altar’d state

I couldn’t help but title this one ‘altar’d state’ even though it’s the name of a store. 


I begged God to send me tools to

Build an altar of remembrance.

Desperate for a place to rest

When my mind often forgets.

he answered me through hallowed ground;

the holy earth opened wide and swallowed

I fell in

I fell into him

into the deep black swirls of mysteries that man hasn’t solved yet.

“What hell is this?”

In a still small voice,

He answered, “build it”

So I took what I had in the pit,



I built from the mud of my suffering,

As I was building,

He was with me

In the soft wet earth under my fingernails

And the grime on my skin

sprinkled gold with his light from heaven

As the altar grew taller

The earth sunk deeper and deeper into herself

Like we all do under suffering.

And I got angry at God

Shaking my fists,

“I asked you to remind me of heaven

Not of this forsakenness”

And his still small voice said,

“This is it.

The upside-down kingdom.”

My suffering was my altar,

Bringing me close to Jesus

Because in an upside-down kingdom,

When suffering takes us under,

And fights to bury us in the earth

We grow closer to heaven.


Welcome Home

The curse of the Gardens’ labor pains manifest themselves
in the face of this creaky house
I’ve been building since the age of six-
hands unskilled in working with the weight of wooden glory;
this is where His labor has me,
hoping against hope
one day this place can sustain life
because right now, I’m not so sure…

Walking through the front door,
the air exhales the same stench of lusting
and taking,
the same heavy breathing,
that filled the Garden after the Fall.
The room is quiet with swallowed “no thank you’s”
and I can feel the treads in the carpet
of large footprints
in and out the front door
under my naked feet.
No one lives here because no one stays
this is just the place to come and play
since the first day when the devil said
“little girl, let’s play.”
Game on-
I won
an itch for sexual satisfaction
that became immune to my hands scratching
so I invited him in to help me reach it
and then a new him
and then a new him
and then a new him.
Humming a hymn lamenting the lost
of my skin
under the devil’s fingernails
scratching my back
that forever itched.

I walk on glass into a kitchen
scrubbed clean and empty,
a picture perfect catalog
haunted with moans of the dying.
There’s a table set seating my groaning hunger’s company:
headaches and fatigue;
for old time’s sake we get together to
throw good food away and
rearrange the remnants on my plate.
Ana, the starving baker, feeds those who come,
but lets her stomach feed on herself.
She hides her decomposing sanity well,
oh, I hid it well.
One and the same, Ana and I
and if we keep this up,
together we will die.

In my bedroom
at the end of the hall
the darkness sings to me
songs of the sirens
in Homer’s Odyssey
and I dance to them
right into the arms of my lover,
He pulls me under the sheets only to suffocate me
stuffing my mouth with the rags
I use to wipe my self-induced scars with.
I know somewhere love is waiting for me to reach out
but in my madness,
I can’t see Him reaching out for me


One day, a Carpenter walked by this
condemned house
of no use to Him and
saw a home to dwell in.
By grace this is a story of anomalies:
because He bought this desolate place anyway.
My God,
He bought me-
paying more than the price of His own life,
He paid with a promise to restore it.
and He works diligently with the same
blood, sweat, and tears, it took Him to walk up Calvary
the same hill this God forsake-me-not house rests on
hands skilled in working with the weight of wooden glory.
He built a foundation of faith and courage to believe that
for the rest of my life,
I can confidently sing
“take me home”
and be welcomed with open arms
through the door of hope.


Hiding amidst my own somber company
Loss echoes off the cavern walls:
Security dressed in the camo coveralls my father wore when I saw him leave an early November morning,
only to return in an 8X10 Christmas card reimbursing me for my loss with a $25 check.
The movie of love dressed in his button down making her husband breakfast on a Sunday morning
Twirling around the kitchen while he watches her over the brim of his coffee cup;
Yeah, that movie was lost in the move from Barbie’s dream house to Thumbelina’s thimble.
My ID card that I kept in my velcro wallet fell out when I went to the drug store to buy chocolate bars and was swept into a dust pan, falling among the trash into the bin with last month’s edition of Vogue.
“Remember whens” with familiar faces went missing in the pages of “once upon a times” that celebrated protagonists too magnificent to belong in my stories anymore.
His voice when he replied “I love you too” through the foggy car window before driving away.

