Discalced Carmelite Friars

Province of St. Therese

Abraham Heschel
Angel Gabriel
Beale Street
Blessed Virgin Mary
care of soul
Carmelite spirituality
contemplative experience
contemplative prayer
contemplative spirit
creation story
Cristian life
deep listening
desire for God
Divine Beauty
Divine Mercy
Easter Triduum
encounter with the sacred
expressive sounds
God the Father
God the Son
God's blessing
God's creation
God's desire
God's ecstatic essence
God's faithfulness
God's gift
God's gifts
God's glory
God's Kingdom
God's love
God's magnanimity
God's majesty
God's mercy
God's movements
God's presence
God's providential care
God's purpose
God's righteousness
God's word
God's world
Good Friday
gratuitousness of God
Holy Infant
holy longing
Holy Saturday
Holy Spirit
Holy Thursday
Holy Trinity
Holy Week
Holy Wisdom
human voice
Jessica Powers
Jesus Christ
John of the Cross
John the Baptist
journey to God
letting go
literary works
Little Flower
Little Rock
Liturgy of the Hours
living for God
love for God
Mary Holy Mother of God
natural sounds
new life
New Year
Our Father
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Sorrows
Paschal Mystery
pine forest
prayer life
presence of God
religious formation
Sabbath rest
Saint Francis
spiritual discovery
spiritual experience
spiritual healing
spiritual journey
spiritual life
St. John of the Cross
St. Paul
St. Teresa of Jesus
St. Therese
the arts
the Cross
The Living Flame of Love
The Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Supper
the world
Theory of Relativity
union with God
veneration of the cross
waters of Baptism

“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

God Is Love

 ~33 antiphons               i. Let the trees be nourished by sunlight while they Shade my head here below.  With marigolds aflame The new day crowns us, their little tongues Wagging in unison.  The sky, straining upwards, Mimics a bluish glass vase.  Birds blossom.              
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Five Haiku About Fire

  People will gather them and throw them into a fire….Jn 15:6   (1)        The window is cracked,             And wind enters whistling. See,             The gas-flame trembles.   (2)        Burning
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Waiting to Rise

Before him shall bow all who go down into the dust….Ps 22:30b I and my heart and my heart’s heart Droop beneath the beauty of his moonlit soul— O Saints all around him, hiding him, sheltering him, He shall join me in the dust someday   When wagon wheels roll along the ruts My arms and legs have dug. He will shower me With massive teardrops, tears of joy massive As basketballs blown of glass.
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Mass of Creation

They were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple….Acts 9:26 After mass I rushed out the side door. No, I wasn’t pushed. I was pulled— The spring day drew me, while  The final blessing, a kindly breeze, Rustled through the treetops above. From former ways to newness of life— So I muttered the closing prayer. Yes, I had arrived. Earthworms Lounged on
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At Home in the New World

Yet so we are….1 Jn 3:1  It seems like a real place, of undersized water moccasins And otters who can talk. I lower my feet into the stream, And for a fleeting few seconds I’m one with something grand, Yet intimate—beech trees and tufted grass, a blue satin sky Ripe for mental sailing. Who wouldn’t want to sleep here?                            &nbs
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God's Gift of Salvation

  There is no salvation through anyone else….Acts 4:12   What is mine now that I first received from You?— Morning dragged on interminably, but then noon Arrived, and I sat by an open window looking out. The poem “Vigils” by Arthur Rimbaud, slung over  A bed of hyacinths, shimmered with blue light. “The air and the world unsought. Life”—And so I’ve actually
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Five Easter Haiku

When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory….Col 3:4  Not a raven, but A dove taps at my window. The glass vanishes.  Surprising, this turn Of events—the world appears. Cloudless was the dawn.  A fallen tree trunk Throws off moss, mushrooms, dead leaves— Look, a mighty oak!  “Not so fast,” the hills Call, echoing my mute stare Behind. I
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Good Friday

Image by Raheel Shakeel from Pixabay And Pilate put an inscription on the cross which read, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”….Jn 19:19  Jesus died hung on display, yet hidden beneath A lie—the great lie, laden with age upon age. It says incontestably that all seek power, like A plate of cookies with never enough for all.  Be it through the bread and the wine,
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Holy Thursday

