Bridge at Montezuma Slough


We drive to see
where the twisted road will lead.

Salty river, winding slough,
dark water
rising to frothy cap
slapping concrete pier,

moon driven waves race
back to beckoning bay.

Finally we must decide…

cross the low bridge
or turn back,

but the flood is so close to the deck!

We feel tidal vibration,
basso profondo,
rattling sub-sonic
in our ears
as together
we face our fear,

and slowly cross,
eyes always ahead
til again we feel sure earth
solid beneath our tread.

(2013 – 2018)


The Gate of Heaven is Everywhere (Eclipse)


“The gate of heaven is everywhere.” Thomas Merton

I can hear your soft breath,
gentle strains of music

the easy breeze
nudges the curtains

peace flows
across my skin
like cool water.

But soon impatient dusk
will overtake bright day

when the sun dims
in the dark grip
of eclipse, and ancient
terror thrills even
the most
comprehending mind;

for this is when
overtakes fact,

and unknown stars glint
in the afternoon sky.

We never knew
they were hanging so low,

diamonds in deep

new light!

(27 Nov 2012: 21 Aug. 2017)

Soft July


since you’ve been gone the days
are silent

except for the rush of wind
in our apple tree.

See how the fruit hangs
heavy, pulling low
the branches;

so I’ll wait in the shade
of soft July
and think
of you.

Variations on a Theme



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

While a bird hovers
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)

To My Wife in Mourning



bright day,still birds, black
spots on the blue sky, slightly
sway in trees, and wait

for winter to stay
or summer at last to come
like we’re waiting for

the pain to stop, death
to give way to the winter
sun’s soft, warm embrace.

(our son, Brian Federle, 3/4/1986:3/25/2017)

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)