Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cry Aloud

Photo Steven Federle: Conflagration at Clear Lake, 2018

A voice said, "Cry aloud!"
and I said, “But what shall I cry?”

Shall I sing to the people 
a song of spring,
hills aflame with green,
dry grass igniting 
with joy?

In darker days, 
when the high meadow fell fallow
and flowers of the valley 
dried to dust, 
I thought you'd turned
away, took your giving hands
to other lands.

Despairing, I wept, 
stung by tears
from angry Hell, 
and doubted 
your love. 

Oh, forgive me, pity your child
and make your enduring rain fall

on the riotous grass, 
on the bold crocus
and passionate 

Photo Brian Federle: On the Pacifica Path, 2014

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Lazarus Waiting

Photo Brian Federle: Mendocino Sundial 2016

falling sun, life swarming
in the liquid light
as I gaze west, through trees,
over houses, over slatted-fence,
towards the waiting, unseen sea.

a foraging bird drops to my mown lawn
(taking note of my still form)
and pecks out her meal...and flies away.

My apple-tree bends towards heaven
new leaves unfolding;
surely it will be leaf-full by Easter!

so I’ll wait for the world to turn
yet another slight degree, for the lines
of golden light to lengthen towards me
and then end in gentle night.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Vanitas Folia

Leaves quickly fall
now that November
is nearly done. 

From behind a glass door
I watch the dry storm,
blanket the ground,

Useless appendages
liabilities in the wind,
cast-aways await
the hollow scraping
of my wide rake.

Yet in the tree
hope for reprieve, 
wave and rush 
sure that bright color
can distract, delay death
with brilliant 

Monday, September 10, 2018

September 11th

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.”  Thomas Merton


Rushing from shower to sink, I heard the TV
blare its usual chatter of news and advertising
as we made our hurried preparations
for another busy day,
when I saw it:
dark smoke rising into the blue New York sky.

And I stopped, all schedules forgotten, transfixed
by high flames scorching glass and steel.

Calmly, the newsman speculated
about airliners and tragic accidents,
when the passive camera caught it, the black spot
flying straight and sure as a bullet, piercing
the second tower in a shower of orange flame and shattered glass.

This was no accident,then, this morning violence, and I wondered
how many people were already at work when,
pinned by burning jet fuel and melting steel, their busy day
suddenly ceased in searing red pain and numb darkness?

I wanted to go on with my own day,
to hide in the comfort of my routine,
but I could not turn away when I saw jumpers
drop to merciful deaths;

I saw a suited businessman,
pale in white dust, slowly plodding
through a deluge of drifting memos,
clutching his briefcase like a life preserver;

I heard the shrill, muffled
sirens of ambulance and fire-trucks,
lost in the dirty fog of terror.

And I knew in that moment
that we all are New Yorkers,

we all are falling into our dark, quiet center
where, sinless and without fear,
we encounter God, Yahweh, Allah,
The Eternal,  

as our shattered bodies rise
through flames of anger
into the pure, cool, forgiving
September air.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Photo: Brian Federle

“What is my new desert? The name of it is compassion. There is not wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid, and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion.” Thomas Merton

I’ll wander with you
in our pain.

Though dry days
and star-drenchd nights
we’ll search the sharp rocks
for pools of cool tears.

Forty days and
forty nights shall we journey
through the wilderness,

to the green oasis
where we’ll flourish —
lilies in hidden springs — 

and there  
we’ll possess
every good thing.

(13 Oct 2012/ revise 7/31/2018)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fountain of Fire

“Just as it is impossible for a man to see his face in troubled water, so too the soul, unless it be cleansed of alien thoughts.” Thomas Merton

Closing in
the ancient wind sweeps
still waters, turns clarity
to confusion, joy
to primal fear.

I seek my face
but see only a blush
on the river’s edge,
red betrayal seeping
from deep within,
from a wound unseen.

Cleanse me, O Fountain of Fire, 

still my fears
and again I’ll see
my face
washed clean
by grateful tears!

Saturday, July 7, 2018


Photo: Brian Federle, San Francisco Homeless, 2014.

my secret door
deep in the dark
I face you.

We are

I have no place
to hide.

I don’t want
from your steady

You see right through
my petty lies--
into the truth of
my shivering

You know me
and yet

you love me!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

On the Razor's Edge

Photo: Brian Federle

“Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love.”

Gazing into bright desert space
we see endless highways, distant
mountains we never reach,
sharp hills, steep cliffs
as we move closer,

to the pacing sun,
creasing dark canyons,
casting amber light
into the gauzy sky —  

yet our dark dreams trouble
the faint stars; the reeling planets
throw wide nets over
our haunted, lost souls

when, morning at last,
we begin again,
pursuing the tumbling edge
of this turning globe

believing that
it will never end, will never
will never

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Intricate Psalms

Photo: Brian Federle, Sun in Clouds, Hawaii 2016

Clearing the tallest
eve of the big house,
the sun overwhelms.

Then the mockingbird chants
intricate psalms

All praise to the
lord of the sky

and with glory
fill the land!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Warm Morning

Morning hush —

Heat builds,
leaves glitter.

Into pure silver
dissolves the shade.

Birds call
winging it
to higher, darker places,
any eve
where tattered night
may hide,

seeking retreat
from day's clear,
searing eye.

(9/2011 - 5/2018)

Thursday, May 24, 2018


“When the sun rises each one of us is summoned
by the living and the dead to praise God.”
Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.

In the morning
you sent clouds towering
and drove fine ice
into the tender

(its red petals scattered, 
a holocaust 
on pure white ground)

and took my breath away!

Father, I seek you
like death, 

clean and clear
in the ringing air.

Green and golden, 
long shadows flow east
and birdsong fills 
your nodding trees.

In the gentle rhythm
of the swaying wind
there I hear 

your song again.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Aubade: Vale of Tears

Photo Brian Federle, Sun in Trees, Russian River. April 2016

Morning fog
my winter tears

as unseen geese
(noisy gaggle)
crossed the opaque sky.

Things well hidden
my fragile faith,

so when bright, piercing rays
broke through
this lonely vale of tears

I thought it was only the sun
not the golden light,
desire of my fleeting years.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


When you left us
I saw how the clouds parted,
rent curtains,
as you cleared earth’s
drossy smear,
and passed into a heaven
bright beyond
our wildest imagining.

Bereft, fearful, we
shut tight the door
against wolves’ howling
and waited for you
to keep your promise.

At first it was a whisper,
the sea-ward wind
prying loose our
weak walls,

but soon the song rose, until
its power overwhelmed us
with chords of faith,
and, afire at last,

we spoke!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Simplicity of being

Photo: Brian Federle, Lanterns, 2014.

" is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.” 
Thomas Merton

The moon fades, 
clouds enshroud stars
pale trees glare 
ensnared by winter winds 
blanching at death's edge,  

and yet you whisper 
gently in the rain, 
promise me gifts 
of disease and pain
to strip me clean
and pure again.  

O, make me
your sacrament!

pure essence,
of eternal gain.

(11 Sept. 2011: rev. 5-17-2018)