On the Feast of St. Stephen

The Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Peter Paul Rubens 1616-1617

“The life of the soul is not knowledge, it is love, since love is the act of the supreme faculty, the will, by which man is formally united to the final end of all his striving – by which man becomes one with God.” (Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain)

See how wind tears, how
clouds ravage the sky
to shreds…

Can you hear the geese fleeing
shouting dread
as the savage storm crouches?

Are you afraid?

I know
how the sea sometimes
launches boulders;

but the stubborn land
bows and waits
and, swollen, forgives

with torrents of life;
rivers of joy.



Summer River


“It might be good to open our eyes and see.” Thomas Merton

ore’ shading trees’
hanging leaves cast
green sheen on waters,
on the deep
unbroken mirror

when, rising from night
it breaks lightning
and draws first breath
of thin air –

and, discovery made,
falls back
into the cool
watery shade.

Step of Eternity



But love laughs at the end of the world
because love is the step of eternity. Thomas Merton

Look into my eyes
and see me smile,

hear my sighs turn to

Life’s a comedy,
a melo-
filled with
wrong turns,
missed cues,
sudden revisions
and tearful

seems endless, and
the heat wilts even
the sleekest, young runners;

but on paths by cool streams,
by deeper waters we’ll wait

as the sun slides through
night’s ancient gate.

To the cobalt sea
we’ll gaze,
to the fiery moon;

For night steps gently, and
sleep will follow soon.

The One Thing



“Happiness consists in finding out precisely what the ‘one thing necessary’ may be, in our lives, and in gladly relinquishing all the rest. For then, by a divine paradox, we find that everything else is given us together with the one thing we needed.” Thomas Merton

on spring grass, on leaves
bending as two mourning doves moan,
beat wide their wings and brush back the sky, falling low to
dark earth, gladly would I give it
all for a moment
in the glow
of your

(9 April 2013)




“What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.” Thomas Merton


deep in the cathedral
love resounds

through the bright air
of paradise
love rebounds
playful, full of

Oh, hear the organ’s
profundo ring
as love pierces
your living heart

as, prostrate,
love breaks open
your breathless soul.

(18 November 2013 on the ordination of my brother)

El Nino

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows, 1890

fill your heart
with rush of rain,

open palms
to receive

new life
for your heart
of winter!

oh, see how
the birds
fiercely sing
my love!

(5 January 2016)

They Are Strangers Here


Seagulls circle high,
In the heavy October sky

wide, white wings
nudging the dull air

riding gyres
past the waving crest
of our highest redwood.

They are strangers here.

They’ll find no shallows to fish
no mussels to lift
above the concrete wharf,
drop and crush
and delicately dissect
still living white flesh.

They must be lost.

Here they’ll find no flying sail
no schooner driving into
wintery winds. They’ll have
no rising bow here
to amend their errant way.

And yet, for now, they’ll stay,

Graces of light
In the gray gloom
of this cold autumn

(27 Oct. 2010)