Copyright © 1992 by Cora E. Cypser.

 

Library of Congress Card Number: 92-80295

 

ISBN: 0-9625774-5-6

 

 

 

Dedicated to

all those who are attuned

to the changing of the seasons

 

 

 

                                                                        Contents

 

 

Communication................................................................... 1

Ode to Time......................................................................... 2

Hiddenbrooke at The Foot of Mount Beacon...................... 3

Hollowness........................................................................... 4

For Valentine’s Day............................................................. 5

Loneliness............................................................................ 6

Hawk Thoughts.................................................................... 8

The Fir Tree......................................................................... 9

Take A Springtime Road...................................................... 9

Wall Song........................................................................... 10

The Resurrection Robin...................................................... 11

Renewal.............................................................................. 11

Spring of The Cosmos........................................................ 12

Why There Are Black Holes in The Sky............................. 12

Ode To God....................................................................... 13

The Dancer........................................................................ 13

Indian Hymn...................................................................... 14

Trinity................................................................................ 14

As The Earth Approaches Omega..................................... 15

My Dandelion Bouquet...................................................... 15

A New Generation............................................................. 16

God’s Music....................................................................... 17

Open Your Eyes and See Rebirth....................................... 17

Becoming........................................................................... 18

Knowledge Increases Mercy.............................................. 18

The Stations of The Cross......................................................

Station III - Falling............................................................ 19

Station V - Simon of Cyrene.............................................. 20

Station VI - Veronica......................................................... 21

Station  VIII  - Weeping Women........................................ 22

Station X - Stripping.......................................................... 23

Station XII - Dying............................................................. 23

Station XII - The Sacrifice ................................................ 24

Holy Spirit on Good Friday............................................... 25

Asylum in Spring................................................................ 26

Comment on The Sacredness of Life................................. 27

The Celebration Tree......................................................... 27

Cover The Earth With Love.............................................. 27

He Was Man....................................................................... 28

As We Edge Further Into May........................................... 28

Let Me Sing........................................................................ 29

To Atlas Holding Up The Earth......................................... 29

How Each Tree Shouts “Glory To God”.......................... 30

On The Shore of The Great Sea......................................... 30

Energy................................................................................ 31

Bird Watching.................................................................... 31

My Home............................................................................ 32

No Place To Hide............................................................... 34

Memories........................................................................... 34

On Harps............................................................................ 35

A Piece of God’s Handiwork............................................. 35

The Hummingbird.............................................................. 36

My Rockettes...................................................................... 37

The Pot God Made............................................................ 38

Joe’s Day........................................................................... 39

The Bouquet....................................................................... 39

Hand Blown Glass............................................................. 40

God, The Tree, and I.......................................................... 40

In A Rainbow..................................................................... 41

The Flute Song................................................................... 41

Woman............................................................................... 42

A Statement Open for Discussion...................................... 42

Come, Sing With Me.......................................................... 43

Think of What Is Most Beautiful........................................ 43

How Spiders Trapped The Sun.......................................... 44

On The Overgrown Grave of John Desmond.................... 45

Each Has Her Own Gold................................................... 46

Chesapeake Bay Pier......................................................... 47

Why Am I?......................................................................... 48

Be Merry!........................................................................... 49

The Cardinal...................................................................... 49

Our World.......................................................................... 50

The Cycle........................................................................... 50

Cedar Hill.......................................................................... 51

Our Freedom To Be........................................................... 51

Shouting............................................................................. 52

God Audible....................................................................... 52

Wasted Glory..................................................................... 53

Wiser.................................................................................. 53

The Good Returns To God................................................. 54

Why Flowers Grow............................................................ 54

Transformation of Energy................................................. 55

Mocking Thoughts............................................................. 55

God Watches...................................................................... 56

Autumn.............................................................................. 57

Monarch Butterflies........................................................... 57

The Butterfly...................................................................... 58

French Alps........................................................................ 59

On Change......................................................................... 59

Funeral Bells—Cagnes Sur Mer........................................ 60

The Penalty........................................................................ 61

In The Forest..................................................................... 62

Obedient,............................................................................ 62

They Died That I Might Live.............................................. 63

Old Barns........................................................................... 64

Evening.............................................................................. 65

Indian Summer................................................................... 65

Looking Towards Harvest................................................. 66

Sensing Forces................................................................... 66

Fall Waltz........................................................................... 67

Leaves, Pebbles, and People............................................. 68

Who Hears The Owl?......................................................... 69

Swans................................................................................. 70

The Month of Remembering.............................................. 71

October.............................................................................. 72

Elegy To The Locust Tree.................................................. 73

Thank You For Earth and Time......................................... 74

Hudson Cliffs..................................................................... 74

Saint Therese..................................................................... 75

You Can’t Keep Saints From Marching............................ 76

The Name of God.............................................................. 76

Advent................................................................................ 77

The “O” Antiphons............................................................ 77

His Name .......................................................................... 78

Christmas at Women’s Correctional Facility  .................. 79

Taking Down The Christmas Tree..................................... 80

Over The River................................................................... 81

The Failure........................................................................ 82

The Clothes We Wear on our Soul .................................... 84

Eternity.............................................................................. 85

Seasonings

Cora E. Cypser (1992)

KIM PATHWAYS

ISBN: 0-9625774-5-6

 

 

 

 

Communication

 

Our lives touch for a moment

with this poetry!

Imagine—

for a bit of spinning earth

my spirit reaches out

and lays a claim on yours

with a layer of inky print

upon a page.

 

What can words do

frail, structured letters

marching in a line

drawn from an eager soul?

 

I wish

that in each poem

I have written

there were words

that could give peace

and healthiness

and understanding

as some with skill

sketch out a flower

or craft a scene.

 

Would that I

could write love.

 

I wish

that as our spirits touch

you would receive

great gifts

that only God can give

that make the human

a true child of God.

1

 

 

Ode to Time

You are strong.

I have felt your knotted arm

even when I thought

you were only a small boy

flexing his muscles.

Now I roll with the punches.

 

You are lovely.

Every time you turn

gracefully by me

you reveal some new beauty

so that I forget

you take as well as give.

 

You are my friend

holder of my mortgage on life

who has loaned me days

that may be transformed to service

which in turn may be traded for love.

 

Should I fear you

as I feel your loving fingers

running through my hag-gray hair?

2

 

 

The Season of Winter

 

Hiddenbrooke at The Foot of Mount Beacon

 

The forest is not silent.

God is not silent.

I heard a mountainside make music

through a film of frozen crystal

a unity of trees singing together.

 

You must go alone

to the edge of the woods and listen

for the sound of treetops praying

(though they stand

like motionless dead sticks).

There you will hear

like you were on the edge of eternity

a universal voice rising

from the multitude of winter trees.

 

The forest is not silent

and God is not silent.

There is a holy spirit buzzing

like bees drunk on locust trees in June

that rises from parched throats

which appear January frozen in our age

a universal voice that rises

from this community

of seemingly dead trees.

3

 

Hollowness

 

There is a gray-white hollow in the day

and God is filling it with snow

dear God, doing what is needed

filling the empty

cheering the bleak.

 

My heart reaches out to the day

and it, too, feels its hollowness

stretching out to meet

the gray-white emptiness.

Dear God, fill the empty!

God, cheer the bleak.

 

Who Sees The Half-moon?

 

The half-moon comes up at noon

but who sees it?

The brightness of the sun

confuses our eyes.

 

So in our country

the visibility of detente policies

almost makes oblivion

of peace negotiations.

 

So in our church

the formidableness of the hierarchy

blinds us to the equalizing love

that is necessary

among all human beings.

4

For Valentine’s Day

 

Think it not strange, oh, Beloved

that we should be in love with God

(for God is all lovely)

my soul and your soul

in love

with the Soul that made the universe!

