Nth Degree Poems: Kings


In solemn shalom
young king Solomon
slept and dreamt he knelt.
Ask me what you want
All Kings’ King offered.
“Wisdom” he replied
wisely in the dream.
God smiled, promising
wealth and fame beside.

Wisdom came, but Solomon
sunk to opulent extremes
seldom remembering the dream.
From seven years slave labor
God’s house known as Solomon’s
Temple rose, splendid, ornate.
His own lavish palace took
thirteen years. He acquired a
thousand wives and concubines.

No more shalom for Solomon’s sons;
wisdom was scarce in the split kingdom,
channeled through prophets for years to come.


Spiritual Formation Prayer

God of Elijah:
Feed us with that forty-day
journey bread. Lead us to Your mountain.

God of Elisha:
Teach us to heal Earth’s waters,
transforming all to life-giving streams.

God of Josiah:
Keep us fully devoted,
never off-track on the right or left.

Nth Degree Poems: Samuel


Started all over again as one
provoked, longing woman wept bitterly,
pleading for a child.
You gave her Samuel.
She poured out her praise in song
and when the boy was weaned
Hannah kept her promise.
She gave him back to You,
brought him to live with Your priest.

The Word

Your voice hoisted the boy from bed three times.
Holy Spirit stuck with him life long,
igniting every word Samuel spoke.

You spoke through a bold shepherd boy.
Attention, scared brothers: Yahweh saves!
Attention, Philistine hordes: 
Yahweh gives all, even Goliath,
into our hands, young David proclaimed.



Famous David:
slingshot champ,
shepherd poet;
Saul’s musician,
Saul’s fugitive,
Saul’s lifesaver,
Saul’s son-in-law,
Saul’s successor;
beloved leader,
God-crazed dancer;
famous, yet
infamous king,
distraught father,
tired warrior,
lonely old man
the best years as
Jonathan’s friend,
the good years as
guardian and
table companion.

Nth Degree Poem: Ruth


Childless young widow
Ruth the Moabitess, Orpah’s sister,
left Moab, left her sister,
pledged allegiance to
mother-in-law Naomi’s
homeland and to You
the unseen divinity
Naomi worshiped.

Outsider, foreigner Ruth,
devoted, bread-winning daughter-in-law
was soon known to all in the village
as a woman of noble character.

You loved her through Boaz
who said I will do for you all you ask.
Boaz became Ruth’s provider,
protector, and husband,
Naomi’s and Ruth’s kinsman redeemer,
the family guardian.

Ruth, a woman of noble character,
became the mother of Obed,
grandmother of Jesse,
great-grandmother of King David,
ancestor of Jesus the Messiah,
Prince of Peace, kinsman redeemer
whose noble line extends to
all nations and families.

Nth Degree Poems: Judges

The Defender

You chose Gideon, a most
unlikely, reluctant leader.
You pruned his army to 300
proving You alone were our defender.

You raised up Prophet Deborah
instructing commander Barak
that You were in charge. You routed
all Sisera’s chariots and army
leaving him alone, exhausted, asleep
as Ja’el nailed her tent peg through his head.

Oh Jesus, were You there
in the strong tower
with all the people left in the city
after Abimelech killed 1000?
You built the tower?
You transformed Yourself–became the tower?
Holy Spirit, did You empower
the woman to heave the millstone?
Did You bring the murderer
below her, an easy target?


Tears to God

After God’s angel’s
convicting questions
all the Israelites
wept aloud together
at the place they called
Bokim, meaning weepers.
When will we weep for our wrong-doings?

Between battles with their
Benjamite brothers the whole
Israelite army inquired of God,
sitting alert to God’s presence,
fasting and weeping all day.
Oh when will we weep seeking God?

After all the Benjamite
men had been killed
the Israelites sat before God
all day again, raising their
voices and weeping bitterly.
Will we ever weep aloud
together in public?

Nth Degree Poems: Joshua

The Leader

I give you my strength
says the Strong One:
March on, keep marching;
walk together, all of you
seven times round
or however many it takes
for looming walls to fall.
Be bold, confident, encouraged!
I am your leader.
Trumpet heralds, go all out;
marchers, shout out loud.
I am with you–
before and beside you
all ways always–
never will I leave you.
I am Joshua, Yeshua, Jesus:
the walls will tumble;
march on, keep marching;
be strong. Watch the walls fall.



Rahab known as harlot
testified in Jericho:
Your Yahweh is God of all earth and skies.
Rahab preserved the Hebrew spies’ lives
and signed her rehab with a scarlet cord.

Joshua followed divine direction:
erected an altar of uncut stones;
copied all God’s laws on other stones;
read every word aloud to the whole
assembly, including the aliens.
Years later he set up a single stone
announcing This stone has heard all God’s words
and stands as a witness against 
all future faithless ones.

Nth Degree Poems: Deuteronomy

Covenant Maker

Who but You could write love’s rule?
God of gods, sovereign most awesome,
cannot be bribed, partial to none.

How without You would we learn love?
O Loving Parent, You conceive,
birth, deliver, love all always.

