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Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks
It was an old Church
With stained masonry and
Pews that needed renovating;
In the back, near the alley,
A creaky staircase led up to
Cobwebby rooms crammed with
Antique furniture and memorabilia;
I searched every nook and cranny that week
(Pretending to be one of the Hardy boys)
Looking for keys,
And secret passages,
Or any other kinda cool stuff
I could stash in a cigar box
It was a time
I learned about VOICES,
Mostly under maples filled
With sparrows, on an old bench,
Listening and watching people
Shuffling past with groceries,
Or to meet with friends,
Or coming home from work,
Or from a pot house up the street
(Stumbling and cursing)
And mostly all ignoring the
Greeter smiling from the stoop
Handing bulletins out for Sunday service
Cattycorner, across the street,
A strident street vendor was hawking
Cigarettes and cheap souvenirs to passers-by
And cars entering the expressway
And the new music director
(Once a palmy recording artist)
Was fast losing patience with
(What he’d coined)
‘Harmonic inconsistencies’ in the choir-
“Your intonation is off,” he barked
“What do you want?” I heard her quetch
“Just sing your notes, that’s what I want,” he returned
“I’m here to help the church, not please you,” she spit back
“That’s good because you’re not,” he countered angrily
And at the same time
Some frowsy woman was
Maundering and thumbing through
A magazine at the bus stop; eyes skittish
She would, every so often, take a swig from a
Bottle I was convinced was not root beer
And from an open window
On the third floor
I heard Pastor
On the phone
(Huffish and words briny)
Complaining about squeaking pews, and
Walls in need of paint, and wanting to find a
New music director, and pitiful tithing, and
A budget that needed fixing and the troubling
Increase of gossip at Saturday functions,
And as I was about to turn away,
As if by magic,
A sudden swarm of sparrows
Began flitting near the same window,
And all of them singing
In harmony together,
(Without directors or budgets or controversy)
And when he saw them he stopped, and,
After hanging up, he remained at the
Window listening with peaceful countenance
To something I was certain he had never
Known before in this old church
richard lloyd cederberg
A Monumental Journey Novels
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|Reviewed by blue soplain
|there is soemthing nearly.....esoteric..in your rev[erend]elations. the sing/\song phrases and points of lights.. . .. the notes you arrange on paper are so very akin to music and symphony of slowgrinds of the mind.
i felt a mingle of internal rhyme:: sparrow/window, floor/pastor, etc... that genuflects and reflects the solidity of the momentousness of the immediate.
|Reviewed by Sheila Roy
|Oh, I love this one, Richard. That moment at the end is inspiring. That's the very moment when we need clarity or a reason to push on, even if what we do is our passion.
You brought back some memories with this write, too. My father was a Boy Scout pack leader, and they used the church for events. My sister and I used to explore the bowels of the church. Regretfully, we stole and ate 'The Body of Christ'. We found a whole package of them - the bigger size they use to start communion, too, not the little ones passed out. Something I shall never forget and always be sorry for. Course, I told Him I was sorry.
Love and Hugs,
|Reviewed by Ronald Hull
|A wonderful story poem of vivid images. A reminder to write that story I dreamed of being tuned in to the G3 network in my head.
|Reviewed by Kate Burnside
|I wonder if it was the voices of the sparrows he was hearing - or FINALLY the voice of God?! You have captured an epiphanic instant with such terrific build in the narrative that "the" moment truly shines and, as others have already said, defines a beautiful image in the mind - especially after all the prior actual and metaphorical caterwauling! A great story-poem that has wonderful depth and richness in it's composition. Nice work, RC! :)) xx|
|Reviewed by Susan de Vegter
|Your finest work is always the word painting that comes in technicolors and sings beautifully a good lesson. This is my favorite now. You have a special ear and eye to the humbling treasures of living,
|Reviewed by Joyce Bell
|I AM GLAD THAT YOU WENT TO THE OLD CHURCH AND THAT YOUR GIFT WAS TOUCHED...YOU HAVE SHARED, WITH VIVID ARTISTRY, THE SOUND OF THE MANY DIFFERENT VOICES ENCOUNTERED WHILE THERE...MUCH THANKS AND GOD BLESS. LOVE, JOYCE * HIS INSPIRATIONS|
|Reviewed by Georg Mateos
|The musty smell of old chapels, where the bird's chorus will never falter, because them are to help the church to be alive, not to please anyone in particular.
|Reviewed by Liana Margiva
|WONDERFUL POEM!!!!!!!!!!!! Liana Margiva|
|Reviewed by Patrick Granfors
|Classic Americana ala RLC. Patrick|
|Reviewed by Leslie Hoffman
|richard, your words have painted a fascinating moment in time that hints of Norman Rockwell. Wonderful poem! ~leslie|
|Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan
|this is fantastic!|
|Reviewed by Connie Faust
|Were you the one handing out bulletins, Richard? Listening and learning in the midst of the cacophony? Were the sparrows sent to lift the spirits of the weary pastor or to reveal to a boy the purity and beauty of God's harmony? It's a fascinating story, raising questions as I read.
It's fitting that Bill OReilly's program is in the next room as I write, making it hard to concentrate on the intricacies of your poetry. Maybe that itself is a commentary on the poem!
|Reviewed by Ann Marquette
love it...especially the last section "As if by magic.....
|Reviewed by Debby Rosenberg
|I Love This ♥|
|Reviewed by Peter Schlosser (Reader)
|It seems even the most spiritual of the spiritual can get caught up in the cantankerous caterwauling and sturm und drang of every-day life. We all need to be reminded to "stop and smell the roses" or, as the case may be, quietly observe the harmonious and synchronized movements of nature to fully understand the beauty of it all. And what we're really doing here. Beautiful poem Richard!|
|Reviewed by John Flanagan
|Everything about this speaks poetry, Richard: setting, mood, feeling, language...you move us through the experiences seamlessly with no awkwardness or jolt and you let all the voices speak. This is thoroughly satisfying work.
|Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
|What a thoughtful and mesmerizing piece of work, my friend. We read so many poems and comment on the same, that at times we tend to rush through them and rush through the comments to go on and . . . But this one stopped me cold. I hated, really hated, for the words to finally end, but a longer poem wouldn't have been the same. It is perfect as is. This town, as seen through the eyes of the young, and I have never forgotten that my thoughts when young were as important to me as any old pastor's thoughts. More so maybe. In this masterpiece you gave the young man a lesson in the form of listening to those "VOICES." A lesson he has never forgotten. I thank you for this . . .|