Tag Archives: LIfe

The Seven Ages of Jen

17 Apr

Happy Birthday to me!

That’s right readers, I have written a birthday poem to help myself reflect on life and come to terms with the incessant aging process. I’m now in my late twenties – there is no denying it – I am definitely out of my mid-twenties and on my way to thirtydom. I keep reminding myself to welcome it with open arms but dang, that is hard. So poetry is my way forward.

This poem is a twist on Shakespeare’s “The Seven Ages of Man” from the play As You Like It; however, I have given it an added twist. I haven’t copied the structure. Instead I wanted to challenge myself and write in the sestina scheme. Here is the breakdown of stanzas:

Shakespeare’s seven ages:

My seven ages:

1.    Infancy 1.   Infancy (part of a family)
2.   Childhood 2.   Teenage years (phases that NO ONE wants to relive)
3.   The lover 3.    Young adult (maturing, travelling, committing my life to God)
4.    The soldier 4.    Marriage (current ‘age’) (getting hitched, moving to England, becoming an adult)
5.    The justice 5.    Motherhood (I guess that is next… AHHH!)
6.    Old age 6.    Grandmotherhood (Looking forward to this in a few decades)
7.    Mental dementia and death 7.    Death (I guess it’s one of two guarantees in life)

 So what is a sestina? A sestina is a type of poetry made up of seven stanzas following a complex scheme. In each of the first six stanza the lines end in one of six words and the seventh stanza is short but still also uses all the words as a treat. My six words are:

A = balanced;    B = patient;    C = loved;    D = world;    E = be;    F = sweet.

Stanza 1 Stanza 2 Stanza 3 Stanza 4 Stanza 5 Stanza 6
1 A 6 F 3 C 5 E 4 D 2 B
2 B 1 A 6 F 3 C 5 E 4 D
3 C 5 E 4 D 2 B 1 A 6 F
4 D 2 B 1 A 6 F 3 C 5 E
5 E 4 D 2 B 1 A 6 F 3 C
6 F 3 C 5 E 4 D 2 B 1 A

Confused? Don’t worry, it’s the enjoyment of the poem that’s the important bit –  not the fancy schamncy scheme.

So how did I go about choosing these six special birthday words you ask? I asked my friends! Thanks friends!

Enjoy the poem and a happy day to you, especially if it’s your birthday too.

The Seven Ages of Jen

My world is a stage: curtain drawn. A balanced
Part comedy, part tragedy of a not-so-patient
Woman’s journey, learning to love and be loved
And finding her – my – own way in the world.
My mom told me once that I taught her how to be.
I? Only a baby in this gift of family, bittersweet.

Many things children do not see as bitter or sweet –
But they are all gifts. Between school and chores, small hands balanced
Living and growing and learning through trial. I dared to be
Grunged and gothed through the early acts, not patient
But fighting through change in the staged world
Hungrily grasping at what it was to ultimately be loved.

And I, a young woman came to know how to be loved,
Truly, by God. And the moment of sweet
Forgiveness – to know my place in the vast world
Downstage or up, or hiding in the wings. I found myself balanced
Learning to be still. Then, off on adventures to China to find fruit: the patient,
Loving-kindness, goodness, and faithfulness that I can be

And bring to others. And so one day upon my stage I, a wife to be,
My husband appeared at stage right and instantly we loved
Each other in a new way of deep, true, patient
Love, and I savoured those moments so dear and sweet.
And I changed the props to England’s castles and cups of tea and I balanced
New things: baking, blogging, teaching, loving in this wide world.

Now who I can invite to this stage in my new world?
To become a mother next, perhaps I will be
And learn a new dance, a new walk, to be balanced
With a swollen belly, children already loved
And wanted. They will be gentle and sweet
As peas. I will learn again, to be patient.

The audience will want to stand for an ovation – be patient.
I’m still watching them grow, to learn and marry and make a world
Of their own and I’ll treat them all to my dad’s sweet
Secret ingredient recipes. I’ll stand downstage to be
Master of the dramatic soliloquy reflecting on how loved
They are. A comedy, a tragedy, a history: well-balanced.

Then my patient heart will be met with the ultimate bride-groom to be,
Who conquered the world and loved it first.
Then all will be sweet and balanced.


Lessons from Lebanon: The Green Line

11 Apr

The second of a handful of poems in the Lessons from Lebanon series, this one came by surprise – the best poems do – in downtown Beirut. We were walking along the famous Civil War boundary when a security guard stopped us for a friendly chat. I’m not going to lie, I was a little intimidated… until he started showing us pictures and smiling a lot. 

We were standing just in front of this massive cinema, irreconcilably one of the most startling reminders in the immediate area of the war.