  Image by Baggeb from PixabayDo you realize what I have done for you?….Jn 13:12 With age you grow tired of some things; they wear out Like old wineskins, drop like burial cloths, Leave the tomb empty.                                    
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A Monday in March

  ….For those whom it has been prepared by my Father…. Mt 20:23d  A soft breeze walks the yellow carpet of daffodils. Flashbulbs fire, mixing with the sunlight, but the breeze, Clothed in a robe of invisibility, casts no shadow Before or behind. This is how the new world begins.   At my feet a junta of pinecones plot a coup. Already They command my
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In the Temple

Image by jplenio from Pixabay In the Temple ….He poured out the coins of the money-changers             and overthrew their tables….Jn 2:15d   Are our lives dictated solely by the economy? Can everything, ultimately, Be reduced to economic relations? Does the constant pursuit Of the means to keep body and soul together
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Image by Jörg Vieli from PixabayTransfiguration ….Such as no fuller on earth             could bleach them….Mk 9:3b  Like white paper, 20 lb., 92 bright, The sea, backdrop to all before me, Propels itself ashore, a veil of light.  Floaters suspend themselves In my eyes, bristly caterpillars Caught in zero gravity. They
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The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset: Thirteen Found Poems - 10 of 13

Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay10. Wakefulness  All golden and pale Like the dew and the air—And then I get this feeling of exaltation; Such plumb and perfect infant feet, Slivers of pink pearl for toenails, It’s laughable to think they’ll ever sustain The whole weight of my body.  But I traipse and gambol, nonetheless, I caper and cavort—            
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The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset: Thirteen Found Poems - 9 of 13

            9. Legends of the Year               Summer The Mer-folk live for three hundred years, then dissolve In the foam of waves; forever they vanish into nothingness.               Fall Several layers of heavy-duty yellow
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The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset: Thirteen Found Poems - 8 of 13

 Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay             8. Family Photo Album   Opening the picture book the pictures were all of grass; Slowly the book caught fire, you the reader Sitting with specs full of smoke:   (1)  Mother & Father—                             &
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The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset: Thirteen Found Poems - 7 of 13

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay7. Snatches of a Lament   The promise of each day passes, head down Under the wind, arms folded.             And to follow I burn’d And ached for wings. “Dirt,” I determined, “Being dirt, is less bitter— Inert detritus of an Eden Left behind.”   There was a key to everything in that oak
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The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset: Thirteen Found Poems - 6 of 13

Image by Herbert Aust from Pixabay            6. Time Like an Ever-Rolling Stream   And going home when day-dawning Peeps pale upon the lea—                         Ripe was the early hour; The blissful cloud of summer-indolence
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The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset: Thirteen Found Poems - 5 of 13

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay            5. Moments of Contemplation   The best of the boarded up houses Still stand, doors locked, Walls singing tuneless In the high plains wind— They await a return to usefulness.  The sun’s rays smote newly The person or persons involved Parading slowly through sunlit fields. The grass, as
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The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset: Thirteen Found Poems - 3 of 13

3. The Heart Stumbles, Gets Up   My heart is a pair of shoes Knotted and tossed Over a telephone wire; It glows white and helpless As purple-gilled fish Caught and strung together.                                                
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The Lands of Sunrise and Sunset: Thirteen Found Poems

Thirteen Found Poems ~a pastiche of images and phrases drawn from the poetry of John Ashbery, Thomas Hardy, Lori Howe, John Keats, Denise Levertov, Vachel Lindsay, and William Blake             1. The Sun Comes and Goes                        
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Seven Conversation Poems – Part 7 of 7

VII. To Think that This is It, the Very Thing A long, long time in the making, and I the recipientOf all this careful planning, even of the mishapsAnd unexpected twists of fate that gave the thing in the endA certain air of improvisation—it is the world remade By this love You have inspired in me, if only forThe briefest of moments, which yet lingers
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Seven Conversation Poems – Part 6

VI.Recurring DreamsI am lying still, buried in deep grass, and a herd of buffaloFlows towards me on the plain, then parts like waterOn either side of rock. My peace is so profoundThat their own impenetrable gaze and heavy treadRespect me as a brother, as a god perhaps. And so, like a god,I sleep. Then, suddenly, I wake; what holds me hereReleases me as well—the world flitting upward like a lark,And
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Seven Conversation Poems – Part 5

