Saturday, February 24, 2018


Night sways.

The lilting tree fills
with mercy.

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


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?

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
And so we say the rosary,
And we go on.


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,
by my sudden form.

They stand and gaze
and reassured
by my stasis,

at last with lazy gait
back they move
into the nodding

(3 May 2016)

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, 
than thin soil 
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.

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

But faith 
will lift you 
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


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 

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

When you peel away
your small, feathered
soul, when
you stretch your thin
lungs to sing
your hymn of self-

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)