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Invitation to Poetry: Wings

Invitation to Poetry

This is the 30th Poetry Party!  I select an image and suggest a title and invite you to respond with your poems, words, reflections, quotes, song lyrics, etc. Leave them in the comments or email me and I’ll add them to the body of the post as they come in along with a link back to your blog if you have one (not required to participate!)

Feel free to take your poem in any direction and then post the image and invitation on your blog and encourage others to come join the party!

My image for the New Year is “Taking Flight” and I was attending a workshop this weekend to help support me in ways to articulate and expand my work.  So I was especially moved when the facilitator used the image of getting ready to step off the edge to something new.  She said we keep looking back to see if our wings have grown, when in fact our wings only sprout the moment we have stepped into the unknown in an act of trust.  It is our own movement forward into greater freedom that then carries us upward.

In the US, today is of course Martin Luther King, Jr. day when we remember someone who took tremendous steps in faith and trust to move toward freedom, not just his own, but for that of an entire community, at the cost of his own life.  And tomorrow is Inauguration Day, a celebration of a profound moment in our history as a country.  Whatever your politics, there is a tremendous freedom opening up where our imagination itself has been transformed. In taking the step we are sprouting wings.

So I invite you to enter into the image below. You are that angel in the moment after the step off the edge has been taken and the wings have appeared.  Write a poem about the process or the moment, or perhaps in honor of the significance of this day or tomorrow. (Photo taken at St. Bart’s church in NYC last spring)


stepping off the edge
rushing wind, freefalling, fly
on these new-born wings

was it faith or fear
that drove me to leap, to live
to let go, to love

no terra firma
buoyed only by air and hope
laughing soaring free

-RevAnne at Stories and Faith


Angel War

The remnants of the first
And last angel war
Happened on this beach
Near Cape Disappointment.
Crushed shells of armor and pinions
Littered the porous serf.
Blackened wood and trampled greens-
Ever changing in wind and fog.
The victor is uncertain
As if looking for rifle shells
And arrow heads
After the Custer massacre
Would bring my great-uncle back
Or make me whole.

After dusting on the cottage sill
Feathers and shells look lovely
Overlooking the sea.

-Tom Delmore at Crow’s Perch

Freedom on Broken Wings

I am becoming the woman I wanted
Stronger in tenderness, wisdom and grace
Walking with God into the great mystery
Dancing with Jesus into a new place

Slowly these changes for which I’ve been praying
Sink into my soul and clothe me with beauty
Inviting a life built on a foundation
Much more about love, much less about duty

It kind of sneaks up on me, firmly embracing me
Into this rooted and womb-like enclosure
Yet offering freedom on wings that are broken
And teaching a song of empassioned composure

This somewhat bewildering gradual becoming
Delights me and pains me, both calms me and thrills me
And dancing with Jesus seems strangely like flying
with feet on the ground, when his spirit fills me

So here I am holding this blessed revision
Of all I have been and hoped I could be
Do you see me growing?  Will you share my finding?
Of Jesus’ unveiling of how to be free…….

-Shelley B.

I open my heart –
My feet lift off from the ground.
My eyes meet your eyes –
Without warning, we are one.
You are the wings of my heart.



Dear child do not be afraid
I have only come to comfort you
Have you forgotten me?
No sweet child the time is not yet right
There are those who still need to love you
When will you know?
Do not fret my child, I will come and lead you
Can you bring your glasses?
You will not need them my child
For even the blind may gaze upon heaven
What of your tired and broken body?
In heaven the weak and strong dance as one
You are worried about your clouded mind?
In heaven you will know true clarity
Rest now child, put your worries away
It is almost time to come home

-Steve Newcomb

to be stagnant in life
is to cheat yourself.
to make the safest choice
is not living at all.
to feel the tug of destiny
is to have inner peace.
to hear the voice of truth
in your ear,
”Go now my child,
Leap now my child,
Believe now my child,
is to know your path is right.



