Goldberg's poetry explores many issues, including some of the difficult aspects of Mormon history with local Indian tribes. Sensitive, broad in vision, painfully aware of the pain in human failings and of the joyful potential of the Gospel, Goldberg is a complex and interesting poet that deserves more attention, in my opinion. Nicely done!
Here's the "sample poem" that grabbed me, one of many thought-provoking works in his volume. As with many of his poems, it is not just for LDS readers. This poem may be of interest to many who treasure the Bible.
The Kingdom of GodHow easy it is for that seed to slip away and be forgotten.
Is not the feast. It's the cry that goes out
and echoes through the streets that you
and I and all the beggars have been summoned
tonight to the sovereign's table.
The kingdom of God
Is not the ship. It's the cord hanging off
the ship's side, the feeling of waterlogged
rope against the hands when you
and I are drowning.
The kingdom of God
Is not the tree. It's a seed so small
it can slip between our fingers --
any moment we may forget,
tomorrow we might wake and wonder
if we ever held it at all.
Goldberg's poem nicely reminds us of the grace we need. We are all beggars, famished, but have been mercifully called to the sovereigns table. We are all bobbing helplessly in stormy seas, drowning. Though we may imagine that we can swim forever on our own, there is no shore in sight and no shore we can ever reach on our own. It is not a matter of sink or swim: we are all sinking and need to be rescued. Christ is the Rescuer.
The analogy about drowning really hit home after my recent unpleasant surprise of experiencing seasickness for the first time in my life while on choppy seas by Thailand. It was a trivial problem with no real danger compared to the challenges Nephi and his family faced on a small boat sailing to the New World, but it helped me better understand the sense of helplessness that the sea can create.
Though I was unable to scuba dive with my wife as we had originally planned months ago, I attempted to snorkel in low-visibility water near an island south of Phi Phi Island, being assured by the staff that I would feel better once I was in the water than I would in the boat. I found the effects of nausea in the undulating sea to be offer even less comfort than being on board, and while vainly struggling to hold down the remnants of my small breakfast and keep my head above water, I could easily imagine how helpless and terrified one could feel if the boat were sinking or if it were impossibly far away. I finally abandoned my snorkeling adventure and was much relieved to get back into the comfort and safety of the boat. I could better relate to "the feeling of waterlogged rope against the hands when you and I are drowning."
This is what the Gospel is about: being rescued from a state not from an abstract state we call "fallen," but from real disaster far worse and far more terrifying than just having your lungs fill with water in desperate gasps before you sink out of view. We are helpless and need a Rescuer who offers us a sturdy, waterlogged rope to cling to, helping to lift us into His ship. May we always be grateful for the Rescuing He offers and help bring others into the ship as well.