V. Life Lessons I used to do all kinds of things for the first time. The heart hid,Trying not to hammer too loudly its thump, thump, thumpInto the air, though unable not to—it was, after all, my heart. * I stop for gas in a small Nebraska town, and You are there,Passing into the afternoon. I see Your backside like A boarded-up house. At that instant the moment became itself. * I
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Seven Conversation Poems – Part 4

IV.Ready for Omnipotence The sun is sinking as the earth, far away, receives it;The two recede still further, off into darkness. DuskFloats upward, weightless, happy, a last breathMixing with the freedom of the stars. Time expires Into timelessness, and we feel it, this departure—Like the lifting of August that is September, Like the vastness of young
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Seven Conversation Poems - Part 3

    III.Musings on MortalityAt first I thought—Death shall have the sensation of falling,And as the dark rises to catch me, closing in around me,Who can say what awaits below?  It could go on like this,With me toppling head over heels, for a very long time,Till the sheer loneliness of it all destroyed me, or the fearOf the inexorable thud and sudden, all-consuming pain,Which I’d
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Seven Conversation Poems - Part 2

     II.From Youth to AgeI wrote poem after poem.  Amazing the energy I had then,Where today there remains only the balmy stirringsOf music floating like low clouds over lush grass.    *Is it true that anger now moves me as love once did?Is it true that I have grown that old?  I speakOf righteous anger, of course.  For me there’s no other kind.It’s
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Seven Conversation Poems – Part 1

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Three Genuflections – Part 3 of 3

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Three Genuflections - Part 2 of 3

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Easter Sunday

The two departed for Emmaus late morning;The heat of the day flopping itself downIn front of them like a hound dog.  Soon the crowdsWould swell and clog the road.                    The dayWas overcast, our two pilgrims downcast—He whom they called Master having become outcast.It almost works with “grown” as well—the
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Holy Saturday

Swaddled in white air, the great ash tree sleeps fitfully.Shadowless at noon I walk out among the roses and coriander,A patch of geraniums nearby, all smiles.  Here one talksAbout love poems, without the will to write one.“Oh, I wish I could play the piano like a pro.  Clear and crispMy interpretation of Prokofiev’s Toccata would be…”So a voice in my head distractedly declares.It’s
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Good Friday

Veneration of the Holy Noose began at 3:45And lasted a total of 20 seconds.  Only twoFrom a church full of worshippers stepped forwardTo kiss the rope and genuflect before the slowlySwaying, twisting corpse.  The rest stayedIn their pews, put off by the spectacle,Unwilling to engage in the travesty.    *Canyons roar in the wind.  Trees creak sadly.Waves throw themselves
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Holy Thursday

Take this, He said—this tear-swollen ocean.  This skyThe size of a receding star and all the dark around it.This field of dandelions, their countless fists raisedIn imitation of the sun, worshipping its warmth.This whiskey-colored forest floor distilled from tonsOf pinecones.  This poem that St. John of the CrossUsed to called his Eine kleine Nachtmusik—“goodFor fanning cedars and little
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Prayer in poetry

The Our Father Thrice Told    1.Father of all, who watch over all,Though Your name catches in our throatsWhenever we call to You,Yet You are near to us, we know,And gladness fills our days.May sunlight fall gently upon the earth;May thick grass obediently spring up.You have given us the need of bread—Give us fields to till, harvests to reap.We sin, as do our comrades,Yet we seek no
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The Ghost of Summer

~winter, MarylakeSplendor is part of it, but an elusive part, the partOf Your absence.  The scar and sharp ache of itBitter and unallayed, caught in the jutting densityOf today’s cold and early darkness.  Your brief visit,A lone sunbeam at noon, revived old memories—Golden oldies jittering among dust motes that hoverIn the air while the hour’s subtler urges wax nostalgic,Then slink
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The Hours ~ 7 Poems – Part 7 of 7

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Dragonflies Everywhere

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The Hours ~ 7 Poems – Part 6 of 7

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The Hours ~ 7 Poems – Part 5 of 7

Initially, I wrote 4 poems for the collection called The Hours. Since the publication of those four poems, I have written three more– The Hours has now been expanded to comprise 7 poems in all.– Fr. Bonaventure Sauer, OCDV.Late at Night:  Matins (1)~God Sends DreamsWhen I lie down, my mind is filled by Youand through the night watch, I meditate on You. (Ps 63:7)In a first dream, I stepped
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The Hours ~ 4 Poems - Part 4

