Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Other Brother




It was a hot day in the field

when, returning at last
bone-tired, sore from
tending your stiff-necked flock,
I saw bonfires,
extravagant blazes lighting
the way to our house,

but not for me
home late from
work,

so I asked your servant
“why such celebration?”

That’s when my anger exploded;
…poor fellow, he bore my rage
and yelping away
cried it wasn’t his fault!

No, it wasn’t.
It isn’t.

It’s You.

You ask me to obey
and obediently I honor you every day.
With sweat and callused hands,
I cajole this stingy land
to give up a little wheat.
With my blood
I water these fields;

but when I wanted to show
my friends a little generosity,
I asked you for a stingy goat,
a meager feast, and
you said “no.”

So here he is, come home at last,
profligate brother…prodigal,
wastrel, drunkard,
sinner!


He’s back
and suddenly the prize calf
I worked so hard to make so fat is slain,
a royal feast for your favorite son


(though somewhat late) come home again!


But,

as always
my anger fades
in the glow of your summer love.

I don’t like this!

but you tell me
that your love does not diminish
but increases with the giving…

and, after all,
it is not every day that one’s brother
is to life recalled.

So for you, father,
I’ll look him in the eye
and let him back
into my life.


(8/11/2013)

Prodigal

You warned me
not to overfill
my cup.

You told me
how life can spill
and drain the cup dry,

yet still I imbibed,
pouring darkness
like hundred-proof light.

My feet flashed like lightning
setting fire
to the innocent world
when suddenly I stumbled.

Seeing you come
down the narrow lane
I crawled in sorrow
into your open arms
once again.


(25 Aug. 2013)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Psalm


"We must learn to respond not to this or that syllable, but to the whole song." 
Thomas Merton

You say
"be not afraid"
yet this darkness is
complete.

A well of silence lies 
beneath my feet 
as I try to feel
my way back to you.

How can I be brave
when all around me rush
rivers of anguish, tears
over-flowing life’s banks?

Terror fills the sky
in dark flashes
my sight declines,
and endless night
encroaches the edge
of vision.

Will you lift me
if I stumble 
and fall?

Oh, call softly
and with seeing
fingers I'll find 
your healing 
hands again.

(10 Jan 2013)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Levi Becomes Matthew


The Calling of St. Matthew by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio(1599-1600)

You call me out
of my money hole
and tell me to take you
to my home?
How can a rabbi like you,
so well known,
healer and
Anointed One,
come into my
unclean house?
But, please, come along,
at any rate, and
let me show you
my tawdry place!
All my friends see us
on the stony road
and ask to join
my sinner's feast;
but after dinner
you gently teach
your painful path
to perfect
peace.

(21 Sept. 2012)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Transfiguration





This stained glass window can be seen inside of 
St. Peter the Apostle Church, 179 Baldwin Road, 
Parsippany, NJ, USA. 

+

From this holy height,  
I gaze into
my Father’s eyes.

His fire scorches
my trembling flesh,
and fills my soul
with sacred breath.

In joyful flames
I suddenly see
I never was
what I appeared to be.

(25 February 2013)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

March





cries

pierce,
birdsongs
rise and fall,
from tree to nodding
tree, calling high between winter-
bare limbs, deep among buds long hidden, nearly ready.


(14 March 2013)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nothing but Light

“In perfect humility all selfishness disappears and your soul no longer lives for itself . . . . it is lost and submerged in Him and transformed into Him.” Thomas Merton

The proud man
looks into his mirror
and sees bright shiny lies,
power, pleasure,
possession,
and cries “all mine!”

until, at last,
in the honest, good night
sees in his mirror nothing
but light.


(17 February 2013)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunrise


"Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depths of man's nature, as if one's whole being has to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise Him in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be."  Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander



Oh call me softly
in the morning!

With winter's sun
paint golden
the pale trees.

In deep waters,
in cool ponds brush my 
legs, caress
my tender feet.

Your breath flies
through the green 
canyons.

With tongues
of flame
oh, ravish me!

(11 March 2013)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Memory


sometimes in mass
as sacred songs
wash over me like rain,

I break free
and drift
into memory,

and again you rise,
your tears flow
as tears fill my eyes,
your dying breath
whispering
good bye;

after so many years,
the knife still cuts
again, and
again


(20 May 2015)

Crows in Fog


Shrouded limbs
hang high 
over the rising red church.

Breathless, 
the muted world
waits 
in morning's 
white core.

That's when crows 
black shadows
on thin branches, 

silently wait 
high above 
the empty schoolyard

for children's shrill calls
to begin another 
innocent day.

(16 March 2013)














































Monday, February 8, 2016

He Does Not Need Your Sacrifice


"He does not need our sacrifices, 
He asks for our selves."  
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Your sacrifice is like
the breath
of the sparrow
in the roiling storm.

It is not needed
but pleasing in its
simplicity. 

When you peel away
your small, feathered
soul, when
you stretch your thin
lungs to sing
your hymn of self-
immolation,

remember that
it is not necessary,
no, not at all, 

but still pleasing is
the purity of
your song.

(25 Feb 2012)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Down a Bright Way (In memorium Maryalice Claire, friend and mentor)



Close to the center, 
near to where silence
fills my straining ears,

where long years
of searching end, 

I find you waiting
my old friend.
You take my hand
and in a glance
know all.

Without a word
down a bright way
we walk.

(16 September 2012)


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Book of Life



“Perhaps the book of life, in the end, is the book of what one has lived and if one has lived nothing, he is not in the book of life. “ Merton, Thomas, When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature 

Turn the pages
past the flashy cover
beyond sincere dedications;
what do you
read?

Are there tragedies
lurking in your leafy folds?
Do you struggle, oh Hero,
with sirens and one-
eyed peep-
ing Toms?

Are you triumphant?

In your brief tale,
do you satisfy
harried Plot’s demands?

Are you happy
with your climax, your
denoue-
ment?

Or, with eyes moist and red,
at last do you drop
your ragged volume
to the musty cellar floor,
and wonder,

what happened?

(29 May 2012)