the voice of a little bird which is called a red-breast
Flows a thread of silver called a river –
Circuits the flimsy frame, lifts the bird
Its breast a feathered blush on jealous grass; peaks
Through a tiny beak, and forms a song;
Something you know like the skin of your hands, but have never heard;
Music at the rite of dawn and dusk you’ve never known;
A palimpsest flashing its scars; a mirror the sun
An angel unfurling a scroll which is suddenly gone.
Life on a Limb
Salt, tar, filthy rags, songs –
a sense of momentum
seasick Mrs. Kempe aloft
spews prayers, like a flag
pulsed in the cross-channel breeze
Margery pours the chorus –
a cluster of pilgrims
sweat the verses
Cold stone, sluts of dust
splats of wax
set me as a seal
upon your unwise heart
The mind stained
a distressed art –
touch of the moderns
cup of clay -
be the first
Bless me father
for I have
These ears are so thirsty
for the again-and-again
of you are holy
The hand writes dry
but life unspools its words
and you will scribble.
A Priest Got Lost in a Forest
A priest got lost in a forest towards the middle of the afternoon. Winter was
nigh, and the light was at a special slant of ambiguity. He turned about and
about but couldn’t find the path, trodden as it was with pins and needles
though no compass. He knew he’d already said Mass, so the problem wasn’t one
of rush, but purely of direction (was he going out or coming home?).
Overhead, memories rustled. Sidelines flapped. A shred of ego
fliskedahead.The echo of a sigh. An invitation…was it his own? He loved the
sound of a man’s voice, and walked that way. The outline of an Adam’s apple
shaped the sky. He smiled. But squirrels shot pellets at his back. He
gathered his rough woolen cloak about his body, and pressed on. He had to
admit, he was getting peckish himself. If only there was a fruit tree, among
the rough green sentinels; if only it bore apples or sweet pears. And soon
enough he came upon a clearing, where a rustle of leaves revealed the fruits
As he ate, the juice slid like a track of light across his face. It daubed
his robes, unsublimated grace, a grateful trickle. He sang to himself: he was
lost but had found hidden treasure. The forest had mazed him but sustained
him; he was resting in the crook of its arm, in the palms of its unfolded
prayers. He tarried and grew by a fruity osmosis. The clouds shed water,
gentle. He’d never worked with animals, children or women. Well children he
knew as he slid baptismal water’s light upon them. They hardly ever paid him.
Animals were outside the church; and here was a gloss-brown bear, as
instinctual as faith. He shared his fare with him.
It’s true there was a flicker of white cloth. A light entextured.A word in
a weave. Was it a woman? A princess, slipped from the kitchen door, following
the unofficial vortex of her life, donning wedding garb in celebration.
Laying on moss and soft fallen trunk, the priest smiled once more. A woman
a white cloth as a widow as a song. Such surrender to the unconventional
A Haircloth in Thine Heart
The scribble of its itch against the ribs;
Penitent striations, muscle
Of continuous confession.
I am, I am, I am
A waltz across the
A sin, a sin, a sin
Veil her face, let it glimmer
Under gauze, under the custody
Of an un-vow; let
The people gawp and jabber.
Chew things over sacramentally.
Under this fine white silk:
Under the skin, her vital organs
And the heart’s rough justice
She as He required
Instantly absolved and back on trial.