Touch the Earth: Poems on The Way, By Drew Jackson
Touch the Earth
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: January 10, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0269
  • ISBN: 9781514002698

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Gather it from memory.
Let it touch the earth.

In Touch the Earth, Drew Jackson continues the project he began in God Speaks Through Wombs, reflecting on the Gospel of Luke through poetry. Touch the Earth picks up in chapter nine and continues through the end of Luke's Gospel. Part protest poetry, part biblical commentary, Jackson presents the gospel story in all its liberative power. Here the gospel is the "fresh words / that speak of / things impossible."

From the feeding of the multitude ("The best hosts always provide / take home containers”) to the resurrection of Jesus ("the belly of mother Earth / is, indeed, a womb . . . the humus of life is where we become fully human"), this collection helps us hear the hum of deliverance—against all hope—that's been in the gospel all along.

"In Touch the Earth, Drew Jackson's poetry offers a word-weary world a new language of engagement, disruption, and insight. As with all great poetry, the words are spare, but the literary images loom large, creating indelible impressions on the reader. Like echoes that reverberate long after the first sound, the poems stay with you, they dance with your spirit. After reading the poem 'Shake the Dust,' I am still considering a much broader definition of power, one no longer confined to the monarchs, governments, and oppressors but with a conscience as sticky as cling wrap that refuses to allow its memories to be shaken loose. This collection is a meditative treasure."

Barbara Holmes, author of Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church and Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Wounded Village

"Touch the Earth is an interdisciplinary work full of Blackness, divinity, grief, community, and many other elements of life that make us human, specific yet universal. It's not a text that one can digest quickly. Each word has to seep into the grooves of the body."

Morgan Jerkins, senior editor of ZORA magazine and author of This Will Be My Undoing

"I'm one of those people who likes the idea of reading poetry more than actually reading it. Occasionally, however, I stumble on a poet like Drew Jackson, whose lyrical language and urgent themes set a hook in me. Drawing on the liberating Jesus of Luke's Gospel, Jackson explores heritage, history, and a longing for freedom. Touch the Earth pushes back against the spirit of scarcity and invites readers into an achingly authentic spirituality. Whether you are a 'poetry person' or not, this book will leave you mesmerized."

Jonathan Merritt, contributing writer for The Atlantic and author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch

"Drew Jackson's poetry touches something very deep in me as he exposes truths not easily spoken of directly and yet truths that must be told . . . and faced. I pray you will partake of Drew's newest collection of poems with an open heart and an open Bible, engaging familiar stories with new and different eyes. Promise me you will not rush through them but that you will sit still and ponder, for a very long time, on what these things might mean. Promise me you will sit with the questions these poems raise until God speaks and tells you what is yours to do in response. I know that's what I will be doing!"

Ruth Haley Barton, founder of the Transforming Center and author of Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership

"This collection is a companion for mystics and storytellers alike. Poem after poem, Drew Jackson approaches questions of community and trust and meets them not with the bore of certainty but a reverence for the unspoken, for mystery and suspense. Jackson's words will leave you waiting in the silence . . . but never alone."

Cole Arthur Riley, creator of Black Liturgies and author of This Here Flesh

"There are seasons for prose and seasons for poetry, and we find ourselves, certainly, in the latter. I can think of no better guide and no more insightful voice for this moment than Drew Jackson's. Drew's ability to challenge and surprise through language and rhythm is unparalleled, and I'm so grateful for these poems."

Shauna Niequist, author of I Guess I Haven't Learned That Yet and Present Over Perfect

"In Touch the Earth, Drew Jackson gives us language for how to move through the earth and toward one another."

Ekemini Uwan, public theologian and cohost of Truth's Table Podcast


Foreword by Pádraig Ó Tuama

Part I: Journey

I. Students
Touch the Earth
Take Nothing
Shake the Dust
In Their Garden
House of Hunting, House of the Hunter
Silence Disrupted
We Feed Each Other
Streets Is Talking
Crazy Talk
Sōtēr, Pt. II
Inner Circle
The Tragedy of the Disinherited
Human Hands
And What of Greatness?
With or Against
Like Flint
A Rebuke
The Call in Three Movements

II. Neighbors
Squad Up
A Harvest of Dreamers
Romulus and Remus
Instructions for the Freedom Struggle
Power to the People
To Live and to Live On
Apokalypsis (Tell Me)
Touch Yo' Neighbor
Nobody Talks About the Road
For Those Who Choose to Sit

III. Prayer
A Certain Place
Curious Observation
Pray Then Like This
Imagine, or, Suppose
Thoughts on Asking, Seeking, and Knocking
Ode to Pop
This Haunted House
The Sign of Jonah
Washing Dishes
Weightier Matters
When the Truth Insults Me

IV. Hypocrisy
Eyes on the Sparrow
Ode to the Savings Account
Pigeon Economics
Four Boys
When the Rain Comes

V. Tyrants
There Are Pontius Pilates in Every Age
Survivor's Guilt
To Become a Flower
Which Lives?
Don't Despise Small Beginnings
Ask Them Why
A Lament for the Prophets We've Killed

VI. Dinner Guest
Thanksgiving Etiquette
Lex Et Ordo
Saint Coltrane
With Strings Attached
I Am a Conflict-Free Zone
We All Eat
These Bags
Salty Ghazal

VII. Found
For the Ones Called Lost
This Side of the Pasture
To Be Still Is to Be Found
There is a Great Joy That Waits
Give Me My Share
Distant Country
When I Came to Myself
Where the Road and Sky Shake Hands
Like a Slave

VIII. Economics
Rich Man
Situation Ethics
Interrogating Mammon
For the Love
Dog Spells God Backwards
When the Prophets Come

IX. Kingdom Come
Stumbling Blocks
Be on Guard
If Another Disciple Sins
Pine-Sol and Gospel Music
Every Living Thing Was Once a Seed
Gold Star
For I Am Like Jonah
Kindness Travels
Roses for God
The Faces of the Blessed
The Kingdom of Trees
Ordinary Days
Remember Lot's Wife

X. Mercy
The Virtue of Annoyance
When Hatred Goes to Church
Facing Heaven
Blocking Blessing
Even Infants
What Must I Do?
Mortally Impossible
What Do You Want Me to Do for You?

XI. Reparation
Wee Little Man
Tree Climbing
I Think It Was Brunch
No Repentance Without Repair
The Waiting Game

Part II: Jerusalem

XII. Triumph
Beast of Burden
Singing Rocks
The Last Frontier
Flipping Tables

XIII. Questions
Haiku: Unanswered
Beautiful Rejection
Give to Caesar
In the Age to Come
For the Sake of Appearance

XIV. Warnings
Butterscotch Hard Candy
Building Campaign
Before It All Ends
When the Powers of Heaven Shake
Sometimes Death Comes
N.Y. State of Mind

XV. Passion
30 Pieces
Upper Room
This Is My Body
This Cup
Towel and Basin
The Kingdom Is Ours
Two Swords
A Stone's Throw
Kiss of Death
Like a King
Death Row Trial #1

XVI. Death
Death Row Trial #2
Death Row Trial #3
Death Row Trial #4
Via Crucis: Sweet Blackness
Via Crucis: Daughters of Jerusalem
Via Crucis: Two Others
Forgive Them, Father
The Ninth Hour

XVII. Resurrection
Under the Ground
Paranormal Activity
Fish Fry



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Author photo of Drew Jackson

Drew Jackson is the founding pastor of Hope East Village in New York City. He is also the author of the poetry collection God Speaks Through Wombs. He and his wife have twin daughters and live in Lower Manhattan.