 

What kind of love is this

where one loves so much

that one is made over

into that which one loves?

 

I become like you.

You become like me.

 

We become like God.

 

Let us love God, then, greatly

as we gladly run to rendezvous.

Then if we keep the course

and reach the glorious goal

we shall find we are like God.

 

Lord, help us to keep our course.

Help us to reach that goal.

 

Help us to be like you.

5

 

 

Loneliness

 

I am loneliness.

I come to you

after the last sunbeam

on winter days.

I haunt you

through the shadows of your life.

 

I trail you along the roads

that are dark and wind beaten.

 I am the devil of loneliness.

I come to torment you

on rainy nights and bleak days.

I am all the things you look back on

with longing.

I am all the things

you would like to have happen now

that won’t happen.

 

I am a God you cannot believe in.

I am a lover who does not love.

I am work too hard to be done alone

that must be done

alone.

 

I am the devil of loneliness.

I come to you

in the great city

and I walk the streets with you

while you go up and down

up and down

searching for a friendly face

searching for a familiar heart.

 

I stalk beside you laughing

and casting futile and fragile memories

into your mind.

I chuckle wildly to myself

while you walk up and down

up and down

knowing you will never find

that which you seek.

 

I am loneliness.

I am the woman no man loves.

I am a broken violin.

 

I am a soldier wounded in battle.

I am a wild wind-swept song.

 

I haunt you

through the shadows of your life.

6

 

 

7

 

Hawk Thoughts

 

I reach out to the black hawk

sailing over the lake

and I feel that I can almost hold him

in my hand, that his being

is a part of my being.

But, no, I cannot confine him.

He is made to be free

in his place of melting ice

and cold February wind.

 

Does God feel like that about us—

spirits made of God’s Spirit?

God does not confine us.

God lets us fly free.

 

 

8

 

 

The Season of Spring

 

The Fir Tree

 

Like to a fir tree greening in the spring

I am as one

turning a fresher and more radiant look

to the warmer sun.

 

I stand with a new spirit, so it seems

straighter in my place

waking, and shaking off cold winter’s dreams

seeking my master’s face.

 

So what have I to do with storms

or winds that race

or with unnourishing sod?

I shall stand straighter

firmer, taller in my place

feeling the love of God.

 

Take A Springtime Road

 

A springtime road is a road that shines

in the morning sun.

A springtime road is a road to take

as the day’s begun

but one must go with a springtime heart

and morning eyes

to tread a path suffused

with a gold sunrise.

9

 

Wall Song

 

Under the sun filled sky

a gray stone wall

ran up a green hill

in an aimless way

with rustling ivy

twisting on it all.

It was a perfect spot—

a perfect day.

There I sat

and my panting old dog lay.

 

We pantheists breathed deep

the mossy smell

that old walls have

and kept our eyes

upon a lazy snake

who’d thought to dwell

by this warm wall

under the sparkling skies

so he’d not slither near us

and surprise.

 

Each springtime journey

has its space

of guarded resting on a wall.

We must be cognizant

of snakes and possibilities

of fall.

 10

The Resurrection Robin

 

Yesterday it was cold and windy

and bleak and dreary.

Suddenly this morning I heard

the robin’s cheery-cheery-cheery.

I watched him high in my oak tree

and thought how wonderful it was that he

should know inside his little head

that it was about time he said

a song of bird joy in my yard.

 

From years of springs I knew that now

the brown grass would turn green

and the forsythia would start to preen

herself, and I knew, too

that someday God would make things new

and that then we would certainly arise

to be with God in Paradise.

Spring comes to you

and comes to me

and likewise comes to us, eternity.

We cannot stop the robin from singing.

 

Renewal

 

God will create all things anew.

Lord, let me be near you then

to see you take the crooked

we have made, and to watch you

make it straight.

 

What a great day!

When all the good we pray

overcomes the bad we do

and your love turns us all to miracles!

11

 

Spring of The Cosmos

 

This is the day of the red bud maple.

The dust devils climb up spiral stairways

before laughing away in the wind.

 

The clouds say soft, hazy things

about an April shower tomorrow.

God speaks in the heart

that winter is never forever

though the worlds and the stars

freeze into oblivion.

 

Why There Are Black Holes in The Sky

 

I am the light, and you may call me Ray.

God made me on the first creative day.

My quivering photons all around you prance.

Hold fast onto my hand. See how I dance!

 

Through entities of liquid, gas, and space

in a mad pell-mell careless-seeming race

I rush to nowhere and return to fly

back to the infinite reaches of the sky.

 

I bend, my friend, when passing by the sun

bowing polite to his attractive mass

and if there were a star, a big dense one

that even my fast flight could not get past

then to its massive bosom I would fall

ignobly fast, and not be here at all.

 

Where would you be, without me?

12

 

Ode To God

 

They said we should write odes in praise

of those we love, or things we love

or lands we love, or ideas we love.

 

I said that I would praise the heavens

for they are wide

but you are wider than the heavens.

 

I said that I would praise time

for it is the leveler of all I see around

but you are timeless.

 

I said that I would praise spring

but when I considered its beauty

I thought of who made spring.

 

I said that I would praise love

but love as I knew it decayed, vanished

leaving only you standing there.

 

So I will sing to you, loving God

because you have tumbled the time-bound stars

across the spring-night heavens.

 

The Dancer

 

Spring

has turned the willow tree

into a Chinese dancer

whose golden sleeves

cover her lithe brown arms.

13

 

 

 

Indian Hymn

 

Our eager earth again sees springtime sweet.

The music of a thousand rivulets rings

for the Great Spirit will make things complete.

 

Whispers have come to fields of early wheat.

There are soft buzzing bugs and rustling wings.

Our eager earth again sees springtime sweet.

 

The brave bent with despair, near to defeat

has new hope stirring now, a heart that sings

for the Great Spirit will make things complete.

 

Leaves bud on boughs, laughing through frozen sleet.

Bulbs thrust up stalks through mulchy coverings.

Our eager earth again sees springtime sweet.

 

Some golden time our Indian souls will meet

in Happy Hunting Grounds as forest kings

for the Great Spirit will make things complete.

 

The end of winter brings on running feet

the joyful promise to renew all things.

Our eager earth again sees springtime sweet

for the Great Spirit will make things complete.

 

 

 

Trinity

 

I Am the gardener

and the garden

and the tool

the gardener

uses.

14

 

 

As The Earth Approaches Omega

 

Things are so busy

bursting and blooming

thrusting and thrashing

bustle of blackbirds

tumult of tulips.

 

The earth seems an apex

of alert aliveness

amorphous with growth

ferine with fertility.

 

Are we near the great sound

of the triumphant trumpet

where man makes the choice

of God or explosion?

 

My Dandelion Bouquet

 

God, I shall pluck the days

as children gather dandelions

wildly, riotously

and offer them to you

with the same gay abandon

with the same assurance

that the common weed is lovely

as these children offer dandelions to me.

 

Will you accept these garish flowers, my days?

They may close up and look quite hideous

like this deceitful gold bouquet

but like the children

it is all I have to offer.

15

 

 

A New Generation

 

I come here among the fir trees to escape them

the green shoots, the wild new spring shoots

growing loudly

prodding up the earth ear-splittingly.

 

Faith is a dancer and claps her hands.

She does not know

the moon comes full each month.

She has never seen it before.

She says, “What is life?”

 

Hope is a drummer.

He splatters the sky with splinters.

He has led rats and mice

over the hill laughingly.

Hope says, “What is death?”

 

Charity strums the guitar.

She sings, “What is evil?”

The moon breathes back echoes.

 

I run away from their bombilation.

My ears cannot stand the fracas

the wild noise of spring green.

