Poetry

Poems that wrestle out blessings

An archive of all poems published to the wordpress feed; I’ll update this page regularly.

I welcome you to make use of any poetry shared here in worship services, classes or presentations, or other public settings. Please credit Avery Arden and link to binarybreakingworship.com (and remember that my pronouns are they/them).

I love to hear about how my work is being used! It’s not necessary, but if you want to let me know you’ve used one of my poems, email me at queerlychristian36@gmail.com.

My work here is also completely free, but if you’d like to send a few bucks my way in thanks, you can do so at https://ko-fi.com/averyarden.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Relating to / Wrestling with God
  • The goodness of Creation & embodied life
  • Disability Centered
  • Queer Centered
  • Liturgical Seasons — Lent & Easter, Advent & Christmas

RELATING TO, WRESTLING WITH GOD

“God’s Revolution”

  • “if you are content now
  • you will be devastated then
  • for when the world is flipped upside-down
  • all your riches will go spilling into space…”

“Glory to the God who tires, rests”

  • “…Jesus, you felt the world’s weight across your shoulders
    even heavier than the rest of us.

    yet
    you took the time
    to row yourself into the sea’s dark belly
    and let her cradle you…”
  • Written during my internship as a hospital chaplain.
  • Inspired by Psalm 131 and Gospel stories where Jesus withdraws from crowds to pray and rest.

“First question”

  • A poem that wrestles with God in the face of suffering
  • “my God, you better be ready when i come
    and stand before you face to face at last
    because you know how many questions i have for you
    and you know the very first that will
    burst from my lips will be
    why?…”

“the pillar of salt contemplates the stars”

  • A poem from the perspective of Lot’s wife on the power of bearing witness & wrestling with complicated scripture passages

“Reflection: God our Beloved”

  • God our Beloved,
    you hold out your hands
    with the wounds that mark your solidarity with us,
    to accept us into your arms as one spouse takes another.

“Opening Prayer: Strange God, Wisdom for Fools”

  • “O World’s Restorer, Status quo’s Demise,
    you look into our minds, survey our assumptions and our plans
    and you throw back your head and laugh.
    You do not reveal your Wisdom
    to the ones the world calls wise.
    (They would not know what to make of it, anyway.)…”

THE GOODNESS OF CREATION & EMBODIED LIFE

“whippoorwill blessing”

  • “…tell me how you’ll lavish me in blessings
    only lavished upon those
    who arise and go…”

“tea prayer”

  • “preparing tea is its own kind of prayer –
    one that heat and water pray for you.
    the kettle’s keening. laughter bubbling up. the steady sigh of water
    as it folds into the cup. …”
  • A meditation for one of life’s simple pleasures — part of my effort to expand my understanding of prayer beyond the formal.

“Benediction: the goodness of the body”

“heaven is home to quick green things”

  • “…i’ve never understood
    how they can read Your declaration “Good!
    very Good!” …
    then paint Your heaven sterile white
    as far as eye can see!
    unbroken vault of neutralizing light
    devoid of all the variegating shades
    and creatures that You made with Your own breath
    and eons of delight. …”

DISABILITY CENTERED

“at that banquet”

  • based on Luke 14’s vision of God’s table packed with guests with a whole variety of disabilities, imagining a world where all needs are met.

“stimming worship”

  • A poem celebrating autistic ways of worship, paralleling them with David’s dance before the Ark of the Covenant

QUEER CENTERED

“Reflection for Coming Out Day services”

  • Fighting damaging silence, honoring formative silence
  • “…As for me and my house,
    we will dig and dig and dig and free
    the ones whom we have buried 
    with the sin of all the times that we have failed…”

“valley of dry bones”

  • “men who claimed to know the Word of God
    and where it lay took me to stand above
    a valley of dry bones…”
  • Reclaiming scripture from those who use it to harm us by finding the good news within

“Mary, Mother of us, your transgender children”

  • “Queer Mother! – a motherhood thicker than
    blood, deeper than the waters of the womb,
    a relationship fashioned by a shared Yes
    to disgrace, a fervent Yes
    to the hard but healing path to holiness…”

poem to Our Lady of the Wayside: the queer little not-girl revisits their childhood church

“HRT on Good Friday”

“swords into swingsets”

  • i have repurposed the rope
  • they tried to hang me with
    into a swing that children
    take turns swinging on.

