While sleet and bitter winds compel these bones to stay inside
and blood runs hot with sorrow for the burning world,
I turn my gaze to You with whom my senses won’t abide;
for what it’s worth, I offer these few hollow words.
What’s come of life, this endless grind, I once received with joy?
The ghouls portending tragedy each day prove true.
Disclaimers, thugs, and maniacs so eager to deploy
discouragement at every turn, what’s wrong with you?
They muttered in Jerusalem, threw carnivals in Rome.
Berserkers in Byzantium, cossacks through Minsk,
at every time in every age, we’re driven from our home
by those convinced they’ve been raw dealt, same, ever since.
And yet, in each new moment, some young mother meets her child.
A father sees his daughter wed; the groom, his bride
has paid some kindness forward secretly. A teacher mild
praises; a student’s weary spirit fills with pride.
If You exist somehow beyond the cruelty and reason
or better yet reside, calm, within my choices,
then roll the stone away and lift me to the new season.
Grant us grace to hear and speak with truer voices.
This is my first attempt at a poetic meter known as the Poulter’s measure. Poulters, or sellers of poultry, were known in the Elizabethan era to vary their quantity of a dozen between 14 and 12. You may be familiar with 13 as a baker’s dozen—same idea.
A poem in Poulter’s measure alternates lines of 14 syllables with alexandrines, or lines of 12 syllables. The rhythm creates a kind of solemnity that reminds me of acolytes moving slowly down a cathedral aisle toward the altar. Wherever you reside along the spectrum of Easter, Eostre, or “Finally, a long weekend!”, may it be a happy one.
© Elaine Stirling, 2016