To stand in the center of one’s own nothingness in solitude before God is like attempting to hold one’s hand over a flame: it is nearly impossible to remain there for more than a few seconds without being overwhelmed by the pain and then withdrawing back to safety, where things are more comfortable. But go there we must. We have to lose ourselves in the furnace of this nothingness – and die. Trusting, of course, that we will be born again, and continually reborn, in the Spirit. 


“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

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.

“This American Life”

Running deeper than
Coincidence, and the meaning
We try
And cobble from it,

Deeper than the
Utterances of our newspaper augurs, or
That special kind of benevolence
We call miracle,

There is the commingling
Of Blood.
Yours, mine, and

A shooting star alights
While we kiss in the twilight:
Might portend something –
Might not.

So might the fact
That we knew each other
For a time
As kids

We try. God,
Do we try.

But there is a harrowing
With which, despite ourselves,
We cannot contend, cannot

Which will despoil
Us of what we arrange
So delicately, like crystal,
In the reliquary of the heart.

The only thing, therefore:

To feel the magnitude of it all
Become music in the clear
Night air,
Become dancing.