D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: poetry

Poetry as Empire Resistance

the view outside my window right now. April, so cruel.  


April is national poetry month. My friend Amy is doing a link-up today, for non-poets to bravely reveal something they wrote. I view it as a form of Empire Resistance. World wants poets to be esoteric, unattainable, segregated from the commoners. But I think everybody can write poetry, because everybody can pay attention. It's basically just a Cliff Notes For Life--distilling the essence of noticing and feeling into short little words.

I don't have my MFA; I have barely read any poetry. But in my little journal I still sometimes find myself lost until I let the imagery take over. As my act of resistance, I will put one up here. The more I try and resist the urge to be palatable, wise in the ways of Empire, to be successful--the better it is for my soul. The world goes not well, but the kingdom comes. And one of the ways it comes is by being vulnerable, writing terrible poetry, and sharing it with others.

Go on over to Amy's site--and then why not put up one of your own poems? I promise you I will read it, and I will ask it to change me in some small way.




Sister Lawrence


Put a penny in your shoe they said

Remember the Lord all the day

A rubbing sore reminder

Of the presence, all around


Instead I turned my life to burlap

Rough and raw for  reddened skin

Instead of a penny, the poor and sick

Blurred vision, two worlds, one sun


I listen, hum, bless the sounds scraping

The irritants, the pepper, the ash

For every neighbor, the slow suicides

Copper prayers left on the ground


Child, your heart is made of corduroy

And the world is so full of burrs

Some days you collect them in the brambles

Let your Father pick them off one by one









*i was this close to naming the poem "Burlap to Corduroy". Christian band puns FTW.

Now seriously. Go resist the empire and write your own poem.







Upside-Down Art: Bakerwoman God

  Alissa's post today stems from a beautiful poem that encourages us to see God in new ways. I love it. This is also my year of reading/learning to love poetry, so I greatly identified with this piece. Isn't that the point of art--to help us connect with people/Christ in new ways? To create threads between the world we experience and the ones we don't? I'm so grateful Alissa shared this gorgeous piece, and gives us all a chance to think about the One who is kneading us. 






Upside-Down Art: Bakerwoman God

by Alissa BC






The summer I found myself perusing the shelves of the public library like it was my job, I was a newlywed, unemployed, college student in a new city. God had grown increasingly and unrelentingly distant over the past year, and by that summer I had become unable to pray, read my bible, or relate in any way to the God I knew, white and bearded in the clouds. So I filled my days with piles of books from the library and old films from the DVD section, alternately attempting to fix and distract myself from my new spiritual realities.

One afternoon, knee deep in the religious section looking for the God I seemed to have lost, I happened upon a book called The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. Published in 1984, the copy I held in my hands was old and worn, with an outdated, mustard design on the cover and what I assumed would be outdated contents.

Still, the concept intrigued me. I had not been raised with any sort of awareness of divine feminine nor with the option of calling God She. For most of my life, I had struggled with the concept of a male-only God, but I never once thought to challenge the traditions that had been passed down to me, to see God as both Father and Mother. That kind of thing was forbidden in the evangelical circles I inhabited, condemned as "goddess worship," and I obediently accepted the restriction. Instead, I had worked quietly for years at overcoming the baggage that a male God carried for me. I tried my best to imagine a Father God who was nurturing rather than authoritative, who was loving rather than stern. But by the time I encountered The Divine Feminine, I had lost all ability to feel any sense of intimacy with or trust in the God of my youth. I took the book home.

Over the next few days, I pored over it in small chunks, soaking up each bit of wisdom I found within its pages. Despite having read the Bible in its entirety several times over, I was astounded by the amount of distinctly female imagery for God to be found there. As I read, I took my little neglected Bible and found every verse said to allude to the Divine She, highlighting each one in bright orange so I would never forget it. I learned to see God as Nursing Mother and Midwife, Homemaker and Mother Hen.

But the imagery that captured me most, was that of the baking woman. In this section of her book, Mollenkott quotes the first two stanzas of the poem “Bakerwoman God” by Alla Renee Bozarth:

Bakerwoman God,

I am your living bread.

Strong, brown Bakerwoman God,

I am your low, soft, and being-shaped loaf.

I am your rising bread,

well-kneaded by some divine

and knotty pair of knuckles,

by your warm earth hands.

I am bread well-kneaded.

The imagery wrapped it arms around me with its warmth. As I read, I could see Her hands, calloused but soft, moving silently over some divine countertop dusted with flour. I could feel Her knuckles, strong yet tender, digging, digging, digging into the doughy depths of my being. Bakerwoman God was gentle in Her firmness, kind in Her correction. Her kneading was not painless, but it was filled with love. I felt safe in Her hands.

This description of God felt more true and comforting than any I had ever known. It came as a brief but refreshing sip of cold water to my soul that year, allowing me a glorious peek into God's love at a time when I had all but lost sight of it.

Even now, years later, as my feelings of distance from God remain, I often find myself returning to the image again and again. Sometimes, in my darkest moments, the nights when God feels like little more than a deep chasm of absence, I'll close my eyes and remember Bakerwoman God, who even in Her silence is making me bread well-kneaded.


unnamed-7Alissa BC is a writer, wife, and mother. You can find her at alissabc.com, where she writes her heart out about doubt, mystery, and other everyday discoveries.











For all posts in the Upside-Down Art series, please click here.




