychologists Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have collaborated on a book entitled Boundaries, about the important roles boundaries place in healthy relationships. I think they express well in layman’s terms what Frost is expressing in his poem as his desire for his relationship with his neighbor. “Boundaries are not walls,” Cloud and Townsend write, they are “fences [with] gates in them…The important thing is that property lines be permeable enough to allow passing and strong enough to keep out danger.” To me, it seems when Frost questions his neighbor on the need for walls he is expressing his desire for passing through the gate in order to know him. Frost wants clearer understanding of his neighbor. Even with the playful way Frost debates with his neighbor he expresses his interest in him, yet his neighbor does not return the interest. He remains elusive to Frost only responding to him with the last words of the poem, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Frost opened his book North of Boston with a poem about his thoughts on healthy relationships. Though we, Frost’s audience, largely remained elusive to him, he offered to share his experiences with us. He kept his walls repaired but through his poetry Frost still keeps the gate open for us into his thoughts and ideas. “Mending Wall” invites us to continue the book and share in Frost’s experiences.

Peter L Richardson
“20th Century Poets”
September 22, 2003

Robert Frost on writing (pp125-128). Ed. E. Barry. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 1973.

Boundaries (pp 31-32). Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend. Grand Rapids, MI. c.1992.

“Mending Wall”
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing: 5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made, 10
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go. 15
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 20
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
He is all pine and I am apple-orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. 25
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. 30
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down!” I could say “Elves” to him, 35
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me, 40
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Come.  And be my Baby
Maya Angelou

The highway is full of big cars going nowhere fast
And folks is smoking anything that’ll burn
Some people wrap their lives around a cocktail glass
And you sit wondering
where you’re going to turn.
I got it.
Come.  And be my baby.

Some prophets say the world is gonna end tomorrow
But others say we’ve got a week or two
The paper is full of every kind of blooming horror
And you sit wondering
what you’re gonna do.
I got it.
Come.  And be my baby.

Close Reading On, “Come.  And be my Baby,”  by Maya Angelou.

At first glance this is a pretty simple poem. Two stanzas, each with a simple abab rhyme scheme, and each with a closing statement that can be found in thousands of songs. The style is written in the vernacular and contains clichés that are easily understood by a common people. I don’t know much about Maya Angelou except that she is African American and that she likes children or monsters or maybe both (she was often on Sesame Street when my boys were young enough to watch it). Although not nearly as strong as other works by Black Poets I’ve read, this poem has a bit of an ebonic feel to it. It is certainly in familiar style with the Blues. Take the repetition of the last two lines in each stanza coinciding with the dark and lonely content of the work and we have got the Blues. I can hear the old man with his guitar wailing; “Oh, life is hard, life is bad, so come on and be my baby. Oh, the world is hard, the world is bad, so come on and be my baby…” However, all this is only surface appeal. A closer look reveals much more action taking place in all these common clichés.

“Come.  And be my Baby.” Though the phrase is common enough, the punctuation is unusual and warns us we are being invited in a work that is more then just a simple love poem. In the first line we are presented with a highway “full of big cars that are going nowhere fast.” Life is full of action, full of commotion, and full of big cars. The poem starts off with people racing for bigger and better things, chasing after greed, but where are they going? Nowhere fast. The idea of living simply to gain leads to a life of futility and unfulfillment. So, we end up with “folks … smoking anything that’ll burn.” The image of people getting high. Unfulfilled people reach out to find happiness and comfort artificially and they end up burning their lives away, destroying themselves. And yet, “Some people wrap their lives around a cocktail glass.” When a person is wrapped up in something the impression is that they are consumed by it. What is literally wrapped around the cocktail glass is the hand. The alcoholic drink represents addiction. This life is so futile that people are consumed by their addictions and they grasp them and cling to them to try again to fill their need for comfort. “And you sit wondering/ where you’re going to turn.” The last line of this thought is the first time the reader is addressed. We are spoken to as if we are confused and lost, not knowing what we can rely on and as if we are looking for answers. “I got it.” And the poet offers us a solution to our troubles. She tells us to “Come.” Then she invites us to be her baby. What we have now is the image of two people looking for meaning and not finding fulfillment in greed, artificial happiness, or addiction. They therefore can only cling to each other and find comfort in one another.

