Showing posts with label Bible people. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible people. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lord, have mercy on me a sinner

Lord, have mercy on me a sinner

who doesn’t think she is all that bad,
having kept the Ten Commandments
totally intact without going off track
like those Psalm One people who hang out
with the wicked or stand in the way of
anyone ready to do wrong or sit around
scoffing and coughing on a joint.
That’s not me, Lord!

No, I’m not perfect, but I do honor You
as the Only One I want to worship, and I do
say “God bless you” to almost everyone
instead of handing out curses, and I read
my Bibles and know a lot of verses, and
I mostly go inside whenever the church’s
doors are open, and I truly honored my
parents and never murdered anyone nor
committed adultery nor done anything
that might get me arrested!

Am I being tested?

Right when Your Ten Commands sound doable,
the tone changes and each priority rearranges,
reminding me of how, yes, I have stolen
time from my family and, oh, You, Lord!
And how I’ve spread a rumor without checking
facts, and how I’ve acted as though I don’t mind
being in a bind when others have too much or
when I gave such effort yet failed to be a winner.

Praise You, Lord, for having mercy on me,
a sinner.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, from the forthcoming poetry chapbook, WE: the people under God, to be published in September by Finishing Line Press.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Living in Eternity

The Escape
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Day after day I think of death
descending on us
like that fish hawk on the pond,
the dark wings
towering through each window
of our house and settling
on the sofa
where we like to rest.

Some call death
an osprey, kindly and benign
with its sweet brown and white
seersucker breast and tail,
but they forget
the downward hook of the beak,
the prickly spicules on the feet,
the claws that claw through the
thickest cushions, letting nothing,
get away but

love and spirit.

©2015, ©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. “The Escape” first saw print in the Journey’s End anthology then was included in the poetry book, Living in the Nature Poem, published by Hiraeth Press.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Prose poem on Lot’s Wife

This poem originally appeared in 2012 on the Bible People blog and in 2014 was included in the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published by Kelsay Books.

Prose poem by Mary Harwell Sayler
Lot’s Wife Visits Genesis 19

No one bothered to name her, not even as an infant when the streets intersecting Sodom and Gomorrah gave birth to her and held on tight, bouncing her back on the bungee of an uncut umbilical cord. She married, made a home, and brought forth future generations in her girls. The older nameless ones wed and started families before the Angels came, announcing unnatural disasters, but what did Lot think he was doing, offering up the other two anonymous girls to get the single-minded Sodomites away from unclean thoughts?

His wife hardly had a warning – only orders to flee as an unidentified Angel grabbed her hand and told her to hurry, hurry, hurry. She felt so tired, so angry with Lot for saying he would sacrifice their two youngest girls to the mob, so confused by all the commotion, but hand in hand with an Angel, she ran. She ran. She ran, and no one knows why she stopped: To ask a question? To drop to her knees? To see what would happen to her children and grandchildren left behind?

As she lagged behind the Angel’s orders, no one dared to turn and see where she had gone. No one dared to turn and ask if she could make it to the mountain by herself. Later, when Lot and the two girls reached the little town of Zoar and saw salt outcroppings dashed across the plains, they noticed one shaped like The Wife, The Mother, but no one bothered to name her, not even then, not even as the pillar of her community, preserved in salt-dried tears.

© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. For more on prose poems, see "Do real poets read and write prose poems?” on the Poetry Editor & Poetry blog and "From Gospel to prose poem" posted In a Christian Writer's Life also by Mary Sayler.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Prose poem parable

Children Sulking in the Public Square
Matthew 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35

And Jesus said:
To what shall I compare this generation?

You’re like kids, complaining to their playmates: “You don’t play right! When we played Wedding, you did not dance. When we played Funeral, you did not beat your chest and weep and wail and mourn.” Oh, grow up! When John the Baptist came playing Funeral, you said, “He has a demon!” And when The Son of Man came in like a Wedding, you said, “What a pig! He drinks too much wine and with such sinful people.” At least, that’s how it seems but seek some discernment and you’ll see some things differently – as Wisdom often does.

©2015, 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. The above prose poem first appeared in the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Present in the Hand of God

Turning Handsprings
by Mary Harwell Sayler


"Give me a hand,
would you?" -- a hand-
some metaphor for asking help when feeling hand-
i-capped by lack of time on hand,
energy lagging behind the task one has been handed.