It’s quiet here among the fir trees

who are too polite

to put forth queries I can’t answer.

16

 

 

God’s Music

 

The Mighty Hand pulled dust strands from a star

and made for us a world with all its rhythms

placing on it a syncopation full

of slithering bellies, shimmering fins

galloping hooves, and even agile minds

to romp across the swelling symphony.

 

“Music is good, but it needs song,” God mused.

Therewith, the Mighty Voice sent forth the Word.

 

Oh, all ears listen! Learn the Word God sent!

Oh, all lips sing; put God’s Word to God’s music!

 

 

Open Your Eyes and See Rebirth

 

Look at the maples pendulous with bud

pregnant and red against a sapphire sky

the willows waving golden wands like rays

drawn from a sun in some child’s picture

the haze leaning blue gray on the Catskills

gentle hills where we can climb

to rest under the stars

the silver beige of blades blown in the field

and over and surrounding all, the wind

the warm spring wind, the Holy Spirit wind

changing earth, making earth warm

giving earth a new heart.

 

Bless the whole world, Lord

because as all the trees are taught

to bud in spring

so all persons are taught

to desire you.

17

 

 

 

Becoming

 

The whole air is pulsing with God.

The rocks breathe God.

Something in matter, in flesh

aches to be spirit

longs to unite with glory

with eternity

with ultimate reality.

 

So look at us

striving to become

we know not what.

 

We disgorge all our energy

giving our innermost selves

to be a willing part

of that which formed us.

 

 

Knowledge Increases Mercy

 

so let us know

until our very hearts

explode in love.

18

 

 

 

 

 

Passiontide

 

The Stations of The Cross

Station III

Falling

 

We walked with him

and childlike

mimed

his lilting step.

We paused by sun-filled doors

to laugh and heal.

We praised

through fields of wheat

feasted on grass green hills

burgeoned with a Palm Sunday

type of bliss.

But now it’s turned to this!—

 

We see a worn and weary man

listing with loathsome load

battered, bruising his knees

along a jeering, jarring road

feet cloddishly plodding.

 

Do we trudge after?

 

We care not

to match this stride.

We run away

and hide.

19

 

Station V

Simon of Cyrene

 

Black man confined

behind bars made of mistrust

and misunderstanding

you talk to me

white woman

of God Christ

and we forget

our skin shades

and our sexes

in the wonder

of healing wisdom.

 

Son of Cyrene’s Simon

on your black back bear

the indiscriminate indignities

of creed and color

for the love

of antagonist nations

for our whole writhing world

and particularly for him

who was

Jew Jesus

son of the synagogue

who underwrote

all our un-love.

20

 

Station VI

Veronica

 

See

the true image

on my veil!

 

I wiped

that sweaty, bloody brow

and found his spirit

stamped on mine

and now I know

that what I am

must properly retrace

the loving look

upon that faltering face.

 

I must not fail

to show

his wisdom

peace

in grave detail

in spite of how

my own humanity

my petty personal faults

my overburdening care

get in the way.

 

When someone looks at me

I must be sure

they see Christ there.

21

Station  VIII

Weeping Women

 

Line up

on the pathway

weak women!

Watch

what your brothers do!

Watch

mankind rampage!

In their uncertainty

and insecurity

they heap a pile

of wounds and weapons.

They can’t trust God

so pity them.

 

Weeping women

nursing babies

clutching toddlers

by the hand

contortedly

pity your sons

growing to blindness

hardness.

How can you get God closer

so they will see him

and  remember?

 

What can you do

world’s women

but prepare spices

for the burial?

22

Station X

Stripping

 

It seems obscene

to dirty that nice robe

with dripping blood

so peel him bare!

Leave him just tortured flesh

feeling there!

 Serve up a recipe

of nailing and thorning.

Spread on one human hulk.

Let connoisseurs taste it

in a carpeted church

on a later-day morning.

 

Station XII

Dying

 

He shouts out, “My God, why?”

just like I cry

in doubt, despair

as we smother on our crosses

viewing each other

across two thousand years

of joys and losses.

We both proclaim our pain

but he sees through it

to a future vindication

that escapes me.

If I walked in his ways

saw through his eyes

perhaps I, too, could

talk of paradise.

23

 

 

Station XII

The Sacrifice

 

This is my body!”

words easy enough

for you to say

white robed priest

go-between of God and man.

 

Out on the hillside

even Brother Son

hid his face

behind obscuring fingers

and would not look

on how the human species

treats its own.

 

“This is my blood!”

Priest, do you hear

the gasping

feel the stickiness

the sweat, the lack of sleep

the infinite frustration

that this crude pitcher of a self

pours out in puddles

near your feet?

 

How does this mass

of convulsed flesh

add up

with gentle God’s requirements

of wanting only mercy

justice

and a humble walking

with God’s self?

24

 

Holy Spirit on Good Friday

 

Spirit, like fire

come!

Come back to Jesus, the Son

who hangs on the cross

crying

questioning

forsaken

dying.

 

Spirit, sear us

gently.

We are so fragile-human.

We watch flames

lick greedy tongues on logs

leaving them charcoal lumps.

 

We watch

fire’s thirst to destroy

its yen to obliterate.

We wonder what demons

desires

heats

energies

are being released.

 

Come, Spirit, like fire

and tell us what is left

besides charcoal

and crosses

and corpses.

25

 

 

Asylum in Spring

 

The blossoms burst

against a sapphire sky

but it is always

winter of the heart here

and these, God’s smallest ones

are kept apart here

and do not know or care

or see or try—

the tall men with strong voices

saying naught

the silent ones

who seem to hear no tone

to feel no touch

so hopelessly alone

the violent ones.

 

What can we do but aught—

servers who serve

doctors who strive to cure

seeking where knowledge

is too weak to go?

Where is the Christ

to cast their devils out

into the swine

and they stand

new and pure?

 

Oh, God

when will these gates of hell break wide

letting the springtime in on every side?

26

 

 

Comment on The Sacredness of Life

 

Who will cut down

the living greening tree

thoughtlessly?

Our actions speak our soul.

Our soul makes choices.

 

 

 

The Celebration Tree

A glinting flock of goldfinch

brought brightly here

by a warm April wind

chose to decorate the birch tree

like a Christmas tree

weighting down its branches in smooth arcs

as they pecked diligently at it.

 

Bugs or buds

what does it matter they were after?

They were golden and gray-gold baubles

hanging head-down, gobbling

making a Resurrection Christmas tree

out of a birch tree.

 

Cover The Earth

With Love

Great Dispenser

give us love to spread abroad.

Shake us with your breath

like the wind

shakes the apple blossoms

making them spread their whiteness

over the eager ground

27

 

 

He Was Man

 

Lord, did you love your land as I love mine?

As you wandered on the hills of Galilee

and viewed the loveliness of flower and tree

did your heart beat high because that land was thine?

And on the lake, oh, Lord, was ever lake like thine

without compare, blue on the golden days

like our dear river is, or turning lacy grays

with rain and mist? And was your heart like mine

to see the new green shoots come in the spring

to marvel at the way God made them grow

to know the spring sun, feel the fresh wind blow

and hear the magic when a bird did sing?

 

And when the time drew near for you to go

and your shattered body hung upon the cross

did you shudder human-like for the deep loss

of hills, and lake, and fields, and air, although

you knew that you would walk abroad again

when Easter dawn came on Jerusalem?

As We Edge Further Into May

and The Dogwood Petals

Ripple to the Ground

May is the green month

after the flourish and trumpet calls of April.

After the bugle of golden daffodils

the green settles in.

 

The trees thrust green against the sky

and we are overwhelmed with green.

Thank God for the green God-given earth.

Thank God for infinite acres of green

to rest our eyes, our souls.

