heart wounds draining.
Their dark voices taunt from inner berths
and some bear pillars of salt
from family heirlooms.
They advance in file,
and each steps forth
into clusters of waiting children
who, reaching with veiny hands,
touch as Michelangelo’s Creation
and utter ancient prayers.
From somewhere wind exults
into their bodies. Currents flush
flecks of light flutter at their heels, and
we, with watery eyes,
watched their passage in deep breaths.
Below Wesley’s spire they descend basement stairs
into the pantry waiting room, taking numbers,
and sit. I wonder
those thirty or so, their lives—
carried by worn feet, ragged bicycles, hybrid buses,
cars with blistering paint and child seats—
she, eyes black as coffee, shows a water bill
$90 past due (in red), bags her rations, rests
on dog-paw elbows and smiles at a new toothbrush
he, face worn as barn floor planks
owes $400, no power two months counting
and picks cereal, dry goods, nods
until the last one, Yankee accent,
tells his migration from Connecticut
to some three-gas-station town in SC
to here, strokes a black beard—gazes beyond me,
over pantry shelves into a heavenly place his eyes know,
leaves, plastic bags sagging
in each hand. I wonder
about these raw people, a splinter out of reach,
how good news speaks in noodle soup, sliced wheat bread, and applesauce.
“All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” When later asked by Reginald to return to writing, Aquinas said, “I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings like straw.”
—St. Thomas Aquinas quoted in 1273, who authored twenty volumes and Summa Theologica, 3,020 pages, unfinished.
Early morning. Gardenia fragrance rises
the way steam does around pond lilies
and billows through the bedroom window,
waking sleepy eyes and misting cheeks.
Through the shades, light blazes bars on the wall
and we reach to grip each golden rung—climbing—where?
Poems are words made of straw,
Feed to chew over and over, cud for the soul
while dreams of alfalfa and clover fields
bloom in green seas
Always beyond this and our straw.
The author has written both free and metric verse for over fifty years and has been published in a number of poetry journals, such as American Vedantist, Vineyards, The Christian Communicator (3 issues and one forthcoming), Third Wednesday, Time of Singing (twice), Parody, The Merton Seasonal, Crux Literary Journal and forthcoming in The Laughing Dog, Windhover - A Journal of Christian Literature and Vox Poetica.
He works as an almost-retired addiction and mental health counselor, volunteer at a prison camp, and is graced with a happy marriage, daughter and son-in-law, and Yeshua.