Now This is Different — Poem 1

Now this is different.

At the bottom of this post is Poem 1. My first poem. I have wanted to try this for quite sometime. What better time to start since April is National Poetry Month.

I wrote this with the patient encouragement of L. L. Barkat (Author of Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places and a book of poems entitled, Inside Out.) For me, beginning was the most difficult part of writing this piece. I did not know how to just suddenly begin. She suggested focusing on a memory. That was very helpful.

pine-cones.jpg

I began thinking about one of the most pleasurable memories of my childhood. Each Christmas, our family would travel from Dallas to Arkansas where both sets of grandparents lived. My maternal grandparents lived just outside of the city limits of Monticello, Arkansas on a two lane highway, Arkansas Highway 4. I loved going to their house. Behind their house was a barn, a chicken coop, a garden, and plenty of tall majestic pine trees. Both the people and the setting created wonderful memories.

So this poem is a reflection of those moments.

(Now I need to tell you that I post Poem 1 with some hesitation. It sort of feels like the thought of posting my first sermon. Now that would not be pretty!)


A simple white frame house

Sweet gum trees in the front

Log trucks passing by

The place where grandparents stay

Wonderful smells in the kitchen

A white cart full of desserts

Soon it will be the Christmas meal

Grandchildren coming

Snow on the ground

Warm-very warm inside

A once a year moment

Where families become one family

Stories are told

Presents are opened

Grandchildren play outside

While uncles doze by a gas heater

Soon the sun begins to set

One last meal of left-overs

Going home.  Good-byes.

Another Christmas

Most leave the white frame house

Two stay

One last reminder of Christmases to come

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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27 thoughts on “Now This is Different — Poem 1

  1. Way to go, Jim! I like it.

    Welcome to the fun and frustrating world of poetry! For a good poetry read I recommend poets Wendell Berry, Joy Harjo, and Wilmer Mills. Also for some good encouragement and tips try http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/ and the Writer’s Digest community http://community.writersdigest.com/group/poeticasides?groupUrl=poeticasides&id=3114345%3AGroup%3A293&page=2#comments. Right now they are doing a Poem A Day (PAD) for the month of April–with a prompt each day. My oldest daughter has challenged me to a poetry write off by participating with the PAD for April. We’ll see how that goes!

    Jokingly I’ve always said “poets who read their own work in public may have other bad habits”–but that is a joke. The best way to get your poetry out their is to post it, publish it, read it to others!

    Keep it up, Jim!

    • Darryl,
      Thanks very much. Thanks for your kind words. Thanks also for the recommendations. I will follow up on some of these. I had no idea that this was a love of yours. I learned some things from your comment. I appreciate this, Darryl. Thanks again.

  2. I really like this Jim; it absolutely paints a picture of warmth and good memories. Many years ago when I was in the depths of despair I wrote a lot of poetry. I still have all the poems I wrote. At that time it was the only outlet I had to express my innermost feelings and it’s probably what kept me sane at the time.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Janice, thank you very much. I am glad that it expresses what I intended. (I wasn’t quite sure! 🙂 Glad to hear that your poetry was a way for you to express what was going on internally. I have really never given this possibility (and the value of this) much thought. Thanks.

  3. This is written with such warmth, painting a beautiful picture of family. I can certainly identify that after all the joy of being together, there are only the two of us left after the goodbyes are said. Beautiful! During a deeply emotional and painful time over a decade ago, the Lord gave many poems to write down. They allowed me to express the feelings I couldn’t articulate verbally. They also helped me to realize many truths about God and myself and our relationship. It was our daughter who suggested that I share them on my blog – and I timidly did share quite a number. Not yet ready to share them all but I’m still a work in progress. Thanks for sharing your poetic thoughts! Keep up the good work!

    • Karin, thank you very much. I appreciate your encouraging words. I am happy to know how poetry has been a useful expression to you over the years. In particular I like this sentence, “They allowed me to express the feelings I couldn’t articulate verbally.” That is powerful.

