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VERSE, NOT SO VERY BLANK Poems with Gospel Gleam

THIS GNAT SO SMALL

To think that You Regard it all Without a skip or miss. Creation's spin Men's hurts within My hopes and trials and bliss. Is just to sense An un-summed Care Which wearies not, nor wanes. Though nations roar, And lust for more, You never drop the reins. What marvel this! That I am known And figure in the blend. 1

C. by Doug Blair, 2011


This gnat so small Receives Your all. And comforts without end.

LOVE’S THE THING

Do not self-improve. Do not even try. I dispatched my Son And I watched Him die. And I heard His friends Beg the reason why. (That they needn't die.) And this holy life That you strive to score Is not bought with sweat. Not to be a chore. Simply probe the depths Of my love's rich ore. (And I have much more.) If you must repent Of a single slight, Let it be your coldness Again last night. I was there for you Just to hold you tight. (To make all things right.) It's the love you miss In this very hour That will save and cleanse And endue with power. I have plans for you And will see them flower. (Let my mercy shower.) 2


LET TEARS BEGIN

We weep at our incarnate frailty. We weep at confusion and sin. We weep at the selfish agenda. We weep at the tiger within. We weep at the child-life departing. We weep at the blush off the bloom. We weep for the ones we offended. We weep at the guile and the gloom. We weep knowing Holiness watches. We weep knowing better was planned. We wonder if Holiness offers The curative touch of His hand. We weep lately sensing His presence. We weep so unworthy of Grace. We weep at the startling discovery That Holiness died in our place!

OF ANDREW’S SPIRIT

We have found Him And know that He is truth Distilled and pure. A Certain Spring, 'Though damp and slush Delay the budding. A Prince with yarns Of fields and flowers And feathered trust. 3


Unspoiled by gold Or other trappings Of convention. Unmoved by rank Or rule of present powers. But moved by Smallest cry of Pain or shame Or lonely lot. A Man whose every Waking step displays Assurance, equity, Mercy, patience, hope Direct from Heaven. Whose gaze commands. The Promised One. Re-charging nightly On hills of prayer, (With His Father, So He says.) As we have slept. Brother, drop your net. Come meet this One. Come meet your future.

SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN

Children bound to toil and tears. Thought the shame of former years. Woe, the heart that never hears. Some are fettered still. Children bent to rake and hoe; Torn from play by plague's death-throe. Scratching dust to make it grow. Some are fettered still.

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Children weighed with coat and gun; Warlord's whims to serve and run. Mocking death ere day is done. Some are fettered still. Children pulled from Mother's breast; Mother, back to work impressed. Hurried plans leave them no rest. Some are fettered still. Children made the sport of night; Pawns of lust, but out of sight. Forced by fiends who once seemed right. Some are fettered still. Children never taught to pray; Taught to live Redemption's way. Starving souls with Hell to pay. Some are fettered still. Children bound to toil and tears. Thought the shame of former years. Woe, the heart that never hears. Some are fettered still.

WANTED: UNDER-SHEPHERDS

You are out there. Really. Doubting yourself, Doubting the flesh, Counting an inventory of hurts And lesser humiliations. Forgiving. Giving. Rejoicing in Christ's ability, 5


Compassion, wisdom, Manliness in the face of Wicked devices. Offering hope, warning. The Grand Story. Not your spin on it; Just the Grand Story, Able to unlock any heart. Able to hug any neck, An under-shepherd of The foot-washing sort, Having caught a glimpse, Or two Of the Master. Never again to be common; Never again to be free Or desiring it.