In Michelangelo’s creation on the Sistine ceiling, the Hand
of God stretches, pointedly, toward Adam’s hand:
the human palm turned from a firm hand
shake, thumb down, into a limp hand
loosely situated to receive a synaptic leap from Hand
to hand
as heaven and earth keep a hand
in designing this hand-
book to be handed
down for generations to those hand-
picked to hold the well-woven hand-
kerchief, handy
now for wiping ancient markings from the hands.


If I hand
myself over to Your keeping, Lord, will You handle
me carefully -- perhaps hand-
feed and caress me, O Living Hand
of God? Give me Your Hand
in marriage. Let me be Your Hand-
made hand-
maiden -- Your Hand-
i-work reflecting Your likeness in my hand-
mirror, hand-held along the life-line of Your undying Hand.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler. All Rights Reserved. The poem first appeared in the poetry book, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

God loves you. God trusts you.

Child, Child,

If God didn’t love you, no eyes, no ears
would weave into your gut, no
heart would arch into the inner soles
of your shoes, showing you where to go.

If God didn’t trust you, there would be
no joy to oil your neighbors, no love to
cover the sins of your enemies, no Good
News to paper the walls of your head.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

“Child, Child,” first saw print in Mary's book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


Friday, August 29, 2014

In the beginning: Overture, a poem

by Mary Harwell Sayler

In the beginning,
You came to us, Lord.

In the beginning, You


into us Your Breath
of Life –

Spirit Life.

In the beginning,
You created heaven
and earthy
in Your Love.

You divided
the dispirited darkness.
from the Light
where You dwell.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

“Overture” first appeared in the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.

If you would like an autographed copy, send the name you want the book addressed to and $20 (includes mailing at book rate) in U.S. funds to Mary Sayler, P.O. Box 62, Lake Como, FL 32157, or order from Amazon below:

Outside Eden, paperback

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

God and a child save Moses

by Mary Harwell Sayler

What a beautiful baby brother you have
to hide among the reeds along the river
where you’ve seen Pharaoh’s daughter
bathe, splashing water against her kind
kohl-lined eyes. You’ve noticed her before,
haven’t you, Miriam, as you’ve gone outdoors
to play? Did you watch her as you gathered
papyrus reeds to waterproof and weave
into a tiny ark, like Noah’s, or a miniature
of an Egyptian riverboat? Did you wait for
an opportunity to float by like the basket
your mother thrust among the rushes with
the infant Moses snug inside?

When your mother rushed home, empty-
armed in anguish, you stayed behind to see
what would happen along the river’s edge.
Oh, what courage it took for you to talk to
Pharaoh’s daughter! And how clever of you
to ask if she'd like a Hebrew nurse to tend
the baby taken from the Nile. With her
permission, you brought your own mother
to take care of your brother, but who would
have thought a princess would pay you to
take him home awhile? Who would expect
the timely act of you, a child, to extract an
exiled people from the mouth of the crocodile?

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. “Bravado” first appeared in a summer 2011 post on Catholic Lane and has been included in the new book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.

Outside Eden, paperback

Monday, June 9, 2014

Title poem for Outside Eden

Outside Eden
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Away from the flaming torches,
everything grows dark.

Does God
want me near?

I turn back to look,
but angels loom,
and sparks drip from wings
as though they’re bleeding.

I hear a lion roar.

Is this called fear?

I do not know what I can eat now –
every berried bite a potential toxin,
waiting to take hold.

I don’t know where or when to sleep,
but I drop down, exhausted,
hoping the serpent
won’t coil around my ear.

© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. “Outside Eden” opens the new book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.

Outside Eden, paperback

Friday, July 5, 2013

Seeing ourselves through Christ

Stained Glass
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Through a glass, darkly, I see.
Through a glass – dark and of lead:

Redness corners the pane
of confrontation,
and a silent glint of green
can be still seen where I forgot
what God had given me.
Blue coats a remote place
where my soul cries,
and yellow fears
smear through everything
I say or do.

Oh, Lord, what a mess I've made!

How can I erase this jaded view?

But Christ comes through.

Highlighting old patterns
and parts that need replacing
with communion and confession,
God clarifies the eternal view
of who I am:
beautifully blessed,
beloved, and yes,
colorful, but unstained.

Oh, how Christ's light becomes me!


