Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Poet and Contemplative

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“From the abundance of his spirit [the poet] pours out secrets and mysteries rather than rational explanation” (Prologue, The Spiritual Canticle).

“In contemplation God teaches the soul very quietly and secretly, without its knowing how, without the sound of words” (Chapter 39, The Spiritual Canticle).

In the spirit of St. John of the Cross, this blog reflects on the contemplative experience and the poetic experience, sometimes separately and distinctly, sometimes in common, as mutually enlightening.

I will also post to this blog, from time to time, my own poetry, with a short interpretive note attached.

~ Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD

The City and Beyond ~ Four Poems – Part 3


Passing Through
~Beale Street, Memphis, USA

Oh, what madness there is in the steely voice
Of an upright piano pounding levies like a swollen river.
What pings of glee spring from the sleek body of
An electric guitar and bounce off walls like popcorn.

The dirge-like wailing of a tenor sax becomes a butterfly
And flits away, sipping flowers up and down the whole length
Of the street.  Yes, Beale Street, birthplace of
Something--the Blues perhaps, or R & B, Rock-n-Roll,

Definitely not Rachmaninoff.  I find a seat in a park bearing
The name W. C. Handy.  That must count for something towards
Establishing my bonafides as an American.  Probably not. 
Still, sitting here quietly for a spell, my soul's unsung sadness

Does take a breather from pondering its own inner jam session
And, looking up, spies a flock of geese flying high overhead,
Inching their way towards the waterlogged rice fields
Of east Arkansas.  These are the fields that are bordered

On one side by a thin row of trees, behind which, each day,
Right on schedule, the sun sets impressionistically,
Inciting the soul to want a second, a third encore.
Part of me so longs to leap up and join that wedge of

Angelic geese that, thundering skyward, my heart lets fly
A winged shout echoing far and wide like church bells.
"Somewhere in China," I think, a stray thought
Manufactured by sheer improvisational skill, "a wooden flute

Perfectly mimics a rainstorm pummeling rooftops."
Later the wooden flute will ask me, Pied-Piper-like, to follow,
And I'll obey, of course.  Minute by minute the city will see less
And less of me.  Even now all that's left is the sudden jig

I let loose earlier, its aftershock piling up on the sidewalk
Like volcanic ash.  Night falls, a shower of burnt out meteors
Tracing lines of clownish devotion down my cheeks.
I can't remember what I'm supposed to say

The last moment I spend lingering here.  Whatever it is,
I'm sure it will wash over me like music as I say it.  "Last call,"

I cry, looking back just once, before carrying on with my life.


Written by Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCD
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