Poems for Ephesians is a journal of poetry that leaps out of the images, ideas and inspirations of the Book of Ephesians. These poems, which are the expressions of the poets themselves, do not necessarily reflect the views of McMaster Divinity College. This web-journal is an on-going project presented by D.S. Martin, MDC’s Poet-in-Residence: (martid17@mcmaster.ca).

Watch for new posts every week!

D.S. Martin is the Series Editor for the Poiema Poetry Series from Cascade Books. His most-recent book of poetry is Ampersand (2018). Follow these links to his website www.dsmartin.ca and to Kingdom Poets his online resource of Christian poetry.

  • My Father's Place by Vilma Blenman

    My Father’s Place

    Forgive me if I behave as if I’ve lived
    somewhere else, was someone else.
    I was
    an orphan at the gate, waiting, wondering
    until he came and chose this unlikely child
    gave me a new name, gave me gifts in profusion:
    hope to hold, peace to pass on, grace to grow
    See this signature?
    It’s his insignia, inheritance guaranteed.

    So now I live here, where largesse is norm
    where rooms open into other rooms,
    where colours celebrate shame’s downfall
    and hues of blue blanket grey:
    indigo, cobalt, azure
    reassure,
    a palette of reds speaks bold words:
    scarlet, crimson, carmine,
    all call, “No fear!”

    Yet, l do confess,
    love like this frightens me.
    How difficult to fathom its dimensions:
    the length, the breath, the depth, the height,
    it takes a lifetime to fill a fatherless heart
    full,
    to displace doubts, to replace the broken seal.
    How fortunate that we have forever…

    Vilma Blenman has published a poetry chapbook First Flight, plus stories and poems in the Canadian Hot Apple Cider anthology series. She lives with her family in Pickering, Ontario. “My Father’s Place” is influenced by Ephesians 3:18, but also Ephesians 1:13 and 14.

    Posted: 12 December 2018

  • Sundown by Ryan Apple

     Sundown

    Ephesians 4:26

    In pre-marriage counseling they told us to never
    let the sun go down on our anger.
    Whimsy notwithstanding,

    the warning seemed quaint
    since electricity has deemed our clocks
    the arbiters of time,

    and sailors now watch weather.com,
    having jettisoned their nursery rhymes
    about red skies.

    But in the wake of our disagreement,
    with the sky so overcast
    (I circled the same point;

    turning, you drifted off),
    I just stared into the clouded night, wondering
    how we might navigate to common ground.

    Ryan Apple is a Music Professor at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Michigan — where he and his wife live with their six children. His guitar music is available at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/go/606553867. His poetry has appeared in the anthology Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse (2017, Cascade Books).

    Posted: 05 December 2018

  • The Architecture of Prayer by Mary Willis

    The Architecture of Prayer

    I hardly recall now the place, the view:
    stars burning light years off
    like tongues of fire snapping softly
    in a vacant house,
    winter branches with their hieroglyphs,
    birds clenched on twigs like frozen buds—
    all that language of the dispossessed.

    I know I’d picked up fuzzy suns
    of peaches, late glowing apples
    and shelved them in my darkest closet—
    seasoned proofs, potential food for afterthought?
    And long before of course
    I hunted out the spring,
    stored earliest recorded light,
    his words, which I drew on
    interceding for family or friends,
    but not too often, pulling back
    from draining the source
    with appeals for anything specific or routine . . .

    until I stumbled on a promise
    hidden there boldly in plain sight:
    exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.
    Extravagantly upsized, straining
    our reasonable dimensions of space and time?

    Not according to the blueprint of the mystery.
    Translated by the working hand,
    it clearly says our house is,
    its foundation laid,
    saving us from lostness.
    Windows, though yet to be set,
    are framed and open for intimate speech,
    silent music between ear and Ear.

    Mary Willis lives in London, Ontario. Her poems have appeared in Canadian Literature and other journals and anthologies. She has also published three chapbooks through Fiddlehead Poetry Books, including: Earth’s Only Light. “The Architecture of Prayer” is built on Ephesians 3:20.

    Posted: 28 November 2018

  • Sonnet From The Ephesians by Barbara Crooker

    Sonnet From The Ephesians

    ——-Ephesians 1:16

    I do not cease to give thanks, especially in November
    even as we lose an hour of light, drawing
    the curtains at 4:30 to keep out the cold. To remember
    you are dust seems appropriate now. Crows are cawing

    black elegies in the bare trees. Just past the Day of the Dead,
    and I’m thankful for every friend who has blessed
    my life, gold coins in a wooden chest. Who said
    no man is an island? We’re all peninsulas, I guess,

    joined to the mainland, part of the shore. We’re the sticks
    in the bundle that can’t be broken. Even if
    it doesn’t seem that way, the bickering of politics,
    the blather on the nightly news. Maybe we speak in hieroglyphs,
    unclear, always missing the mark? So let me be plain.
    I’m grateful for the days of sun. I’m grateful for the rain.