(c)2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finders, Keepers, Brothers

And the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I do not know,” Cain said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Genesis 4:9

In Keeping
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Someone should discover flint
for striking fire to send signals
made of smoke or devise a drum
from thin skins of animals stroked
into softness then stretched into
roundness to be beaten into
an oddly hollow sound.

Someone should learn
to yodel in a range
of mountains or arrange
a system for sending sequential
codes on air with interceptive
devices everywhere a tribe or
person remains somewhat ready
to receive what’s being said.

Someone should take charcoal
and mark rolls of parchment with
characters aligning straight lines
of words into the pronouncing of
a sentence.

Someone should write a book,
a map, a mini-series for TV.
Someone should set hooks
and parallel wires on poles
to zigzag the horizon,
reconfiguring the sky in
a random maze that amazes
even the birds.

Someone should hollow out
a satellite dish that allows us
to fax, phone home, email, or
text message each other to keep
in touch with mothers, fathers,
sisters, brothers, neighbors,
and others known to need
close keeping.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. First published in a 2011 issue of Contemporary Literary Horizon, this poem later appears in the book of Bible-based poetry, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting for God, waiting for light

Psalm 62:1-2

For God alone
in silence
my soul.
From God alone
in strength
my salvation.
My Rock!
My Fortress!
I shall not
be moved.
In God alone
my soul shall
not be shaken.

©1998, Mary Harwell Sayler
Poem originally published in UpSouth.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Booking the Book of Life

Checkout Desk
At The Library

by Mary Harwell Sayler

Your Name calls me
across the ages
of distant stars
& closed embankments
of cribs & crevices,
crypts & caverns
beyond the pages
& typed pages
of historical bliss
& abysses
into the unguarded
tongue of a garden
where names are named,
and in some book
of life or poem,
your Word translates
me into a closer
reading of my-
self & infinity.

© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved. This poem first saw print in Windhover. For a variety of Bible topics, see Blogs by Mary. For more poems by Mary, see this first look at her book Living in the Nature Poem to be published June 15 by Hiraeth Press.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Peace! Be still

poem by Mary Harwell Sayler

from Mark 4
Four Corners Come

and the wind grows
in its wildness,

and waves rush
into the Sea of Galilee,

and old stories of swine
drowning in these
waters rise and surface,

churning whitecaps
as Jesus calls:

“Be still. Be

and the waters
calm, and you and I

will settle this in peace.


©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Originally published in 2005 issue of National Catholic Reporter, this poem later appeared in Mary's book of Bible-based poetry, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Miriam, sister of Moses

The Object Of Conversation
from Genesis 15 and Numbers 12
by Mary Harwell Sayler

They’re talking about you, Miriam. They’re
talking about how you should have married and
had a family of your own instead of hovering
over the one drawn from the water, long ago.

They’re talking about you as though you’re
absent -- as though no female prophet, past or
present, could count herself as blessed as any
man who speaks, face to face, with God.

Outside the camp of jealousy in the weak site
of leprosy, can you forgive your brother Moses
for having to intercede for you and pray when
you would prefer it to be the other way around?
Neither forgiveness nor forgetfulness will come
by your welcoming death, so save your breath!

And just so you'll know, this talk goes on and
on in Bible circles where we discuss how rivalry
erupted, corrupting your pores with your longing
to speak for God -- to stand alone and yet belong
among the prophetically great leaders of the world.
So we interpret you as we see fit: appraising right,
assessing wrong, but even now we sing your song.


©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Originally published in 2007 issue of Bridges, the poem later appears in Mary's book of Bible-based poetry, Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Having a quiet time-out with God

by Mary Harwell Sayler

The cardinals convene the color of the day.
Robed in red, they pronounce a benediction
over cawing crow and squawking jay –
an ecumenical procession of beak and plume.

Two tiny titmice, cowled like monks,
begin to chant, and a pair of mourning doves
peck flat wafer seeds from little chunks
of ground, keeping time to a hymnal tune.