But then the second stanza opens up in the midst of the apocalypse and full of doom: “Some prophets say the world is gonna end tomorrow.” We can cling to each other all we want, but what if the world ends? Where does that leave us? “But others say we’ve got a week or two.” Maybe there is a little time, maybe we have a little hope, but still “The paper is full of every kind of blooming horror.” If these lines don’t represent the end of all things, they at least show us the uncertainty of life and the chaos that ensues in the world. However, this time when we, the readers, are addressed, we are not simply looking for a place to turn to, we are wondering what we’re “gonna do.” This time we are given the power to take an action, to do something about all this futility and chaos. “I got it.” And the poet offers us the very same solution; “Come.  And be my baby.” But this time these words have more depth and power, perhaps caused by our invitation to do something. This time there is a greater sense of love, the idea that when we are able to love one another, to cling to each other and support our fellow man, we can have hope against the chaos of the world and give meaning to life. And if there is a unifying force of love that can bind us together, can we not take that idea one step further in this poem?

“I got it.” I’ve got a solution:  “Come.”  The period after “come” makes the statement a command. The double space between this statement and the next phrase, “And be my baby,” creates a pause that puts more emphasis on both statements. We are forced to reflect on them, there is the sense that there is more going on in this poem than just a call for lonely people to take comfort in each other. In fact, I think there is an element of the Divine here. Throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament, God constantly appeals to his people to “Come.” Come and know me and my goodness, come and buy silver and gold from me (metaphors for spiritual wealth), come to me and find forgiveness. In the New Testament, Jesus consistently makes the same appeal, “Come to me you who are weary, thirsty, etc.” and he opens up the call to all mankind. “Come.  And be my baby.” The people of God in the Bible are also repeatedly spoken of metaphorically as his bride, even with language that is often passionate and sometimes explicit. Perhaps, underneath the seeming simplicity of the Blues in this poem is a call from the Divine. Perhaps the poet herself becomes a prophetess speaking hope, rather than doom. Perhaps through Maya Angelou God himself is declaring:

“Without me, life is meaningless, without me, the world is chaos, but ‘I got it.’ I’ve got a solution: ‘Come.  And be my baby.’ Come away from your futile greed, your artificial high and addiction; come away from the pain, the fear, and the horror. ‘Come.  And be my baby.’”

Peter L Richardson
9/12/2002

(title dedicated to the Alliteration King: Neil Uniacke) 

Pocomoke River, January 2009

“Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
  Thanks to its tenderness, its joys and fears,
  To me the meanest flower that blows can give
  Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”
          -William Wordsworth
               from “Ode, Intimations of Immorality”

A Gentle Whisper
          (I Kings 19:11-13)

I do not think we were meant to exist
          inside so much noise.
What would life be without the distraction
          of so many toys?
This solitude, this silence –though lost to our blood—
          it is deep in our spirit,
And though we strive and we strain for understanding,
          it’s only in the quiet
          that we can hear it.

Peter L Richardson
1/2/2009

MIDNIGHT PATHS: The Lover

If I knew my way around these lost parts,
I would go much deeper into the dark.
Oh, the deceitful, mysterious heart!
          What a man longs for: the beauty, the art.

“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible.
  God and the devil are fighting there:
  the battlefield is the heart of man.”
          -Fyodor Dostoevsky

Peter L Richardson
1/2/2009

“Wild at Heart”

How I long to know the outdoors…
To make fire for warmth and for food,
To make knots for shelter and for protection,
To conquer the land with a map and a compass,
To climb up the mountain and canoe down the river,
To see the stars in all their splendor as God intended,
To feel the good solid ache of my bones
     at the end of the day
          around a fire with good friends,
               with my sons,
                    with my lover.

How I long for this!
To see the glory and the fury of the mountainside,
To rest under cool pines,
To swim naked in gentle pools,
To know the fierce beauty of the desert.
          This is what freedom feels like to me…

Peter L Richardson
1/3/2009

Oh, the wonder,
          the splendor of youth!
Collecting shells in a bucket.
Would that we were able to see
          all God’s treasures he brings to us
While we stand on the shores
          of eternity.

