five sonnets on interior design

Now God, we say, is infinitely wise.
I pray he'll stoop to spread a dab on me
as I rub sweaty palms along my thighs
and wonder why I act so foolishly.
A word's a sword, and to the wise, enough
to unlock doors which can't be battered through.
It edges slice out calloused thoughts, grown tough,
long pressed against old frames, turned like a screw.
We fasten habits to a mighty name,
then pace round boarded corridors of "ought",
lock all our doors, and wail that no one came
to see our works and cry "what hath God wrought?"
I ask, for aching feet and empty hands,
a sword, a lever, and a place to stand.

I ask for aching feet and empty hands--
to go far, and give everything away.
Replace the dragons on the map with lands
whose scents I treasure, though I cannot stay.
Let me learn each thing's name in its own tongue.
I'll keep those languages inside of me:
a rack of balanced weapons, gently hung,
drawn only to deter, to heal, to free
a pathway through the hedge of every keep
where, shaded by some wide, green, timeless tree,
the hearts of friends, like spellbound princes, sleep.
Let me then sheath my sword, and bend a knee.
This too I pray, let me remember this:
in secret places, silence is a kiss.

This too I pray, let me remember thus:
what moves the world is moved by it in turn.
Why Christ's a gentleman is obvious--
why trample what he paid so much to earn?
Whom you can grasp, you'll lose without the right
to hold them, if their true consent you lack.
That voice which forged the universe with light
poured itself into flesh, to bring light back.
So do no less. To move, you must be moved;
to change a mind, permit yourself to doubt.
To earn trust, demonstrate what can't be proved.
To exorcise--first let the demons out.
Release your fists; let all you hold go free.
What fills an empty hand? Infinity.

Release your fists; let all you held go free.
What's left is where you've come--and here you are.
Knit branch and leaf together; that's a tree.
And every man and woman is a star.
Sing out, however gnarled and bare your perch.
Breathe gently on new-blooming wisps of flame.
Three friends around a table is a church--
a grin, flashed up through blood and tears, a Name.
Transform your mere location to a place
where death's defied, and all things are made new:
where nothing's lost, though much may go to waste.
The power to create resides in you.
Leave all you touch more holy than before.
Where ground gives out beneath you, build a floor.

Leave all you touch more holy than before;
become someone whose every word may bless.
I've made my watchword stewardship, not war.
Inside me is the Earth's last wilderness.
It stares out of my mirror, shadowed, vast,
and dares me to make more than what I've been.
I will dig deep, and build myself to last,
to write upon the world what's wrought within.
I pray I'll have the strength to still my spade
when some green seedling interrupts my eye.
Let me throw over everything I've made
to leave that center open to the sky.
If God is love, and all these things are true,
then make yourself. Then make yourself anew.


Martie said...

Now you have ushered in a harvest of grace for me. I'm putting these sonnets up in my office to connect me with the eternal verities--and you--when I need small graces through the day.
Here are a few lines from Tennyson as kindly rejoinder, since my poetry skills have been so long buried they are not easily resurrected:
More things are wrought by prayer
Thank this world dreams of,
Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friends,
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
--Alfred Lord Tennyson
--quoted by m.

Amber E said...

Each sonnet taken by it self is excellent. The five sonnet set -magnificent. Love the 'interior design' name for interior design of self. I quake in admiration at your resilient vulnerability.

I love so many lines from these poems. Also, am I crazy or did you write a five paragraph essay in sonnet form? Yay for language skills. Sorry for the rambling appreciation but just wanted to convey my admiration for your skill. Still pondering the scope of meaning in the poems individually and as a whole. Hope you had a good 4th. Love ya, Amber

Fiat Lex said...


Thanks to you both--and sorry it's taken me so long to respond!

It is my great joy to have brought you joy. This is one of those works that leaves me scratching my head going "that came out of me?"

That Tennyson poem kicks butt! And Mom, I would think it was really cool if you tried to resurrect your skills. ;) Even if you don't want to show them to people, it's the kind of hard work that's fun--a little like a rollercoaster is fun. Feeling of danger! Presence of safety! Whee!
Also, it could be kind of a real-life experiment in resurrection. With diligence and lots of grace, almost anything can come back!

*hugs Amber* You make me blush!
And yes, it totally is a five-paragraph essay.
1 Theme (thesis: sword, lever, place to stand)
2 Sword
3 Lever
4 Place to stand
5 Conclusion!

Also, if you have ponderings you wish to share, I would welcome your insights. :D Cause seeing it as an essay has already made me look at these from a whole different angle, which is cool.