I bend to be formed,
not torn or broken
but tempered by heat,
a fire so hot
the white is all
You see of me.

I said “change” and “grow”
and I’m bent so low
this shape of me
is screaming--
melting brass in Your
hands, forged by
tools so strong
I fear the breaking.

But I'm bound to bend,
be shaped, sheared
shown anew
the sound of me,
the shine of me,
gleaming  glory.
Yes, choosing to bend
not break,
become the beautiful
breath of sudden sound
built by your Spirit (breath)
living notes
played through me
a golden song borne on the wind....
a re-post from the Archives, lo, three years ago

Thoughts on an Amaryllis

Dry, peeling globe,
whiskered, spidery tendrils bottomside.
Topside, a thumbnail pokes through
plays at growing green
threatening strong stalks towards the sky.
Blooms are said to hide within--
secrets in scarlet, crimson, peach
pearly white, the palest pink--
a plantiferous palette of possibilities.
But I do not see their beauty now
Cannot feel any joy at what is there

I'm feeling bulb-like these days,
layers of daily, dull, drudge
covering a floral wonder.
Lacking zip or zeal,
taking on water, daily light, 
turning when needed.
Always turning.
Always needed.
Feeling not feeling
but going by faith that the Spirit,
latent though He seems,
is there.
Waiting, powerful, 
pushing in, out, up
present always.
He'll appear in His time
bloom high above the quiet soil
and shout, "Life!"
at the top of His lungs.
So I wait
and turn
and keep on drinking.
c. Jody Lee Collins, 2015

Four Lines for this October Day

Furious gusts of wayward wind
strip branches bare of late season leaves,
punctuating the sky with explosions of color
and silent, sweeping stars.

Playing with Words and Poetry

Glory be to God
for susurrous* memory,
the quiet whispers of bonny
beach walks sailing over azure skies
born of a windy world.
Efflorescence hurls worlds
of wondrous words, a witness born of 
plentiful peace, sprung from 
a place of singing.
Worshipful worlds of Spirit peace,
sprung from a place of singing.
Praise Him.
This past weekend my gifted friend Kimberlee and I co-facilitated a writer's retreat for women of faith. One of our gathering times was playing with words--LOTS of words--and paying attention to alliteration and sound in the style of Gerard Manley Hopkins. 
Kimberlee brought thousands of words to choose from as we wrote.
This little poem is styled after Hopkins' "Pied Beauty."

*full of whispering sounds

Writing Down the Bones

Something has been said about 
"writing down the bones"
which sounds like a good practice
if you're learning anatomy.
But the first time I heard the phrase,
I thought it was 
"writing down the poems,"
So I am.
Writing down the poems

moving my bones, 
the ligaments lightly holding the pen--
black on paper, blue, too,
re-living the washing of water
by their words,
like taking a bath in beauty
that leaves me breathless.

If I bathe with this cleansing flood,
soak in the senses,
sounds of someone else's heart
in my soul,
I'm sure the echo will ring out
true on the other side--
wash and rinse cycle of syllables,
leaving a residue 
of beauty, grace, truth
pouring out on this side of eternity
with my pen,
writing down the poems.
It has been said if you want to BE a good poet,  you should READ some great poetry, 
so I've been soaking (and scribing) Gerard Manley Hopkins and George Herbert
glorious wordsmiths of earth and eternity.

I Meant to Thank You**

I thought I had tomorrow-
more than one, like petals
from an infinite flower
held in my hand.
I thought I had tomorrow
foolishly thinking the chances
would arise in infinite number
rolling in like waves
again and again on the shore.
But the words-writ at my feet,
stayed there, washing away
like silken sand,
crumbling in liquid lines--
the words I never said.
I meant to say "Thank you."

This poem is from a line prompt in The Mischief Cafe, a traveling sort of poetry party book published by Tweetspeak Poetry.  If you're shy about writing poetry, The Mischief Cafe is a good place to start.

Poetry is Everywhere-City Version

(after Gerard Manley Hopkins)
Narrows Bridge, WA, photo by the author

Glory be to God for freeway things
For vehicles chrome-colored 
          as Airstream and kin
For billboards and tires that erstwhile sing
Lemony busses, soldiering vans 
         with commuters in.
Praise Him all wheels and pavement,
         battered, lined, worn
Peopled Hondas, Mercedes sleek,
        like shiny sovereigns born.
Sky bursts blue like everywhere all
And trees stay stately
        while we roll by on wings.
I need to learn how to write a proper sonnet, indeed. (I heard there's a book for that.)
But this was fun to try.
If God is, indeed, Creator of all, there is certainly beauty to be found even on the freeway.

Living Room-Southern California

What does it take to feel alive?
Warm sun, a fresh breeze, the breath of God.
Peace, quiet, the creak of a floor,
chiming of a bell in the distance,
the tinkling of a cat's bell.
The fragrance of a morning rose and fresh coffee.
The purr of a fan, the taste of a peach
the drone of a bee,
the deep in and out of a curtain
afloat on the morning's glory gifts.
He is here.
This is living.
This is room.

