Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rick Hartwell- Three Poems

                        Holy Day

Early arrivals chatter and chirp, spreading throughout pews;
speakers pop and cackle, musicians unsheathe instruments;
choir members appear, adjust microphone heights –
            testing, testing,
                        test. test. test –

Some younger cannot let go of secular conversations;
choir initiates melodious song to instruct and inspire;
isolated, families with babes presumed to disturb –
            testing, testing,
                        test. test. test –

A first, unofficial reading from the Gospel;
silence and stillness practiced by most;
laggards arrive to sufferance of some –
            testing is over, finally
                        connected with Him –

Ritual and repetition, candles and incense;
entry of celebrants robbed in fine raiment,
unblemished lineaments; earthly trappings
for ethereal entreaties raised to the scene
            and Unseen –
                        still testing.

            Mislaid Letter to a Misled Priest

Priests must go where they are told; usually to a parish;
on occasion to a rehab, detox, or mental health facility.

They are to go humbly, meekly, without question or
hesitation, but militarily obedient to the army of god;
so why question authority in your chain of command?

I set this down as a reminder to the vagaries of life,
guilt, redemption you seemed so hell bent to refuse.

Knowing you as a monk would have been your
greatest gift to me, but cornered, cajoled, lured
to priesthood, perhaps by a call heard by others.

You studied, matriculated and took your final vows
in an elaborate ceremony, shouldering subservience.

New mantles: Priest, Confessor, Eucharist Celebrant
elevating Host and monk to ecclesiastic stature
far from your unassuming devotion in the desert.

Birth to boy, man to monk, priest to death, ashes and dust.

You, an uncommon soul, laid to rest from our wasteland.

Aurora Mysterium, Magnificat

Silken snail-traces across the bricks,
Captive chirps from neighboring cages,
Dew spangled threads from eave to trees,
Inviting wafts of aromatic ground Arabica
Commuter clogged mass of slowing traffic,
Grass sodden with the surcease of sprinklers,
Almost alluring odor of a not too distant skunk,
Slap and skid of newsprint across the driveway,
Pungent meld of trucked oranges and hot brakes,
Lingering animal musk of sexual satiation, and the
Bitter tang of stale cigarettes and lonely, boxed wine.

Mismatched metaphors of splendor,
Invigorating the local environment,
Each containing elements saluting the

Dawn, renewing the body of each day.

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather be still tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at

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