I read Songs for Ascent: Poems by David Robert Jones, and I was as taken by the beautifully written introduction as I was by the beautifully written poems.
Jones calls this collection “a long series of insufficient prayers for reparation. In fact, one might understand these verses best by imagining them in the context of the pained monologue of the prodigal son during his long walk back home to beg a favor of his father.”
And so they are. These are poems/psalms about redemption and grace, the profound understanding of the separation from God, and the sheer wondrous amazement that the hand still reaches to touch our lives. Read “Debase, My Pharisee Wonder Working:”
and desperately sweeping and bloodied hands
the broken, the searching, the weak—
down further than myself to keep me always,
in my own esteem, one step above total
to wittingly shun the scarred hands that
reached down to
save me, dust me off,
bring me back to higher than I know I’m
i, profane, take the image as my own
to abscond the hope and destroy it,
lest all these, slaves to oblivion,
find the emancipation i forfeited.
Jones reflects on his own prayers, on callousness, on grace, harness of heart, vanity, pride (a marvelously pointed two-line poem), insufficiency, the fall, and forgiveness. He prays, or sings, for brokenness and writes the next beatitude (“Blessed are the going”).
Reading these poems is to experience a contemporary articulation of many of the same themes and ideas found in the Biblical psalms. It’s a wonderful collection.
Jones, who lives in California, has previously written two poetry collections, Merika, Love Poems and A Manual on the Human Condition.
The foreword is by author and poet John Blase, who blogs at The Beautiful Due.
Jones’s web site.
Photograph by Peter Griffin via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.