Thursday, April 9, 2015

Soon I fell asleep, overcome with fatigue and delight. In dreams of unspeakable joy--of restored friendships; of revived embraces; of love which said it had never died; of faces that had vanished long ago, yet said with smiling lips that they knew nothing of the grave; of pardons implored, and granted with such bursting floods of love, that I was almost glad I had sinned--thus I passed through this wondrous twilight. I awoke with the feeling that I had been kissed and loved to my heart's content; and found that my boat was floating motionless by the grassy shore of a little island.

George MacDonald – Phantastes, A Fairie Romance for Men and Women
In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver
New and Selected Poems

The Song of Daniel

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
       Wisdom and power are his.

He changes times and seasons;
       He sets up kings and deposes them.

He gives wisdom to the wise
       And knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things
       He knows what lies in darkness,

       And light dwells with Him.

I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
       You have given me wisdom and power,

You have made known to me what we asked of you,

You have made known to us the dream of the king. 

Daniel 2:20-23

Monday, February 24, 2014

After William Carlos Williams,
and Walter Lewis Stevenson

And what shall I write you
                Of star song at morning
Or moonlight at sea
                Of love in the evening, or afternoon
Or come back to bed and be with me.
                Put aside the book, the tablet, the screen
Lay by the thought of breakfast, or supper or lunch
                And what the children are doing.
And be not in a hurry to go on, to the next
                Or the thing after that, or tomorrow.
Or the trip to the city to buy and to sell
                And make money.

Make love for us, instead, o loveliest of spouses.

For the roses on your trellis
                Are dying and the spectral singing of the moon
Tell only of the shortness of time and the day.
                And the fleeting moments
To dress in white, and anoint with fragrant oil
                And share a glass of wine,
A bit of bread, and time, and times and time again.
                Let not your ear be small. 
We love in flesh, we children of this world
Created thus, and placed here by our God for some days
But only the hand-breadth of a breath.
You see, somewhere, it’s April in Paris for an evening
And that is all, and we go to our eternal dwelling.
And to silence, where there is neither seeing, nor memory, nor singing. 

And heaven, the old priests will say, is for
                The pure worship of God, without the defilement of women.
Why then did God make women, and the love of them, and
                Place desire in the heart and limbs of man? 
The sea teems with living creatures, too small to see,
Too large to walk upon the earth, and the greater to
Multiply consumes the other, in obedience to the Command,
                The first and primate Directive, woven tightly into the
Warp and woof of all life, of any life - "Go forth, be fruitful, multiply and fill empty
                Space," with living, in all its variety and beauty.

But this is common, and so vulgar, and we wish to be left alone
                In our clean and sacred cloister, to be waited on
In bodily wants, by the halt, the lame, the deaf and mute
                Who will for us suck up dust like Roomba robots. 

Where then is the way, and what are the time and times again
                For love, when the Lord God looks and sees that
Breasts are formed, and the child is no longer, and is ready for love.
                Do not speak to us, Creator, in such vulgar terms
Of Love and Betrayal, and make a metaphor of Your love for us as though
                You were a desert sheikh, living in a tent on Saudi sands
And seeing Your young ward bloom with lithe grace, and full roundness
                As a woman is.  And Your place, and rule, and blessing
Is to become her Lover, and make promises of faithfulness and provision;
                Goat hair panels, dates and wine, and cheese and a donkey. 

That is not our people, not our past, and not in the paleness of our skin
                Or hair.  Who are You then, Thou terrible ravisher of innocence? 
You raise up, and cast down.  You bless and withhold.  You scatter seed
                And reap a hundredfold, or a thousand, and then fill the barren plains
With sand, or spread salt seas across the surface of the earth.
We rise and fall like the waves, and come and go on tides
As the moon, barren and pale as death, orbits the only rock spinning round
The sun, so adorned in blue and green and white, giving life by the
Ellipsis of her path. 
We despair of smallness, and marvel at the complexity of the eye
                And enjoy, delighting in touch and taste and sight.
And desire. We could wish to be wise, but young enough to leap upon the mountains
                Passing over the crags like a gazelle.
Without fear, and defiant of death, and the crumbling ledge. 
                So Lord God, we will leap into Your arms, with a thrill and laugh,
Like a little daughter to her father standing, arms up, in the water.  

