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Poems and a Story

to Encourage and Overcome

"Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles."

Isaiah 40: 31

 

Poems written by Steven Du Pre in Northern California (originally from Colorado)

Dedicated to those with neuro-immune diseases, central nervous system disorders, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Mitochondrial Myopathy, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Myasthenia gravis, Inflammatory myopathies.

 


Contents (in order of appearance):

Aspen Song

Wonder

Jubilation at Jenner by the Sea

After Spring Rain

To this disease

The Breaking

One Day in Time

We will not be denied

Mockingbird, Our Premier Party Animal--(2005)

Mockingbird Painting the Night Sky--(2017)

Watching the Plum Tree in Winter

New Day in the Mohave

Free at last!

Top to Bottom

Kokanee Salmon

Hummingbird Dancing in the Dawn

Tableau: In-Line Skaters Delivering Fliers Door-to-Door

Ode to Strawberries

Concert of Laughter

Ready?

Psalm of Thanksgiving for the Family of God

Psalm to God Who Brings Light into Darkness

Haiku Poems

The Cracked Pot: A Story from India (author unknown)

 


 

Aspen Song
(late summer, Colorado Rockies)


listen to the rustling edge
of a sudden rainstorm
through aspen trees,

how they bend and turn,
the wind strumming
a bracing new song of grace
 



Wonder

searching for your nesting place
and there in oak trees on an island
your rookery surrounded
by bursting river currents,

now you stalk fish in the shallows
long yellow bill flashing
while ducks calmly flow by through the marshes
as I await that moment,

and then---
you, white wonder,
unfurl the splendor of your bright wings
as you sweep forward over the waves,

for an instant,
as you take up your shining tambourines
you rise into the joyous dance
at the dawn of creation


Jubilation at Jenner by the Sea


racing from the car up into the sand dunes
now overflowing with wildflowers in their passionate array,
bounding with bright joyful strides along the beach,
jumping away as the waves break into the shore,
the ocean playing their wondrous tambourines
as they surge right through you, reviving the spirit

the brisk air, the dancing clouds,
fancy flyin’ Seagull and Pelican
drinkin’ all this beauty in and gettin’ into the flow
like the river rollin’ into the sea,
kickin’ up the sands to celebrate with joyous freedom
these precious gifts of river and ocean,

and then the excitement of watching
three young children frolicking
their way across the wide beach,
every acrobatic move the body can make---
backward somersaults, cartwheeling, zigzagging,
tumbling to the edge of the river, sliding down the bank

but wait! looking up the shoreline,
the coup de grace, the finishing flourish---
a young man lifts his girlfriend into the air
twirling her round as she wildly kicks her legs
and they joyously embrace each other---
the ocean air singing jubilation songs


 

After Spring Rain

  the oak and redwood trees near the creek
are shining with sunlight after the rainstorm---
right now, the leaves are even glistening
with this watery gift in their hands
and they turn to offer this beauty to us,
brothers and sisters, and all we need to do is

stop
just for a few moments
and accept this bounty from above---
new bright leaves like joyous children
bounding into the resplendent spring day
with bouncing adventure and abandon.

Oh, and these marvelous flowers
along the rivers and over the hills of California,
they’re ready and waiting
to share this magnificent spring---
lift your eyes to gaze at these precious ones---
like a river of delights.

How about we start the day tomorrow
by stepping out to enjoy fabulous orange California Poppy,
stunning Purple Lupine, dazzling yellow Blazing Star,
or how about the lavender-blue Fiesta Flower,
and let’s not forget, Mango Tango Hummingbird Mint
for these tiny dynamos dancing through flowers of Rio Sacramento

Okay, the springtime feast is spread out in abundance,
the fragrance is refreshing,
the colors are magnifico,
our cup of gladness is full
and all we’re waiting for
is you

To This Disease


You came with the force of the crushing breakers,
casting me down into the hard wet shore.
No choice but to let the surging tide
slowly fade away like the ebbing fiber of my body.


I find I can no longer run
but stagger up to the dry sand;
the dunes in the distance may be the way home,
but I can only lift this damaged frame,
like a wounded soldier
and look for cover.


then, to begin to grasp
these long days of isolation
will stretch on
and I need to turn my mind
to these precious gifts of creation---
watching Western Sandpipers and Snowy Plovers
search for the day's
catch in the gleaming, receding waves.


