Bookshop

By Jason Ropp

As I man my post —
Espresso bar in bookshop,
An old fellow with
Matching blue windbreaker
And Gilligan hat strolls
Hands gently behind back,
Admiring books, furniture,
And ventilation system.
Wide eyed in old age
As a child.

Fleeting

By Tamara Shoemaker

who takes care of my heart
afterward?

before, when your curls patterned the crib sheets,
and you shrieked
in the terrors of dark sleep,
i held you, a bundle in my arms,
rocking a gentle rhythm
to the sleepy sound of brahms.
before, when the sky’s gold
could not compete
with the brilliance of your smile,
your first A, the reward of your efforts.
before, when you brought him to the door,
his flowers clutched in nervous sweat.
i watched as you timidly
carved your name in his heart.

who takes care of my heart
afterward

as I stare at the empty bed,
the sheet spread in unfamiliar neatness,
a wrinkle-free reminder that you
will begin all over with someone else?

then it will be you who wrestles
with the mistress that is time,
and at last, it will be you who,
like me,
bows your head to her uncompromising pursuit.

For You, if Narnia Was the Land of Your Birth

By Ruthie Voth

if you,
when taking a friend to visit your childhood home,
have to lead them through
a wardrobe door,
or together slip on a pair of rings
and jump into a puddle

if you’ve stared at a painting,
willing the waves to splash off the canvas
and onto your face
if it wouldn’t surprise you to come face to face with a lamb,
wading knee deep in lilies,
speaking to you
with the music of the lion in his voice

if you’ve found yourself crying behind the gym,
too worn down to even hope for an escape
from the voices playing in stereo inside your head
if you’ve longed for a warm breath
to blow the world away from you
and carry you … safely … home

if you’ve run to the end of your strength
before slowing to walk
beside one who has waited long for you
or if you’ve chosen to follow
a leader who (not safe, but good!) will show you
little more than his shadow

then maybe
you also know this feeling of not belonging,
the realization that you were created for more
than this horizon-bound earth has to offer
maybe you also will be eager to step past the cover
and past the title page
to “Further up and further in!”

May 2012

Deep in the hills of southeastern Kentucky, Ruthie and her husband raise their four children and run a Bible camp. Sometimes, in the aftershock of the busyness, her mind clears enough to blog and write a little poetry. 

War

By Tamara Shoemaker

the same story, repeated over, trails this way
every now and then;

the bayonets, scalded from fire bursts,
life blood the reward of some heated bullet.
men, boys really, who sweat in the sky’s heat
and shake in the season’s cold,
bloody footprints tracked in snow
as shoes grow tired
and eyes sting blind
and rations fail
and hopes sink dim behind endless
marches and ragged formations.

time travels on and bayonets die
under the advance of technology;
bombs, jets, explosives —
how many ways can you kill a man?

the story’s still the same;
the play goes on until
one side or the other pulls the final curtain.
it scrolls across the stage, the last act,
and the players take their bows,
not without scars from their parts.

both sides return to their lives,
indelible ink scribing a story on each heart
that bleeds into history —
a tale of sorrow never forgotten

until the next time.

Tamara Shoemaker’s books include “Broken Crowns,” “Pretty Little Maids” and “Ashes, Ashes.” She lives in Virginia with her husband, Tim, and their three children.