Saturday, February 6, 2016


after Caryll Houselander

Let me find Thee
in the silence
of a winter's night.

Let me know the truth
that Lazarus can be raised
even after four days in the grave.

Let me trust
the fallow time,
the barren time,
the time of no consolation.

Let me approach
Thy dwelling-place
with a reverent heart,
a hopeful soul,
a mind unclouded by worry.

Let me keep watch
in the desert of this moment
in which the souls of the saints
shine like wise and guiding stars.

Let me wear
this diadem of thorns,
this laurel of nettles,
this crown of pain,
bravely as a sentinel
in the scarred, scared darkness.

Let me keep this silence
as the earth stores seeds that sleep
until these cold snows flower
into everlasting spring.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Plea

Rosary of wooden bead-buds,
faith-chain, hope-garland,
love's portable abacus
by which I tabulate
God's countless mercies,
graciously hear this prayer:
gentle my base-blooded heart,
that unpredictable volcano
bubbling and fuming with sins:
sluggish lust, blistering wrath,
diabolic pride.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Saint Joseph's Abbey

Spencer, Massachusetts
visited 30 March - 6 April 1992

Here, no television
to put forth candidates
for the distracted multitude,
no advertisements to entice
the urge for acquisition:
here, nothing but space,
grace, and monk-built walls.

The grass of the hill
south of the guest-cottage
accepts what weather comes
(chill rain, warm beam,
white flake, clear sky),
and does not complain.

Three hours before dawn
(first-time retreatant
rising for Vigils)
leave the fieldstone house;
let night's chill scorch
soul and skin; walk the path
unlit but for one light
near a statue of the Virgin;
enter the cloister, fear-
fully, wonderfully dark.

Cistercians file churchward:
a dew like that of Hermon
graces psalming Spencer!
With subtle fire,
with cordial flame,
the brothers' gathered hearts
are inexhaustibly enkindled,
by grace made one.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

To the Holy Spirit

When skies are dark
without a guiding star,
you are my lantern-light,
my soul's bright flame.

When icy winds
scorch the grey earth with frost,
you are my April,
my ecstatic spring!

When heartless minds
freeze hope and faith to death,
you are the pulse
of warmth and waking life.

When all the earth
is stricken mute with dread,
you are the voice,
the music, and the dance.

It Never Comes


It never comes soon enough to satisfy
the wish for chill, the need to see green
yield to a shiver of branches,
again-bite of inwit, skeletal weather,
soul thrilling at the swift
cadence, spent leaf disem-
barked from its perch, returning to humility.

Metropolitan Aubade


Who's this fellow
come out to start his car,
interrupting sparrow-mattins
with the bruit of can-
tankerous ignition?

Noise I do not, cannot love!
I would have psalm-singers
perched in a tree-church,
feathery Franciscans
choiring the day!

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Fever to Accomplish


The fever to accomplish some great work
That will not let us sleep

Pacing from the
ardor that the
love of good things
fills us with,

after midnight,
tirelessly, we
search for our own

End of Year


December 8th,
and only two
flurries so far
this end-of-year.
The rockface at
the side of the
highway wears a
beard of ice; tree-
prongs stick the sky
and spear a score
of crows or
possibly blackbirds.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


I don't require a leader with a brain.
I'd welcome sober, modest, and humane:
One who respects my right to disagree
With him or her, and mostly leaves me be.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Donahue Field

Soldiers fallen in our "conflicts,"
they name Little League parks
and street-corners after you,
but few take notice of it:
relatives, friends, the VFW.
Still, when I walk past your plaque
at Donahue Field, Lieutenant,
I always pray for you,
killed in action at twenty-seven
the week of Christmas 1969.