May 27, 2013
Saying the prayer Christ taught us,
we are mindful that in ritual time
He is still saying, “Our Father Who Art
in Heaven.” His words echo
through the Holy Spirit from mouth
to mouth, so that when we say,
“Our Father Who art in Heaven,”
we are mindful that others too
are saying, “hollowed be thy name,”
from church to church, house to house,
state to state, time zone to time zone,...April 29, 2013
“Repeat this prayer 10 times,
send it to 15 friends.
Within 3 days you will receive a blessing
you have been waiting for.”
Who is this God, I wonder, who people think
has to be begged, cajoled,
into caring for his children?
He is not my God.
Still, it makes no sense, what we call prayer.
Me, six times on bended knee pleading
for my daughter’s unborn babies...April 22, 2013
This bowl must have been hanging in its tree
above the cars and parking meters, above men
wrapped like pods and sleeping in doorways,
above the coffee cup lids, newsprint cubism, and
the quintillion cigarette remnants of sidewalk still life.
And now it’s underfoot, a sudden flash on wet pavement,
its woven twig wreath exploded out, but
still holding its circle, like some ring nebula
in a false-...April 8-15, 2013
The old woman in ICU wants to rail against the Church.
Patriarchy, she says, hierarchy, and I agree.
She looks just like my mother.
But you’re dying, I say.
Why are we talking about this?
Why does any of this matter?
And the sun slants through the dusty window.
My Roman collar chafes.
On the monitor, the peaks and valleys
of her failing heart.
May I give you communion? I ask her....March 25, 2013
Kissing the cross,
O precious cross,
it blisters the lips
like the hot coal
held to Isaiah.
O holy cross,
there is a body on it
with a deep wound
the wound dealt by the world
to the hopes of God.
O beautiful God
who could not let us be
in our blind man’s bluff
our cruel humors
O spent flesh
that took on ours,
O banked...March 4, 2013
We do not in our country
niche you at corners,
crossroads, highway shrines.
But in Karen’s face as she talks of her son
whose pain will not redeem the world;
as Marguerita, whose eldest will not
survive her; in Sylvie, whose child
learned all his letters in his second year
and by age four had been condemned
to mute incomprehension,
mother of...February 11, 2013
The city suffocates with the smell
Of hemp, soaked in blood, everywhere.
Hour after hour after hour she tosses
From one nightmare to another.
Her bed sheets, once silvered
With the scent of nard, taste of gall.
She dreams she sees her husband, the prefect
Of equivocation, leaning over the portico
Trying to appease the mob’s spite.
A blood-drenched man with woven thorns
Crowning his head stands before him.
He seems...February 4, 2013
In the stories I return to, people love each other
indirectly. Offering coins, their moonlit
faces. Not receiving too much credit.
Like the man at work today who answered
“How are you?” with “Blessed.” I thought,
that’s not an answer to the question.
Afterward, I spent the day remembering:
I’m alive and breathing, drinking tea
with cinnamon. All day that was beautiful.
Later afternoon, the...January 21-28, 2013
In certain folktales, she appears with Mary,
pierced through with the scissors and needles
of girls who worked, forbidden, on Sundays.
She is marred with knives, and scarred
with scythes wielded disobediently.
I imagine Christ’s gentle hands, healing
his battered Saint, pulling nails from her flesh,
gauzing over the wounded, bleeding breast.
As when I lay on a gurney before surgery,
my eyes...December 24, 2012
Were I a friar of Convento San Marco
In Florence of the Quattrocento
With Fra Angelico and students
Working on some fifty frescos
And every tiny cell a shrine
I would ask for myself
“An Annunciation or Nativity please!”
An image luminous enough to brighten
The darkness of the pre-dawn call
From grand silence to matins
Greeting me from the foot of my cot
The serene figures the muted colors
Catching the early eastern glow