poetry

POETRY: Poem Of The One World, by Mary Oliver

This morning the beautiful white heron was floating along above the water and then into the sky of this the one world we all belong to where everything sooner or later is a part of everything else which thought made me feel for a little while quite beautiful [...]

POETRY: Let Me Be To Thee As The Circling Bird, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Let me be to Thee as the circling bird, Or bat with tender and air-crisping wings That shapes in half-light his departing rings, From both of whom a changeless note is heard. I have found my music in a common word, Trying each pleasurable throat that sings And every praised sequence of sweet strings, And know infallibly which I preferred. The authentic cadence was discovered late Which ends those only strains that I approve, And other science all gone out of date And minor sweetness scarce made mention of: I have found the dominant of my range and state— Love, O my God, to call thee Love and [...]

POETRY: Starting Over, by Mary F. C. Pratt

—and do you remember the night the long rain stopped? We woke to silence, and moonlight through the high window. No sound but the animals breathing in their sleep— —and the owls— It was so hard to wait but when the dove did not return you worked open the swollen latch and we pushed the ladder out. I shooed away the chickens— all those chickens underfoot. You insisted on going first even though your rheumatism was bad— and I came down right behind you with my knees not so much better. Soft wet dirt, all the swamp stink, but not a cloud in sight. On top of the hill, that one tree —Olive—with little leaves unfolding, beginnings of buds where new olives would be— The children crowded down behind. Everything that could fly [...]

POETRY: Binsey Poplars, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

felled 1879 My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled, Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun, All felled, felled, are all felled; Of a fresh and following folded rank Not spared, not one That dandled a sandalled Shadow that swam or sank On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank. O if we but knew what we do When we delve or hew— Hack and rack the growing green! Since country is so tender To touch, her being só slender, That, like this sleek and seeing ball But a prick will make no eye at all, Where we, even where we mean To mend her we end her, When we hew or delve: After-comers cannot guess the beauty been. Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve Strokes of havoc únselve The sweet especial scene, Rural scene, a rural [...]

POETRY: Making The House Ready For The Lord, by Mary Oliver

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but still nothing is as shining as it should be for you. Under the sink, for example, is an uproar of mice—it is the season of their many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves and through the walls the squirrels have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know that really I am [...]

POETRY: Let Everything That Hath Breath Praise The Lord, by Christina Rossetti

All that we see rejoices in the sunshine, All that we hear makes merry in the Spring: God grant us such a mind to be glad after our kind, And to sing His praises for everything. Much that we see must vanish with the sunshine, Sweet Spring must fail, and fail the choir of Spring: But Wisdom shall burn on when the lesser lights are gone, And shall sing God’s praises evermore for [...]

POETRY: We Take The Sky, by Susanna Childress

We take the sky, as if red is something we could own, something we might find in the stillest moments, as if the earth is humane and wouldn’t break our bones. (None of His were broken. Not one.) Red is in the land too, is in the way we look at each other, the hardness of our sleep, the need to fall down, to tell of the pox that swept Aunt Jess, the drink that ushers Father, the path that never leads to wealth or rest or health—but the one we always take. Shalom, we say. Buena suerte. We always take the sky, fold it over ourselves, the soil, run it across our skin and cling to it, savoring the tart of a lemon, palming a bar of soap even when our hands are clean, naming the insects that fly across the white bulb of moon late at [...]

POETRY: Death & Transfiguration, by Paul Mariani

Down the precipitous switchbacks at eighty the pokerfaced Palestinian cabby aims his Mercedes while the three of us, ersatz pilgrims, blank-eyed, lurch, and the droll Franciscan goes on about the Art Deco Church of the Transfiguration crowning the summit of the Mount. Up there I’d touched the damp stones of the old Crusader fount, paced the thick walls, imagined Muslims circling below on horseback, muleback, then ascending for the final blow. A decent pasta and a dry wine, thanks to the Fratelli who run the hostel at the site, followed by an even drier lecture in the sun- drenched court, then back down to the glinting taxis, ready to return us now to the same old, feverish, unsteady world half a mile below.  I thought of the old [...]