A brown thrasher thrashes in a purifying pool,
and into this God-given school of earth and sky –
on my most mid-weak day – I
come to be quiet and commune.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. “Congregation” originally saw print November, 1998 in the Central Florida Episcopalian.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poem: After Selling Joseph into Slavery

After Selling Joseph into Slavery
by Mary Harwell Sayler

from Genesis 37-38

Fortunately, the sky doesn’t fall
as you lift the flap of the tent
enveloping you in skins of darkness.
Later, you may learn to build pyramids
if Joseph has no say, but now you look
at the sky and wonder, “What have
I done? What have I done?
What have I

This thing you feel perhaps is preface
to the history of conscience -- a concise
course in Bible ethics beginning with
Adam and Eve, who brought blame into
the world but failed to show remorse
or with Cain, whose killing Abel caused
parental sorrow and caused Cain to develop
a distaste for consequences but who never
quite got the concept of scrambled scruples
causing pain.

Then there was Abraham who lied twice
about his wife being his sister and whose
son did the same without apparent shame
to himself or anyone, and, of course, no one
needs to mention how your father’s long
intention was to turn his brother’s birthright
into wrong -- with no sense of conviction
that this was no noble action.

But, Judah, you alone
have torn your heart from mother, father, brothers
and gone to be alone
with no clear precedent for repentance -- no
legal handing down of a sentence
meant to extricate you from the slavery
of knowing
you’ve done.

Did Noah, your forefather, know his cursing
Ham would settle blame somewhere
in the region of where Joseph sits imprisoned?

Would it help you now to know how the story ends --
with Joseph’s dream come true as you
and your brothers bow to him?

Would it hurt you now to see your children’s children
issuing forth from Joseph's slavery?

Would it help you to hear of the later leadership of Moses
(a descendant of your older brother, Levi), who ascended
to the task of writing laws of right and wrong by which --
now deeply felt and darkly known -- you would truly try
to abide and not have to hide to be alone?

Let speculation show you
to dream of the need for a savior.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler. Originally published June 2008 in “Bible Talk” on the Catholic Exchange website and used here by permission of the poet, this poem later appeared in Mary's book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published by Kelsay Books in 2014.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Following God into Lent

by Mary Harwell Sayler

Oh, Lord,
I need Your love –
in the beginning
before I can grow.

I need Your Word to
speak deep inside of me,
quieting chaos and
commanding out
those terrors, void of You.

I need to hear You say,
"Bring forth. Bring forth!"

I need to be borne,
not by my own
"should" or "could,"
but by Your Word
in me – always
very good.


©2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, originally published in the Spring ©1996 issue of Upsouth and used here by permission of the author.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Finding true love for Valentine’s Day

Picturing perfection in the Garden of Eden might be hard to do, and yet young people often imagine that true love spells perfection. Not! True love does exist, however, as we come in celebration of our creation, perfectly fabricated by The One Love Most Higher Than High.

by Mary Harwell Sayler

Pretend we're together, you and I
by a fire lit with emeralds, topaz, rubies,
set in stone to embrace the hearth and pave
a warmer way beneath our soles.

Pretend we're laughing by the pool,
splashing our faces with champagne-
sparkled water that cleanses and consoles.

Pretend we're breathing in a vivid sunset
from the teasing tops of trees or dancing
in the ease of our own music.

Pretend we're intimately occupied
with weaving words and arms and nests
as we beckon catbirds, cardinals, egrets,
osprey on a familiar note of names.

Pretend we're playing hide-and-seek
in the fluorescent light of fireflies,
candlestalks, and a ripe, reflective moon.

Pretend we're together, you and I –
completely fabricated, forever celebrated
by The One Love Most Higher than high.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, originally published in the © 1998, Saints Alive, Not & Then chapbook and used here by permission of the author.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bible People, then and now

The official Bible canon closed in the early years of the church, but Bible characters and their stories continue to connect with the people of God whose lives are still being written.

Returning People
by Mary Harwell Sayler

They’ve come, you know.
They've come through
Genesis singing Psalms
and Lamentations and landing
at your kitchen table. Sometimes
they walked. Sometimes they
danced. Sometimes they dragged
themselves through First and
Second Chronicles into one
war then another around a world
that rolls like parchment across
four walls where you sometimes
think you’re cornered until
they remind you that you’re not.
Listen. They come with slingshots,
tambourines, flatbread, and wine.
They come carrying poems,
prayers, and sometimes swords –
whatever it takes to get them
through a chapter and onto the
next revelation of what it means
to have a body, know a body
and be one, upright, with you,
around the table.

© 2007, Mary Harwell Sayler, All rights reserved. Originally published by CSS Publishing in 2007 in What A Body! book on the ministry gifts, this poem was later included in Outside Eden, published in 2014 by Kelsay Books