Monday, October 24, 2022

Graham Hillard

Graham Hillard is the founding editor of Cumberland River Review, and for fifteen years has taught creative writing and contemporary literature at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. He is also a regular contributor to the Washington Examiner and National Review. This spring he joined the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

His poetry collection, Wolf Intervals, has just appeared through Cascade Books as part of the Poiema Poetry Series. I’m pleased to have assisted Graham as his editor.

New York poet Eleanor Lerman has written, “In these sharply crafted poems, Graham Hillard challenges the reader to examine how nature both blesses and infects the human soul. Fields and forests, orchards and cities, wolves and children: all are caught in the dance between humanity and the natural world.”

The following poem is from Wolf Intervals. Another of the poems from this new book can be read at Poems For Ephesians.

Sunday Sermon

So here again we come with all our sins
Broad blown, stinking to heaven. We concede
The good in one another fitfully,
Neglect what we have promised, turn away
When turning inward might occasion pain.
Like beasts of burden that each year must pull
A little harder to advance their load,
We put our backs into the work. We call
This love and are not wrong to do so. When
The pastor climbs into the pulpit, I
Give you my hand, this palm and grip that you
Have known so well, that used to fairly throb
With certainty and youth. Your other hand
Now grasps the bulletin, that blank expanse
Where sermon notes are tucked into the soil
Of each believer’s comprehension, such
As it is. Hebrews 4:15 will be
Our text today: Christ tempted so completely
That he is able to commiserate
With all His lowly flock. We know the verse,
Accept the truth of it, yet even minds
That God is sanctifying can be prone
To wander, as the hymnist says. An hour
Or two will see us safely home, reduced
From holiness to all the cognizance
Of age: that bodies shrink and sag and turn
Against themselves; that muscles atrophy;
That we could live another forty years
Inside these prisons, bound to one another
By habit, love, commitment, and a fear
That neither of us cares to name. Your notes
Have nearly filled the page by now, and I
Can’t help but glance at your neat letters, like
A line of clerics leaning to one side.
Christ stooped into the muck with his creation.
Temptation came his way, but did he taste
What we discover daily? If I could
Contribute to your jottings I might add
A line or two. He knew our sorrows. But
He never married. He never grew old.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.