The Darkest Vow

Our most recent assignment in poetry class was to write a poem, in any style, about the story in the Bible about Jeptha and his daughter. The story, found in Judges 11, is possibly one of the most gruesome tales the Bible records and has caused a lot of people to think that God is cruel and unjust.

The story is based during one of Israel’s darkest times, a time in which the people truly did not know God, nor did they really care to know Him. When Jeptha decides that he wants to defeat a group of people who are enemies of Israel, he makes a vow to God, saying that he will offer, as a burnt sacrifice, the first thing that walks out of his house, provided that God will give him the victory over his foes. After returning victorious from battle, Jeptha’s daughter, his only child, comes out of his house, dancing and playing the tambourine in celebration for her father’s victory. Jeptha remembers his vow to God and bewails his misfortune. There is a lot of debate over whether or not Jeptha actually does sacrifice his daughter, and I would suggest reading the actual story to get a better idea of what I’m talking about, but the ending of the story, or, rather, my interpretation of it, can be seen clearly in my poem. The last lines of the story in the Bible read: “After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. From this comes the Israelite tradition that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite” (Judges 11:39,40, New International Version).

I will be honest, I forgot about the assignment until right before it was due, so I wrote this poem during poetry class. Possibly not the most striking of poems I’ve ever written, but it still gets the point across.

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The Darkest Vow

The black night rose on that fateful eve,
A tale of gruesome death to weave,
As tears flowed down with running blood
Like springtime’s rage in roaring flood.
Where once was met with tambourines,
There now is met with wails and screams.
The darkest day a man has met
To sacrifice and not beget.
You never know what is at stake
So be wary of the vows you make.

Interesting Thanksgiving

I suppose we all have met some interesting people in our lives. At least, I would be surprised to meet someone who hadn’t. Of course, interesting is a relative term. I, myself, apply it to events, objects, or people who are unusual, typically in an extreme way.

I often find myself using the word “interesting” more frequently the longer I spend time at home. For instance, when I listen to my brother tell me all about his video games in which the main priority is to fire a machine gun non-stop, my main reaction is “uh-huh” and “interesting”. In other words, I don’t care what kind of pixelated gun he’s using, I most certainly don’t know the difference, and I’d rather not know how many people the player is supposed to shoot before moving on to the next level. But I listen because it seems to be important to my brother and he is important to me. However, in conversations of this nature, “interesting” is the word of the day.

Even though I find conversations about guns and shoot-em-up video games to be unpleasant, my usage of “interesting” becomes unmerited when I compare my brother to my neighbors. I’m sure you’ve at least heard of this type, the kind you wish would magically disappear. In town, people like our neighbors would be evicted in a heartbeat. Or, at least, they would be regular acquaintances with the police. But we live in the country, a place where few people care what you do.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons our neighbors now live here. We call them “the natives”, for on any given day, rain or shine, be it 117 degrees or just 17, the booming of their radio can be heard along with rhythmic whistling and beating drums. The song “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” comes to mind whenever I look out across the pasture and see the mismatched privacy fence that surrounds the natives’ encampment. Apparently they are afraid the cows are watching them.

I keep waiting, or perhaps it’s more along the lines of wishing, that “those nice young men in their clean white coats” would take our neighbors away to where they really belong: a room with padded white walls. The privacy fence does little to conceal the strange environment that lies within, with big gaps here and there. Visions of a minotaur come to mind whenever I see the labyrinth of additional fences that zigzag haphazardly through their yard. The decorations, what little you can see between the fences, include wire reindeer with black trash bags for tails and wooden fence poles with painted flower pots set upside-down on top of them. Last I checked, the flower pots were black. Thus, the word “interesting” comes to mind.

They say that it is good to be thankful for even the smallest things in life. As I sit here now, listening to the neighbors’ whistling and waiting to leave for my aunt’s house where my Thanksgiving meal awaits, I can’t help but smile. If nothing else, my neighbors have taught me to be thankful for two things: my hearing and my sanity.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin

Pumpkins are good for something...

For those of you who own cats, you may have found that they are notorious for finding the oddest places to fall asleep. Be it the bar stool in the kitchen or the shopping bag discarded next to the trashcan, our favorite little furry friends seem to be able to sleep anywhere and everywhere. It was this thought that I had in mind when I went to my weekly writing club meeting. Our challenge this time was to write a poem using the following words: thanksgiving, dinner, family, chaos, and pumpkins. Thus, we have my newest poem.

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Thanksgiving Pumpkin

‘Twas a cool autumn breeze
That stirred the winter hay
As the family gathered ’round
On a bright Thanksgiving day.

Chaos was the master
As the dinner was prepared,
With all the cooks a bustling
Over food for which they cared.

Tempers were on edge now
In a kitchen quite too full,
When Grandma felt a gentle touch.
At her skirt, she felt a pull.

There stood her darling grandson,
A smile upon his face.
He whispered to her a secret
As he led her off a pace.

“Grandma,” said the boy,
“Come see what I have found.”
He led her to some pumpkins
Abandoned on the ground.

The pumpkin rinds were empty,
Or so they were supposed to be.
They were carved out but just yesterday.
Grandma laughed at what she did see.

For there nestled within a pumpkin
Was a bundle of grey and white fur.
From discarded rinds, yet not forgotten,
Came a distinct, contented purr.

Martyr

Martyr

“Greater love hath no man”
Than for a Friend, alone he’ll stand.
Then death becomes a victory
Though he may not make history.
Yet in the here and now of night,
The guillotine but a valiant fight,
I think about this love and find
This Friend became my heart and mind.

The Winter Clock

As winter draws nearer and nearer, my mind turns more frequently to symbols and metaphors that are associated with this time of year. In keeping with a past theme, that of age, I have written yet another poem dealing with aspects of time and aging. I attempted to add more word pictures to this one. Keep a look out for symbols and metaphors. As always, I hope you enjoy reading it!

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The Winter Clock

Tick, tick, tock of the hallway clock,
The chime strikes ten and it doubles round again.
The stars glow bright in the icy winter night
While the moons wax pale on the bitter northern gale.

Two moons rise in the blackened eastern skies.
One sails high as the snow now billows by
While its sister crawls under frozen winter falls,
Her heart grown cold in the lifeless river’s fold.

Tick, tick, tock of the merry-weather clock,
It threads its seams through my distant winter dreams,
Doubling round at the long-lost happy sound
Of a child’s glee, and that little one is me.

Green fields glow in my mem’ries long ago
As the river winds its way to deeps of many kinds.
The zephyr breeze dances by with open ease
As the song-fowl sing of the winter now to bring.

Tick, tick, tock of the hallway clock,
The chime strikes three and it echoes down to me.
I turn my face to the distant open space
In the window’s frame. The frozen landscape stays the same.

But still there stands in the snowy winter sands
The bone-bare frame of the oak of tow’ring fame.
The fields lie bare and no song-fowl gather there
While the river’s flow, it was staunched so long ago.

Tick, tick, tock of the age-old clock,
The chime strikes four, youthful as the age before.
Its deep-voiced call echoes down the empty hall
And distant drones through the walls of winter home.

The muffled chime, it now marks the frozen time
For the rose bud red, still alive though seeming dead,
Its youthful face sealed inside an icy case,
Filled with gloom, young but never still to bloom.

Tick, tick, tock of the hallway clock,
I close my eyes as the world beyond me dies.
My years long spent where I’ll go and where I’ve went,
Young inside, time-encased, will always hide.