Orphans Memory


What tipped the scale to make branches whip my neck?

The Farmers Almanac clearly states, this is
not the time of squalls. Them ones that blow in quick
from the West.  Carrying wooden baskets stuffed
with tears – to scatter them with tattered hands
against my neck and ears.

A robin holds court on her wind-torn throne.

And not knowing the scent of yesterdays aftershave;
nor the Merry Melodies on the seventh morn. She
simply strains her breast; flexes her rust-stained throat;
scraping and stabbing at the lead-grey sky…
in absence of your voice.

Note: “The orphan grieves for the sound of her father’s voice.”


Pondering the Heart

“More tortuous than anything is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

Our heart’s a curious vane, fixed
seemingly inside the chest. Yet
in other boundaries it does not dwell
In say a foot, or in a hand
– ‘cept for writing of its love.

Stop then, consider
it’s source-less perimeter.
Where was it born?
When does it rest?
Where will it end?

For after days of endless rain,
When heavy clouds stamp out
all hope – does it not leap
for joy at a patch of blue?
Then soars above it too with
the glowing of the sun?

And in those times of trouble, deep,
– turn itself – outside in
to wrap you there, within
its shell of feelings. Forever


Note: the quoted verse from Jeremiah has long enticed my mind; and
makes me wonder if melancholia is caused by troubles within the heart
instead of the mind.

A Discourse of Desire

A Discourse of Desire
“If I leave everything in your hands…”

If I leave everything in your hands…
What then would my life be?
No longer would my will prevail
Your dwelling within
Would begin to shine.

If I leave everything in your hands…
Does my value then decrease?
Becoming invisible to friend and
Foe alike, seen – and yet not seen, while
Human comforts depart from my life.

If I leave everything in your hands…
Against what shall I struggle?
Maybe all my doings and thinkings,
Will fall by the wayside, and I might
Be stripped and left bare.

If I leave everything in your hands…
Might not the stench of sin depart?
The odor of failures, the hashing out of
Words – opinions – mine versus theirs.
Leaving the pure fragrance of mountain air.


If I leave everything in your hands…
What then would my life be?
Surely, it would transform into something
Not of this world; something simple, humble,
Pleasing not only to man, but to You, whom I love.

If I leave everything in your hands…
Then I would be free – I would
Become Your slave.
Help me…
Leave everything…
In your hands…

At Christmas Time


Once more dreamscapes of happy
childhood come to life inside the globe.
To enter isn’t hard when you remember how
to Slide – colliding with the grass,
careening through the snow – in laughter
and in sunshine, all wrapped in innocence
of the fresh clean air. It’s a crystal ball you
give a whirl, watching as confetti starts to
swirl – some rise and some fall lightly
against your up-curved palm.

Do you believe the Virgin birthed?
A baby boy named Jesus – whom
angels sang – and shepherds ran to see
laid in a manger bare. On that night
exposed to chill, rousing songs break forth
from hearts once trapped in slumber, still.
Oh yes! Believer! warms Mr. Belafonte.
“Never, have I not believed” that down
from heaven God’s son slipped into Mary’s arms
before his weary head did rest upon a straw laid bed.manger

O marvelous mystery, proclaimed this night.
Enveloping horizons in dazzling array all
baptized races and nations into one. Each
eager to stoke red hot or tinker on icy bells:
Noëls grand or Poems in the common tongue.
Something from the heart born in their
Winter’s land. Lyrics wrapped more warmly
than the naked Infant King – hurling praise
for a Gift they could not bring.

          Great Lord, O mighty king,
          dearest saviour, O how little
          you regard earthly splendour
          He who maintains the whole world
          and created its glory and adornment
          must sleep in a hard crib. [1]

With feather quills to pluck out notes from
ancient harps and chords, where polished
whistles breeze through reeds and scores of
silver trills rising – up in the wind as a
clamorous quivering noise –
         high above our greying heads,
a saintly hymn of praise is lead,
framed five times the length of forty pipes
streaming a Praise of Glory –


[1]       Weihnachtsoratorium 1-8; J.S. Bach BWV 248/1-8


A December Nowel1

An expectant mood clung to these
December weeks spent pacing, for
a boy wearing a name uncomely, even
ungainly to newer ways of thinking.

Emmanuel! drifts into banks
of scattered snowflakes; settling on
frost hidden hearts pulsing for birth.
A flake, dusting the eye of countless masses.

But days passed by at Bolt-like speed,
breaking the ribbon at Midnight when
strains of a morning Canticle gave voice
to the mute and narrow winter.  There,

radiance reveled forth! It frolicked about
blazing candles, as the Spirit seemed to
billow up, on a bed of sacred coals
blistering ancient resins – kissing our eyes
with a fragrance thick in tones celestial,
solemn and sweet.

Forever singing the goodness of the Lord2
around an earthy chamber of enthronement
where swirls of hay adorn a bed for the One
and only One…we pause…

Hearts, hands, vestments and voices, gilded
together by the light, smells and sounds.  There
in gentle courtesy – certainly more than giddy –
giving our best, our doddering address
to the wee bairn3.


Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with us to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel
Hark! The Herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Numbered notes:
1  –  Nowel – a Christmas song or shout of joy (Old English)
2  –  Psalm 89
3  –  wee bairn – tiny child or baby (Old English/Scottish)

The Evensong

Music is the noise I love most;
dance the action paired with it.
Through the ear – melodies and rhymes –
pulse thru channels to the heart.
Quickening in beat. Widening the chambers.
Stirring limbs to roll, tap, bounce and sway.

An ebbing tide slowly gives way,
revealing a temporal drift in
all created gifts. A transitory need
quickly filled… its flagging
strength lets go; and simply dies away.

September’s ubiquitous cicada
make this hour their own.
Grating out a shrill unvaried
Love song – appealing –
to, just, one, female.
Their tune – rising and falling –

The hour slogs on toward dusk.
As a limping breeze trips over the
notes of their rasping voices –
darkness puts an end to the recital.

Families retreat indoors with a hush,
and all around the neighbouring village,
a covering of quiet blankets all
eager for its nourishment.

The time of Vespers alights; roosting in solitude.

Like a teaspoon of sugar,
deeply recessed silence courses
through the veins, becoming grains
of coal that catch fire
and glow – to the beat of a
yearned for harmony…

A porch light flickers at the dark –
a single night cricket chirps in reply.

Guide for reading:
It is time set aside for evening prayer during the month of September. Summer has not yet ended and the heat causes the poet’s hyper-sensitivity to movement and sound. There is a seeking and a letting go that takes place as the poet negotiates with her interior and exterior environment.

In stanzas 3 and 4 the high-pitched noise of hundreds of cicada lend a strident tone to the atmosphere. Then finally like a roosting bird, stillness and quiet arrive and it is most welcome.

In stanza 7 the mixed imagery of sugar’s sweetness paired with burning coals suggests a longing for the sacred; there may even have been a sacred joining but the grace of the Evensong slips away; leaving only the chirping of a single cricket and a flickering porch light in the darkness.

Tibicien linnei (aka annual cicada) original photo by Bruce Marlin