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Kaitlyn Linsley

Honorable Mention 2010 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $100

About this Christian Poet:
My age is sixteen, my inhale is books, and my exhale is notebooks. My interesting biographical information is somewhat underdeveloped.

About this Poem:
"The Returned Amen" started with a meditation on the phrase "getting under my skin," which usually implies irritation. I thought, how does that idea look when it is man angering God? Well, it would be Jonah getting under Leviathan's skin. But when man turns, God turns also ("The fish brings down its tail") and devours not man but the divine anger ("The whale now consumes its own oil"). Aeschylus worded it perfectly: "Whenever a man makes haste, God too hastens with him." Bent knees and curled tongues and turned heels--it's all quite dizzying, really; maybe that's why the poor whale was induced to vomit. In short, half of the turns in life are really re-turns, and half of all amens are returned amens.

The Returned Amen

I. bent knee

Jonah creeps beneath the blubbered whale
and, in getting under its skin,
occupies—a privilege—God's mouth.
The walls cave in.
Nema, the turned amen,
burrowing in its own back-step,
has plumbed beneath the shoal.

Pressure (nemo: the turned omen)
unfurls from him a stuttering tremble:

II. curled tongue

The rise of Jonah's tongue
moves the fish to move its own.
Ah, and what other lift than that of lament?
His plea hears itself:
Back to Nineveh.
Back to forward prayer.

Loyalties within his ankle's tendon
are shifting. The fish brings down its tail.

III. turned heel

Nemo (which means nothing) is
no longer. Omens diminish in voices
of prophecy:
let it be so, and so let it be.
The whale now consumes its own oil.

Nemavah: Have amen.
Within subsiding waves is seen
a washed-up man emerging,
returning to amen.

Copyright ©2010 by Kaitlyn Linsley