Sunday, June 28, 2020

Seriously Amazing

She drove me and Mom to Peabody
on that rainy cold March day
when Dad died.

She lights candles
for whoever needs prayer
among her loved ones and friends.

She once observed, The Gay Agenda
is really just Sunday brunch.

She once told me,
Don't let anyone pollute your gestalt
and Stay in the thick of your pack.

She saved me from myself last June
when I almost did something
reckless and stupid.
I texted her, I've had it, sister,
I'm through being an adult.
She answered, I'll see you
in twenty minutes,
and she scooped me up
from in back of my building,
and her and Debba and me,
we all went to Over the Border,
and enjoyed the chimichangas,
and I laughed with my friends,
and I kept it together.

She wrote the tenderest eulogy
to her late partner.
She posted it to Medium.
It is her open heart in paragraphs.

She's a top-flight wordsmith
and a loving mom,
and I have a slight crush
on her boots, especially when
she's standing in them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Wee Litany

St Elena, poetfriend, thank you for your art.
St Acadia of the Red Hat, thank you for eight years of listening.
St Karen of the Fourth Thursday, your heart is a safe place.
St Steven of Orlando, hold me up to the Light.
St Carol of the Anglicans, praise Jesus in the margins.
St Thomas of Arlington, watch your language.
St Jennifer of Tremont, will the Christ in you shrive me?
St Jessica of Pewaukee, did you speak to Brother Sparrow?
St Wystan of Kirchstetten, will you show an affirming flame?
St Theodore of Saginaw, bless the ground, walk softly.
St Butterfly of Summer, please keep butterflying!
St Rosebush of Cambridge, I give thee thanks for thy great glory.
St Birdsong of Foredawn, my soul magnifies thee.
St Jorge Mario of the Holy See, help me to see, to be holy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

An Unlocking

Thinking of how Aunt Ann,
dying in Hebrew Rehab, was
visited daily by Rabbi Joel
where they'd chat for at least
an hour each time, as the Holy One
listened, watched, embraced.

So many frosty thou-shalt-nots
that Catholics of her generation
were saddled with. Over the years,
she knew some arctic-hearted priests
who tried to shove the Almighty
into a lockbox of unbending rules.

I try to imagine conversations.
between her and Rabbi Joel,
both over seventy, both certainly
able to recall the "good old days"
when interfaith dialogue
was an exchange of anathema

or, at best, genteel disdain,
suspicious side-eye glances.
I'm certain that their long talks
were much more congenial! ---
gratitude for each other's presence;
sharing of stories, prayers, hopes.

At Aunt Ann's wake, my cousin
told me about Rabbi Joel's visits.
I called Hebrew Rehab to get
his email, so I could thank him.
(During Aunt Ann's last days,
I was helping Mom, laid up

from knee-replacement surgery;
Mom and I never got to see her,
so I was happy that Aunt Ann
was not without human solace.)
The nice lady on the phone
told me, in the stilted phrasing

that professionals employ,
that Rabbi Joel was with Aunt Ann
"on the day she transitioned."
The lady gave me his email.
I wrote to him, and he answered
within minutes, so gracious,

saying that it was his privilege
to share G-d's peace with her.
She died on Good Friday.
That was five years ago. I'd love
to meet Rabbi Joel someday,
at least, to shake his hand.

Friday, June 19, 2020


For dozens of years,
I was "by-the-book":
a monster of dogma,
a brittle and strident
ecclesial partisan.

Then Life happened
in all Her wacky
sacramental splendour,
and I fell to my knees
to receive Her grace.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Where We Are

Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good
W. H. Auden, in "September 1, 1939"

I sit in my two-room flat
In the Mystic River Valley,
Far from the flare and seethe
Of Minneapolis,
Far from wrenching sobs
Over a noble heart
Stopped by lawless forces,
Far from the Potomac
Where booted troops in black
Take aim at peaceful faces.

Wystan Auden's lines
From eighty years ago
Hand down, in polished cadence,
Their accurate indictment
Of a demagogic age.
It is not prayer that keeps
My soul's precarious poise,
But a poet's wisest voice
Who during his dire time
Decried the tyrant State.

Now, as then, the barflies
Do what they do best:
They drink another drink
At the nettling behest
Of petty wounds and grudges.
On the wide screen, a bully
Blurts his compulsive spite;
Democracy lies sick:
Bible-and-rifle mobs
Strut around the deathbed.

What, at last, will rouse us
To the never-slumbering threat
Of hydra-headed Hate,
Us privileged bystanders
Who felt for far too long
That cries against injustice
Were shrill and rude and vulgar?
We might have even thought
That broken windows matter,
But Black Lives, not so much.

Hell's most appalling crimes
Are perpetrated calmly:
A knee pressing a neck
As rescue doesn't budge.
A suffering son of God
Fights to say, I can't breathe,
Then, with his last choked word,
Calls to his dead mother
To lead him out of pain
And into her embrace.

All I have is a voice,
Sometimes not even that,
Struck to shame and shock
By the day's atrocities,
By those who shrug them off.
My conscience now commands
That I strive to speak from love,
But better still, to listen
And learn from those who know:
To listen, learn, and act.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020


Owl's brow of a night.

Rustlings of black leaves,
whispering worries.

Stars scowl down
upon suburban sleepers,
complacent, snug,
twitchingly still.


Bloat moon,
gravid and luminous,
bless the fieldstone church
of St Joseph's Abbey!

--- sequestered from commerce,
removed from the blare and blight
of metropolis.

My eyes are open in the night watches
that I may meditate upon your promise


Will the beaded vowels
of Gregorian responsories
be heard by the Holy One,
rumoured to be attentive
to the cries of the poor?

Will this dark and sacred vacancy
be filled with life and light?

Will the brute blurt of polemic
grow silent and wise?

Will this swollen continent,
drunk with power, staggering
in its cocksure recklessness,
be shriven, be forgiven, be redeemed?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Blueprint for the Meditation Room at the Freedom Trail Clinic

is a place.
It invites you
to sit awhile,
to linger,
to bask in its
gracious light.

Here you
might find
a chair or two,
a prie-dieu,
a sajjada,
some beads
for a mantra,
for a heartbeat-word.

Here you
might see
a mandala,
a reproduction
of a Rothko,
of a Matisse,
you might even see
an actual painting
by one of the clients.

Here there may
be books
to refresh
weary spirits:
Bible, Quran, siddur,
Tao te Ching,
Rumi, Hafiz,
Mary Oliver,
John O'Donohue.

Here you can
be still.

Here you can trust
that something,
beyond yourself,
sustains you
and embraces you.

Here you are
and restored.

Here you can
whisper: peace,
live in me,
let me
live in you.

Seriously Amazing

She drove me and Mom to Peabody on that rainy cold March day when Dad died. She lights candles for whoever needs prayer among her love...