Saturday, June 24, 2017

Invitation to Dream

Photo: Brian Federle 2017, Night Sky

Pain has an element of blank;   
It cannot recollect   
When it began, or if there were   
A day when it was not.   
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain   
Its past, enlightened to perceive   
New periods of pain.

Emily Dickinson


When I last  saw you
Your eyes danced with joy
and You filled my life
With hope.

But now you’ve gone
beyond my pale sight.

Oh, feel how
the knife twists in my gut!
Oh, weep with me my stinging tears!

Then come with me
as this darkness descends,

and together,
Let us dream.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Breaking Silence

Photo "Stream" Brian Federle, 2014

It is not speaking that breaks our silence, 
but the anxiety to be heard. Thomas Merton

In chilled twilight swells
the chorus overwhelming
echoing passion,

half of water, half  
of leafy bank, they fill the
night with lusty will,

persistent, straining
these marshland poets converge, 
anxious to be heard.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Because We Are Loved

Photo Brian Federle, San Francisco, 2008

“...we come into being because we are loved and because we are meant to love others.”
Thomas Merton, Honorable Reader: Reflections on My Work

Deep inside
my silent room,
I gaze
at nothing,

as beyond the door
in trees glowing,
green and glistening,
birds sing, spring-
mad, mated,

The sun’s rising,
Your risen

and so I emerge. 

(2012, 2017)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Golden Day, Emerald Summer

Mt Hood National Forest, 2014, Brian Federle

Golden day, emerald summer,
buds erupting
to green clusters
of sweet fruit –

so sit with me awhile
in the morning shade
as the sun slides
imperceptibly toward night

and see how small birds alight
on St. Francis as he blesses
all God’s green world with

life rioting, wind-
blown seeds,
weeds wedging into small,
narrow spaces between
slender blades
of tender spring grass;

and though
I cannot see you,
know that I love you
as I know
you love me.

So together
we’ll listen
as the morning
breeze sings
of life never-


When you left us
I saw how the clouds parted,
rent curtains,
as you cleared earth’s
drossy smear,
and passed into a heaven
bright beyond
our wildest imagining.

Bereft, fearful, we
shut tight the door
against wolves’ howling
and waited for you
to keep your promise.

At first it was a whisper,
the sea-ward wind
prying loose our
weak walls,

but soon the song rose, until
its power overwhelmed us
with chords of faith,
and, afire at last,

we spoke!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Mercy and Love

"Joshua Tree National Park" Brian Federle, 2016

In order to know and love God as He is, we must have God dwelling in us in a new way, not only in His creative power but in His mercy.  Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation.

Nothing I could do
would ever be enough
to make the dead-wood
live.  Though the wind
and rain sever bright leaves,
tender blossoms from
the cherry tree, and the
birds themselves fly
from my anger,

I know
I could never
make it right,

though with tears I flood,
nourish them with a
broken heart’s blood

I am powerless.

Yet still these bruised stems,
thicken and split
to bud, spill green life,
fill the earth
with mercy
and love.

(2012, 2017)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Photo: Brian Federle, Pacifica Sunset, 

The Lord travels in all directions.
The Lord arrives from all directions at once.
 Wherever we are, we find that He has just departed.
Wherever we go, we discover that He has just arrived before us.

Thomas Merton, No Man Is An Island

 I try to catch you, 

facing forward to see
your heels flashing fire
in the shimmering red sea.

I gaze into night, 
desiring sight
of your dancing eyes.

I whisper, I sigh,
but you elude, 

ahead always, 
always behind.

(June 2014 ; May 2017)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Movement of the Soul

"All the passions can be reduced to four: joy, hope, fear, and grief. 
These four are so closely connected that, when one is controlled, 
the others all obey.  Consequently they can be reduced to one: joy.  
And desire is the movement of the soul seeking joy."  
Thomas Merton, The Ascent to Truth

is knowing
that the dark cloud
bearing down
on thrashing trees,
sending calling birds
to awkwardly flee,
holds both
and death,
but not knowing
which it will be.

can lead to grief
when tumors increase.
Blood grows
until, together
at last, we stand
and wonder

This is the line that splits heaven from hell.

We comb his hair
and shave his face,
carefully fold a rosary
into his cold hands,
and wonder that
his chest is
so still.

But his eyes are safely
sealed against the
terror of the grave,
so we lay him to rest
and slowly go
our separate ways

those cold March days
when we stood, our
backs to the rising sun?

Too bright
to see, the sun
strokes us
with a lover's warmth,
and rekindles in us
life's desire.

Thus will it always be.

Death can never win
though his illusion is strong.
The mortal body succumbs
but the soul ascends,
like birds, joyfully rising
to the morning sun.

(2013, 2017)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rockville Cemetery

Among broken stones
folded over soft grass
we linger.

See how the fallen pillar
on the graven rock?

they’ll search
for us, too.

In this garden,
all calamity,

beneath sunny lawns,
in a deeper shade
we’ll fill our own space
and in peace
with you
we’ll wait.

(2012,  2017)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Shadows 12-29-16.jpg
Photo: Brian Federle, Shadows in the Desert, Dec. 2016

Your shadow in the desert
by the winter sun cast.

Searing pain
as I gaze
on  dark


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fire Falling

sunset 2016-01-02 .jpg

Photo: Brian Federle, Sunset, 1/2/2016

Fire falling
to golden waves
consume the world
with your love.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Aubade: Mourning-dove

Dawn fires
the cold roses
when, with
planetary urge,
all explode to

Then the cherry tree,
plain in
drab leaf,
erupts into

and high
from the bright rooftop
the mourning-dove
his low, plaintive
song of 

(15 June 2014)

Friday, May 5, 2017


Cliffside, Photo by Brian Federle, Oct. 2014

Down the trail
to where the gravel ends,
beneath the indifferent gaze
of giants, engulfed in emerald shade,
swiftly drops the forest
to the singing

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The knot grows tight

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.

Monday, May 1, 2017


"God, we have no idea where we are going. We do not 
see the road ahead of us. We cannot know for certain 

where it will end. Nor do we really know ourselves, 

and the fact that we think we are following your will 

does not mean that we are actually doing so.  

But we believe that the desire to please you does in fact

please you."  Thomas Merton


As I walk through winter's mist
I cannot see ahead or even know 
if the jaded sun will break through 
and guide me back home to you.

But I must not wait for certain light; 
I must go on through my dark fears,
bitter tears, failing sight,

for your gentle, wordless song 
nudges me always forward, urges me 
ever on.

(2 Nov. 2013)