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.
If I were a tree
I would like to be
A giving tree.
Leaves a peaceful green,
Birds could sit and sing,
Children laugh and swing
Upon my branches.
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.
Editor’s Note: The following poem by Trevor Scott Barton was written while he was living in Africa and reading The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi.
Holding you in the palm of my hand
I see your tiny feet and hope you'll live and walk these stony paths
To the pump to get water.
Blessing you in your meekness and gentleness,
You are Jesus to me today.
Kind, tired eyes from too much seeing ...
Worn, battered shoes from too much walking ...
Stained, tattered shirt from too much working ...
Gentle, calloused hands from too much holding ...
Open, humbled heart from too much knowing ...
Mass in Las Choapas, Mexico
Yesterday Kay Stewart shared this at the cemetery as we laid to rest the ashes of her first-born daughter Katherine (“Katie”).
For Christ to have gone before us,
To have kept us from ultimate sadness,
To be our brother, our advocate,
The One who ushers in the Kingdom,
And the One to come,
Does not keep us from our digging today.
We still gather here and throw the dirt on our sacred dust,
We take the shovel like all those gone before us
And surrender to the Unknowable—
The place where
Love and Beauty and Kindness grow wild.
Where sorrow has no needs,
Where there is all beginning and
The crumpled woman pushes through the door
and sees your plump limp limbs
held tight in my buckled arms.
She remembers holding
such sweet eternity.
life's bright beating softens here.
Some say it holds the place of time,
watch springs wrapped tight
under the bone.
Waking, he is held by his father,
whose arms have newly borne
to breathe heavily
into our enemy chest.
Blindfolded and gagged, tossed in the back / of a car -- it's how they gather up young men /
Hemorrhaging from the concertina / crown, brass knuckles, scourging, cigarette burns, / lurching the last meter of Golgotha