“Ink” ~ In Celebration of National Poetry Month


I will be the first to admit that I am not a poet, but I enjoy poetry. I am drawn first to the mystery and magic of words, but I also love the rhythm and rhyme of structured verse. Perhaps it’s the folk song lyricist in me, but meter, beat, assonance, alliteration, rhyme, and all the other aspects of classic poetry resonate in my spirit. So when I write poetry, that’s how it comes out. The poem below is like that, and yet it also has a freedom, flow, and tension to it, to express the very nature of the anxiety of writing even that poem.

by Clay Clarkson

I think
makes permanent
the fleeting thought
the not yet sure
the awkward word
still insecure
the raw emotion
captured, still
naked, held
against its will

I think
is resolute
unyielding, firm
but I am not
I dodge and squirm
and hide from thoughts
I ought to face
smudge the lines
line out, erase
and pencil in
with tepid lead
the limpid grays
that can’t be read
so words can run
if given leave
and thoughts demur
if they please

I think
does not forgive
so I resist
I feint, recant
and only then
with trembling hand
take up the pen
to flay my soul
to make the marks
so sure, so cold
so fixed and fast
so resolute
so permanent
no substitute
imprisoned in
pigmented lines
of shiny black
forever mine
no rued regrets
no half a heart
no looking back
no second starts
the line is drawn
the die is cast
the deed is done
the moment passed
no changes now
the deal is sealed
no mincing words
what is revealed
is cast upon
the writing wind
the ink is dry
it is the end

Resigned to fate
with bated sigh
the mighty pen
I cast aside
but then
a thought
a word
a grin
and hastily
I pencil in
and once
I think

Cross Words: The Seventh ~ Finished

Cross Words - Day 7 - Finished

“Cross Words” is a seven sonnet sequence based on one word from each of the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross (see all here).

April 4, 2015

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. ~John 19:30


“It is finished.” Yes, but not the end.
An anguished cry, Spirit yielded, death
Begins what only He could comprehend:
That life lay nascent in His final breath.
What language can convey, what words unfold
(When naught but silence quietens my groans)
These longings stirred within my muted soul
For hope conferred on mortal flesh and bone?
Staunch me of all words, O Word of all,
Till this untethered tongue shall cease to move,
That I might hear the veil-torn voice that calls
And floods this void with unrelenting love:
Living words that pierce my soul and rend
This heart in two and bind it back again.

(c) 2014 Clay Clarkson

Cross Words: The Sixth ~ Commit

Cross Words - Day 6 - Commit

“Cross Words” is a seven sonnet sequence based on one word from each of the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross (see all here).

April 3, 2015

And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” ~Luke 23:46


His timbered table set for only one –
The life-bread broken, finest wine now poured
Into an earthen cup. This loving Son
Calls to His father, “This for You, My Lord.”
Into the hands that hold all living things
He offers one last meal of spirit food,
Who made the universe now humbly brings
Himself served up on blood-soaked, splintered wood.
His invitation draws me: “Come and dine.”
Upon this living viand I partake
And taste the bread and savor holy wine
That sate a hunger only He can slake.
Body, blood, the bread of life He gives
To feast on Him that all who eat may live.

(c) 2014 Clay Clarkson

Cross Words: The Fifth ~ Thirsty

Cross Words - Day 5 - Thirsty

“Cross Words” is a seven sonnet sequence based on one word from each of the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross (see all here).

April 2, 2015

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scriptures, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. ~John 19:28-29


Healer of the sick and lame, the blind
Eyes opened by His spittle in the mud,
Now says, “I thirst,” no miracle this time
But Scripture is fulfilled in all He does.
The Living Water – spilled for all to quench
The thirst of every sin-parched, seeking soul –
Tastes of the soured wine that bears the stench
Of death that He must suffer for their fall.
The time had come, no tears were left to cry;
The work had been accomplished, all was done.
The cross had squeezed all life from Him, now dry –
A spent, discarded, sacrificial sponge.
But heaven’s rain was coming soon to send
A river, living water without end.

(c) 2014 Clay Clarkson

Cross Words: The Fourth ~ Forsaken

Cross Words - Day 4 - Forsaken

“Cross Words” is a seven sonnet sequence based on one word from each of the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross (see all here).

April 1, 2015

When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, Sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” ~Mark 15:33-35


The One who told the raging storm, “Be still!”
Hung silent on a cross as darkness fell
Across the land, a shadow veil, until
He cried out from a dark place in His soul:
“My God! My God!” he shouted through a haze,
“Why have you forsaken Me?” and groaned.
No angels came, no chariot to save;
Abandoned and deserted, left alone,
Who once had spoken to the darkness, “Light!”
Creation’s life that He Himself would be.
But now the darkened sun forbore to shine
While Light hung dying on a killing tree.
They mocked Him, “Let us see Elijah come”
And to the dark Light willingly succumbed.

(c) 2014 Clay Clarkson