28

 

 

Let Me Sing

 

sunsets and rainy days.

Let me sing May.

Let me sing now.

Give me a voice and words.

Let me stop thinking about it.

Let me sing.

 

Give me a big heart.

Let me love all the world.

Let me love it now.

Let me stop thinking about it.

Just let me love it—

starting now.

 

Give me the power to help.

Let me help forever and ever.

Let me help now.

Let me start helping

and not stop.

Let me start now.

 

 

To Atlas Holding Up The Earth

The world does not depend completely

on your effort.

You can relax

for a few moments each day

and the world will not fall apart.

For just a few moments each day

trust God.

 

Let God take charge

and you will see

that God is good

at earth-holding.

29

 

 

How Each Tree Shouts

“Glory To God”

in Its Own Way

When I behold in every tree

a dreadful similarity

and catch, in glancing at one face

the pattern of the human race

to live and then to die

then I must prod me to recall

that one who was the best of all

took on our frame

shouldered our shame

and died to show us

death is not the end

of bodies that have souls

and he did send

his spirit sweeping out

a victory tide

of new and shining life

to our awaiting forms.

 

On The Shore of The Great Sea

 

I like to feel the sand

running through my hand

sands of time

running through my hand.

 

I like to feel the air

as it whispers in my hair

wind of time

whispering eternity.

30

 

 

 

Summertime

 

Energy

 

Early morning

is a tiger about to pounce

on her prey knowing the pride

of a meat find for little ones

every muscle alert

claws firm on her perch.

 

Evening

is the same tiger

chances missed, paws worn

knowing the kittens are hungry.

 

Will jungle sleep heal all this?

31

 

 

Bird Watching

 

Envious, earthbound, drab

I have eyed the gulls gliding

dipping for fish, swearing fiercely.

Yes, I could match their swaggering pace

but wings were denied me.

 

Jealous, shallow, jaded

I have watched the ducks winging

seeming masters of the sky.

How I yearned to buzz heaven with them

until the fiendish bullet struck one.

32

 

 

My Home

 

There was a home I had.

Oh, how I loved it!

The tall oaks guarded it

and the grass was green

and best of all

my friends were there.

Though we spoke not of it

we had this thought at heart—

we worship here one God

the same God who is love

and for  this reason

we are kind, one to another.

 

Oh, I had a home—

it was too good to last.

 

When I had trouble

there was always a hand or two

put out to aid me.

In days of joy

how we would share our bounty

flowers and fruits

and greetings of the seasons.

 

In days of sorrow, loving hearts

helped speed the sadness.

 

Even the birds knew there

that God was with us.

The chickadees frolicked like children

by the seed we scattered.

The tufted tit-mice looked

like monks strolling together.

I could almost hear them

saying soft rosaries

pacing under the oak trees.

 

The robin who came in spring

reminded us in joy

of the resurrection of the world

of God saying

“I shall make all things new.”

 

But one night I dreamed a dream

where I left my home

for a land of beauty

and in the land of beauty

I was sorrowful.

 

When I awoke, I cried

as I looked at the birds

and the green grass and the oaks

“I will never leave you!

How silly can a dream be?”

 

But today I am in a land of beauty—

sorrowful.

33

 

 

No Place To Hide

 

Time was when I could hide

my heart from prying eyes.

I could run home

to the warm clover on the hill

to cry my heart out

to be comforted

by the sun and the wind

and the sweet grasses.

 

Where can I run today?

Back to the old dreams?

They are all bruised

and broken and buried.

Back to the protecting arms

when I know now

how much they needed protection?

Back to the spring on the hillside?

They have ploughed the whole hill

and backed the spring into a swamp.

 

Must I stand here before you and weep

with no place to hide my humanity?

 

Memories

 

The memories pound and roll

on the edge of my mind

like the whipping and whispering waves

wash up on the shell strewn shore of the sea.

They lie in the sun

on the sandy shore of my mind

and God bakes them

and basks them

and lets them return

back to me.

34

 

 

 

On Harps

 

I would be like a poplar tree

strong and straight and supple

and pour out my music

as the winds of life sweep through me.

 

 

A Piece of God’s Handiwork

 

God is above us and beyond us

yet somehow God is in us!

 

Imagine that! The power

and the glory and the splendor

somehow in us!

 

We are a vital part of all

that makes the world run.

We have a secret thing deep in

that lets us contact God

a spot God formed in us

to keep an open line with love.

That means the little soul in me

so tiny, precious, delicate

can tune in to the knowledge

of all that’s great in God.

 

God didn’t make this wonder-part

to thrive and then decay.

It’s meant to know God’s love—

to ponder and perceive

and to somehow fit intricately

into God’s being.

35

 

 

The Hummingbird

 

God knows our every thought!

(What, do you doubt it?)

Not only knows it, but attends on it!

I do not know how God can be with me

and be with you

and be with everyone of humankind

so  personally.

I do not know how this may be.

I only know it’s so.

 

I have a pink Wegelia bush.

Oh, it’s a beauty.

It’s arms are flung wide open

with its heavy blooms.

It gathers the bees to its flowery bosom

like a welcoming mother.

 

I admired it Tuesday in the sun

and thought a little thought

a little quiet thought

so small that almost

I forgot I thought it.

 

I thought, “Oh, God, these bumble bees are nice

but if you really wished to please me

you’d send a hummingbird.”

 

I thought it and forgot it.

There are no hummingbirds around.

The cats have frightened all the birds away

except some wary, hardy little sparrows.

 

Thursday again I sat near my Wegelia

and then the hummingbird!

The blueness, quickness, smallness of him!

I thought, “Oh, God, you really know

what pleases me!”

Then I remembered my poor quiet thought

my Tuesday tiny half-forgotten thought.

God really knows our every thought.

You had better believe it.

I’m half afraid to think now.

36

 

 

My Rockettes

 

See  my  Rockettes.

They are that line of poplar trees

and all of them move together

so gracefully

at the touch of the wind

that you don’t notice one particular tree

but it’s the whole mass of trees

dancing together

that sets your heart dancing—

fifty trees moving together—

it’s a sight to set your heart dancing.

 37

 

 

The Pot God Made

 

God, why did you

make the earth, the tree?

Why make the robin

or the rose, or me?

Why, oh, why

did you make me?

 

God answered me

so lovingly

“I made you

to know ecstasy.

On my potter’s wheel

I made a form

to know and feel

a form that I could fill

with holy knowing

holy feeling, holy growing—

with myself.”

 

We are jars filled with water

filled with humanness.

God’s will has made us wine

wine fit for serving

to the bridegroom

and the beloved guests.

We are like common bread

in the hands of the Great Priest

waiting for the words

“This is my body!”

so that we may go forth

and be Christ.

Be Christs, my comrades!

Let us be Christs.

Spirit of God, proclaim the words

that transform us into Christs.

38

 

 

Joe’s Day

 

Where have you been today, young Joe? Your shirt

has three new rents and is wretched with dirt!

You have scratches all over your legs and arms

enough to give me all sorts of alarms.

 

Where have you been today, young Joe? Your grin

has berry juice stain right down to your chin

and on your face such a look of content

I can tell that you feel your day well spent.

 

Where have you been today, young Joe? Your eyes

speak of daisy fields and glorious skies.

You seem ages away from the sad time when

men will give you a gun and say, “Hunt men.”

Don’t hear them, Joe. They’ve forgotten the thrill

of how raspberries taste on a summertime hill.

 

 

The Bouquet

 

Today

these zinneas decay

pink, red

sunshine caught in a vase.

Drink in their beauty

for they rot away

today.

 

There’s nothing new.

 

Heaven’s the same.

Grab  heaven.

It may flee away

today.

39

 

 

Hand Blown Glass

 

Our creator has made us

of fine bubble glass

and set us for display

on shelves in the shop window.

