Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Sun rising
flinging green fire
on flashing leaves

as birds flit
and call to each other
ancient songs of  
lust, warning,

In twisting architecture
they rise,
sure-footed, fleet of wing,

while below I stand,
neck craned,
stiff with gazing.

Back to my room,
I go - back to
my comfortable cave,
my simian

(19 June 2011)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Royal Presidio Chapel, Monterey California

Pelicans fly at dawn, 
Heavy, unsure of the wind, 
Their hungry cries piercing the sky
Fiercely searching receding waves. 

Ancient sorrow lingers here, 
The stunned saints with fading stigmata
Painted dimly into ever-falling shadow. 

Our Lady of Sorrows wears a black mantilla. Her
cold, glimmering hands clench 
The lace handkerchief Maria Antonia brought. 

Our Lady of Solitude pierces my soul, 
Her face shining forth from layers of death, 
Her astounding eyes glittering with living anguish.

(15 March 1979)

Sunday, December 14, 2014


We must know the truth, and we must love the truth we know. Thomas Merton

On her way to the big dance
my sister patiently waits
for the camera to click.

Her dress is white,
her slender fingers wrapped in
tight, petite gloves,
while top to bottom,
in her brilliant hat and polished shoes
grasping the patent handbag
she glows, so cool
in the autumn sun.

Carefully posed,
her little brothers cluster.

The oldest, just fooling around,
grins slyly
waves his
Lone Ranger cap gun.

The smart boy,
just down the step,
holds his hands in his jacket pocket,
and confidently smiles
for the camera.

But the little one stands apart
in a forest of shifting knees,
close to the ground
steadied by her strong hand.

Mother's long arm
reaches far down
to his slight shoulder,
and her power
still towers above them all
wrapping them in her
safe embrace.

(22 May 2012)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

fog conceals

fog conceals
winter dark streets
but gently reveals
her tears, her
cold, soft hands,
my mother’s hands
rising from
the waters,
from the fog.

(9 December 2014)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lost Soul

“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

Soul without light
he screams in anger,

curses his mother
for carving his dying flesh
from her course blood.

His darkness is complete.

He will not see
the sun
though it streams golden
through his open

A prisoner,
he can only gaze
on blighted shade; he cannot stray
beyond the constrained
cell of his narrow

(11 March 2011)

Thursday, November 27, 2014


see how night rushes
down winter streets

how the pall descends
and suddenly casts
the bold sun to the sea.

thus it has been
since colliding
rocks coalesced

and the diurnal
dance began -
and yet, we hope

for sunrise
for summer


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nocturne November

breathe deeply
the darkness,

listen to the rain
pounding drum-beat drops
see glass glisten,
liquid streets stream,

imbibe the stink of mud,
rot of moldering leaf,

as life

(5 Nov 2011)

atmen Sie tief durch

die Dunkelheit,

lauschen Sie den regen
Schlagen Trommelschlag Tropfen
siehe Glas glitzern,
Flüssigkeit Straßen-Stream,

trinken den Gestank von Schlamm,
rot von modernden Blatt,

wie das Leben

Friday, November 14, 2014


Golden eyed, blazing
through summer trees
gently swaying
you blind me,
bind your warm hands
to my sluggish brow
and ignite me with your holy flame.

My heart, fiery and free
soars high, with you
always beside me

leading me
through dissolving mists
‘til pure at last,
at last I see

you’re filling me
with your eternal mind,

making of me your sacred bread,
your free-flowing


Sunday, November 9, 2014

November Sunset

About five o clock,
the warm November day
just stops.

Bright afternoon
slams into evening
not even pausing
for twilight.

Blue sky
dims quickly
to violet,

but over ragged black canyons
the orange sun

and suddenly bursts
into astonishing gold.

Blithely ascending
the bright crescent
claims the cool
velvet night.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Faith and Disobedience

When I heard how you raised
the little girl who died,
with searching hands
I found you,
and felt a strange new thirst
for light,

So I begged
for a miracle.

