Monday, April 16, 2018

Omnipresence

Photo: Brian Federle, Pacific Evening, 2014


In the psalms of night birds
in the bright morning trees,
I hear your song echoing,
overwhelming me.

Always above me,
around and below,
inside me your love’s
a constant glow.

In warm summer’s ocean,
in the soft breath of night
I sway in the rhythm
of passionate life.

(15 June 2012)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Eucharist

Caravaggio,Supper at Emmaus 
National Gallery, London



Walking through the dusty grove

we talked of death and empty graves

when a stranger suddenly appeared.


He walked with us and asked why we trembled so.
Amazed that he seemed not to know
of the blood and pain in Jerusalem,
we told him
how dark the day became, how the sun slid down
to shivering night
when, broken, our friend was placed in the cave.

Rebuking us for our lack of faith,
he explained how it was all foretold in the ancient books;
from Adam to David, the inevitable grave
insatiably claims
corrupt humanity

until now.

We heard, eyes cast down,
when at Emmaus he broke
our common bread

and looking up, we saw Him.

His face was blazing like the sun!
We blinked, and then he was gone,

but the bread remained.



(7 May 2011)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Peter's Report


The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulcher
 on the Morning of the Resurrection by Eugène Burnand

Running all the way,
bent double in breathless pain
we peered and saw
the gaping grave
open to the rising sun.

Slowly we entered, our eyes sun-blind,
when we saw the empty bench,
the bloody cloth cast within.

I try to imagine
the piercing flash,
the sudden shudder
of His broken body,
His sharp breath exploding
like a swimmer breaking the surface,

when I saw John’s eyes
outshining the sun,
and my own face
lighting even death's
darkest place!

(24 April 2011, 31 March 2018)

The Sadness of Holy Saturday


Through the moonless night
clouds choke receding light

and the world descends
into darkness.

Where are you
as winter's chill pierces my hands? 

Oh, where have you gone? 

Do you not care that I decay
without your gentle breath,
that without your light 
I wane like the failing sun?

Why have you abandoned me?

Through my tears I see 
two millennia of agony, 
the six million slain,
all the fallen generations
newly free, heavy nails 
at last released. 



(for James Foley, Journalist, first American murdered

by ISIS on 8/19/2014)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Passion in the Garden

In the long, empty night
I hear your song.

Longing I seek
but can only see
my own dying face
in shattered glass
and piercing steel.

I tremble in fear.
O, where have you gone?

Sing me again your soaring love-song

and show me the way,
for night’s a thin wall
and death, a porous veil.


(17 Apr. 2014)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Denial of St. Peter


Caravaggio, The Denial of St. Peter

On the edge
hands clenched, 
sad eyes downcast
bitter fear forcing tight his lips
he holds his breath

he pauses
as the angry finger
of the state
points at his throat,
hard eyes searching Peter’s
indecision
for rash conviction;

but she, she knows
has seen before
his adoring eyes, heard his 
boastful voice
by the campfire
of the condemned.

Slowly he moves
toward the inevitable lie
as the bloody sun
stirs to song
the drowsy cock.

(7 June 2012)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

To My Wife in Mourning



bright day,still birds, black
spots on the blue sky, slightly
sway in trees, and wait

for winter to stay
or summer at last to come
like we’re waiting for

the pain to stop, death
to give way to the winter
sun’s soft, warm embrace.


(for our son, Brian, 3/4/1986 - 3/25/2017)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Kentucky


Image: Fancy Farm, Kentucky

Summer steam
washes us clean
like a warm bath

as we wade through young fields, 
new corn waist high 
to where blue sky 
meets the rustling green sea.

We navigate by dead-
reckoning to the red barn. 

Wary of snakes, 
with flailing stick you flush 
out the tall, quick hares.

Feathers flashing, quail
burst heavenward at 
our clumsy approach, 

but in the dark barn 
we find 
forgiveness.

God's own light streams down 
into fragrant stalls
as wise eyes
regard us.

We reach out to touch.

They nod, 
first in warning,
then with bright approval.

(6 Feb 2012)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Suisun Spring

Photo: Brian Federle, "Camping" 3-25-2008


the green glow
of our cottonwoods
newly clothed in the gentle April sun ....

our apple tree,
still skeletal,
intimating cotton buds
promising green glory to come,

and the grass!
all winter-yellow evaporated,
shouting like a
third-grade leprechaun
skipping across the playground
in the school's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

but most unforeseen,
along the rough fence
the vinca
blazing with royal light
in the deep, verdant shade
of our cottonwoods.

(12 April 2010)


Sunday, March 4, 2018

from "Memorial"


Brian Federle, born March 4, 1986

Spring  
Seven years after my father died
my first child, my son, was born in spring,
and in the gleaming, sterile room
I first held him in my arms
as, with his impossibly wide, blue eyes
he calmly gazed right into my raw soul,
and I felt in a sudden rush of warmth,
a timeless love
and at last discovered
the reason for my life.
It was then
I understood my father.
In my son’s face I saw my own
and felt my father’s eyes gazing
in warm wonder on me
and I glowed with
unconditional love for my son.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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 24, 2018

Mercy


Night sways.

The lilting tree fills
with mercy.

Raging day,
blue-jay’s anger,
dolor of
rose petals
softly falling
to tender
grass

forgiven

as whispers
the fading tree,
“do not
forget me.”

(22 July 2012)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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.

(12/15/2012)

At Caritas


I gaze
through the undergrowth
into deeper woods.

Redwoods rise,
limbs link tree
to brother tree,
climbing high
to the bright
coastal fog.

Walking out
I see the three,
still as lawn ornaments,
frozen in motion,
stunned
by my sudden form.

They stand and gaze
and reassured
by my stasis,

at last with lazy gait
back they move
into the nodding
trees.

(3 May 2016)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

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, nor 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)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Abscissa of the Soul


Photo by Brian Federle: Seagull, New Brighton Beach, 2009.

“Once we enter again into contact with our own deepest self, with an ordinate self-love that is inseparable from the love of God and of His truth, we discover that all good develops from within us, growing up from the hidden depths of our being according to the concrete and existential norms laid down by the Spirit Who is given us from God. “
Thomas Merton, The New Man  

Go beyond 
the surface 
of things, 
deeper 
than thin soil 
fecund 
in the rain, 
but dried to dust
by the summer wind.

Dive head first 
into the darkness;
have faith 
that someone
will catch you, 
that you will
splash into 
a warm sea, 
that a strong hand 
will reach out
and save 
your life.

If you wait 
for proof
you will find only
a solid stone 
at your core.

Death 
is like that... 
facts dash 
your brains, 
bring you 
to the edge
of nothing.

But faith 
will lift you 
beyond 
your limitations, 
will bear you up 
on golden wings,
make of you 
the Royal Ordinate 
of time and space
and you will dance 
to the music 
of the spheres,
as without fear
you reach out 
to your Beloved,  
the Abscissa 
of the soul.

**********************************

Author’s Note: In mathematics, ordinate refers to that element of an ordered pair which is plotted on the vertical axis of a two-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, as opposed to the abscissa.  on a graph, the "x" coordinate rises or falls on the vertical line, but never moves forward. Alone, it is doomed to fail, to fall to its eventual death because things that do not move forward always die. But with its abscissa, it has forward movement... purpose... life... and can continue to soar into the ether. I am not good at math but quite good at seeing things.

(25 June 2012)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sunrise

Photo: Sunrise Orcas Island, 2014.  Brian Federle


"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)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

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)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

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)