Monday, January 14, 2019

Winter Garden

Winter garden, rows
leaning low to mud, cold,
promising nothing.

The pale sun, lingers...
Are You still here? I saw You 
in spring, green breezes 

singing in the trees,
lusty crickets shouting grace!
Oh, why did You leave

this place, defiled?
When will You turn Your holy face
again to your unholy child?

(1/15 /13; rev. 1/14/19)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Movement of the Soul

Photo, Brian Federle; In Golden Gate Park, 2013

"All the passions can be reduced to four: joy, hope, fear, and grief. 
These four are so closely connected that, when one is controlled, 
the others all obey.  Consequently they can be reduced to one: joy.  
And desire is the movement of the soul seeking joy."  
Thomas Merton, The Ascent to Truth

is knowing
how darkness
bears down, how the
storm thrashes
the autumn-bare

Summer's birds
cannot withstand
the fearful night
so they flee.

leads to grief
when tumors increase.
Blood grows
until, together
at last, we stand
and wonder

This is the line that splits heaven from hell.

We comb his hair
and shave his face,
carefully fold a rosary
into his cold hands,
and wonder that
his chest is
so still.

But his eyes are safely
sealed against the
terrors of the grave,
so we lay him to rest
and slowly go
our separate ways.

those cold March days
when we stood, our
backs to the rising sun?

Too bright to see,
we felt the sun stroking us
with a lover's warmth,
rekindling in us
hope's desire.

Thus will it always be.

Death can never win
though the illusion is strong.
The mortal body succumbs
but the soul ascends,
like birds, joyfully rising
to the morning sun.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Other Brother

It was a hot day in the field

when, returning at last
bone-tired, sore from
tending your stiff-necked flock,
I saw bonfires,
extravagant blazes lighting
the way to our house,

but not for me
home late from

so I asked your servant
“why such celebration?”

That’s when my anger exploded;
…poor fellow, he bore my rage
and yelping away
cried it wasn’t his fault!

No, it wasn’t.
It isn’t.

It’s You.

You ask me to obey
and obediently I honor you every day.
With sweat and callused hands,
I cajole this stingy land
to give up a little wheat.
With my blood
I water these fields;

but when I wanted to show
my friends a little generosity,
I asked you for a stingy goat,
a meager feast, and
you said “no.”

So here he is, come home at last,
profligate brother…prodigal,
wastrel, drunkard,

He’s back
and suddenly the prize calf
I worked so hard to make so fat is slain,
a royal feast for your favorite son

(though somewhat late) come home again!


as always
my anger fades
in the glow of your summer love.

I don’t like this!

but you tell me
that your love does not diminish
but increases with the giving…

and, after all,
it is not every day that one’s brother
is to life recalled.

So for you, father,
I’ll look him in the eye
and let him back
into my life.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Ordinary Time

numbering days and nights
calculating the length
and breadth of
our alloted
we live
by the numbers.

It starts in a split second
of passion
in the darkness
plunging headlong
to a date certain
when savage lights assault
our tender eyes
and we see
how it will be
in this clock-
work world.

Time orders All.

Class bells 
church bells
the grandfather clock
in the hallway
heavily chimes 
as our lives sway 
in the diurnal dance, 
we wake and sleep
laugh and weep
and it is all very ordinary
until it is not;

then the chain breaks
and heavy weights 
crush our vision's
and at last we subside
into inordinate

(1 March 2012)

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Psalm for the 4th Sunday in Advent

In the morning mist
the coastal hills wait, 
waves fixed, sea frozen
to solid rock, 
as rippled silk.

The mountains wait too,
but, closer to the sun,
they know more, 
and do not despair.

Soon heaven
will beckon them
to proclaim His peace
and plenty

for then will the poor 
have their fill
of justice.

(24 Dec 2011; 5 Jan 2019)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Rush of Waves

Photo: Brian Federle, Pacific Sunset, 2014

rush of waves, surging
ocean, atmosphere,
west wind filling night
with the sound of earth

careening through canyons
of empty, endless space!

(14 May 2013 - 2 Jan 2019)