Category: Poetry (Page 3 of 4)

To my Mother

You raise all sorts of flowers, bright splendor from the dirt;

Their beauty thanks, rewards you, in speech of fragrant words.

But when it comes to washing that hundredth smelly shirt,

Scrubbing that thousandth plate off, or picking bunny turds,

Or raking through the thicket of toys and who knows what,

Or once again erasing that pencilled backwards 5,

Or cutting food for hours, yourself oft getting cut,

Vacuum, detergent, wet wipes, grocery bags, miles to drive—

These may not seem as lovely, their fruits meager and mean;

Scarce color or sweet fragrance floats up your work to hail;

Scant thanks on earth for toils of the domestic queen,

No praises for her battle when chaos-weeds assail.

Yet eyes of higher justice, that watch the hidden things,

Observe her life of giving and see there nothing small;

For her is kept a splendor beyond the themes man sings,

Where something fair shall blossom from humble labors all.

And know you that your efforts are altered even now,

By wise and mighty wonder, to sweet resplendent bloom,

Glowing bright hues exquisite, all gathered—who knows how?—

Around the King of Heaven, His high throne to perfume.

The Mercy of Fatima

Twenty long centuries back through Earth’s story,

Broken man heard gracious words from her Son,

“I came to lead up the fallen to glory,

Seeking the lost, lest sin bring them undone.”

So she, one century past, came descending

Out from the splendor and peace near His throne,

Down ‘mid the ugliness and hate unending

That men were reaping, as first they had sown.

 

She came, our Mother! all mercy and brightness,

Strong seaside beacon, all blazing with grace,

Seeing in tattered souls the divine likeness

Hurtling through lonely chasms of space.

Through humble messengers she gave her warning:

“Turn now from sins, lest they tear you apart!

Answer my Son with your love, not with scorning;

Come and learn virtue from your Mother’s heart.”

 

Her chosen seers, they saw her heart bleeding;

With Heaven’s sight she saw all, maybe wept,

For she beheld many loved children speeding

Through empty lives, faith and pledges unkept;

Swarms of the suffering, deep rivers running

Thick with the flow of their blood and their tears;

Cold, careless souls all the agony shunning;

Stony eyes seeing naught but what appears.

 

Yet in her breast her Son’s own heart beat truly,

His will, His love, were hers, burning to bless;

Dear Mother, gathering her children newly,

Clement Queen, pouring forth Heaven’s largesse!

By words and wisdom, by her Spouse the Spirit,

By lights on high and the sun’s changing face,

She made that field, for all who drew near it,

Even in thought, a great wellspring of grace.

 

Come, tortured hearts! fly in hope to your Mother,

Come, doubting souls, hail your most gracious Queen;

No foul grime-clouds can once hope to smother

The Heaven-star now at Fatima seen!

Once with the sun’s mighty flame she dried sweetly

Thousands who gathered in tempest and rain;

Now souls, with pain or crime sodden completely,

In her Son’s flaming love she warms again!

 

Through this past century, blackest and bleakest

Of any age that has known foolish man,

How many heard, when their spirits grew weakest,

Her gentle call, “Rise, come home–you still can!”

How many came to that high-favored field,

Seeking their share in the grace that she brought,

And found their mustard-seed faith, sown there, yield

Harvest of joy beyond all hope or thought!

A Word on the Sacred Heart

As through the midnight shades I go,
Amid the dark I see a glow,
So bright, so warm, a wide window–
O Lord, is it Thy Heart?

I feel its warmth from where I stand,
Its sweetness ‘mid the barren land,
Reach from it, Lord, and take my hand–
Bring me into Thy Heart.

There shall I find all I could miss,
My every true love’s fullest bliss,
If Thou, dear Lord, but grant me this–
To keep me in Thy Heart.

The Easter Candles

 

Lights out! and all is dark throughout the nave;

Dim faces float like Hades’ ghosts all round,

Gazing out eagerly as from a grave

Toward a faint flicker and a subtle sound.

A voice resounding strong the stillness breaks,

And in our midst leaps up a starlike light;

The heavy night unto its splendor wakes,

Awakes from somberness to God’s delight.

For as the flame advances through our ranks,

Its glow is born afresh in all our hands;

The night turns beautiful as gladsome thanks

Rise from this Vigil, as our faith commands.

Then lights above once more break over all,

And lively bells the hour of triumph call.

 

So lay the weary world in thick of night,

In sin’s long shadow of mortality,

Straining its eyes toward the stupendous fight

Where Light died to flame up eternally.

A world of shades, that only dark’s reign knew,

Awoke and blinked and hailed its rising Sun,

And in His friends’ poor timid hearts there grew

A glow of joy, a fire of love, each one

Receiving these as candle flames from Him,

And passing them to whoso they could find;

So though the earth be wrapped in shadows grim,

Bright joy-flame marks the Risen Savior’s kind,

Who look on toward a day to end all night,

When dark shall flee before the conqu’ring Light.

 

Take then this deathless light He’s kindled here;

Receive it, all you souls who live in gloom;

Let it in all your thoughts and ways appear,

Inflame your heart, and all your world illume.

