those published in our Mar/Apr 2024 issue." />
Magazines 2024 Mar - Apr More poems for Easter 2024

More poems for Easter 2024

01 March 2024 By Vilma Blenman, Joanne Epp (with Sally Ito and Sarah Klassen), David Lyle Jeffrey, Luke Sawczak and Angeline Schellenberg

An online supplement of contemporary Canadian poetry, an addition to those published in our Mar/Apr 2024 issue.

He Must Rise
Angeline Schellenberg

Your brother will rise.
At midnight I rise.
We shall rise and stand upright.
When I fall. When I sit in darkness.
Children yet unborn, rise.
Rise. Come to our help.
He who makes the clouds rise.
For the sake of your love. Rise.
Lift up your hand. Command the sun to rise.
Strength withers. A stream will rise, water the whole face.
Under my feet. Eagles rise. Rise when they despair of life.
A deadly thing has fastened. They think that I will not rise.
Shake yourself from dust.
The night is long. I rise before dawn and cry.
Rise to your resting place. Rise in darkness as light.
As yet, we do not understand.

Note: This poem was made by searching the NRSVue for “rise.”


Watch for Crocuses
Vilma Blenman

You put away the tree and the ornaments
then resolutions retreat
as a year moves along and life’s stories spill out
lived between Advent and Lent—
bookends for birth and death.
Then it comes
like a warm wind passing through in winter,
no tidal warnings except sightings of bunnies
sitting on store shelves
beside chocolate eggs covered in pretty spring packages.
But it’s the yellow, white and purple crocuses bursting
through cold dirt that tell me
it’s that time again when
we rehearse the stark story
that ends with the light shattering the dark.
I watch for crocus petals opening beside snow—
resurrection reminders.


Forewords for the Resurrection
David Lyle Jeffrey

The breath of God once blew upon wide, salty waters,
Brooded, brought forth first seeds of mortal life;
Four winds blew again upon an arid valley strewn
with bones.  Erect, enfleshed, astonished ghostly
bodies breathed, became an army fit once more to fight.

Neshemah chaim
To begin with there was something else, more kind
In God’s intent. From dust first formed, or clotted clay,
A sculpted body stood before its maker unadorned
And lifeless. Then God shared his holy breath, serene,
The very breath of life which bears, Ha Shem, his name.

Nechamu ami
Thus the man, A-dam, became a living soul; an image,
Not-so-distant mirror of the same who made his world,
Yet still rebelled; even those most favored kin through whom
Redemption was to come betrayed his love, began to die.
Shevenu! one cried, and God replied, Your breath will come again.

But how can these things be? The figure in the shadows,
Not the first to ask this question, thought he understood
Life in the flesh, but new life, born of the Spirit, confounded,
Left him breathless, bereft of categories. He had misread
The ancient texts, in learning their letter missed the spirit.

Gathered by the tomb of Lazarus, One who wept kept faith
With broken-hearted friends, kept also to his path, direct:
I am the Resurrection and the life, he said, whoever believes.
In me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. The corpse arose,
Came forth to stand again, to breathe, a harbinger of life made new.

Lazarus they then came to kill; erase evidence so embarassing
To proud pretense, a threat to power. The troubling Teacher next in mind,
Those leaders schemed to find a certain way of death, choke off his breath
Upon a cruel cross. And so Yeshua died and was entombed, an ‘end’.
With what horror must they then have heard, “Their king! He lives again!”

Ruach: Hebrew meaning spirit, wind—Genesis 1:2; Ezekiel 37:5-10
Neshemah chaim: Hebrew meaning breath of life—Genesis 2:7
Nechamu: Hebrew meaning comfort, literally to restore breath—Isaiah 40:1
Nechamu ami: Hebrew meaning comfort my people—Isaiah 40:1
Shevenu: Hebrew meaning revive us—Psalms 85:6
Pneuma: Greek meaning wind, spirit—John 3:5-8
Anastasis: Greek meaning resurrection, literally stand again—Matthew 22:23-31
Resurrexit: Latin meaning he arose—1 Corinthians 15:4 (Vulgate).


