Natural-Born

Jeremiah 17.19

I am a liar, natural-born. I find
it more convenient to equivocate
or stretch the truth, than to accept the fate
truth might impose. What’s more, I am the kind
of person who will take the credit due
to others, tarnish your good name, or steal
as much as I desire. I’m being real
here, friend; it is my nature to pursue
whatever I decide is best for me.
I get these feelings, deep inside my soul,
and they’re authentic; they exert control,
and therefore must be what is right, you see.
__You’ll say, “Such feelings will dismantle you.”
__But what’s a liar, natural-born, to do?

 

 
When Snow Falls

Psalm 147.15-18; Hebrews 1.3

When snow falls, as it is just now,
then I become transfixed somehow.
I stare in wonder and delight
as everything outside turns white.
Amid the falling flakes I seem
to part the veil of some bright dream,
as silence, like a welcome guest,
arrives, and with him, peace and rest.
I try to lock on to one flake
as it descends. What does it take
to craft a thing of such unique
and delicate design? Don’t speak
to me of science here; I know
the science of each flake of snow,
and how it forms, and why snow storms
occur. I understand the norms
and laws. What gives me pause and cause
to wonder, and what frankly awes
me—as that one flake disappears
into the tapestry that cheers
my soul—is pondering the start
of each flake’s journey, and its part
in this great work of art which grows
before my eyes, and what it shows
me of the beauty and the power
of Him Whose Word commands this shower
and crafts each crystal masterpiece,
then sets it firmly in the slot or crease
for which it was intended, to
present to my admiring view
this winter wonder. And I see,
in this luxurious gallery,
unseen realities, and all
the cosmos, all things vast and small,
held in their place, fulfilling their
appointed purpose everywhere
according to the One Whose love
snows down upon us from above
incessantly, though typically
ignored. How callous we can be.

 

T.M. Moore’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, and he has published five volumes of verse through his ministry’s imprint, Waxed Tablet Publications. He is Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, he and his wife, Susie, reside in Essex Junction, VT.


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16 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    There’s something about the first line of your second poem, but it easily could be me: snow falls; snow does fall; snow is falling.
    I’m not exactly sure how yours should read, but I think you might have mixed tenses.
    Hopefully, one of our grammarians will ring in.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Joe, I noticed the same thing. I believe the proper prose line would be, “When snow falls, as it is falling just now, . . .” T.M. simply left the word “falling” out: or, in other words, an ellipsis (“the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete.”).

      T.M. I admire the ease in which you insert a phrase like this into a sonnet:

      I’m being real
      here, friend; it is my nature to pursue
      whatever I decide is best for me.
      I get these feelings, deep inside my soul,
      and they’re authentic; they exert control,
      and therefore must be what is right, you see.

      I also appreciated the flow of the second poem and the unexpected twist of the blade in the closing couplet. Ouch!

      Reply
      • T. M.

        James and Joe:

        James has it. It’s an intended ellipsis. I wrote the poem in the middle of a recent snowfall. Thanks, James for the encouraging words.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Or, T.M. & James, “When snow falls, as it’s doing now,”

        Another blessing relating to snow is that it provides exercise that I sorely need in the winter when there is no gardening to do. But I don’t expect everyone to feel that way about shoveling the stuff.

  2. Amy Foreman

    More wonderful stuff from T.M. Moore, which I think, at least for me, stands for Tell. Me. More!

    Thanks for these excellent, truth-filled poems, T.M.

    Reply
    • T. M.

      Joe:

      Well, I’m no liberal, but I use this device in normal conversation all the time: “Hurry up.” “I am (hurrying up).” “You should read this.” “I have (read it).” And so on.

      Reply
      • Joe Tessitore

        I didn’t mean to imply that you were.
        This is just another example of grammar going beyond me, like the subjunctive.

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Two thoroughly engaging and inspirational poems. I especially admire the internal rhymes and sheer mastery of words in When Snow Falls, which is a delight to read aloud.

    Reply
  4. Monty

    I’ve made it quite clear in the past how highly I rate your poetry, TM, it’s always beautiful to read; but given the subject-matter of many of your poems (religion), it’s sometimes the case that I have no interest in reading any further than the first few lines, or the first stanza.

    Although the above two pieces have got very slight religious connotations, they can both be read independent of religion. I found the first piece to be a brilliant observation of an everyday human characteristic, and of one who’s afflicted with such a characteristic; and the very purpose of the poem was neatly encapsulated in the question asked in the last line: ‘If one’s born to be a natural liar, what choice does one have?’

