Jesus Christ, Image in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

In a cloudy Pennsylvania sky
He gestured at a bright spot in the gray—
“That is the sun” he shouted pointing high
“The S-O-N is better” —did he pray?

Almost as it seemed, but never quite,
Maybe waiting for us to begin—
Perhaps we would have—did the man invite?
If so the call seemed incomplete and thin

He should have said: “I’m praying to the Son
Who nursed the milk at Virgin Mary’s breast,
And even death by callous execution
Is better than the sun by which we’re blessed”

But made self-conscious by the man’s effusion
It was like standing at the crucifixion



Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (1806–58), “Transfiguration”
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

We came to where the mountain gleamed
Like the garment Jesus wore
The winter snow and yet it seemed
As bright as what our souls adore

Instead of Moses and Elijah
Two silent birds slid overhead
The messengers of Christ’s forever
But creatures of the air instead

Not Jesus with the holy pair
No conversation between those
But life and light in winter air
The snow resembled Jesus’ clothes

Jesus’ presence there to mean
What Peter, James and John had seen



Vegetable Garden at Mount Vernon
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

His face is on the dollar bill
Before that when the large was little
His father planted in the garden
A line of green plants for the kitchen

Small George looked and “George” he read
Green leaves in the garden bed
A pattern for his birthday meant—
He asked: “Dear Father, accident?”

And so we ask: “The things we see
Has everything just come to be
By accident without a cause—
All of nature and its laws?

“Or has it by a Great Someone
Been started in the stars and done?”



Winter Aconites
Courtesy Capper’s Farmer

I watch the rain, late winter’s spring
The weather warms but no birds sing
The flowers are spring aconite
The blooms the color of sunlight
Small and growing out of snow
Or more or less as we can know

And we too flourish as we can
Human beings, woman, man
Out of our sterility
Which much infects humanity—
What contagion can deprive
Of God Who keeps our souls alive?

It is within, denying of
Our precious spring, our fertile love



They Come and They Go…
Fossil Trilobite (Trimerus stelmophorus), South Central Pennsylvania, c. 400 million years old
Courtesy The State Museum of Pennsylvania

The quiet hills around us—
And February snow—
Can likely melt toward April
Before the month may grow

Chances maybe equal
To happen until Spring—
What decides above us
Which either half will bring?

In either case the decade
Seems melting toward a war—
Although it’s more than likely
Most all of us ignore

Except the ones whose business
Is planning years to fight
As those who light a lantern
Think mostly of the night

What will the hills think of us
When cities blaze afar?
As much as hills in nighttime
Think of a distant star

They seem to rise forever
Seem likely rising more
Must see another conflict
And watch another war



Russian soldier

My grandfather died at fifty-three
In Los Angeles—cause of death TB—
Had served in the Tsar’s Imperial Army
Near shot for smoking while a sentry

In Manchuria, private rank
For mercy shown had God to thank
And eloquence to the army court
Which could have cut his life span short

Possible causes of death were these:
Russian court martial, the Japanese,
What finally killed him: lung disease—
Death hazards for him came in threes

At fifty-three, so young to die
The Lord God knows the reason why
But old enough, but old enough
Sufficiently, they were that tough

Tuberculosis, bullet, war—
His life—was I the reason for?



Here is time, and time is Mine
I give some to you, I, divine
Seventy or eighty years
Laughter to you and My tears

See the sun, see the lights
Of little stars throughout the nights
Wind, the rain and even snow
First to last the seasons go

And when the time I give is through
Everlasting given you
Unknown till at last you see
Time unneeded—mystery

Live forever yet not need
My blood, your bleeding more to bleed
Amen, time to live at last
Before and ever time is past



Pietro Perugino (1448–1523), “The Agony in the Garden”
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Shrewd, but not as wise as hunting dogs
They caught and killed their Leader from behind—
That’s all the matter came to on the Cross
And all it ever comes to in your mind?

The Second Person of the Trinity
Unspeakable the mystery remaining—
A human being made like you and me
Hauled down by a pack un-self-sustaining?

Accomplishing the work of the Salvation
For such a stupid pack of running beasts
In this and then His magnified dimension—
Now if done who knows wherever ceased?

Who is He and who are we, the labor?
We are the running creatures, He the Savior



Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450–1516), “Ascent of the Blessed”
Palazzo Ducale, Venice
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

If the live brain dies within six minutes
Is there a spirit that survives
When the flesh of earthly bodies dies?

Jim tried to sweep the porch of snow
Then saw a stain that would not go
But found at last, to his surprise, it was a shadow

Tell me inner shadow, are you I
And do you leave me empty when I die
Or is there something left of me, then why?

He swept and swept at last to realize
That shadows are an empty dimness, no one dies
But what may still remain is a surprise

Something living, unclaimed, yet the true
Which speaks inside and yet you never knew
The golden one within that never grew



Moretto da Brescia (c. 1498–1554), “Christ and the Samaritan Woman”
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Seeing true
More than sufficed
To make us new
That Jesus Christ

Who saved from blind
Our heaven-mind
Which then could see

The land of grace
Of sunlight peace
No eyeless place
But love’s release

That powerful
That living kind
The loving-full
The heaven-mind