  4. Awww. I’m glad you posted it, Jim. What a sweet picture your words paint. I think this is a great way to get started: describe. Using picture words. Yes, I can see you have a future in this 🙂

    • Laura, thanks. I am glad this seemed to work. Describing something from memory was very helpful. A future? 🙂 Maybe I will venture out at some point and move toward Poem 2. Thanks.

  5. Jim, I liked this poem! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about poetry as a discipline for ministry. I think it can help us reach towards greater density of meaning, concentrating our message. I’m sure you benefited from this!

    • Steven, thanks very much. I had not thought of this but I suspect you are right that poetry could be a good discipline for ministry. I would like to hear more of your thoughts about this sometime. One of the things that drew me to consider doing this was knowing that a few of my mentors in ministry loved poetry.

  6. Jim.

    Jim!

    Do you know how happy this makes me?

    You have begun a new journey. I will delight to walk with you. 🙂 (I love the surprise at the end of the poem, btw. At least that’s how it worked for me. And many a time I have watched “mom ‘n dad” (the grandparents) wave goodbye and felt something of what you’ve expressed here.)

    • L.L., Thanks for your encouraging words. Thanks also for your patience! I will get get back with you when I venture out with “Poem 2.”
      Thanks for what you said regarding the “goodbye” of the parents/grandparents. I suspect that a lot of people can relate to this.

    • Kelly — Thanks very much. It is helpful to hear from people such as yourself as to what lines seemed to have worked.

  7. Jim, what a wonderful beginning you’ve made. (L.L. will make a great mentor.) Poetry will sharpen your mind and emotions, let you in on what’s in your heart. Do keep writing; it’s the best way to writing more that is better than what went before. Draw on what you know and have experienced (I consider that the best advice a professor ever gave me). Looking forward to reading more from you.

    • Maureen, thanks very much. Your second sentence is a “keeper”: “Poetry will sharpen your mind and emotions, let you in on what’s in your heart.” Wow! I would enjoy hearing more about this. That one sentence alone is very motivating to continue writing. I also like what you said about drawing on experiences. Thanks very much.

  8. I’m shoulder to shoulder with you in this new way of poetry. Maureen said it well. It is sharpening my thinking and writing. Saying what I mean, meaning what I say. Poetry=keen living. Welcome to a world of poets who are encouraging and supportive for every effort. Yours was nicely done. Good memories shared.

    • Kathleen, I am glad to hear how poetry is sharpening your thinking and writing. Saying what you mean, meaning what you say. (I like this) Thanks for the affirming words. This means a lot.

  9. Hey Jim,
    Just a little more info about the poet Wilmer Mills I mentioned: he is actually a woodworker in Sewannee, TN (no one makes a living off of poetry!). His book “A Light for Orphans” is incredible–I highly recommend it. My favorite is actually published on line: “The Dowser’s Ear” at http://poetrynet.org/month/archive/mills/dowser.html He writes in iambic pentameter. I think you’ll really enjoy it. One poem by Joy Harjo is perhaps unintended but makes for a wonderful reflection on communion (intentionally about community). You can read it at http://www.neiu.edu/~lsfuller/Poems/perhaps.htm

    Don’t get me started! I’ll send you tons of titles and great poets! (I’m a big believer that before a person writes poetry she ought to be reading poetry!)

    But again, I’d like to echo everyone else’s sentiments: a wonderful poem! Keep writing!

    • Darryl, thanks so much for the additional info regarding some of your favorite poets as well as the links. I have a lot to learn.

    • Heather, I agree with you about that first step! 🙂 Glad the white house etc. was a fond memory for you as well.

  10. Wow! Jim! What a warm and beautiful poem! Made me think of my own childhood Christmases, then reflect on where I am now – one of the “two” who “stay.” You captured the cycle of life in just a few words and in a delightful way! Congrats on this new creative accomplishment!

    • Connie, thank you very much. You are the one who has written poetry for years, not me. I’m a rookie! But thanks so much and thanks for your encouragement.