Stigmatic: a poem for Good Friday

[Years ago I read an account of someone—at this distance I don’t even remember who—receiving the stigmata. The detail that has stayed with me ever since was that the wounds did not come all at once, but gradually developed over several months.]   You pierced me slowly, Lord. An itch at first. Mere irritation. Then four sores. Blood seeping, Staining sock and shirt. Skin scraped away as if by Sandpaper. Why not the quick urgent thrust of a lover Breaking my virgin skin with rush of blood? Penetration completed in a moment. As swift as when nails impaled you. Your mining as ponderous and painstaking As an archeological dig. Pits Excavated in my extremities With excruciating exactness. Pressing imperceptibly deeper Precise, damaging no bones. At last you break...

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Irregular Hope: Seven Stanzas for Christmas

Irregular Hope: Seven Stanzas for Christmas   1. Epiphany Thrice fourteen men and Just three women named Between Ur and Nazareth. The men are rapists, murderers, Incestuous, adulterers, and the rest. We read and note the female lives To be irregular.   2. Benedictus Pretending to have Dreamt. Straining to Forget. Then the blood Fails to flow. Young enough Still to be irregular She tries to hope For two weeks more.   3. Annunciation His voice controlled. Effort Etched into his neck. He searches for civility. ‘But how? It all seems … Most irregular.’ She fails to hope Until he dreams her reality.   4. Quickening Her belly soon begins to Swell. Straining to contain the One who fills time, space. One day she prays. Between Her kidneys prayer is...

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At Lazarus’s Tomb: An Easter poem

He wept, the man who I had learned to trust, And spoke: ‘he who believes will never die.’ My brother, who for four dead days did lie, Rose, stripped, and lived again. This we discussed Endlessly – how could we not? The years went by He married, prospered, then, as all men must Grew old. He stooped and sickened. Returned to dust. And now once more we watch his tomb and cry. ‘The resurrection and the life’ he said, But I await the last of days again. ‘Though die, will live’ – strange words he spoke, and hard; What has he changed, who on the cross once bled? He rose. And rose. Made gates of death, through pain, A door held open by the hands still scarred.

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‘Manhood and Deity’: Two sonnets for Christmas

A pair – and they are a pair – of Christmas poems:   1. Manhood: Joseph You paint me in the shadows, left of scene. His shining light there blocked by ox. Or third King. Or by ass like me. My face is blurred Lest I distract from Jesus and Mary.   Oh, ‘I’m not Hamlet, nor was meant to be’ ‘Attendant lord’ am I, attendant on my Lord— My son (or so I say: obedient word, That masks the uselessness I feel in me.)   This all my calling, all my sanctity To stand detached and silent, unpreferred. My voice? A butler’s, asking concierge On their account, not mine, ‘Pray, room have ye?’   Care? No! I know as well as know my fate: ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’     2. ‘These are the generations’: Deity God’s being,...

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On the Incarnation: Four Chalcedonian Sonnets

‘Haec et mea fides est quando haec est catholica fides’ (Aug. De Trin., I.iv.7) 1. Cyril’s Second Letter to Nestorius  ‘Mother of God’ the Fathers said, and we, If we in faith with them are still to stand, Must say the same. The One born of Mary Is God in truth, united with a man. God – of the Father before all time born; Man of his mother, late in time he comes. God unchanging, not by suff’ring torn; Man in flesh and soul united with the Son. This union wondrous comes not late in life But in the womb occurs at once. And so The Holy Mother does not just bear Christ, But God the Word himself in her does grow.   In pain she pushes God, to this world come; Honour the mother, then, to confess the Son.     2. Cyril’s...

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