 

Light plays upon us

shines through us

and the glass blower

finds us beautiful

because he has made us.

 

Oh, it is a shame to see us

later after we are sold!

What uses we are put to!

Our handles are broken off.

We are smashed to smithereens

in carelessness or anger.

We hide in dusty corners

hoping to escape notice.

 

 

God, The Tree, and I

 

I can be aware of you, oh, tree

but can you be aware of me?

 

God made you for me to see.

Why, oh, God, did you make me?

Did you make me to see this tree

that thinking of the why of tree and me

I might think ultimately of thee?

 

Did you make me to think of thee?

40

 

In A Rainbow

 

What is it like

to be within a rainbow?

 

I saw your house

upon a distant hill.

The rainbow sprang

skyward from there.

Surely, your rooms

were bathed with radiance;

you walked on jeweled mist;

your very soul

must have sparkled

vibrated

 resonated

with colored light.

 

Tell me the joy

that must have flowed

from this, your experience

of God’s creativity.

 

 

 

The Flute Song

 

The flute song rings clear in my ears

like a steep mountain waterfall

dropping over deep rocks and shadow

into clear stream and moonlight.

And now it dances like a ballerina—

first on one light toe and then

whirling and tripping to the other.

How precise and gay it is!

41

 

 

 

Woman

 

God said: I will make woman in my image

cover the earth with her

give her the tools for keeping peace

creating life, building with love.

 

God said: Let her be mistress

of the birds, the fish, the beasts

that roam the garden I have made.

 

God blessed the woman, saying:

Go— and be fulfilled

in serving and creating

as myself.

 

 

 

A Statement Open for Discussion

 

There is one thing that the creator

of heaven and earth cannot do

that people can do—

that is, to make love visible to people.

 

For this reason God had to create people.

If there were no people

to love and be loved

love would not exist

and God could not exist.

42

 

 

 

Come, Sing With Me

 

I put my heart to music

and the tune went like this—

a hand clasp, some laughter

and a long, sweet kiss.

 

I put my soul to music

and the song seemed dread.

It went, “Suffer for the sinner,”

and “Pray for the dead.”

 

The heart’s music floated off

like ashes on the sea

but the soul’s music swelled with love

that filled eternity.

 

 

 

Think of What Is Most Beautiful

 

This being is more beautiful than sunrise

more beautiful than the crescent moon

holding a star in her arms

more exquisite than a flower

more perfect than a snow crystal

more majestic than mountain peaks

shimmering in moonlight

more gentle than the kindest deed

that you have ever done

for one you love.

 

How  can a being be so beautiful?

 

I Am is  too much for our vision to absorb.

43

 

 

 

How Spiders Trapped The Sun

 

 

The spiders were roaming the world that night

blowing, rolling out of sight

crawling in crevices, dim and obscure.

They found them a corner of musty kegs

and they danced there on jointed, clicking legs.

 

The webs formed there like sparkling glass

brittle and crystal in the night

reflecting the light that hurtled past

fairy things of moonbeam gleam

made by waving, weaving, spinning tight.

 

This piece to this, that piece to that

each strand woven neat and pat

each strand depending on one before

each strand expending one strand more

so comes the dawn, what a glittering sight!

 

They have trapped them jewels of dew

and in each droplet cupped a piece of sun!

What profit for a night so dark begun!

True life is purchased with such priceless coin.

God helps our flimsy deeds to catch the sunrise.

44

 

 

 

On The Overgrown Grave

of John Desmond

 

This is a living cemetery—

look, John Desmond, how that

small oak climbs between

your headstone

and your footstone, like it had sprung

straight from your navel.

 

It is hard not to think

that your eyes are someplace

up in that oak tree

watching me

for, after all, the oak tree is made

from the stuff of your body.

 

What does it say

here on your head stone?

“Death is a debt to nature due

which I have paid and so must you.”

I feel no qualms about

tramping on your grave.

Why, the whole woods here

is full of you.

 

 

 

 

45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each Has Her Own Gold

 

I had a bird in a golden cage—

a golden bird— orange and gold.

I kept him there for many an age.

Ah, he was lovely to behold.

 

Have you heard— I forgot the little gold bird?

 

His song was golden like his down

the most cheerful song I’ve ever heard.

All he asked for his tumult of joy

was seed and water and a soft, kind word.

 

What a deed!— I forgot his water and seed!

 

I got so used to his musical cheers

telling the world of his delight

I forgot to feed him for months, for years

and now he is such a pitiful sight.

 

Don’t say, “Shame!” You might do the same.

46

 

 

 

 

Chesapeake Bay Pier

 

There are fish that swim

in and out

sunlight and shadow

under the pier, child so dear.

There are two blue swallows

flashing in and out

dark and light

midnight blue when the moon is shining

horizon gold when the sun is setting

flashing their wings

in and out

sunlight and shadow

under the pier, child so dear

in and out

under the pier.

There are bugs that crawl

around on the planks

of the pier, child so dear

bugs for the two flashing birds

and down below

where the cool salt water

curls and laps

under the water

and under the pier

are so many wonderful things

clinging shells and floating weeds

and things too small

to see at all

with our eyes

little child so dear

in this private world

of under the pier.

God has made it all

so wonderful here

under the pier.

47

 

 

 

Why Am I?

 

Back to the roots, to the fundamentals

to the original seed, to the eternal questions

the “Why am I here?, Who am I?

Who sent me?” But in me

only deep in myself

are the answers to what I ask myself.

 

Who put me here to praise what caused it all?

Who takes me by the hand to show me

the vastness of these works past comprehension?

Who invites me gently to see

the earth whirling around the sun

the sun doing its fast dance

on the outskirts of the Milky Way Galaxy

which is but a minor field of stars spinning

amongst a cosmos of galaxies all rushing off

at unbelievable paces from each other.

Rushing endlessly? Perhaps—

I do not know—

too far for me to comprehend or care.

 

Who put me here to see all this

to stretch my sight beyond its seeing?

Who put me here to praise?

My heart has answers.

 

I know that Someone made me, knows me.

Someone made this big immenseness

this enormity that urges to create forms of life

 to praise what caused it.

 

In me there is the achievement, the fulfillment

a creature who can see God’s creation

and say, “I believe.”

48

 

 

Be Merry!

 

Are we repeating

what villains and vipers

are voicing

instead of rejoicing?

 

 

The Cardinal

 

Bless the little bird I watch

and bless his song.

His song is praise

to that which made him.

His song is prayer.

 

The very rocks praise God

simply by being

but rocks have never sung

so wise a prayer

as this that is all joy.

 

Prayer is a love song

to the Lord, and, oh

so full a lovesong comes

from this small throat.

 

The music soars gently to heaven.

May my soul ride beside it

soaring up to find its God

with this wild prayer

for sweet companion.

49

Our World

 

God made this!

Feel it.

See it.

Smell it.

 

Crumble it in your fingers.

Send rumpled rips of greening leaves

tumbling downwards

and think of atoms joining atoms

of cells, of glucose

of inward scientific workings

beyond our human capabilities.

 

Hold the grass shoots humbly

and admire them.

God made them

and we can only wonder

at such handiwork

and worship.

 

 

The Cycle

 

As the sun draws vapor

from the ocean

which then rains down

upon the earth

so does God draw

good thoughts, good deeds

sweet prayers from us

melding them

in heavenly places

to a cloud of holy spirit

that is then poured out on us.

50

 

 

Cedar Hill

 

Nothing changes here.

The trees stay the same

big, hanging.

The birds chatter

and the cicadas are still singing.

 

The tombstones don’t change

solid granite, they will do

for my lifetime.

 

And Mom does not change.