    The second piece achieves something I’ve always held dear about poetry; the act of the poet taking a seemingly-mundane thing (in this case, a snowflake) and expanding upon it in a way which may afford the reader to see a deeper meaning in an everyday thing which they’d normally take for granted (in this sense, it reminds me of one of your poems from last year concerning a piece of cheese sat on the snow, surrounded by the claw-prints of a bird which had tried, and failed, to consume it). I’ve always considered this to be a basic duty of a poet: to offer a potentially deeper meaning in things to which we normally pay no attention. You do so with ease.

    As is normal with you, TM, both pieces are immaculately written in every poetic sense: they have a lovely flow about them. If I may remark upon what seems to’ve aroused a minor debate in the above comments: “as it is just now” in L1 of ‘Snow’ . . . when I first read it, I also sensed something potentially awkward in the tenses; but after looking more intently, I now see nothing at all wrong with the line. As James pointed-out, you’ve simply omitted the word ‘falling’.. which is not needed anyway, ‘coz the word ‘falls’ is already in the line. I think the potential stumble for British readers is in the words ‘just now’; in British-English, ‘just now’ is used to mean ‘a short time ago’, thus is said in the past tense – ‘I saw her just now: she told me to give you her regards’. Hence the ambiguity:
    ‘..as it is just now’ . . present tense
    ‘..just now’ . . past tense.

    I suppose in British-English, a writer would eliminate any potential ambiguity by simply rendering the line in one of two ways:

    ‘When snow falls, as it was just now’.. past

    ‘When snow falls, as it is right now’.. present

    Hence, maybe if you swapped the word ‘just’ for ‘right’, that would eliminate any ambiguity on either side of the pond.

    Reply
  5. T.M.

    Monty:

    Thanks for the kind words of encouragement and the helpful suggestions. The phrase “just now” is very interesting. When I was in South Africa to do some teaching, we were having tea, and my friend said that we should leave just now for the meeting. I immediately stood up as he sat down. He meant “in a little while” but I thought he meant “at this very moment.” Neither of us took it as a thing already accomplished! As for the religion in my poems: well, I’m twice-born to it, you see, and I can’t help myself. Back from Asia yet? Blessings.

    T. M.

    Reply
    • Monty

      Well, that’s a revelation, TM. So, ‘just now’ has got three completely different meanings in three different countries:
      U.K. It happened a short while ago
      U.S. It’s happening at this moment
      S.A. It’ll be happening shortly
      That’s fascinating stuff.

      In Britain, ‘just now’ is always used in the past tense, usually to relate to something which happened, say, less than an hour ago: ‘You’ve just missed him; he was here just now’. If we’re gonna use ‘just now’ in the present tense, we always insert the word ‘about’, and we only use it as an approximation: ‘My friend’s flying in today; in fact, she should be landing just about now’ (in the same sense, we also say ‘round about now’).

      Thus, how alien it’d be for a Brit in South Africa to be told: ‘He’s just gone to the 7-eleven; he’ll be back just now. D’you wanna wait?’ That sounds really weird!

      Regarding your religious poems: you don’t have to defend them, TM. One should always write for one’s self, and write what one feels. It’s just that I’m a bit fussy about what subject-matters I read in poetry. Hence, being anti-religion, it naturally follows that I don’t read any religious poetry.. no matter who the author. I also find a lot of landscape-poems monotonous, and rarely read one to the end (there’s only so many times one can read about the way the sun reflects upon the lake, etc).

      I don’t read a whole poem simply because it’s there in front of me. I start reading, and if I lose interest.. I’ll stop! As well as being well-written, a poem must also interest me, or enlighten me, or educate me, or amuse me, or stimulate thought in me, or make me think more deeply about something to which I’d never before paid much attention . . that’s why I can’t get involved with all the mythical nonsense from a thousand years ago which often appears on these pages.

      So, don’t pay any attention to me, TM. You’re religious; you live in a religious country; SCP is based in that same country . . so it’s only natural that you offer a lot of religious poems to these pages; and it’s only natural that a lot of other religious poetry appears on these pages. I understand that . . and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

      Yeah, I’m still in Asia; I’ll be back in France in early April.

      Take it easy . .

      Reply
      • T.M.

        I will take it easy, Monty, but I also take you seriously, and I cannot not pay attention to you. Thank you for taking an interest in my verse.

        T. M.

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