Sunday, March 29, 2015


We wait beside the tomb
For some great angel to roll back the stone:
Will our slain hope ascend to heaven's throne?
He will not come.

Our hearts have prayed in vain:
The nail-scarred spear-pierced body will not rise
To rescue us. A ludicrous surmise!
Still, we remain.

United in our grief,
We huddle and cringe in the fierce desert wind:
But somewhere, though the bloody world has sinned,
Trees are in leaf

And from the chilly earth
Flowers begin to sprout. The April sun
Embraces feeble life, and birds again
Sing of rebirth.

But what is their blithe song
To us, who have lost our passionate lord of love?
Can we expect salvation from above?
That would be wrong.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

an observation

i have often regretted
my zeal to set others right
even or especially when
they've done something wrong
but i have never (& i mean never)
regretted forbearance

Friday, March 27, 2015

Father Branigan's Rhyme

It's after nine. The time for prayer,
The time for sleep, draw quickly near.
And though the drizzle-drops still fall,
I do not feel displeased at all.

The whispery hiss outside my screen
Of shadowy leaves no longer green
Answers the soft and slushy strain
Of tires that drive upon the rain.

Nettled by several petty sins
As customary rest begins,
May my soul be, till dawn come round,
In night's deep absolution drowned.

Tomorrow let me face the day
Eager to work and ready to play.
Let beak of bird and mouth of me
Exalt the Blessed Trinity.

When sunlight starts to wake and warm
Our peccant vale, let me perform
Fresh mercies; let me gladly labour
To praise my God and love my neighbour.

Patriots' Day

(April 21, 2014)

Patriots' Day. We watch the Marathon
(switched from the Sox, down big to Baltimore)
in a pub sequestered from the midday sun.

Elizabeth's busy. Lunchtime has begun.
Some noontime souse is on drink number four
this Monday of the yearly Marathon.

Coffee for me. It seems I'm not alone:
Beside me is a fascinating bore,
a barfly sheltered from the bright spring sun.

Rita Jeptoo achieves a record run.
Keflezighi breaks the tape: spectators roar!
Today, Boston's reclaimed her Marathon.

Elizabeth puzzles over all this fun:
the merest thought of running makes her sore!
She keeps us regulars from the April sun

until the craziness of the race is done.
Time to go home. "Check, please, mon amour!"
Patriots' Day. I've watched the Marathon
at the Chapeau Rouge. Once more, I face the sun.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


The first year of my post-collegiate life,
resiliency impaired but not dead yet:
the aftermath of being "asked to leave."

My cushy job in Brookline caused no grief.
Mad for Auden, I gobbled his Complete
that first year of my post-collegiate life.

Boston Book Annex, now gone to its grave.
Judge Thomas. The Gulf War. I'd read and write
to heal the pains no medicine could relieve.

The BU Bookstore, Kenmore: poets' trove!
Ashbery. Mudfish. Boulevard. Grand Street.
The first year of my post-collegiate life.

Confession (which I'd shunned since '85)
to an Oblate of the Virgin. In defeat,
I turned to the Church that I was rash to leave!

Dame Edith Sitwell's Atlantic Book of
British and American Verse. Scotch, neat.
The first year of my post-collegiate life.

New Seeds of Contemplation. Is God love?
Marsh Chapel. Mass, late on a Sunday night.
(Quite late! Close to eleven when I'd leave.)

No more joking with Will or George or Dave.
No more long talks with Audra, heart's delight.
The first year of my post-collegiate life,
the aftermath of being "asked to leave."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Give me the poets of the second rank!
(Perfection scares me witless, to be frank.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Franconia, 1985

Begin with the object,
said Professor Cook
at the Frost Place to me
attending a reading
when I was just sixteen.

Begin with the object!
But I was tipsy on Dylan Thomas,
drunk on the sound of the word,
so I was discouraged
by what seemed prosaic advice.

But heartened, moments later,
when the goodly professor
of bald head and dark beard
proffered the compliment:
You ask the right questions!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Sunday Morning Sonnet of Xerxes Riffraff

Going to sit here and bang out a fourteen-liner
in the cold foredawn on the second day of spring;
going to pray to the sweet Lord Jesus,
going to drink the rest of the morning joe.

Mass at 9 or 10.30. Laundry first?
Get downstairs at seven, start the wash.
Breakfast sometime. Scrambled eggs and bacon,
or waffles with the (glucose!) maple syrup?

Going to praise A----- who makes my aging heart smile,
who doesn't love me in quite the same way that I love her,
but we're still buddies, we make each other laugh!

Going to praise God for mercy and Arlington,
for sunlight and snowmelt, for the toes in open-toed shoes:
for Lady Julian, for Papa Francesco, for all my crazy friends.