    Barbara Crooker is the author of seven poetry collections. Her eighth, The Book of Kells, will appear from the Poiema Poetry Series early in 2019. She and her husband live in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania. Her poems have been featured many times on The Writer’s Almanac as read by Garrison Keillor.

    Posted: 21 November 2018

  • Adoption by James Tughan

    Adoption

    Not very many know what it’s like
    to be weightless, cut off from a home,
    any home of familiar welcoming,
    like Cheers, like the court of the Sanhedrin,
    like a synagogue in any Roman outpost,
    and perhaps even with the brothers of the Way
    who cannot let go of the finality
    of the dying cries of Stephen.

    Not many know what it’s like
    to be weightless, grasping for a foothold
    of decency and grace, in a mosh pit of gods
    and goddesses nastily scrambling about
    round and round on the circumference
    of perhaps a Greek vase, or a sad Roman copy
    which can’t really hide the humanness
    of engineered bullying from Rome.

    Not many know what it’s like
    to be weightless, hung out in space
    hung between heaven and earth, sold out
    by friends and foes, orphaned by everything
    that fathered you into this world
    save perhaps for wounds and a thorn
    now woven into certificates of adoption
    for children of immeasurable belonging.

    For Mark

    James Tughan has been called “one of the world’s foremost pastel artists.” He has served on the faculty of Tyndale University, Redeemer University, and Sheridan College. Even so, Tughan has immersed himself in course work at McMaster Divinity College. One of the many influences on his poem “Adoption” is Ephesians 1:5.

    Posted: 14 November 2018

  • The Misuse of Scripture by Daniel Klawitter

    The Misuse of Scripture

    ——-So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the
    ——-truth to our neighbors,
    ——-for we are members of one another.
    ——-–Ephesians 4:25

    The truth is, neighbor, your lawn is looking rather shabby.
    (I tell you this in a spirit of Christian kindness.)
    And yesterday you seemed a little crabby:
    (Love may be blind, but that’s different than blindness.)

    So, let us shun falsehood and speak the truth:
    I see your sins and…Joshua judges Ruth.
    I stand firm in faith and shall not be budged.
    And if you judge me…ye shall be judged.

    Daniel Klawitter of Denver, Colorado has published three full-length poetry collections – most recently Quiet Insurrections (2018, White Violet Press). His children’s poetry chapbook Put On Your Silly Pants received an honourable mention in the 2017 Dragonfly Book Awards for Children’s Poetry.

    Posted: 07 November 2018

  • Ephesus by Sarah Klassen

    Ephesus

    ——-To everyone who conquers
    ——-I will give permission to eat from the tree of life
    ——-that is in the paradise of God. Rev.2:7.

    Now as then we are dismayed when business falters,
    baffled when rains fail,
    alarmed when another riot erupts in our city.

    Now as then we have among us the hungry. Also
    the scrupulous. We have those
    who regularly bow and bend and those who don’t.

    We know a house must have a sure foundation,
    a solid cornerstone. We know, though we keep building them,
    dividing walls must fall. How else

    can the stranger and the alien enter? We do not know
    why the lovely bird of peace nests over there
    while here at home the vultures flap their hostile wings.

    Now as then noise streams from the market place,
    applause from the crowded theatre.
    The hungry lions roar. On quiet evenings

    you can hear, above the drone of time,
    the whisper of leaves
    on the tree of life.

    Sarah Klassen is a Winnipeg-based writer who’s won numerous awards, including The Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry for her collection A Curious Beatitude. Her eighth and most-recent collection is Monstrance (2012, Turnstone Press). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The McMaster Journal of Theology & Ministry.

    Posted: 31 October 2018

  • The Ordering of Time by Nicholas Samaras

    The Ordering of Time

    The road to Ephesus was flat and open-aired,
    a lined mixture of blue and earth, mounded cairns
    rising from the open fields, like bee-hives a man

    could walk into and disappear. And why travel there
    but for a heritage of history? Native people still
    tilling the biblical earth, airing their laundry on lines,

    the empty forms of their bodies waving in air.
    Land by itself always appears primitive
    until we encounter on the threaded paths there

    a rise of buildings, an ordering of the times
    when they are complete. We pilgrimage to Ephesus
    to witness the past and measure the present.

    For a place to sense the saints of perseverance,
    we leave our too-civilised countries to experience
    a land, a field, a time in its journey. We leave our lives

    and go to read the earth, to remember any small heritage
    of who came before us and who long brought us here.
    The dusty road to Ephesus was a boat, a bus,

    and walking, was blue hours of water and earth,
    was winding and tiring, but worth the beautiful ruins,
    a true word, a lasting witness, travel the first-fruit

    of our heritage. In the ancient shell of Ephesus,
    beyond the resting amphitheater, the cell of Saint Paul,
    the best building standing remains the whitened library.