IV.Nightfall:  Compline~The Dark Presence of the DivineYou will light my candle, Lord, my God;You will enlighten my darkness.With your help I can run the race;With your help, my God, I can leap over a wall.            (Ps 18:29-30)    1.A sudden gust of blackbirds awakens,Rising as one thing, a sphere, and rolling off acrossThe cornfields
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The Hours ~ 4 Poems – Part 3

III.Sunset:  Vespers~For St. John of the Cross        Soaring on the wings of the dawnto find shelter in the setting sun,it would be Your hand that would carry me,Your right hand holding me safe,            (Ps 139:9-10)    1.He didn’t have to wait here long.  SunsetSoon came, sliding down the distant
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The Hours ~ 4 Poems – Part 2

II.Noontime:  Sext~The Angelus    The Lord watches over you,like one who shades you from heatHe is right there, at your right hand.            (Ps 121:5)The pealing bell, each chime shaped into a ball,Rides the air like soap bubbles.  "It's a splendid gesture,Overlaid with the colors of the rainbow, as if a flockOf butterflies spread
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The Hours ~ 4 Poems – Part 1

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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 7 of 7

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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 6 of 7

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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 5 of 7

V.Grace Builds on NatureThere's no sweetness these fruity molecules,Packed tight as clay and strung like lights fromThe graceful, arching branches of these trees,There's nothing they will not undertake for you,Filling your belly with the nectar of a ripe plum,Or stuffing your satchel with choice pears, shapedLike teardrops and tasting of a plenary indulgenceFrom purgatory's cleansing bubblebath of
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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 4 of 7

IV.OtherworldlinessFor long years, or so the Anchoress confessed,The sooty black bricks of night encased her onEvery side.  And yellow smoke rose like incenseEach morning.  "One would think I livedIn a chimney," she sighed.  Yet the smell of peasAnd carrots, of beans simmering in a pot,Spiraled slowly upward on invisible wings,While the pulp she squeezed from meaty applesMerited the
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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 3 of 7

III.Speaking of DeathInto the box of the black-eyed menace I go,Its coffin lid, like heaven itself, slammed shut.Steep cliffs loom large at each of its four wallsWhere vultures wait their turn in silence.I nod off.  Who knows whether, if I sayI've come here seeking life and wisdom,With these gifts, or with neither, or with someKind of hellish madness, I will return?  NoMatter.  I follow
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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 2 of 7

II.New Day, New LifeIt was in the sky that the event occurred.  A soundLike that of buffalo stampeding over stone pavementWas shaken into life by the steady hammeringOf a wet wind pressing in over stormy seas.  BehemothClouds crawled forward on their bellies, smearingGray shadows along the ground in shapes resemblingThat of a mittened hand, its one, fat finger pointing westTo where
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Conjuring Up the Eternal – Part 1 of 7

As those of you who read this blog may have noticed, I've discontinued the practice of attaching interpretive comments to my poems.  I felt too uncomfortable doing it, wanting the poem to speak for itself.But it has been suggested to me that, following each poem, I conclude with a simple question, something to prime the pump (to coin a phrase) of reflection for the reader.  It seemed like
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Three Poems for the Coming of Spring – Part 3

III.A Boy's Song of SpringI want to laugh and sing, to tell riddles or share with youThe dream that woke me this morning, feeding sunlight to my eyes.I want to mix my words with the clatter of a bluejay's boxcar as it passes,Throwing long, like a train whistle, the football of my thoughts.I want to ride Spring's purity of power, its unbridled freedom.  In a nutshell,To take up the joy of a lifetime
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Three Poems for the Coming of Spring – Part 2

II.Spring is EverywhereWhen Spring fell from the sky,The trees caught it first,Softening the blow with theirLush leafy sound.Then a delicate thumpThump Arose, as if a flat handWere patting the dark,Fleshy soil repeatedly.I'm guessing rabbitsHad braved from their burrowsTo play on the lawn.These are earth-born sounds,Hymns to nature'sIrrepressible vitality.  Yet SpringBoasts a more heavenlyMusic,
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 5

