Just a Stone

It’s just a stone, nothing more,

Eight inches long, double tapered, round in section.

Not broken, but showing the signs of heavy use in the hard sharp sandstone.

Of no real value they said and quite impossible to date.

We found a dozen like it when we walked the fresh furrows of the Glebe meadow.

Mostly broken, others lost, or discarded, like the centuries old rhythm

Of stone on steel.

In the shade of the great southern hedge,

We find: their pot shards from old drinking vessels,

Some soda glass, bone and wooden buttons, a buckle and a few, very few, small coin.

The winding hedge, in it’s great variety, helped date the field,

Mid Saxon, they say.

It was twice as big in Domesday.

Now I take the stone from my pocket and set it to the steel

I’m glad that I found it, it sits well.

Wading waste deep in the now rank and sour smelling headland,

I cut the acrid, iron rich nettles,

For the gently waiting Charolais.

I lost my stone here last year.

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Late at Night

Look there--

leaving Athena’s shoulder,

flying down from Olympus,

the wise owl with expanded wings

crowns solemnly the top of cedar.

The owl is lacking for a swan’s grace,

but the keen and golden eyes

read all the books of darkness

in the still of night…

The owls, night butterflies among the birds.

The cobwebs of imagination--and white bunny.

A  ladybug upon a whitethorn leaf.

A flush is like a flight of arrows

from Eros’s bow.

The bow is life as well as death:

now Eros’s bow, now Ares’s.

The bow of Eros--and the curve of time.

And final unexpected twist in plot.

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Saint Joseph's Paternal Joy At Nazareth

The situation is a paradox
of sorts---that He who made the sky and sea
and everything between (from stars to rocks)
should turn now to one most unworthy---me!---
for His apprenticeship in carpentry.
The devil, with all worldly humor, mocks
my stepson's dignified humility.
To live among us poor is His own choice
(thereby, He blesses all of Galilee,
although not yet about His ministry).
Upon His master purpose, I rejoice.
An eager young man, He unloads our mule,
and carefully lays out each proper tool
to fix the roof struts of this scribal school.



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At Bethlehem


The sun's light still slants weakly in the winter's sky.
But God's Son's Light ascends, triumphantly, on High.
A barefoot, Galilaean teen now gives Him birth---
Messiah, Christ, the Hope of all who dwell on earth.



Heaven draws near:  no distance is too far.
Christ's advent is announced by yonder star.



The stationed star points for the Wise Men, where the Baby lay:
the Ancient who completed all creation the sixth day.


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At The Home Of Theophilus

Titus received one of Paul's final letters;
the other two were sent to Timothy
(the second, when Paul wore those final fetters).
Although I held the pen that wrote all three,
and penned the words, the words were not from me
(although some worldly wits think "forgery").
They are remembered parts of conversations
we had when he was bed-fast, most unwell;
or also in that last, dark, prison cell
the few times I was granted visitation,
and always under jailers' supervision.
And, understandably, neither condition
allowed for some more comfortable dictation
(as in the past he customarily
preferred).  But for two churches' situations,
Paul directed new expediency:
and I transcribed it from fresh memory.
The world may not yet celebrate one dead
Apostle, but the record---what he said,
and what he wrote, is now wholly complete
(without ulterior motive or deceit),
now part of several churches' history.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

This is not an original hypothesis of mine, but is based upon Frank Viola's speculation on p. 160 of his book, The Untold Story.  In my opinion, however, Viola stops short of explaining the mechanism by which the vocabulary of the Pastoral Epistles differs from that of the earlier Pauline epistles.  That mechanism, as the poem suggests, is Luke's transcription from memory rather than at direct dictation, which had been the Apostle's customary method of composition.

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Stranded (for erin)

I wrote you something

Plagiarized, started as a poem

Came out as a song

Got lost along the way from here to the Hyatt to the Shelton dorm room to Inwood

But I wrote it anyway

Thinking I can fix the winter and the rain

And tomorrow won’t be the same breathless morning

Running to miss that call, still half awake

It never came through and I knew better, tho’ still cradled the thought and I’d do it again

Still stranded

In the miracle of yesterday

Breathless – tryin’ to make it and make everything right

Between Godlessness and Maryland and you and me there’s always Austin

And him, and her, and him and her, and all of us

And my cat snuggling soft and kind

Lookin’ up and seemingly vaguely saying I wish you knew the way

How I wish you knew the way and knew what I know,

This zen situation I have going on right now


I don’t, so I let it all go

Press tight this bible,

I wish so, too, on days like this

When everything hits

And I’m stranded

Desert central heat of Central Street, Watertown


Boston suburbia, a cubicle of a house

Empty of vehicles, empty driveways, empty trees


Afternoon blue sky and the security of unpaid bills the phone not ringing anymore but there is something nagging hard and I don’t want it to let go

But I am stranded

Between the philosophy bookshelves and the AIM conversation logs and her and you and him and me and there is something bigger than all this here,

Bigger than the cathair covered chair, hidden there, in the dusk of dust underneath the computer tabletop but bigger than that, and all of us

Are missing it

And someone’s breathless chest is hearing it and heaving soft

And tugging at my wishful shirt and saying, how yes,

I’m stranded, too

And this poem is for you

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At Dusk, This Evening

At dusk, this evening, they lopped off his head.
Now Paul, the great Apostle of the Lord,
is gone.  To Heaven's height his soul has soared
(only that tired, old flesh of his is dead):
at last set free from jangling Roman fetters,
and far beyond the demon Nero's reach.
Onesimus, who watched with us, has said
that he intends to gather all the letters
that Paul wrote---all of those that he can find---
and copy them into one handy book,
so that those who come after us can look
into Paul's words, and therefore know the mind
of Christ.  Soon, all that Paul had come to preach
will be, as he once put it, apt to teach.





Author's Notes/Comments: 

The hypothesis that the slave Onesimus, prominent in Paul's letter to Philemon, collected the Pauline letters is not original with me.  I heard of it decades ago, and cannot now cite the source (but I will gladly cite so if someone will point me back to it).  


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Derek Bentley

Derek Bentley

So they let Derek have it, the whole damned rope.

A policeman was dead and some poor dope must dangle.

Sick, simple, nineteen. A kid without hope,

So they let Derek have it, the whole damned rope.

He never fired a shot, but no concern was paid to that, or any other angle,

So they let Derek have it, the whole damned rope,

A policeman was dead and some poor dope must dangle.

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At The Desk Clerk's Afternoon Break

Right now we do not have a vacancy,
although one may turn up eventually.
We made more money this month than all season.
The government's finances are the reason
(I think they are bankrupt or soon will be;
and saying so, I hope, does not mean treason).
Too busy I have been to take a breath:
such workloads likely lead to early death.
Frankly, the easy part of any day
is turning such late-coming folks away.
Those adolescents, down from Nazareth,
will find no rooms in all of Bethlehem,
and nothing for them in Jerusalem.
Only a miracle can, now, help them.       

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