“If a jar of wine is left in place a long time, the wine in it becomes clear, settled and fragrant.”

– Evagrius Ponticus

For a long time now:
No words.
Not the color or the
Warmth of them
Even, what we would say
In them swirls fragrantly,
Fills them up 

And learning:
Not the silence
We run from, so much
As the bitterness it contains

Too: That not until you’ve
Harvested its jagged fruit from
The impossible rock, pressed
Its singular flavor from
The faceless, unyielding sky, and
Set it to age all winter long
In the stillness beneath
The earth,
Do you realize: Black,
Not the absence of color,
But a refulgence thereof


On the Margins, Beauty


“— for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.” 

– From “As Kingfishers Catch  Fire,” Gerald Manley Hopkins 


Go to where the secure, for security’s sake,
have banished the seedy and the unseemly,
the crooked and the vile: God’s maimed ones

Go to where sleazies
settle, hustlers
hustle, and beggars do their begging

Go to where hope’s outskirts border on wastelands of despair,
where the well-to-do have discarded
the disfigured children of their lust and ambition – 

Otherwise known as the groaning, wandering
forgotten, who celebrate their eternal, scrap-metal Shakkot upon
the coiling, roaming dusts –

Otherwise known as the dispensable,
unavoidable holocausts
of the dreams and successes of a few…

Go there, to the margins,
and find your beauty.
For the face of the Lord shines in sodden faces
and in dirty places



Before the steady four wheels
Of cradlebound infancy
Could become in him adolescence’s
Fledgeling, jump-start
Two, sorrow made him to know,
In the secret dwellings of his heart,
The “inconsolable origin of all tears.”

In other children, youth flourished and
Grew strong, like young cedar,
And out of their propitious lips
A summer song would issue, limpid and flowing;
And with palms thrust radiantly upwards towards the sky
(as if to offer up to God innocence’s abundant first-fruits),
They would drink copiously of the sunny breezes
(as if to, in turn, partake of the chalice
of His glory and happily, guilelessly, say, “Amen”)…

– And meanwhile, he would shudder in his room at night,
Alone, enfolded
In the yawning weft
Of Sorrow’s shadowy mantle.


Lord, you made me to be without a home
Where all the others seemed to find one;
Turned my blossoming lea into a barren landscape
Riddled, as after a fire, with the smoldering,
Broken bramble of heart-scraps,
Upon which ashes would fall, and still fall
Softly, silently, cold – the fallout of dreams…

All those long, twilight hours at Father’s,
Where with door closed Waiting
Would stretch wide and thin
– Like the growing shadows –
And the Abyss would seem to open up,
Press in upon me, and
Brush up against my face, lightly…

What were they, then? Lord,

Are you listening?

I will answer: Training days,
Training days of longing and lack,
Where longing grew strong, and lack,
To the full stature of manhood

And now a man I am become indeed:

In place of a warm hearth somewhere,
I make my home upon the stillborn plane,
wandering beneath the silent firmament,

The weight of a thousand, thousand years
Flickers dimly, like ancient stars,
Out these obsidian eyes

Ficus Carica

“Abyssus ad abyssum invocat”

That time of year
when the fragrance of orange
      blossoms will alight
upon the evening purple
air, and
                        like primeval threnody,
remind you
of what you once had
and will henceforward always    yearn for –

Will remind you
of that need
                           uncoiling,  as out of the
                                  spool in you,
into the tangled
    and bewildering
weft of

      we – which is to say, you and I – 
regard one another
from afar – silent
                             companions, as it were,
to one another’s waxing solitude…

– waxing, I say, since, to begin with,
         the moon,
is burning itself alive
in the widening mouth of the sky…

In any
    case, it occurs to me   that   perhaps     you and I   
are the only two things on Earth
         ripening now,
sole witnesses to the other’s

Tempting to imagine the honeyed breeze
     flowing poison-adder 
through your callow
       leaves (big as hands) flows
   through       me,
too, setting
                  into motion…

Listening for it…

A mounting shudder:
First gentle,      demure,
– like the rustling
of promenade dresses –
now suddenly
a madness, a craze

a blazing epiphany of something hateful
and demented Dido pyre

Something, I should say, like the hoarse clangor
of Hell’s deepest

Oh, even here,
In this moment,
Where inside is the
Radiance of hearth’s soft glow,
Of aurulent smiles,
Warming my flank
Like happy fire – even here,
I can’t escape it, this
Horror that lurks in shadows
And prowls in empty spaces.



The Babels we erect in our hearts
Crumble into shadow,
rise again, and crumble

And the way you thought was the way:
Vanishing now into the void 
of all your failures

And the blood in you:
Draining out into the night
widening between you and everything

And, by some miracle, you are found:

God – Happens

Comes singular and soft,
like a solitary dove, soaring
over the black wreckage of your heart,
comes and nests in the one
still-standing steeple of your selfhood

And out of this…what?

…can it even be named?

Perhaps the whole of life then:
But to witness this great
work of the Creator in you,
undertaken at night,
accomplished in secrete,
and sealed in silence;
to feel His hands
kneading you, slowly,
painfully, into the heart of everything,
plunging you in and out of hopelessness,

seasoning you

“Thy Kingdom Come”


Lord, our life ripens
On branches pulsing with
Your darkness. And you are
The unseen center of the world’s
Solitude, woven like spider’s
Web through every shadow
And dark corner,
Draped like pall over every
Tomb for ruined hearts,
Scattered like manna across
The desert of our
Ceaseless wandering

Deo Gratias – A Prayer


Just as a stretch of brume
Will with heaven suddenly
Part –
Will, wayward,
From its source in cloudwork host,
And begin to wend its way
Through barren mountain passes,
The rent and the rift of them as it
Courses, unveiling in its wake, at long last,
A beatitude of color,
Joyous, brimful,

Newborn, where before
Loveliness held no dominion,
Where before the scabrous basalt
Twisted with rage
Scabrous, twisted
And cruel,
Each one angry at life
And at every other,

Angry at the
Loutish, slogging Sun
That doesn’t care,
And never will,
And at the hoarse wind
That whips through them
Ceaselessly, howling…

Their primal,
Toungeless, cry
– for what? –
Become a soundless resounding
Through each cavernous
Steep, swallowed up
Once and for all
By the listless
In which no star would seem to burn
For hope’s nightwatch…

– Yes, just so, Lord,
Just so did you pass
Through all of man’s inexplicable
Suffering, only to leave man himself
– Inexplicably, shall I say miraculously? –
In bloom.


Coming to Terms with It

Perusing through old photographs:

Of this one as a child

Little frozen memories
Mother has guarded all
These years, collected
Into lean, cardboard-covered folios
Against the ineluctable
Moldering of time.

Flipping through the leaves
Of this life
Traversing its arch
In seasons: An infant,
Face crunched and rudy,
Swaddled in his mother’s arms, here;
There, a pudgy boy unwrapping
His birthday gifts
Among distracted friends;
Then the eldest of three siblings
Upon a sky-blue colored sofa,
Five years older than the rest,
And already beginning
To ask in his heart

The looming question,
The only question,


Soon he’s about eleven,
Wearing glasses,
And awkward in his adolescence,
Wishing he were
Somewhere else,
Anywhere else,
Than “here.”

Studying that face, as if it
Were somehow other than my own:
A growing presentiment, a
Mounting sadness,
Gathering like storm clouds.
Like black pools
Upon the ruinous flame he
Doesn’t yet see, but which draws
Near irrevocably,
And will hound him
All his life –
Smoke him out of foxholes
Of contentment, and chase
And chase him
Through the long night…

Push him so far into hopelessness
That he can no longer run