Bridge at Montezuma Slough


We drive to see
where the twisted road will lead.

Salty river, winding slough,
dark water
rising to frothy cap
slapping concrete pier,

moon driven waves race
back to beckoning bay.

Finally we must decide…

cross the low bridge
or turn back,

but the flood is so close to the deck!

We feel tidal vibration,
basso profondo,
rattling sub-sonic
in our ears
as together
we face our fear,

and slowly cross,
eyes always ahead
til again we feel sure earth
solid beneath our tread.

(2013 – 2018)


On the Feast of St. Stephen

The Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Peter Paul Rubens 1616-1617

“The life of the soul is not knowledge, it is love, since love is the act of the supreme faculty, the will, by which man is formally united to the final end of all his striving – by which man becomes one with God.” (Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain)

See how wind tears, how
clouds ravage the sky
to shreds…

Can you hear the geese fleeing
shouting dread
as the savage storm crouches?

Are you afraid?

I know
how the sea sometimes
launches boulders;

but the stubborn land
bows and waits
and, swollen, forgives

with torrents of life;
rivers of joy.


false comfort, treacherous joy


Photo Brian Federle: Candles 2014

Lights dancing
In evergreen branches

bright birds perched among
golden ornaments —

false comfort,
treacherous joy!

For this season of life
refreshes my tears,
renews my pain.

Winter Tree


The winter tree
does not move.

Its wide trunk
plunges into graven earth,
unseen roots, grasping hands
feel deeply the living soil,
hold firm anchorage
against the coming storm,

but rising wood, thin
though strong enough
to paint slender lines,
trails into purer air,
gives shelter
to Christmas birds.

They hunch on stems, quietly
waiting to sing open
the dawn.


to the center


Photo: Brian Federle, “Night”, 2014

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

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 silent be

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)

The Light in November


Photo: Brian Federle, Oregon, 2012.


The light in November slants low.
It fills my eyes as I glance
askance through amber trees
and see the leaves descend in
gold flashes
past my open window.

The autumn sun skirts
my low Suisun hills
casting deep shadows
along the ebbing marsh

where wading egrets probe
still, black waters

and finding their prize
rise to blue heaven,
white, slender wings
elegantly beating
the softly falling sun.


In Contemplation of Seeking


….contemplation is simply the “experience” …. of God in a luminous darkness which is the perfection of faith illuminating our inmost self….. a flash of the lightning of divinity piercing the darkness of nothingness and sin. Not something general and abstract, but something, on the contrary, as concrete, particular, and “existential” as it can possibly be. It is the confrontation of man with his God… Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation
In my darkness I seek you
through deep caverns I run;
my dying flesh yearns for
your fierce, piercing love.

Through darkness I see
you’re glowing so bright,
but always receding,
deeper than night.

I fear that I’ll falter,
betrayed by frail will
when softly you whisper
“my child, just be still.”