You asked me
if I believed
that you really could do
such a thing,
could illuminate
my personal night.

with inexplicable
faith, I said

and when you touched my eyes,
I saw your face
with a newborn’s sight.

Lord, I cannot lock
your love,
inside my heart!
my very sinews will burst!

So, disobedient in my praise,
I  shout it out
through this bright, new day!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

black door

black door,
impenetrable portal
to the silent night,

when a sudden train rushes,
filling the darkness
with wailing desire,

and suddenly is gone.

Now only my fingers linger.
pressing your giving flesh.


The Vine

The ugly stump, desolate, dead
and too deep to pull, waited for my saw,
but I, lazy and pre-occupied, lingered
as winter inundated
the mud and rock desert
outside our kitchen window.

Then spring came, and all excuses spent,
I slogged out, grim executioner,
ready to cut and pull,
when I beheld green, craggy fingers praying
for just one more chance;
so putting the saw back into our messy garage,
we began the project,

raking, hoeing, cutting, digging
(hard work for a lazy man)
and soon sod to lay
and bricks to haul for a patio,

when, bushwhacked, we spied
the truant stump
proclaiming itself a grape vine,
stringy runners running rampant
through the little garden we built around it,
hooked fingers grabbing for anything
to pull nascent leaves up,

up to the warming April sun,

out of the dark winter earth,

and alarmed we cut it back, fearful vintners,
afraid for threatened geraniums
and knock-out roses,

but a treaty agreed upon, the vine settled
for one corner and left the rest
to more delicate flora.

Life will not be denied
in our backyard.


Friday, October 17, 2014

First Rain

first waves of grey
push in from the sea
impatiently  driving through
wind-thrashed trees

my back yard's aglow
with the strange, filtered sun
red garden blooms sway
against dark, stoic trunks

Oh,inhale the sharp fragrance
of autumn's first rain!
infuse your dry world
with life once again.


Monday, October 6, 2014


"Unknowing" photo by Steven Federle

“The most excellent way of contemplation is to ascend by unknowing…as Moses was led into darkness.” Thomas Merton

Dry October hills -
life fulfilled. and dying. See how the ridge cuts the sunset, draws a thin edge of blood. In the valley of man red lights throb. Leaves fall, unknowing.

Nocturne: October

level land

blown brown
and hard

fade with day

the wind does not move!

a smudge
on the


the geese


Monday, September 29, 2014

This Day Will Not Come Again

“A sweet summer afternoon. Cool breezes and a clear sky. This day will not come again.
The young bulls lie under a tree in the corner of their field. Quiet afternoon. Blue hills.
Day lilies nod in the wind. This day will not come again. “
Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

I expected the slight rise
in the east, the sky
growing slate, then
blushing pink and
suddenly blue.

The winter tree
is often
bathed in gold,

and the familiar song
of thrush and jay,
woodpecker’s rapid tapping
brash geese

are often the same
from one to another day.

But this sudden breeze,
freshening breath
of the butterfly,
the warmth
the joyful cry!

My God is here!

I breathe,
I sigh.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Evening Song

In the nearly dark tree
out on the bright edge,
it clings to tender leaves,
rides the wind-swayed branch
and sings.

Small bird,
red as the falling sun,
cries his evening song …
to tarried mate?
to fading sky or
guardian tree?

Drawn deep to darkest night,
I cannot read this creature’s
pure mind; but his breath
leaves my raptured soul bereft.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Joy Fills the Night

Joy fills the night,
sighs, breath
faint as death,
inward fly.

Oh, gaze into the night,

to the emptiness
deep inside
where bright salvation,
in silence resides.

(Sept 15, 2014)


when the sky is still black
and stars glitter
like there's no
the overblown moon
above seaborne fog...

this is the time
for faith
when birds,
startled by dawn's
first spark,
raise sharp beaks
and sing
the first song of


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mid-Summer's Night

Glowing night,
clouds excite
the summer sky -

swaying limbs
in dusky shade
sing praise,

for All’s afire!

Stars tremble,
and planets gyre

but this lovers’ moon,
the shadowed earth
with passion’s
pure desire.