Summer River

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“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.

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The Gate of Heaven is Everywhere (Eclipse)

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“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
metaphore
overtakes fact,

and unknown stars glint
in the afternoon sky.

We never knew
they were hanging so low,

diamonds in deep
caverns,

new light!

(27 Nov 2012: 21 Aug. 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)

Because We Are Loved

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Photo Brian Federle, San Francisco, 2008

“…we come into being because we are loved and because we are meant to love others.”
Thomas Merton, Honorable Reader: Reflections on My Work

Deep inside
my silent room,
I gaze
at nothing,

as beyond the door
in trees glowing,
green and glistening,
birds sing, spring-
mad, mated,
passion-played!

The sun’s rising,
cradling
Your risen
world,

and I emerge.

(2012, 2017)

Step of Eternity

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moon-reflection

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
laughter.

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

Summer
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.

Lament for the Children of Syria

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“We must begin by frankly admitting that the first place in which to go looking for the world is not outside us but in ourselves. We are the world.” Thomas Merton

I do not seek you
where the children peer
into the burning night;

fire, false dawn
consumes their eyes,
rages through thin skin.

I do not know
where you go when
the gas softly flows
through the shelter;

have you left us here
in this veil of tears, fear-
full and alone?

Oh, where may I seek you
but in this green shade
of whitened bone

(1 October 2013)

Atonement

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“There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had every prayed.” Thomas Merton

Grey mist
rises and falls
enfolding parched hills
easing autumn’s harsh pain

saturating the spreading valley
with gathering rain
and mercy.

(1 Oct. 2012)