We Sing

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“The rain ceases, and a bird’s clear song suddenly announces the difference between Heaven and hell.” Thomas Merton

Over bright fields
we fly.

Thin slips
of consciousness,
bounded by darkness,

we rise
on our song’s
golden glow,

not knowing
how descends
the growing edge
of nothing.

 

(7 July 2012)

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Magnificat

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The poor still wait
for bolted doors to open
hunger to be filled
and concern to replace
the deep scorn

of the rich, who believe
God is on their side,
who offer golden chalices
and cathedrals of crystal
to purchase
eternal life

with God, who remembers
the poor
will fill their every
need
but send away the rich
with nothing

no things to carry
in their powerful, sleek cars
to their empty houses
silent houses
stony, soulless
mansions,
nothing
but their names
on fine marble
engraved,

yet the poor watch
and still wait.

I, John

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Photo: Brian Federle, Desert Sunrise, Dec. 2016

 

I, John, declare.
Listen!
Can you hear?

Open your eyes and see.
With outstretched hands reach and
proclaim to the world of endless strife
the Word of peace,
eternal Life!

 

ref: 1 John 1:1-4

(22 December 2011)

Three Poems for My Father

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Overcast in Oregon
Photo: Brian Federle, Overcast in Oregon
…on the 40th anniversary of my father’s death

i

When I last saw you
Your hands were clenched
With a rage foreign to your voice
And you were rushing inward
Away from the moon, beyond the glowing
night
Of my grief.

Yet on my way home
I saw the moon rise.

Where have you gone, then, If not
to that land behind the moon?

ii
In the emptiness above the earth
In the terrific clashing of jet with atmosphere

I heard your new voice
I saw your new hands

Tearing at the cold, hurtling steel,
Casting off silk shroud

For dark soil
And even darker rivers.

iii
If stars loom too large
Is not my window too small?

(11/24/1978)

Preparation Day

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The light is fading early today.

Rain turns the whole world to night.

I drive through watery streets,
headlights
stretch to bright tapers,
red lamps
softly trailing
blood beneath my wheels.

Death’s details
fill my busy day.

First, the uncut granite,
sorted and sized,
words neatly arranged,
ready to inscribe
the bare facts of your life,

and then on to the small, white house,
with its big front window and spring garden
hidden behind the black iron gate;

this is where your party will be.

Our guests will arrive soon,
and I must order flowers, great
purple blooms
to dim this too bright room.

Now we’re nearly finished,

but first I must see
to your final ground,
small patch
of turned earth,

and then tomorrow you can finally rest.

Attend us gently
as we weep
and slowly walk away.

(10 Dec. 2010)

Cry Aloud

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Conflagration Clear Lake

Photo Steven Federle: Conflagration at Clear Lake, 2018

 

A voice said, “Cry aloud!”
and I said, “But what shall I cry?”

Shall I sing to the people
a song of spring,
hills aflame with green,
dry grass igniting
with joy?

In darker days,
when the high meadow fell fallow
and flowers of the valley
dried to dust,
I thought you’d turned
away, took your giving hands
to other lands.

Despairing, I wept,
stung by tears
from angry Hell,
and doubted
your love.

Oh, forgive me, pity your child
and make your enduring rain fall

on the riotous grass,
on the bold crocus
and passionate
rose.

Pacifica Path 2014

Photo Brian Federle: On the Pacifica Path, 2014

September 11

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“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.”  Thomas Merton

Rushing from shower to sink, I heard the TV
blare its usual chatter of news and advertising
as we made our hurried preparations
for another busy day,
when I saw it:
dark smoke rising into the blue New York sky.

And I stopped, all schedules forgotten, transfixed
by high flames scorching glass and steel.

Calmly, the newsman speculated
about airliners and tragic accidents,
when the passive camera caught it, the black spot
flying straight and sure as a bullet, piercing
the second tower in a shower of orange flame and shattered glass.

This was no accident,then, this morning violence, and I wondered
how many people were already at work when,
pinned by burning jet fuel and melting steel, their busy day
suddenly ceased in searing red pain and numb darkness?

I wanted to go on with my own day,
to hide in the comfort of my routine,
but I could not turn away when I saw jumpers
drop to merciful deaths;

I saw a suited businessman,
pale in white dust, slowly plodding
through a deluge of drifting memos,
clutching his briefcase like a life preserver;

I heard the shrill, muffled
sirens of ambulance and fire-trucks,
lost in the dirty fog of terror.

And I knew in that moment
that we all are New Yorkers,

we all are falling into our dark, quiet center
where, sinless and without fear,
we encounter God, Yahweh, Allah,

The Eternal,

as our shattered bodies rise
through flames of anger
into the pure, cool, forgiving
September air.

(9/11/2011)