V.Images for Easter(1) A white stone rolls into The sea and becomes a seashell. A white wave enfolds it.(2) A green and gold bird fits neatly Into the palm of the hand, Perched like a newly minted coin. The wind lifts its song high And sets it down gently Into a nest of invisible sunlight.(3) Fern leaves droop, draped In thin black ribbons of rain. They drink as if from themselves; The rain revives
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 4

IV.Good FridayHis journey into the final end of it began in earnestWhen his voice first choked, spitting out a salty red brine.They had fed it to him like thick soup, ladling it upFrom deep inside his body.  In his stomach,His throat, his mouth, all the way up,It had burned like tears.  "Death will free me of it,"He'd hoped.  "Then this moment of dying will have becomeOne with my flesh." 
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 3

III.Our Lady of SorrowsI inch forward from the crowd, urged on by the gathering darkness;A few follow, pressing close behind as if tethered to me by a rope.A single, short cry floods the hills; soon it fades away, echoing onIn my mind's numbness, in the speechlessness of my heart.I am determined to show them, show all of them, these soldiers,That his head has slumped forward, his body hangs lifeless,His
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 2

II.A Contemplative in LentHow many times did I promise you everything,The wind shaking loose the sweet fruitOf sunrise or sunset, of snowfall in winterOr rain in spring?  How many times, andYou said nothing?  How often did I whisper,"It's me," waiting to receive an answer,And received none?  Yet I will try again this year.Yes, I will promise again to mold my soulInto a clod of soft black
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Five Poems for Lent and Easter – Part 1

I.To JerusalemI joined the little band of followers to fight the good fight,To stand face to face, toe to toe, with the Temple's faceless,Toeless tyranny.  For too many years the pleas of my peopleHad hurled themselves out over the wide land, only to beBaked and dried under the white sun like a mule's corpse.How often I braced myself to receive full-on the high tide ofThe news of the coming of
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The City and Beyond ~ Four Poems – Part 4

At Home~central IllinoisI've reentered the land of cornfields.No pioneer trail preceded me here, onlyA magic carpet of golden corn husksAnd the wind-swept linen of a clear blue sky.There is just one way for me to returnTo a life lived among shattered sidewalksWhere the city's tangled paths twist and turn,And that way is forever closed to me.I lounge, rather, in the shade of an oak treeHoarding the
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The City and Beyond ~ Four Poems – Part 3

Passing Through~Beale Street, Memphis, USAOh, what madness there is in the steely voiceOf an upright piano pounding levies like a swollen river.What pings of glee spring from the sleek body ofAn electric guitar and bounce off walls like popcorn.The dirge-like wailing of a tenor sax becomes a butterflyAnd flits away, sipping flowers up and down the whole lengthOf the street.  Yes, Beale Street,
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Three Poems for the Coming of Spring – Part 1

I.Another Spring PoemIt cannot be otherwise than with these white-cappedDogwoods loitering here and thereAmid the thin lances of the pine trees aimedAt the sky.  The glass bottomBoat of the heavens floats slowly by overhead,While here below azaleas swirl like schools of fish.Yes, life teems, thick as a coral reef.A distant stretch of field lies strewnWith wriggly dandelions.  And here close
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The City and Beyond ~ Four Poems – Part 2

Pasqueflower in the rain II.Sunday Morning~MarylakeSnails, slugs, earthworms crowd the flowerbed's wet floor.Clouds, spun of glass, are set out like bowls filled with melon.A stray thought passes, maybe one about Mary as she stoopsTo kiss the cold lips of her son, or about the wreathThat enfolded the prayer she then whispered.Rich rye bread for breakfast and, later, icy lemonade,After a brisk walk. 
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The City and Beyond ~ Four Poems – Part 1

I.Nightfall~DallasSomehow, once I'd climbed out of the wellOf late afternoon,I found it there, set out on a plate,Still fresh after waiting all this timeFor me to arrive.  Yes, evening was offering itselfTo me like a blueberry muffin, with itsPurplish inner auraThat leaves a stain on the tongue.Never would I have asked anything more of youTo prove that you still, that you have always cared,O my
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Poems for the New Year – Part 5

V.Intimations of SpringIt took a thousand years, but at last a new warmthWorked itself free.  Slicing through alleyways no biggerThan a man's fist, this first hint of spring soon picked up speed,Veering left and right like stampeding cattle,Bumping against doors and shutters and jostling wind chimes.The clatter sent pigeons soaring skyward like fireworks,The day's cloud cover parting before them. 
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Poems for the New Year – Part 4

