Trials of Faith

When He gave to me,
I asked for more.

“You’ve got it all,”
He said, and closed the door.

I knocked again
then turned to stare
across the street—

the other doors
were hung with vines
and berries sweet.

I turned back
to knock again,
but then I felt
the cost to be too great —

and walked away
too late.

Don Cadwallader

The Right

You have the right to ride
the sails of your salvation.

Here, place your hands
on these cross beams;

press your head against
the splintered edges
to feel the driving winds.

Go ahead,
climb to the top
and to the brink —

behold the galaxies
beyond the crashing waves!

Don Cadwallader

The Deal

You forced my hand and so
I’ll show my cards to you:

This card is now a bird
hovering on the ocean depths.

Other creatures too are held
and played if their time comes:

This card could be a cat
who stalks among the thorns,

while this one was a rooster —
he crowed by the old school house.

You see, I try to stay so true
to what I draw and what God deals.

I want to show them to the world but,
you know,
this game is just for two.

Don Cadwallader

Rocks

Here
on earth
the rocks
are well-known things.

Because of them
the furrows of the fields
are never as straight
as they seem.

The plows stumble
and twist
amid their constant
upturnings.

But let it never be said
that I am a useless dreamer
of a future land
where wilderness
is no more.

Let the future sanctify
the present.

I plow.
I dream.
I sing.

Don Cadwallader

Last Light in September

This morning,
when a late September’s moon
set fully in the west,
its light white
in the early darkness,
a dream cast
into the room
as though some
desert land was
filled with snow;

but then,
through the louvers
dawn took over,
and a rising sun,
being the more informed,
struck a feverish pace
towards day.

In times like these
I feel that every word
I’ve penned on earth
has somehow broken falsely,
and every beauty
that I’ve ascribed
to life
is really seen
in error.

So I must ask you
to come with me
to close your eyes
as dawn approaches.
Hear the flutter
of the mourning dove
in the oleander blooms,
and listen towards
the pines down in the fields.
The grackling speech
of sandhill cranes
is fading long
as light awakens.

Now know this:
I as well as you
are born to mystery,
though we might
sometimes think
true light
has failed
each other.

Don Cadwallader

Job 1:21

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; 
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I am sorry God gave it to me.

I am sorry,
God gave it to me.

God gave it –
to me, I am sorry.

I am sorry!
(God gave it to me.)

God gave it to me –
Sorry I am.

To me,
I am sorry God gave it.

God I am sorry.

I am sorry, God.

Please
give it back
to me.

Don Cadwallader

Dylan and the Problem of Intention as an Artist

And then there is the age-old difficulty and problem of intention. Briefly: I believe that an artist is someone more than usually blessed with a cooperative unconscious or subconscious, more than usually able to effect things with the help of instincts and intuitions of which he or she is not necessarily conscious. Like the great athlete, the great artist is at once highly trained and deeply instinctual. So if I am asked whether I believe that Dylan is conscious of all the subtle effects of wording and timing that I suggest, I’m perfectly happy to say that he probably isn’t. And if I am right, then in this he is not less the artist but more. There are such things as unconscious intentions. What matters is that Dylan is doing the imagining, not that he is fully deliberatedly conscious of the countless intimations that are in his art. As he put it:

As you get older, you get smarter and that can hinder you because you try to gain control over the creative impulse. Creativity is not like a freight train going down the tracks. It’s something that has to be caressed and treated with a great deal of respect. If your mind is intellectually in the way, it will stop you. You’ve got to program your brain not think too much.

A shrewd turn, this, the contrariety of “You’ve got to program your brain” and the immediate “not to think too much.”

(Ricks, Christopher. Dylan’s Visions of Sin. ECCO, 2003, pgs. 7-8.)