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)

It Happens

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I can see it coming,
small in the distance
just a spot at first,

but I know
it’s coming for me
sure-air, clear
cross-hairs
frame my soul,
zero-in
on my languid pen

til, joyfully I bolt
for the house, tear
through dark rooms,
turn on my dim light,
and breathlessly wait
for the poem
to strike.

Benediction

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Greylag goose Anser anser three adults in flight, Iceland, April 2010
 
They came suddenly.
First I heard brash honking,
and then, craning my neck to the limit,
I saw them, wide wings moving in perfect formation
as powerfully they stroked the grey air, assertive necks stretched,
like golden swimmers, low and big, they barely cleared
tree-top and roof,but rapidly crossing my small
portion of earth, soon clearing my eastern
fence, the geese were gone to visit
other neighbors; and wondering
at my good fortune, I felt
contentment and deeply
peaceful,and I
smiled.
 
(22 July 2010)

Glance Down

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and see how new grass
lifts green glory
to absolute blue.

Look how swarming gnats
dash in passion,
vortex of life,
swirling whirlpool
in liquid light.

The jay waits
on shadowed fence,
as jeweled hummingbirds
float
in a sea of roses,
nectar drunk,
May-mad.

(1 May 2011)

On the Feast of St. Catherine

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The poet on the radio
earnestly read her expert lines
about the sad state
of the world,
the failure
of governments,
churches,
parents,
lovers,
the certain decline of
the cosmos,
the end of the world.

Her lines were exquisitely made,
and I listened with admiration and envy
to perfect rhymes, subtle
metaphor, nuanced images
until I felt both elation and
despair.

Then I looked around me,
to the riot of life in
my backyard,
the shrill ecstasy of birds
the shout of the rose.

My children gathered today
for a Sunday feast, full of
laughter and my corny jokes.

Maybe the poet didn’t have a backyard,
could gazed only on bleak
city walls; maybe her lover
walked out (or should have) or
her children never call.

I worry about the poor;
whenever a grimy hand out-
stretched, I see the pierced hand of Christ,
offering gifts, pearls of great price!

(29 April 2012)

Author’s Comments:

I’m feeling guilty about dissing Adrienne Rich here… she really is a marvelous poet.  If you’d like to explore her more, try this link:   http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/adrienne-rich

Peter’s Report

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Running all the way,
bent double in breathless pain
we peer and see
the gaping grave
open to the rising sun.

Slowly we enter, our eyes sun-blind,
when we see the empty bench,
the bloody cloth cast within.

I try to imagine
how light must have pierced the cloth,
the sudden shudder
of His broken body,
His sharp breath exploding
like a swimmer breaking the surface,

and I notice John’s eyes
outshining the sun,
and my own face
lighting even death’s
darkest place!

(24 April 2011)

Meditation at San Damiano

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San Damiano retreat Center[2]

dark veins fill my sight
lying dendrites firing doubt
through my fragile faith,

complication
denying all escape

but as these steps rise up the steep hill
and converge into the unseen sky

I climb
to my blue redemption,

simple
and free.

(20 Aug. 2010)