Call & Response

by Dale C. Fredrickson, Poet

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Take a listen to these poems that I've been writing and tell me what you think. I'm calling this project "Call & Response." For the next year or so I'll be posting audio recordings of the poems I'm working on and I would love to hear your feedback. What poems sing? What poems don't work for you?


released September 24, 2016

Album Artwork design by Aaron Purdy



all rights reserved


Dale C. Fredrickson Denver, Colorado

Dale is a pastor and poet from Denver, Colorado. He aspires, through words, to invigorate the vitality of Christian faith. On his best days, he lives by Samuel Beckett’s motto, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” To learn more about Dale check out his website ... more

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Track Name: A Song in the Dark
“Why did God become human?”
She asks with sincere uncertainty.
Isn’t it mysterious?
sleeping in a manger
nursing from Mary’s breast
crying on Joseph’s arms.
What does incarnation mean?

“Why did God become human?”
He asks with forthright skepticism.
Doesn’t it all seem unbelievable?
drinking sorrow’s poison
crying in pain forsaken
dying on a criminal’s cross.

“Why did God become human?”
The question whirls in our minds
with heightened curiosity.
Divinity swaddled by human flesh
Kingdom come in a baby’s breathe
Infinite being now finite frail contingent
Could this child mean?
God is not against us, in our minds,
where fears are, suppressing our dreams.

She peers into the makeshift crib and he sits beside her.
Proud tears fall on her brown cheeks and he holds her.
They listen to his breathing as life with the child begins.
isn’t it astonishing?
fussing in a manger
crying from a cross
sharing life with us.
Could this child mean?
God struggles with us, in our hearts,
where love is, sharing our dreams.

The child is born.
Underneath the stars,
Wise men search, Angels appear, and Shepherds hear.
Underneath the stars
The promise of love transforms all fears.
Underneath the stars
The weary, the wounded, the seekers here.
A song fills the air.
“Gloria, in excelsis deo.”
“I hear salvation’s song,” she whispers.
“Listen, lean near, and listen to the slow ocean
of this child’s breathing; Calming, calling, drawing near.”

By Dale C. Fredrickson
Track Name: Burning Bushes
when you startled me
on the running trail
proud coyote
it was astonishing
a fusion
of mystery
and wonder

should i take my shoes off
or race away?

in the dirt
we danced
for a moment

your eyes
bright stars
distant and defiant
scanning prospects
you’re fearless
that’s why
they fear you

your coat is
like josephs
tan brown grey bold
nimble are
your steps
your body
relaxed upright
but alert
exquisite creature
wily and warring

your survival
a struggle
like Isreal’s
master of environments
intelligent adaptive flexible
student of change
outspoken nonconformist

i’ve heard
your battle cries
your wow-oo-wows
your diaspora life
your existence
stubborn and unbending
taking your blessings

how I wished
my heart blazed
like yours
then you
politely nodded
trotted away

in that moment
i remembered
the dusty trails
the cries
and calling
of my god
from Bethlehem
to Calvary
justice insisting
death resisting
life persisting
prophetic and
and holy fire
and mystery
jesus,will you
transform me?
dance with me until the fire returns
dance with me until the fire returns
Track Name: Busted Tambourine
my god, my god
why have you forsaken me?

i’m a busted tambourine
a banjo with broken strings
a cacophonous symphony
i’m a wallflower with two left feet

my god, my god
i’m a professional auctioneer
my voice is hoarse
from my urgent prattling

do you hear me?
can you help me?
will you heal me?

you don’t raise your hand
your inattention is baffling
your silence unsettling

my cry for help is routine
rhythmic pattern that
swells again and again

do you love me?
do you love me?
do you love me?

don’t you see i’m suffering?