Good Friday Goodbye
Luke Sawczak

When the good die, the dust doesn’t settle.
We think of their deaths the rest of our lives,
and all comes back.

                                  He was a reader:
one who breathes books, for whom the page
is conversation, the written word a second language.
His enthusiasm was tranquility, his white head wisdom.
Like a latent storm, his presence could be felt
in the differential pressure of the air.
One who sees all the connections,
the patient operator who can recognize your thought
and its wellspring in the word of desert hermit.
Were he alive in the first century, would be
a church father or librarian, compiling gospels?

But he was alive in the first century,
and has been alive continuously till now,
occupying as the case may be a monastery,
government repository, rebel intelligence HQ, or bookstore,
and by consequence is still alive.
For there are still some born now, and born each generation,
whose hearts reach out to God’s human civilization;
we do not know their names, but that is no surprise —
how many knew his name?

Still, there is the soul particular, the irreplaceable,
non-fungible, irredeemable saint within each body.
Such a man passes from this world, and there is no like.
As one tames a fox, he tames the world, and we tame him,
and though he leaves us, we are not the same.
Could you say a single one among your elders
had no influence on you? Butterflies flap wings.
One recognizes when a person is their own,
when no matter how they were, the nature of the real
transformed around their shoulders. Your mind alights on them,
and you wake shocked from your illusion of the world.

There are two ways to honour someone’s memory.
The first: to carve out sacred niches
where you don’t let mundane life intrude;
you turn off music, give curt answers, pick up heavy books,
face the wind, and clear your mind — denying yourself
even Kleenex. You try in short to go where they are,
if it could be accessed from this dock of Earth.
Or else, since life is all extremes,
you dive again into the things that he enjoyed,
most often little pleasures of this world, of the soul
(the soul can love the jetsam of the world).
You laugh long and hard at jokes
that sprang from his tongue ten years ago.
You finally listen to his favourite album and see why.
You read his favourite book. Your heart aches with recognition.

At the end, like an old dog does, he sought
someplace to pass away in private.
Whether by retreat in sedated-swimming sleep
or refusal in black isolation of a brother,
your need to penetrate to him goes unfulfilled.
Sometimes, when you ask someone a question,
they don’t answer, even when you beg them to.
It is the preparation for long silences to come.
Do you not hear him? Who can say if he hears you?
We will go to him, but he will not return to us.

Yes, he hears you, says the Lord.
I have collected him, and yet my work is not complete.
All will pass that gauntlet; he precedes you.
All must bear the look of death awhile.
He awaits you here, on this far shore.
The last word is not nevermore, but evermore.

Take heart; I have elected you a comforter:
the ghost that dwells with me, with him, with you
in that place where these distances are folded up
like garments laid upon the table in the tomb.
One Man goes forth, and calls you all to join him in the flesh;
can you not hear the steady coursing of that blood?


On the Glad and Glorious Resurrection of Christ
Translation by Joanne Epp, Sally Ito and Sarah Klassen from Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633-1694)

Earth could not hold the one whose mouth
once spoke her into being. How could there be decay
while the Spirit of the Highest nurtures Life?
How could the sun’s reflection cool the Source of heat?
The centre of the earth had to split open
for the Prince of Life, emerging from the realm of death.
His mere breath can blow away great Atlas.
His might prevails through all the earth.

What is the death of one small mouse to you,
strong Lion, who overcame the Dragon and the Tiger,
the hosts of Sin and Hell? You lay down in the grave
from where we find, not death, but life.
Your rising opens up my not-yet-opened grave.
You brought to mortals immortality.


About the poets: Vilma Blenman is a Jamaican-Canadian poet, registered psychotherapist and teacher in Pickering, Ont. David Lyle Jeffrey is a Canadian religion and literature scholar emeritus based at Baylor University in Texas. Luke Sawczak is a teacher and writer in Toronto. Joanne Epp, Sally Ito and Sarah Klassen are Manitoba poets and translators who collaborated to produce Wonder-Work: Selected Sonnets of Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (CMU Press, 2023). Angeline Schellenberg is a Winnipeg spiritual director and author. Illustrations by Janice Van Eck.

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