No, I can't bring myself to embrace
this withering grip of weakness and pain,

but I'm starting to discern
a well-lighted path over the dunes,
a call to pray with more passion
and insight for other strugglers,
to explore the wonder of passing cloud formations,
the sheer joy of White Pelicans
in synchronized flight over beckoning ocean waves

 


The Breaking

(for Sandy)

after I leave her hospital room,
I step out under a full moon night--
and there, on the passenger seat
a solitary plumbago petal
fallen from the flowers I had brought---

carries my mind away to brighter times,
hiking by blue Polemoniums on high
mountain ridges under the wide sky---
and then in the night, our hearts thrilled
by our place in the resplendent spiralling galaxies

still, the shaken corolla---
this breaking of the body
engraves a pathway
for the boundless love of the Great I Am
to bend down bearing Bread

 




One Day In Time

We are in a marathon,
our eyes on this faltering journey
but today I am turning
to listen to riversong,
to revel in the splendor
of mountain fields of wildflowers:
Lupine, Bird's Eye Gilia, Hot Rock Dudleya.

with this disease, I have to stop
and consider each step,
not like the pack of runners swiftly
passing by at a pace that permits
only a sidelong glance at the landscape,
but no time to look deep
into the intricate heart of the bloom--


opening pearl-white satin Globe Lily blossom,
following the maroon path that guides
the bee bearing pollen
into the mysterious birthplace of seeds---


yes, to go slowly enough to see the delicate
hand of God in creation


just now a whirling stream of irridescent blue
Hairstreak Butterflies
go surfing over waves of purple Lupine---

I'm sorry. I got caught up in this fullness of life.
I know, the race is on,
but the richness of God and the simple things
will do that to you sometimes---
to see the joy in my wife's eyes at the unfolding spring,
the mountain slope blooming and afternoon sun lighting
the river as it plays a delightful sonata---
all these make the soul satisfied.


No, I guess I'm not sorry after all.
I'm going to keep on veering off the trail,
turn my gaze fully into these hidden vistas.
I hear the prize is not just
for those who cross the line first.

 




We will not be denied

(Sacramento River Valley, January)


three straight days boxed in by valley fog,
but on my stroll by slumbering oak and liquidambar;
high over the sky-reaching branches,
a small band of crows,
like the dark vanguard of hope,
winging their way home,
cutting the grip
of this gray, somber morning with their strident
yet somehow festive clamor of calls


they will not be denied their steady advance
toward the sun
that is yet unseen in the distance



 

Mockingbird, Our Premier Party Animal (2005)

how Mockingbird loves to party!
a rich virtuoso serenade
that cascades through moonlit nights---
a waterfall of celebration songs
from high perches in the landscape

a repertoire drawn
from blue jay, mourning dove, meadowlark;
to each migrating flock,
Mockingbird proclaims:
"Play me your tune and I'll sing it till dawn."

my neighbors complain about this all-night show,
but I stand outside and applaud as they bob and bow,
set free a stream of musical watercolor,
then sail on from high wire stage to stage---
a trail of songs illumines a new and joyful way --

you see, I like to imagine Mockingbird painting
the night sky to lift up those with disabling
disease--yes, I can see and hear it. can you?---
even with one broken wing
the soul can catch wind currents, can soar and sing


Mockingbird Painting the Night Sky (2017)


Let’s celebrate the Magnificent maestro or maestra Mockingbird
coming on stage right now at the midnight hour!
These musical painters open the program
with a jivin’ jazzy Redwinged Blackbird jam session
then, on to the passionate song of White-crowned Sparrow
I invite you to give this artiste your full attention:
it'll be riversong currents cascading through the silvery night---
then unleashing waterfalls of Meadowlark delight all this while atop a power pole---bravo, bravissimo!

Hey, people, this gig is gonna’ happen and you may be dancin’
when Mockingbird raps a tune with jubilant joy,
and how about some humor? Mockingbird cracks us up
with the new edition of “Sounds of the Day”---
“Shrieking Cat Cry” to bring enemy Blue Jays to a screeching halt….
“why,” you ask, and Mockingbird jauntily replies:
Laddies and Lassies, do you not know?
We've got a nest nearby and Blue Jays are robbers in this neighborhood.”

but wait, Mockingbird is just now sending a text message:
it says: “Listen up, you flocks of fluttering wings.
Play me your tune and I’ll sing it till dawn."
I know, the neighbors complain about this all-night show,
but we choose to cheer them on as they bob and bow.
let’s celebrate these flamboyant painters stroking the starry night sky
They'll set you free with their leaping soaring musical watercolors


 

Watching the Plum Tree in Winter

 

stark as branches of winter trees,
the losses from this disease
have stripped so much from me.
You can even scan the passing
clouds through my barren limbs.