Peter L Richardson
1/4/2009

“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” I Kings 19:11-13.

This Be The Verse
     -by Philip Larkin

They f*@k you up, your mum and dad
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were f*@ked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin titles his poem with a declaration, with an epiphany that is almost a command: “This Be The Verse”! Straight away he seems to be declaring to us; “I’ve got it! This is it! This is the poem of poems: The meaning of life!” For what is the use of poetry, if it is not to discover life, the search of who we are and what it all means to be here, to be in existence. According to the Romantic Poets, poetry is the essence of life, it is what binds the universe together; poetry is the center. All things revolve around poetry and seen through her eyes there is a greater revelation in understanding our existence. It has been common knowledge since at least Shakespeare’s time that poetry is eternal, transcending all time, and Larkin’s use of classical English in the title takes us back to the Renaissance Period. It is as if Larkin is crying out to us to take this poem serious, that we are about to be let in on a secret that rivals even the revelations handed down by the classical poets of old! So what is this declaration of life?

“They f*@k you up, your mum and dad.” What? Is that it?! That I have issues because of my parents? Well that is nothing new, that’s not a deep revelation. Perhaps he hasn’t made his point yet. “They may not mean to but they do. / They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra just for you.”

What is this first stanza saying? Our parents bring us into existence, and all they seem to be capable of doing is screwing us up. Even if they try to give us a good life, try to teach us to live good and be happy, they can’t. They can only pass down the faults they have and even add some extra ones to those. So not only do you inherit your parents’ bad qualities, the fact that they are screwed up will affect you in such a way that you have new bad qualities become a part of you. There is no escaping it. But here’s the good news, if you want to call it that; it’s not your fault! All those bad things you do, every mistake you’ve ever made, every complaint anyone has ever made about you, don’t fret, now you can just pass the blame back onto your parents. Think of the implications, if your problems exist because your parents f*@ked you up, then really you are not responsible for anything. If you are not responsible for your actions, then why bother; just do what you want, regardless of the consequences. It’s not your fault you’re the way you are, so why should you have any personal responsibility to change yourself?

Wait. What about this second stanza. Maybe there are more answers there: “But they were f*@ked up in their turn / By fools in old style hats and coats, / Who half the time were soppy-stern / And half at one another’s throats.” So… then, it’s not our parents’ fault. So whose is it? Oh, their parents! But wait, if our grandparents f*@ked up our parents who f*@ked us up, because they were f*@ked up in their turn, then it stands to reason, that our grandparents got f*@ked up by their parents and so on and so forth. So then, what Larkin is saying is that we are all a bunch of drunks who are always fighting amongst ourselves. And that each generation just hands down their depravity to the next with each new generation receiving a few more evils added on. There is no one good, no, not even one. What a downward spiral! I had no idea my life was so bad. There must be some way out of this!

According to Larkin, sadly, no. “Man hands on misery to man. / It deepens like a coastal shelf.” We are trapped. There is no way out. We are in prison, confined by our very existence. The world around us is a prison, we are held captive by our very thoughts, because of our inability to break free from them, they control us, not the other way around. Passed down from generation to generation our faults, our curses deepen like a coastal shelf, and no matter how beautiful we may think our reality is, it is only death grown onto death. We are slaves to it, death is in our veins, and our minds are trapped in depravity. What a wretched man I am! Who will save me from this body of death?

Larkin’s advice? “Get out as early as you can, / And don’t have any kids yourself.” Cease all existence. Oh, that’s nice, how pleasant. Since we are all slaves to these faults, to a depraved existence, then it’s true, we should all die. Just give up, because there is no way out. No hope of anything because we are all looking to f*@k every one because we are all f*@ked up ourselves. What Be The Verse? What is the meaning of life that this poem has to offer us? Nothing. This is the meaning of life, Larkin declares, that there is none, we just exist in pain and misery heading in no direction at all.

Larkin attempts to deconstruct the myth of the family in this poem. He rejects the idea that a father and a mother have anything positive to offer their children. He in essence destroys the nuclear family and ultimately deconstructs society and the status of humanity altogether.  But by doing so he creates his own myth of nihilism and apathy. The ideology of a family is supposed to be a safe place for human beings to grow up and mature in. Mum and Dad have some kids, love them, and try to teach them to how to get along in the world. In essence, how to be good subjects. Unfortunately, Mum and Dad themselves are not always good subjects, so we have someone like Larkin come along and try to dispel the myth of good parenting.

