Saturday, December 9, 2017

New Wine into Fresh Skins!


Renew me, wash me
in deeper pools open my
righteous, narrow mind,

for your wine over-
whelms, rends ancient seams, blood streams,
my weakness reveals.

Make me a new man
and I'll hold your wine within
my fresh, new-made skin.

**********************
"...nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine into fresh skins!" Mark 2:22


(19 Oct. 2012)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Invitation

Come into my night;
the darkness is so cold
that sparrows flee
my winter trees,

so I have closed
my windows and my doors
to horde my little warmth.

Crickets will not sing delight
and stars no longer glimmer
in winter’s dreary night.

O come,
O come, Emmanuel!

I am captive and dull.
I cannot see the flashing stars
that lurk beyond the cloud.

O come into my small house
my meager fire share.

O come, and bring fierce angels
to cut away death’s empty snare!


(30 Jan 2011)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Camping at Lake Berryessa

My children sleep
on the thin vinyl floor
while above our tent,
just past the dark tree-line,
the Milky Way glimmers
like cool waves breaking
on the black coast
of the deep mountain sky.

All night
the lake whispers softly
under gentle western winds
as egret and owl
keep guardian eyes
on the sleeping
human shore.

While watching my sons sleep,
I hear the low murmur
of wild turkey and possum
scuffling through dry dust and leaves,
searching our campground for leftovers
peanut butter crusts, hot dogs and beans,
any careless, easy meal,

when I feel rolling pressure
pushing insistently at base of our tent,
and, alarmed, hear quick, powerful,
exploratory snorts.

Holding my breath,
I gaze into the deer’s
questioning,
fearless eyes,

and wonder
if we campers
are part of this
ancient community,

or welcomed,
honored guests,

or simply curious,
rude intruders.

(30 Jan. 2011)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent Wreath



The pale sun, gliding low,
refuses to rise into leaden
grey skies, so bleak night
inters our sinful souls.

Oh! break out the candles
and place them around!
See how their fires
consume the dark ground.

Bouquet of flame!
devour our sins,
and ignite winter’s night
in holy conflagration.

(12/1/2010)

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Light in November

Photo: Brian Federle,  Oregon, 2012.


The light in November slants low.
It fills my eyes as I glance
askance through amber trees
and see the leaves descend in
gold flashes
past my open window.

The autumn sun skirts
my low Suisun hills
casting deep shadows
along the ebbing marsh

where wading egrets probe
still, black waters

and finding their prize
rise to blue heaven,
white, slender wings
elegantly beating
the softly falling sun.

(2012-2017)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Leap of Faith



You decided
that you want me,
and so commanded
flashing angels
to invade my night.
With blind bliss 
to contend,
and weary with seraphic strife
I gave in:

(a pious moment
here and there,
a sign of the cross,
a whispered prayer),

until, patient Father,
in bright dreams you called
and led me high 
up your holy mountain
promising
that I will rise
and never,
never fall.


(24 Dec. 2011)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

"The Gift" by Mary Oliver


Thanksgiving

Full from the feast
table laded
with fragrant dressing,
steam of onion and celery,
tender turkey and
five kinds of pies

The family gathered.
My parents smiled
at our busy banter
brothers
and sisters nudging and
teasing,  beaming
in the glow
of that happy day
so long ago.

Now you and I gather
our sons around us;
again we pause, pray
and eat the bounty
of this bright Thanksgiving Day.

They say that some things,

kind hearts,
hearty laughs,
enduring love

are so good
they persist long down  
the thankful
generations.

-----------
(for Brian we are so thankful)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Paradise

Passage: Sunset. Photo by Brian Federle, 2016

Paradise

Deep inside
I carry paradise,

A bright flood,
pours through
my soul’s veins,

but like those blind fish,
I cannot see
the holy river
running through me.

On a good, clear day, though,
staring hard beyond,
I can almost see
God’s holy fire
glancing off
my boundless sea.

(3/30/17)

Consoling Mary


Freely flow her tears;
a dam so brimful
cannot contain
such towering waves.

Wondering that
my words fail
to give peace,
I reach out
and take her trembling hands.