The View from Here--a Seattle Portrait

A mystery, really--these mute carriers
of a collection of qualities
known only to humankind.
The sway of the valise,
a pendulum of skin-covered appendages,
the flip of the handbag:
back-side, front-side, side-side
synchronized while hiking the concrete
sun-filled hillsides up to the top~
View Just Ahead.
Oblivious to said view
in their busy ant kingdom
they strain necks bookward,
heads poised at odd angles screenward
or eyes staring downward.
Were it not for the rude city sounds
punctuating the air and street
their safely stopping would be
in question.

Ah come the wise
and cheerful ones;
this time without screens or books in hand
but fists of flowers, posies from
the Market, bread from the bakery man.
Trained on the skyscrapers, brave
tourists follow, jaunty blue and white
sneakered young men.
Improving their education, retirees
bring up the rear, sunglasses atop
their summery heads, Canons and Kodaks
draped about the neck.

I record these words from my front seat perch,
relishing the record of comrades in view.
I watch them watching, capturing
beauty in sun and flower and sky
snapping at city scapes in awe and wonder.
The eyes remember what the ears dismiss
and my vision, peopled with His creation
here on Earth, as it must be in Heaven,
remains amazed by it all.
Linking with Kelly and the Small Wonder Community.
More beautiful words there.

Mirror Me

Words like water poured out
reflect my wide world,
contained in pieces, paragraphs
of pain and power and the past,
puzzles to put into place.
I long to be known
heard, seen, reflected 
in the pool you hold in your heart
showing me the "me" that I am.

Instead of a mirror,
you hand me a map
telling me where to GO
or a manual
telling me what to DO.
I just want the sounds
held up to me in my hearing, 
nearing my soul,
the whole of me.
When you repeat my words instead,
my heart in my ears,
I know the listening is done
and the love is there 
that says I'm heard.
I want to be known.

Prepositions-A Poem of Praise

Overcome by the quaking 
power of God's sweet presence
Around the shoulders of 
friend-draped worshippers
Across the room to the children raising, 
praising, lifting small hands
Surrounded by incarnations of God 
in these multi-colored people
Next to sweet-voiced sisters 
and deep-throated men,
I'm looking~~
Eyes up and over and through the windows, 
past the summer-waving trees
to a lidless blue sky
where my soul 
longs for home
and I sing
while I can
'til He comes
for me.
linking with Kelly and #Small Wonder Community. 
More lovely words over there.

Juneteenth 2015

Feeling the rain come
cave-cool air, white
and empty but for 
the breeze.
Still water rushing
the trees, sleepy
birds sitting at rest
call out the change
while tone on tone chimes 
echo from far below.
The drops fall - 
spare, invisible, too few.
My dry, gray lawn
is thirsty and longs
for a drenching, healing
the brittle, breakable land.
Hollow grasses like so many
hollow words, ache to be
filled, water that would wash
away this dusty, aching
Dear God, may it pour.
c. Jody Lee Collins 2015
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.  I couldn't help thinking as this poem came to me last night how the hatred of black people in this country is still very much alive.  My heart breaks for Charleston.

Introduction to Poetry

I avoided it as long as I could,
skirted the issue like
a wallflower at my first dance.
Curious from afar about
such beauty and grace,
wondering at the words.
I felt unequal to the task
conversing with verse--
or worse--writing it...
What if I was wrong?
I hesitated as long as I could,
delayed the appointed 
time of our meeting
like an obligatory trip
to the dentist.
When at last we were introduced
(by a mutual friend)
my fears dissolved like
sugar in a steaming cup of tea--
the sweetness of the welcome
(toothache be damned)
was a pleasant surprise.
I extended my hand, 
enticed by the freedom 
of words on the page just so--
black on ivory, a gleaming smile
beckoning me to the dance.
I raised my pen and twirled.
The poem was inspired by a prompt from The Mischief Cafe,by TSPoetry Press,  a volume of poetry interspersed with blank pages for your own lines, prompts provided.
Mischief Cafe is a portable 'happening' around the treasure of poetry, sort of like a Peoplehood of the Traveling Feather Boas. 
Well, there were feather boas at our soiree.  What might you serve?

First Grade English Lesson

Across the pencils pointed skyward
like so many word-wielding swords
past the gray and steel of 
overflowing desks filled with 
orphaned papers stashed, crumpled askew
over the carpet-bland, sturdy, useable
home to small and hopeful feet
to the doorway--closed.
Through it comes
life and noise and limbs,
any moment now--
eager hearts, chattering faces,
souls on their sleeves--
seven year old movers and shakers.
God, help me see through to their hearts.

Bodying Forth His Beauty

To say I will not draw
because Michelangelo lives 
next door and is forever 
showing me his drawings.

To say, I will not paint as
Monet is in his garden
(again!) and mixing colors 
for his next great work.

To say I will not design 
a stitch because Edith Head
lives down the street
and is forever flaunting
her work in my face.