my god, my god
i’m the orphan
can’t you feel my pulse?
sighs of neglected nurture
silences of love misshapen
cries from wounds that will not heal

your eyes look away
you pay no attention
your unconcern unnerves me

my god, my god
why have you forsaken me?
i’m a refugee
my body is here but
my heart is buried
i’ve been uprooted and
anxious fears grip me
these pains won’t let go
my bones are bending
i can’t stand this aching
will you do nothing while everything is breaking?
will you do nothing while everything is breaking?

how does your heart not break?

eloi, eloi,
lama sabachthani
my god, my god
why have you forsaken me?

my protest is prayer
my heart’s a bruise
who can fix this dusty tambourine?
who can make this banjo resound again?
is there any bounce for my two left feet?
i thought you were the one who turns chaos into grace and beauty?
am I wrong that you promised never to leave?
why even speak of a love that could heal everything?

my prayer is protest
my cry reverberates
from David in Jerusalem
to Jesus on Calvary
everyone who’s felt offbeat
my god, my god
why have you forsaken me?
Track Name: Crucify the Bullies In My Head
crucify the bullies in my head

my head is full of troubling songs
God really doesn’t love me
God probably doesn’t care
who would cry if I was gone

tracks of doubt sound on sound
babbling jabbering droning on
faster and faster frenzied
i’m trapped on a not-so-merry-go-round

i don’t know how to slow down
i don’t know why I hold onto lies
i don’t know if I’ll outgrow them
do you care if I drown

there’s something capturing about your life
there’s something about your call “Be still”
there’s something compassionate about your death

doubts keep jabbing, spinning
can you crucify the bullies in my head?
will you roll over fictions with a stone?

won’t you raise me
in the mystery
of your creation song?
Track Name: Living in Yesterday
I limped along the hiking trail,
living in yesterday,
until a doe and a fawn startled me.
They sprang gracefully
bounding effortlessly,
over wildflowers and rocks,
through pine trees and thistles,
Landing and leaping;
inches from the head
of an indifferent snake.
cutting the switchbacks and
ascending the mountain.

I stood captivated
as their shadows disappeared.
Freedom and finesse
with each touch down and takeoff.
A doe and her fawn
hooves kissing the earth
the forest floor their drum
a praise song of wonder.

When their dance fell silent,
unanswered despair stirred,
unresolved feelings swelled,
slow tears fell from my cheeks,
a strange mixture tasting
of fear and failure,
regret and salty longing,
of dirt and death.

Yesterday’s memories
my forest thicket
rocks and thistles and snakes
my stomping grounds.

I limped along the hiking trail and asked:

Will I ever feel the graceful spring
of wonder in my body again?

Then the song of the doe and fawn resounded

Leap away from the past
and free the people that wounded you.
Leap toward the present
and let the way of love ground you.
Spring to your future,
spring to the wonder of people and places,
spring to the work that is waiting for you,
cut your own switchbacks
and ascend the mountain.
Track Name: My Chest A Forest Fire
Anxiety woke me
in the dark hours
before morning
raw wounds
buried fears and
dormant dreams
are kindling within me

Anxiety woke me
in the dark hours
before morning.
Why must I carry this branding scar?
Grief is just love that blisters on the inside, she sighed.
Bursting pain is the beginning of healing, he consoled.
Everything rising goes through the fires of resistance, she insisted.

Anxiety woke me
in the dark hours
before morning
my chest a forest fire
We are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods, Plato warned.
I couldn’t bear the anguish so I double knotted my shoes and ran.
I erupted with a dragon’s fury as fresh air provoked my chest-flame
Fumes of pain spewing into the air and within me rising again
Can anything ease this restless wildfire? I cried.

I saw the shimmering stars and my legs stopped pumping.
In the mountain sky, the stars quieted me.
Speckled across the dark horizon, stars sparkling.
The flickering stillness pulled me close
flying spheres of fire spoke to my aching.
Aren’t we all burning diamonds passing? I prayed.