IV.On Being BaptizedIn time I learned how to write of the sea.  Or, better,Of the wave that carried me out to sea.  Its warmChurning sound called me to the window.  I looked outAnd, behold, there it was, the wave gathering in the distance.I watched it roll in, utterly spellbound by the sight.Should I call to it, I wondered?  But before I could speakIt raised a cry of its own. 
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Five Poems for the New Year – Part 3

III.The Dead of WinterAnd there it was, this solid wall of cold disintegrating in an icy rain.My own bony body had already emptied itself out, soundingA few tinny chords that were unable to build a music for themselvesNo matter how hard they tried.  Now night was washing ashore,A field of black roses flooding the lawn just below my window. *What am I to make of it?  Day had raised a towerOf
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Five Poems for the New Year – Part 2

II.Mary, Mother of GodHer child was born without arms or legs,But found his legs in the roots of trees,In their thickest roots that chisel through frozen soil;And he found his arms in the roll and wrestle of a brook,In the curve of a swan's neck, in the raysOf the late sun lodged like spears between hilltops.So she carried her child down the road;And from behind the dark weight of each doorway,Of each
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Poems for the New Year – Part 1

I.The Turning of the YearWho is it that, this past spring, wrote haiku about pine trees, howIn them is found a life that grows suppler with age?  Or who, this summer,Spread wide his arms in song, pulling back the dark curtain of nightAnd letting the morning dew luxuriate like a vapor?Or who, this autumn, stepped out upon the soggy earthWhere its fertile powers shot upward into reds and yellows? 
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Three Christmas Poems – Part 3

III.The Fourth of the MagiAnd I took to the road on footWhere tree limbs bent low, clawing at me.Beasts lurked in the shadows, beasts I'd never seen before,And owls hooted even at noon.They say wild men haunt these placesClothed in prickly boar's hide.On their heads sit wreaths with leaves the size of a giant's hand.Some, it's rumored, grow tailsThat sprout an inch a yearFor each year of their madness. 
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Three Christmas Poems - Part 2

II.A Child is BornSurely you understood that, starting today, everything must begin anew.You, like us, born knowing next to nothing of the world,Must await the sun to introduce you to this thing called warmth.And you, like us, snatched from blindness, must now learnTo touch with feelers of recognition so many familiar faces.  LaterYou will have first to see the far horizon to hear the silver mountains
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Three Christmas Poems – Part 1

I.Winter SolsticeThe day of your arrival is built on an impending darkness,On a cold that stabs and stabs as it lifts its cry.  See the splinters of frostLying strewn on the lawns and sidewalks, tracing a prickly pathThat the wind follows, eyes sightless,Eye sockets hollow.  Townsfolk hurry by as the wind slides on ahead, outOver the lake, flat on its belly.There, as if from a dark mirror,
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Five Advent Poems – Part 5

V.Christmas ShoppingLate fog crowds the streets.  A starlit journey lies before me,Trudging through that part of my life where words like YuletideStill apply, where treasure chests openGlimmering in the faces of shoppers as they elbow past.Soon lights, too, will flicker, to chase away every shadow of self-pity.Life is truly beautiful.  I've said that before, once againIt's crossed my lips. 
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Five Advent Poems – Part 4

IV.At the Deathbed of St. John of the CrossAnd when you died, we felt your hands trembling in ours; or was it our handsTrembling in yours?  The night had won through to us and stoopedAt the door like some beast come home to its cave; we heard itPurring contentedly--the fireplace ablaze, logs aflame.Maybe it was just your last, strangely tender breathing we heardSpread through the room like sleeping
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Five Advent Poems – Part 3

III.Our Lady of GuadalupeIs it true that you were here, that you once stood where stone sits coldlyOn stone?  That your feet drew the chill about them like slippers?You left leaving no footprints behind, except when, yearAfter year, we kneel to press our lips to the ground, our flesh to this clay,Our hunger to your agelessness.Is it true you neither smile nor frown, riveted as you areTo the uncertain
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Five Advent Poems – Part 2

