The following four poems were selected by an outside editor/reader/poet from submissions sent over the past year to Mennonite Life. Our thanks go to our readers and writers who continue to document and imaginatively engage the many hybrid worlds of Mennonite lives and the world of thought through writing. Please keep sending us your works.
A retired teacher and musician, but not a retired reader or writer, Cornelia lives with her husband Arlie in Overland Park, KS. She attends Rainbow Mennonite Church.
[as seen while driving Highway 50, summer 2007]
This sphere must be a
where hay is
that settles for breeze as
carefully baled into circular
shiny with gel.
Maybe the hay curls
hint at the gender of
Having retired from editing and pastoring, Muriel T. Stackley writes in Kansas City, KS, and is the author of Oracle of the Heart: Selected Poems. In the poem below, the location Wyandot refers the area now known as the "Argentine District" in Kansas City, KS.
From my prophet's cave in Wyandot
I peer northeast to the Thames of Ontario where my brother now breathes no more.
My brother the warrior breathes no more.
My brother, my Shooting Star Tecumseh,
my crouching panther. My flesh.
"I killed him," crows the Kentuckian
campaigning for the United States Senate.
"Majestic even in death," mourns Samuel Brown.
"Mighty midst mankind," sings George Longmore.
"Distinguished savage," says Daniel Dunihue,
"turning the destiny of First Nations."
"One of the noblest and most gallant spirits
"that ever tenanted the breast of man."
Say what you will, John Richardson,
These empty words. My brother breathes no more.
Which battle? Moraviantown? No matter.
My brother breathes no more
and my people gasp for breath.
"A nationalnot a tribalsymbol.
"Tecumseh will live in place names.
"Tecumseh will live in history.
"Tecumseh will live." So you say.
You whose greed knows no end,
you who purchase what belongs to all,
you who would build fences, let it rest. My brother rests.
Jeremy Frey has published poems in numerous journals and anthologies, and completed an MFA at the University of Arizona in 2006, focusing on poetry and creative nonfiction, where he now teaches Rhetoric and Composition. Jeremy volunteers for the Poetry Center by leading poetry workshops in schools and recently ran the Work-in-Progress graduate student reading series. For additional work, check out the Burnt Possum Poets.
That the creator of the universe would become human.
This is not a pleasant thought.
I am not afraid of dying: I have died many times.
There is nothing in death not in life.
It is not 'there is no death and no life' -
there is life and there is death and they are one.
You lift a stone and find your new life and there
your next death.
The children sing and gnash their yellow teeth.
One moves a mountain and discovers another.
One falls on their knees only to fall again.
There is the sun and then
there is not the sun.
I do not understand this.
Jesse Nathan is a writer living in Berkeley. He works at McSweeney's Publishing in San Francisco and his work appears in The East Bay Express, McSweeney's, The Believer, Tin House, Adbusters, The San Francisco Chronicle, Geez and elsewhere. He graduated from Bethel College in 2005 and is currently producing a documentary about the Great Trek of the Russian Mennonites in the late 1800s.
Bibles over eyes they chased
her flashlight a line of light
how it must have skimmed back
to the back wall wet rock
an empty room forms the heart
of every tomb you go blind
with no torch a granite womb
utter night see the woman a stone
room she breaks like light
through bars I break into lines
how she braved
behind blinds to mask the signs
but you see no signs of blood
here no crosses no lines
no claw marks
what was wrenched
from night from deepest reaches
of woman in knife-cold reaches
of earth you see no color
nothing bronzed by light
you squat in dogma birth
braille the naked age of stone
you listen to the dripping
of planetary pipes
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