POETRY: Sabbath Poem X, 1979, by Wendell Berry

Whatever is foreseen in joy Must be lived out from day to day. Vision held open in the dark By our ten thousand days of work. Harvest will fill the barn; for that The hand must ache, the face must sweat. And yet no leaf or grain is filled By work of ours; the field is tilled And left to grace. That we may reap, Great work is done while we’re asleep. When we work well, a Sabbath mood Rests on our day, and finds it [...]

POETRY: Newness Of Life, by Tania Runyan

South African man wakes after 21 hours in morgue fridge. What cold salvation, dragging fingernails through the frost of a half-dream then waking to a plastic cocoon. The louder you scream from your aluminum drawer the more they believe you’re a ghost come to haul them inside. I feel your shivering in my own bones, stumble with you into the vicious light. Some burst alive on the pyres of the Spirit. Some blink open slowly, alone, packing in ice: How did I get here? I never knew I was [...]

POETRY: Crucifixion, by John Greenleaf Whittier

Sunlight upon Judah’s hills! And light on the waves of Galilee; On Jordan’s stream, and on the rills The feed the dead and sleeping sea! Most freshly from the green wood springs The light breeze on its scented wings; And gayly quiver in the sun The ceder tops of Lebanon! A few more hours, —a change hath come! The sky is dark without a cloud! The shouts of wrath and joy are dumb, And proud knees unto earth are bowed! A change is on the hill of Death, The helmed watchers pant for breath. And turn with wild and maniac eyes From the dark scene of sacrifice! That Sacrifice! —the death of Him, — The Christ of God, the holy One! Well may the conscious Heaven grow dim, And blacken the beholding Sun. The wonted light hath fled [...]

POETRY: Spring Forward, by Abigail Carroll

The crocuses have nudged themselves up through the snow, have opened, never are opening, always daring, Ephemeral prophets, first of the sun’s spring projects, purple- throated chorus of will-have-beens— year after year, their oracles outlast them. Cold’s empire has not yet been undone, but the cardinals have begun to loudly declare its undoing, which is as good as the thing itself, as good as the gutters’ wild running, the spilling of rain down the tar-slick roof, the filling and pooling, the annual re-schooling of earth in the vernal properties of water. A bud both is and is not a flower: furled flag, curled-up tongue of summer, envelope of fire— What is this world but a seed of desire some dream-bent farmer sowed [...]

POETRY: The Doubter’s Prayer, by Anne Brontë

Eternal Power, of earth and air! Unseen, yet seen in all around, Remote, but dwelling everywhere, Though silent, heard in every sound. If e’er thine ear in mercy bent, When wretched mortals cried to Thee, And if, indeed, Thy Son was sent, To save lost sinners such as me: Then hear me now, while, kneeling here, I lift to thee my heart and eye, And all my soul ascends in prayer, Oh, give me—give me Faith! I cry. Without some glimmering in my heart, I could not raise this fervent prayer; But, oh! a stronger light impart, And in Thy mercy fix it there. While Faith is with me, I am blest; It turns my darkest night to day; But while I clasp it to my breast, I often feel it slide away. Then, cold and dark, my spirit sinks, To see my light [...]

POETRY: Evening Prayer, by Scott Cairns

And what would you pray in the troubled midst of this our circular confusion save that the cup be taken away? That the chill and welling of the blood might suffer by His hushed mercy to abate, to calm the legion dumb anxieties as each now clamors to be known and named? The road has taken on, of late, the mute appearance of a grief whose leaden gravity both insists on speed and slows the pilgrim’s progress to a crawl. At least he’s found his knees. I bear a dim suspicion that this circumstance will hold unyielding hegemony until the day. What would you pray at the approach of this late evening? What ask? And of [...]

POETRY: Calcutta To Cannon Beach, by Nathaniel Lee Hansen

I have His darkness—I have His pain—I have the terrible longing for God. (Mother Teresa) That at times this future saint could not sense her Lord while sweating words with pen read as a revelation to me, disclosed that she was human, too. God’s omnipresence still too far—boils, sores, and scars too near, so faith meant treading the waters of theology’s raw mystery, their paradox: belief is doubt that we can know with certainty. And so I cup the ocean with my hands, though fingers leak, dry, then crack. Yet for a moment, I can clutch the ocean with my makeshift bowl, taste the salt my everyday eyes cannot [...]

