There is no damping of betrayal’s guilt, The little deeds of virtue cannot serve; They niggle at the structures time has built, Unwilling to admit what they deserve. Even the grasping at the words of grace: "Come unto me, and I will give you rest,” Become the tempter’s taunt, thrown in your face, Counting betrayals of this fair behest. And still it comes, this welcome to the feast, Albeit shadowed with the guilt and sin; Strange Love reminds that this is freedom’s test, And given so, the grace must follow in. So there is damping of betrayal’s guilt, On Calvary, when Covenant blood was spilt.
Maker of galaxies, at latest count Billions! And who can say that our Big Bang Was not preceded, from your primal fount By other billions, while the angels sang? Then shall we take the word of a great Jew, That one child is more precious in your sight Than all the rocks in all the worlds you view, And loyal anima is your delight? Maker of galaxies, how then weigh out A small Iraqi eye, terror-suffused, Against the marvels you have brought about, Why are your little children so abused? “Not bread, not miracles, not use of power,” So your Son said. We must await your hour.
Many fields, many treasures, many pearls (One chosen). Here, fish netted, many kinds, But singularity is not the point, The point is, good are kept, and bad destroyed. Are these the gentle Galilean’s words? If so, a strange form of gentility: The angels throw the evil in the fire, And there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. O, how we twist and turn and rationalize, Assured Matthew was victim of his time, And heaven’s kingdom never need be forced, And “way that leads to life” is easy, smooth. Shall we amend, then, the Apostles’ Creed: “To judge the quick and dead”? This we don’t need.
Time’s Visitor feels time upon his head. Tuesday of Holy Week. Sunday’s parade. Monday’s prophetic Temple escapade. And three days hence “beloved son” is dead. (This was the designation Mark had heard From Peter’s lips: “Christ said ‘beloved son.’”) Now, since his earthly race is nearly done, No calembour must cloud Messiah’s word. So we require no fancy exegesis, Creation’s gifts are here; the Covenant; Moses; the prophets; foul sin’s great affront; Pater absconditus, Father of Jesus. He knew the issue of these words, so clear, He even knew the time of chanticleer.
Phenomenology, a cruel creed, Preaches its faith in omnipresent ways: “One world alone” is all the creed we need, Empiricism controls all our ways. And so we build our barns and get and store, Laughing at those who sing noumenal songs, Ignoring those who say, “No, there is more,” Scorning an ethic built on “Right” and “Wrong.” In stark contrast, the Galilean Jew, Who used his stories to affirm his creed, Out-Kanting Kant on what we ought to do, Sounded a warning every person needs: “Do not forget, you fool, all bills come due, This night your soul will be required of you.”*
Sometimes, at end of day, but not of care, Mozart or Beethoven our aural food, Her hand reaches into empty air, A tactile search for something understood; This is a nurse’s hand, a hand that heals, And yet, the reaching gives no hint of sense, No hint revealing what it is she feels, But still, incarnate eloquence. Perhaps it is within these vacancies That meaning lies. Or in the mystery Surrounding us in health, and in disease. Perhaps Alzheimer’s gives epiphany. She reaches her hand into the empty air; Who dares to say that there was nothing there?
Heavy the waxwings hang upon the bough, A gospel dozen, sharing summer fruits, The pyrocanthus touched with winter snow, Alive with yellow-banded crested suits. There is no solitary prophet here, Spying the setting, ranking lesser wings; They come in droves, in droves they disappear, Unlike the dove, alone no waxwing sings. Of course the birds are metaphor to me, The waxing congregation sharing all; The dove, I think, practices poetry, Solitary, an “individual.” Is it perverse to sing a lonely song, When love prescribes the place where we belong?
Outside the window, seeds laid on the ledge, A sick dove staggered, pecked, staggered again, And while I watched, it toppled off the edge And lay struggling, then feebly pecked again. I took some water in a small can lid and set it by its unprotesting bill, I built a barrier so it was hid From predators seeking an easy kill. Night came and dawn, and with the morning light I saw the vanity of what I’d done; The dove was there, eyes rigor mortis tight, Flecked feathers golden in the morning sun. I took some comfort in an ancient word, “God knows when sparrows fall,” or any bird.
Concept of green, shape of a crystal bird, Color and form locked in the synapses Even neuritic plaque cannot destroy— Although we cannot know with certainty. But by the evidence there must exist A sense of order, of a certain kind, And things appear where they have never been, In neat arrangements of a different kind. Among the lambent eggs and crystal birds, Given as gifts to a beloved one, I find green leaves torn from a growing plant, Arranged in shape, a graceful trinity: O, I am glad I did not say a word, Perhaps she thought green leaves would feed the bird.