Saturday, April 05, 2008

Scripture and Holy Tradition [...] give us no grounds for supposing that, through a steady advance in "civilization", the world will grow gradually better and better until mankind succeeds in establishing God's kingdom on earth. The Christian view of world history is entirely opposed to this kind of evolutionary optimism.

Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, p. 134

The rive-gauche mafia's jussive cries
for help and collegiality
thunder faintly down profligate corridors
of panache and decentralization.

Whose palazzo is it anyway?
We are chirpy, chirpier, chirpiest
choristers addicted to life.
We are known as a place of welcome,
so stay away
if you're not one of us.

Where are the lispers and traipsers of yesteryear? Or yesternight
Huddled in a bunker, knocking back the bubbly?
Such froth! Such frippery! Oh, you ...

you rascal,
with your lissome repartee
and your bodacious "fear of same."


Friday, April 04, 2008

Five poems

Wine, guitars, blue bulls, red sun,
outmoded whispers --


The haiku of blue
by Kobayashi-Rimbaud
shines like jolie lune ...


traceries of yestermorn,
forgeries of night


Hoosegow bumpkin strums
on mauve mandolin


Weighing grey, rehearsing sound,
eccola! Spring rain
drops like light

Realism, modified

The stone is dreaming of Vienna. Bowie plays Doha.
If all else fails

Write about all the proper themes
Write about bridge-builders and icon-makers
Write about massacres and resolute measures
Write about popular music and cultureslaves
Write about the Book of Common Prayer
Write about the grousings of overpaid first-basemen
Write about formality and decorum
Write about sartorial splendor
Write about religion and discount prophecy
Write about the whited sepulchres
Write about September 16th on Hampden Street
Write about ethics in journalism
Write about the President of the United States
Write about the burning issues of the day

Write about all the wrong things
Write about Silver Lake New Hampshire
Write about the death of American poetry
Write about nihilism and prenatal infanticide
Write about the sparrows 30 minutes before sunrise
Write about Hildegarde of Bingen
Write about an appointment at 2:45 pm
Write about the drunk who met His Eminence
Write about women who make the city heaven
Write about Westminster and Windmill Hill
Write about the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Write about sinners and dense theologians
Write about the mysteries of life
Write about taboos and kinks and addictions

Write about things you don't know about
Write about people and places you haven't met or seen
Write about mediocrities and blithe spirits
Write about the second cup of coffee
Write about Dutch waitresses who pretend to be Irish
Write about serious things like Hollywood marriages
Write about the contemporary scene with detached irony
Write about the French because somebody has to
Write about Saint Monica who prayed for her son
Write about cappuccino at the Kendall Square Cinema
Write about dashed hopes and broken promises
Write about red leaves in late August
Write about variety being the spice of life
Write about a sturdy hammock in suburban shade

And if all else fails be silent
Because silence never makes mistakes


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Emily Dickinson
from a letter

The Sailor cannot see the North --
but knows the Needle can --

about the retreat to the Trappist abbey sixteen years ago ...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Commonwealth Avenue Mall

Sparrow, fierce extortionist!
I have no more crumbs.


To a Trappist

Oh, to be he, with snakes in the jakes!
Cistercian Merton, in his hermitage of icons,
in his dream-den where Proverb sings a secret ageless wisdom,
yes, the monk of hopeful phone-calls to hospitals of love.
Cistercian Merton, left of center, marginal in the rusted trailer,
patron of my fringe existence, pray for me
with your edifying cables, your sensational times,
your blind-lion tears between loblolly pines,
your vanishing trails to the stone Buddhas of unforeseen heaven,
your vow of silent conversation, prosing haiku pictures
of the cloistered farm, of nature's wreckage,
of the ramshackle glory of things as they are,
your coffee on cold mornings, your dexterous calligraphies,
your ephemeral Zen monuments of anguish and joy,
your sinful-saintly standing watch as the world does its work,
your searing psalmody, your soaring liturgies, your telling beads of
your sighs to the hills and frosted nightstars
of a distant immortal Kentucky.


Monday, March 31, 2008

call it what you will


leaf-life blighted by the smoke
from a passing bus


treble tolls of bleak dismay
drab rodomontade


the morning of the poem
jazzy drops of rain


and the dulcet bumblebees
murmuring their gripes


lemon-scented buttercups
lisp their odes to spring


canopied boulangeries
rambunctious churches


The ecumenical python lunged at the scrumptious daisy, causing paroxysms of havoc, maniacal fits of glee, in the community of Anglo-Catholic tumbleweeds.

Here endeth the lesson.
16 years ago this week

I was making a retreat at a Trappist monastery. The monks were very kind. A cherished memory.


I have tried to hold you in my heart; 
You will not accept this grasp and clutch.
(Days turn into years: shall I forget
Her whose face and voice I loved so much?)
Splendid, gentle, proud, defiant one,
Dwell within me like an inner sun:
Warm the places lacking love and light.

Speak to me of peace, O sainted soul:
Mercy must be born again in me.
Come, beloved, teach a prattling fool
Ways of hope and faith and charity.
Smile upon my sorrow; banish fear;
Cleanse me from the sins of yesteryear:
Live within my life and make me whole.


Sunday, March 30, 2008


if everything happens that can't be done
(and anything's righter
than books
could plan)
the stupidest teacher will almost guess
(with a run
around we go yes)
there's nothing as something as one

one hasn't a why or because or although
(and buds know better
than books
don't grow)
one's anything old being everything new
(with a what
around we come who)
one's everyanything so

so world is a leaf so a tree is a bough
(and birds sing sweeter
than books
tell how)
so here is away and so your is a my
(with a down
around again fly)
forever was never till now

now i love you and you love me
(and books are shuter
than books
can be)
and deep in the high that does nothing but fall
(with a shout
around we go all)
there's somebody calling who's we

we're anything brighter than even the sun
(we're everything greater
than books
might mean)
we're everyanything more than believe
(with a spin
alive we're alive)
we're wonderful one times one