Poetry

Poetry

Come forth

I hear you’re good at washing feet—
ever thought of washing the dishes?
You wouldn’t have to stop talking.

The one about the Pharisee and the leprous camel—
I could listen to that again. But I figure,
why sit out here in the parlor,

using up perfectly good cigars,
when we could all be
getting something done in the kitchen?

And if you set the example that way,
my sister there might actually think
to roll up her sleeves once in a while.

See what I’m saying?
Lazarus might even take the hint.
Hah! Over his dead body, he says.

Little blessing spoken in road rage

Chariot from Hades, fire
glinting from its windshield, steel
knife splitting the atom
to pull in front of me,
so close now I can see
the driver, her phone, can hear
death ring. Searching
for a place to get away, I swerve
into a corridor of hate,
detesting her, my body fired
with full throttle hatred,
I rev up, speed ahead, so
close now I can see her
her mouth a frightened grimace.
How exposed she is, wearing
only the flimsy dress of a car,
her brief face etched
and dying on the air, when
someone calls, Bless this
child. May her parents see
her alive tonight, speaking
through me, a voice, then
peace, as she passes safely by.

Sonnet XLVIII

Now by the path I climbed, I journey back.
The oaks have grown; I have been long away.
Taking with me your memory and your lack
I now descend into a milder day;
Stripped of your love, unburdened of my hope,
Descend the path I mounted from the plain;
Yet steeper than I fancied seems the slope
And stonier, now that I go down again.
Warm falls the dusk; the clanking of the bell
Faintly ascends upon this heavier air;
I do recall those grassy pastures well:
In early spring they drove the cattle there.
And close at hand should be a shelter, too,
From which the mountain peaks are not in view.

Peter

O Christ,

you know better than any
what it is to taste death
through love,
to feel the dull pulsing, side-pinned,

spiky memories stitching into your brain.
When water from under your heart
bathed the world,
you irrigated too the planted cross,
that it might take root, and, in us,

never die.

Yet I resist its rooting in,
and strive to strip it bare in me,
when it is I who should be naked
and ashamed.
I obviously have not died enough.

So: overturn me,
stretch me on your frame,
and, for your name, teach me
the inverse,

that I might know love through death.