Sunday, January 29, 2017

After Viewing Helnwein's Epiphany II

















Enraptured
mouths agape,
they gaze.       

They don’t see her ivory breasts.

Gleaming virginity
eludes Aryan dreams
as she presents them with their
Destiny.

With shadowed arm,
in the harsh glow of
klieg,
he teaches them to 
submit.

They cannot know
how quickly falls
night's
blackest pall.

(14 July 2014)

____
Image: Gottfried Helnwein, Epiphany II, deYoung Museum, San Francisco

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Baptism




I walked down from Nazareth with the crowd, 
nudged on by their excited chatter
and rumors of a crazy man by the river
shouting God at sinners,
thrusting them into the Jordan
like so much dirty laundry
to be rinsed clean and pure.

These are my people, 
hungry people
seeking new wine and
new bread, lepers
yearning to be cured,

But deep within me
silence grows,
and somehow I know 
that I am closer to Home,
though so far away 
from my father's workshop
and my mother's kitchen.

When John sees me
he takes my hands and gently 
pushes my face into the stream
befouled with the sins 
of the people...

I cannot see.

I struggle 
to rise and breathe,
from this watery death 
I want to be free,
and as I break through
I see His fire, I hear
His voice like a flash of wings
falling down on me,
calling me His Beloved Son,
telling the stunned crowd
to listen to everything
I will say.

In silence, 
I hurry away; 
into the empty desert 
I stray.


(7 Jan 2012)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Scrubbed Clean

scrubbed clean,
the blue sky
scrapes
black space


and wind fills my face,
raises me to heights
beyond fear, beyond
siren-calls


at crossings
unstoppable
as ancient trains glide,
inexorably
grinding
fate;


but higher I’ll fly,
beyond the stench of ruin.


foul grief cannot follow
to where I’ll go, lifted
by the constant,
immaculate
wind.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Visitation

through hospital corridors
past darkly soiled sheets


through bloody, cold doors
where the comatose sleep


to your death-bed, afraid,
where you waited for me...


...but this time was different;
your eyes understood,


you said slowly, gently
“God is so good!”

Breaking Silence


It is not speaking that breaks our silence, 
but the anxiety to be heard. Thomas Merton


In chilled twilight swells
the chorus overwhelming
echoing passion,

half of water, half  
of leafy bank, the night they
fill with lusty will,

persistent, straining
these marshland poets converge, 
anxious to be heard.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pure Hope





“We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope. For when our hope is pure, it no longer trusts exclusively in human and visible means, no rests in any visible ends. “ Thomas Merton


Close the the gun’s edge
life is sharply
defined.

Clarity is achieved
when you have nothing left
but hope.

That’s when you realize
that your life stands
without any visible
means of
support;

like  a high-
wire walker,
you are
pure.

That’s why
you have the freedom
to stand between
the red rage

and the children.



(14 Dec 2013)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Seaward


Photograph: view Golden Gate Bridge from the galley of The Hawaiian Chieftain. S. Federle

"Grace does not destroy nature, but elevates it and consecrates it to God." Thomas Merton

Seaward waits, poised,
gently rising and falling,
by the concrete pier
ready for our cruise;
the polished bowsprite,
jutting in defiance,
fills my heart 
with an undefined dread.

Underway at last on the calm Sausalito channel
we strike sail, ropes winching
mainsail tight, foresail stretched
catching breezes pushing up
from the foggy Golden Gate

but I see only
watery desolation:
no familiar, solid road
no bright guiding line,
no golden prize
as we speed across
the dark, green desert.

The wind, no longer a breeze,
becomes a cold gale, flailing our faces,
making us hurry into windbreakers and hoods,
and when I turn my tingling cheeks
towards the shrouded city, suddenly
out far and in deep, I see

pelicans soaring and plunging to the kill,
ducks skimming low over like fighter squadrons,
and sea-lions spying on us at water level,
their dog-sly eyes following our every move.

Warfare fills this place
as species battle species, and
Darwin writes all the rules.

On this voyage of discovery
we are like school-children gaping in wonder
at colorful plastic buckets of bay water
revealing sea-worms, and spider-crabs,
preying on tiny krill delicately inching
over fronds of firm sea lettuce.

So the bay is not a desert;
life pours over it,
on it, and under it,
claiming at every level
of this moist, roiling world
its birthright,

and we are unwitting participants in this struggle
tossed high and low in our powerful, winged schooner,
gliding lightly, scooning swiftly on our voyage
through turbid, turbulent waters,
through the violent,
living bay.

