Poetry Column – January 2021

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I’m grateful for the invitation to write a poetry column for Wineskins, and to share my passion for non-sappy Christian verse (and the connection with Bible passages.)

The most oft-printed poem I’ve ever written appears in the Howard Publishing company hymnbook, Songs of Faith and Praise. I offer it here as a (perhaps familiar) introduction to my poetry.

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. ~ John 18:1

The Conduit

In the temple now they are killing the lambs. There
Two hundred and seventy thousand will die. The air
Of Jerusalem has been filled with their bleating
All day, as red-sleeved priests perform their duty of meting
Out death. One by one, white throats are slit.
The temple has the hot, moist smell of blood about it.
A conduit drains from the great brass altar down
To the brook Kidron.

But in the dusk-light of this Thursday, the leaves
Of the olive trees tremble as the wind heaves
And lunges into them. Men approach the blood-swollen creek
And cross this bridge, hurrying toward the shade they seek.
Why has this lone Man stooped at the Kidron before He crosses,
His finger just touching the red water, and pauses,

We often speak with passion about the privilege we have of “making contact” with the blood of Christ, that point at which we achieve salvation through His blood. We know that it symbolizes something bought at terrible price for us. Just how great that price would have seemed to Jesus, as He made contact with the blood that would symbolize His own death!

I’m also thinking about this month’s Wineskins theme. Perhaps you’re missing in-person worship as much as I do.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

                                                                                ~ Colossians 3:16

A Cappella

And now it begins:
The old widow women
Chirp the soprano
With querulous bird-voices
And the alto is a forgotten heritage
Of nasal hums
The children push the notes
Through rounded cheeks
And new teeth
As the song leader pauses
Poises for the next verse
With sucked-in breath and belly

And now it ends
As gravel-throated old men
Are prodded by their ample wives
Out of
Padded-pew slumber:

One of the truths of Christian worship is the way it unites people as The Body, worldwide, across geography, even across time as we identify with those at the first Last Supper and anyone partaking today. Perhaps that is why people such as I who are not currently attending church in person because of health reasons can still feel “at one” with the Body on the screen, on the map, on history’s timeline. May this poem encourage you with our united mission of being His Body on earth, now and always, and help you consider our unity in a new way.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”‘ …So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

~ Ezekiel 37:1-6, 10

I had a dream and a vision
I was in a blistered valley
In Ezekiel’s shadow
And when he said
“Sovereign Lord,
You alone know”—

Then he prophesied

And when the rattling began
And bone
Came to

It was your bone to mine
My wrist joined your hand and arm
My breastbone
To your shoulder

And the sinews that grew
Were the

Bone of my bone
And flesh of my flesh
And I
We have become
The mighty army
And we chafe as
We await our marching orders

Dr. Latayne C. Scott is the recipient of Pepperdine University’s Distinguished Christian Service Award for “Creative Christian Writing,” and is Trinity Southwest University’s Author in Residence. Her newest book is Talking with Teens about Sexuality: Critical Conversations about Social Media, Gender Identity, Same-Sex Attraction, Pornography, Purity, Dating, Etc. with Dr. Beth Robinson (Bethany Books.) The author of over two dozen published books, including Passion, Power, Proxy, Release (TSU Press) in which these poems appear, she lives and writes in New Mexico. She maintains two websites: Latayne.com and Representationalresearch.com.

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