Tag Archives: Poem

“Bethlehem’s Hours’ Mourn”

“Bethlehem’s Hours’ Mourn”

Bethlehem’s hour’s mourned, furtive glances northward toward Nazareth;
Veiled her expectations as soon enough her promised Son survives.
She knows that somewhere in between this king contrives
Within himself to build a wall. He practices precision; he does not guess.
He knows exactly what he wants, and from the East come
Three who only recently made queries round the campfires
‘Neath the skies beyond the Jordan. Casually they’ve inquired,
“What are these walls, and what the genesis of guns
And orchards plaited all along the shepherds’ run? Whose images are these,
And what is it they disguise, the vulgate for the people?”
Yes, they come, these three, adrift once again stalled between the steeples,
Barred, forbidden. Then again, their passage isn’t what it used to be.
They ask in vain and find the answers come as no surprise.
The king’s awake tonight; he’ll not fool the wise this time.

“He Looks Away”

spitzweg-57

“He Looks Away”

He looks away from all his eyes allow
Because he has so much to leave obscure—
And don’t we all at times!— by habit inured,
He’ll reveal a spark to whom he vows
To walk a space, and possibly as with a pride
Of poets. Level phrases here and there arrive
To aid him as he rails against the tide
In early evening; his soft protesting tug, a brief aside
To all who indulge him; does he think to bid
Us well in all our journeys, slightly off and odd
Within our minds while he applauds
His audience daily?  To our faces thinly hid
Within his voice and avatar, he’s guessing as he tests
Available living icons, shibboleths,  and all we would address.

…Painting by Carl Spitzweg…

“Oh, I know”

“Oh, I know”

Oh, I know it”s been said before but bears repeating:
Unless a man embrace estates, his sense
Of eternity, his gifts of endless strife and goals of regret intense
Enough to merit periodic casual to shameless open weeping
In the corridors; unless the deadly abyss of every night’s sleeping’s
Prone to breach and rupture within his dreams or by the clock;
unless ‘neath the lens,
His page is thus combustible by the light focused upon a spot,
his joy depends
On something well beyond his own heart’s contumely,
his gates–his paradise, his weeping–
Fall well beyond the storehouse of his eyes and its catalogue of fears,
His light is changed to fire in tragedy and myths of talismans that guide his way.
Again, unless all this is welcomed well before the final hour, his pride will swell,
His vanity implode, and circumstance becomes
a euphemism for all he sees as hell.
Remember please that breath and breathing signify that death is ever near
And in these final years, satisfaction’s just another word for nothing left to pay.

“Hamlet Asks”

“Hamlet Asks”

Hamlet asks if she is honest, if she’s fair;
The question does perplex the lady staring
At him while it happens that she’s wearing
His improprieties, while it happens on the stairs;
He frequents passages in what is advertised as home.
Still the question’s moot, Ophelia has no real idea
Of what it’s like to be a thing of less than beauty cursed; she’s a
Little foreign to the notion that one roams
Beyond the confines of what is truest north—
There are but two poles proffered by Gertrude as her husband’s only clues
And north must  be somewhere near the stove,
Her safety just beyond the storage bin that holds the spoons and forks―
No, she’ll pass on both the question and his gifts to what’s beyond the arras;
Rich gifts do not wax floors, nor is this prince so careless. She’s seen the banks,
Below, the river’s malcontent; above,
the winds’ reeds’re resonant
With restive cycles in all those reasons. So many eyes intent
On recognition of what’s lately seen when all is rank.
Still Hamlet gathers evidence back and forth along the way. Her prince questions nothing honed from stationary life;
He does not own a life whose questions never fade
Remaining here but seconds in his needling days
Of endless desert silences in a crowd or in audience to an empty city’s sirens.
That one is here implies that everyone else is there along the far horizon
Beyond the accidental mistaken substance dreams and death. Ophelia slept,
No mystic talisman comes to thwart the fall; His promise he has kept
To weed the present  neglected fallow fields and lighten pressures of neon nights.
In his peerless flight is knowing nothing of this life and spending his days in sporadic search for what in death poor Yorick must have felt.

.

Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell
me one thing.

HORATIO

What’s that, my lord?

HAMLET

Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’
the earth?

HORATIO

E’en so.

HAMLET

And smelt so? pah!

Puts down the skull

HORATIO

E’en so, my lord.

HAMLET

To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may
not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander,
till he find it stopping a bung-hole?

HORATIO

‘Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

HAMLET

No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with
modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it: as
thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried,
Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he
was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn’d to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!