Tearful,
I brush away
all her
bitter tears.



(13 April 2011)

Monday, November 20, 2017

In Contemplation of Seeking

….contemplation is simply the “experience” …. of God in a luminous darkness which is the perfection of faith illuminating our inmost self….. a flash of the lightning of divinity piercing the darkness of nothingness and sin. Not something general and abstract, but something, on the contrary, as concrete, particular, and “existential” as it can possibly be. It is the confrontation of man with his God…    Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation
+
In my darkness I seek you
through deep caverns I run;
my dying flesh yearns for
your fierce, piercing love.

Through darkness I see
you’re glowing so bright,
but always receding,
deeper than night.

I fear that I’ll falter,
betrayed by frail will
when softly you whisper

“my child, just be still.”

(3 Dec. 2013)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Memorial

Summer

He worked nights, leaving as we climbed
the tall narrow staircase to our shared room,
up into the summer heat, the steel fan
in the hallway window
pulling cool, leafy breezes
from our waving trees.

We heard the kitchen screen-door
slap shut, the Pontiac roaring to life,
and watched as slowly he backed down
the dark driveway, and was gone.

And gladly we glided through our misty dreams,
flying over tree-tops, baseball games
and cool swimming pools,

when finally the robin’s enthusiasm
and the fresh morning sun
flashing through green leaves
woke us as we heard the car stop
and Dad call cheerfully, “I’m home!”

The air already scented with bacon and coffee,
we flew down the groaning stairs,
two steps at a bound,
and eagerly started another golden
summer’s day.


Winter

One winter day I did something wrong, and
he got angry and drew his worn leather belt
from the loops of his grey, stained work trousers
To teach me a lesson.

Terrified, I ran upstairs to the big closet
and trembled behind coats and sweaters,
as heavily he came up the steps,
righteous anger ringing in his voice,
tears flowing down my cheeks;

when my big brother, teenage and strong,
called defiance to him and drew him down
into the back yard to fight him
and save me, angered by his
memory of so many other beatings,
determined to stop it now!


But facing his own father
he could not fight back, and
weeping, I watched my dad
pummel my brother’s defenseless face,
far worse than any beating
I would have gotten.

From kitchen window,
I screamed to them both
to stop!

That was when my father saw,
in the kitchen window’s glare
his own father’s angry eyes,
and felt his father’s fists
landing hard on his own face,
and he stopped and
embraced my brother.

Spring

Seven years after my father died
my first child, my son, was born in spring,
and in the gleaming, sterile room
I first held him in my arms
as, with his impossibly wide, blue eyes
he calmy gazed right into my raw soul,
and I felt in a sudden rush of warmth,
a timeless love
and at last discovered
the reason for my life.

It was then
I understood my father.

In my son’s face I saw my own
and felt my father’s eyes gazing
in warm wonder on me
and I glowed with
unconditional love for my son.


(30 Jan 2011/ 2017)

Friday, November 10, 2017

November Sky

See the perfect sky of November
cloudless, cool, southern sun,
garden of blue eternity


vaulting over rioting trees, leaves
shouting that life is good
as they fall, and with red cover
the green world


with perfect red
as in perfect blue
life turns inward,


like the planet,
pursuing


the fleeting sun’s
fading hue.

(2013 - rev. 2017)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Feast of St. Francis

Sisters of St. Francis of the Neuman Community
from "Canticle of the Sun," by St. Francis of Assisi: "Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance."



Bird-song rises 
in clear, liquid waves

as golden leaves arc
twisting
to the ground.

Heavy gold
must fall.

October heat
gives way 
to winter rain,

yet inevitably life flows
like the breeze
rising from the broad sea
to the high Sierra;

grey clouds rise
and heavy snow falls.

All the living waters
give praise.


(10/4/2013 - 10/29/2017)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fall Leaves

Photo: Brian Federle, Camping, March 2010.

Wind-ripped leaves
cover my yard

severed flesh, leathery
fingers splayed
grip the brick walkway.

Flush winter roses
drop petals,
red shrouds cover
glistening gold veins
sundered
from ravaged trees.