To say, I will not write
because So-and-so's 
has said just the same thing,
their nuances and phrasing
putting me to shame, and 
besides....look at those
books with her name on the

To say all this defies the 
God-breathed seed inside, 
the only you who can 
write what you see. No
other eyes, no other voice
pouring out on the page or
with a pen, but simply
facet of Him whose voice
began it all. Creation reflected
in his co-creators, images
bodying forth His beauty.
photo: Schlatter Chapel Window, Warner Pacific University, Portland. JLCollins


It only takes a few blueberries
to purple the smoothie in my glass.
Begging to add to the blender
to lose that indigo hue--
           strawberries (darker)
           milk (lighter)
still leaves it purple-ish,
staining my teeth on the way down
and the sink when I'm all the way done.

How to keep the mix 
from such violet shades?
How to avoid the blending 
of dangerous fruit
coloring up my mind?
Next time, pass the produce aisle
and leave the staining salvos
in the basket by themselves.
Head straight to First Aid 
and look for tape, gauze and salve.
Start with healing
and buy band aids instead of berries.
This metaphor came to me on Friday night and I wasn't sure what it was all about. The next day I happened upon a Facebook post from a friend who'd been verbally betrayed behind her back. The parallel seemed to fit.  Funny timing.

Linking with Kelly and the Small Wonder Community.


spent some time with the family recently. A lot of family....ever felt like this?
My train of thought
often veers off track
taking side journeys
to sights unknown.
I've jumped the rails,
freight cars airborne,
leaving passengers in 
my wake, schedules in hand,
confused, wondering--
did they miss the
whistle at the station--
'cause surely, girl, you are
miles ahead and gone....


The feeder hangs swaying,
no avian fellows alighting.
(males are the brightest; why?)
I wait and watch--they've flown I wonder where--for food?
Will their shimmering yellow return,
a harbinger of the lightening days ahead?
Indeed, one by one, I know they'll come
hungry again (still) as they've done
year after year finding food,
flying beauty, feeding me with 
their golden arrival.


I stray like string

in the wind
untethered from
that tight spot at the bottom
holding me in place.
Anchored there
tension provides strength
for the tune to be played--
a fiddler bows across the tautness
and chords are plied,
played as His fingers
hold me in place.
Snapped, tho', the string
aflutter, undone
there are no songs to
settle there, reverberate
with notes to carry
any kind of melody.

I've lost my place
in the music--where am I now?

Ex nihilo, a hand comes down
repairs the string.
Strong, tight, secure.
I hear the song,
remember the words
find my place in the piece
He's playing.
Words as true as forever
strumming straight, strong and sure.
Zechariah 4:10

When Life is Like Ice Skating

When God insisted on Winter
I think Jesus chimed in and
invented ice skating rinks
(or at least the ice--well, of course, the ice!)
All that whirling and twirling
jumping and spinning
going on.
Pratfalls and crashes
and grown ups and children
whizzing by and
re-upping their bodies umpty-million
Fun and risk and danger at
breakneck speed.
He's that kind o' Creator,
I'm sure.
Clearly one doesn't feel the cold
if speed and activity are maintained
but bundled up,
you also can move slowly, enjoying the view,
hands behind you resting at the back
breathing deeply the fresh, crisp air
as you glide along.
I've been skating this wintry season past,
steadied on thin blades,
hands on the edge rails,
avoiding the spills as I keep my eyes
straight ahead.
Balancing on one leg at times,
hands in the air
or doubled forward at a racing pace,
gravity and momentum
kept me going.
The cheers from the stands were a boon, 
the prize from the kindly judge at the end--
well, it was worth the cold
and the close calamities,
worth the claim on my time
and commitments--worth it all because
I knew that Spring would come.

And sure enough, Spring has come.
Song of Solomon 2:11, 12
As often as I can, which has been very seldom the last few months,
I've been practicing the discipline of just sitting outside on my deck to look and
listen to the Holy Spirit.
For some reason I thought of ice skating at that moment
(blame Lisha Epperson) and was quite certain the fun was God's kind of idea.
It was also an apt metaphor for the previous 2 1/2 months my family and I had walked through as my mother in law was slowly passing away.

Photo Ops

Ripping paper tears,
tape(d) to the back 
of yesterday, rends
asunder the frame
of today's reality.

Too bad the glue
that held the lives
in place, frame-wise,
could not extend
to the flesh and blood
going through family photos and sorrowing over the lives of people torn apart by life.  
There but for the grace of God go I.

Writing Love

The room with the birdsong flowing
through open windows
across the wind,
chattering, noisy sentinels of tall trees,
the room with the light dripping--
(soft as this morning's quilt)
lightening the walls
illuminating the bright air,
the room with silence
save for the tapping of keys--
all this, a noisy quiet
full of a world
of boundless words.

Traveling--the 23rd Psalm

When you have walked
through the valley of the shadow
and death came anyway
(not to you, 
for you did.not.die)
and there is breath in you
to greet the day.
when you survive the 
shredding of your soul
to its core
and the disappearance of 
all other challenges--
man made, God-breathed--
like snow--
can only provide 
another opportunity
to see which way 
you will be strong
this time.
this is a re post from last year, a few lines to give voice to the loss my daughter and son-in-law experienced in January.  Perhaps you're experiencing a loss, too. I pray these words will speak to you.