No disease can dim our spirits:
Your love sparks, stokes, affirms our work–
land to tend wherever we walk.

You who etched ten prime laws in stone,
imprint Your pledge on open hearts:
I will never abandon you.

Through Moses You speak: Remember
all you saw I did for you
though you were a stiff-necked people.



Before I die
sure as October gusts carry
seeds to ground, may I
like centenarian Moses
tell Your story, pass Your commands
to next generation God-praise singers.

As Moses climbed Sinai
and finally Nebo,
may I keep on hiking up Your mountains
until the day I die–
eager to see You–with keen eyes,
glimpsing visions of Your new earth.

Leviticus and Numbers

Holy One

You lived in fire all night,
in dense fog all day–
pure Presence, not aloof,
always hovering before them
there in no-man’s land.

Through Moses You told them
Be holy as I am holy.
Don’t do anything that could
endanger your neighbor’s life.
Make restitution in full
plus one-fifth the value.
Keep the Sabbath work-free
in holy devotion to me.
Celebrate Atonement Day yearly,
freely cleansed of all your sins before me.
Consecrate the Jubilee Year
proclaiming freedom of debt to all.



Draw us to stand in rapt attention
assembled before You, Holy One.
Spirit-fire, come sizzle the fat
we sweat in time-offering efforts.
Unstop our voices to shout with joy,
bodies to fall facedown adoring.



Origin of all order,
You insure all are counted;
all belong and have their place.

You establish community:
all vows must be kept, pledges honored;
one law for all–natives and aliens.

You commission priests, appoint leaders,
respond to pleas for meat.  For healing
the snake on a pole points to Your Son.

No one lives who treats You with
contempt. Earth eats them or they
die slowly on her surface.



Blessed are those who go all out in prayer
to the God of every human spirit
like Moses with whom You spoke one on one,
like Aaron who spoke up for Miriam,
like wholeheartedly devoted Caleb.

Yes, and blessed are those like Balaam by whom
You spoke blessing through an animal.

Blessed now be one who spray paints on his truck
in gold: All praise to Whom all praise is due.


  The Voice

Astounding One
always present
alive, unseen
yet not unheard—
Who are You?

 I Am Who I Am—
this is my name forever.
I am the Lord your God:
worship no others;
make yourselves no idols.

 The awesome voice shakes mountains:
No one may see me and live. 


   The Director

God to Moses:
           I have empowered you.
           Perform all the wonders;
           tell Pharaoh everything
           I have commanded you.

God through Moses
to the whole community:
            Keep all my decrees.
            Offer the best of first fruits;
            set up the tabernacle
            on first day of first month;
            put the Bread of the Presence
            on this table at all times.

God to Moses
regarding Bezalel and all assisting crafters:
            Make everything I have commanded.
            I have filled you with my Spirit
            and skill to do all kinds of work.

     The Protector

Has God changed from
literal to virtual firewall?
From cloud pillar to spiritual
access blocker?
Does God still protect?
God, do You still protect freed slaves?
Will refugees see God-fire blazing,
God-smoke billowing
beating back pursuers?
Oh God, please keep Your people intact!
Protect us from all attacks
and from our crazed attempts
to harness Your fire.

The Sovereign

Egypt under Pharaoh
bowed to a pantheon of gods
and oppressed the Hebrews.
Pharaoh presumed sovereignty
for himself and his firstborn son.
Holy Sovereign God intervened
nine times to the nth degree.
On the tenth round God’s
death angel struck Pharaoh’s son
and every firstborn son in Egypt.
On that night Pharaoh knew God was Sovereign.
Yet the next day with his army
Pharaoh pursued the freed slaves
as they crossed the Red Sea.
By God’s sovereign authority
“water covered the entire army;
not one of them survived.”



Complainers, recall Pharaoh’s mean decrees:
Every male Hebrew child
shall be thrown into the Nile.
You will not be given any straw
yet must produce your full brick quota.

Grumblers, examine your own mean spirits:
be grateful for God’s liberation;
stop muttering against your leaders;
stop pining for Egypt’s foods.



Miriam the prophetess
danced in joyous procession,
sang God’s praise with tambourine
and all the women followed
with tambourines and dancing.

Sisters, daughters newly set free:
celebrate today; lead the way;
play, sing, dance with abandon!
Like Miriam the prophetess
join the blessed procession.



 For the oppressed slaves:
            Lord God, why, Moses cried:
            why have you brought trouble on this people?
            Is this why you sent me?
            Ever since you sent me to Pharaoh
            he has increased this people’s suffering.
            You have not rescued your people at all!

 For the golden calf worshippers:
            O Lord, why should your anger burn
            against those you freed from bondage?
            Why should the Egyptians believe
            with evil intent their God brought
            them out to die in the desert?
            Relent; turn from your fierce anger.





Collage10 – Poemburst



Writing a poem I am not alone:
all my sisters’ brothers’ parents’ children’s
tears commingle. My smile mirrors yours.

We are slaves heading north; we are hope-filled
women and children with guardian angels.
We are artists, healers, dove-song dancers–
dumbfounded, awestruck, dazzled, ecstatic!