TASTE AND SEE

It’s not just a taste That I’m after Some look-see Evangel to try. For that will not hold Me to Holy, Or shield me when Harm passes by. Consider the Friend Of all sinners, And imitate Him if I can? For none ever spake Life the wiser, Or comforted more Than this Man. But knowing myself, 6


That I waiver And daily lose sight of the goal. I wonder could God Ever love me? Unfailingly Harbour my soul? And then comes the truth Like the sun-rise. The Father has drawn me to come. Has seen me full into The sheepfold. Has made me a gift To His Son. And with these new Eyes of the Spirit This chosen child finally finds rest. And daily delivers The service A thankful heart Renders the best. Psalm 34 8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. 9 Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness. 10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry, but God-seekers are full of God. (The Message)

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BONES AND THOUGHTS

Bones and thoughts Are briefly giv'n us. Bones and thoughts For this short span. Bones to play And render service. Thoughts to delve The scope of man. Bones to sling The trowel and mortar. Bones to draw The waters cool. Bones to plant The seed and harvest. Bones to bully And to rule. Thoughts to better Each month's tally. Thoughts distilling Beauties bright. Thoughts to cheer A struggling neighbour. Thoughts to favour Or to fight. But the bones Will stop their clatter. And the thoughts Will disconnect. And beneath Them both a whisper Fiends and fools Can scarce detect. Softly vowing, "There is more yet." Which the Spirit 8


Yearns to give To the hearers Of that whisper. "Children, come and Trust and live."

DROPPING IN ON JESUS

Through the roof! We scarce believed it In our curiosity, As those four men tore off clay tiles With such bold expectancy. And the fifth, pathetic cripple, Wrapped so tight in his bed-roll, Lowered gently down to Jesus, Through the newly-made roof hole.

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Such a sight no one expected; And to me a gaudy show. Where he found them, what he paid them To perform, I did not know. But the crowd moved back allowing Ample room for this strange scene Of a lifeless palsied creature Wishing only to be made clean. Not a word was said by any, Focused on that sunlit spot. Could he do it? Would he do it? What a fine showman, I thought. But in Jesus’ face was glowing Such delight and sympathy, That his next words caught me off-guard: “Son, thy sin is forgiven thee.” Had he said what no man dare say? To this poor wretch on the floor? And the scribes no doubt were thinking Sanctimonious uproar! Not a one forgives the sinner But our great Jehovah-God. In his zeal this man had blasphemed; So the scribes, no doubt, had thought. But he spoke with calm assurance: “Is it not with equal power That the Son of Man brings healing And forgiveness in this hour?” Puzzling preaching? I dismissed it, Just some more dramatic talk. But behold, the wasted bag Of bones took up his bed to walk! This was rich, the crowning glory

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Of an artful one-act play. First the roof-top interruption, Now the man’s hurts swept away. But some folks said that they knew him, Begging years down by the gate. And their tears of joy were truthful, And their faces changed my fate. Others in our little party Left the meeting still in jest; But I figured only Heaven Could have met that man’s request. It was with no little effort That I went to resume shop. For my thoughts were not on business, This amazement would not stop. Could he be the real Messiah? I would have to hear him more, For such mercy and such power I had never seen before. Note: Concerning this incident, Smith Wigglesworth, the healing evangelist (1859-1947), has said the following: "Let us drop right into the arms of Jesus. It is a lovely place to drop into, out of your self-righteousness, out of your self-consciousness, out of your unbelief." (Smith Wigglesworth Devotional, Whitaker House Publishers) Amen to that!

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UNWELCOME ONE

I hit like Vesuvius. Greater emotional impact Than one's first love. Irrepressible as incoming tide. Washing over sand castles. I elicit self-doubt, Self-pity, Self-centredness. I bring on red anger, Social awkwardness, Loner spirit. I humiliate With damp blubber. Pluck the mournful strings, Belly-high. Drag up guilt for things Not said; not done; Not forgiven. I pilfer memories. And energy. I cause friends To keep distant, To stammer, To grow impatient. I haunt with faces, Gestures, music, Abandoned wardrobe. I roar At the phrase "Snap out of it." Cause men to doubt Their manhood. Cause women to remember Apron strings, rockers And first school-days. I befuddle and 12


Bring on mistakes, Inefficiencies. I slander God And His kind. (For a time.) I tax prayer Beyond itself. But I also clean The inner residues; Flush out the vitriol; Relieve the inexplicable; Distill humble servant-spirit; Develop new-found audacities, Currencies, compassions. Evoke the dark night, That joy might Come in the morning. I am Grief.

