Death is Coming (poem by me)

Our days are numbered.
Nothing can stop death,
Not…

an ambulance,
a brick building,
a charmed chance,
a dome ceiling,
an escape pod,
a fixed fund,
a greenback wad,
a handgun,
an iPhone,
jewels or gems,
a kind grandmum,
likeable friends,
mating or marriage,
a notable musician,
overprotective parents,
powerful ammunition,
qualified doctors,
radical diets,
service helicopters,
trusted advice,
an unyielding cause,
a vaccination,
a watchdog,
xenogenication,
a youthful appearance,
or a zealous perseverance.

Do you know you need a Savior?
Don’t wait for more inspiration,
Now is the time of God’s favor,
Now is the day of salvation.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” —Revelation 3:20

A Mourning Lament Outline

So you want to write a lament poem to mourn someone you loved? You can just follow your heart, but if you don’t know where to start…then start with this outline derived from David’s lament for Saul and Jonathon (2 Samuel 1:19-27).

I. Introduce your loved one as a symbol using two lines. Here is the example from 2 Samuel 1:19. (The gazelle symbolizes an important figure.) 
    “A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
    How the mighty have fallen!”

II. Use four lines to explain how his or her death will affect the world. In the case of Saul and Jonathon, their death would cause their enemies to rejoice. See 2 Samuel 1:20 below.
“Tell it not in Gath,
    proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
    lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.

III. Use four lines to give details of the death. In 2 Samuel 1:21, David curses the place that the death occurred.
“Mountains of Gilboa,
    may you have neither dew nor rain,
    may no showers fall on your terraced fields.
For there the shield of the mighty was despised,
    the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil.

IV. Use eight lines to describe your loved one’s character. David describes their fierceness, skill, and bravery in battle (2 Samuel 1:22-23).
“From the blood of the slain,
    from the flesh of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
    the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
Saul and Jonathan—
    in life they were loved and admired,
    and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
    they were stronger than lions.

V. Use four lines to describe the good he or she did in their lifetime. David recalls the riches that Israel enjoyed while Saul was king (2 Samuel 1:24).
“Daughters of Israel,
    weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
    who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

VI. Use four lines to describe how you loved the person. David and Jonathon were close friends, and this becomes evident as we read 2 Samuel 1:25-26.
“How the mighty have fallen in battle!
    Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
    you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
    more wonderful than that of women.

V. Using the last two lines, repeat one of the lines in the first stanza. For the first line of his last stanza, David repeats the 2nd line of the first stanza. Then he adds another short line to close out this last stanza (2 Samuel 1:27).
“How the mighty have fallen!
    The weapons of war have perished!”

This versatile outline can be used to write laments for any event that caused you to feel abandoned such as a breakup or divorce. There is no better place to get inspired than God’s own Word. If you wrote a masterpiece and would like to have a chance at getting it published, see Draw Near’s guidelines.

Psalm 42 as a Lament

Writers, here is some inspiration for the upcoming publication. Let’s consider Psalm 42 as a lament. In the first verse, note the author’s utter desperation.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One d
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Here is his encouraging self-talk as he reminds himself to trust in God.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

Then the author pours out his problems and honest emotions because God can handle it (and He already knows our heart anyway).

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

How desperate are you for deliverance from your situation? Will you trust Jesus to take you out of it? Be completely honest about your problems and emotions. Write several laments as poems. Then write them as essays. Then write them as prayers. Write letters to those who have sinned against you. Then submit your most powerful piece of writing to Draw Near. Make sure it follows all of the guidelines for Draw Near’s next publication. (Please participate in this writing exercise even if you never plan to submit. This cathartic artistic expression of your negative emotions can be healing.)

My Deliverer (poem by me)

I hated the smell and despised the cost,
Abhorred each drag and the years it stole,
It announced to the world that I was lost
Every toke took a little piece of my soul.

One stupid choice I made years ago,
Made me a slave to my foolishness,
As a teen, how little did I know,
About addiction’s pure ruthlessness.

Then one day, the Lord set me free
My habit was no match for His power
He broke the chains that bound me
He is my fortress, and my strong tower.

If you are chained by some certain sin,
Make today the day you call out to Him.

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.” —Psalm 107:13

New Release! Childhood Remembrances (Free Ebook)

Childhood Remembrances CoverNEW RELEASE! Childhood Remembrances is an anthology of brief memoirs. Experience someone’s best day, worst day, or somewhere in-between and gain wisdom from the lessons they learned. Authors include Ben Fine, Deborah Hansen, J. Ross Archer, Judy K. Haught, Leslie Anne Wood, M. Liebchen, Rebecca D. Bruner, Sandra L. Hickman, Sandy Loam, Saranya Sridharan, Sumeet Manohare, and Wanda J. Burnside.

Click this link Childhood Remembrances to read this free ebook online right now or download it to read later. Learn more about the authors who contributed their work to this publication by clicking right HERE. Childhood Remembrances is coming soon in print.

On Writing Poetry (by me)

I have not written many poems lately because I am currently reviewing poetry submissions for a new project called Blessed Creation: A Christian Poetry Collection. This publication will provide writers the opportunity to spotlight an aspect of God’s creation with their poetry. If interested, please visit the Call for Submissions page. In today’s blog, I want to share my process for writing poetry.

I usually start my poetry writing process with a memory. If I am not inspired by a memory, it could be a dream, a beloved animal or flower, an art piece, a sermon, or someone I saw on the street… Really the possibilities for inspiration are endless! From this inspiring idea, I develop and jot down one or two lines for the poem.

Next, I try to decide if what form the poem should take. (See http://www.shadowpoetry.com to learn more about poetry forms.) If my primary purpose is to communicate a concrete message, I will often choose free verse. Mangling a message to fit into a rhyming or syllable form simply will not do. However, I love expressing flexible ideas through rhyming poetry forms like a sonnet or rhyme royal. Rhyming poems can be fun, beautiful, and complex. I personally prefer to use near rhymes instead of obvious rhymes to make it sound more sophisticated. (Visit http://www.rhymezone.com to access near rhyme suggestions for your own poetry.) Syllable poetry forms like haiku and sijo are useful to capture the short attention span of new readers. (Visit http://www.wordcalc.com if you don’t like counting syllables by hand.) When no poetry form seems suitable, I simply invent my own poetry form! Creative people create. We can’t help it. Once the form is selected, I can add more lines to the poem until it is complete.

Once the poem is finished, I reflect on the message of the poem. For me, there is always a balance to be struck. I review and ask myself questions like:

  • Does the poem honor God?
  • Is it original?
  • Was I transparent and “for real” about my true emotions?
  • Would it be considered offensive or judgmental?
  • Does it reveal God’s heart for His people?
  • Is it too syrupy sweet?
  • Does it glorify sinful practices in any way?
  • Does it speak truth according to the Word of God?

If I don’t like my answers, it is time to rewrite the poem to ensure the integrity of my work as a Christian writer. In obedience to what God has called me to do, one thing is certain—I keep writing. My readers here on this site really encourage me to fulfill my calling as a writer. I could not continue day in and day out with your supportive likes and comments (which I can read although they do not publicly post). (If you seek an encouraging poetry community, you can find one at http://www.poetrysoup.com.)

That’s it! I hope the review of my writing process helps you in some way. If you landed here because of your interest in writing but do not consider yourself a Christian, please visit Draw Near’s About God page. Additionally, I am happy to read and reply to emails if you simply have questions or concerns about the Christian faith. (See the Contact page.) Maybe there is a more significant reason you landed on this page. Thanks for reading and God bless!