One thing I have learned though,
sitting in this solitary place,
here watching the flowering plum tree in winter

I see dancing bands of Goldfinches and Oregon Juncos
come flying in for their banquet
of wine-red plum tree buds.

The plum tree seems to be gaining strength
as it patiently waits through stormy days,
long stretches of fog covering,
quiet nights communing only with stars—

yes, I believe that plum tree is on the move
just as sure as the food from its flower buds
quicken the flight of migrating birds

winter can strip the branch,
bend it with fierce winds,

yet, buds break forth,
there is sweet birth in the secret place
and wings beat with the light springing
from these tree buds.

------let us rejoice in this new life
relentlessly breaking forth!
God’s light at the heart
of the flower bud made visible
and wings of this invincible
dance of love expanding and gathering force

 

 

 

New Day in the Mojave

 

two pinto horses ready to roll,
the one spirited, now prancing
the other fiery, nostrils flaring,
all primed to lunge forward into wild desert
this dazzling spring morning
launching out of the corral,
feet leaping with adventurous delight
wheeling and whisking through the dunes
rushing by Ocotillo cactus and Joshua trees
bursting over every rising crest of sand
the dancing colors of the spring landscape,
the expanding horizon paints the ripening scene ahead--
our horses with their tails flashing,
their necks arched with anticipation
at every fresh challenge calling them forward---
is there a better way
to break into
this spectacular new day?


 

Free at last!

 

(for all the young people sold worldwide in the exploding sex slave business)

in our own backyard, priceless children.
Wondrously crafted creations of God are right now
being sold multiple times into the hands of darkness---
those willing to pay for their sex slave for the evening.
Not very long, because you see, these average age 12 to 14 year old children
have a quota, according to their pimp, that needs to be reached,
or there will be no food, no water and maybe a beating or two
until they reach that nightly quota,
and if the young girls or boys show any sign of wanting to break free,
then the pimps will call all their fellow pimps together
to gang rape this young girl into total obedience.
Can you imagine? This priceless one,
woven into existence by the hand of the Most High God,
being crushed into paydirt for pimps---
listen to this: these young girls have an average lifespan of only 7 years
after being taken, swept away, broken, held captive,
sold as a slave, a sex slave, undressed and undone.
Does this sound like something a young child would choose as a profession?

And this sex slavery is growing exponentially,
it is now the biggest illegal moneymaker worldwide,
recently skyrocketing past illegal arms sales and drug sales for this dubious title.
Now drug sellers have turned to the sex trade,
after all, they can sell these young girls over and over
during their short but profitable lifespan.

Now let’s get down into our own north California streets:
In this corridor between Sacramento and San Francisco
flows 75% of the vicious, revolting sex trafficking in the US.
So, back to where we started, no, not in our own backyard,
in our own front yard, priceless children enslaved.

- On my way home tonight, I’ll be driving by a dark section on Howe Avenue
where pimps on bicycles hand out room keys to sex customers
for the nearby motel and 2 brand-new hotels on Auburn Boulevard,
the girls behind the doors waiting to be sliced and diced,
used mercilessly until some, (O, may we be the light in this darkness),
may we stand up and break down their chains, offer them a hope and a future.
A pathway through the long healing of body, mind and spirit
into the freedom of loving care, the freedom of forgiveness

Here’s breaking news of the extent of the slavery
and yet how we can endure and overcome ---
a large house in Cambodia recently brought to light
and put out of business by International Justice Mission,
who notified local authorities and revealed to them
how their young people are being exploited.
You see, this place was used for cybersex,
children from age 2 to age 12 (you heard that right—two years old)
were placed in front of a computer screen using Skype
and forced to commit barbarous relentless unending sex acts
so the customers in some faraway land
on their computers could lap it up, revel in this atrocity.
Some children used so brutally and so many times,
that they bled to death. Hey, no problem,
plenty more children for use across Southeast Asia and this world.
Such is the life of a sex slave.
No light, only vicious, malevolent darkness and never-ending brutality.