POETRY: And A Good Friday Was Had By All, by Bruce Dawe

You men there, keep those women back and God Almighty he laid down on the crossed timber and Old Silenus my offsider looked at me as if to say nice work for soldiers, your mind’s not your own once you sign that dotted line Ave Caesar and all that malarkey Imperator Rex well this Nazarene didn’t make it any easier really—not like the ones who kick up a fuss so you can do your block and take it out on them Silenus held the spikes steady and I let fly with the sledge-hammer, not looking on the downswing trying hard not to hear over the women’s wailing the bones give way the iron shocking the dumb wood. Orders is orders, I said after it was over nothing personal you understand—we had a drill-sergeant once thought he was [...]

POETRY: Catechism, by Brett Foster

What sort of belief would you say is yours? Porous. Calibrated to the times. The week. In what ways has superflux affected you? Too much esteem. Tuned finely to the body’s work. What do you fear has not been delivered? The disease of courage. Will it be required? No questions, please. Can you see yourself tested? I have never suffered for anything. In how many dimensions is your faith? One thin one, at least. [Aside] Was that a trick question? What is the single thing that sustains you? Abiding hope that being here’s made good. Care to clarify? Care to offer last words? I offer essentially nothing, but [...]

POETRY: The Ballad Of Mary’s Son, by Langston Hughes

It was in the Spring The Passover had come. There was feasting in the streets and joy. But an awful thing Happened in the Spring— Men who knew not what they did Killed Mary’s Boy. And the Son of God was He— Sent to bring the whole world joy. There were some who could not hear, And some were filled with fear— So they built a cross For Mary’s [...]

POETRY: My Prayers Must Meet A Brazen Heaven, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

My prayers must meet a brazen heaven And fail and scatter all away. Unclean and seeming unforgiven My prayers I scarcely call to pray. I cannot buoy my heart above; Above I cannot entrance win. I reckon precedents of love, But feel the long success of sin. My heaven is brass and iron my earth: Yea, iron is mingled with my clay, So harden’d is it in this dearth Which praying fails to do away. Nor tears, nor tears this clay uncouth Could mould, if any tears there were. A warfare of my lips in truth, Battling with God, is now my [...]

POETRY: I Have Stood At The Center Of The World, by Catherine McNiel

I have stood at the center of the world The primordial Tree, the innocent Beginning I have been rejected there, exiled So I wander Homeless, yet seeking Home Marked, yet seeking I have traveled so far in my wanderings That I have changed, the distance became a chasm And yet I have stayed so closely tied Lingering near with hope for Healing Longing I stand in the place of Anger and Accusation Watching the last box of bitterness carried out the door Alone now with the vast emptiness in its place There’s nothing left to do but this endless Wandering and lingering I have forgiven But you have forgotten Even a child casts her own shadow The past has built itself into my body and soul And there it is: The bruised and fallen apple is its [...]

POETRY: The Road To Damascus: 6, by Tania Runyan

I have sinned, I said. I want eternal life, I said. That was the moment. I wanted nothing but God. I wanted a cheeseburger. I wanted nothing at all. Finally, I wanted it all settled. I folded by hands and spoke To the carpet. I folded my hands and spoke to the Lord. I woke up and felt no different. I woke up and my life came to an [...]

POETRY: Jung’s Shadow And Matthew 4:16, by Marci Rae Johnson

Even in winter there was sun living in the green shoulders of the waves. I’d walk the beach alone with shadows: gulls in formation on the ground. Once the bones. Once a poem that wrote itself behind my eyes. When I’d come home he wouldn’t say how much he feared the way I’d carry words to the clouds and let them go. Everyone carries a shadow. Everyone breathes out fog in the cold. Even the living sun can’t melt the ice shelf that pushes up the sand, makes of this familiar scape a wild shape— a place that can’t be known. I walk the dunes above, misplace the old theologies. I suppose a light has dawned. The sun pushed high as it will get, tapping the tops of pines, my own shadow long among the others [...]

