A Cross

A cross was placed before my face
today,
but I preferred (and said) “be fed”,
to “feed”;
and “better to be led”, than lead
the way.

It was no painful task to strain
my will,
but I preferred to freeze (at ease)
than strive;
“to love? no, fear!” and fear did thrive
with skill.

I could have been with Man. Though lean,
he’s stuffed;
but I preferred to satiate
alone,
with bloody “freedom”, on its own,
hand-cuffed.

That cross rushed down on me, a brush
with God,
who can’t prefer the golden molds
(they’re naught),
but humbler icons: better wrought,
if flawed.

Communion’s bonds of love, but spawned
by choice.
I must prefer my death to breath
that sighs
and, isolated, lets none cry
“rejoice”.

If all the Church would thus besmirch
the Faith
by losing Love, I’d heed the Creed
no more,
and, ripping it in two, deplore
that wraith.

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Sonnet XVII – Defender

Defend, O Lord, this little hill,
this inner field where wars are fought,
this Agincourt of dauntless will,
this Flanders evil empires sought.
Despite not, God, this tiny fort,
this long-held bunker of my faith,
this outpost of the lowest sort,
this oft-contested no-man’s-land.
Descend, my Christ, a charging horse!
O Light Brigade, let battle ring!
O Fusilier, come reinforce
your soil, which gladly greets its King.
Depart, O foes, from Jesu: Lord,
Redeemer, wielding Grace’s sword.

Gems

O placid king of lush horizons green!
As sons, adopted to your royal house,
we lift our hands in that pacific mien
adorned with diadems: your holy Spouse.

All jewels which you, Lord, can furnish, here
are shining from her countenance; enticed
by Him whose flowing robes are our great weir
of shiv’ring men: our glimm’ring joy, O Christ.

Can this great emerald bear mortal praise?
No earthly meadow surely would suffice
to show that mystery; the burning blaze
New Adam kindled when He paid the price.

O that high, wondrous ruby on the crest!
What human fire, consuming all, displays
such blood-red hue? Ah, only your pierced chest,
enduring blackened darkness for three days.

And lapis lazuli is there! A lake
of living water, flowing without cost
from your great Wisdom, for our thirst to slake
and hearts to cleanse, and never to exhaust.

Beholding Topaz ’round your forehead’s peak,
we know the glowing furnace of your love;
the golden mouth of which all virtues speak,
which spoke, and formed the radiant stars above.

A lustrous pearl, atop the apex, high!
In it we hear the echoed angels’ song,
apostles’ prayers, chants of love, a sigh
of longing from the white-robed, baptized throng.

We see, reflected, in your deathless face,
our whitewashed sorrows: colourless, in pain,
which bleached your glory for our fallen race;
yet, risen evermore, you shine again.

In you, our gentle Christ – and in the Bride
you’ve called through water’s purifying flood –
the gems who gleam like that which pierced your side
are all of us, in you, full-washed with blood.

To you, our risen and ascended God
– before all things, the first of many sons –
with Father and the Holy Spirit, laud
and glory be from your bright little ones.

Sonnet XVI – Andrew

While swooners strummed and Western bands so sweetly played,
and sweat of brow was earned in lechery, not hope,
A Rev’rend, gentle man in Africa has prayed
for child enslaved and adult sentenced to the rope.
He’s sacrificed a thousand lives to give them Christ,
and he is better for it  (oh my Lord, how much!)
for we have chased our love to “progress”, highly-priced,
but him? the kingdom of our God belongs to such.
If we would find a way to back off from the edge,
to stop our world’s last leaping at the precipice,
we must look far from Home, our prouder bets to hedge;
yes, back to those we thought we’d taught all blessedness.
His skin is black, but beautiful his striving soul;
his kin shall whisper “Faith” to us, whose hearts are coal.

In Winter

I cannot grasp the reasoning
why Winter’s thought a loss,
and not Year’s Boast!
Why not “the sweetest seasoning
on dripping, slow-cooked roast”?
For God has given us an os,
well-fed, in Winter.

From what is clearer comfort drawn:
removal of the skin
in summer-tide,
or layered clothing, quick to don,
‘fore chill can freeze our hide?
For God has loved, not left to Gwyn;
well-warmed, in Winter.

Look forward not to shiver’s hate,
nor shoveling that fluff
(which can be ill,
admittedly); but scorn the bait
which threatens rage, so shrill,
at God’s snow: white and wondrous stuff,
well-trudged in Winter.

As Autumn fails and orange retreats,
as red is routed fast,
go not to mourn
nor cloak yourself beneath the sheets!
Go well, by boot adorned,
for God’s great lights are long to last,
well-lit, in Winter.

Can company quell heat, or shield
from all-encumbering
and humid air?
But walk with friends through snow-clad field,
a land well-worth the glare;
and God’s well-met (if lumbering),
well-known, in Winter.

In tavern, fireside, public house,
with warm-cream ale and beer
and stout by hearth,
fear not to be with kin and spouse,
rejoicing well in mirth,
for God made vines (and hops!) to cheer
man’s heart, in Winter.

