Poetry

Donna Pucciani 2-05-2015

(nito / Shutterstock)

The tale of nails and wood
is retold on the BBC from Winchester,
with hymns about a balm in Gilead,
a wondrous cross, and the choirboys’ echo
of the Fauré Requiem. Cardinal Newman
sends blessings from the grave,
and the organ grumbles “Amen.”

Abigail Carroll 1-06-2015

When it comes to living small,
you were ahead of your time,
which is why I nominate you
patron saint of tiny homes. So
you haven’t heard of them?

(VladisChern / Shutterstock)

I.
The wailing and the murmured prayers,
the animal ruckus, and coin against coin,
smoke hanging in the temple spaces—
offerings that bear our love to the seat of heaven.

For sixty years my soul has leaned
so hard toward the Almighty, I’m open
like a flower drenched with light
that blossoms into words.

51.

Marilyn Seven 11-06-2014

(Rawpixel / Shutterstock)

Wizards! Caspar! Melchior! Balthasar!
Why fly straight to Fox Herod? Through
Unbounded night—! Bringing only news
Ripe for bloodletting. How black a star
You follow. Herod knows. How bizarre
A kingly claim. Will he oppose? Muse
Like Mary? Ha—! Mothers’ sons lose
Heads to swords & axes. Herod bars
The throne to Jesus. Who kills first?

Naomi Shihab Nye 10-10-2014

(Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock)

Boys on a beach,
women with cookpots,
men bombing tender patches of mint.

There is no righteous position.
Only a place where brown feet
touch the earth.

Maybe you call it yours.
Maybe someone else runs it.
What do you prefer?

Lou Ella Hickman 8-05-2014

(murengstockphoto / Shutterstock)

the young rabbi, earnest and intense,
forgot to read your requested scripture passage
then, a shovel had to be asked for,
so each of us could cover you
with three mounds of warm earth
your daughter fussed a little but later went for shiva at the house
the sermon was almost too simple:
the greatest good deed is to bury the dead

Brian Doyle 7-09-2014

(Roxana Gonzalez / Shutterstock)

The first time we visited my sister in her monastery
Was just after one of our sons had survived massive
Surgeries, before and during which all the monks &
Nuns in the monastery, not to mention thousands of
Other generous souls, had prayed constantly for him
And it turned out that they had gone over the million
Prayer mark for our son, which, according to the law
Of the monastery, gave him lifetime privileges. He’s
No dolt, this kid, and he took off running, to hammer
On drums, and eat the cookies on an altar, and pursue
The grim local peacocks, who were deeply aggrieved.

Madeline Mysko 6-04-2014

(Ricardo Reitmeyer / Shutterstock)

On the monastery walk,
in the clear daylight after
the night of heavy rain,

I consider the moonflower:
how the big spent blooms look like
three linen tea towels rinsed and wrung out,
three yellowed towels someone meant to
pin to the line to dry.

Samuel Harrison 5-13-2014

"Elevation of the Cross," by Peter Paul Rubens

The back-lit morning wave
Clarified emerald suddenly in olive,
Then gone; forever the cry of the Christ's torso
In Rubens' "Elevation of the Cross";
A glass pepper shaker filled to overflowing
By a finger of fallen sun at the close
Of a most mundane afternoon.
Obsessed is perhaps too strong a wod

Kathleen Gunton 4-03-2014

From white villages Easter bells resound.
Rejoice! Give thanks! I raise my voice
Evil disappears from the world.
And that means somewhere God must be.

Zach Czaia 3-05-2014

(Mila Supinskaya / Shutterstock)

Yes, his blood was on us once,
making us famous blades within the blades
community. I mean, many of us
had taken blood and sweat before
from lions and dogs and even fallen birds
or lovers and killers and the killed
but this was the first time we took both
at the same time, from the same creature.

You humans have that saying,
Blood, sweat, and tears. By this you signify work.
Consider the lilies of the field, he said
of our cousins. They neither work nor spin
but I tell you that not even Solomon
in all his glory was clothed like them.

