Saturday, December 29, 2012

Eventide

“In the stillness you realize how the whole valley is alive with singing of crickets, a constant universal treble going up to God out of the fields, rising like the incense of an evening prayer to the pure sky.” Thomas Merton

Glowing low through eastern pines
suspended, self-contained,
this perfect world gently refines
the rough, red clouds
of eventide.

Beneath the moon
in throbbing streams, tremor
in the vibrant night,
green cloisters chant their lusty song
glorious noise, rising antiphon.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tree by the Road

A naked tree
stands apart.

Cars pass
with freeway speed
bending thin branches
in their own furious wind.

Slowing
I see black leaves
on nearly empty limbs…

No, not leaves,
but dark pears,

or glass balls left to fall
from a forgotten Christmas tree

abandoned, alone, without cheer,

when, roaring, an eighteen wheeler
spews misty twisters.

Then leaves, ornaments, and pears
all rise in a singular mass
of flashing black wings
cawing into the
grey winter
air.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Storm on Tamalpais

From high above,
Pacific waves conceal
both depth
and content.

But when the mystic cloud
ascends this holy mountain,
the living mist rises
from fecund moss
to consecrated  crown,

and rain pours down
in resurgent rivers,
insurgent life
drowning death
in the sea’s mighty
depth.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bright Day

 
bright day, trees waving
like summer, chill revealing
winter lurks, waiting

Sunday, December 16, 2012

His Secret

"There must be a time of day when the man who has to speak falls very silent. And his mind forms no more propositions, and he asks himself: Did they have a meaning?"Thomas Merton

The pain cuts me
Like an edge of ice
Cutting brightly
Into thickening
darkness.

We walked slowly
To his grave.
The grass was wet
With winter's dew
Newly melted In
the warming sun.

I saw it,
The newly turned soil,
A few rocks
Glittering joyfully
After a million years In
underground darkness,
Raised at last,
Bare and sparkling
In the black earth.

Silence,
Stillness in the field,
The wind intimating
His newfound secret.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

At the Death of a Young Girl

"We cannot find Him unless we know we need Him."  Thomas Merton

I see its raw fury clawing at her hands,
Kissing her sallow face with lies so perfect on silk pillows,
Concealing raw, gaping wounds inside, the insult
The harsh silence, the enforced peace.
I have seen all this before, this beast, this darkness, this indifference
To waves of anguish washing through the room
As her mother weeps, and her father strokes
Her dark, perfect hair.
I see her, and
I know.

But what am I to say to their terror? These children
Look at me, questioning … after all,
I am their teacher…
But why did she die?, well, asthma… breath denied… but why?

I know this insistent knot, this question piercing my gut,
And I want to hide in silence, but questions will not be denied,
And I know their questions, all of them…
So what am I to say to calm their red, flowing eyes,
These, my poor, dark flowers, piercing me with their tears?

Faith.
Yes, read the book to them…Lazarus found out… faith…
Promises were made, now to be made good.
Yes, faith… what else is there but
Faith?
And so we say the rosary,
And we go on.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Star



“Kindled by a spark of divine love, the soul streaks heavenward in an act of intelligence as clear and direct as the rocket's trail of fire. Grace has released the deepest energies of our spirit and assists us to climb to new and unsuspected heights.”  Thomas Merton

in the high Texan sky
contrail flaring,
streaking, glaring
thrall
of fire!

Is this some love-struck soul,
streaking heavenward
seeking in unsuspected cities,
a new home
in the golden dome?

or does it fall,
ever to heavy earth
drag of weight,
dross of
mortal freight?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fog at Dawn

“We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through it all the time...He is everywhere, He is in everything, and we cannot be without Him.”  Thomas Merton


Morning fog softens
spreads through the bare trees, muffles
the cries of the birds.


Edges blur, rounded
fog,  logic of cloud earthbound:
faith betrayed and drowned.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Days of Infamy

The day recedes into peaceful night
spreading gentle darkness
over wide California fields,

the flames of history
nearly forgotten
but for the ember glow
In the wrinkled cobalt sky.

But we remember
bloody days

when war-planes roared
into the rising Pacific sun
and ripped it
into sanguine strips.

Bombs pierced polished decks,
and amazed sailors dove
into crimson waters,
as the Rising Sun spread darkness
Over half the globe

seventy-one years ago. . .

. . . yet just say the date
and silence fills any room.

We remember movies we’ve seen
Of dive-bombers and chaos,
heroes rising in fighters to
stave off the improbable wave.

We see old men in service caps,
Tossing wreaths into
bright Hawaiian waters.

They weep
as old wounds
again bleed.

They gaze into the sad eyes
Of buddies who
didn’t make it.

And we think of our own losses,

Korea and Vietnam,
torrents of blood
flowing through fertile
Asian valleys,

and the obscenity of 9-11,
insurgency raping
Iraq and
Afghanistan,

and we ask, “When will it end?”

Nodding slowly,
we know.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Storm's Ending


rains cease, clouds closing
rising to sun, blue by sky
encased and dismissed.

Grizzly Island Road


Soft sky, blue and white
cloud swelling over low hills,
delta waters,
twilight sloughs

calling to geese and egret,
kingfisher and mallard
to lounge in waving reeds
as grazing cattle linger
in verdant valley.

Like a river the road flows
down to the sacred sea,
to the deep, living stream
of Earth.