II.John the Baptist - Winter MeditationsIf You Lord had been here to hear my cryAnd give breath to my roaring,Your love wrapped in thick leather straps about my heart,Then I wouldn't now need You quite so much to call my soul backFrom its weariness.  Oh, silence to silence I advance towards blindness.My eyes are sunken, sunless, the eyes of winter. *Day has passed over into night.  Chill
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Five Advent Poems – Part 1

I.The World a Chapel (1)We live amid song, and it’sUsually joyful.  The sun comes up,Birds cry out, we’re startled by it.Can it be that the world itselfAwakens us?  That it's been granted this powerOf its own, renewed each dayAs night passes like the shadow of GodAnd we return to ourselves?  We wake,We hear the windBrushing the windowpane, a tree limbIn its hand, like the batonOf
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Mercy, a Definition

~written at Marylake MonasteryMercy is, or is not, Beauty.Mercy is, or is not, maybe, the factThat there is Beauty, the suddenOnslaught of it at work among us.Day starts up, andThe spirit that animates such thingsApportions, first, fire, then a gentler lyricismUpon this fog that lingers over the lake.Alongside it stirs the further consideration that it'sMid-October, which can be aNostalgic time of
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At Day's End

~after a conference on St. ThereseWe knocked at the door.  Did she answer?A sprinkle of rain brightened the streets,The trees, the lawns, the sidewalks--The city shone, and her eyes everywhereLooked out as if from behind a window.Hardly daring a smile, she turned and hid.In time a rainbow appeared, traced backTo her open hands . . . She had tossedA white dove in the air and said:  Be free,Free
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Meeting the Sacred

--written at Marylake MonasteryThe moon rises, as if the disk could fill the black cave,Its entrance, then the topography of the place, Flowing out along paths that cross the lake:“No more weepingThis evening,"It says, its beauty keeping.How simple the saint I possess like anOld boat, whose love spans the whole lake,How easily its voice treads the water:I echo off the shorelineAnd sit under
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God's Mercy, and Beauty – Part 2 of 2

  It is important to remember that beauty is not an attribute that simply adheres to or belongs to a thing—be it a natural object or scene, or a person, or a work of art.  Beauty, rather, is a moment of revelation.  We grasp it, it grasps us.  It is born of an interplay between our interior awareness and this something or someone, which interplay ends up bestowing on us
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Two Paschal Poems

        Last year for Holy Week I posted four poems intended to mark the spirit of the Paschal Mystery, of the Easter Triduum.  I wrote those poems some time ago—in fact, quite some time ago—although I'm not sure why that matters.  The following two poems I also wrote some time ago, and they, too, are intended for these special holy days of the Ester Triduum. 
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The Attitude of Letting Go

        The following is from a poem by Jessica Powers, whom I referred to in my previous blog post.  The poem is entitled "Everything Rushes, Rushes."         . . . everything in creation rushes, rushes        toward God--all trees, small bushes,        quick birds and fish, the beetles round as naught, 
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Listening Deeply

        First, I will quote a couple of lines from a poem by Jessica Powers (who in Carmel was known as Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD):        Music by right is for the solitaries         whom a long silence trains to the profound.        The lines are
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The Stars in Winter

I have joined their number, they who once said, “O winding staircase,That empties into the sky, you are my prayer this night.”The dark that peopled the streets and parks, the room grown still,It fills my eyes as sleep comes from afar, from across the sea.You were here with me, you always were, you never left.What did you whisper throughout the day, what secrets for survival? To see the sun set
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An Intermezzo

For thus says the Lord,The creator of the heavens,    who is God,The designer and maker of the earth,    who established it;Not as an empty waste did he create it,    but designing it to be lived in:I am the Lord, and there I no other.        —Isa 45: 18        Jesus of Nazareth is God’s
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Poetry - 4th in a series

ContemplationAwash with a shallow stream of light, the chapel bracesTo witness the Spirit come forth at this hour.He rides as though over stones polished smoothAnd shimmering with wakefulness,The sound that of a swift gallop under rain.  He does not stop.I offer him the setting sun of my sadness,Whose shadows lean in, trying to make themselves his own.If only he could find his way to me across
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The Main Course—What is Contemplation? (Part One)

       There is a poem by Denise Levertov--an English poet who spent much of her life in the US, and who died in 1997 at the age of 74—which was written towards the end of her life, and which gives expression to a truth of the human spirit gained through a lifetime of poetic practice.  The poem is entitled “Sojourns in the Parallel Word," and in part it reads:   
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A First Serving (the poem The Dark Night)--Part Three