Yet the trees survive.

mimicking death’s
grey angularity
oblivious to the wind,

nude limbs
lean into the howling storm
and dream of June breezes,
singing green afternoons,
the faithful thrush
thrusting new life to flight.

But for now
black clouds gather

the winter wind sings dirges
for these sacrificial leaves
nourishing the famished earth.

(11/18/2010)
re-post 10/25/2017

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Miserere

i
In October
golden days suddenly fly
as unexpected,
brutal
nights arise.

ii
You died last spring
when love seemed
to promise life
never ending.

iii
Thirty-one years before,
when I first held you,
your bright eyes
gazed on me
with wonder,
my son —
my love at first sight!

iv
But the cruelty of March
surpasses even winter’s rage.

I prayed for God’s mercy
On that bright, green day.
but bereft in my soul,
only bitter darkness
remains.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Wildfire Close to Home



“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. “ Thomas Merton

Night streaks the afternoon sky.

Smoke pours through trees
riots through suburban streets,
flames snarl, snap in the meadow,
the red beast
just beyond the fence.

I feel its glare
as wild heat brushes my brow.

Crossing arms, I walk
quickly, first to the corner,
then to the threatened house,
where my young neighbor
clutches her baby
and wonders
when will it be time to flee,
leave home,
abandon furniture, new carpets, tv
dreams of
safety.

We watch and wait
for the calm firemen
to arrest this marauder,
cool its rage,
restore to ordered life
this blue July day.


2012 - 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Disasters of War



Iron soldiers,
astride their power,
grip swords
stand poised
wait for the order
to stain red
the innocent earth

as women,
naked bellies swollen,
watch flashing steel
steal away their children,

those
who play
at their bare feet

and those
who yet swim
in warmer pools.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Pacifica Seawall, October


Photo: Pacifica Seawall, 4 Oct 2014, Brian Federle


We dropped by your house today
and sat in the new chairs
under the gnarled tree
and spoke of you.

We walked to the wall
that separates ocean
from land, and observed waves
rising, mighty, lunging at rocks
beneath our feet.

We spoke your name
there, to the moaning sea.

(Oct 4, 2017)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Summer River


“It might be good to open our eyes and see.” Thomas Merton


ore’ shading trees' hanging leaves cast green sheen on waters, on the deep unbroken mirror when, rising from night it breaks lightning and draws first breath of thin air - and, discovery made, falls back into the cool watery shade.

The Whole Song


"We must learn to respond not to this or that syllable, but to the whole song." 
Thomas Merton

You say
"be not afraid,"
yet this darkness is
complete.

A well of silence lies 
beneath my feet 
as I try to feel
my way back to you.

How can I be brave
when all around me rush
rivers of anguish, tears
overflowing life’s banks?

Terror fills the sky.
In dark flashes
my sight declines,
and endless night
encroaches the edge
of vision.

Will you lift me
if I stumble 
and fall?

Oh, call softly
and with seeing
fingers I'll find 
your healing 
hands again.

(2013, 2017)

Moss Landing





Framed in darkness
Like birds in deep silence
The sky and sea breathe
In steel blue longing
Remembering the dying sun
And the cries of gulls diving.

On insubstantial sand
We watch an impossible ship
Moving and not moving
Like a silent cloud 
at the edge of the world.

I can see no men aboard
Although I know they are there. 
I know they are in steel rooms,
Warmed by twisting turbines,
Softly cursing,
Listening to the night.

The sand moves under us
As we walk to the sea.
Our steps change forever the earth.
The sea changes forever,
We change the sky with our breath
And wind-blown sand covers our feet.

Yet we move,
And for a while we walk
Away from the sea.

The sea will change.
The sky will change.
They will wait.
There’s no hurry.


In memoriam: Arthur Federle, 1978, Brian Federle, 2017

(1979. 2017)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Omnipresence

Photo: Brian Federle, Pacific Evening, 2014


In the psalms of night birds
in the bright morning trees,
I hear your song echoing,
overwhelming me.

Always above me,
around and below,
inside me your love’s
a constant glow.

In warm summer’s ocean,
in the soft breath of night
I sway in the rhythm
of passionate life.

