Abscissa of the Soul

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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,
deeper
than thin soil
fecund
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
spash 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.

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

But faith
will lift you
beyond
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.

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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.

Fall Leaves

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Photo Brian Federle, Camping March 2010

 

Wind-ripped leaves
cover my yard

severed flesh, leathery
fingers splayed
grip the brick walkway.

Flush winter roses
drop petals,
red shrouds cover
glistening gold veins
sundered
from ravaged trees.

Yet the trees survive.

mimicking death’s
grey angularity
oblivious to the wind,

nude limbs
lean into the howling storm
and dream of June breezes,
singing green afternoons,
the faithful thrush
thrusting new life to flight.

But for now
black clouds gather

the winter wind sings dirges
for these sacrificial leaves
nourishing the famished earth.

(11/18/2010)
re-post 10/25/2017

Moss Landing

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Framed in darkness
Like birds in deep silence
The sky and sea breathe
In steel blue longing
Remembering the dying sun
And the cries of gulls diving.

On insubstantial sand
We watch an impossible ship
Moving and not moving
Like a silent cloud at the edge of the world.

I can see no men aboard
Although I know they are there.
I know they are in steel rooms,
Warmed by twisting turbines,
Softly cursing,
Listening to the night.

The sand moves under us
As we walk to the sea.
Our steps change forever the earth.
The sea changes forever,
We change the sky with our breath
And wind-blown sand covers our feet.

Yet we move,
And for a while we walk
Away from the sea.

The sea will change.
The sky will change.
They will wait.
There’s no hurry.

                                                 In memoriam: Arthur Federle, 1978, Brian Federle, 2017

(1979. 2017)

Continuum

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Photo: Brian Federle, Salton Sea, Dec. 2016

My breath rises
to the edge of space
and pauses
at the nexus of perfection,

then falls,
driven by waves of fire,
by strong hands guided
through dust and rain,
through ice, through
the shining
vortex

to my upturned face
where a single drop dies
and fills me with
the storm’s desire.

(posted 2011: re-posted 8/2017)

Light, directly infused…

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Photo Brian Federle, “Sunset at Carlsbad,” Jan. 2016

“Faith reaches the intellect not through the senses
but in a light directly infused by God.” Thomas Merton

Rising from the sea
death’s veil
overwhelms me.

Brief day fails,
fills the sky
with starry sail,

wandering planets,
moonbeams
cold and bright –

holy spirit
fills faithful night.

(2012: Revised 2017)

Variations on a Theme

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ChurchBodegaBay

But there are so many
To be considered.

The sky, for example,
Is blue today
And white clouds
Are gliding
Over the green continent.

Meanwhile, under the trees
Up Bonny Dune Road
Antennae tremble in the
breeze

While a bird hovers
Momentarily
And dives.

And what about me?
Suppose I’m driving towards Davenport
And I turn too fast
Around the smooth curve
And, seeing the bearded man
Bent over his tripod,
His camera aimed
At the glittering creek

I hear the screaming horn
Of a head-on pickup-truck
And crashing glass
Suddenly fills
My flaring eyes . . . .

. . . . or maybe I swerve in time
And drive on to Davenport,
To the Whaler Inn,
And with my camera
Search for the right shot –
A white church
Against brown hills.

But today I sit alone in the living room
Listening to Mozart , waiting for you

I watch as the cat stretches
By an open window
And stroke her warm fur,
Black silk in silver sunlight
On the dark red carpet.

(1977: re-posted 2017)

Invitation to Dream

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Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
Emily Dickinson

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                                                          Photo by Brian Federle,  Night Sky, 2017

When I last saw you
Your eyes danced with joy
and You filled my life
With hope.

But now you’ve gone
beyond my pale sight.

Oh, feel how
the knife twists in my gut!
Oh, weep with me my stinging tears!

Then come with me
as this darkness descends,

and together,
Let us dream.