POETRY: Lent, by George Herbert

Welcome dear feast of Lent: who loves not thee, He loves not Temperance, or Authority, But is composed of passion. The Scriptures bid us fast; the Church says, now: Give to your Mother, what you would allow To every Corporation. It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day; Yet to go part of that religious way, Is better than to rest: We cannot reach our Savior’s purity; Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he. In both let’s do our best. Who goes in the way which Christ has gone, Is much more sure to meet with him, than one Who travels the by-ways: Perhaps my God, though he be far before, May turn, and take me by the hand, and more May strengthen my decays. Yet Lord instruct us to improve our fast By starving sin [...]

POETRY: E Tenebris, by Oscar Wilde

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand, For I am drowning in a stormier sea Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee: The wine of life is spilt upon the sand, My heart is as some famine-murdered land, Whence all good things have perished utterly, And well I know my soul in Hell must lie If I this night before God’s throne should stand. “He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase, Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name From morn to noon on Carmel’s smitten height.” Nay, peace, I shall behold before the night, The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame, The wounded hands, the weary human [...]

POETRY: Seventeens — Acoustics, by Amit Majmudar

A hand must pass the strings for them to sound. The absence of the touch is what resounds. Axon for axon, we are strung, we are A kind of neurological guitar A star has strummed to music. Our musician Has touched us once, gone quiet now to listen— Is this mind flat or sharp? How well’s it tuned? The absence of his hand is opportune, His famous silence proof we have his ear. Reverberation needs the aisles clear, And rumination needs some room to roam. If he were here, these rhymes would stay at home, And all that’s hard and hardest-won in us Be obviated by the obvious. Have your hosannah, I prefer the hush. Check the acoustics in this empty hall. Not the faintest echo when you [...]

POETRY: New Mexico, 1992, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

We learned to make the sign of the cross, Dipping earth stained hands in Catholic Waters. We’ve filled the desert with our altars We prayed our rosaries, played them, Rubbed them, clutched them– rattles in the wind Swaying back and forth—our Playground swings, we rode them toward God, Now hang them on walls or rear view Mirrors of fixed-up ’57 trucks. Comenzamos el Padre Nuestro en espanol but we finish the prayer in a North American tongue. De vez en cuando we gather ourselves together to baptize a child in the name of the Father, the Son, and our ancestors who command us from the grave. We have made our way in the world, worked hard, worked hard. Now, we toss money at the feet of my parent’s grandchildren like [...]

POETRY: Blood In The Snow, by Gregory Spencer

I have yet to see a crimson cardinal, though Virginia boasts he’s there waiting on some blossomed branch whistling. Perhaps a blood-red bird will soon appear against this winter-white ash that floats down graceful from God’s chimney. Our children have fallen—we all have— and bear hot bruises from these ice slips. Undeterred, they surf the slopes this March, calculating pace and angles for success. I sent them out today in striped shirts to crunch and slide near the Holocaust museum. Just yesterday a man was murdered there. I remember the news said he did nothing wrong; but I let the children go anyway, to walk that path where winter’s white ash falls from God’s chimney and I’ve yet to see a [...]

POETRY: A Prayer, by Thomas More

Grant I thee pray such heat into mine heart, That to this love of thine may be equal; God grant me from Satan’s service to astart, With whom me rueth so long to have be thrall; Grant me good Lord and creator of all, The flame to quench of all sinful desire, And in thy love set all mine heart afire. That when the journey of this deadly life My silly ghost hath finished, and thence Departed must without his fleshly wife;* Alone into his lord’s high presence, He may thee find: O well of indulgence, In thy lordship not as a lord: but rather As a very tender, loving father. Amen. [*silly ghost: the soul; fleshly wife: the [...]

POETRY: Ash Wednesday, by T. S. Eliot

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden, Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still Even among these rocks, Our peace in His will And even among these rocks Sister, mother And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea, Suffer me not to be separated And let my cry come unto [...]