Inauguration Day 2009

There is a moment, sometimes,
that clearly separates
the memory laden past
from the unknowable future.

This is the space for imagining
all that could be
with one who calls out
the best in us.

It is a shining moment
that gathers the light
and all our attention,
a triumph, not to be seen again.

We hold our breath,
keeping the treasure in our grasp,
just a bit longer,
not wanting to lose its luster.

Inspiration is in the air
and gratitude
that the long, unyielding road
has led to this day, this moment,

When one young man
gives us every reason
to believe again
that yes,
yes, we can.

-Pam McCauley


Christine Valters Paintner, friend and oftentimes our guide, encouraging our deepest inspiration, yesterday said: “You are that angel in the moment after the step off the edge has been taken and the wings have appeared:”
__ __ __

Elizabeth Alexander’s INAUGURAL POEM

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

__ __ __

-submitted by kigen


moving forward
a shadow in brilliant light
an unaccustomed weight of wings
an unexpected lightness of being
…take flight

-rebecca at Difference a Year Makes


the angel
an ev-angelical
a messenger
“good newser”
announces fear not
to us has arrived a God-spell
a whispered do not be afraid
lift every voice and sing
our new day begins!

-Leah Sophia at This Far by Faith


No bird can fly
without opening its wings,
and no one can love
without exposing their heart.  -Mark Nepo

(submitted by lucy at Diamonds in the Sky with Lucy)


Come Down From Heaven….

“Come down…..from heaven…..watering-snow…….
bringing with you all the budding-possibilities….
Flourish…. yielded-seed….flung with intention from The Sower’s hands
…… Die to live…..Take root…..
Rise from your earthen tomb…..
Grow….Stand upright and sway in the unseen breeze……
Wait for the harvest of earthen-hands….
Be garnered…….carried to the threshing floor…… dismembered from the chaff…..milled into promise…..kneaded into One Loaf…..

Tested by fire you become bread to the eater…….
a creation of the Word who speaks us all into existence….

Come, “Creative Word”….
Accomplish your deepest desires……
Achieve your grandest purposes……
… us……..

JES (01/20/09)

Tethered angel
Afraid no more
Lean into Me
Trust and soar

-Sunrise Sister at Mind Sieve



Startled awake,
pulse pounding,
wind and rain,
my lover’s breath,
a whisper
of wings.

stretched sounds
contracted in time,
in darkness
my ears see,
you speak

Words too soft,
too smooth,
too beautiful
for this world
to ignore,
to disobey.

Danger is near,
take the child
and mother
and run,
run south,

a sound,
a beat
a whisper
of wings.



Spiritual Sentinel

I see your tender profile,
your mighty, elegant wings,
your extravagant grace,
your solid serenity,
your readiness for flight.

I pray for these
for our new leaders,
as well as a grounding,
a perch, a sanctuary
that is secure,
One they can return to
again and again for
spiritual nourishment and
yet even greater vision
for Peace around our tables,
our neighborhoods,
our nation and
our world.

-Martha Louise Harkness


the winged one
that has me as a charge
wears aqua high tops
sings baritone
plays the trombone
paints exquisite teacups
and smells like a ginger root
s/he, like Travolta
can remove said wings
for special occasions

but mostly the wings
keep this being grounded
and ready

boy howdy am I grateful
s/he makes me smile

-Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House



A gray winter sky releases gentle snowflakes,
silence arriving on the edge of Sunday morning.
Sitting in my old red chair, I consider the fire
burning without, burning within.

The brush of an angel’s wings against my face
recalls the holy touch of one no longer near.
Closing my eyes, I deeply drink the vision
living well, dying whole.