Yet in his attempt to break away from this ideological state apparatus*, as Althusser would call it, Larkin only creates his own. A new reality (a new myth), where good subjects know better then to bring a child into such an evil world. Since they will not likely, themselves, cease to exist at this point these good subjects allow themselves to become freed from the responsibility of growing and maturing into better people. Why? Because it’s not their fault they are f*@ked up, it’s their parents’ fault. Hence they immediately re-enter the ideological state apparatus they tried to break free from and become once again, bad subjects.

The idea that “it’s not my fault” is just as much a myth as that every family produces perfect subjects is. Perhaps we can’t break free from our world, the idea of reality that has been handed to us, but the truth remains that we have the freedom to make choices that shape the reality around us, for good or for worse. We have the responsibility to make choices that will not only benefit us, but those around us. We especially have the responsibility to make choices that will benefit our children.

Larkin’s title may also present us with a double meaning. It could also represent unrefined, vernacular speech indicating the speaker of the poem is ignorant and doesn’t know any better. For centuries poetry was held in high regard and even came to represent the meaning of life. Likewise, the nuclear family had been understood to be what binds society together, the center of our structure of reality. High poetic language could become mistaken for ignorant speech in the title. The high call of the family, Larkin may be saying in the body of the poem, is unattainable because of the ignorance of “your mum and dad.” But rather then take responsibility to be healed from the issues caused by his parents, Larkin makes the mistake of trying to remove himself from something that is too much a part of him. Instead of looking for solutions to change the problem he’s exposed, Larkin chooses to remain in misery, when he could have chosen to hand down joy to man. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…” Romans 8:5-6.

Peter L Richardson
11/5/2002

*Ideological state apparatuses

Because Louis Althusser held that our desires, choices, intentions, preferences, judgements and so forth are the consequences of social practices, he believed it necessary to conceive of how society makes the individual in its own image. Within capitalist societies, the human individual is generally regarded as a subject endowed with the property of being a self-conscious ‘responsible’ agent. For Althusser, however, a person’s capacity for perceiving himself in this way is not innately given. Rather, it is acquired within the structure of established social practices, which impose on individuals the role (forme) of a subject. Social practices both determine the characteristics of the individual and give him an idea of the range of properties he can have, and of the limits of each individual. Althusser argues that many of our roles and activities are given to us by social practice: for example, the production of steelworkers is a part of economic practice, while the production of lawyers is part of politico-legal practice. However, other characteristics of individuals, such as their beliefs about the good life or their metaphysical reflections on the nature of the self, do not easily fit into these categories. In Althusser’s view, our values, desires and preferences are inculcated in us by ideological practice, the sphere which has the defining property of constituting individuals as subjects. Ideological practice consists of an assortment of institutions called Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs), which include the family, the media, religious organizations and, most importantly, the education system, as well as the received ideas they propagate. There is, however, no single ISA that produces in us the belief that we are self-conscious agents. Instead, we derive this belief in the course of learning what it is to be a daughter, a schoolchild, black, a steelworker, a councilor, and so forth.

from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Althusser

“Let’s swim to the moon; un huh, let’s climb through the tide. Surrender to the waiting worlds that lap against our side…” -James Douglas Morrison

Suspension,     PLR

Suspension, PLR

 We are all lost, alone,
     dragged away by
          the undertow.
Caught in the chaotic
          flow
     of the struggle to
          survive,
     to master the
          swim.
I plunged in…

I begin anew…
     longing to be held
          by You
     again.

Peter L Richardson
2002

 

At the beach with God

How can we dare to know you?

Your fleeting thoughts
     deeper than the ocean.
Your imagination beats our existence,
     the rhythmic waves
     crushing our bones into sand.
All your hidden treasures, your wisdom,
     we only receive what’s washed ashore.
If we dare to swim past the breakers
     surely we are taken away by your currents,
     drowning in your expanse.
Even the pride of our creations,
     gifts from you in the first place,
          knowledge and understanding
          passed down
          and built upon,
     only last so long
     before returning to land.
Even with all the reason you’ve allowed,
     we’ll still never reach bottom,
     never understand the shifting sands,
     never understand the full expanse,
     never master the Leviathan on our own…

And yet, you have named us sons and daughters,
     you have made yourself our friend.

