Russell and Duenes

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Mark Strand (1934-2014)

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The “Clint Eastwood” of poetry has died.  Mark Strand, former U.S. Poet Laureate left behind a body of poetry that has moved me ever since I was introduced to him as a young 20 year old. You would be enriched to explore his work.

The Coming of Light

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.



Written by Michael Duenes

December 14, 2014 at 11:47 am

Posted in Poetry, Russell

Misreading Our Lives

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Misreading Our Lives

The story of which we speak is, perhaps,
not even a story, rather it is
a semblance of a story, just a smudged
invitation to help you pass the time
as you travel quickly from paragraph
to paragraph, mispunctuating as
you go, taking meanings and contorting
them into strange lumps that lie heavy in
your hand. Fix these images before your
mind, so if you should ever find yourself

on a street corner, say, in hard light, you
will remember, that was it-a picture
for their suffering. But in other times-
there will be others-completely forget
the plot, that it is barely linear,
hardly contained by margins, that even
the gutters run with words. You will find, then,
the story is really an old story,
worn with tears and stains and brittle pages
that shudder as your hands pass over them,

so that you wish it were someone else’s
story, that you could inscribe the flyleaf
with a stranger’s name, or conceal the depths
of your ownership in boxes. Give it
away, this anxiety-the words are
hardly there. They are somewhere else, obscured
by the absence of light where the words are
no darker than the page. Don’t be afraid
to pull the covers higher in that moment,
to imagine a burning light when it happens.

-Shawn Sturgeon

Written by Michael Duenes

June 4, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Poetry, Russell

And Strength to Hang with Nails Upon Thy Cross

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Here’s a little poem by Lilias Trotter, missionary to Algeria around the turn of the 20th century. I though it worth meditating on.

Through all the fogs, through

     all earth’s wintry skies,

I scent the spring, I feel

the eternal air

Warm soft & dewy, filled with

flowery eyes

And gentle murmuring motions


Of life in bird & tree & brook

& moss –

Thy breath wakes beauty, faith &

bliss and prayer

And strength to hang with nails

upon Thy Cross.



Written by Michael Duenes

October 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Duenes, Poetry

William Cowper: Welcome Cross

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I was doing some research for a unit I want to teach in my 11th grade Bible class on hymns, and I dipped into John Piper’s book The Hidden Smile of God and came across this gem by William Cowper called Welcome Cross.

‘Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross,
But the Saviour’s power to know,
Sanctifying every loss;
Trials must and will befall;
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all,
This is happiness to me.

God in Israel sows the seeds
Of affliction, pain, and toil;
These spring up and choke the weeds
Which would else o’erspread the soil:
Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.

Did I meet no trials here,
No chastisement by the way,
Might I not with reason fear
I should prove a castaway?
Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly vain delight;
But the true-born child of God
Must not – would not, if he might.


Written by Michael Duenes

April 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Duenes, Poetry

These Inward Trials, by John Newton

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I first encountered this hymn when reading J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. Then about two years ago I decided to memorize it. I commend it to you for memorization. It’s a classic, and one to come back to again and again. I’ve found it to be true in my Christian life.

I asked the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

T’was He who taught me thus to pray
and He I trust has answered prayer,
but it has been in such a way
it almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request,
and by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
the hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

‘Lord, why is this?’ I trembling cried,
`Wilt thou pursue Thy worm to death?’
`This in this way,’ the Lord replied,
`I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou mayst seek thy all in Me.’


Written by Michael Duenes

October 12, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Duenes, Poetry