Scriptures and Strictures

Wordsworth said nuns fret not / at their convent walls
I imagine Christians / are equally happy
with the walls / of their lives
for Heaven waits for them / the saved
space is saved for them / infinite space
in the presence of a God / omnipotent and omniscient
which messes with my mind / not bound by faith
Is God watching me write this poem?
Is He watching you read it?
Is it part of His plan / that I marvel
at the scriptures and strictures / I myself do not believe in?
in which I myself do not believe? / because that’s better grammar
another set of rules to differentiate / between how we talk
and how we write / just being literate is a threshold we must cross
and stairs to keep climbing / the great books we read in college
when we were too young / to truly appreciate the wisdom within
so limited we were / by our youth and inexperience
so we wrote poems with enthusiasm / with passion
as if we invented erotic love / or at least sex
and what was wrong / with all the old people anyway
who had given up / the pleasures of the flesh
for the mind / and they thought / and thought
and told us our poetry was no good / a vomit spreading out
it needed form / we were just playing with the net down
the tennis balls crossing that center line / with ease
it was too easy / the water needed some cold
something more solid / a little rime / a little rhyme
and how about some recognizable meter / just for good measure
and don’t even get them started / on light verse
or anybody popular / so we tried that / and it was mostly too hard
we liked it soft / but then we got all heady with linguistics
and the limits of language / to convey anything
of any substance / because they are insubstantial
a human invention / like God and religion and convent walls
just words / not the real thing / even words like Beauty and God
they’re intangible / vast concepts / vast beings perhaps
or maybe even something of which we can’t yet conceive
because we’re so limited / so finite / so the words
paltry stick figures that they are / shadows on the cave wall
of the real thing / but they’ll do / because they’re all we’ve got
so we muddle through in our one-way through time sort of way
wishing we could see the future / or recover the past
which we can’t / so we make the most of the moment
this now / these words / living a life with Love and Beauty
and God too if you’ve got room for Him / I don’t mind
because I don’t judge / I’m happy within my walls
and I’ll let you be happy within yours / even if I think
yours are the wrong color / and your fence a little too high

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to the Take It to the Limit prompt at We Write Poems.

19 thoughts on “Scriptures and Strictures

  1. Richard, I bow down to you. This is incredible. I started smiling about line five or six, was laughing somewhere around the middle, and actually guffawed (I’ve never used the word before) at those final lines. This is stream of consciousness taken beyond the limits, made to make clear sense and incorporating all the rules of logical argument, while breaking every single one of them. Damn, you are good.

    PS. Had to go back and read it again, just to make sure my envy is complete and deserved. It was even better the second time around. Standing ovation from the old woman who doesn’t get up for just anyone.


  2. Aren’t we just so lucky that English is such a flexible and dynamic language, unlike many others that really are strict when it comes to not only structure for the written word, but also precision of pronunciation, tone, inflection… etc. for the spoken word…?


  3. Richard, this is sublime poetry. Rime/rhyme, very sly. And not judging, followed by the final one-two punch. I can’t say enough about this, and I believe you should submit this one. You certainly did “take it to the limit”!

    I used to worry after Sunday School if God was watching me sit on the toilet, and if so, had “He” planned for me to poop at that exact moment, and did God schedule even our bathroom breaks? (Of course, this all was years before my diagnosis – and yet, I think I was saner than I thought, because it’s about questioning the nature of God. Are we really all marionettes?!) Amy
    My take on same prompt:


  4. Hope you don’t mind, I pasted your link for this to Facebook because I want everyone I know to read it. Sorry, should have asked for permission first, and I hope you will forgive me, but it was a burst of inspiration. You won’t get any comments, especially any bad comments, from my folks. Simply felt it deserved a wider audience.



  5. Elizabeth, you honor and humble me. I gladly accept your words of praise. Thank you for such delightful and thoughtful comments.

    Viv, thank you for your comments. It’s hard to escape Christianity in America; it is so widespread and deep in our culture. So, thank you for letting me explore where I stand, with respect in one hand and a prodding stick in the other.

    Stan, well said. I think English is an amazing language. It clearly has its limits, as any language does, yet it is powerful and flexible, in speech and writing.

    Pamela, thank you. I love the word “brilliant”.

    Amy, that is high praise indeed – “sublime”. Thank you. I don’t even know where I would submit it though. I think it’s good to question. And no worries; no forgiveness required. I’m happy to have people read my poems; and I trust your judgment.

    a.m. trumble, thank you for your kind words and for stopping by.



  6. Richard, I am so glad I visited your magnificent poem today, and I don’t use that word lightly. I truly am awed by this poem that reads like one that must have just flowed forth from within, from the depths of your soul. Kudos to you!


  7. You kind of took words out of my mind’s wall. I found the limits like strictures and the scriptures are all we ever think about within those strictures.


  8. Richard, pick up a copy (even used at of Poet’s Market (fill in the year). Edited by Robt. Lee Brewer of Poetic Asides. Invaluable – lists by genre, with icons denoting who is taking on “new” poets, which ones pay (skip those the first few years, LOL), and weblinks. Really a great resource.

    Also, a “breath mint” after yesterday’s “Precipice.” I dare you not to smile when you see the video! Amy


  9. Mary, thank you so much. You got it. It reads like stream of consciousness, because that’s pretty much what it is. This one surprised me. It just came out. I am most grateful for that.

    Irene, thank you. Well said. I think it’s probably impossible to talk about limits without discussing their impact on us.

    Amy, thanks for the tip. I should have known that, as often as I’ve been to Poetic Asides. And thanks for letting me know a bit about how it’s organized; that’s probably something I can navigate. And I’ll check out your “breath mint”.



  10. Pingback: Strictures and Structures « Soul's Music

  11. Pingback: Is God watching? | lost in translation

  12. Richard, this is outstanding. You’re saying in a roundabout way what many of us are unable to say straight out. If that’s not poetry, then God help us all! 🙂 I’m off to read it again.


  13. What a great web log. I spend hours on the net reading blogs, about tons of various subjects. I have to first of all give praise to whoever created your theme and second of all to you for writing what i can only describe as an fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and honestly you got it. The combining of demonstrative and upper-class content is by all odds super rare with the astronomic amount of blogs on the cyberspace.


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