We've invited Martin Dickinson (@dickinsonpoet) to offer poems ─ his own as well as those written by others ─ that might stand as prayer or invite prayer. His poems appear widely in journals and have been translated into Russian. Most recently, Martin's poem, "My Concept of Time" appeared in Nth Position. Kitano Pictures produced a video of his poem, "Inherited from the Other Martin Dickinson." He lives in Washington, D.C. where he works for an environmental organization.
So many great artists, poets and musicians try their hand at portraying Jesus. I’m always moved by the physicality, humanity and sheer strength Dürer and Rembrandt show us in their depictions of Jesus. Johann Sebastian Bach achieves the same through the music and drama of his Cantatas and most especially in his St. Matthew Passion.
Naturally, I wanted to try the same through poetry. But how to begin? The answer came as I was having one of those bad days on a Sunday afternoon, a time I try to keep free each week to write a new poem.
nothing in life is simple. That particular day was the only time I could find to replace my car’s badly worn tires so I could pass vehicle inspection. If I was going to write a poem, I would have to do it in the tire store waiting room. “Impossible,” I thought.
But in that waiting room I realized it’s not always repose and leisure that fuel art. Sometimes it’s the stress of life. It’s about work ─ about getting done what you have to get done. And that’s how Carpenter of Galilee got written.
I still remember the noise of the whine and pound of the electric impact wrench they use to change tires as I jotted down my words and images for “Carpenter.” The mechanical sounds were punctuated by the workmen shouting in Spanish back and forth across the garage. Those workmen were very efficient. They didn’t take long. By the time they were done, I had four black, shiny new tires and a new poem. Ready to roll.
Carpenter of Galilee
His hand would have steadied the hewn plank
on a miracle of a day, readying it
for the saw. He would have gripped the hammer,
wielded the chisel in crystalline air,
slid the plane along the flowing, linear grain
of yellow wood among aromas of cut pine
and sawdust, erecting the uprights, dropping
his plum line along braced joints, making straight
the path for the smoothed beam, an infinity
taking shape in the gravelly, finite
Galilean soil, a promise of a house raised up,
boards lifted against the cyanic blue sky.