to the center

Standard

Photo: Brian Federle, “Night”, 2014

the
beat
steady;
constant hum,
music of days to
night fading; the right note, only
song you know; sum of your days, falling, falling to night.

so
go
to the
center, to
the black place to wait
for Him. Don’t call out in fear for
there’s nobody there but you and He, so simply be

and
hear
how His song
fills your darkness with
light; smile at Him, your familiar
bright friend, and no longer will you fear your emptiness.

(23 Dec 2013)

Soft July

Standard

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;
ready.

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

America

Standard

fireworks_feature

Deep thunder shakes this warm July evening
and lightning flashes over the waterfront
filling the clear, starry sky with acrid clouds and glimmering rain
falling to the water as children gaze
in shock and awe,
waiting for the next big one to explode.

False bombardment as celebration:

such fits my nation, founded in genocide and slavery,
this nation baptized in the blood and tears
of Navaho and Cherokee and all the tribes of the American holocaust
a nation that devoured one quarter of its sons
in four short, blood-soaked years; my nation,
a nation of efficient bigots and hungry hypocrites,
giving the world Gettysburg and the Trail of Tears
as models for problem-solving;
a nation unlike any other, not able to live up to its promises
because no other nation dares make such promises.

The bright violence of rockets’ red glare lights our sky
like the bold Declaration ignited the world, and thunder
rocked mighty kings from complacent belief in their divine rights,
rocked the people of Europe, thirsting for their own rights
and land and a chance to pursue a little happiness;
yes, rocked even distant Asia, deep in its ancient dream
foolish men joyfully following the distant thunder
to seek the fabled Golden Mountain.

The promise was made and broken and made yet again,
and the anger of betrayal torched the cities of the sixties,
and singed our hearts
and in the redeeming pain of change
made them a little less impure.
Yes, we are imperfect,
but we know our sins
and pay for them over and over again,

and to remind ourselves of the debt yet unsatisfied,
every summer we celebrate in the only way fitting for such a nation;
In the starry sky fiercely glowing with liberty
and in the transcendent thunder
of the Promise.

(4 July 2011)

Abernathy Road Roundabout

Standard

Bronze angel, strong arms
lifting the rainbow,
you stand in the center.

Our fast cars veer around
north, then east
to shop, to school,
to home

but we can’t see
what you see.

Even the truckers,
who lumber down
Abernathy Road
and enter the circle
with heady grapes
ready for press, for barrel,
for thick, green bottle

steer past you.

Our lives are scheduled over-full.
We all have
some place else to go

until unfulfilled,
we return at last
to our bright center,
and in your embracing arms
we rest.

Author’s note:

Image: Mother Nature by Lisa Reinertson, in traffic circle

at Rockville and Abernathy Roads, Suisun Valley, CA.

Memorial

Standard

Summer

 
He worked nights, leaving as we climbed
the tall narrow staircase to our shared room,
up into the summer heat, the steel fan
in the hallway window
pulling cool, leafy breezes
from our waving trees.

We heard the kitchen screen-door
slap shut, the Pontiac roaring to life,
and watched as slowly he backed down
the dark driveway, and was gone.

And gladly we glided through misty dreams,
flying over tree-tops, baseball games
and cool swimming pools,

when finally the robin’s enthusiasm
and the fresh morning sun
flashing through green leaves
woke us as we heard the car stop
and Dad call cheerfully, “I’m home!”

The air already scented with bacon and coffee,
we flew down the groaning stairs,
two steps at a bound,
and eagerly started another golden
summer’s day.

 

Winter

 
One winter day I did something wrong, and
he got angry and drew his worn leather belt
From the loops of his grey, stained work trousers
To teach me a lesson.
Terrified, I ran upstairs to the big closet
and trembled behind coats and sweaters,
as heavily he came up the steps,
righteous anger ringing in his voice,
tears flowing down my cheeks;

when my big brother, teenage and strong,
called defiance to him and drew him down
into the back yard to fight him
and save me, angered by his

memory of so many other beatings,

determined to stop it now!

But facing his own father

he could not fight back, and

weeping, I watched my dad
pummel my brother’s defenseless face,
far worse than any beating
I would have gotten.

From kitchen window,
I screamed to them both
to stop!

That was when my father saw,
in the kitchen window’s glare
his own father’s angry eyes,
and felt his father’s fists

landing hard on his own face,
and he stopped and

embraced my brother.
 

 

Spring  
Seven years after my father died
my first child, my son, was born in spring,
and in the gleaming, sterile room
I first held him in my arms
as, with his impossibly wide, blue eyes
he calmy gazed right into my raw soul,
and I felt in a sudden rush of warmth,
a timeless love
and at last discovered
the reason for my life.

It was then
I understood my father.

In my son’s face I saw my own
and felt my father’s eyes gazing
in warm wonder on me
and I glowed with
unconditional love for my son.

(30 Jan 2011/11-2017)

Pentecost

Standard

PENTECOST-213861

When you left us
I saw how the clouds parted,
rent curtains,
as you cleared earth’s
drossy smear,
and passed into a heaven
bright beyond
my wildest imagining.

Bereft, fearful, we
shut tight the door
against wolves’ howling
and waited for you
to keep your promise.

At first it was a whisper,
the sea-ward wind
prying loose our
weak walls,

but soon the song rose, until
its power overwhelmed us
with chords of faith,
and, afire at last,
we spoke!

Out of the Silence

Standard

“Out of the silence, Light is spoken.” Thomas Merton

I walk
into the morning.

Birds
drowse
in the dark,

an unseen breeze
strokes my
arms, my bare neck,

as two cranes
over the edge
of the meadow
rise

as the Holy Spirit
moans
in tones
of morning light.

Vicksberg

Standard

The river glints
in the morning light
as we slowly drive
past the guard-gate
and into the rolling hills
of the Vicksburg Battleground.

But there are no battles here today
in this ringing forest ,
on these wrinkled meadows;

These cannons spit no fire
into this soft Mississippi morning,
and no soldier falls, sighing
into these cool, dark earthworks.

Slowly we drive the winding road
past a bronze soldier
grasping his bronze rifle,
tensely gazing
into the empty distance, waiting
for the screaming charge,
of his deadly brothers.

But all anger spent,
they sleep now
under smart ranks
of gleaming stone;

Now they lie,
unknown soldiers,
lulled by whispering
Southern magnolias
far from forgotten
Northern homes.

(5 Aug 2011)

Aubade: Vale of Tears

Standard
Photo Brian Federle, Sun in Trees, Russian River. April 2016

Morning fog
caressed
my winter tears

as unseen geese
(noisy gaggle)
crossed the opaque sky.

Things well hidden
confuse
my fragile faith,

so when bright, piercing rays
broke through
this lonely vale of tears

I thought it was only the sun
not the golden light,
desire of my fleeting years.

Aubade: Morning Dove

Standard

Dawn fires
the cold roses
one-
at-
a-time,
when, with
planetary urge,
all explode to
vermillion
conflagration.

Then the cherry tree,
plain in
drab leaf,
erupts into
emerald
glory,

and high
from the bright rooftop
the mourning-dove
sings
his low, plaintive
song of
love.