Tongues as of Fire

If men desire to find belief, to sing
It out through throats works best to make the soul
Embrace it.  This will make the sought faith zing
Behind their hearts and manliness’s whole.
The faith will throb straight through the tenor throats,
The baritones and basses’ tongues, and play
Up in the tear ducts through the holy notes,
The notes made sacred by the ricochet
Of music through the body and the brain.
The holiness will well up from the lungs
And wash, as in a holy rite, each stain
Of unbelief away with concord’s tongues.
_The counter tenors chime in, too, above
__Conviction like a Pentecostal dove.




If love were sovereign, we would navigate
The dark canals of instinct in a bright
Blue gondola, our songs reverberate
A sea-shell colored, phosphorescent light.
Before our bow the universe would raise
A row of archways of Murano glass
Reflecting us above the water’s glaze,
But melting like mirages as we pass
The walls of envy rising from the shore
Of cynicism, walls (grown dark with frost-
Like fungus) sinking into sandbars more
Akin to deserts built to house the lost.
_A sovereign love would launch sky-colored boats
__To where an unclaimed moon forever floats . . .



Phillip Whidden is an American living in England who has been published in America, England, Scotland (and elsewhere) in book form, online, and in journals.  

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4 Responses

  1. Michael Pietrack

    “Melting like mirages”
    “Sky-colored boats”

    Good stuff!

    Thank you, Phillip.

  2. Kanta

    In first poem, ricochet is without rhyming , no rhyming with play .though this poem is nice to feel and read the charms of words setting..

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      “Ricochet” is a French word. It is pronounced RICK – OH – SHAY. It rhymes perfectly with “play.”

  3. Jack DesBois

    Phillip, your first poem, “Tongues of Fire,” is marvelous, and dangerous. Yes, music – and singing in particular – is a highly effective tool for fanning the embers of belief in one’s soul. Your musical poem exemplifies that. “The holiness will well up from the lungs / and wash…”

    But it can be dangerous to use song for this purpose. You have to be oh, so careful that the sentiments you are branding onto your soul in the lyrics of the song and character of the music are, in fact, true and holy sentiments. And if you’re struggling with unbelief in the first place, then are you the best judge of truth and holiness?

    Song has long been used as a propaganda and brainwashing tool, and it is especially effective when presented as religious music. The devil cloaks his lies in half-truths and apparent beauty. Many churches (in my experience, UCC churches in New England have perfected this practice) have misused ecclesiastical music to instill unholy beliefs in their congregations.

    A relatively safe approach, I think, is to sing a diet of Christian songs from other eras: Bach, Handel, Watts, Mason, Newton come to mind. Which isn’t to say there aren’t any divinely inspired Christian songwriters today. It just takes a discerning heart to distinguish them from those perverting the Word of God for a worldly agenda.

    Thank you for a well-crafted and thought-provoking poem, Phillip.


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