And like a child, when we are hungry, we wish to eat,
                And when thirsty, we wish to drink,
And when soiled, we wish to be clean
                And when we desire love, we wish to be satisfied.
But we do not know enough of when
                To go out, or come in. 

Do not say to me then, love,
                Go and be warm, and well filled, and turn to go on
Your busy and merry way. 

But only what is meet for our smallness.
                What You give.  And we will wait for You and hope
As only love and faith do,
                In life, through death, through thirst and deprivation.

Let the bones speak, the dry bones you have scattered,
                Crushed bones, empty and hollow.
Put marrow in the core, clothe them with flesh again,
Breath upon them Breath and Word,
Let blood course, and lungs fill.

And even when the Old Order is passed, fill again with
Life, a sea, a land, and a sky, through and through,
And leave not the courses of heaven empty of lights, near or far,
                Thought the Light of the City Eternal is all that is required. 

O, Love, do not let the space of stars be absent the sounds of whale song

                Or the sighs of lovers in one another’s arms.    

February 14, 2014

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Bliss Text

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

The Bliss Text

And for we who live and follow after

There is a freedom
                That makes truly free.
Verily, verily, I say unto you
                Except a man be born, again.
And in these fields of battle,
                Earth-wide, Gettysburg
To Leyte Gulf, there are in portions
                The final resting places
Of men, and women, and children
                Who gave the last full measure
Of their love of life, and freedom
                For mankind, and fullness,
Satisfaction, and great joy, that
                This Freedom of the Son of Man
Might not perish from the earth.
And this deep note
                Thrums bassly beneath the clay
The stone, and the water
                Erupting in climactic ecstasies
As Love does, from time to time,
                And place to place in the
Praise of every tongue, and nation, under God.

And we who live, and follow after
                Have poor power to either add or detract
From all the hand of God alone accomplishes,
                His mighty arm, outstretched
Treading alone, the grapes of wrath. 

And we who live, and follow after
                Must also, together with them
Take increased devotion to the cause of freedom
                First from despair, and then from un-forgiveness,
And from want, and from oppression
                Let justice pour down
In a never ending stream, and righteousness
                Like the pounding of the sea.

That vast sea
                Which will bring the nations of the earth

To the New Jerusalem, and the worship of the Lamb.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013



And houses floating at three thousand feet
                Like red and yellow birds of paradise on slender stalks.

Odd to share such imaginings
                Decades after, and half the wide old earth
Blue and emerald at her girth. 

Your bubbleship was turreted however,
                With fast guns shooting blue fire
Darting like a dragonfly and shaped like one.

But that house!
                And the Haleakala sunrise
Burning orange rays bent into the liquid canopy
                Cloaking this ancient globe.
And a pool.  That’s a touch beyond me.
                But the red hair.  And English.
Full marks, Director.
                Who spoke to you, anyway,
And assembled the forgotten, dusty pieces
                Of a childhood spent in humid isolation,
Quiet and oppressive heat,
                Full of afternoon silence,
Broken only by the steady thrum
                Of crickets and cicadas,
And dreams of being cold. 

Why then, Maker, have you made mad men so
                Different, and at such distances, but with
Such common desire?  You are the Singularity in
                Which soul being has origin and end.

And I wonder at it,
                Under pale blue cloud free skies,
And dry, crisp air full of red and yellow and orange

Monday, October 21, 2013



Odd that the heroine’s name
                Is expunged
From Wikipedia, and she is all.

The girl whose desire is Corfu
                The one found
Masks inked upon her shoulder blade
                On Mykonos where the
Five windmills spin upon a rock above
                Ionian waves.

Diligent hands, taking all that is offered
                The wealth that is given
For the risks she bore, the life that she
                Offered, exposed
And from courage created home, shelter, peace

All for the love of a man from the sea
                Like Ulysses, thrown up upon
Her snow covered shore, Calypso of
                Teutonic tongue.  Heiress of the cold.
Poor gypsy, tramp of all the world. 

And for this, like Nabal’s Abigail,
                Beautiful in wisdom, and fair of face
Provoking strength and protection.  The love of
                A man smelling of fish, and sweat, and the sea.   

The reward for all her labor, the travail of fear
                Is thus;  blue skies, bright sun, salt air
Wind through his hair, and the strength of his arm
                White walls, light rooms, tranquility.

The love of a man; kisses. Fast embrace. 

Again, fair Lord, the Natuna Sea,
                Her winds, and this companion

Whose love’s worth is far more than rubies.