Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Painters and drawers and sculptors and countless other visual artists are able to combine and manipulate various physical substances into objects that pique our imagination and show us a peek at the universe and ourselves that we have yet to comprehend. Once we have seen these creative vistas and ourselves reflected through them, we cannot forget or go back to the way things used to be without tremendous expenditure of costly personal energy. 

Writers are visual artists of a different sort. Authors paint word pictures that hang in the passageway running between head and heart. Narrative/prose is a medium in the realm of realism, often hanging closer to the brain's end of the hall. Once a good story seeps into your marrow, the door at the coronary end of the hallway usually swings open a bit wider as a particular vocabulary and its precise ordering provide a view of what's been right in front of your face for years and yet may still have eluded your perception.

Poetry tends toward impressionism, just outside the heart's door. It often makes you want to race back and forth between the cerebral and the emotive, between fading distant memories and the possibility of what lies around the next bend, anchoring the here-and-now in a sense of hope, if not peace. Story's and poetry's art galleries are for the curious; those who're willing to peruse stacks of beauty with only a handful of syllables scratched on the surface, daring aficionados to crack a spine. Welcome to a visceral gallery of words, brushed on life’s ever-flowing canvas.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Monday, April 25, 2016


Photo by Jennie R. Jenkins

Keep a dragon's egg
in your pocket long enough,
pulling it out to marvel,
turning it over
in your sweaty little palms,

   shaking it at the folks
   who stir you from
   the laziness of your
   inherited perch of status quo,

      and sooner or later
      you'll be the unwitting
      (Or is it dim-witted?)
      owner of an uncontrollable,
      fire-breathing maniac.

         It's getting hot up in here!

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Photo by Holly Jenkins

Life is easier when your enemies
are all external, identifiable,
and you get to completely define them.

Yes, easier, smoother, shallower.
Give me the deeps anyway,
where ruts and ridges

surprise and challenge my assumptions;
where mirrors reject
my narrow, retouched imaginings.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, April 16, 2016


When the deathiversary
rolls around each year,
we can hardly believe
it’s here again.

Wasn’t it the day before yesterday
when our hearts were still beating
and normal was something
we thought could last?

It seems like yesterday
the casket was lowered
into the earth or the ashes
were scattered by the wind;

We knew a huge chunk
of who we were 
was dead now, too.

The dirt was like a weight
on our chests, pressing, squeezing.

  We could never imagine that
  our burying was also a planting;
  that the love being sunk and scattered
  could somehow ever break through
  the sod with a shoot, a bloom,
  and perhaps flower or fruit;

    but sometimes it does,
    in ways and places we
    never could have imagined.

You have surrounded us
with the love of those
who can and do sing
the songs of faith for us,
reciting the creeds,
believing on our behalf, 
for a while, until 
we can breathe again.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

In Memoriam

As we once again enter the room called remember, the edge of earth and sky as clearly defined as ever, we pray you'll grant us faith, O Lord, strong and flexible, to mortar the vast expanse between our tiny bricks of understanding. 

For all the saints 
who from this life now rest, 
we give you thanks, O God, 
for by them we are blessed. 

When hate has been unleashed, 
indifference unfurled, 
into holy humus 
their toes securely curled. 

Inspired by burning bush 
and heaven-descended dove, 
they walked the path of grace 
and lived sermons of love. 

We speak their names aloud, 
and breathe their memories, too; 
open palms release them, 
eternally to you. 

For all the saints 
who through our lives have trod, 
we lift our hearts in praise, 
and give you thanks, O God. 

  2016 Todd Jenkins

Monday, April 11, 2016

Poetic Subtraction

Photo by Ashley Goad

She objected, "I don't know how
to sit down and create poetry."

   I replied, “Neither do I.
   I'm not even sure that's possible.”

      Poetry is all around us,
      all the time. It's the proverbial
      sculpture hidden within the stone.

   Finding our inner poet
   is about learning to chip-away
   at the things in our lives obscuring her.

First, there's what I call noise;
the other voices that tell you
you're already too far behind
in all the things you need
to accomplish and do
to even consider investing time,
space, and energy into something
as unpredictable, unreliable, and
maybe even unproductive as poetry.