War Photographer: Liz Anderson

Liz is someone who is truly living an unorthodox life, and she makes it look quite fun. Dancer, thinker, killer ukulele-player: this girl is the whole package. Today I'm so excited for her words (couldn't we all use a little more poetry in our lives?) and I'm inspired again by the privilege of being a witness to the stories inside.  Making Space

i want people

to share

their stories

to find

their voices

to sing

what they love


what they need


what they've lived

so we remember

we are not alone.


some people find ways to do this

on their own

their story burns inside them

and bursts free


but more often

i find

that people stay silent

they think

i'm not talented





they think no one


enough to listen.


and listening

to someone's life

over a cuppa

is an honor


finding ways

to tell their stories


is an privilege.


but best

fiercest joy

is helping people discover

how to share their own stories

making space

for them to realize

other people want to hear too

revealing they do

in fact

have something to say


maybe their older brother

told them they couldn't sing

they believed that all these years

their first grade teacher told them

honey, the sky isn't red, that's wrong

maybe they never had a first grade teacher to begin with

maybe something in the past


silenced them.


but if a space is


a nudge

to try

an encouragement

to explore

a partner

to experiment with

(is that a bud i see?

then i try to get out of the way

the hardest part)


let's write a song together for your ukulele

with those four chords you know

what should it be about? spring? squirrels? both? excellent.

here's how easy it is to make a blog post

of course you should try making a dinosaur out of cardboard


hand the kids the camera and watch

their delight as their friends magically appear

teach them how that button works

ask why that photo's their favorite

blow up their best pictures to hang

in the cafe down the road

step back and watch their faces light up


witnessing revelation


happen in other people


a piece of themselves

they didn't know existed

they didn't dream was



provide a platform to broadcast from

set them loose

and learn to see through their eyes

see what their story has to say about

how we are not alone.


From Liz: this past October we had a songwriting workshop for our girl's holiday club. We taught them to play through four chords of a pop chorus they knew, the girls wrote verses and a rap bridge to go with it, and we gave a teeny tiny concert.  Here are some lyrics from girls ages 11-14:

You go to work so early in the morning on the tube

Your misery, I hear no breath, no words of life in you

Are you afraid to break a laugh, would that be breaking all the rules?

So come on, come on


In the community everyone should be caring and kind

So they won’t end up lonely – that’s the problem in my mind

It’s not right when you’re upset or bad or rude, you should be kind

So come on, come on


There’s no point of you wasting your time

Dealing with drugs and dealing with crime

You think all this stuff is gonna make it right

But hey, it just makes a bigger fight


It’s wrong, it affects other people

All this rubbish, why you wanna do it for?

You’re walking down the streets, what do you see?

You gotta open up your eyes, well what’s it gonna be?




ImageLiz Digitale Anderson wants to know what makes you feel most fiercely alive (tell her @lizdances). Her two current life philosophies are "If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance" and "I could be wrong." But she's pretty sure she's not wrong about your ability to sing and/or dance, and if you were willing to flail around and experiment for five minutes together we could find out. She's married to a ninja photographer named Peter (who wrote earlier for the series here) and they live in London and blog about it here (www.fiercelyalive.com/blog).

For more posts in the War Photographer series, click here

poetry and prophecy

It's two days before Christmas, and this will probably be my last post on the subject. So it's fitting to end with a poem that my husband wrote, his reflection on the world we live in, our new neighborhood, and Advent in general. He makes me coffee every morning, gets up with the toddler in the middle of the night, listens to my every wandering thought, and writes killer poetry. I know.  typical.


by the Maiden Name

Shootings, and sweatshops, rising regimes sometimes it feels like your ever expanding rule is nowhere to be seen, like a seed in the ground that’s yet to start a sprout you tend to sometimes circumvent instead of intervene looking around as the almond branch turned the boiling pot north and drained out the drowning lifeblood of the guiltless poor

it’s beginning to feel like the harvest is passed, summer has ended and we are not saved someone’s crying in the closet for all our ill-mannered misbehaved We’ve sown wheat, and we’ve reaped thorns For the mountains and the wilderness I’ll mourn So do not listen to your prophets, your dreamers Until we break the yoke of the shorn

Our exile has been long enough to grow a bounty that has been taken away, time and again, by country and by county Are you coming quickly? Please, tell me you’re coming with haste Some say they’re patient, some say they can wait But I’ve seen abusers go their own way, unchained and I’ve seen oppression walk the streets midday and the wolves live among the sheep without dismay while we pine away

Flannel pajamas, soot-stained script Candles in the kitchen, I remember always watching that wax drip As we sing songs of the one coming, and to the one who came And it’s all sorts of awkward, the highs and lows that we sang

and I still practice advent, even in my own home my daughter calls it a birthday cake, we say it’ a private protest against Rome but we still fail and find ourselves at the mall and department stores and a few other of places I’d tell you about, but I find it too embarrassin’ of all those who might have trouble falling asleep on Christmas eve amongst all the children, it seems the empire should be most at unease

I tried my hand at Advent Conspiracy and at Buy Nothing Christmas, But justice and peace seem to just be unpurchased items on my wish list Oh well, that’s how it goes, maybe I’ll get it next year And I sing hallelujah as I chug chug chug down the cheer in the most jolly of fashions but this can’t last, it won’t last forever so our eyes are on you, King of the broken, ruling from a manger



Nothing like reading the prophets while we think about the babe in the manger.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. 

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