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From the back cover....

Poet Jack Bender brings an amazing diversity of life experiences to his poetry. He’s been a U.S. Army officer, a computer programmer and a musician who also taught music in schools and prisons. He has written widely about teaching and was selected for the pilot program of The Courage to Teach. Currently, he is a poverty activist and author of

Skin on Skin: Living the Way of Jesus by Walking with the Poor, a book

about Christianity and social justice, seen elsewhere on this site.


His poems express the growing depth of his reflections on human relationships and the teachings of the natural world of which we are a part. Even in the most solemn of poems, slivers of light are present.


Deepest of all is his understanding of experiences that go beyond words, touching the mystery of life’s meaning and the presence of God.

This is a ‘keeper’ book—to enjoy, share with friends…and, most of all, to re-read and read again.

106 poems, nine black and white works of art by Cindy M. Bender



If you can’t find heaven

here on earth,

do you think you’ll find it

after death?


If heaven is not in

a kiss, a flower, a mountain,

a stream, a deer, a cloud,

a swan, in you,


how is it nearer

when the worms come

and a blanket of ice

obscures the sun?


If you gaze at a beautiful tree

but check your watch,

or make plans,

how can heaven be near?


When you want nothing

and you forget who the one is

that wants nothing, then, heaven appears –

inside you and outside you.



Grudge is a banker

who hoards your money.

It’s not his to keep,

yet, he clings.


Sell your investment for possibility,

for this dark and steeled vault,

you have the only key.

Be a ship that comes to port


and pours out what it holds.

Take in fresh water,

Repair the torn sheets,

and, by all means, sail.


Oh, to stay in brackish harbors

is a life worse than death.

To sail is paramount.

To be safe is not.

Embrace Me Once More


“One atom,” a scientist said.

“One atom.”

Capone, Christ, Caesar, Chagall –

all one atom.

Lincoln too.


From the sighs of the iris,

redwood and willow

come the ocean we share.


Our tide comes in,

our tide goes out,

a dozen times a minute

and we encounter

T-rex and MLK, Sufis and pirates

without a thought.


When I am gone,

breathe me in.

Even if what was mine

For only a blink

Is scattered to every shore –

breathe me in.

And add to the countless moments

when we’ve been one.

From the Back cover...

Jack Bender's poetry revels in the joy of simple moments in life: time with friends and family, with experiences of the natural world, our American culture, our work and the mystery of our spiritual lives.

Of the sacred, he says:

I numbly wait

for miracles

and peak moments

while all around me

the mundane

joyously sings in full voice


This book is for every reader who wants to deepen their own experience of living...and to learn how to experience and name their own profound moments...Jack Bender is a teacher of spiritual growth and awareness.

158 poems, eleven black and white works of art by Cindy M. Bender

A Sign of Human Nature (4/15/13)


A documentary need not be filmed,
nor a book written.


A statue need not be erected,
nor medals be given.


It need only be said,
that when two explosions

rocked Boston,
and its beloved marathon,


exhausted runners ran to hospitals

to give blood.



Through the ages,

absent-minded birds

misplaced their body parts,


eventually becoming,

to their great surprise,

light enough to fly.


With my hair gone,

and my teeth beside the bed,

why does all my flapping fail?



I remember the day that I realized

you and I were separate people.

I had been confused when thinking

that we were one being

with two names.

We had just left the awards ceremony

where you received

the “Student of the Year” award.

Walking down the hallway,

you shared that the award

had been your goal.

The building shook with wild tremors.

I could hardly stand.

You were living a separate life,

secret keeper,

daughter of mine,


The Joy of Retelling


My father used to tell

of how terribly cold

his hands would become,

as if thrust into fire,


when picking the white celery

from the frozen muck

in the black of early morning.


I was always caught up

in this tale, and others,


not by his telling,

but by his pure joy

of recollection.


Praise be to the past!


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