(15 June 2012)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Twilight at the Seawall

Photo: Kaela Roster, March 2016

Dark hills,
glowing sky,
indigo fast fading
to black,
while on the edge of fire
incandescent embers
hurry the wheeling world
round ancient paths.
But see how, 
newly awakened,
the cool moon ascends,
awash in reflected glory,
full and round, 
and lovely.

(2011 - 2017)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The knot grows tight

"There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief." Aeschylus.

The knot grows tight
when I think of you
gone to that bright,
unseen place.


I long to hear your voice
on the phone,
at dinner,
at home


when darkness fills
me deep inside,
and for no apparent reason
I cry.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

in the villages round Caesarea Philippi



Oh, we are
a faithless generation!

I saw the lying spirits
ensnare my son
throw him into the mud fouling
his boy's mind with fetid waters,
unleashing to fiery panic
his gibbering tongue,

but everyone shrugged and said,
"nothing can be done."

A faithless man, I prayed for faith

and He entered the fray,
commanding to silence
Satan's dubious claims,
with His mighty prayer
sending hell-ward howling
all our false and golden
gods,

and gave me back
my son!

(14 Sept 2012/ 5 Sept 2017)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Evening Meditation



Our apple tree is exuberant tonight,
its white blossoms flare within emerald shades
of our big cottonwoods,

and the flashing red finch descends
busy among the bursting white flames,
when suddenly, by a small boy enraptured,
it poses as the guardian halcyon.

Love in April is like this,
measured in flashes
of red wings in trees
and scored in lines of
molten sunlight, pouring
through our knotty fence
into the silky darkness
of our star drenched night

(4/5/2010)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

daybreak

Photo: Brian Federle, Palm Springs Dawn, December 2016


daybreak, still limbs lace
to gray sky, wait for the next
storm to shake open

morning, still sleeping
shuttered windows conceal the
cold face of daybreak.

(1/22/2012 - 8/29/2017)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Relationship Between Love and Grief (Remarks by Jan Richardson, August 10, 2017)


 
"Passage" by Brian Federle

From “Grief is a gateway to grace, which can remake the world, LCWR president tells 2017 assembly” by Soli Salgado. Global Sisters Report: A Project of National Catholic Reporter.

The relationship between love and grief: (Remarks by Jan Richardson, August 10, 2017).
To be undone and remade by grief's hand is a messy, scary and cathartic process, said the keynote speaker for Aug. 10, Jan Richardson, an artist, author and ordained United Methodist minister**.
Richardson discussed her emotional journey following the unexpected death of her husband, Gary; he died in 2013 just three and a half years after they had married. In him, she both found and quickly lost her creative partner and "co-conspirator."

She invited the sisters to consider what it means to "be the presence of love" (the theme of the assembly) even when it seems that the "love that's been present seems to have left us." She said death is a process that can come in many forms: a physical death, the death of a dream, loss of a familiar lifestyle, or "the ending or changing of a community that has held our hearts."

That death is universal and yet can take such different forms for each of us, she said, has been "one of the strange and beautiful things about navigating grief in the wake of my husband's death."
"When absence erupts in our lives, how do we call upon the presence of love that goes deeper than our loss?" she asked the LCWR attendees. "How do we open ourselves anew to the presence of love that endures far beyond death?"

"It has been crucial to me to attend well to the grief, to give it time and space, to let it say what it needs to say. … Call it my personal protest or act of resistance in a culture that so often wants to urge us along in our grief, wants us to move on beyond our mourning, wants us to be OK, because not being OK can make other people uncomfortable."

If we try to hurry along the grief, Richardson said, we risk missing the presence of love.
"May my love be more fierce than my grief," she repeated, a special prayer for her in this particular moment of grieving.

A seemingly subtle but distressing adjustment Richardson didn't anticipate was her new relationship with pronouns and tenses: What was once "we" and "ours" had become "I" and "mine."
"Where can we live in the plural present, with those whose hearts we hold and who hold us in theirs?" Richardson asked. "When our hearts break, where can we still say 'we' in the way that enables us to know that we are not alone? Where can we still say 'now' in a way that allows us to live into the love that does not end with death?"