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Affectionately Yours

(x = space)



Affectionately Yours


All the things

That drive us to aberrant

Distraction, should

We let them:

What if our autonomics

Fail and I must be responsible

For breathing, blinking

The beating of my heart?

You see,

That won’t happen

But we can get into states

From time to time


As if the wrong angel

On my shoulder

Has been given too much sway

And I have let

The silent one

Stay silent in its wisdom


The demons call

Now and then

With sugar-words

And honeyed expectation

They must seem irresistible

In certain moments


But utter no,


Move on—there,

You’ve removed the

Curse and thus joined

The anti-damnation league

Whose numbers

Are unknown

Whose fee is nil

But do they shine

In Parousiac moments


C L Couch



The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis


angel in a cemetery, weathered by time but still a powerful image

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash


The Book of Numbers

(x = space)



The Book of Numbers

(in pandemic time)


Lots of twos and ones


And a zero,

And there could be church:

I think I’d cherish

Learning someone else’s


If in a cyber way


To understand

How a narrative fits

Into the weaving,

The puzzle

Of the one great story

In which we each

Have a page



Or colorful

Burnt along the edges,

Gilded for the saints

After all the torn-up

Parts have been



Not a book of judgment

Not a cache of

Clever evidence;

Rather the story of us

In part

And all the rest of us

And God inside, above

With tired angels

Tirelessly binding

Fixing binding

All the time


C L Couch

(for 2/21/2021)



Photo by Paulius Dragunas on Unsplash

Antelope Canyon, United States

Ladder to Nowhere

(reasonable skeptic)


Wilderness for Real

Wilderness for Real

(before the angels or the promised land)


So what happens

In the wilderness?

We think more about its passing

Forty days in the wilderness

Forty years wandering

The desert

How were they led

Without any leading?

There was no direction but

Not to find the way

One day in a wilderness

Without means except

What might fall out of the sky

Stone into bread

Water from rocks, that is

And are we to live by miracle

For many days?


The holes inside of desert walls

Holes within holes

Drive in a couple pegs

To make a shelf

This life was considered wisdom?

There must have been

The company of food

If not of people bringing it

Water must have gotten there


Meaning wisdom must be patronized

Sponsors for each hermit

If not a dining hall

Is a hermitage allowed community?

Is there companionship

Inside the wilderness?


Who would be alone

To hear only the heart

Wait for nerve flashes

To shine behind the eye,


This is loneliness enough

The creator hasn’t left

Each one is not a pocket watch

Inside a deist vest


There is loneliness in wilderness

Underneath there is companionship

Something we feel

Less than God

But more than ego-censorship

Affords in crowds

Magnets are not good for us

They draw us without thinking


When we can get away

Or accept it, anyway

Because it happens

Something in us owns

The time, the chance

To say, this feels like home for now

I’ll stay here while I can

Even as a long-withheld surprise


I’ll learn

Employ some craft


It shouldn’t last forever

Then I get to return

Maybe encounter you

Before returning,

All changed


C L Couch



Photo by Arto Marttinen on Unsplash


Bible Angels

Bible Angels


If I were in a market place

Four thousand years ago

And an angel came to me,

Would I laugh as Sarah laughed?

It would be understandable


We try it now

In comedies

Sometimes in melodrama

But it’s a tragedy of belief to have

The recognition come too late,

And so it never does

Tell Sodom and Gomorrah

And days before the rain

That meant the ark

Must be sealed

I’m sorry, but sometimes

There’s providence in this


But after rain

I have an angel on my shoulder

A miracle in my pocket

And King Jesus is my all

So that when I sing it

Sing it, too

There’s a

Choral host somewhere

Joining in


It was an angel, ordered

Painting red the lintels

Who lived inside the clouds

And pillars of fire by night


They bear news

It isn’t always good

Fear not

Have faith

We are nothing but the thing with feathers

Inside there is nothing but

The will of God


We warred in heaven

Tempered is the remnant

Choice assignments

Sometimes we act with tears

We all know why

There are lamentations


We will cry the end

We’ve been there

And cry once more for joy

In what is found afterward

For our keeping


C L Couch



“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul . . .

Emily Dickinson



Photo by Allan Rolim on Unsplash

Paraná, Londrina, Brasil


Rescue Me

Rescue Me


Once, I was in trouble

It was fixed, I don’t know how

Someone appeared


And kept the fall from hurting worse

Somehow in fact

Abbreviated all the crisis


Pulled my substance


Back from the next edge, so


That I might go home

One more time that day

And with my spirit

Lean into tomorrow


I don’t think the saints are gone

Or angels, either

Like the elves from Middle-Earth


We won’t need

White shores

While we are defended, now


C L Couch



Georgia National Guard from United States – Air Rescue, CC BY 2.0,


Lent 10

Lent 10




First, though,

We must have him

In the wilderness

Forty days because forty’s



In a place for unbelievers

(for heathens dwell upon a heath)


Nowhere to rest well

To drink, to bathe

To have the food that comes

From green and ready plants and trees


He is there, and

The wild

Must consume him

Yet he is so vast inside

He has room for it and so much more


The space of all the world

And the needs for which it



He is not alone

One other must be there

An adversary

Who must tempt the man

And the child untested

In the world


Make bread out of rock

Throw your tired body headlong

Into nihilism

Worship me so I can give you


Of the strong, such as

Alexander took


We know how it ends

Jesus cites

Adjures the tempter and

His own need

The thing must depart

The entity, the plan

(wile away another)

Angels visit angels

This act is done

There is no more to say

Or learn

Time to visit other withered places


C L Couch



Hotchkiss, Jedediah, 1828-1899 –, Public Domain,


All at Once Everywhere

All at Once Everywhere

(for Christmas day, anytime)


It’s a holiday everywhere

Except where it’s not

Sometimes in some places that

Is normal

Some places not so much


Where there is suffering

Where there is illness without comfort

Where there is nothing but alone


And, you know,

Christ came for these

An infant will grow up into infinity

We will treat him horribly

He will return, because he loves us

More than that

He is here

He is with us, now

And all the angels

With the saints

That’s us


C L Couch



suesnyder722 / 8 images


Night in a Small Town in Western Asia

Night in a Small Town in Western Asia

(Advent, anytime)


We think of Jesus born at night

Though he might have happened

Any time of day

But we carry into our services

The scene of nighttime

With the shepherds


It’s good

It is romantic

And nearly always it is quiet

As the time of birth is recalled, near


We pray

We sing

We watch the candles in the room

And, if a flame is passed,

For hair that might be singed


In the afternoon inside the stable

Before angels appear

Declaring peace

With a call for good will,


The parents must be tired

Mary must recover

Their shelter is so rude,

Would they welcome visitors?


Maybe the shepherds could

Be all right

They are simpler, frankly most likely unrefined

More importantly, they have

Traversed in fear and

Aspect of wonder


I recall the gifts from shepherds

In the mystery play

Have a bob of cherries

Offers one of them

To the child who is a savior

Who says they don’t know

The true nature of majesty?


Then the sky is unveiled, and angels turn

Like diamonds in a jeweler’s light




Isn’t there something that happens to us


That puts the rest into perspective

If only briefly?


For a moment, the created universe made sense

It had been fashioned for perfection

For the joy of seasons

Provision unrelenting

Delight in foraging each day

For new phenomena to complete the senses


In this night,

It was returned

A promise announced in the sky

An old one, a new one

Everything at first and last as it should be


C L Couch



By Robert Stinnett from Boonville, MO, USA – Small town Friday night, CC BY 2.0,


Philemon’s Pitcher

Philemon’s Pitcher

(Advent, anytime)


I pour water from the Brita

And think of Philemon’s pitcher

A wonderful story

I’m not sure about the judgey part

But the provision part

Is glorious

If you don’t know

(and if you do),

There was an old couple in

Still more ancient Greece

Living near a town that was

Beautiful in appearance, though the

People there were

Took glory too far

They were vain and unwelcoming

Of those who were not they

They lived well

Strangers were not taken in

Nor impoverished neighbors,

Such as Bacchus and Philemon


They lived poorly

In a hovel

They had worked hard,

But now there was nothing

And one evening they set out

The last of what they had

For they would surely starve by

The next day

A cluster of worn grapes

A pitcher filled with drops of bitter wine

They last meal together


Then two persons appeared in the


And they asked for comforts

Food and afterward a place to sleep

Wife and husband exchanged a glance

Then apologized

To strangers

We have little space

And our food is poor

But we are glad to share with you

If you will, be welcome here

With us


The visitors were pleased and thanked their hosts

And sat down to eat and drink

What might not even share among

The four of them

But when


The wine poured from the pitcher,

It was wondrous

Rich in red and filled with

Savor once tried

And when the grapes were offered,

They appeared full richly on the plate

And were sweet to taste

And satisfying

And the four at table feasted

On small miracles


Once sated

All lay down to rest

What coverings there were,

Bacchus and Philemon presented

To their guests


And in the morning

The couple woke beneath marvelous cloths

And their raiment appeared richly sewn

Their hovel was a house

Of polished marble, the furnishings all



They walked outside into the sun

And in the valley where the town of

The conceited lay,

There was now a lake

Whose surface shown in judgment

Nothing more was seen

Then they knew

If not before

That they had been visited by gods

Who rendered service rendered

From the welcoming

Like that of kings and queens

And thought unasked for

Reward turned into recompense


And so we know

Something of receiving strangers

Who give no cause but need

Be inclined to welcome them

For we might be entertaining angels,



C L Couch


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