Scenery of the Heart

All spoke
longing, world’s
mother-tongue – confided
it softly, in whispers

All, in short, was the
scenery of the heart: First,
the iron-work door, deep and
ponderous – over there

Then the sill, yonder: an eternal blue

Beyond that, and just visible,
the birds: their
song what
in me was unsingable…

And finally the vintage divan,
redolent, as it happens, of seasons passing:
scrolled feet, loosened from the secret
core of some ancient oak;
resounding, as of the sea…

Yes. They were your eyes. All the color
of rest and repose not yet attained.

was everything
in me
and a vision
of you,
beyond all telling,
past all guessing,
further than the far side
of all previous imagining;
a gift that made me to remember
what I had never,
And yet have always,



True Romantics

The saints are the greatest romantics of all history: They take the greatest risks in the name of Love. They live and die only for Love. So too is it with their longing: It can’t be contained or encompassed, only deepened into ever widening vistas.

“And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day”

Jacob Wrestling-1Convinced
arrival would one day 
receive him in
forerooms plush 
with futility, strain,
defeat – 
the like

Or (better yet): that he would catch
it prowling the gloaming tall-grass 
beyond the dark eyes
of women, hidden there,
and indenominate

Or (better still): wrest it
straight from cold, 

Gazing up now
into the swaying branches
of the trees: how they
in the morning emptiness
that is our only
Claim, our sole
Knowing that, ineluctably,
we are all seeds strewn
widely, stars
set burning
across the
sweeping canvas:

Never touching

Ave Maris Stella

You there, just now rising
Above the farthest reaches
Of all the wide-world’s longing:
Quicken the Moment of this night!
Fan the crickets (eventide minstrels) and
Candle flies (twilight danseurs) into
Life! Summon forth
Hidden springs
– long buried, almost forgotten –
Of deepening desire!

Blissful soles of mine, moon-white upon
Star-spark leaf-down and dew
Grasses – They hasten
Toward the verge of
Earth’s compass, that I might
Stretch out
And touch
You – kiss you,

Oh! To feel the radiant and pearly swell
Of pure innocence!

To burn in the silvery music
Of this moonlight!

Heart starts

               Heart sputters

                                Heart rises up…

And, suspended by your gaze,
Is slain on the altar of your beauty

A child
Once more…



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

Upon Spying a Phainopepla


Night-herald, there you sit,
Poised atop a winnowing tree branch
Pendulating plaintively
In the gloaming breezes

…The color of deepest night,
And drawing all solitude to yourself,
Like the growing shadows
Of this darkening landscape

Ebon polestar of every lonely creature
This night, your sable garments
Conceal the menacing flame in you, flashing

– like spurts of blood –

Out those eyes
And into this heart

“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

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