This loss sat in my lap and hugged on my neck,
A pleasant memory to visit with
Until its grip grew tighter and it shoved its way into my throat

A gentleman drunk with nostalgia
“What good is this to you?” I choked out
“To give only to take away”

Like a dictator standing on bare skeletons
God was that distant father in the camo coveralls
And I couldn’t believe that His reimbursement check
Worth raindrops on eyelashes and warm chocolate chip cookies;
Soft flower petals and blades of emerald grass tickling toes;
Wind decorating the air with the smell of fresh laundry;
Conversation with a loved one over a Tuesday brunch;
The welcome of Light’s kiss on the horizon at dawn
When I first wake up under the comfort of hundreds of stitches
Could possibly be any better than-
What was that mournful echo I once heard?

For my ears are only flooded with the grandeur of thousands of trumpets as I waltz into the throne room
Adorned with eucharisteo I toss jewels down at my Abba’s feet,
That will never pay Him back the price He paid
For me to see His goodness.


To be honest, I don’t know where to begin
But how could I when all I’ve known is the end?

The end of reality’s eclipse when my mother tasted the force of my father’s fist
The end of my finger when it crawled down my throat when I went to the bathroom alone.
The end of the blade that I drug across my waist
again and again in an attempt to breathe
in the waves I was drowning in.
Or the end of Your light,

Yes, I remember vividly that tangible darkness that covered me four hundred and sixty eight long nights
And I can’t help but cringe whenever it blinds me from time to time again.

You see, all I’ve known is the end
Like a patient waiting to die
Doctor, doctor! Do you hear my cry?
Because this incision looks a little too wide

As He pulls out
Corrupted lungs,
from years of inhaling death
and exhaling hopelessness
a sunken stomach
rotting from the inside out
starved of bread
A broken heart,
held and torn by the hands of men who’s love
was lust dressed in sheepskin
and an old pair of blind eyes
that have forgotten what light even looks like

“For my good,” He says,
as He pulls out my whole identity

I begin to weep,

Do you not see how much this hurts me?
I fight
I kick
I scream
God, don’t take away my familiarity

after years of living in a broken body
sitting in a tub of medicine burns
and being scrubbed clean hurts even worse
and as I’m laid down beneath the surface,
I  believe wholeheartedly that this is it:
my God is just another one deserting me.
so I close my eyes
hold my breath
let myself sink
and I fall

only to find myself in His arms
pulling me out,
I feel a heart beat in my chest

All of a sudden I can breathe again!
he wraps me in a robe of righteousness
he sprinkles me with oils of joy and gladness
and He replaces my old with His new

It’s not until He restores my sight
That I see my blood flowing from the holes
in His hands
And I realize how much more this has hurt Him.
Yet He looks down at me
with tears in his eyes and says
“all because I love you enough to not let you stay that way,
my child, you’ve been set free.”
Now He gives me a new beginning every morning
And I never have to know an end again


It’ll be one year on the eighteenth
Since I’ve painted the roses red
And although I no longer want to die
A garden of scars remains on my side
Demanding attention
Screaming for remembrance
“You can always frolic through these flowers again!”
And I can’t always hear Jesus
When He’s hanging on the cross
Begging for my life-
For me
The one who shouted “crucify!”

So how do you tell someone
About the moments of doubt
The roars; the beating fists,
The silence when apathy hits
The “God, how could you do this?
How could you let something like this exist?”
How do you tell someone
About the moments you think
It’d be easier to eat the feast of the king
Than choke down
An old piece of bread
Every morning?

You take a deep breath and
Be honest.
Tell the ones who understand
What it means to wander
Through the wilderness
Unbind your vessels from the vines
And let the overflow of your heart
Fall from your mouth
Bringing rain to your drought-
Kneel before the flowers that bloom
Letting them train you in the art of opening up
And if the ones you trust
Offer to carry your load
Release your death grip
My child, just let go.
For it’s not good for man to be alone.

Or when you get the feeling
His handprints are branded into your skin-
And I say when
Because sin likes to remind us
Of where we’ve been-
Let the burn of iron to flesh
Provoke you to confess-
Tell your friends!
Undress, and let them doctor your wounds
The best they can,
Washing your raw and broken body
With the blood of the Lamb
Give your pores time to soak it in
Don’t try to exist with broken limbs
Healing isn’t something that just happens-
My love, you must chase after it.

So I’m already preparing myself
For the conversation
I will have with you,
On a rainy Sunday night.
Standing at the sink
Washing plates,
My hands will shake
And the plate
Will fall,
Existing to inevitably break.

I’ll pick it up
Only for the broken piece
To bring peace
To my brokenness
When it meets my hand:
A rose painted red.

I’ll turn to tell you
“I think I’m getting bad again”
But I hold my breath
For the tears in your eyes
Tell me you heard my
Blooming days ago
When the buds started to show

You’ll pull me in,
A florist with gentle hands
Naming me Fearless

Because I didn’t hold it in