Resurrection

O Christ our God, your Resurrection – shown
through many-splendoured images – is veiled
in hopeful pictures, symbols, signs: by all –
profoundest dark to highest light – so hailed.

O Nail, pristine and shining metalwork:
what toil is done by your all-piercing thrust?
The healing ill was worked through you; and bend-
-ed low was God: who saved us from death’s rust.

O Seed that fell into the ground, entombed
like mustard’s pod in lifeless, dew-soaked ground;
when rose your Morning Star to shed its light,
the humble spark was gloriously crowned.

O Fruit of feminine and manly love:
the swell of matrimony’s union shows
the Only Lover of Mankind, asleep
in Joseph’s grave – and Birth, the end He chose.

O Great, Reviving, Glorifying Light,
the stellar nurseries have all confessed:
from supernova’s cataclysm, stars
of night come forth; your treasury is blessed.

O Phoenix, fowl on fiery, rising wings:
you mythical and legendary trope!
Look up to your great Master, who ascends
– Sheol thus conquered – real and true, our hope.

O Jesus, flower of a virgin maid,
the ever-shining star of all the world:
in height, in depth, the universe’s Lord;
your vict’ry banner – Love – now stands unfurled.

Chancel

O choir where the psalms are sung!
God’s wonders — ancient works which we sing —
recalled for the faithful ones,
inspiring souls to laud the great King.

O lattice, O chancel-rails!
What sounds of joy, what soul-kindling songs
have passed to our ears, through you,
and echoed out to gladden the throngs?

O walls of Jerusalem!
This holy building, shaking with joy,
filled-up with the mighty voice
of men, and angels in His deploy.

O children of God, the Lord!
What canticles, what heavenly odes
we ought to resound, in thanks,
on pilgrimage, on Sion’s great roads.

O Hymns of the Mother Church!
What sweet and all-harmonious praise,
these poems of faith and love,
which sanctify the cycle of days!

Hymn to Christ

O living Word of the Trinity;
help me to whisper your praises;
illuminate my creaturely mind,
wherein nothing is known in full,
thanks to mortality.

Jesus, speaking your Name is all I need,
entering mysteries of your presence;
my heart lights so eagerly to the ancient dance
of your Father and life-giving Spirit,
when I pay humble heed.

My hymn before the face of God,
chant the wonders of your love in me,
and resound the joy of resurrection:
— paschal, brightened, fiery night of wonder! —
Oh! despite an instrument so flawed.

My bread, my heavenly store of light,
feed me with the glorious food
that angels cannot touch or sense,
but my lowly flesh has been granted to hunger for:
fasting, awaiting your might.

My lamb, my meek and humble heart,
coursing on through my deepest soul,
(humility which died all the deaths,
that from the truest friendship flowed)
slake my thirst, like the panting hart!

My lamp on a darkened road!
Luminous darkness, mysterious Lord,
is all my lowly spirit is capable of.
O Morning Star that never sets,
draw me to your abode.

For L’Arche

Sometimes I wonder if, at the Cross,
Virgin all-Blessed, the quiet Daughter,
really contained all the force of loss
that man had incurred in wounded love.

Bloody and slaughtered, her Son did hang:
greatest, and cruelest of all our illness,
here on the footstool of God, the pang
of birth, of life, of death, was intermingled.

Far away, all the disciples, now;
Peter impassioned, thus drenched in fearing,
Judas so zealous, gone still; oh how
did man — such folly! — abandon his Only Lover?

Alone in the world, brought down to despair,
cutting and ripping away from communion;
yes, silent was broken communion, here;
grey were the skies, cracked was the earth,

alone was our Friend; He poured His isolation’s tears,
when darkness fell in all its pow’r;
and, Spirit near its going out, He Cried.

Where all had abandoned the Failure, the Battered;
The Mother to Child did whisper “I love you”,
hence Jesus breathed “thank you”, and died.

Waiting

Beloved, waiting your return
a thousand patriarchs are by our side;
with holy prophets, how we yearn
while ages flow and tide rolls on to tide.

With Abraham, we ache to travel forth
at your inviting word, and find our fire:
a hearth for progeny from south to north,
west, east; from every home and earthly shire.

With Moses’ wish for milk and honey’s taste,
we mothers without children, barren; lost,
do wander in an arid, desert waste.
your law of Love is hard — too high, the cost.

With Joshua, we hope to enter, soon,
— all whole, entire, the people won by you —
the Promised Land: and mounting that last dune,
arrive; no more supplied by Manna’s dew.

With Virgins’ thirst for living water, cool,
we parched and poorest ones need slaking; ill,
and seeking your divine Physician’s pool.
Rain down your sea of crystal: peaceful, still.

With pain, we cry: the maimed and hungry, dead
in sins, and lost in our futility;
stretch forth your loving arm; caress the head;
embrace our wounds: the Lamb’s fragility.