Distant stars and human hearts
not so different
are they?
Stars and hearts
then fading

in the dark hours
before morning,
I awoke.
through blazing constellations
could God be saying?
“Planets are made by stars exploding.
On the other side of a black hole
is a universe expanding.
Surrender to the mystery
You’re becoming
something new.
Some fires can only be consumed.”
Track Name: Chrysalis
this forgotten Gospel
that finds us here
this peculiar grace
that gives & takes
quiet me before
this ever-present mystery
that conceals & reveals
quiet me here
this eternal beauty
that frees & tethers
quiet me on this day
this incredulous paradox
that lives & dies
this pain bearing love
the cross is a chrysalis
three in one and one in three
unity that invigorates
this butterfly effect
now soars within souls
this divine life
now sharing striving synergizing
with those who serve and thirst
this peculiar grace
that heals & aches
quiet me forevermore

Dale C. Fredrickson
Track Name: Half True
half true
forgive me God
for my assumptions about you
there's so much i don't know
forgive me
when i make you look like me
it's scary admitting i don't know
stir me
as i
lift my voice
cry out
name doubt
return to you
don't stop
my heart is only half true

trouble me Lord
because i know
my ways
are not
your ways
but in your ways
i'd like to grow
lead me beyond
because i know
your ways
are not
my ways
grace me God
as i
run after
look high and low
pursuing you
forgive me God
for my assumptions about you
there's so much i don't know
plant my life
in the garden of Gethsemane
grow me
in the soil of death and life
your ways and not mine
i don’t want to fall asleep again
i don’t want to fall asleep again
Track Name: My Heart's Ignition
my heart’s ignition

spirit of god,
you’re opening scene
origin of breath
giver of life
strength for flesh

spirit of god,
you’re wind
shaping mountains
swirling waves
carving out change

spirit of god,
you’re fire
snapping through soul
purifying heart
making whole

spirit of god,
you’re water
splashing with life
pouring out salvation
spilling over
squelching strife

spirit of god,
you’re a cloud
mysterious guide of faith
towering billow of hope
thick refuge of love

spirit of god,
you’re a dove
wings carrying hope
landing beside soul
singing the words,
my beloved

come spirit, come boldly
wake my weary life
come as wind shaper
fire starter
water fountain
calling dove
guiding cloud

come spirit, come swiftly!
create in me again, again.
create in me again

you are my helper
my advocate
my steadfast life-breath
my catalyst and sacrament
my heart’s ignition

you are my ruach
my life-energy
my heart’s victorious
i’m a mountain
i’m a wave
i’m human
i’m brave

spirit of god,
wind fire water cloud dove
you’re inspiring breath
and mysterious friend
Track Name: Not Like Mine
not like mine

your heart is not like mine
your pulse is the uprising
mine is a flatline
your heart is surprise
mine is compromise
your heart is a drum line
mine throbs with resistance
my heart is perplexed
schizophrenic are the voices
from culture
from critics
from institutions
from family systems
from doubts
from fears
from self ambition
words conflicting
i feel the contradiction
with every pulse
i’m an image bearer and an image breaker
i’m open and closed
i’m abundance and scarcity
in one human body
god, i’m flesh and bones
i’m mind and spirit
i’m excellence and mediocrity
god, i’m so curiously human
and i want to learn your rhythms
but my heart is not like yours
your heart is the sun
the life-giving star
and my heart is neptune
the bleakest planet
days become years
i feel afar
if your pulse is the catalyst,
can you incite my heart?
will you resurrect this life?
you’re the conductor of heartbeat
you compose every note
you tune me to the kingdom’s cadence
i want to learn your rhythms
your melodies are horizontal and vertical
you’re divinity and you’re humanity
your cross beat resonates
and i’m beginning to hear
you became what i am
so i can share in who you are
eternity and humanity
your cross is solidarity
your resurrection quickens me
i want to learn your rhythms
teach me to sing your psalms
excite me to create and not consume
challenge my self-serving tendencies
move me to forgive to love to serve
convert my complacency
with your inspiring harmonies
accent my heart with grace peace
compassionate creativity
your anthem is reconciliation
your music is medicine
your melody is sanctuary
now play within me
play within me