Light Shines in Darkness

Everybody knows Christmas
is good for business.
To attract the tourist trade,
our town council cheerfully
promotes an annual
“Festival of Lights,”
the lurid illumination
of a normally pastoral park.

Neighborhoods take up
the gauntlet, festoon
with energy-guzzling lights.
In a bid to replace outdated
plaster of Paris crèches,
immense inflatables,
snowmen, cartoon characters,
claim center stage on lawns.


Colors hide within the green
Thrown off by chlorophyll and light.
They dwell, unseen within the seen,
But cannot win, in June, our sight
’Til summer bates its photic breath.
Gravely, then, the growing cold
Will broach for us from such a death
Yellow, red, vermillion, gold.


Name us Ramah

I can’t write this poem
I can’t take my fear of what hasn’t happened
And name it.

I can’t even say the word for that
Because there is no word
Or maybe the word is Ramah

Oh the weeping in Ramah if that were to happen
Heaven would hear me
I would then be Ramah

They would say look there is Ramah
Comfort her, where there is no comfort
Comfort her for she is Ramah

November Rose in Pittsburgh

In the tiny front yard
at the house
of a neighbor dead three years,
flowers are left uncared for.

Yet they have been faithful to their yearly blooming.
White iris, pink azalea, yellow rose
have taken steadfast turns
each spring and summer.

Today, in late November,
I pause to see a rose in bloom.

It whispers someone loved the soil here,
once cared for roots and stems so thoroughly
they persist even in neglect,
while temperatures,


Once it was afternoon, and the winter
was beginning, as was rain outside
the window, cold as politics,
the chosen world tired of its election.

The lamp beside me was warm,
but I left it to rise and go
to the kitchen doorway where
an angel stood watching me.

I put my hands up to her face
and held it while she drew back
her sword, knowing who I am.
But then I let my faith vanish.

I walked right through her
to the other room to pick up
my pen, my own harmless sword.
She told me write this down.