Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Wild Grace

I was praying on my porch,
Or writing a poem,
Tiny jeweled frogs sang
Around the garden pond,
Sun had set, it was cooling.
Suddenly a rustle,
A stag and his
Following doe
Sailed silently by--

A rustle, then wild grace,
A poem-prayer,
An answer.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Spirits of departed
Wheel like gulls
In morning sun
High over Marge
Of land and sea.

Flower on spear of leaf
Lay on gravestone
Small claims to memorialize
A life

Awaken grief
Surprising us alone
Sends gulls wheeling seaward
Important with small fames
Called home
To the Name of Names.

      By Charles Van Gorkom

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Directions Forward

In the world 
Not of the world

Robes hung unfurled
Crimson and golden
In sun bleached bush
Of white birch
In the church
Not of the church. 

Poured and broken
Every day
New spoken

And olden. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017


You played your accordion
Standing under a young tree
At the farmers market
Or not standing, you danced,
Your whole lithe body
Barefoot in scuffed leather shoes
Your soaring improvisations
Sailed above tents and crowds
At times growling greeting to the dogs
Or singing with birds
Whose tree lofts
Shaded busy coffee tables and chairs. 

Tall and thin, an elvan man, 
Unself conscious,
You danced to your own music
Weaving like tendrils of mist,
Songs rising within 
as you gave it birth. 

Suddenly I knew
It was just like this
The universe was born. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

To My Family

I just found this on my computer.  I wrote it more than four years ago, thought you might be interested:

I was forty-three years in the northern wilderness.
Before those years, I had prayed,
Earnestly prostrated before the Lord,
In another country, another city, I prayed,
(He saved me, He rescued me, He sent me on a path of exile)
I prayed "Lord, put me through what you need me to go through
In order to make me the poet you made me to be."

Was I really a poet and not much else?

I don't know if He has started to answer that prayer,
But my experiences in the wilderness have been different and elemental.
Deep as a scar.

At the same time I fear I may forget,
So other-worldly they were,
Or maybe "third-worldly" a better word.

Remind me, children, how we knew life:
No time for poetry or art,
The next meal,
Firewood cutting and hauling and splitting and stacking,
Clearing the land by hand,
Building the house,
Growing food we ate in a summer of ten weeks,
Scything and raking and racking the hay field by hand
For the goats that made us our milk,
Plundered two times per day,
Winters down as low as minus fifty,
The stove glowing red,
And snow as much as four feet deep
Falling in one night.

Lamp light and batteries,
Digging a well by hand,
And a hand pump at the kitchen sink.

The greenhouse, the outhouse,
Worship and home school,
Prayer every morning at 5:30 am--

I could and should go on and on
And should,
lest the images and memories fade away.

We lived like Saint Francis with Lady Poverty
By the work of our hands,  (and still today)
From hand made boot to handmade boot,
Hopefully this was all God making me into the poet
I hope to become.

During those years I felt like I toured both Heaven and Hell,
Known exile seared into the ventricals of being,
Known miracle and deliverance and divine provision,
Praise and glory, storms and waves instantly stilled by
The Peace Be Still of desperate faith
When caught out in a canoe on an icy lake
Flooding the deepest knotted fibres of my being.

Heard and seen the angels, awstruck by the nordic
Falling colored curtains of heaven on the coldest nights.

I've put bears and wolves to flight
With prayer and faith and desperate bravado.

I've slept beside a salmon choked river
Where bears were fishing, me--
Wrapped in a sleeping bag and simple nervous prayer.

I've known friends to appear as I sat
Miles from nowhere in Canadian mountain bush
Finding me in the night at a lonely fire.

I've seen death stalk my enemies.

I saw a child run over by a loaded haywagon,
His chest crushed flat
Instantly healed
And laughing with the other children
At supper that night.

Strangers have handed me envelopes filled with hundreds
Even thousands of dollars
Unasked, unexpected, but so needed,

So much more, so much more glory,

But who am I?
God made me a poet, gave me leather and boots to make
For my groceries, and what is that
In the reckoning of things?

I spent hours cumulated into years huddled around a fire
Worshipping and praying in thanksgiving for simple
Food shelter and warmth, family and mercy and grace.

My three children know how to survive,
How to take care of themselves and their families
Without guns,
Know God and serve Him whole-heartedly,
My wife  a treasure that has enriched all my days.

God told me in a dream: "Go back to the city,
I have work for you to do."

After forty-three years,
He led me from the wilderness just a few weeks ago.

Here I am Lord, sent by you.

charles van gorkom
January 2012

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Forgive Them

         Forgive them, 
        Rabbleous cacophony rattling my door,
        They know not what they do
        Or what they are for.

        I only see through a darkling  glass
       Vistas of love
       And how by its silent power,
       The redeemed will pass,

       How a stone is warmed in silence,
       To bear a flower. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

S. W.

One day,
By clever diversion,
life made treaty with death in you,
a minority ground-swell in opposition
and  War began.

I fled to the borders,
what could I do?
For seven years
I hid and trained my binoculars
on your embattled soul
made sorties for your replenishment,
You always smiled in tranquility
as if precious children rioted
in your skirts.

When the smoke cleared,
the flame flickered out,
I carried away some of the rubble
for a keepsake,
ashes that remained,
with your smile.

What more could you have done?
The treaty you could not break,
nor could I,
Your life triumphs still by joy,
It is the Treaty Breaker's tranquil smile.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Softly Light

There is a candle in the darkness,
You can see its glow,
But not the flame.

When your eyes are closed,
You know it is
Shielded gently in two hands.

Hands that shelter the singing
Tiny light,
Reflecting on a quiet face,
Eyes on your eyes,
Love answering  love.

Lips call your name
Softly saying
"Come to my gentle light,
Little one,
Come,  eyes of love,
Enter your whispered name,
Come home"

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blessed Is The Human

Blessed is the human
Who does not edit
The one true story
To fit the narrative of his time.

This human is rare
And blessed
Who edits the narrative of his time
To fit the one true story.