Poetry

Poetry

Peter wept

He stalks the dark before dawn,
hackles up, a surly chanticleer
with a raised blade, black
tail feathers flicking back and forth.

A fit clenches him whole,
strains his red-combed head
into one shrill remonstrance
that scythes clean through
night’s manifold silence.
An ear bleeds in the courtyard.

Morning now rent,
the sun hangs low by a wire,
a naked bulb bearing down on this day
the full weight of tendered debt:
I never knew him.

The rooster glints green;
his round eyes dart;
he scratches and stabs the dust
for seed at the foot of a tree.





Another Lent

So here we go again.
The grit of darkened seasons past
between the eyes, across the brow.
The purple cloths of grief,
tall cloistered candles, numbered days.
Six more weeks of wintered trudging
through a wilderness bereft of alleluias.
All this to show that everything we know—
and are—is dust
and will return in just the way it came
and always has come.
Yet, here and there, bent brave above the snow
the clustered Lenten rose bleeds color
from pale sunlight,
gently points itself toward a cross,
an emptied cave,
that bright unending summer
glimpsed in childhood,
and forever after longed for
past the terminus of measured time.

Easter's ABCs

Let A stand for amaryllis,
B for betray,
C for cast,
and so on until W
straddles
want and wake—
the advance men for rapture.

Substitute lilies for amaryllis,
a kiss for betrayal.
Gather a Roman cast,
straddling
Jewish law.
Wake
to rapture.

Sixty

More than half taken up
on the reel, the tape
plays Mozart’s Requiem.
By my front walk
three crocuses, blue
with saffron suns, thrive—
an early spring’s pledge.

At the same time
snow is falling.
It flies aloft
as if some dandelion clock
has blown apart ahead of season;
not a winter’s spite.

The reel takes up the slack
of the Lacrymosa
and I take on the year

its space
its flow
its breath.

Benedictus.







Lessons in prayer, from a dog

He assumes his still posture
two feet from the table.
He is not grabby,
his tongue is not hanging out,
he is quiet.

He wants to leap,
he wants to snap up
meat and blood.
You can tell.
But what he does is sit
as the gods
his masters and mistresses
fork steak and potatoes
into their mouths.

He is expectant
but not presumptuous.
He can wait.
He can live with disappointment.
He can abide frustration
and suffer suspense.

He watches
for signals,
he listens for calls
of his name from above.

At hints that
he may be gifted
with a morsel,
he intensifies his
already rapt concentration,
he looks his god
in the eye,
but humbly,
sure of his innocence
in his need,
if his need only.

On the (often rare) occasions
when gifts are laid on his tongue,
he takes them whole,
then instantly resumes
the posture of attention,
beseeching, listening, alert,
the posture of hard-won faith
that will take no for an answer,
yet ever and again hopefully
return to the questioning.