No cell phone, no computer, no camera

Excerpt from a poem read months ago.

For Christmas Day, the story behind Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

Since the tradition curating advent poems[1] was started a few years ago, I found this story[2] particularly interesting.

[1] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry), December 13, 2012,
[2] Justin Taylor, “THE TRUE STORY OF PAIN AND HOPE BEHIND “I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY”,”, December 21, 2014, accessed December 11, 2016

PODCAST: Poems and readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold

by Madeleine L’Engle

The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy’s gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life.
If I protect myself
I’m hiding, Lord, from you.
How we defend ourselves
In ancient suits of mail!

Protected from the sword,
Shrinking from the wound,
We look for happiness,
Small, safety-seeking, dulled,
Selfish, exclusive, in-turned.
Elusive, evasive, peace comes
Only when it’s not sought.

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is the melting joy.
My heart beats once again.[1]

This audio podcast features the poem “The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold” by Madeleine L’Engle and concludes with a selection from the Book of Common Prayer that is often read on Christmas Day.

[1] Source: The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold by Madeleine L’Engle
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)

Exploring 12 Days of Advent poetry

Cathedral Square Park & Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist decorated for Christmas

When I saw Christmas decorations and trees begin to populate Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park as early as November 1st, I thought, Is it that time of year already? Unbelievable. With this weekend’s snowfall, the Cathedral Square Park’s decorated Christmas trees looks particularly Decemberish.

Screen shot of internet search

Earlier this month I searched online for some Christmas card ideas. Imagine my surprise when the search displayed a block print I created five years ago.

It seems so long ago and so far away. So much has happened in those few short years that it is difficult to catalog. Curiously, I clicked in the Pinterest link. Then I read the original blog post. It is the most visited post on the blog.

For the last few years, I have received modest feedback on a post I published titled “Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry).”[1] The most intriguing comment regarded a poem by W. S. Beattie. I could not locate the poem online. And the mystery of it excited me. Are there really poems people read that are not on the internet? I thought to myself. A lovely thought.

This year, a digital trail lead me to a PDF file posted by the Brentwood United Reformed Church.[2] Here is the poem recommended by a reader with the preface that the poem’s topic regards the misuse of Advent.

Advent Longing
by W.S. Beattie
These are the greedy days.
It used to be
That Advent was a longing fast,
A time to feel our need
in faith and tingling hope
And keen-eyed looking forward.
Now we cannot wait
But day by day and week by week
We celebrate obsessively
Clutching at Christmas.
When at last it comes,
The day itself,
Our glass is empty.
We have held the feast
Already, and the news is stale
Before it ever reaches us.
We cheat ourselves.
Yet – somehow – still we hope
In these spoiled days
That there may be a child.

It is a humble poem with a good reminder.

Another reader suggested the inclusion of T. S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi.”[3]

CCCA’s The Advent Project

And yet another reader pointed me in the direction of Biola University’s Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts (CCCA) The Advent Project.[4] I truly enjoy CCCA’s Advent project as it includes art, literature, music and video.

I need to revisit my “12 Days of Christmas” poetry list. Maybe next year it will expand to a “24 Days of Advent” poetry list. For now, please enjoy reading 12 days of Christmas poems.

  1. December 14 – “Annunciation” by Denise Levertov
  2. December 15 – “Advent Calendar” by Rowan Williams
  3. December 16 – “Advent” by Donald Hall
  4. December 17 – “Mosaic of the Nativity (Serbia, Winter 1993)” by Jane Kenyon
  5. December 18 – “The God We Hardly Knew” by Óscar Romero
  6. December 19 – “The House of Christmas” by GK Chesterton
  7. December 20 – “Into The Darkest Hour” by Madeleine L’Engle
  8. December 21 – “The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold” by Madeleine L’Engle
  9. December 22 – “Nativity” by John Donne
  10. December 23 – “A Christmas Carol” by Christina Georgina Rossetti
  11. December 24 – “Mighty Mercy” by John Piper
  12. December 25 – “For Christmas Day” by Charles Wesley

[1] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)
[2] Brentwood United Reformed Church, The Courier, December 2014/January 2015. Accessed December 11, 2017.
[3] The Poetry Archive, T. S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi,” accessed December 11, 2017.
[4] Biola University, Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts (CCCA), The Advent Project, accessed December 11, 2017.

Poem 7: Always Departing

Poem 7: Always Departing

Poem 6: Saturday Night, Coffeehouse

Poem 6: Saturday Night, Coffeehouse

NOTES: Originally published in Rapid River Arts & Culture Magazine, April 2004. Unable to locate the printed artifact nor find a digital version on the publisher’s website, I photographed this draft of “Saturday Night, Coffeehouse.”

Poem 5: Prairie Constellations

Poem 5: Prairie Constellations

Poem 4: Last night at the New French Bar

Poem 4: Last night at the New French Bar

The fourth poem, Last night at the New French Bar, was published in Crab Creek Review. It is part of seven published poems I am sharing during National Poetry Month. Somewhere I read that a poet should never explain a … Continue reading

Poem 3: Loneliness visits

Poem 3: Loneliness visits

For National Poetry Month I will share seven photos of published poems. The third poem, Loneliness visits, was published in ISM Quarterly.

Poem 2: Reading “My American Body”

Poem 2: Reading “My American Body”

Reading “My American Body” by W. K. Buckley by Matthew Mulder Fireflies sparkle outside. I see them through the living room window. It’s the time between times as I examine a new hole in my jeans and consider “Picking up … Continue reading