As Daylight Fails
To walk beneath the mottled purple sky
below the light’ning bruise upon the earth—
to walk these blue and empty streets alone
but for the street sweeper’s electric wail—
to walk, and breathe, and suffer not to cry
for rending hearts and drifting souls, the dearth
of sweet communion ever once we’d known,
for death and chill and trial and travail—
to walk with You, and you to pass me by,
while olive beads proclaim the Virgin Birth
in ten-part harmony with the low drone
from frozen lips of mem’rised prayers gone stale—
to stand in light of day gone cold, and sigh,
to look upon your face and see that mirth
that once we shared, though now I have disowned,
and fall, and fall again, as daylight fails.
“In every human being there is a stratum of solitude that no human affection can entirely fill, not even the most powerful love between two people. Whoever will not consent to enter this place of solitude is living in rebellion, in rebellion against mankind and even against God. It is there in the depths of your being, where no individual is like another, that Christ awaits you.”
– Excerpt from the Rule of Taizé
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.”
– Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum (via quotestuff)
There’s a space that can’t be filled beside me.
It’s nothing solid, solid nothing, my
little absence (a not-here that should be)—
There’s a vast blue emptiness across which lies
a blanket with all the sleep wrung out of it—
wrung out, brung out, twisted-squeezed-drained dry—
There’s a deserted city where we split
at the corner of sleep and my bedside
(my coffee cup still empty, there it sits)—
There’s a wharf a dock an old-pier-at-low-tide
empty but for the waves and memories
caressing ‘cross the oceans’ vast divide—
There’s a ferry. There’s a salted dreamy breeze.
There’s a land that’s better-clearer-hazy
on the other side of lazy caramel seas.
Pillow-friends forgotten, dizzy-dazy,
fuzzy-sleep-brains, warm-hands (bodies locking),
we’ll fall in twos and speak words spoken crazy—
But that ferry’s hours off from docking
and hours more across the seas (another
later boat will be mere minutes rocking
across the waves to new lands, and another
still—not a boat at all—a bridge, a step—
it spans but a step to you, dear brother—)
But now is not eternity, not yet!
Sweet orange fingers won’t yet brush across a sky
still dark from night, still stars-and-clouds-beset—
in minutes-hours-ages by and by
they’ll reach from back beyond, and they will shine
(two worlds bathed in philosophical light!)
Good night, then, lionheart and mind-twin mine.
Good night, dear brother, my soul and heart entwined
with thine — I’ll see you when I sail across that line
dividing beating hearts from hearts supine.
You and I
We terrify each other, you and I.
Between us brush two worlds like fingers reaching
across the canyon of experience
that can’t be breached in spite of hearts’ beseeching—
our minds so like and yet so alien,
our deepest yearnings opposite and twin,
we are as night and day or glass reflections—
and yet — closer together than we’ve ever been.
This world belongs to you more than to me.
I pass through it like the wind on summer leaves,
touching lightly, never resting, not disturbing—
but you laugh and live, run and touch and breathe
its air, and wonder at its mysteries—
your heart is overfull with love for living,
for cats and kids and hopeless people hurting,
your soul spills over gentle love forgiving!—
I watch from my world, separate and distinct.
My inner life is all I’ve ever known—
but with your hand in mine (our eyes embracing)
two worlds at last become one of our own—
And we terrify each other, you and I!
You draw me out and I draw you down deeper—
You show me that the world is good, exciting,
and between us, a communion that’s still sweeter—
You are life and light, warmth and security,
soft caramel skin and eyes too deep to see
iceberg memories of a life before
long conversation nights, and we were We—
They break black, frozen depths, scrape starless skies,
and give form to the void of cold existence,
these monoliths (my young self’s cruel convictions!)—
Their current marks the path of least resistance,
and for years I drifted careless in their wake,
a specter on the waters of my mind.
All light is love—your love and His above
the light of dawn warming these eyes long blind—
a dawn still breaking two years on and counting—
a dawn of love I’d never dared believe,
much less hope for myself in the black hours
of the long night of my soul — ne’er I conceived
that life ablaze with love could be such joy,
that giving all to you would feel so right,
that lying in your arms could be so warm—
that light upon these waters shone so bright.