I can still see her

walking across the open field

in her white dress

still bouncing along

at over ninety

still hear her German-touched English

exclaiming, “Today you go forth

to bring life and health

and love

to all you meet!”

 

Each time I come here

she tells me the same thing.

Nothing changes here.

 

 

Our Freedom To Be

 

If there were no death

what would we make of life?

51

 

 

 

Shouting

 

The ocean spews her mighty spray

against the land whereon I stand

troubled in heart, but eager yet to sing

the message of the king

(the king who is the Rock where I retire).

 

Yes, the very waves wash up

and shift the sands beneath my feet

and throw their dew upon my face and hair

and chill my cheek

(the waves that are the tumult of desire).

 

Trembling I stand

a young Demosthenes upon the shore

hurtling my garbled wind-swept words

against the billows’ roar.

(Oh, that my speech were silver tried in fire!)

 

 

 

 

God Audible

 

The heavens declare the glory of God—

in majestic silence

proclaim a loving creator—

but in humankind

God becomes audible.

Imagine—

we can articulate God!

52

 

 

Wasted Glory

 

Look at you, white lily

on your last bloom

of an amazing crown

of six white goblets!

 

I would have come by

but it was too hot

to leave the house

but how could I

have ignored you so?

Couldn’t I at least

have run out for a moment

to say, “Good morning.

How’s your health?”

 

You were doing your best

to praise God

and I passed you by.

What a waste of the stupendous!

 

I only saw you

when taking out the garbage.

 

 

Wiser

 

As I grow older

I love the flowers more.

I understand how hard it is

for them to grow.

53

 

 

 

 

The Good Returns To God

 

The urge to good and its opposite

are rooted together in us

and can’t  be separated.

 

We question all our lives

what road is optimum.

 

Death comes to everyone

and what is profitable

goes back to God.

 

Why Flowers Grow

 

God made the flowers grow to cheer mankind

because God loves us. Thus God planned it so

before the world began. God wills we know

their beauty. Let me ask, “Why do you find

such colors, shapes, and forms?” I say that shows

a thoughtful overseer. God made the flowers

to cheer sad hearts, and gladden gladsome hours.

Why, everywhere man goes, some flower grows!

 

How can you still persist it was by chance?

Dear unbelieving friend, arouse and see

the glories here surrounding you and me.

There could have been no lovelier mischance.

 

If this is chance, why then I must lament—

the world is space’s best planned accident.

54

 

 

 

 

Transformation of Energy

 

It takes the human being

to transform God’s energy

into good deeds.

 

In the same manner

a waterfall employs generators

to transform its power

into something usable.

Mocking Thoughts

The mockingbird is singing in the dry afternoon.

I know what he is saying.

He is a troublemaker from away back

but he tells the truth.

His notes are sharp and bitter on my ear.

 

The mockingbird sings to the full moon at midnight.

I waken to hear him

and there is no place to hide

when God comes walking into my soul

when the truth lies out in the open.

 

What does my soul look like?

Is it sharp and clean like a mockingbird’s whistle?

Is it full of deep black holes like the heavens

where the black is so weighty it draws things to it

and pulls all the light rays in after it

like a closed door?

55

 

 

God Watches

 

The clouds come.

The clouds go

sunlight and shadow over the earth.

God watches.

God is good. I have seen God

stroking the silk-eared corn in wonder and admiration.

What a strange thing, corn

but from it sprang the beginnings of civilization

that man might know God

better, sooner.

God is good.

I have seen God

placing the long-tailed comets

high out among the stars

and smiling.

“Thus will men know me better.

Thus will they glean more knowledge

of me and my creation.

Thus they will come closer to truth and to wisdom

sooner, sooner.”

God is good.

I have seen God

yearning, yearning

to have us turn to wisdom

sooner, sooner

that all our moaning, groaning in creation

might be swallowed into the mouth of gold eternity

sooner, sooner

for our sakes only

who know times and boundaries.

(Not  for God’s sake

for God knows all things

in their completion and conception.)

God watches.

God loves us before forever.

56

 

 

 

Autumn

Monarch Butterflies

 

Long ago

before there were small boys

to run in autumn fields

God thought

“I will make milkweed pods

for little boys

to take apart and scatter

on the autumn winds.”

God thought

“I will make butterflies to feed

on this strange weed

so that small boys can be caught breathless

seeing orange wings rising against blue sky.”

 

57

The Butterfly

 

Who made the butterfly?

What fancy whim put flower on the wing?

Who made the butterfly?

Who, but God

a loving, happy God.

 

And who made man

this creature of caprice

of evil and of good?

Who, but God

a loving, happy God.

 

How my heart ached

when I found flower-on-the-wing

caught in a spider’s web

and sister spider sitting there

horrified at what big game she’d taken

marveling at how easily

she had taken it.

 

Likewise, advertisers and other plotters

must be amazed

at how easily we fall into entrapments

sometimes as if we were eager to plunge in!

 

How carefully I freed flower-on-the-wing.

How carefully I pulled the web

from fragile feet and wings

with bits of leaf and stick.

But such a shock he’d had

he could not fly away.

 

May we not fall into the snares of irresponsibility.

Though God deliver us so gently

it may be hard to use our wings again.

58

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Alps

 

I have fallen in love with the mountains.

Today they are covered with snow

and there’s shadings of light and darkness

as the rain clouds come and go.

 

The tallest is called Argenterra

and the other night, what do you think—

The rosy hued clouds of the sunset

had covered her over with pink.

 

But they are brave young mountains!

When the wind-swept sea waves roar

proud and clear against the sky

they march fiercely down to the shore.

 

 

 

 

 

On Change

 

All things change.

We cannot hold them here within our hand.

The daisy in the grass

is beautiful today; tomorrow, gone.

Today’s sad tear becomes tomorrow’s smile.

The smile will pass from lip to lip

and turn to a good deed.

The bit of leaven acts upon the bread.

The mustard comes from but a tiny seed.

To deep eternity a word Christ said

dwells in the hearts of folk to guide them right.

The candle flickering in the window changes

 fear of the dark to joy that lights the night.

The small things turn to big as God arranges

and opposites surprise us—

peace from strife.

Calm comes from out of storm.

Death turns to life.

59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral Bells—Cagnes Sur Mer

 

We heard the church bells chiming

 

                        “DEAD!

                                    DEAD!

                                                DEAD!

                                                            RIS’N!”

 

there by the sparkling azure sea

with their sonorous, telling timing

 

                        “EARTH!

                                    EARTH!

                                                EARTH!

                                                            HEAV’N!”

 

That souls from bodies should be free

seemed suddenly to us so right.

 

                        “PAIN!

                                    PAIN!

                                                PAIN!

                                                            JOY!”

 

Now, only joy; no need for sighing

here on the beach in bright sunlight with

 

                        “DONG!

                                    DONG!

                                                DONG!

                                                            DING!”

 

the fishermen’s quiet talk, and the gulls’ crying.

60

 

 

The Penalty

 

Long ago

when I still plucked roses

to pin in my hair

I woke in the night

knowing

the sentence of death

was upon me.

 

Since then

many times I have roused up

to meet the black emptiness

so now I am friends

with the thought.

It no longer churns

my insides.

 

Last night

I suddenly realized

we all have to die

the great, the wild

the old, the young

my friends

the bad, the good

the earth.

So much riot and movement

turned into

stillness and element.

 

It is the stillness

that is so frightening.

 

Eternal rest!

How can death make us rest

who can’t sit still a minute!

61

 

 

In The Forest

 

I have caught glimpses of him

as I battled my way through the forest.

The forest is dark and cold

and thick and gloomy

and there is no one to tell me the way.

 

I have caught glimpses of him

and then I did not think

“Why am I here in this forest?”

or “Why am I separate from him?”

or “What is the way through the wood?”

