in the back corner of the building
in a small room
made smaller by shelves thronged with books
and dictionaries and journals and hardback tomes full of history and linguistics and a
cacophony of scholarship

and a pair of chairs shoved together
beside a lamp or perhaps
a couch squeezed between those shelves and facing a heavy desk
bedecked with folders and pamphlets and notecards and Sunday School softbacks
and a nameplate and a ceramic mug and a near-empty
box of tissues

and the blue light of a laptop screen
bearing a half-written manuscript
stunted by three false starts and stumped by too much exposition and
cheapened by chuckle-worthy puns and choked by overly long quotations and
blunted by the necessity of reducing six penetratingly perceptive points to
an alliterative three

as the silence is singed by the relentless bleet of an open inbox joining
the ceaseless shudder of a smartphone with its storage
forever over capacity
in front of a landline whose garish red light winks with aggression
adjacent to a scattering of While-You-Were-Out slips hastily scribbled and
triaged for later

parallel to a framed photograph
of a bride with sunlight in her cheeks
and another of a cerulean sky and four pairs of feet in Florida sand
close to a kiln-dried clay cup finger-painted and furnished with pencils and pens next to
a stockpile of store-bought thank-you and birthday and get-well and sympathy and
just-because cards

and a creaking swivel chair
and a creaking filing cabinet
and a creaking cabinet door
behind a well-worn black suit hanging on a brass hook in front of an inadequate mirror
above some water bottles and a spare toothbrush and a stick of deodorant and
several more stacks of books,

again you will find him on his knees,
pleading for fullness.

Better Words

For The Ink Well Creative Community

Word: Substitute
Parameters: Write for 15 minutes without stopping


the blood of bulls and goats cry out
from the ground, a ferment flowing
was death for naught, o chosen ones?
the left hand cuts; the right hand grasps
for pleasures to fill the clean slate
perpetual slaughter provides
the fire burns, never dies away
in your place we stand, knife to throat
will you remember us at all?

Substitute for sin, once for all
if this is what they need then why
were we called to give for so long
and why, when they finally see,
do they debate the hows and whys?
Ransom, Penal Satisfaction,
Christus Victor, Exemplary,
Universal or Limited
what power is there in a name?

is not power found in the blood?
does it not ferment even now?
does it not flow for you each day
you chosen ones, you wanderers?
the left hand pierces flesh with nails
the right hand gambles on garments
and the eyes behold death and say
surely this was a God unknown
will I remember him at all?

for those who faced death every day
so you might have a way to peace
the blood you spilt speaks better words
than those you use to describe this
in sight of death, theories shudder
and hang their heads, speechless, silent
and hope in this redemption too
let these words reign, for what we were
He is, forevermore, Amen.