Peter L Richardson
2000

joyful

your joy
bubbles,
pops,
fizzles,
and spits
in my face
with the laughter
of amazing grace.
how wonderful
you are!
your smile
tickling my heart.
how can it be?
in deep darkness
your light
gleams through me!
butt-naked-free,
laughter dances in me;
like a child
running wild,
my heart all a’burst,
my soul in thirst,
living water
bubbles,
pops,
fizzles,
spatters
and spits
in my face!
such joy found
in amazing grace.

Peter L Richardson
2001

The Picture of My Love

The picture of my love—so small tonight—
A star, a tiny pinpoint of light
Over the earth so cold and alone
In a universe built on flesh and bone.
The moon guides all sacrificial rite
And secures our paths, with his deceiving light,
Up the mountains that we built so high
To reach the heavens far in the sky.
But rivers run down and far too deep
To pump hot blood into our cold feet;
Which grew roots, held strong our foundations,
That were ripped out at the storms slightest sensations.
Oh! How the lightning danced and the thunder roared,
But the rain never stopped; on and on she poured,
And fed the river that ran through the land,
And broke through the dirt till the dirt turned to sand,
And reached the ocean, full of power and might—
A strong steady rhythm with depths deeper than night.
With experience from the beginning, its fingers could reach,
Touch, and caress all lands lapping up the beach,
Or capture and crush all mountainsides down;
For the ocean holds freedom, by no chains is it bound.

The picture of my love—so strong today—
A sun giving life in death’s decay.

Peter L Richardson
1991

beyond

I long to see the sun set over the ocean.
The ocean is eternity;
The sunset is the end,
And soon after, you can’t see the horizon.
Midnight blurs the lines of distinction,
And the earth and the sky are endless.

Peter L Richardson
2000

The Big Blue

Mouth full of salt,
Skin caked and cracked.
Laid out in my world,
Spinned in a swirl.
Endless blue,
Endless black.
The sky roared,
Shouted and sparked;
Put the mountains in motion
More than a few…
But I’ve been spared for starvation.
Still, I sense
Familiar scents;
Distant, yet distinct;
Above, a dove
Holds an olive shoot.

Peter L Richardson
2001

High Skies @ Sunset

          fluff
mystical, magical, marshmallow fluff
          tinted golden-brown
in the magnificent golden
          fire
brilliant, buoyant light-stream of flame
          blinking my vision,
dancing and drifting up into
          flight
blue up, blue down, blue all around,
          forging on forever with
no boundaries, just endless visions
          of fluff
                    and fire
                              in flight

Peter L Richardson
2004

RESOUNDING SEA

I stand a lone silhouette in the black sky,
The starry heavens overcoming me.
Sands bury my toes in the grains of time,
Paralyzed on the edge of reality.

     Deep calls to deep
          in your ocean’s roar.
     And all your waves, all your breakers
          sweep over me;
     Deep calls to deep.

I stand in awe of just your creation,
Yet out of it your voice calls to me.
And spells out secrets of the Rising Son,
Destroying my concepts of reality.

     Deep calls to deep
          in your ocean’s roar.
     And all your waves, all your breakers
          sweep over me;
     Deep calls to deep.

There’s a love that’s longing me to take a swim…
There’s a Spirit beckoning me to follow him…
There’s a Father that keeps me continually under his eye…
There’s a Savior sacrificed for whom I’m willing to die!

Here I’ll kneel at your great white throne,
Your holy presence overcoming me.
An adopted son, inheritance of love I own,
I am yours; I am free completely.

     Deep calls to deep
          in your ocean’s roar.
     And all your waves, all your breakers
          sweep over me;
     Deep calls to deep.

Peter L Richardson
1999

“Lord the great deep lifts up, the deep lifts up its voice; the deep lifts up its crashing waves. Mightier than the sound of great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, mighty on high is the Lord.” -Psalm 93