Abscissa of the Soul


Photo by Brian Federle: Seagull, New Brighton Beach, 2009

“Once we enter again into contact with our own deepest self, with an ordinate self-love that is inseparable from the love of God and of His truth, we discover that all good develops from within us, growing up from the hidden depths of our being according to the concrete and existential norms laid down by the Spirit Who is given us from God. “  Thomas Merton, The New Man

Go beyond
the surface
of things,
than thin soil
in the rain,
but dried to dust
by the summer wind.

Dive head first
into the darkness;
have faith
that someone
will catch you,
that you will
spash into
a warm sea,
that a strong hand
will reach out
and save
your life.

If you wait
for proof
you will find only
a solid stone
at your core.

is like that…
facts dash
your brains,
bring you
to the edge
of nothing.

But faith
will lift you
your limitations,
will bear you up
on golden wings,
make of you
the Royal Ordinate
of time and space
and you will dance
to the music
of the spheres,
as without fear
you reach out
to your Beloved,
the Abscissa
of the soul.


Author’s Note: In mathematics, ordinate refers to that element of an ordered pair which is plotted on the vertical axis of a two-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, as opposed to the abscissa.  on a graph, the “x” coordinate rises or falls on the vertical line, but never moves forward. Alone, it is doomed to fail, to fall to its eventual death because things that do not move forward always die. But with its abscissa, it has forward movement… purpose… life… and can continue to soar into the ether. I am not good at math but quite good at seeing things.


He Does Not Need Your Sacrifice


“He does not need our sacrifices,
He asks for our selves.”
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Your sacrifice is like
the breath
of the sparrow
in the roiling storm.

It is not needed
but pleasing in its

When you peel away
your small, feathered
soul, when
you stretch your thin
lungs to sing
your hymn of self-

remember that
it is not necessary,
no, not at all,

but still pleasing is
the purity of
your song.

(25 Feb 2012)



Photo Brian Federle: Overcast in Oregon, 2008

is seeing my blood
coursing through
shut eyelids

and feeling
blood pushing down
into my arms and legs,

it will soon return
to my darkly
beating heart.

But faith is more than
or believing.

Faith shines
like the cloistered sun
concealed by thick
autumn clouds.

Faith knows
all my childish lies,
and gently laughs
at my innocence.

Faith stalks me,
deep into my desert
where, trembling,
I wait for her famished arrow.

I love faith;
in her passionate embrace
I fall into my
darkest night.

I fear faith;
slave to her lacerating truth
reluctantly I walk
into her relentless light.

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.



Photo: Brian Federle, Pacifica Evening, 2014

In the psalms of night birds
in the bright morning trees,
I hear your song echoing,
overwhelming me.

Always above me,
around and below,
inside me your love’s
a constant glow.

In warm summer’s ocean,
in the soft breath of night
I sway in the rhythm
of  passionate life.

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)



Photo: Brian Federle, Salton Sea, Dec. 2016

My breath rises
to the edge of space
and pauses
at the nexus of perfection,

then falls,
driven by waves of fire,
by strong hands guided
through dust and rain,
through ice, through
the shining

to my upturned face
where a single drop dies
and fills me with
the storm’s desire.

(posted 2011: re-posted 8/2017)