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)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

On the Feast of St. Catherine

The poet on the radio
earnestly read her expert lines
about the sad state
of the world,
the failure
of governments,
the certain decline of
the cosmos,
the end of the world.

Her lines were exquisitely made,
and I listened with admiration and envy
to perfect rhymes, subtle
metaphor, nuanced images
until I felt both elation and

Then I looked around me,
to the riot of life in
my backyard,
the shrill ecstasy of birds
the shout of the rose.

My children gathered today
for a Sunday feast, full of
laughter and my corny jokes.

Maybe the poet didn’t have a backyard,
could gazed only on bleak
city walls; maybe her lover
walked out (or should have) or
her children never call.

I worry about the poor;
whenever a grimy hand out-
stretches, I see the pierced hand of Christ,
offering me gifts, pearls of great price!

(29 April 2012)

Author's Comments:

 I'm feeling guilty about dissing Adrienne Rich here... she really is a marvelous poet.  If you'd like to explore her more, try this link:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Brian's Psalm

In winter's stark dawning 
in cold fog encased,
your warmth I'm discerning
though night will not fade, 

for unwilling is morning 
it lurks in sore limbs,
yet your song is arising 
and I know that you'll send

to my darkest night-hour 
new light to set me free
and your song I'll be singing
in the glow of the east!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Photo by Brian Federle, Hawaii, 2016.

"I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the human race" Proverbs 8:22-31

Dark mountains rise
to meet the sun.

Night drops
to the western sea.

lifting joy to heaven

as dark waves clash
washing clean the past —

all pain subsides,