HAVE MERCY ON US

Divine Mercy Billboard

Have mercy on us and the world
Billboards on the roadside say
Show Lord Jesus as He blesses
All, inviting us to pray

The blessing is a band of light
White-red in its tones and curve
Makes me wonder at the source
And whether blessings we deserve

Did monks or nuns or private ones
Arrange to put the billboards up
Beside the roads where all can see them
Good, indifferent and corrupt?

Have mercy on us and the world
When evil’s banner is unfurled—
It is for this that Jesus came
Crucified—the world’s the same

But now our power is the greater
The end comes closer, time grows later


 

NERO—ROMAN MARTYRS

Gustave Doré (1832–83), “Christian Martyrs”
Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

On Vatican they died by sword
By bull infuriated, gored—
The witnesses were laughing, clapped
As sprays of blood fell in their laps

Coldness is the name of those
The blood of martyrs on their clothes
Except for pleasure momentary—
Compassion, grief, there wasn’t any

Or so we think, but secretly
Perhaps they felt as much as we—
Within the human soul there hides
A secret grief beyond our pride

For loyalty to what believes
In Love that dies between two thieves


 

CONSUME THE WORLD

Gourmet Snack for a Woodchuck
Courtesy Woodchuck Wonderland

From the flowers in the garden
A heavy woodchuck searching heaven
Striding fat and unafraid
From the plantings we had made

Walking strong and loose and free
Maybe he or maybe she
Having eaten flowers it
Looked for exit, how to quit

Stared unblinking, unafraid
Withdrawal, departure to be made
Found another length of fence
To scale, a yard ahead and hence

But not so easily may we
Consume the world, God’s property


 

UTOPIA

Illustration of RFID Implants
Courtesy CNBC

All with a phone, each with a chip
Here’s your electrical citizenship
Status of health, where you have been
Where you can go outside or within

Where you can travel, where you cannot
How many calories eaten and what
Who are your friends or otherwise know
What are the gifts that you can bestow

Do you believe in a god or refuse—
One of the few civil rights you can choose
But always the phone with your personal history
Nothing about you is ever a mystery

This is utopia under control
Why should there ever be need for a soul?


 

THE TREE OF HEAVEN

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), “The Tree of Life”
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Extremely short and then it ends
Measures how our life extends
The reason was to multiply
Quickly, surely, then to die

Changed to be as not the whole
Spirit somehow with a soul
Reaching to a bright unknown
Showing we are not alone

Sentience that lives within
Loses not what it can win
If it takes what it is given
Happiness the fruit of heaven

Growing on the branches of
The tree of Heaven’s Holy Love


 

FARMERS’ MARKET

Fresh Vegetables
Courtesy Rispoli Produce

Farmers’ market underneath the awnings
Come in from the country summer mornings
Leaves of green and flowers, all the baked
Temptations showing what the bakers make

Across the bottom of this hilly town
Angular the foothills up and down
Framing the perspective of the stalls
Theatrical as hangings as they fall

Indeed this is a playhouse and a play
Script and cast to think of it that way—
Gardeners and bakers on a street
Theatrically producing things to eat

All of this the story of a show
About the end of June and what they grow

Town in the Hills
Photo by Pavel Chichikov

 

BALLET

Barn Swallow; photo by Dori
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Swallows over grassy field
Tall grasses filled with swallow food
Wings and chests outline a shield

The braking swallows stand in air
Insects up before them yield
Before they know the birds are there

Swallows turn and dive and glide
Swift or swifter than the wind
Before the prey they hunt can hide

Exquisite reflex, vision too
Just this year come from the egg
While through the Spring the grasses grew

A bird ballet, an audience
Of anyone with legs and sense


 

HE CHOSE

Fritz von Uhde (1848–1911), “The Sermon on the Mount”
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

He sent the human Son
Since only as a human
Would He not astound us
Bother us to stillness

To face the Light of light
In visions beyond fright
To immobility
Seeing such as He

The same in face and speech
The fingers that could reach
The cup of wine, the bread
That living could be dead

Yet deathless as He rose
Such deathlessness He chose