But we’re getting equipped in our minds and spirits to break down this darkness,
to bring light and hope and freedom.
We’re going to the root of this evil to cut out this heart of darkness.
Yes, we’ll walk with these rescued young boys and girls
through the long healing process from castaway
to those who can embrace freedom at last!
Sheltered safe in the arms of caring people and the arms of God.

No more more walking or driving past unaware,
this exploding sex slavery has even surpassed
the ugly transatlantic slave trade that took place back then,
both in size and scope. You all get the picture.
We’ve got some glorious God-empowered work to do,
But let’s rise up in this day with confident trust
like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rose up in Washington DC in 1963
and claimed victory when he shouted, “Let freedom ring”
from the northern California corridor to the streets of New York---
“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, free at last!


 

 


 

 

Top to Bottom

foraging headfirst down the oak,
hooks on claws
catch any crack in the bark

exploring secret caverns,
savoring acorn
and leaf beetle cuisine

 


 

Kokanee Salmon

(Kokanee–“red fish” (Okanagan); Tahoe–“big water, lake of the sky” (Washoe)

for years Kokanee salmon search
the wide waters of Lake of the sky
until that autumn day
when the call comes to that sacred place of birth--

with steady purpose, they move against the current,
hurtling forward over rocks
and snags to gravel beds in Taylor Creek,
where they awoke in the flowing Sierra snowmelt

silvery blue Kokanee
turn blood-red on their death and life journey
to bury the harvest of luminous eggs—

are we searching with clear
vision the waters of our years,
listening for the call of our Maker?

there is rebirth,
in this blood-red passage,
a crossing from death
to this radiant, life-giving path

 


Hummingbird Dancing in the Dawn
(Black-chinned Hummingbird and Anna's Hummingbird in Northern California)

bright shimmering Brazilian samba
dancing through crimson Salvia--
it's Hummingbird like a whirling incandescent carnival
sizzling down the avenue of blooming Hibiscus
wings in constant percussion,
feather dance at 80 wingbeats per second

diving into a fiesta of flowers
Hummingbird reaches deep inside
singing praise for the sweet gift,
then turning into the beat of the music---
snare drum wings
leave a trail of swaying blossoms

iridescent acrobat par excellence
flying upside down, doing backward somersaults,
Trumpet vine flowers bending downward---
yet with loose body samba
Hummingbird laps luminous nectar,
stirs up our streets, stirs up our lives into joyful daybreak jubilee





Tableau: In-Line Skaters Delivering Fliers Door-to-Door

 

like a like a gust of wind streaming
through a field of wheat,
two teenage boys on in-line skates
bursting down opposite sides of the street

a storm looms in the winter sky
as they skim up concrete driveways,
toss the “home-sale” fliers onto porches,
then whip away into the breeze

their faces are flush with body heat,
eyes bright as they twist and glide
on their sweep through the neighborhood
just ahead of the galloping, onrushing clouds

 



 

Concert of Laughter

 

step with me under the forest canopy,
soon this garrulous band
with their raucous banter
shake the tops of oak tree
as they gather the bounty of acorns,
hammer the harvest into their granary,
pounce on intruding jay---
see them dressed like whiteface clowns,
listen to their festive
worksongs and mealtime chatter
this team of jesters
and their lapping waves of laughter.
this drumbeat echoing through timeless wildwood---
it is good, yes, it is very good
 



Ready?



("the mountain streams' own darling, the hummingbird of blooming waters"--John Muir)

the Dipper navigates stampeding rapids with ease
dives headfirst to swim upstream,
seeking small fish or dragonflies along the river bottom,

then, gripping the wet rock with its feet,
Dipper opens the morning show with dancing moves to the tempo of the current
along with the piping call piercing through this river valley

the cadence of this captivating, joyous one carries us
into the heartbeat of cascading waters---
bright new riverdance, ready to be unveiled

 

 


 

Ode to Strawberries

(in memory of Chilean Pablo Neruda and his Elemental Odes)

advance runners stretch out an expansive canopy
like a tent over a big-time performer,
and there---hidden away as behind a stage curtain
are the ones known for their bravura,
their skill at closing a meal with a grand gesture


these are the red luminous stars of summer,
the allegro movement in a symphony of fruit,
waterfalls bursting over cliffs like a torrent,
so bracing that you want
to dance a sensuous tango,
play a sonorous violin,
lift your voice in song
to the waves of joy
splashing into your body.
Yes, let these bright waves of flavor sweep over you,
lost in the festive flood of celebration with loving friends.