No longer can we live as men before;

Despair does not become believing hearts;

Our hymn of wond’ring gratitude must soar,

Aglow with love and finest craft of arts.

So though we still dwell on a darkened Earth,

In fairest light and trusting hope we’ll live,

Our souls the candles lit at our rebirth

With that blest fire that Jesus came to give–

Until the stand against the dark is past,

And Day to end all night breaks forth at last!

Wounds

Ugly, ragged things,

Red footprints of this sin-ridden Earth,

Red and gaping eyes all weeping forth

Streams of sufferings.

 

Open doors to dirt,

Foul invasion of rent flesh and heart,

Corruption growing in every part,

Each unguarded hurt.

 

Signs of Adam’s fall,

Dragging down his children farther still,

Paining, tempting, threatening to kill,

Bitter plague to all.

 

Then laid senselessly

Upon flesh that could not know such stain,

Letting sacred blood-streams out to drain

Over Calvary.

 

Horrors lifted high,

Smears of evil making Him downtrod

Who is all glory—gore ripped from God,

Blackening the sky!

 

Tearing a divide

Far below that bloody, barren height,

In the curtain grim that barred the light,

Blindingly divine, from human blight—

Split now, like His side.

 

Floodgates to the earth,

Gashes letting streams of healing in,

Founts of anguish through which, for our sin,

Seas of peace and comfort now have been

Won—His sorrow’s worth!

 

Darkened soon, and dry,

Then, in darkness, brilliantly inflamed

With a fire like dawn, with something claimed

That leaves death itself to be ashamed—

Eloi Adonai!

 

Blazing signs, now free

From the bitter shame and ugliness,

Burning sunlike through our hopelessness,

Challenging our feeble hearts to guess

What’s past Calvary.

 

Here, on us, our pain,

Ugly, shameful, most bitter to bear,

Our hope too, and when we follow there,

Likening us to His splendor fair,

Who was hurt and slain.

Coming Home

in the same pattern as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “My Lost Youth”

 

Here, where in sacred silence reigns

The last King on hidden throne,

And colored glass the sunlight stains,

I hope that he may hear the pains

Of an exile all alone.

For a voice from within my heart

Is endlessly calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

Long, long ago I set out from the town

And the house of my first years,

Where my memories soaked through the ground

And the roots of my heart twined down and around,

And I glanced behind with tears.

And that voice like a piercing blade

Was tearing my spirit thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

As I walked a land that I knew not,

I would feel my exile keen,

And my pain of love grew deep and hot

As my thoughts rejoined each hallowed spot

Of the home where I had been.

And that voice like a wasteland wind

Was echoing bleakly thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

But the current of time poured a healing stream

On my aching, yearning heart,

And steady change like unthinking dream

Made all my world refashioned seem

And life made another start.

And that endless murmuring voice

Called now but mildly thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

In time, the life I’d newly found

Showed its beauties bright to me,

And my memories soaked into the ground,

And the roots of my heart twined down and around,

And I dwelt there happily.

And that voice sounding warm and sweet,

If I left, kept calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

But the current of time is never still,

Never knew a foe nor friend;

So it steals away both good and ill,

And empties where it once did fill,

So my new life had to end.

And that voice, like a mourning bell,

Was bitterly chiming thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

Once again the yawning gap of space

Spread between me and my home,

And as I left each well-known place

And turned in tears from each dear face,

I felt earth a spreading tomb.

And I heard that soft, sad voice

Like a grieved friend calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

Many moons would wax and wane before

I was free to heed that call.

But when I trod the old ground o’er

And saw my little land once more,

I found change come over all.

And that voice sounding pained and lost

Was persistently calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

O where can I go on the whole wide earth

Where that summons I may heed?

This cry that’s been with me from birth,

It grows near maddening for dearth

Of a sating for its need!

Blessed God, what shall I do?

For that voice is still calling me thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

O Thou far the mightiest, richest King,

Who hear all the crying poor,

Wilt Thy power infinite not bring

The lost one in his suffering

To a rest for spirits sore?

For so many hearts like mine

Are hearing the anguished call,

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

Now from a thin ray that falls like rain,

From a flame in crimson glass,

From a tiny image, dark and plain,

Of a figure stretched in mortal pain,

Like all men’s grief wrought in brass,

Now I seem to hear those words

From above me whispered thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

And the sculptures white that ring this hall

As around the square in Rome,

Now seem to look down, glad and tall,

As victors over sorrows all,

From their hard-won, well-loved home.

And they call their cheers to me,

Silent voices ringing thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

From these hallows into meadows green

Go I through a streaming breeze,

And the clouds all flame with glory keen,

Golden fire spread o’er the human scene,

Glowing through raindrops and trees.

And that voice like a horn of hope

Through it all is calling thus:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies; there is your peace.”

 

When the end of this wandering draws near,

Blessed King, o send Thy voice;

All my days for Thee I’ll labor here,

That the homeward summons I may hear

That makes weary hearts rejoice,

When that voice sounding glad at last

Shall call me for one more time:

“Child, come home, come home,

Yonder it lies;

Enter your peace.”