 

I have caught glimpses of him

as I battled my way through the bushes

as I stomped the thorns underfoot

and the branches snapped back in my face

and my arms were scratched and bleeding.

 

I have caught glimpses of him

and then— the forest was a garden

and I did not think of anything

but “How beautiful he is!

How beautiful he is!”

Obedient,

 

I reached to drink the golden cup. He said

“You have no need to drink. I drank for you.”

Can he be dead!

62

 

 

They Died That I Might Live

 

I would go back to the autumn hill

and listen

for the sound of their voices

in the wind that stirs the trees

and that shakes the droplets of dew

that glimmer and glisten

as the sunrise fingers

the trembling golden leaves.

 

What did they say?

What were the truths they told me?

I need to remember them now

as never before

when these barbed wire shackles

that ever so firmly hold me

cut into my flesh and rankle

and chafe me sore.

 

I would go back

to the edge of my beginning

when time was simple

and love was love

and peace was peace

when murder was kill, was wrong

and had to be punished

when those who ruled us

had made all wars to cease

when men gave their lives

for a truth that others thundered.

 

Was it worth dying for?

I have often wondered.

63

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Barns

 

Some of us have barns in our childhood

color of dusk-deep red-brown velvet

accented with rusted gutters and hinges

barns of big beams

of largeness, of strength

secure walls

holding the world together.

 

Some of us have rested

comfortable, content, loved

on a hay bale, and watched light

filtering through hay dust

like truth penetrating populations.

 

Some of us have listened in the darkness

to the scritch of scurrying mice

and discovered priorities in humility.

Some have brushed against

the meditative webs of spiders

and absorbed their wisdom and patience.

 

Some of us have thoughts

that still dwell inside secure vastness

have minds that know

inside the darkness

there is life.

64

 

 

 

Evening

 

Gray shadows of night settling in

but we have a fire here

and hearts that laugh together.

We can look forward to the sparkling stars

gaze upward without fear

in autumn’s wind blown weather.

Indian Summer

 

This is the song of a golden September

a song of tall sun-flowers and deep purple asters

a song of warm sun and clear air.

This is the song of a month to remember

when burnt logs on cool nights fall ember from ember

and the day is like glorious prayer.

 

This is the month when the full moon’s bright yellow.

Our night turns to day in the face of its radiance

and fields are enticing and gay.

This month the night sky is velvet and mellow

the heart is at one with the heart of one’s fellow

and love turns the world on its way.

65

 

 

Looking Towards Harvest

 

When we die, and willingly return

to that great force

that drew us on this sea

perhaps a living, sparkling yield of energy

will stack in stalks at harvest time

will gleam and glow

and flash among the stars

will flow where great tides flow

yet who can know?

 

Sensing Forces

 

Rain in September

and white swans gathering

on the black water—

gathering together

knowing

they’re going—

together.

 

We gather, too

on the wet fall

gold-leafed days

not knowing

what winter will bring—

wanting to feel

the being of each other—

sensing that together

we might amount to

a force to be reckoned with

against whatever forces

might disturb the surface

of the black water

under the gold-leafed trees.

66

 

 

Fall Waltz

 

This is the waltz of the fall

the dignified dance

of golden oak

of reddening dogwood

of all the trees, so stately in the sun.

 

Oh, Lord, it’s fall!

May I dance, too?

Yes, stately me

an old-gold oak

riotous with color

catching eyes

and pointing up to heaven.

 

Let all folk see

that God made me

made fall

made age

 made world

 made heaven

and it’s all glorious.

It’s glorious.

 

We dancers run the gamut

from pale beech

to purple sumac.

Just see us

swinging out our waltz.

Just look at us

and think of God!

67

 

 

Leaves, Pebbles, and People

 

Have you searched through the October leaves

hoping to find the just right one, the perfect one

and as you picked each one

cast it aside for another

for each had its imperfection?

Leaves look better in bunches.

Leaves look glorious in October

rioting together across the landscape.

 

 Have you searched the pebbles on the beach

for the just right pebble

the one to take home to varnish

and to use for a paper weight?

Have you cast aside one after another

for they were all imperfect?

 

Have you searched among people

hoping to find the perfect friend

the one to bear your burdens

your confidences, your imperfections?

Have you found anyone

good enough to love you

and to fill in your lacks?

 

People do better in groups

where the gifts of some

shade out the others’ deficiencies.

 

Loving humanity in community

is worth searching for

and can be found

by the loving and persistent.

68

 

 

Who Hears The Owl?

 

The owl sings at night

vibrant, bone-chilling

across the distances.

What good is

a loud clear voice in the night?

Who hears it?

The jays are dreaming their dreams.

The goldfinch is sleeping.

Nobody listens.

Nobody cares.

 

The owl has joy to tell

across a hollow world

filling the silence

thrilling empty hearts.

Willing he is to listen.

Willing he is to share

trilling through the vast reaches

“Is there anyone out there?”

69

 

 

 

Swans

 

Three swans on the water

saying something about trinity

swans in October sunlight.

Suddenly

there is a flurry of white wings

too many to count

descending, joining

intermingling

saying something about community

about spirit and holiness

about wholeness

about souls

ready to do justice and mercy.

70

 

 

 

The Month of Remembering

 

The waste between here and the quarry

is a tumble-down, a melee

of blown trees and bent red sumac

curtseying to this mad October wind

and over to one side the field sun flowers

spring up and down in wild exhilaration.

 

Down in that dip that travels to the pond

the low weeds rustle ’round in ecstasy

feeling a cold wet kiss on dying leaves

yet frightened, knowing it to be the last.

 

Rash October, month I love because of sorrow

month I love because of sweet things dying beautifully

month I love because of wildness

sudden rages, and sweet calms

month of hard rains and rattling winds

and month of Indian summer

month of warm leaf-fire fragrance

old October— month of realization

life-blood month of the year—

 

let me hear your rash winds echo

down the streets of my mind forever

let me feel your cold wet kiss in my heart;

let me remember your leaves falling;

let me remember your warm days

and far away nights

when sparks flew to the treetops

from autumn fires.

 

Let me become a part of you, October

let me be knit

into the innermost parts

of your violent days.

71

 

 

 

October

 

Sing? I shall sing of turning shades on trees

of browning oaks, and maples’ arch gold mines.

I’ll melodize the sumac’s purple leaves

and shout with joy at reddish ivy vines.

 

Yes, I shall gasp delighted at the fashion

of a single golden-rod that’s turning gray

and clutch into my hands and crush with passion

one small lone aster fading to decay.

 

I shall clasp my hands with depthless bliss

smelling the smoke of leafy autumn fires

and shiver at the thrill of one sweet kiss

from this warm autumn wind fraught with desires.

 

Sing? I shall sing as if this heart would cry

when sudden o’er a hill I cross and see

a thousand tones of red against the sky—

a heaven-painted frosted beechnut tree.

 

Sing? I shall sing like you were here today

beside me, walking, kicking up the leaves

and throwing handfuls in my face in play

and loving me, and loving all the trees

 

and loving all the graying autumn flowers

and drinking in deep draughts of ecstasy.

I’ll sing for there’ll be other autumn hours

after God has brought you back again to me.

72

 

 

 

Elegy To The Locust Tree

 

The shrieking saw has left its mark

on fifty feet of towering bark

and you lie crumbling in the dark.

I taste a mouth full of regret

to see your sunken silhouette.

Death waits us all, we can’t forget.

 

Yes, you were young when I was young.

On you, spring’s gay white flowers have hung.

By you, the wren and thrush have sung.

 

For you, too, came one terrible night

when the unpredictable streak of light

came from the sky with power to smite

but you stood firm and you have shown

that great hearts have no need to moan

though fate may split them to the bone.

