Poetry: Pentecost, a Pentecost Offering

Melody Cooper, John Dennison, and Donald Goodhall have collaborated to produce a three-part Pentecost offering. Here, John has written and recorded a poem on Pentecost. We suggest you listen to the poem and then read the lyrics. In addition to this poem, Melody has created a photo essay titled “There is a River” and Donald has written and recorded a song titled “Singin’ in the Rain”. Each offering is both unique and collaborative. We hope you enjoy this audio-visual journey.

By John Dennison

Waver, we waver at the point of thirst—
the interior beaches crowded with bodies—
we gather by a great bitterness
blanched and intertidal, as nightly
we immolate: the ground is made
to worship dark fires, ground
where seeds go to die and flies
mount each other anticipating
more. Hey religious playtime,
ecstatic festival of real-
ise myself, lubricate
the spirit that crackles in the burning
ground, even as malls split
open again, and oil—all that
dead sunny matter—is
refined, bitter perfume to burn in
cars burn inside themselves.
Gather again, gather small
groups weddings funerals gather
groups of no more than dust
motes circulating in daytime
rooms as trees throw down leaves
hands needles begin to pray.
Do you have any water? Do you can I
have I’m please give me water.
And mouth—my mouth—I’m having trouble
saying my mouth is swollen tongue—
sorry—your tongue I can see your tongue
is swollen my heart if I’m honest, the heart
in this heat, hopeless really
isn’t it a hopeless something
you know in your heart walk the dog
walk to the gym check my feed
try reloading the gutters are so
dry just breathe on me even
that stale dew on my face would be
something one thing’s for sure I’m just
remembering the water tell me the one
about a local reservoir,
such a lovely idea I love
the idea of rain; actually, we know
in the end it comes down to the beach,
all that—is that the sound of sounds
heavy the sound of heavy rain?—
all only the ocean rising
only the ocean rises now in
all our view as we waver
we distancing our eyes
turning to go inside. I’m parched.


There is:
There is a river
There is a river whose streams—
There is a river whose streams make glad:
There is.
There is not nothing, not—yes
it’s dry, the flies, burning beach,
dry as a dashboard waiting in the
shopping sun—but not only
this, and this is not all
at all: the skin on my hands says it,
and my asking eyes, and the ground
that cracks to open-mouth the yes
the not only bluenesses
but sky filling like the temple
filling not with nothing but signing
a river whose streams and now look down
will you understand under-
standing fill you looking down
through water where did all
this water come from I just look
down and there is this river and there
is the sound of heavy rain for a moment
there it’s like, “I’m dead”, and then
like “Oh my God” and like
water inside and prophesy gladness
the cracked ground mouths the filling
air sings renew the face
of the lifted earth lifts its face
to sing you are you are you are
so you are and it is water
bright in this one this one this one
wells wells up wells and spills
clear as breath, bright with wild
agreement, each flaming tongue
fluent and singing with water that lives
unaccountably alive
to river and gather and remember itself
all down the beach to crush
with sweetness the oppressing sea.

(Image: “There is a River” photo essay, by Melody Cooper)