(22 July 2010)














Seaward sailing under Golden Gate Bridge

The 1%



blaring train
declaring right-
of-way,

elephantine, cyclopean, 
crushing our lives
with money,

bloody truth
strangling the sighs 
of the repossessed  

as wall street swells
with the cries of
the dispossessed.

Ordinary Time





Counting 
numbering days and nights
calculating the length
and breadth of
our alloted
breaths
we live
by the numbers.

It starts in a split second
of passion
in the darkness
plunging headlong
to a date certain
when savage lights assault
our tender eyes
and we see
how it will be
in this clock-
work world.

Time orders All.

Class bells 
church bells
the grandfather clock
in the hallway
heavily chimes 
as our lives sway 
in the diurnal dance, 
we wake and sleep
laugh and weep
and it is all very ordinary
until it is not;

then the chain breaks
and heavy weights 
crush our vision's
persistence 
and at last we subside
into inordinate
existence.


(1 March 2012)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Insurgent

 Roy Hawkins Jr
Image: "Angel in the Sun" Roy Hawkins Jr.

“Only mercy can liberate us from the madness of our determination to be consistent - from the awful pattern of lusts, greeds, angers and hatreds which mix us up together like a mass of dough and thrust us all together into the oven.” Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable



Thin lines restrain;

sameness

my breath contains,
till I can no longer feel
Your perfect pain!

Make me
a silent ghost -
tears in the night
ache in their souls,
their dream of fright.

Yes! make me Your angel
of the seven plagues;
with Your love

We’ll destroy bland fate.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mystic




wind,
whispering trees

clouds, stars
radiant,
unseen

and again, ever-
moving into darkness
pale riders on
night’s mystic train

night, to day,
to winter, to spring
summer’s
heat arises,
unforeseen,

as tender leaves breathe
as taps the rain,

as life remains.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Step of Eternity




But love laughs at the end of the world

because love is the step of eternity. Thomas Merton

Look into my eyes
and see me smile,

hear my sighs turn to
laughter.

Life’s a comedy,
a melo-
drama
filled with
wrong turns,
missed cues,
sudden revisions
and tearful
reconciliations.

Summer
seems endless, and
the heat wilts even
the sleekest, young runners;

but on paths by cool streams,
by deeper waters we walk

as the sun slides through
night’s ancient gate.

To the cobalt sea
we gaze,
to the fiery moon;

For night steps gently, and
sleep will follow soon.

(1 May 2012)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Decline of Day



Gentle breeze,
swaying leaves 
golden-green.

Imperfect sphere
sliding through day’s
perfect, blue air.

Ascends the moon
stark and silver
much too soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Clarity


Brian Jones, "Raking Leaves"  Painting, Michael Gibson Gallery, London.


Yesterday
the fog bound-up the dying world
in white gauze,

but the autumn sun shred the fog,
would not permit
white lies,
inconsequential slips
to ease the passionate leaves'
passage into night.

Righteous winds ripped
the despairing leaves 
and sent them twisting joyfully
high over my house,

to the yard 
several over.

I got my neighbor's leaves
so it all 
worked out
in the end.

How Shall I Remember You?

willow

How shall I remember you
searching memory’s dark, dry rooms?

Under high ceilings and dim attic lamps
I only hear echoes of my childhood’s lost past.

You’re calling me outside, past the dark, screen door
onto the back porch, to watch the gathering evening storm,

and there I see the willow tree dancing in the wind
its long green leaves thrashing, its supple branches bend

when following its sure, straight path, the lightning struck it down
and, like all things ultimately, smashed it dying into the ground.

Although I’ve searched these dry, long years after both of you had died,
my tears are done, I see the sun, and my flashing anger is now satisfied.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

empty

empty

under the stream
inhaling thick
liquid
panic

I reach above
to where gloom
dissolves to

shimmering sun.

(29 Jan 2014)

Winter Morning

You raged all night,
urging black clouds
to mutinous thunder.

What wind blows from
such mighty lungs
that heaven itself
bends to the blast?

In sleep's confusion
I heard you
calling me
out of the dark,
into winter’s
dim light

where trees rise
still and bare
into the sepia air

and small birds
search
the desolate earth. 


(21 Dec. 2010)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Angels

Photo by David Chacobo on Flickr


Angels rise to pure atmosphere
and call us to share
their freedom.

Hear how they sing
living spring
into our wintered world!

At last we rise
redeemed
to silver souls
in golden
light.

(16 Feb 2011)