Friday, December 17, 2004

a night not to be silent - 2

Christmas (an excerpt)

How did you find it
this ordinary stable
beachhead of peace
tabernacle place
God’s home invasion
snuggled down in hay of earth
with mother and father
back alley choir of angels
singing joy at your birth
a moment staked out in time
beneath the radar
of the Black Predator?

How did you find it
this ordinary night?

Low class shepherds
vision prod
left all to see
the birth of God

Star led wisemen
slipped street to street
seeking You
grasping an ancient
Sanskrit promise
any sacrifice was worth the chance
salvation had come

Star-maker long ago agreed
tonight He sends His Son
tonight all ordinary life is done.

© 2004 Charles Van Gorkom

Poor And Very Small

When you were born
it was third-world first-class
all the way
(wisdom of Father God)

Had the motel not been full,
the stable had no storey,
the manger no baby,

Angels might have sung
not to shepherds that night,
but to landlords and merchants
who may not have noticed
so intent were they
in the art of the deal–

Other motel-mates
would have been watching
cable T.V. or gambling online
Joseph calling for a doctor
would be annoying to the extreme.

The poor, as always, ignored
brushed aside, abandoned
(wisdom of Father God)

He sent you to the homeless,
the beggar, prostitutes and shepherds,
wisemen and children
(wisdom of Father God)
who celebrate this Christmas night
by starlight,
who in their own eyes all
are poor and very small.

Heavenward they call:
"Jesus, come and ransom me,
You are Wisdom of Father

© 2004 Charles Van Gorkom

Christmas Prayer

By warm light of my shop fire
I write this.
The room is black shadows –

Outside in the darkness
silent snow lightly falls
swirls in a circle of lamplight.

I remember long ago
on Harry Road
in a shed on Christmas night
I sat among sheep
with an oil lamp –
leaned sitting in the hay
against a fat sleeping ewe –

I was looking for Jesus
for angels maybe
a word, a vision, a touch;
I played my harmonica
"He Shall Feed His Flock" by Handel,
and every other carol I knew –

A wiseman’s offering, I hoped,
to give the baby king
a gift worthy of acknowledging –
by bedtime nothing.

In years that have intervened,
I did hear angels sing
the Christ I’ve seen
even lain upon the altar
of His offering
and was redeemed.

On Harry Road,
I sought an instant illuminating
but got instead a lifetime
of incremental awakening,
a boy’s prayer –
fifty years in the answering.

© 2004 Charles Van Gorkom

Charlie writes from his home in northern British Columbia, Canada. Years ago I taught elementary school in Hazelton, a few miles down the road from where Charlie lives now. His way with words reminds me of the way the salmon slip through the waters of those northern rivers. In his poems I often smell the smoke of cozy wood-burning stoves and the pungent pine of needle-covered forest floors. His poems are crafted with the same precision he employs when he makes boots. Most of all, I take comfort in his wise voice. I often come away from reading his work with the sense that my soul has seen a light in the window.

If you enjoyed these poems, read more of Charlie’s work here.


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