DECLENSION

He would stop me By the Mall. Excuse himself. Ask for change. Words came out awkwardly. Almost shaven, Hair curly, uncombed. Usually sunny days. As if seeing a friend, He once more would Expect a bit. Damp morning, this one. Did I catch a smirk? 13


Coin in hand, searching. No longer any small talk. Early winter wind. Rushing to bookstore; Almost tripped Over him, Crouching in the vestibule By a warm vent. Feigning guitar performance, Two strings missing. Heavy snows last night. Grabbing java before work. Heated conversation Over my shoulder. Turned...to him, Alone and jabbering. Cradling warm Tim's cup. Mongrel dog leashed outside. Happy to feel First promise of spring. But ruckus on the road; Car horns blaring. Straining to see Scarecrow figure, spittled beard. Pacing the white line. Window to window.

THE DEMONIAC UNBOUND

He wanted to come closer. The demons shouted, "No!" And he was still their prisoner

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(The townsfolk feared him so.) Long banished from the village He lived among the dead. In filth and naked horror, For years their constant dread. And part of him was dying And part yearned to be free. His baffled mental battle A tragic mystery. Some noise down at the lakeshore Had stirred him from the cave. For stepping from a boat, was One With righteous power to save. The demons knew that instant Their host was on the mend. Their stay among the Gadarenes Their craft could not extend. And then Christ called them, named them And cast them into swine. Which, plunging headlong to their death, Were smothered in the brine. The demon-plagued no longer, But faithful, clothed and well. This rescue at the lakeside His special joy to tell. (A single word from Jesus Can touch such depths of soul. Eradicate the madness And make the broken whole.)

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NICODEMUS BY NIGHT

In the evening I approached him, In the secrecy of night; For I knew that he was wisdom, And I knew that he was right; And I knew he held the answers And was guided by the light. So I came to Jesus just to get it straight. I had power in the Council And was held in high esteem, But I sensed the Jews had missed it, Missed Jehovah’s grander scheme; With our rules and regs ad nauseum, Lost the sight of mercy’s theme. So I came to Jesus when my hour was late. I had struggled with obedience To a host of holy laws. But I couldn’t beat my failures, And I couldn’t beat my flaws. All my earnest resolutions Couldn’t bolster my lost cause; So I came to Jesus, life to illustrate. There was something fundamental, Yes, a change which must be wrought; And it couldn’t just be studied, And it couldn’t just be bought. It was of the Spirit’s working, Some strange new birth to be sought. This was how the Father planned to change my fate! But so simple, Lord, now really! Can this be for older men? That they must dare to be child-like, And by faith renounce their sin? Seek some Holy Ghost infusion, 16


And by grace be born again? Here’s the truth which I must now appropriate!

GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY

It was true The great artist Had come to the croft. Breathtakingly. The Husband had Set it up with The Interior Man. Margit’s * cooperation Implicit. Hardly the time To lime-wash The plaster walls Of guest-room. And soak, pound and Breeze the bed-clothes, Before arrival of the Chronicler of heather, Nature, heritage, race. Other women would Not get the news ‘Til Sabbath Meeting. Margit was near Explosion The singular Honour of it all! Though He was not Overmuch with her fare. Of a day’s outing, Whatever the sportsman’s 17


Dress or kit, Or eyeglass or brushes, It was always His Sky blue eyes ‘Neath craggy gray brows, Probing, dancing, Which fascinated. The Man was noble, Cautious with words, Sensitive in commendation. Enrapt by the land. (If only Husband had Responded to her many Requests to fix the Horrid fissure in Guest-room plaster wall!) Daily, Husband and dogs Would escort “Sir” To some edge of the heath, Arrangements made For rendez-vous point Seven hours distant. Husband then busied With endless demands Of the wee farm. Waning rays Would highlight the form Of returning “Sir”. Swinging the walking stick. No longer leaning. Daily enlarging in Colour, gait, height And spirits. Canvas agenda still hidden. Then came the rains. An embarrassment to hospitality. But strange delight 18