Synkatabasis

Staining streaks across my face,

Grief-blurred eyes to Thee I raise,

Lifting up my sickened moan

Toward Thy likeness carved in stone.

Looking up, I think I see,

In the dim light, suddenly–

Hardly dare I speak for fear–

On Thy cheek is that a tear?

 

Sick and sad, my soul leaves blood

Staining everywhere I’ve stood;

Silent crying for the thorn

Tearing at this heart forlorn.

Lonely, cut from human aid,

Gaze I up, worn out, afraid,

Lo! the Hand raised over me

Sheds blood more profusély.

 

Know’st Thou, then, a grief like mine?

What deep anguish has been Thine?

Dost Thou know the voidish night,

Hours of bitter, silent fight?

Hast Thou known the stabbing woe

Of betrayed poor hearts below?

Thou hast felt it, I can see,

For Thou now weepest with me.

Beati

When you’re round beset with losses

And your heart and flesh stripped bare,

When you look for the old comforts

But find only empty air,

When you’re driven to the limits

Of what feelings can endure,

Let your spirit hear your Savior

Saying, “Blessed are you poor.”

 

When you hear the world’s cruel laughter

For the love by which you live,

When you find no one who’s willing

To accept the heart you give,

When you’re crushed beneath betrayal,

Growing weary, feeling weak,

Let your spirit hear your Savior

Saying “Blessed are you meek.”

 

When the sight of your corruption

Tempts you to shrink back in fear,

When life strikes your tend’rest center,

Sparing not your sacred dear,

When some rare unspoken anguish

Leaves your soul deep gashes torn,

Let your spirit hear your Savior

Saying, “Blest are you who mourn.”

 

When you feel your life outflowing

Like the blood from piercéd side,

Let your spirit hear your Savior

Saying, “Blest you crucified!

Blest are all who suffer with Me,

For I promise you shall rise.

In My plan, the one who triumphs

Must be first the one who dies.”

Walk Along the Sea

Lo, one there is who walks along the sea,

Alone, and deep in silence, on the line

Where wet sand shimmers, glass-like, endlessly.

 

Clear sand-stretch and pure air scented with brine

Afford him quiet as he bends his ear

To catch in whisp’ring wind a word or sign.

 

Beyond the sand a city, tier on tier,

Spreads its great teeming panoply before

The one who walks and looks and strains to hear.

 

For he must enter it, depart the shore,

And live therein for months and years to come

Until he hears the sloshing of the oar

 

Sweeter than flute or harp, upon the foam,

The ship that will come for him and will bear

Him over all the ocean to his home.

 

But he can’t enter before finding where,

Where is the street to his right lodging-place.

He seeks one fit for him, to sojourn there.

 

Knowing not where to go, he sets his face

To look for signs as he walks firmly on,

And doubting not the whisp’ring wind of grace.

 

At times he looks out to the horizon

Beyond the sea, toward home, in sun-glow bright,

And in soft voice sends out this orison:

 

“How I yearn for my cherished homeland’s light,

My Dear, my Guide and Guardian, well you know;

But I would not depart ere time is right,

 

“Ere I complete the work that time will show,

Duties that wait within the city’s wall,

That You’ll give me, until ’tis time to go.

 

“See how I strain to hear Your whisper’s call,

The wind of grace that shows the surest way

And place and part to walking wanderers all.

 

“Until I find a place where I may stay,

A restless sadness often grips my feet,

And whispers that I do but vainly stray;

 

“But Your love, unthinkably strong and sweet,

Is my firm shield against that poisoned word.

Despite my grieving heart, my steps run fleet,

 

“And I, with boldness like some soaring bird,

Run on after Your voice, which makes me free–

You’ll lead me surely by Your whispers heard.

 

“So now, content to know that You’re with me,

In quiet trust I’ll walk along the sea.”

Glory of a Winter Night

Why winter night? On earthly nights

The dark resounds with exiles’ cries,

And faces stained lift up their sights

Toward stars in distant-seeming skies.

The stony ground will hardly bear

A living thing, while men spread round

False flashing panoply; the air

Pulses with their chaos of sound.

And yet tonight the stars feel near,

And hardened earth her bounty brings,

And many an oppresséd ear

Now hears the angels’ carolings.

 

“What means this show of light and scent?”

The world demands. “Why flowers and flames,

When all the dark, indifferent

Storms make our agony their games?”

“A Star has broken through the night!”

We answer back. “For Adam’s curse

Will shatter by an Infant’s might;

So shall we sing! Storms may grow worse,

And yet tonight the stars feel near,

And hardened earth her bounty brings,

And many an oppresséd ear

Now hears the angels’ carolings.”

 

O faces stained with streams of grief,

O eyes grown hot with stinging tears,

Look up! He comes, your sweet relief,

The great desire of all the years!

For battered souls, in lives like death,

Or lost in miry wastes of sin,

The sinless Maid of Nazareth

Tonight bears the Redeemer in.

Look up! tonight the stars feel near,

And hardened earth her bounty brings;

O listen, you oppresséd ear,

And hear the angels’ carolings!

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