Kathleen McCoy 2-04-2014

(Trakan / Shutterstock)

Chiamaka tells of women who plant seeds
of peace in tribal towns, pot-banging with spoons
to call men off their game of raid-and-rape.

A girl named Hope intercepts the hands
of crowing children trading blows
and coaxes them to shake their hands

although her own are quaking. At school
my shy daughter stuffs notes in friends’ lockers,
imploring playground harmony.

V. Jane Schneeloch 1-05-2014

“Belief is as hard as a hickory nut
that cracked holds many mansions.”
—Pat Schneider

If my belief were a hickory nut
I’d keep it safe in my pocket
easy to find with fumbling fingers.
When challenged
I’d take it out
say here, see this.
This is what I believe.

Harry C. Kiely 12-11-2013

(Fotografiecor.nl / Shutterstock)

Night.
The sheep huddled against this big rock.
Jake keeps watch while I wrestle with sleep:
—wool prices down, third year
—owner talks of selling out
—Jake and me—Where do we go?
—Martha’s carrying our fifth child
—rumors that Herod’s at it again,
—this time killing babies.
—Same old story:
the Empire trades in fear.
Where can we run?
Like papa says, “I hate being poor.”

Philip Metres 11-05-2013

Image by K. J. Snoes

The clouds, pregnant with rain. No light
but an inkling of light. If Advent is a time

of waiting, of joyful anticipation, why are we
so often troubled? Consider Mary, the unknown

future she holds. Or Amy, staying the day
with D—, expecting in January, alone and now

spotting with unexpected blood, baby not yet
ready. What was our life before children? Years

of memories now include the children—as if they
already were born, only we could not see them.

Robert Manaster 10-02-2013

(Jerry Sharp / Shutterstock)

And fallen, fallen light renew!
William Blake

Thou, this humid cloak at dusk, a blue
Air flattened, smoldering the same
Field for years. Oh, Thou—this hardened name
For You not joyously sprung, not grown to grace

Ewuware Osayande 8-02-2013

(Ira Bostic / Shutterstock)

they will kill you
and say I’m sorry
and expect your mother to
forgive and forget
she ever gave birth to you
carried you in love for nine months
endured labor
and pushed you out with God’s might moving in her hips
ever fed you life from her bosom
or how you smelled like heaven after she washed you
that she ever watched you take your first steps
speak your first words
ever tucking you into bed with stories that rocked you to sleep
the many nights she prayed for your protection
or how excited she was the day you gave your first recital
that she ever taught you to be good and kind
ever beamed with pride
whenever you got an A on your test
that she ever wanted the best in this world for you

Leigh Donaldson 7-01-2013

(m6photo / Shutterstock)

Early morning
before he unlocks the church gate
the rector kneels before
the gridiron fence surrounding the Cathedral,
not in prayer
but to collect empty wine bottles,
snack bags, and used condoms.

After shoving them into a bag
he turns the latch key and enters the churchyard
shutting it behind him.
The hollow, thunderous deadbolt
echoes through trees like the voices of
ancient saints.

Gene Fox 6-05-2013

Detail from "The Sea Stopped Raging," by Barry Moser, from Pennyroyal-Caxton Bible, 1999, used with permission.

From the midst of the nether
world I cried for help.
 —from the Book of Jonah

A gray whale blows off Cardiff Beach,
just beyond the glamour homes,
boutiques, and drive-thru windows,
valet service and all-u-can-eat sushi.
I want to swim out and be swallowed.

 
Jonah’s whale wasn’t Ahab’s, all
tripey white and peg-toothed, but
a strainer of phosphorescent shrimp,
which lamped the reeking gut, like
fireflies we swallowed once, in jars.

Rose Marie Berger 5-11-2013

On my knees I beg forgiveness for my greed—
and for starving myself.
By your eyes I see you love this priest,
follow his lyrical fingers in praise of
a small white host he points here,
there.