Monday, May 28, 2007


an example of what happens when feeling creative but only having 1 hour of sleep in 2 days.

Toward a blue-lit lantern lightning vase
Of floral luminescence;
By a sandy corked bottle statue
Earthenly transcendence.

Spider-ivy, I can't tame thee.
Still I love the essence.
But Iwo Jima looks upon me--
Black sand of life's lessons.

The background flashes white with power
And light streaks break the silence.
But only for a little while
Since silence quiets the violence.

But intermixed with cogency
Are lies of intuition.
They seize upon my faculties
When eyes grow weak from wishin'.

That point of honest nothingness
Which hits us only often
Betrays our vulnerabilities--
Wait, now I see a dolphin!

Thursday, March 1, 2007


by Michael P. Van Gilst

Desire no more for that which can save,
Strength no more to resist the grave,
Faith no more to strengthen my bones;
To give me desire; abandon my groans.

Beaten and battered and torn down in shame,
Ready and willing to give up this game.
Knowing that this is just what I can’t do
For living is fighting and taming that shrew.

What option awaits then, in days yet to come?
I hear the beat pounding: the enemy’s drum.
Rolling and rumbling, grumbling thump
Louder and closer and ready to jump.

Stormy horizon and thunder close by
Foretell of a no-longer-cloudless night sky.
I with my satchel and naught else to fight
‘Gainst rain clouds and drumbeats that smother my light.

No where but not here a hiding place be
For here is just wasteland: a planar Hades.
The enemy sees me and knows I’m afraid.
Contemptuous laughter, a bloodthirsty blade.

Yet somehow in past years I’ve conquered this foe
I’ve relit my lamp and heard the cock crow.
I’ve stood in the presence of darkness and hate
And lived on to tell of my enemy’s fate.

But here in the midst of my fear and my doubt
I look to the heavens and holler and shout.
With no other weapon I’m forced to rely
On that which I know is my only ally.

Tears of frustration, exhaustion and pain
Stream from a body too weak to restrain
There in the downpour I cease to resist
And lay down the satchel that’s clenched in my fist.

The lines of the faces of enemies near
Jagged teeth, sneering sneers beckoning fear
The ringing and pounding! the drums will not cease!
Cacophonous symphony screaming, “Decease!”
From whence cometh help? I see nothing above
Abandoned and helpless, collapsed in the mud.
Grip of death strikes me, so seized by the dark
Yet softly I whisper a song from my heart:

“Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O power of my power!”

With final breath drawn and prepared to depart,
Expecting the blade to cut straight through the heart
I notice the deafening silence around
No hand upon me, nor blade can be found.

For out of the canopied rain-stricken gloom
Descends a white dove with the brightness of noon.
I lay there bewildered and barely aware
That now the drum beating is something more fair.

Softly yet gradually bolder with time
Announcing the feat, the change of the tide,
The clearing of trumpets triumphantly sound
For once what was lost in death has now been found.

Slowly I look up and see face to face
My ally behind me in radiant grace.
No where but elsewhere my enemy be
For darkness has fled me and now I can see.

I have not my satchel yet care not for this
For that which is useless is not to be missed.
All that is needed is faith to go on
Knowing the Ally is never far-gone.

-Excerpts taken from “Be Thou My Vision” (translation by Mary Elizabeth Byrne)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

“Baptism by Snow”

Crystalline spectrums of liquid light and life
Descend upon a lifeless but wanting face
Like messengers of so sweet a song,
Reminding with each kiss of icy breath
That the wintry dust promises a new day
And a new me.

~Michael P. Van Gilst

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Heart Of Hearts

I'm on the edge and looking down
Or looking o'er but still at ground
I'm looking over, down the ground
And there I want to be un-found.

For founded-not is what I want
And what I want is founded-not
For founded is to feel it not
And feel it not's not what i want

I want to want and have it still
Or knowing wanting having nil?
For knowing having want can kill
Yet still I want to kill the nil

I seek to quench that heart's demand
While heart of hearts sinks in the sand.
As one heart's swallowed by the land
Th'other's lifted by my hand

And I choose which to listen to
I give in to my heart's sweet flute
While heart of hearts keeps sinking through
I do what I don't want to do.

But after that song's played all through
I hear my heart of heart's true flute
And see the temptuous other tune
As having played me for a fool

From sand my heart of hearts now plays
A song I've heard on other days
I've dug it out each yesterday
To listen to it for today.

Michael P. Van Gilst

A Dance In the Stillness

Misty breath set against moonlight so pale,
Solar companions whisper their tale.
Silvery starlight so soothing, so sweet
Breaks the silence of darkness in me.

What makes the silence so loud in the ear
When winter’s white breath begins to appear?
The stillness, the chill, the heavenly stay;
In darkness, lights dancing in cosmic display.

Michael P. Van Gilst

Hope After Tears

In this world
A mother cries,
A father sighs,
As a baby dies.

In this world
Of sin-broken lives
A cancer unknown
Attacks and thrives.

But what is there
That makes us cope?
It is the subtle voice.
The whisper of hope.

The voice is heard
By those with ears to hear.
And it speaks of a day
When eyes are free of tears.

It reminds us that we,
When wondering, “Why?”
Can still trust that He
Will tell in due time.

“Trust and rely,”
The attuned ear hears.
“Do not ask ‘Why?’
And forfeit your fears.

“For all you endure,
All you withstand,
All your existence
Is held in my hand.”

Michael P. Van Gilst

If I Were You

If I were you, I’d turn the other way.
If I were you, I’d leave me here to stay.
If I were you, I’d feel like justice served.
If I were you, I’d give what I deserved.

But I am not you
(This fact bodes well for me).
And you are not me
(Else perfect I would be).

I ask for strength and peace
You give me both of these.

Still I turn from you again
It’s only a matter of when.
And I return then to this place
Of abusing God’s own grace.

The lure is oh so strong
That even good seems wrong.
In selfishness submerged
Where sin and flesh converged.

I ask for strength and peace
You give me both of these.

Each time I ask you send
Forgiveness makes amends.
So faithful to me, so true.
So undeserved too.

Forgiveness seventy times seven
Can only come from heaven.
You call me to the same
But the weakness and the shame!

I ask for strength and peace.
You give me both of these.

And so I live in view
Of God’s own grace so true.
And with Your strength and peace
There’s hope for sin deceased.

Michael P. Van Gilst