Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Photo: Brian Federle, Pacifica Sunset, 

The Lord travels in all directions.
The Lord arrives from all directions at once.
 Wherever we are, we find that He has just departed.
Wherever we go, we discover that He has just arrived before us.

Thomas Merton, No Man Is An Island

 I try to catch you, 

facing forward to see
your heels flashing fire
in the shimmering red sea.

I gaze into night, 
desiring sight
of your dancing eyes.

I whisper, I sigh,
but you elude, 

ahead always, 
always behind.

(June 2014 ; May 2017)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Movement of the Soul

"All the passions can be reduced to four: joy, hope, fear, and grief. 
These four are so closely connected that, when one is controlled, 
the others all obey.  Consequently they can be reduced to one: joy.  
And desire is the movement of the soul seeking joy."  
Thomas Merton, The Ascent to Truth

is knowing
that the dark cloud
bearing down
on thrashing trees,
sending calling birds
to awkwardly flee,
holds both
and death,
but not knowing
which it will be.

can lead to grief
when tumors increase.
Blood grows
until, together
at last, we stand
and wonder

This is the line that splits heaven from hell.

We comb his hair
and shave his face,
carefully fold a rosary
into his cold hands,
and wonder that
his chest is
so still.

But his eyes are safely
sealed against the
terror of the grave,
so we lay him to rest
and slowly go
our separate ways

those cold March days
when we stood, our
backs to the rising sun?

Too bright
to see, the sun
strokes us
with a lover's warmth,
and rekindles in us
life's desire.

Thus will it always be.

Death can never win
though his illusion is strong.
The mortal body succumbs
but the soul ascends,
like birds, joyfully rising
to the morning sun.

(2013, 2017)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rockville Cemetery

Among broken stones
folded over soft grass
we linger.

See how the fallen pillar
on the graven rock?

they’ll search
for us, too.

In this garden,
all calamity,

beneath sunny lawns,
in a deeper shade
we’ll fill our own space
and in peace
we’ll wait.

(2012,  2017)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Shadows 12-29-16.jpg
Photo: Brian Federle, Shadows in the Desert, Dec. 2016

Your shadow in the desert
by the winter sun cast.

Searing pain
as I gaze
on  dark


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fire Falling

sunset 2016-01-02 .jpg

Photo: Brian Federle, Sunset, 1/2/2016

Fire falling
to golden waves
consume the world
with your love.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Aubade: Mourning-dove

Dawn fires
the cold roses
when, with
planetary urge,
all explode to

Then the cherry tree,
plain in
drab leaf,
erupts into

and high
from the bright rooftop
the mourning-dove
his low, plaintive
song of 

(15 June 2014)

Friday, May 5, 2017


Cliffside, Photo by Brian Federle, Oct. 2014

Down the trail
to where the gravel ends,
beneath the indifferent gaze
of giants, engulfed in emerald shade,
swiftly drops the forest
to the singing

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The knot grows tight

The knot grows tight
when I think of you
gone to that bright,
unseen place.

I long to hear your voice
on the phone,
at dinner,
at home

when darkness fills
me deep inside,
and for no apparent reason
I cry.

Monday, May 1, 2017


"God, we have no idea where we are going. We do not 
see the road ahead of us. We cannot know for certain 

where it will end. Nor do we really know ourselves, 

and the fact that we think we are following your will 

does not mean that we are actually doing so.  

But we believe that the desire to please you does in fact

please you."  Thomas Merton


As I walk through winter's mist
I cannot see ahead or even know 
if the jaded sun will break through 
and guide me back home to you.

But I must not wait for certain light; 
I must go on through my dark fears,
bitter tears, failing sight,

for your gentle, wordless song 
nudges me always forward, urges me 
ever on.

(2 Nov. 2013)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

after blue day

night rises
from dark soil
slowly filling
the space between
slender blades
spreading ink
over windows,
eaves, still trees
until the earth
becomes one
with the

(10 May 2016)

Friday, April 28, 2017


Rain falls
peaceful, unceasing
filling brimful
the bright day.

Liquid shimmer
glowing ocean
softly silting soil
like love
filling full an empty soul,

O cleanse me
as, trembling,
sinful, I walk into
your sacred font.

View from Sutro

"It is God’s love that speaks to me in the birds and streams but also behind the clamor of the city." Thomas Merton

Seen from golden heights
the tangled city
squares up.

Straight streets,
rigid veins
spurt quicksilver
past towers
of fog.

It throbs.

Hearts, minds,
sing passion
joy, lust,  

A dying man
clinging to desperate sheets,

An infant crying
drawing raw air,

It’s alive,
than its sum.

See how it beats
in the cool Pacific sun?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

St. Peter Addressing the Begger

Look up at me, turn
your wide eyes,
expectant, wondering,
hopeful, and see
what I can give.

Do you want a coin? Some-

thing good to eat? Do

you want a little

I have none of these
to give you
but the kindness
and the secret of
the seeds of healing
flowing all around you
spring breeze,
swirling gentle desire,
blessing your torn lungs, infusing
your tainted blood, singing
sweetly your freedom!

In His name, then, I command you
to rise and take your place
beside me, and enter into
His holy temple!

(14 April 2013)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Mother's Gift

Photo: Brian Federle

“It is our emptiness in the presence of the abyss of His reality, our silence in the presence of His infinitely rich silence, our joy in the bosom of the serene darkness in which His light holds us absorbed, it is all this that praises Him.”   Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation.

(for Brian)
You visited me near dawn. 

I saw you
and felt your joy
and heard your voice,
like a memory of waking to bird-song
on a warm, Ohio summer's morning -

you used to sing "rise and shine!"
bringing me bleary-eyed, bounding
into my childhood's
glowing day.

And last night
I saw you again.

I love my dreams about you.
You sweep away
all fear
with your calm voice.

But always after,
when I wake up,
you are gone,
and I face another indifferent day
in this agnostic world.

But this time was different!
"You are glowing!" I said
from the deep mist of my sleep,

"It is because 
He Is."

And though I could not see
what you ceaselessly see,
I gazed upon the 
overwhelming light
enfolding you,
and I tried
to find its source
but could only feel
its sudden glory...
its unremitting,
warm embrace
of unconditional

I did not want to wake...
I wanted to stay with you,
in the warmth
of this revelation,

but of course,
I returned to the morning
to the pale sun,
to the granite and steel world,
to the darkness of the mirror,
to life,

and yet,
your  gift remains
in the glow of faith
my failing sight.

(10 Jan 2011; 6 Dec. 2016: 26 April 2017)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Into the church
we few mourners gather
close to the small table
filled with a photo 
of a smiling
young man,
a single candle,
and a golden cube.

I did not know him
whose ashes
now lay within 
that dark space.

Old friends, his parents, 
and so we came
to keep them company.

We pray the sacred
texts, sing holy 
mass to send 
his lingering soul
sweeping home

to Heaven,

but his mother weeps 
in the silent repose
of ancient pain.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Window of Being

“Actions are the doors and windows of being. 
Unless we act we have no way of knowing what 
we are. “ Thomas Merton

through the door
and do
not stay
in this dark room,
thin soul of


Break open the window,
and breathe deeply
the light

of being.

(25 Oct 2012)