Lent / HOLY WEEk

“Lent births herself this year”

Poem for Ash Wednesday: “Dust to Dust”

  • “there is something liberating
    about being dust…”

“poem on emptying”

poem for Holy Thursday: “Jesus, you knew isolation too”

  • “…so come. teach us
    to make an upper room
    of any room we’re trapped in…”
  • Written during pandemic

“A queer prayer for footwashing”

  • “…I don’t know if I could take their feet
    in my hands, 
    kneel before them in a pose of the same lowliness
    they often make me feel
    and wash their feet
    just as you did for your friends, who would very soon abandon you. …”

“A queer reflection on the Agony in the Garden”

“Your death was nothing special”

  • “…your death matters, your death is precious
    because it was common, ordinary —
    you share the agony
    of every tortured spirit who has ever walked this earth…”
  • Good Friday poem about Jesus’s solidarity with all who are criminalized, executed

“Jesus, let me pray for you”

  • “my God,
    would it be odd
    if i prayed for you?
    Jesus, heart of my heart,
    heart of all the cosmos – your heart
    struggled –
                 stammered –
                                          stopped…”

“Combatting Antisemitism on Good Friday: An Alternative to the “‘Solemn Reproaches of the Cross'”

“Poem for Holy Saturday: This moment matters”

  • “…this moment matters:
    your brown body
    with the breath pressed out
    by the inexorable boot of Empire
    matters.
    and the moment that comes after
    cannot ease this one…”

EASTER SEASON

Waiting with Mary Magdalene — Lament that wrestles God

  • This “poetic prose” reflection for Easter Sunday draws from John 20 and Isaiah 56.
  • “As Mary Magdalene sits alone in the predawn stillness, she weeps — but her tears are not only grief: they are tears of frustration. Tears with questions. Tears that demand something of Divinity. Mary is not passive in her weeping: she is wrestling the divine…”

ADVENT SEASON

“Intertwined Inceptions”

  • Written upon realizing that the first days of Chanukah and Advent coincided this year

“Two Advents” (Poem for the first Sunday of Advent)

  • “As a child packs a snowball
    tight and firm and
    cold seeping even through their mittens
    into palms
    so You
    once packed the Universe
    into a ball scarce larger than
    the pomegranates that had yet to burst
    into being…”

“Advent: A time to embrace the Divine in us” (Poetic prose)

  • “If Lent is a time to admit to our Dust…
    perhaps Advent can be a time to embrace our Splendor:
    our intimate connection to Divinity who gave birth to us,
    who calls us Good and calls us to be better,
    who is the breath within our lungs and the warmth in dancing bodies…”

“Advent is the time of Mary” (Poetic prose)

  • “…Was Mary meek and mild?
    Not if those words are about
    unquestioning submission, fearful passivity.
    Only if those words are about inner power,
    restrained for the sake of the vulnerable –
    not the power of violence
    but the power of compassion…”

” ‘Virgin’ Mary, Teen Mom”

  • “Mary, teen mom, against whom every packed inn turned its back, about whom, maybe, neighbors laughed
    and mothers told their daughters, “Don’t be like her
    (spitting your name like a nasty thing)…”

“God’s vastness, fearsome and comforting” (Poetic prose)

  • Remembering our smallness before God; the smallness of God as Jesus; God’s deep love for the little ones

NATIVITY / Christmas Season

“Revisiting Nativity: Jesus bursts in”

  • A poem that explores an alternative reading of Luke’s nativity text — one that suggests Jesus was born not in a stable, but in the chaotic heart of a peasant home.
  • “…we like it better when you wait for us
    in remote places we can journey to
    when we are ready…”

“Nativity Beads: a poem & an essay exploring alternative interpretations of the Luke 2 story”

  • “As I prayed through different versions of the Nativity story, with all their contradictions — a painless Mary versus a groaning Mary; Mary alone or Mary with midwives; Mary dismissed to the outskirts or settled in the heart of a Bethlehemite home — they all found their place, side-by-side…”

“Mary’s in-laws”

  • A poem that playfully imagines Mary’s experience with Joseph’s family in Bethlehem, based on an alternative reading of Luke’s nativity text.

“Communion Meditation — Jesus of the House of Bread”