To the guest who Requested only A season of quiet In His room to Formulate the work. Mid-day bites left at the door. Three days’ Hushed anticipation. Only an hours’ Evening fellowship, hearthside, With a spot of tea, Shortbread, Scott, Burns Or Rutherford. Light farm talk. Or village happenings. The fourth morning, Sunshine brightening The guest-room interior. “Sir” beckoned Margit visit For a wee look At the rendering. Her examination yielded No easel, no canvas, frame. “Sir”only, standing, arms behind. Non-plused, Margit wheeled To her point of humbling. The faulty plaster wall, Now animated with Richest of Highland scenes: Hills, heather, cloudy vault. Distant twelve-point stag. And fissure placed as sparkling Rill where once two lovers kissed. (*A fictitious name)

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(Painting: “Monarch of the Glen� by Sir Edwin Landseer)

AT THE SUMMIT

The eyesight still is dazzled And the thinking not too clear, And the three of us amazed, Lord, That you ever brought us here. For the stillness of the setting And the call to join in prayer, Neath the vastness and the freshness Of the silent mountain air, Gave no warning of the wonders , Lord, that you would have us share, As we drifted into comfort, You had moved to yonder space, And the fervency of prayer, Lord, Soon came gleaming from your face! How this stirred us from our drifting, 20


From our flagging in the fight, As alone, atop that mountain We were stricken with the sight Of your face, you clothes, your person, All awash with inner light! Not alone now, but in session With some other-worldly men. Were they Moses? And Elijah? Sent to you? To earth again? How could we so undeserving, Dare to look upon them so? Or to catch their words of courage? We just had to see, to know. There were you, the Law, the Prophets And the summit all aglow! Then as quickly, they had vanished And the power began to fade, And our brother muttered out That some memorial be made: “You have walked and talked with Moses At this heady, holy height. You have shared prayer with Elijah; Been transfigured in the light. We must fashion some mementos. Surely that would be alright!” But no sooner had he spoken, Than a brilliant cloud appeared, Which engulfed us in its glory. Falling on our face, we feared. And a voice not heard by mortals To our impudence decreed: “This is my belov’ed offspring. Hear ye him and him ye heed.” LUKE 9: 29, 30, 31 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and

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glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

JUDAS DEPARTS

I can’t believe, I won’t believe, That this is how it goes. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, A victim of his foes! The man who won the crowds with food, With talks of realms of peace, A fool, who should have used such power To gain the Jews’ release! For Rome could not have proved a match For quickened Hebrew zeal, The kind that often sparked their eyes, While he would teach or heal. But he is fixed upon a path Of suffering and shame; And says that such may be the lot Of those who bear his name. Pathetic! Just a mendicant! No current house or trade! Depending on the charity Of friends, recently made. And now he bids us share his feast In Passover retreat… Behold, the Master strips himself To wash and soothe our feet! A common slave would do the task In any other case, 22


But Jesus still perversely seeks The lowly servant’s place. It is enough! I can’t go on; Hence, I have seized a plan To set the stage for his arrest, And merchandise the man. Jesus, you proved a dreamer That the times can ill afford. I can’t believe; I won’t believe; And so I leave, M’Lord.

MESSAGE AT THE MEAL

A hymn they sang to finish Their last meal with the Lord; A time of blessing hidden From threat of scribe or sword. An upper room was furnished For what had proved to be Their place of richest teaching Ere Jesus faced the tree. As other families gathered, So he with his reclined. The Vine with his dear branches, By love so intertwined. In bitter-sweet remembrance Of Israel’s darkest hour, When lamb’s blood o’er the door-frame Assured redeeming power. And as no other member Would stoop to washing feet, 23