    Nicholas Samaras is the author of two poetry collections – Hands of the Saddlemaker, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and the extensive American Psalm, World Psalm (2014, Ashland Poetry Press) which contains 150 poems to emulate the Biblical psalms. His poetry also appears in The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry. He lives with his family in West Nyack, New York.

    Posted: 24 October 2018

  • He Also Descended by Laurel Eshelman

    He Also Descended

    On Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut, Christ Descending into Hell, from Ephesians 4

    Dürer’s gouge flings gates from hinges,
    stretches a lean arm to snap prisoners’ chains.
    He tastes pearwood dust,
    cuts a body, blood trickled out
    and stilled on Skull Hill,
    a living man whose standard rides
    the blaze from demon horns.

    We shuffle past the woodcut,
    hear a flapping overhead
    and smell smoke
    but miss the gates
    wide open
    the throng rushing out.

    Laurel Eshelman of Elizabeth, Illinois (population 700) works a few blocks from home with her husband at Eshelman Pottery. Her chapbook, The Red Mercy, was a semifinalist in the 2014 Palettes and Quills Chapbook Contest. She was one of the participants in D.S. Martin’s festival circle group at the Festival of Faith & Writing 2018, in Grand Rapids.

    Posted: 17 October 2018

  • Seating Plan by Neil Paul

    Seating Plan

    first day of school…
    ———–the bell rings,
    thirty children
    ———–rummage
    to find their seats,
    determined by the teacher’s
    ———–seating plan

    the twinkling of an eye.
    the trumpet sounds!

    and there,
    engraved by lightning laser
    on a clear white stone,
    I find my name
    and gladly take my seat
    among the galaxies.

    Neil Paul – of Caledonia, Ontario – is a retired English teacher who has been taking courses at McMaster Divinity College. I met him last year in Gus Konkel’s insightful class on the Psalms. He has self-published two books of verse. This poem was inspired by Ephesians 2:6.

    Posted: 10 October 2018

  • A Prisoner of Christ by Philip C. Kolin

    A Prisoner of Christ
    for Father Donald Francis Derivaux

    A Gethsemane monk, psalming
    an honorarium of prayer, work, plainsong,
    he interceded for those who fed
    on empty words from the kingdom of air.

    He shared raven’s bread with Merton
    and letters brined with tears over
    black souls shorn of dignity.
    But the sounds of Trappist silence
    contained too many echoes for him.

    He longed for the life away
    anchored in the most quiet dwelling–himself—
    moment by moment seeking eternity;
    he lived alone with the Alone

    until he was called to be a prisoner of Christ
    in a different kind of hermitage
    salving souls in cells at Parchman Penitentiary
    teaching unschooled monks in striped habits
    to sigh the name of Jesus.

    Philip C. Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English (Emeritus) at the University of Southern Mississippi. The title of this poem alludes to Paul’s reference to himself as the prisoner of (or for) Christ (Eph. 3:1 and 4:1). This poem will be included in Kolin’s forthcoming poetry collection Reaching Forever (Poiema Poetry Series) which is edited by D.S. Martin.

    Posted: 03 October 2018

  • Approach With Boldness by Tania Runyan

    Approach With Boldness

                            —Yellowstone National Park
                            —Eph. 3:12

    We creak on boardwalks above geothermal pools—
    Black Opal, Morning Glory, Emerald Spring.
    Clear and bright as cups of Easter dye,
    they sputter and hiss to remind us that we stand
    atop a caldera heaving molten rock.

    Each path begins with the illustrated warning:
    a boy in a baseball cap breaks through the surface,
    parboiling his feet. I hear the story about the 9-year-old
    who lost himself in the steam and plunged into Crested Pool.
    They recovered just eight pounds of his body.

    Or the man who swan-dived into Celestine Pool
    after a yelping dog, emerging with blanched irises.
    That was dumb, he mumbled for his last words,
    skin peeling in sheets. Thousands of years ago
    the first hunter to wander into this basin

    must have thought he discovered a second sky
    breaking through the ground, a miracle of sorts,
    if he knew about those, radiating in the snow.
    He laughed, bent his face over the rising steam,
    and thought nothing of reaching in.

    This poem by Tania Runyan is from her poetry collection Second Sky (2013, Poiema Poetry Series), which is a book of poems inspired by the life and writings of the apostle Paul. Her new collection What Will Soon Take Place (2017, Paraclete Press) is inspired by the Book of Revelation. Her poems are also included in the anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry. She and her family live in northern Illinois.

    Posted: 26 September 2018

If you like what you see, and would like to submit a poem of your own to Poems for Ephesians, please contact D.S. Martin, MDC’s Poet-in-Residence: (martid17@mcmaster.ca).