    In my previous post on the poem The Dark Night I recounted the simple story of a lovers tryst, told by the woman, which the poem narrates.  But, in doing so, I omitted one key stanza, the central one, which lies at the heart of the poem, namely, stanza 5.  It reads:Night that guided me,Night lovelier than the dawn,O Night that unitesThe lover and beloved,Beloved made one
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Poetry - 3rd in a Series

Nightfall    1.The moon is full, wedged in at the top of the hill.Its floodgates open, and the goldenLandscape of day recedesReceiving a river of innocence and awe.A silver age follows, An age of journeys into the night.Tall trees sway and wave us on, stirred by the wakeful dead.There is something miraculousIn the way we do not doubtThese moments are truthful and good.   
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A First Serving (the poem The Dark Night)--Part Two

       How does one express in poetry the experience of divine love?  One can try to do so directly, by using direct statement, and writing explicitly religious verse.  St. John of the Cross adopts this approach, and accomplishes it masterfully, in his poem The Living Flame of Love.       But usually this approach—to capture by
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Poems for Holy Week - 3 of 4

At the Burial of Jesus You went and the hilltop shuddered, loosed of its burden.The air tastes of salt, here so very far from the sea.It is strange.  The waves are churning, the tide rolls in,The sun sets; very quietly and hastily we finish.Each goes off to his own house.  We do not say Good-bye.  Shall we meet again tomorrow?When we had sealed the tomb, when everyone living at that
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Poems for Holy Week - 2 of 4

At the CrossYour hands and arms are thrown wide, For you are trying to stand very still; there’s not much earthLeft to you, and what is burns like a torch.Smoke curls upward and disappears:We watch the day end.  Night droops like a tent; we tie down the flap.Now we must let our talk expand, let our dreams roam wide,Then return, stepping forth into the light.  We seeThe thought of them called
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Poems for Holy Week - 1 of 4

Good Friday    1.The sun sets slowly, an eyeball of wrath, unblinking; Dogs begin to bark.  In a far corner of the worldA watchman ceremoniously lowers a flag and folds itFor the night.  He has done this before;He will do it this last time.  Then the long farewell Will have ended.  He who once was among us will have gone.    2.The wind picks up and
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Poetry - 2nd in a Series

Previously, I submitted two poems posted on our provincial blog, the Discalced Carmelite Friars - Province of St. Therese.  As part of the re-organization of our blogs, those two poems are being moved to this blog, Poet and Contemplative, as part of a Poetry series. Here is the second poem.  A short interpretive note follows.  Into AfternoonWe knew all along about the shadows, howThey
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Poetry - First in a Series

My intention is, from time to time, to submit poems I’ve written and have them posted on this blog, Poet and Contemplative. Previously, I submitted two poems to the Discalced Carmelite Friars - Province of St. Therese Blog. In re-organizing the blogs of our province, those two poems are now being moved to this one. Here is the first. For those of you who enjoy poetry, I hope they will speak to
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A First Serving (the poem The Dark Night)--Part One

        I've been speaking in the opening three posts of this blog—which I've called, "Setting the Table"—about the act of creation, both divine and human.  But I’ve been doing so in much too abstract a way.  It's time to get specific and look at a particular instance of, in this case, poetic creation—a well-known instance, the poem "The Dark Night"
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Setting the Table—Part Three

        St. John of the Cross has little to say about poetry itself or the process of its composition.  What he does have to say is almost exclusively to be found in the prologue to his commentary on The Spiritual Canticle, where he discusses, briefly, the sources of his inspiration and the manner of his poetic expression.  For example, in the first paragraph
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Setting the Table—Part Two

        The following lines are from a poem by Kathleen Raine, a British poet and scholar who died in 2003:    And must I then take pity on    The raging of the storm    That rose up from the great abyss    Before the earth was made,    That pours the stars in cataracts    And
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Setting the Table—Part One

        How a poem gets written varies from poet to poet, even from poem to poem.  Yet across the board there must be something mysterious about the process.  Why does the poet decide on just this particular word rather than another, although both appear, at least at first, to work equally well?  Why does the poet choose this image or metaphor or particular
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