Christ took the soothing laver And made the feast complete. With bread and wine he showed them The brotherhood’s new fare; Those broken, poured-out tokens, His life and love to share. Then startling words were uttered, Their peace abruptly cleft; That one would soon betray him, And Judas, strangely, left. The stillness now arresting, With his departure near, The Master seized the moment To overcome their fear. And spoke of how the Spirit Would soon be at their door, To strengthen them and comfort them And teach them more and more. While he would be in Glory Preparing them a place, Whence he would come to take them To see the Father’s face! How thrilling was this teaching! How strangely pulled their love! The times with him so precious; Still grander times above? And lastly, he allowed them To hear his priestly prayer; That Father would sustain them Through all life’s toil and care. A hymn they sang to finish, That wondrous Hallel Psalm, {PSALM 118) Portraying the Messiah 24


At death’s dark door, yet calm. This meeting, how exquisite! This Master, how sublime! This message meant to strengthen Til Resurrection Time! JOHN 15: 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

A WATCH OF TURTLEDOVES

Lovely evening, Lovely garden, Just the setting For some rest. At the outskirts Of the city, Peaceful bower For my nest. Comes a human With his following, Hardly making Any sound. Three are with him In the darkness, Kneeling lowly On the ground. Coo-coo-ah, now He is weeping, With his face raised T’ward the sky. 25


While the others Nestle, sleeping; Surely they must Hear him cry? All else quiet, But his pleading With someone I Cannot see. Oh, dear human, Were I able To flit down And comfort thee! Coo-coo-ah, yes He’s the same one, Who comes often To this place. Yet I hardly Recognize him, For the tension In his face… Comes a breaking In his pleading, And the strain now Turns serene. Just as if Some bless’ed answer, Has arrived from Him unseen. Coo-coo-ah, look! Men are coming, Of a harder Rugged kind! Coo-coo-ah, flee! 26


They mean trouble For whomever They may find! Coo-coo-ah, Man, Do not stand there Just as if you Do not mind! For a moment, Hesitating, They examine What they’ve found. Then he speaks; His words of power Send them reeling To the ground! Here’s your chance, Friend, Head for cover! While they stagger In the dust. All your youngsters Seized the moment, They are fleeing As you must! But he simply Stands before them As the fetters Are applied. Oh, you could have Kept your freedom, Oh, if you had Only tried! Troops and torches, Disappearing, 27


With my human Well in hand. Children saved, while He is taken. Yes, I think I Understand. Coo-coo-ah, Coo-coo-ah, Coo-coo-ahhhh‌‌.

THERE CAME A RICH MAN

Take him down, And please be gentle: He has suffered much today. Spare those hands From further tearing, As we pull the spikes away. Lift the crown From his cold forehead; Never was a King so slain. Oh, to think Our laws, our people, Could have caused him so much pain! Curse the thought Of twilight justice In that court of hate declared. Oh, that one Had better argued, Better fought, to have him spared. Not a rule Of our procedure, But was broken in the sham. 28


Jesus held By ruthless slayers, Silent, sacrificial lamb! Brother, grief Is now our portion; Counsellors to crime are we. Rue the day Of our proud calling To Sanhedrin’s vanity. Carry him As best we’re able, Not a jostle, nor a jar. He has borne Our griefs and sorrows; Friend, his tomb is not too far. Thanks to God For Pilate’s ruling, For the right to take him there. Hasty work In cloths and spices, Winding death ‘round one so fair. All is done, And none too early, As the Sabbath rest draws nigh. Gentle Lord, So long awaited, Was it planned that you should die? ISAIAH 53: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he

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is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

A SON TO HIS FATHER

Yes, Father. I have sought your face. I have heard your voice. I have found your will. I have delighted in following. As a youngster at home. In the carpenter's shop. As the Romans came to town and went. At the Jordan with John. Stretched in the wilderness. In the teeming curious crowds. Alone, and seeking in night hours. With the sick. With the cynical. When challenged as to my service. When challenged as to the Kingdom. When disappointed by friends. When weary of their ambition. In Gethsemane. Troubled and sore amazed. Telling the Governor the truth. Enduring the pain, As one wretched thief Acknowledged our plan, And you seemed removed. But the plan was sovereign. I sit again at your side. We have glorious fellowship. We hear from the family. We delight to bless. 30


And oh, dear Father, They are coming. Your sons, daughters to the feast.

