Birthday Greeting to a Doomed Child

a song of lament decrying New York´s “birthday abortion” law,
approved January 22, 2019

So, welcome to this world, little one, little one!
Your first and only birthday has begun—
You´ve grown within a warm and cozy place, and your face
In darkness veiled, has yet to see the sun.

Beyond the world you know, an unknown man, waiting, stands,
He´ll make you know a sad truth with his hands:
That in this loveless world, not every child, meek and mild,
Is welcome here to live upon these lands.

He´ll greet you as come forth from the womb to find room
To grow and thrive like some exquisite bloom;
But as he looks at you with cruel eyes, you´ll realize,
His job is to prepare you for your tomb.

You may say, “Where´s my mother?” Don´t expect she´ll protect
Your life from those she´s licensed to direct
An operation that will end your life with a knife—
She´s chosen your sweet presence to reject.

You may think, “Do they not see how I strive to arrive?”
But sadly, you are in a stinging hive
Where pain awaits you, and each buzzing soul has the goal
To make sure that you are not born alive.

This land is mine, not yours, some mothers say every day
When they make that dread choice to throw away
The little ones who from their wombs emerge, whom they purge
To live their lives their own “unshackled” way.

Just know you´re one of countless babes for whom, “I love you”
Are words that will not ever fall like dew
Upon their ears, for like a thirsty lawn before dawn
They´re cut down swiftly, and their life is through.

How shameful that grown people should elect, in effect,
A baby´s frame from life to disconnect.
It is a gross injustice to deprive those who thrive
Of life—a gift some clearly disrespect.

The only tears that for you will be shed when you´re dead
Drip not from eyes, but from blades wet and red—
Those drops which like the blood of Abel sound from the ground
With cries that say to God what must be said.

Oh helpless child! No tender lamb survives such midwives
Whom lust for profit to cold murder drives;
How dreadful that a world so full of hate should await
Your coming, not with nappies, but with knives!

 

The Secret Place

While down below, the church bells chime, and sunlight floods the waking vale,
With reverent steps, I upward climb, along the ancient, winding trail
Through morning mists, to heights sublime, into the sky so ghostly pale
To find a place untouched by time, where peace and quietude prevail:

That secret place, that shady grove, atop the purple mountain’s height,
My private Eden, high above, where worldly cares fade out of sight,
That solitary place I love, of rest, refreshment, and delight,
Where quietly, the cooing dove sings to his mate both day and night.

I lie down in the lush, cool grass beside a gently flowing stream
Whose playful waters, clear as glass, laugh gayly as they glint and gleam;
I watch the morning clouds amass and drink the sunlight’s warming beam,
While lazily the hours pass, unhurried, like a happy dream.

The warming sun, the cooling breeze, the piping birds, the clouds on high,
The ripe fruit swelling on the trees, the crystal waters trickling by,
The clover-hopping honeybees, the pure blue kerchief of the sky—
From precious sights and sounds like these, I draw fresh strength here as I lie.

A hushed and holy quietness holds sway beneath these sacred bowers;
Here may I rest in blessedness upon a bed of wildflowers
And swoon beneath the sun’s caress, while peace rains down on me for hours
To wash away my weariness with soft, refreshing, cleansing showers.

Here may my wingéd thoughts take flight, and like the hummingbird who flies
With darting movements left and right, to drink from every flower he spies
May I sip from each lovely sight that fills my roving, thirsty eyes
The nectar sweet of sheer delight in everything that round me lies.

My heart resounds with thankful praise to live in such a world as this,
To savor long, idyllic days in scenes of such bucolic bliss;
From every creature earth arrays, I feel the warmth of God’s own kiss,
Enraptured by the bright displays of glory that no one can miss.

When shades of dusk begin to fall upon the glade, I start to grieve,
For night draws near to drape a pall of darkness where the sunbeams cleave;
And so, resigned, I gather all my treasured thoughts and sadly leave
This haven where I love to loll in languid stillness till the eve.

My soul restored, my heart divested of all care, I now descend
This hallowed mount, where I have rested and rejoiced, as Nature’s friend
Along the trail, I pause, arrested by the views around each bend,
And praise God’s glory manifested in His works, till journey’s end.

 

 

Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth.


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9 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    In the first poem, I think you’ve overdone it with the intra-linear rhyme. It’s distracting rather than effective. In stanza 2, line 1, you need to end it with something stronger than a comma, because you’ve just begun a new sentence. In stanza 3, line 1, your metrical plan is opaque, and this happens repeatedly throughout the poem. Although I concur with Mr. Behrens’ sentiments, sentiment alone does not a well-written poem make. It’s probably a mistake on my part, but I was disinclined to read the second poem, even though, on first glance, it seemed to be much better composed.

    Reply
    • Martin Rizley

      I think if I were to re-write the first line of stanza 3, to make the metrical scheme less opaque, I would revise it like this: “He’ll greet you as you come forth from the womb, seeking room. . .”

      The intralineal rhyme scheme is admittedly experimental, and perhaps a bit distracting as you say– although I think a lot depends on how skillfully the poem is read out loud.

      Reply
  2. Steve Shaffer

    Birthday Greeting to a Doomed Child hits hard, but it could hit harder with a little more work. I think this could be a life-changing poem with just a little more work. I don’t usually comment much on technical details, but just from reading it, I found some of the issues distract from the message.

    This is a very good poem, but could be made even better. I will leave it to the technical experts to suggest specific changes.

    Reply
  3. Chrìstina

    Thank you, Martin, for another poem condemning this monstrous evil. I read your poem shortly after reading about the 23-week Down’s Syndrome baby aborted in Poland, who was born alive and was left to cry and scream for an hour until he died.

    I quite like your experìmental intraline rhymes, but in reading the poem I want to give them each a line of their own:

    ‘He´ll greet you as come forth from the womb
    To find room’

    But then I’d want the same rhyme for these two lines and the next in every stanza!

    Reply
    • Christina

      P.S. But of course I’m not a poet, so I am not qualified to comment on form!

      Reply
  4. Martin Rizley

    Thank you Christina for your helpful and encouraging feedback. Your suggestion about shaping the poem to highlight the intra- linear rhyme scheme is very intriguing; I like it!

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      And there you have it. As a reader, Christina is as qualified to comment on form as anyone is, and yes the lines could be broken up into segments (with appropriate indentations for the shorter segments) to good effect. What you end up with is heterometric stanzas, I’ve done this in numerous poems, and so far no one has complained. The key is to maintain regularity of form, and an honest editor will catch on after about two stanzas.

      Reply

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