Poets’ Corner

On a Photograph of John Martin Finlay

And on the second Sunday of every month, a mass is celebrated for the souls of departed poets. John Finlay (Paris Diary: Dec. 24, 1973) With hands thrust deep in pockets, collar high Upon your neck, and head turned slightly left, You seek the muse, as poets often do, Where land and sea and sky…

On Michaelmas

How can immortal pierce immortal through? This query wracked blind Milton; though he tried To write angelic combat, it was moot, For any wound would seal, all stakes denied. What was it then, that gave your blade the whet To cross and cleave and cast to earth beneath That seven-headed drake? And with what threat…

A Prayer from Babel

Set forth thy true and lively word, O Lord, Amidst this false and deadly earthen tongue With which we are surrounded. For a horde Of men with senseless syllables comes among Us, trampling down thy truth, to build a tower From which they think to wield confusion’s power. Send out thy tuneful sound to earth…

Prayer for a Prayer by a Nonbeliever

I saw a fellow praying by a sandwiched city church, his eyes screwed up and swaying on that sort-of parrot perch. A comic picture, nearly, he presented to me. Still he kept mouthing on sincerely, letting words in silence spill. Through the smelly candlesmoke I watched him, earnest, there, and, reaching deep for habit, spoke…

Hydrangeas

The blade, the cuts, the sighs. Inner pith grown hotter. A vase of injured limbs. Do this to resurrect: Rinse and gash, repeat. Hammer till fibers split. Blossoms’ bee-swarm (hurt-flecked By memories of heat) All loveliness and grit… Life rises from mangle, From stems slashed at angle.

Package Store

A bum—a holy fool all I knew. I’d just redeemed some cans, a case or two And grabbed a single by the checkout queue. Not my proudest move. Remember though, Throwing stones is often quid pro quo. His robe of castoff clothes, his beard askew. He grabbed a bottle, then he bade adieu, Handing over…

The Orangery Stairs

By Rainer Maria RilkeTranslated by Susan McLean Versailles Like kings who ultimately merely pace, almost without a goal, unless to show themselves at times in robes of loneliness to those who bow to them on both sides, so, alone between the balustrades, which bowed already from the start, the stairs rise there, deliberately and by…

The Hermit at Midsummer

He’s watched his body age. Its taut topography — Never a greedy eater, always active — Loosens as its man-shaped coastline, worn By battering years, surrenders to the gravity That pulls the tides. If life means to dissolve — Is this the rule? And is the rule commutative: If birth is death, to die is…

Silent Retreat: Grand Coteau, Louisiana

You followed to a stone, And there the trail was lost. (Yvor Winters) With morning prayer fulfilled, I kneel beneath A dampened oak to brush away a wreath Of moss from lichened stone. Two names appear: Deceased from Mother’s side. Nervous, I peer Beyond the lilting rows of buckled tombs Toward the seminary’s waking rooms…

Ordinations

priest, poet Younger than I by nearly forty years, He stands for examination, then kneels, The bishop laying hands upon the head Of one who prays for strength to rise again, Holding on tight to a Bible, the gift A bishop gives to all whom God has called To preach the Word and offer bread…

(c) 2019 North American Anglican