Sunset with Twisted Oak
(photo: Scott Jungling/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

I so enjoyed your show with the poet Ms. Alexander. It emboldened me to forward one of my poems. “Twisted” is a biographical and personal reflection of God’s grace unfolding in the life of someone (myself as well as others), who with the benefit of years of hindsight, can agree with those before them who said, “My soul looks back and wonder, how I got over!”


        By Empty Tomb

A bastard born,
Not meant to be,
No concept of my father’s tree.
Without a compass, adrift at sea,
Another brother … twisted.

Roaming the streets at an early age,
79th street binds me like a cage,
A steady diet of fast food and rage,
But that’s all they’re serving the twisted.

Domestic violence shatters the day,
Kids scared and screaming, enter the fray,
I’ll put an end to this shit one day!
Cause … kids shouldn’t be this twisted.

School’s a joke, just a holding cell,
Preparation, I guess for Cook County Jail.
Trying to stay focus, but catchin all kinds a Hell.
But, who values the minds of the twisted?

Girls, they come, no strings attached,
Pride follows conquest, but I now know for a fact
That sex without commitment inevitably tracks,
To further the legacy … of the twisted.

One day while walking on China’s Great Wall,
With my new bride, feeling 10 feet tall,
I began to feel like He’s heard my calls,
Does God hear the calls of the twisted?

Then holding my man-cub in my hands,
He hears my voice and understands,
With him I pledge to take my stand,
Still, I wonder if he knows … that I’m twisted.

Looking back on all those years,
All those struggles, all those tears.
All the relationships I’ve had,
All those kids, good ones turned bad.

All those nights spent in the streets,
Dodging bullets, thugs and cheats.
All the predators on the hunt,
Dope fiends, hustlers, all those drunks.
The financial struggles and juggling bills,
The hyper-tension and poppin pills.
All my wayward schemes and plans,
Ill-conceived in the wisdom of man.
Dinning on a plate of shame,
With a side of pride and pain.
Neighborhood bungalows forever burning,
Brothers hearing, but never learning
While at war against powers unseen,
Always fighting, but on the wrong team.
Wasted years and wasted speech,
Like poured out sand on Venice Beach.
Only now do I see one unchangeable truth …
My Lord, He loves the twisted.

And if I suffered for a million days,
To bring Him glory a million ways,
I’ll never approach the price He paid,
To abide … inside … the twisted.

Dana JamesDana James is a 51-year-old husband, father, deacon, and insurance agent living in Libertyville, Illinois.

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Thank you for this amazing poem. It really strikes a cord.

Thank you for being bold enough to share your poem. I mostly don't like poetry but your poem beautifully shares the human struggle. I think we all feel twisted inside--that's a perfect description of the human condition--and a spiritual life is a way to untangle the twist.

The images and sentiments you paint with your words are so affecting. It would seem your experiences were fertile ground for His light to shine. We, too, carry the burden of revelation. But in the end, it's all good.

What a testimony to courage and willingness to evolve through pain. Reminds me of 'bring forth what is within you and what is within you will save you, if not what is within you will destroy you' (paraphrased) I believe we can resurrect ourselves, it may be an inherent gift but it takes our own willingness to turn "S" into gold.

I am new to this blog, and read your poem today. Love this. Thanks for sharing so others can be inspired.

That is a fine piece of work! Thank you for being a transformative man and sharing insights. Peace, Denis