‘Twas a conspiracy divine, my dear,
that brought two hearts to beat in us as one,
two mouths to speak in time delicious words,
words b’yond language that spring from two minds spun
round and round in Teresa’s ecstasy—
round a fixèd point, the incarnate Word
made flesh, the God made man made bread of life—
we children of His birth and death absurd—
twin minds, twin souls (hearts weary, teary eyes)
and two hands claspt against the beat of ages
and your embrace ‘gainst the e’erpresent darkness
that lives behind our masks and in our cages—
‘Twas a conspiracy divine, my dear,
not quantum, not a quirk ineffable,
ours a communion, two souls and Trinity,
and secrets shared in our confessional
with none but you and me and God above.
Your hand tugs at mine and keeps me standing,
and mine at yours, and I keep you from drowning,
and as we kneel, there burns a golden light:
the sun through leaves falling to dappled ground,
the glint of love and laughter in your eyes,
the light from light in tabernacle shining,
the warmth of Christian love that ne’er dies.
Glory be to God for dappled grounds—
for sunlight damp’ning parchèd grass—
for the streams that slide o’er branches,
trickle down through leaves like honey,
golden splotches in amongst the White & Green.
Glory be to God for wind-stirred earth,
Your breath lïv’ning the long arms of the pine—
each word a song, each song—a breath—
each breath a whispered promise to the bees & birds
& men—love’s labour lost—
And glory be to God for children shrieking in the trees
and old men drooling in the shade—
glory to You alike for fish & fishermen & flies—
each one of us a note
in Your discordant harmony—
It bears the markings of impetuous youth—
of minutes stolen, laughing, in the hall—
a sterile expanse enlivened by their truth.
Here are initials, there — ripped from the roots —
a blonde lock left of times long past to stall—
it bears the markings of impetuous youth,
of love — or its facsimile — to lose.
And here, a folded page (I see it fall —
the sterile expanse enlivened by its truth.)
What shadows touched this wall! — what shadows soothed
suff’ring souls in corners left to dwell? — all
bear the markings of impetuous youth.
And under even light the shadows move,
and bend, and twist, and beckon — and they call —
sterile expanses to liven by their truth.
The building watches (it does not approve) —
and time beats on along the storied wall—
It bears the markings of impetuous youth,
a sterile expanse enlivened by the truth.
There was a day when words flowed from the tips
of my fingers, my blood and tears in drips
of ink contained – for in my misery,
my deeply held convictions stood alone,
(outside my notebook, unknown!)
and immortalized against all inquiry.
How could I believe in objective truth?
What need had I of God in bloom of youth?
I rejected western thought and trickery,
immersed myself in eastern mysticism;
I learned relativism, cynicism.
And yet the Church, she had her victory -
as Truth, objectively, can never fail
over the sinner and the lost one to prevail.
My poems now are lost to protohistr’y
and my soul, to Christ and His Living Myst’ry.
Sunlight dawns over the tranquil lake,
muted grey light shining between the clouds;
the fish reveling in the post-dawn chill,
songbirds twit’ring their random melodies -
not a morning one would write home about! -
and yet, and yet, I find myself content.
“Whirr-plunk!” I hear the fishing line’s descent,
skimming out at speed ‘cross the opaque
waters, seeking the elusive brown trout.
“God damn it,” my father curses aloud
(just on the edge of hearing!), carelessly
struggling (a private battle straight downhill!)
‘gainst that force of indomitable ill will:
the fishing line tangled, the waters rent
as the tides upon the seven seas.
I sit upon the shore, still half-awake.
No meditative hour spent in shroud
nor rosary prayer, reflective and devout,
nor evening spent with friends, just hanging out,
can compare to this simple, ancient thrill,
to be alone and outside the crowd;
the pleasure of living in the present,
of solitude and a sandwich (Swiss and steak),
the most effective school of therapy.
Further, there is no greater guarantee
that my creativity will break out;
that I may touch pen to page and partake
in the poetry of God’s infinite will.
No office software, no modern supplement
has touched my soul so, and such allowed
this poem I write, this story I avow.
Ay, for my artistic tendencies!
The procrastination, the self torment!
Thanks be to God for today, my way out,
for inspiration and for my free will,
for the gift of creative give and take!
I stare into the clouds and think about
art – birds’ melodies, written word! – the chill
of the wind content – my day at the lake.