On the Feast of St. Catherine

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The poet on the radio
earnestly read her expert lines
about the sad state
of the world,
the failure
of governments,
churches,
parents,
lovers,
the certain decline of
the cosmos,
the end of the world.

Her lines were exquisitely made,
and I listened with admiration and envy
to perfect rhymes, subtle
metaphor, nuanced images
until I felt both elation and
despair.

Then I looked around me,
to the riot of life in
my backyard,
the shrill ecstasy of birds
the shout of the rose.

My children gathered today
for a Sunday feast, full of
laughter and my corny jokes.

Maybe the poet didn’t have a backyard,
could gazed only on bleak
city walls; maybe her lover
walked out (or should have) or
her children never call.

I worry about the poor;
whenever a grimy hand out-
stretched, I see the pierced hand of Christ,
offering gifts, pearls of great price!

(29 April 2012)

Author’s Comments:

I’m feeling guilty about dissing Adrienne Rich here… she really is a marvelous poet.  If you’d like to explore her more, try this link:   http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/adrienne-rich

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Jesus the Homeless
Jesus the Homeless, bronze sculpture by Timothy Schmalz
Regis College, the University of Toronto.
“I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!”
Jeremiah 20:10

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Why do you not believe me?

Have I not wept
as, lost and empty
you cried out in the night?

I shed bitter tears
when at last you fell
and did not arise.

I’ll breath my anguish
and fire your still heart
with my passion.

What more can I do for you
than die?

Chemin de Jerusalem

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Image

“Openness is not something to be acquired, but a radical gift that has been lost and must be recovered.’  Thomas Merton

I walk

slowly

seemingly without

aim or

direction

gaze down

to flowering tiles

waver

feel lost, yet

see the way

leads always

to the

center.

 (22 June 2012)

The Poetry Lesson

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I’ll turn off the classroom lights
and open the windows wide
so you can see.Look deeplyas the sun shatters
our rainy world
into rainbows.Feel how cold wind,
flooding through open doors,
flings to the darkened floor
new poems,

like raindrops
piercing fertile soil –

can you hear it?
the steady whisper
of God?

(26 March 2011)

Origami Master

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“Perfect openness born of complete self-surrender, brings us into uninhibited contact with God.” Thomas Merton

My soul’s a sheet
of flat paper,
unfolded and featureless
until your hands press
and pinch, crease
my stubborn fears
to your desire.

You know what fills
my nascent core
and never give me up
but with your strength
to fine edge crease
and make of me at last
angel’s wings.

(10/15/2012)

Shoemaker

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The children watch his hands
strain against leather, tug
tough hide, obdurate skin,
once supple and alive,
now stiff and dry,

see how his patience,
like love,
wears death down
until new shoes grow
in his strong hands.

They learn to bend
life’s refuse
to new use,

how being
always finds
purpose.

Thus, in lines of memory
we measure our days.

The ancestors guide us
as we build new form
from old tears,

and our children
watch
and learn.

(6/12/2013)

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Shoemaker, Hung Liu, 1999, oil on canvas, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento CA