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,

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

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


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

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


Tuesday, August 29, 2017


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?"

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Crow on a Branch

Crows rise and drop
in the high redwood tree
arguing, competing
to see who would light
on the top-most limb,
as thin branches, bending
under their weight, waver
and bow

when suddenly
one raucous crow
comically falls.

Cawing, the clumsy black bird
beats out his own breeze,
and rises again
to the argument.

(10/19/2010 - 8/24/2017)

    Sunday, August 20, 2017

    The Gate of Heaven is Everywhere

    “The gate of heaven is everywhere.” Thomas Merton

    I can hear your soft breath,
    gentle strains of music

    the easy breeze
    nudges the curtains

    and peace flows
    across my skin
    like cool water.

    But soon impatient dusk
    will overtake bright day

    when the sun dims
    in the dark grip
    of eclipse, and ancient
    terror thrills even
    the most
    comprehending mind;

    for this is when
    overtakes fact,

    and unknown stars glint
    in the afternoon sky.

    We never knew
    they were hanging so low,

    diamonds in deep

    new light!

    (27 Nov 2012: 21 Aug 2017)

    Friday, August 4, 2017


    Photo: Brian Federle, Salton Sea, Dec. 2016

    My breath rises
    to the edge of space
    and pauses
    at the nexus of perfection,

    then falls,
    driven by waves of fire, 
    by strong hands guided 
    through dust and rain, 
    through ice, through
    the shining

    to my upturned face
    where a single drop dies
    and fills me with
    the storm's desire.

    (Posted 2012.  Revision 8/2017)

    Tuesday, August 1, 2017

    Light, directly infused

    Photo Brian Federle, Sunset at Carlsbad, Jan. 2016

    “Faith reaches the intellect not through the senses
     but in a light directly infused by God.” Thomas Merton

    Rising from the sea
     death’s veil
    overwhelms me.

    Brief day fails,
    fills the sky
    with starry sails

    wandering planets,
    cold and bright –

    holy spirit
    of faithful night.

    (2012: 2017)

    Sunday, July 30, 2017


    “And the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept . . . . what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.” 
    Asian Journal of Thomas Merton,

    I see the world

    as it is, as I think
    itis, as I want it
    to be:

    bright mornings,
    shimmering lawns, trees glowing
    golden as night dissolves
    to glaring day.

    I hear mourning doves,
    raucous crows, roar of lawn-mowers,
    distant whisper
    of traffic

    and believe these prove
    that I alone can end a night
    of anxious dreams
    with quick breath and
    eyes wide open.

    But one day, stepping
    through terminal veils of pain,
    startled, pulling back the black curtain,
    in the unexpected rush of ecstasy,
    I’ll discover the truth:

    my never-ending
    communion with

    Saturday, July 29, 2017

    Soft July

    since you've been gone the days
    are silent

    except for the rush of wind
    in our apple tree.

    See how the fruit hangs
    heavy, pulling low
    the branches;

    so I’ll wait in the shade
    of soft July
    and think
    of you.

    (9 July 2014; revised 7/29/2017)

    Friday, July 28, 2017

    Suisun Creek

    Suisun Creek
    riparian forests.

    Hungry trout ,
    liquid lightning, flash
    as stonefly nymphs dart
    past brooding periwinkle,
    blackberry groves,


    (25 July 2011)

    Tuesday, July 18, 2017

    The Narrow Road

    The narrow road
    flows down the valley,
    past hedge row, vineyard, orchard,

    red farmhouses and
    white mansions;

    their black fences are lines
    defining isolation

    from the grey shacks decaying
    where rough life once rejoiced!

    I enter our little cemetery
    where you wait
    for my simple gifts…..

    home-grown flowers,
    a prayer,
    a tear.

    I’ll visit again

    Wednesday, July 12, 2017

    Enter the Sanctuary

    Photo: Apple Tree in Spring, Steven Federle

    To find love I must enter into the sanctuary where it is hidden, which is the mystery of God.
    Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation:

    Deep in the tangle of branch and leaf
    I move to the core, to the dark shaft
    that draws life up from the muddy ground

    to blooms sprung to being
    by the ascendant sun,
    open, imbibing morning light
    like new wine, drunk with love.

    Here I seek You
    in Your green sanctuary,
    hiding, gleeful,
    anxious to be found.

    (14 May 2012)

    Saturday, July 8, 2017

    Pure Hope

    “We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope. For when our hope is pure, it no longer trusts exclusively in human and visible means, nor rests in any visible ends. “ Thomas Merton

    Close the the gun’s edge
    life is sharply

    Clarity is achieved
    when you have nothing left
    but hope.

    That’s when you realize
    that your life stands
    without any visible
    means of

    like  a high-
    wire walker,
    you are

    That’s why
    you have the freedom
    to stand between
    the red rage

    and the children.

    (14 Dec 2013)