Poem Audio #1 – “Falling in Love” / “Paper Plates”

black-and-white-image-of-headphonesTo expand on the poetry I have published here over the last year or so, I thought it would be fun to record readings of some of my favorite pieces from The Cardinal Turns the Corner as well as to introduce newer pieces I have written.

In addition to these readings, I’d like to provide some commentary, background, and/or explanatory notes that situate each poem in whatever experience, memory, or mood inspired it. No writer writes in a vacuum; we are always influenced by something (usually a thousand somethings). 🙂 So, here is Poem Audio #1.

The two poems discussed in this recording are “Falling in Love” from TCTTC and a new piece “Paper Plates.” Each poem has been reprinted below the audio file for those who wish to read along. Enjoy!


“Falling in Love”

The other night I stood for half an hour

Between the night sky and the butterfly wings of sleep,

Trying to count how many times I’ve fallen in love with you.


The streetlights filled our window while you slept,

But all I could do was wander around the room, hands folded,

The wind stirring the leaves on the pavement outside.


For years I have looked beneath the rocks in the river,

Inspected the wrists of jazz drummers

And the breath of blue roses for the full moon.


I have unlaced the fog in the morning

And swept the brushstrokes of dew on the ground

To find the words for our love,


And the candles at every step of our memory,

Lighted by the words we’ve spoken,

They are becoming forest fires.


In my hands are a dozen marbles. When I hold them up to you

To show the colors of my love, the sound of their scattering

On the floor tells me to try again.


And I try again every time,

Finding you over and over in the corner of my eye,

Smiling like the day we first met.


So I stayed awake that night, wondering how

I might manage to hold all this love

When all along it lay quietly in the way our fingers touch when we watch movies,

Your knees bent beneath the blanket,

The hours drifting away like snow.


“Paper Plates”

I’m trying to remember how long we’ve eaten on paper plates,

Cheap napkins with printed lilacs,

Both of us bending the tines of plastic forks

As we slowly keep from speaking.


When did we become so still, so suddenly motionless,

Twin marble statues stuck beneath the weight of water,

Staring in the distance past each other’s ocean shadow?


How did the sunlight in our voices

Fade into the night, our fingers numb

As blackened matches, our gazes turned to separate walls?


There must have been a moment when we accidentally said our last words,

When the sugar in our breath slid deep into our memory,

When our kisses somehow grew stale and

Our styrofoam lips first chipped along the edges.

Thank You

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-4-29-42-pmThank you to everyone who attended the event last night for the official release of The Cardinal Turns the Corner! It was an extraordinary evening, and I could not be more grateful to everyone for their kind words and generous support.

Thank you, also, to all of you who, over the past several months, encouraged and promoted the project, both in person and online, as it came together. I am truly overwhelmed by your graciousness and enthusiasm.

So now, The Cardinal Turns the Corner is officially available for purchase through a number of different outlets. You may purchase a copy online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble or, if you’re local (i.e., Atlanta), you can buy a copy directly from me. All proceeds will continue to go to Curing Kids Cancer.

From now on, links to purchase the book will also be included in the “Purchase My Book” page at the top of this website.

So again, thank you so much! I love you all.

Book Release (1.20.17)

Hello all –

First of all, I would like to thank you for following Eden.Babel and for the wonderful feedback you have provided over the last 18 months. When I started the blog, my goal was to create a platform where literature, poetry, history, film, and music could be examined in pursuit of understanding more fully the wondrous glory of God. I have been thrilled to share what has been on my heart in this journey, and your encouragement and enthusiasm has been, quite simply, beyond belief.

I want to share with you something exciting that I have been working on for the last six months. As many of you know and have read for the past several weeks, I have been working on a collection of poetry, slowly sharing with you some pieces I have written.

Simg_3361o I would like to announce that my first book of poetry, The Cardinal Turns the Corner, will be released on Amazon on January 20, 2017. The cost will be $12, and all proceeds will go to Curing Kids Cancer, an Atlanta-based organization dedicated toward innovative and affordable cures for children’s cancer. I will provide a link to the book here on the blog when it comes out.

The poems included in the collection range in content, all the way from a coffee outing with Ludwig van Beethoven to the quiet turmoil of making the bed. Bathsheba, haircuts, Siri, fatherhood, loss, marriage, grief, maple syrup, Superman, love, oranges, math, and Icarus are just some of the features included in the book. 🙂

Our school, Landmark Christian School, will host a book release party and signing event at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, GA on Friday, January 20, 2017 at 6:30pm. If you are in the area, I would love to invite you to come and purchase a copy. A representative from Curing Kids Cancer will be there, and several of my students will read their own work as well.

Again, thank you all for following Eden.Babel. You are an encouragement and a blessing!

“See, Mother”

Madonna of the BookA few weeks ago, I had the privilege of touring the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas and discovered a beautiful painting by Botticelli titled Madonna of the Book. In the center of this piece sits Mary with the Christ child on her lap as they both read from a medieval book of hours, a sacred devotional text common to Botticelli’s generation. Noticeably, Mary is pensive, contemplative, and even mournful in her pose as she studies the book.

Several striking images arise from this remarkable portrait, particularly surrounding the event of Christ’s death on the cross:

1. The Cross

If you look closely, a crown of thorns and three nails adorn the left hand of Christ, signifying his coming crucifixion. The placement of these symbols around the arm of the infant Christ creates a powerful harmony and continuity in the picture, for we are able to see in a single moment both Christ’s beginning and ending simultaneously. Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 1.33.41 PMHe was born to die. This is the will of God that “Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, [be] crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). Indeed, Christ came into this world to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). As Mark Lowry famously wrote in a song to Mary: “This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”

2. The Gaze of Christ

Perhaps the most admirable feature of this work is the reassuring gaze of Christ toward His mother. As Mary appears somber, meditative, and hesitant to continue her reading (in a book which contains the gruesome account of the cross), the look of the Christ child is one of soothing comfort. “It’s okay, mother,” he seems to say, “we must keep reading the story.” Yes, we must. Mary, like many of us, nervously approaches the death of Jesus, the horrendous murder of her son. With pain she stays her hand to keep from witnessing the bloodshed. Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 1.51.07 PMYet, Christ guides her hand with His. “Keep reading. Keep reading.” Notice His left hand holding hers and His right hand guiding her back to the story. We must keep reading. Christ must die on the cross so that we must not. His steady and victorious look to His mother tells us everything. “I must do this for you,” he says to her and to us. “I love you. You must keep reading.” For as we keep reading, we discover that the story does not end at His death. In the words of the Battle Hymn, “Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel […] His truth is marching on.” He marches on. He marches on. Glory, glory, hallelujah.

3. Mary’s Garments

Interestingly, Mary is clothed in red (the shedding of blood for the covering of sin), and red is the garment closest to her heart. Draped around her and enveloping her entire figure is the blue of Christian baptism. Through the death of Christ, Mary is bought with blood and baptized into a new life, picturing the hope of Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of the believers at His return. Though she is sad to think of His death, she is already clothed in His resurrection. Her joy is a future joy but a present reality.

4. The Dawn of Resurrection

Through the open window, we can just begin to glimpse the breaking dawn rising into view. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 130:5). The death of Christ was a dark night, truly, but how glorious is His resurrection! “O Death, where is your sting?” (I Cor. 15:55).

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 10.20.15 PM

“See, Mother, I make all things new.”

All in all, may we be encouraged that, though we tremble at times in our reading of the great story of God, faithless in our fear of the coming darkness, the hand of Christ bids us keep reading, for behold, He is making all things new (Rev. 21:5).