Lebanese Civil War, Cinema, Green Line

According to Wikipedia, the Green Line is: “a line of demarcation in Beirut, Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990. It separated the mainly Muslim factions in West Beirut from the Christian Lebanese Front in East Beirut. The appellation refers to the coloration of the foliage that grew because the space was uninhabited.”

Just what this poem is about.

The Green Line

There is a man who stands along the Green Line,

Security guard on the cinema side –

The theatre wrenched open splaying grey

 And thirty years of decay.

Juxtaposed with the beautiful blue topped

Mosque next door or the white

Of the churches down the road.

With a wave he invited us to hear

The story of civil war on the space I stood

Just one generation before.

He tells me through yellowing teeth

From many cups of sweet coffee

And with a smile, his story (with pictures).

And gazing behind him,

In the open innards of the edifice

With its metal skeleton bare

And its guts amiss

I see unfurled a single arm of green ivy

From somewhere deep within

Reaching up, up to the sky.

Lessons from Lebanon: Strangers

31 Mar

This week’s poem is the first of half-a-dozen in a collection entitled “Lessons from Lebanon”. There were so many fantastic experiences and surprises that I encountered there. This was one – totally unexpected – and we went with it. 

If you have travelled to the Middle East you will know of their unabashed welcoming of strangers. Typical conversations go as follows:

Lebanese: Where from?

Tourist (me): (caught off guard) …uh… (hmm… should I say America or England? England, definitely England.) America. (Drat!)

Lebanese: Welcome, welcome!

Tourist: (relieved) Thank you! I love Lebanon! (Ok, don’t go OTT.)

I just hope I can help others feel more welcome too, wherever I am in the world.


Wandering the Byblos markets, I saw a man

enjoying the sunshine and his za’atar meal

of thin freshly baked thyme seasoned bread

and shouting a greeting, thrust a torn wedge

in my direction. He would not take no for an answer.


So good, it could not be missed: the sharing:

their community, their looking out, their senses.

I left with the taste of welcome warm

salt in my mouth and a question in my mind:

when did I last share my meal with a stranger?

Featured blog: Daniel Spaite

3 Mar

The FIRST featured poem of the August Reads blog is a real blessing by budding poet, Daniel Spaite from Visalia, California, a student at Point Loma Nazarene University. A brilliant example that one might liken to e.e. cummings’ use of case to accentuate and emphasize meaning, I can’t help but read it out in a rap-esque rhythm! I found this poem startlingly powerful and I hope it makes you think too.

Please comment below and check out Daniel’s other poetry on his facebook page by clicking above.

Christ Alone

The idiocy of hypocrisy has long been hurting the church we see,
Because the fact is, people want consistency.
Are christians hot or cold? Are we in, are we out?
I mean Katy Perry was christian till she realized money is what it’s really all about.
And Usher confessed that by God he is blessed,
But confessions part 2 showed his love life’s a mess,
Maybe we shouldn’t look at pop stars I guess,
So who is next?
Our christian politicians never lie right?
And they definitely would never cheat on their wives.
Sorry Bill and Arnie, but I’m sure you had some good nights.
So who do we watch when these folks fail?
It doesn’t help that most of our priests are in Jail,
And when things get rough lots of pastors just bail,
Maybe they’ll send a postcard in the mail…
And it’s true, the church is where the worst of them go:
The greedy, the cocky, the sleazy, the hoes,
And everybody knows,
But they put on quite the show!
And me?
I’m the worst of them all,
I call them all out and do nothing but fall,
My ego’s so big yet my opinions so small,
I mean unless I find my worth in dodge ball.
And I sit in judgement every chance I get.
I know the Bible because I read it,
And I’ll tell you you’re wrong if you mess up one bit,
Plus, If I know I’m right I won’t give a shit…

But I’m wrong, oh so wrong!
How I wish those attitudes would get the clue and be gone,
And that Katy Perry would sing Godly songs,
That old Bill Clinton was faithful and strong.
That our priests would stay Holy,
Our pastors stay put,
And not let some money move them afoot.

But we also must see that through the ages, consistency,
Is the only thing true in hypocrisy,
Because the one without sin should cast the first stone,
But the One without sin is Christ alone.
He was and is the only Way,
Not getting paid,
Not getting laid.
Not “winning” at life,
Or having a million friends,
But realizing that our Glory is only in Him!
Because hypocrites are not idiots,
We all have fallen short and we both know it.
You’re a hypocrite and so am I,
And chances are that will be true till the day that we die,
And the churches will never see the plank in their eye,
But the Church, Big “C”, will always be the Body of Christ,
The Beautiful Bride, attempting to save one life at a time.

So give the Church a chance,
Just be warned in advance,
christians will fail, we have since the fall of man,
Just like Adam and Eve, we will eat the fruit from that tree,
But we are not saying “Come follow me”,
Rather Jesus Christ, the One who dies in John 3:16,
He longs for our hearts, the lost AND the saved!
Only He can facilitate the hypocrites’ change.