 

Now, crawling age ate past repair

before we caught its ugly stare.

We could not leave you rotting there.

So you must rest and I must rest

and who can say it is not best

to sleep thus gently with the blest?

 

But still I cannot call you dead

for trees like you I’ve heard it said

when they are felled send up new head

and where the living writhing root

comes near the air, may institute

a possibly tenacious shoot.

 

So, too, do good ideas regain

from seeming loss and bitter pain

a new foothold on the terrain.

73

 

 

 

Thank You For Earth and Time

Gold and silver

the willows and maples claim November.

They clamor, “Eucharistio.”

Gold and silver early winter dreams

of the Messiah coming

possibilities of love and wisdom

filling a material earth.

Love can be placed

in a gold and silver vessel

when that container

is an earth made by

a gracious God.

 

 

 

Hudson Cliffs

Three hundred years ago

the eagle clung here

and raucoused his call

across November.

 

The water sparkled

as it does today

like myriad diamonds

as the wind ruffles it

as the sun pierces the wave peaks

from its low angle in the south.

 

Three hundred years ago

beneath the sparkle

there were flashes of silver

and trout colored like rainbows.

 

Today we have new words—

PCBs, kepone

words that do not sparkle

words that sink to the bottom

and settle with silt.

74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Saints’ Day

Saint Therese

 

I am a light house

by the sea

sending

my steady beam of light

far off

so those tossed

on the waves of night

may find the shore

through me.

 

I am a light!

Then, too

I am a bell!

Swinging aloft

in my strong tower

I say to all

that now

is time to pray

and time to live

their small lives

well.

 

So I am sound!

Also, I am a flower

a little flower

that crushed by chance

under the coarse foot

of circumstance

spreads lovely perfume

through the hour.

75

 

 

You Can’t Keep Saints From Marching

 

They have turned the earth to love

to kind and caring love!

They have turned their hands to lift

the loads from others backs.

They have fed the hungry world

with food from their own fields.

We can do likewise! Let us do!

There’s need for us imperfect folk

to cheer each other on.

The Name of God

Your name is Being

 

Being—

in the bright planets

that cluster in the morning sky—

 

Being—

in the shadow of sunrise

that rests on the western hill—

 

Being—

in the flock of birds

that pause from migration

in the leafless trees—

 

Being—

in a friend’s heart

that shares joy

and shares sorrow.

 

Oh, Lord, my God

how beautiful is your name

in all the earth!

76

 

 

 

Advent

The “O” Antiphons

 

O Wisdom, Word of God, Giver of Care so tender

answer your people’s prayer, O Merciful Mender.

Of true salvation be the swift sender.

 

O Sacred One of Israel, Giver of Law, Presence of Being

Come, dwell in our hearts, All-knowing, All-seeing.

For those imprisoned, be the All-freeing.

 

O Flower of Jesse’s Stem, Child of a Humble Maid

of you all peoples, tyrants, popes are sore afraid

for you come strongly to our aid.

 

O Key of David, all gates open to your key.

Hell, death, and heaven know full well your royalty

and stand aside as you set captives free.

 

O Radiant Dawn, The Splendor of New Light

O Sun of Justice, keep us in your sight.

Shine through the darkness of our night!

 

O King of Nations, Joy of Every Soul

though we are dust, instill the heavenly goal

in every spirit, making all things whole.

 

Go with the nations of the world, O Emmanuel

Savior of Peoples, Blessed Desire of All

help us together, that we may not fall.

77

 

 

 

His Name

           Herod:

 You say you have found him.

What is his name?

Tell me, that I may worship him also.

Tell me, that I may proclaim his fame.

 

            Melchior:

His name is King, the Anointed One

Prince of Peace, Bright Star of Morning

Lord of the Heavens, Prince of All Peoples

Off Shoot of Jesse, Scion of David.

His name is Leader, Light.

His name is Way.

 

            Caspar:

His name is Deity, Eternal Father

Mighty God, Wisdom, Spirit of Yahweh

Spirit of Power, Spirit of Knowledge

Spirit of Counsel.

His name is Truth.

 

            Balthasar:

His name is Adam. He is Man

Man of Sorrows, Seeker and Cornerstone

Servant and Shepherd.

His name is Savior.

His name is Sacrifice

Lamb, Love Eternal.

His name is Life.

78

 

 

 

Christmas

at

Women’s Correctional Facility

 

Christmas makes you

long for a home

ridden of roaches

where the lesbian

down the corridor

can’t hang onto you

in her loneliness

and frustration;

where you can

digest a meal

or a good thought

instead of having

life thrown at you

like a closed fist.

 

But faith, hope, love

can dwell here

gifts from

the Great Giver.

Alma knows that

the Jews got out of Egypt

that the Just Judge

will get us home

one of these holidays.

 

Winnie comforts us

by telling us

that the baby Jesus

wasn’t at home either

that first Christmas.

79

 

 

Taking Down The Christmas Tree

The tree says to me

“Ouch!

What are you doing?

Here I have been standing

radiant

in your life

like a bride

bedecked

with jewels

a sign of peace

in strife

a glow

that draws all eyes.

And you cut me!

Strike me!

Snatch my wealth!”

 

Oh, how I hate to take the tree down!

 

Christ stands in the living room of my heart.

He says to me

“Ouch!

What are you doing?”

80

 

 

Over The River

 

On this cold winter’s day

just past that sassafras that is so twisted

from having the grapevine

clung and hung all over it

just over the evergreens

the cedar, pine, and spruce

just past that sturdy oak tree

I catch a glimpse of the beautiful

a glimpse of grandeur

a glimpse of what the psalmist

called “the everlasting.”

These are the hills, the Catskills

a wee bit bluer than the blue sky of this day

just that much deeper in color

that I know they are there.

 

So, too, just past the cares of this world

the house cleaning, the cooking

the caring for the children

our duties to others, our worries

 our thoughts and our aspirations

why, I catch a small glimpse of Thee

the Eternal, the Everlasting

just enough to know that you are there.

 

Someday I shall trudge through the woods

and pass over the river that flows between

and climb the foothills and be close

to the mountains in all their glory.

 

Someday I shall go

beyond the cares of this world

and pass over the river.

81

The Failure

 

Once upon a time

in a faraway land

I had a dream.

I was young and lovely

and the whole world loved me.

They knelt around my feet

and spoke praise

even before I had done anything

to be praised

and I knew

that I would do

great things.

 

The world was young

and it was springtime.

I put in my plants and watered them well.

They grew and flourished.

 

Summer came

and summer was wonderful.

The world was wonderful

but someplace along the way

there was a drought

and some of my seedlings dried up.

Though I saw

and hastened to care for the rest

the summer turned out to be a cruel one.

I had to stand there

and watch my plantings wither and die.

 

There was no place to go for water.

 

It slowly came to me

that this was my life

that there would be

no other spring

no more planting time.

 

Fall was here

and I had nothing to show for it

but a handful of last year’s seed

no harvest

no lush fruits

only a handful of last year’s seed

and no new springs to plant it.

 

Winter is coming!

God of Existence

I beg for mercy.

What shall I do?

The summer was a hard one.

 

Let me take my small handful of seed

and give it to someone

who will have a spring and summer yet to come.

 

I shall give it to someone and say

“The seed is good.

It will yield a hundred fold.

It was the summer that did it in.”

 

I shall warn them

to be sure to have a store of water.

83

 

 

The Clothes

We Wear

on our Soul

 

A brittle china case

covers our soul

a feeble tent

that falls into decay.

We carry it around

and cling to it

not knowing

what great God

it keeps from us.

84

 

 

Eternity

 

Built stones

men’s bones

green grass

all pass.

 

Stars  fade

black shade

horn blows.

 

Soul knows

Thy word

still heard.

85