 


Psalm of Thanksgiving for the Family of God
(after Psalm 133)


How good and refreshing it is
When God's children leap forward in unity!
It is like precious water flowing
from mountain springs and streams,
coming down the high Sierra,
coming down in surging waterfalls,
down in rushing river currents.
It is like the dew at dawn
shining in low branches of pine trees.

For with God, the fresh waters are a new birth,
a wellspring of love and harmony with our Father forever.

 


 

 

Psalm to God Who brings light into darkness

(Timisoara, Romania--December 15, 1989 --"Here began the revolution that felled a dictator."
Plaque on Hungarian Reformed Church)

burned villages, people assigned to cold apartment blocks,
reign of an oppressive dictator---
protesters disappearing into the darkness

one pastor refuses to bow down,
a passion for Christ overcoming the gray dawn,
voices of celebrations singing above Ceausescu's iron hand

when the secret police come to take Pastor Laszlo Tokes,
believers from all churches, one in Christ, do not yield,
hundreds of candles, a shield of light in the night

Praise the God Who stands alongside those who stand against evildoers


(Gulag, Soviet Union prison camp--dissident poet, Irina Ratushinskaya--"Pencil Letters")

Irina heard her teachers say repeatedly,
"God does not exist," and she reasoned,
they must be trying to hide someone very powerful.

Understood the good news of God reading Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky;
when imprisoned for anti-Soviet education--writing poetry,
yet she carved her poems on bars of soap until memorized

words of hope surmounting years of hard labor on the Gulag,
her soul, grounded in Christ Who shared her suffering,
borne up by the bright prayer path of worldwide believers

Praise be to God Whose hand moves through the prayers of His people

(Calcutta, India---Mother Teresa started opening homes for the dying destitute in 1952)

called by God to the poorest, dying in the streets,
holding each one in her arms as precious jewels,
Saint of the Gutter in the flow of Jesus' living waters

mornings begun in communion with her Lord,
then sharing that Bread of Life with hungry souls,
the darkness of their sorrows relieved by hands of love

her prayer: "Stay with us, and then we shall begin
to shine as You shine."---her call to us: "Yesterday is gone.
tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

Praise be to Jesus Who bends down to care for the abandoned

(Kampala, Uganda--Jackson Senyonga, prayer warrior---abandoned by parents, received by God)

decades of terror and devastation
under the rule of Idi Amin and Milton Obote,
no families left untouched by maniacal murder

but a remnant of believers call out to God in desperation,
gathered in secret places---jungles, caves and swamps
continually asking God to come back to their nation

secret prayers birthing a land that seeks wisdom;
God's hand quelling the specter of Ugandan AIDS epidemic,
a dry wilderness transformed by shining waterfalls of devotion and worship

Praise be to the Holy Spirit Who can turn nations back to the one, true God



 


 

HAIKU POEMS

 

A haiku is a short 3-line poem originating from Japan which seeks to record the essence of a moment keenly perceived, oftentimes in which Nature is linked to human nature.

 

Haiku for my Mother
October, 2001 in Colorado

(my mother, Margaret, has late-stage Alzheimer's)
as we enter her room
her eyes
focus on love


falling cottonwood leaves--
running stream
Mom clutching tight to my coat


leaves strewn across the water
by the autumn wind
carried away by river current



Mom's sure foundation
in the Maker
of these mountains and streams



one touch
of Jesus
brings Light and Peace


Football Haiku
(these haiku come from the experience of playing American football)

Victory


close game, clock ticks down
winning coach,
son rocks with joy in his arms

Wide Receiver

soaring high above defender
outstretched hands
nets the spiraling football

Halfback

slashes off-tackle
body stays low
fakes left, then long gone

Defensive End

pushes past blockers
breaks through last defender---
clear path to the quarterback

Last-Minute Field Goal

kicker's two quick steps---
silence before crowd erupts,
ball splits the uprights

 



Other Haiku

 



overhead,
hundreds of snow geese—-
my mind wings home



in the heavens,
the never-ending light---
how can we not know?



breeze courses
through willow branches;
she loosens her blouse



squirrel searching
each branch for acorns---
the cat’s eyes

 


The Cracked Pot: A Story from India

 

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water, at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one & a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection & miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it.

"I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Moral: God can take what we see as weaknesses and turn them to strengths for His glory.

 


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