   But maybe you also need
   to hear the whisper that asks you
   to consider whether
   you might be even further behind
   in what you were created to BE.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Photo by Ben Padgett

Sooner or later,
you'll figure out
that my vocabulary
is very limited.

   The list of words I know
   to be true – Or is it that
   I NEED them to be true? –
   is quite brief.
   Let's see... there's:

Grace – the truest of all truths,
never settling for the limitations
of how we experience it
or want it to be. 

Love – the deepest of all truths,
holding us more tenderly
than we ever imagined
when it’s whole;
hurting us almost more deeply
than we can stand
when it’s broken. 

Forgiveness – the richest of all truths,
covering even the grandest failure,
not with denial, but reprieve. 

Mercy – the softest of all truths,
tempering justice into
an ending bearable,
no matter how bleakly
our story begins.

Hope – the largest of all truths,
opening doors and windows,
raising suns after all possibility
has been exhausted. 

Faith – the most mysterious of all truths,
the mortar spanning
the vast expanse between
tiny bricks of understanding. 

Trust – the hardest of all truths,
holding betrayal in a glove
of unimaginable possibility. 

      These seven may be it.
      Everything else is
      merely experiential riff
      in their presence or absence;

   just verbal sketches
   from the storm of sitting
   too near the tracks
   when they pass through. 

When I find myself in stories
where all seven of these are AWOL,
I just sing into the morning,  
or  whistle throughout the night,
or cry, or pray until at least
one of them shows up,

believing that the one(s)
to arrive are the necessary one(s)
for the transformation
of today’s pain and suffering. 

© 2016 Todd Jenkins 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Two Outs

      Grace makes all of us
      "two out" base runners;
      no longer afraid 
      of being doubled-up;

    free to race toward home
    in joy and abandon
    with every swing of the bat;

  trusting God's tender mercy
  and long-awaited plans 
  for the world will deliver us 
  into the eternal presence

with the calm, confident assurance
and everlasting hope
of unconditional love's promise.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Post-Parting Gift

Photo by Ben Padgett
John said it was for fear of the Jews
that we were on lock-down
but, truth be told, it was more
a fear of anyone who could possibly
suck any more air out of
our room, our house, our lives.

  When Jesus showed up unannounced –
  or apparated – we were
  initially as afraid of him
  as we were of the High Priest.

    We had, after all, abandoned him
    in his hour of need, fearing even
    getting too close to the Hill of the Skull,
    afraid our own heads might also roll.

  Then he got all "Peace out!" with us;
  it was quite surreal, seeing
  how real and fresh his wounds were,
  yet feeling the integrity of his love
  for all of us as even more real and refreshing.
And his breathing on us;
you have no idea how much
we needed that; how deflated
we had become; how desperately
we needed the breath of life
to inspire us once more.

  "Peace" was what we were sure
  we needed, more than anything else.

    His breath was more than life;
    it felt like he put himself
    into each one of us in a way
    he'd never done before;
    like he was going to be
    with us from now on.

  But he didn't stop there.
  He dealt forgiveness
  like it was on the discount rack
  at the local market.

"Forgive them" he said,
without the usual caveats;
no mention of whether
they deserve it or if
they've asked for it or
even if they think they need
to be forgiven.

  Just "Forgive them and
  they'll be forgiven."
  Then he flashed the other side
  of the coin, "Retain the sins
  of others and they'll be retained."

We didn't even have to ask
by whom they'd be retained.
Each of us could remember
all too well the net-full of wrongs
we'd drug around for far too long;
how those holding-ons
had stunk to high heaven,
like week-old fish, and
how heavy they'd become,
piling up one after another.

  We'd all drunk the poison
  of our vengeance, somehow
  expecting someone else to fall ill,
  but always it was each of us –
  the ones holding onto hurt and anger –
  who were eaten away from the inside.
    It was those three –
    his post-parting gifts
    that he left with us:
    peace, his very own spirit,
    and forgiveness.

  And we are the ones who get
  to share these; to pass them on
  every day, with all the people
  who cross our paths.

We are church –
the called-out ones –
who get to break the bread,
pour the cup,
and share grace like it's
a blue-light special
at the corner store,
because it is.

© 2016 Todd Jenkins