BUT STILL‌

I have bottomed out. I have lost the day. I have pain within; I can scarcely pray. I have watched dreams pale In the time's harsh gale. I have few to help. I am gaunt and pale. But still I have the Lord... But still I have the Lord, And He picks me up With the thought of Him. And He brings His light Where before 'twas dim. And He makes me see With new eyes of grace; As His Kingdom comes, And I find my place. So sufficed, I have all. James 5: 11Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

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MALIGNANCY

I can waste a body I can shatter dreams I can raise my threat Through a thousand schemes. I can rob a home I can stunt a life I can tear the bond Of a man and wife. I can pull the blind Down on hope or joy And the neighbours'talk I will oft' employ. I am given more Than my powers are due I just feed on fear And the schemes come true. I am named with awe In the Hall of Waste I have Slewfoot's praise Seen him face to face. I have often heard When their end is nigh How they doubt their God How they curse the sky. But it troubles me That a few gain power As they choose to smile In my meanest hour. As they give loud thanks For a life to date And they lean on Christ For tomorrow's fate.

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MADE FOR STORMS

The storm’s approach The eagle sees. He waits for it Atop the trees. The meadow runs. Retreats in fear. The wily fox, The white-tail deer. And skies grow black. And crack with light. And wind careens, As day turns night. The smell of rain And topsoil stirred Are ancient clues To this great bird. That soon will come An upward rush. His pinions locked. A mighty push. To launch the prince Of loftier skies Above the storm. Or else he dies. While far below In gopher towns, In flash-flood’s flow, A partridge drowns.

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THE TRUTH DESPISED

This "born again" A phrase of men That sits not well with me. And all the blood A cleansing flood That flows from Calvary? Must each address His sinful mess As if to start anew? Will not the priest And Easter's feast Suffice to see us through? But then a word My spirit heard Providing precious light. 'The chicks from eggs, The tadpole's legs, The Monarch at first flight. The fruit from flower, The rainbow shower, The acorn, then the tree.' And truth despised Meets clearer eyes And sets this captive free.

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SONG OF THE WIRE

An overcast day In the summer. A pleasant relief From the heat. And rising quite Early this morning, I’ve taken a Cool backyard seat. The birds are Surprisingly quiet. Are they as slowMoving as I? The leaves on the Maple turn over, Requesting a drink From the sky. And upwards behind Me, I hear him, In notes softly Soothing and sad. His double-tone tune Of lamenting, Today makes me Mellow, but glad. I wonder what hurt He is hiding? What loneliness Looms in his soul? What sickness at home He is bearing? What trial he finds Hard to control? His heart is the Heart of a mourner. And pain is a Constant we share. He asks, “May I 35


Help you by singing? I know, and God knows, And we care.”

PIECE OF THE PUZZLE

Poetry’s a piece of the Puzzle. Poetry’s a part of the Plan. Poetry’s a passion unmuzzled. Poetry’s the pain in a man. Poetry’s a probe and a penlight. Poetry’s a pin-prick to pride. Poetry’s a prayer in the moonlight. Poetry’s a pony to ride. Poetry’s a place for the moment. Poetry’s a person just met. Poetry’s a plot in an instant. Poetry’s a punch-line to get. Poetry’s a palette and paintbrush. Poetry’s a sweet pastoral tune. Poetry’s a palpable night-hush. Poetry’s a picnic in June. Poetry’s the pleasure of motion. Poetry’s a pendulum dance. Poetry’s a pint of the ocean. Poetry’s a pressing romance. Poetry’s a pine-scented north-wood. Poetry’s a piece of a wing. Poetry’s a prophet of some good. Poetry’s the pluck still to sing.

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Poetry’s the passing of season. Poetry’s a pathway once trod. Poetry’s the piercing of reason. Poetry’s the prospect of God.

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Verse, Not So Very Blank  

Poems with Gospel Gleam

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