INTERMISSION

Cast of “The Popular Mechanicals,” State Theatre Company, South Australia
Courtesy Alice Springs Town Council

Life the prologue with an act
Of slapstick and the clowns come on
To start their routines not of fact
But parody comparisons

Intermission christened death
When real life happens and begins
Between the last and first new breath—
The sequel to our loves and sins

A life that’s new but who can see
Beyond the old one? only when
Perhaps they dream it and break free
For moments in their sleep and then

The clowns become an angel cast
That plays the future from the past


 

THE AFTERGLOW

Lightning Bolt
Courtesy Lori Lane, The End in Mind

I realized last night
When lightning passed so near to us above us
A bolt that split the world of us in shards
As if all time and space might shattered be

All categories of existence cancelled
Identities extinguished by the Lord—
That God requires nothing to exist
That all we have from Him remains gratuitous

That even joy of heaven need not be
Nor sacrifice to benefit our being
Nor even death defeated by the Cross
That nothing need subsist but light from light

Or He might wrap Himself in perfect darkness
With nothing to be made for Him to love
So that existence must be ours for this—
That love descends from Father to the Son

And from the Son to Mary ever Virgin
And from the Virgin to the Holy Child
And from the Holy Child to all of us
And from the Christ for us the Holy Ghost

Amen, amen, the lightning is a sign
Of God’s tremendous power to dispose,
That all that He has made can be unmade
And yet there is the afterglow—He rose


 

TURN BACK!

Terence Neale (contemporary), “Storm Clouds Overhead”
Courtesy Saatchi Art

I dropped a golden bucket in a well
It was made of sunshine and no metal,
Light so pure without impure alloy
Which can be poured but nothing can destroy

But now I hear low thunder from the sky
Although the sun is shining, tell me why,
Is there an explosion far away
A city turned by predators to prey?

Who will tempt me from this place to there
When wiser is it to remain, prepare?
Likely there will be another war
Much greater than the last, as cruel and more

Here is sunlight, there the sky is black
And as I start the sunlight says: Turn back!


 

SCOOP UP THE SOIL

Garden Soil
Courtesy Gardener’s Path

Scoop up the soil in a garden
Soil that is fertile and fruitful
Gather it up and examine
In palms which are held out and hollow

More time for it, Sovereign, time,
But He tells me: your life is at stake
Shape a new human from grime
And also new consciousness make

A live human being from dust
Because you have killed one before
Whether unjustly or just
In some disagreement or war

Mine to create and not yours
Make one or else you must die,
What you have ended restore
Produce or be put to death, try


 

WHO KNOWS?

Angelica Kauffmann(1741–1807), “Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well”
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The woman at the well has seen
The Man who has created noon,
Created night, what does it mean—
The Master of the sun and moon?

The eyes of her look up to see:
He walks like any other man,
Speaks and listens carefully
To that untaught Samaritan

Could be another whom you see
Is not the one that you suppose—
A Spirit of the One in Three
In ordinary human clothes

It might be anyone, who knows,
Even you the Spirit chose?


 

HOVER

Hummingbird and Yellowjacket; photo by Alexis Hayes
Courtesy Journey North

Yellowjackets will compete
With hummingbirds to sip and eat
The syrup, drive the birds away—
Or hummingbirds succeed and stay

Both can hover in mid-air
But neither have the will to share,
Each contenders for that space
Which has such value for their race

Not like them from skin to core
We the human, something more—
We can choose how we will act,
Distinguish falsehood from a fact

But hover, hover in the air
And find your predecessors there


 

LIKE A DOZEN

Bath Time for House Sparrows
Courtesy Ornitho

Like a dozen sparrows bathing
In a gravel bathing pool
A younger generation raving
Called their predecessors fools

While they bathed they shook and fluttered
Splashed their dripping stubby wings,
Spray was how and what they uttered
But a sparrow never sings

Drab and dusty, sparrow-colored
Piping like the scratchy squeak
Of doorway hinges red-eroded
But they never sing or speak

So like sparrows are the young
Whose happy songs are never sung


 

THE TRUE TEMPLE

Francesco Hayez (1791–1882), “The Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem”
Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

This is the very temple that unholy Romans burned
Atrocity and sacrilege but no example learned,
Passageways sun-gleaming and white royal rising columns
A chamber of the sacred Ark and its triumphant anthems

But only one true temple now on Earth will ever stand
Not stone amassed but simply made and born, a human man
Of flesh and blood who living walked along the stony hills
The Temple being burned below the Christ of God they killed

This is the only temple that can never be thrown down
Or sit a king who never reigned and never wore a crown,
He has become a Spirit born of human blood and flesh
Delivered by a virgin as the world became His crèche

The Spirit is the Temple where the people come to pray
The altar is His body and the Savior whom they slay


 

WE ARE HER BELOVED ONES

Steven Lochner (c, 1400/10–51), “Madonna of the Rose Bower”
Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne
Courtesy Yorck Project and Wikimedia Commons

She is the candle and the flame
Holy Mary is her name,
She is the mother of the Lamb
Call her Mother Miriam

If you are entombed, afraid
If you summon her for aid
She will answer with her gift—
Love’s compassion sure and swift

To her love I testify
When I thought that I would die
She answered with a certain sign
Love of a maternal kind

She is the mother of the Lord
Pierced by grief as if a sword,
Those who grieve her daughters, sons,
We are her beloved ones

(August 22 is the Feast of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin as Queen of Heaven and Earth.)