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Broken Sacramentals


Broken Sacramentals

Beads in my pocket, formerly attached;
Loosely floating orbs and chain links recently unlatched.
A crucifix and pendant—remnants and remains
Of things I use to garner graces, gifts and holy gains.

A patch of woolen fabric, a square with icon blessed
That used to hang consolingly, a comfort on my chest.
This scapular most holy. A rosary of wood.
Now sit inside a leather pouch instead of where they should.

And though they both are damaged,  and neither one is whole,
They each provide me blessings for my worn and weary soul.
These broken sacramentals,  though bruised and broken things,
Still serve their purpose, drawing me to Jesus Christ our King.

Their brokenness reminds me that even with my blame,
Even though I’m flawed and weak, He’ll use me just the same.
If only I allow Him, surrender to His will,
He’ll use me to draw people to his sermon on the hill.

This broken sacramental, though barren all alone,
He’ll take me—if I offer—to draw children to his throne.
And just like broken bead strings, when put to holy use,
My life can be a blessing in the ways that He will choose.

Death of a Comet


A voice in the wilderness  warns all who hear:
“Make straight your pathways!  Salvation is near!”
His words a stark contrast to the everyday din;
A bright guiding comet ‘gainst the darkness of sin.

The icy bright tail light draws all those who thirst
For something to fill them and shatter their curse.
His following grows as he spreads the Good News
“Salvation is coming to all those who choose!”

And soon he starts washing them, dipping their brows
In the Jordan’s riparian aqueous flow.
“I baptize in water, He’ll baptize with fire.
He’ll satisfy hunger.  He’ll fill your desire.”

And those who would follow this heavenly sight
As he traveled, a bright flash against the dark night,
Their attention would draw to a much brighter star
The brightest celestial body by far.

And humbly, the comet would meekly submit.
“To loosen your sandals?  Lord, I am not fit!”
But not before dipping one more head in the flow.
Then, having completed his job, John would go.

The comet had drawn our attention to light
Flashing brightly in darkness to capture our sight
And now that its purpose was finished and done
Its brightness turns dim in the light of the Son.

This example I seek as my model for life
To help others find Him who gives peace in the strife.
And I hope I can say, at the end of my story,
That all that I’ve done was to seek out His glory.

Majestad Negra


By Luis Palés Matos

In memory of my roommate, Ricardo (“Ricky”) Miguel Gonzalez.  RIP, my friend.

Por la encendida calle antillana
Va Tembandumba de la Quimbamba
–Rumba, macumba, candombe, bámbula—
Entre dos filas de negras caras.
Ante ella un congo–gongo y maraca–
ritma una conga bomba que bamba.
Culipandeando la Reina avanza,
Y de su inmensa grupa resbalan
Meneos cachondos que el congo cuaja
En ríos de azúcar y de melaza.
Prieto trapiche de sensual zafra,
El caderamen, masa con masa,
Exprime ritmos, suda que sangra,
Y la molienda culmina en danza.
Por la encendida calle antillana
Va Tembandumba de la Quimbamba.
Flor de Tórtola, rosa de Uganda,
Por ti crepitan bombas y bámbulas;
Por ti en calendas desenfrenadas
Quema la Antilla su sangre ñáñiga.
Haití te ofrece sus calabazas;
Fogosos rones te da Jamaica;
Cuba te dice: ¡dale, mulata!
Y Puerto Rico: ¡melao, melamba!
Sus, mis cocolos de negras caras.
Tronad, tambores; vibrad, maracas.
Por la encendida calle antillana
–Rumba, macumba, candombe, bámbula–
Va Tembandumba de la Quimbamba.

Inexpressible Groanings


Inexpressible Groanings

Words fail; what can I say? No word combination will help me to pray.
And if I could number my blessings each day, my tongue would be twisted, my confidence sway;
If honey-dew lyrics were lifted in song with voices of angels, they still would be wrong.
And, knowing that all verbal offerings fail, not able to vocalize more than a wail;
And yet, I pray.

Thoughts fail; how can I grasp the mercies and graces that enter my clasp?
My feeble cognitions would come out a rasp if I tried but to voice them–a humbling gasp.
If my human condition allowed me to plumb the depth of my blessings, I still would be numb
To the vast benediction of each counted breath,  each inhale and exhale an unearned bequest.
And still, I think.

Acts fail; what can I do? No vigorous action will help me pursue
The source of my blessings that seem to accrue without any effort on my part; but You
Provide me with everything I could require, the sum of my needs, if not every desire.
I cannot do anything to gain Your love, to merit the manna You send from above.
But still I act.

And though no thoughts, words or deeds will suffice to make me deserving of Your Sacrifice;
And while, seeking virtue, I stumble in vice; my scant tithe is weak, but You make up the price.
My inadequate words You gladly accept, transforming to beauty what I make inept.
My lowliest efforts You take in Your hand, and gently you add it to Your master plan.
So that everything I do in seeking Your will You transform to beauty with unbridled skill.
And You redeem.

Final Sale


My lips are dry; a sun-parched waste
Long forgotten; longing for the life-giving kiss of clouds.
The Breath of life, a sand blast
Scathing; gouging deep long scars of pink.

The cracks; etched patches whipped
By moans and screeches, robbing healing fluids.
Screaming silence stripping moisture barren sand;
A rugged figure, struggling in the glare;
He stands, glancing at the molten-dripping Sun.

He drops; and struggles, reaching toward a vision:
A hand stretched, a beautiful brunette—the Ice Queen;
An evil laugh; a promise; Roar! the sound of Water
Falling, tumbling, spilling forth to disappear at his feet.

Thoughts of water, struggling through his mind;
A drop, a gift to bribe; his hand, it reaches
Ever to his wallet; he opens it, pulls out one piece of paper,
Crying, he hands it to the woman.

“My soul,” he blurts, and grabs a glass of Water,
And turns to flee, leaving behind all memory of God;
But, miles away he turns for one last glance, and spies
A figure, gliding toward him, dashing in the sand:
The woman, calling him to stop.

She grins at him, reaching out her hand,
A piece of paper, illegible print, she forces into his.
She smiles, a wry smile; bellows forth a laugh;
Curtly, “Your receipt, sir.”

First published in Labyrinth, vol. IX no. 2 (USNA, 1984) under the pseudonym Samson Flanders.

Pretentious Interruptus


Cradled in the misty alcove
seated in the hands of time
diving deep beneath the fathoms
of this silly useless rhyme

Exists a something lost forever
nothing ever knew its name
no one ever heard his echo
every effort was his blame.

On and on the poem rambled
never-ending ignorance
’til one day the idgit poet
couldn’t find a word to rhyme with ignorance, so he stoppppppp

Many Scents of Mom


My Mom is always with me.
Like the early morning dew.
With the sunrise I awake to
Smells of coffee freshly brewed.

(I remember how her coffee breath
Would wake me every day.
With the scent of eggs and bacon
Wafting gently up my way.)

She is present in the autumn
As the fallen leaves are burned.
I await the morning school bus
With another day to learn.

(I recall her grubby sweatshirt
As she cheerfully would rake,
Making every chore a pleasure,
Every job a game she’d make.)

(more…)

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