Purple sunset celebrates the freely given day,
I stutter step as I near the marble sentinel,
unsure if a mere kiss will be enough to pay my fare
home , forever home

-Rich at Pilgrim Path


Aura of Dawn

O, enlightened wings,
Aura of Dawn,
Brighten my eyes,

O, enlightened wings,
Aura of Dawn,
Ignite my face,

O, enlightened wings,
Aura of Dawn,
Transform my soul,

-Lisa Barnes at Eghersis

I once waited
for the freeing lift
of flight
I thought that
if I chased it far enough
ran fast enough
threw myself into the wind often enough
one day I would

I see now
that sometimes
when I’m focused enough,
not on flight, but on
the Kingdom work in front of me
I and those around

I still may fly
but in this time,
I know what it is to live
with feet not touching the ground

-ymp at Means of Grace


Bus Station Angel

at the downtown bus station
I met an angel
dressed in baggy jeans
Carrying a beat up backpack

He told me a story
about the art in his head
a city in the sky
his heart in a cage.

He told me a story
about the drugs in his veins
heroin, meth, cocaine
None of it much worse than
What the doctors pump in.

He told me a story
about his hopes for the future
how he’ll go to school, get a job
someday travel the world.

He told me a story
About the stars in the sky
Bright shining galaxies
Whole other worlds of second chances.

He didn’t have a halo
or wings sprouting from his back.
He has no idea that he’s already a saint
Bearing the cross of a world that
doesn’t really see him.
Will never understand him.

There’s always someone wanting
to fix him with a pill
or a few more sessions.
Change him into what we think he
should look like instead of
letting him be.
Just letting him
in this world.

There’s a light in his eye
And a goodness that’s alive.
You can see that he’s lost
But still there’s that spark
And someone who can feed that flame
And someone who wants to steal it.

God, don’t let that spark go out.
Please, God,
Don’t let that spark go out.

-Rebecca Johnson


If you are looking,
for pure white wings,
or even a rusted halo;
walk on.

For coiffed heroes
with curling golden hair
and serene faces;
walk on.

Your call will come
but not, I’m afraid
with angel choirs; so
walk on.

Your plans will fall
on the hard edge
of the words: I can’t
walk on.

A call is sounding
in the depths, where wings
will do you no good;
walk on.

A horn is blowing,
on a field, strewn
with those who never;
walk on.

You are called:
off the cliff, no
looking down or pause:
walk on.

You are called:
out of a boat, and over
the crash of impossible waves:
walk on.

Only let go the never,
the impossible, the can’t,
the false choice between Thee and I:
and fly.

-Tandaina at Left Turn at Joy


Whether purring flutter of Ruby Throated or Air-sucking whoosh of Great Blue They penetrate the walls of my secrets Finding pitiful little with which to sharpen their beaks.

-Dances with Loons



I know

that once

I had wings.


Deep night


I hovered

high above

a steel-span

that stretched

across black water

and watched our family’s car

careen and crash

out and off

the bridge.


I kicked my legs

and reached my wings

and tried to swim through air

too thick for flight or breath.


Bright light burst

across the surface

of the water.


I tumbled and fell

and after sunlight licked

my eyelids

my wings

tangled and entangled

in sheets and blankets

were just my arms.


The family car

was safe as steel

resting on concrete.


At breakfast

when my mother asked

how I slept

I frowned

and shrugged


my  secret wings.



-Richard Wells

Seattle, WA

February 2, 2009


(c) Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts:
Transformative Living through Contemplative & Expressive Arts


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22 Responses

  1. Hope it is ok to post late, thank you.


    Whether purring flutter of Ruby Throated or
    Air-sucking whoosh of Great Blue
    They penetrate the walls of my secrets
    Finding pitiful little with which to sharpen their beaks.

  2. late, but present (again)

    I once waited
    for the freeing lift
    of flight
    I thought that
    if I chased it far enough
    ran fast enough
    threw myself into the wind often enough
    one day I would

    I see now
    that sometimes
    when I’m focused enough,
    not on flight, but on
    the Kingdom work in front of me
    I and those around

    I still may fly
    but in this time,
    I know what it is to live
    with feet not touching the ground