William Shakespeare
[1564-1616]

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, ActV, Scene 1

“Sonnet in Honour of the Feast of Núr or `Light'”

Bahá’ís throughout the world commemorate tonight after sunset and tomorrow before sunset, the first day of the Month of Núr [Light]. To each and all, a beautiful Feast!

“Sonnet in Honour of the Feast of Núr or `Light'”

He is much more than what He attracts; refraction of it all,
In lucid words these polished mirrors,
This luminosity in splendourous waves
that soothe all blatant latent fears
Within spheres of objectivity;
smartly uniformed, high-buttoned, tall,
Erect and unembellished,
capital of some fine handwriting
Scribbled there along the temple walls.
Script, the random code found
Wanting notwithstanding bolder strokes
of solace and credulity crowned
In serifs; lightest lightning
strikes a newly seated summer’s sighting,
Calligraphy to the eyes, herald of eternity…
…to the beholder; what? there
Upon the Holy Cliff, His brow–
the spring from stiller waters, golden pools;
Yes, clues. Siren and alarm
made moot above the spools
and threads that agitate creation’s needles’ dance
and aggravate of what remains where
Once there was a void. He leaves His mark
and we remain the ghostly detail of the lace;
I need not tell you Whose the eyes,
Whose the illumined brow; I’ve seen His face.

Rumi
“Light and Shadow”

…Thou art the shadow of divine Light.
We are Thy shadow in this world.
Who has seen a shadow
separated from the Light?

Sometimes the shadow stays next to the Light.
Sometimes it disappears into the Light.
If it is next to the Light,
Light and shadow are equal to each other.
When it disappears,
it merges and unites with the Light…

When it realizes it’s disappearing,
the shadow grabs the Light tightly
with the hand of desire.
In order to have God’s radiance,
this desire takes him to God.

The story of the union and
separation of light and shadow never ends.

“Eddies”

“Eddies”


Eddies edge pools of stilled and darker waters
Seeking, touching near what I’ve yearned
To know and where it was I learned
To close my eyes to images, tattered patterns, charters
Leaning gently north and east from where
It all began; stillborn journeys of patience, winding,
Woven, stolid movement while in action, stillness, finding
Nothing farther here or there than when I felt the glare
Of anger in the stars, no closer goals than when the sun
Denies its heat and lifting shadows, flees righteousness far beyond
My shallow mysteries and inexperienced gaze. I pause now and then on a span
Of steps, draw sweet ease within, and remember when it was began to run.
Lungs no longer large enough,
no bellows’ voice above the braying throng
Remains; no breath sufficient housing for the word,
…no everlasting melody in song.
I might have shone so brightly with a little gumption,
Possibly a nudge or two from vested interests,
Kinder words or just perhaps a brighter world. My life suggests
As much and while the ëgo’s none the worse for wear, presumption
Rests with those who argue with their fate
While I’ve remained asking nothing of it. I’ve no axe to grind
In this fine valley; nothing close to envy comes to mind
In thinking on what might have been if fragments left in testate
Had been a touch more polished, more evenly refined. I rest my case,
It seems, on what so easily comes to pass,
And what does not. Others I’ve taught.
What lessons I designed or ought
To have devised were nothing if not meant to last
Beyond my station, even further far removed from glory
Than the width of my recurring shoes or the copyright of my story.

Photographs above by Josh Sanders…

“They Might Have Opened All the Doors”

…again, in honour of the Blessed Event commemorated on this day…Bahá’ís throughout the world commemorate this evening after sundown and tomorrow the Declaration of The Báb, the Forerunner, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Whose purpose was to prepare the world for the imminent appearance of Bahá’u’lláh the Promise of All Ages and Religions and Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. The declaration of His mission on earth came in the early evening hours of 23 May 1844 when He declared His Advent to the first of the believers in His Faith.

“Whom do you claim to be,” he asked the Báb, “and what is the message which you have brought?” “I am,” thrice exclaimed the Báb, “I am, I am, the promised One! I am the One whose name you have for a thousand years invoked, at whose  mention you have risen, whose advent you have longed to witness, and the hour of whose Revelation you have prayed God to hasten. Verily I say, it is incumbent upon the peoples of both the East and the West to obey My word and to pledge allegiance to My person.”

The Dawn-Breakers, p. 316

The Báb (1819-1850)

House of The Báb in Shiráz, Irán [destroyed by Muslims in recent years


On May 23, 1844, in Shiráz, Persia, a young man known as The Báb announced the imminent appearance of the Messenger of God awaited by all the peoples of the world. The title “Báb” means “the Gate.” Although Himself the bearer of an Independent Revelation from God, The Báb declared that His purpose was to prepare mankind for this advent.


Swift and savage persecution at the hands of the dominant Muslim clergy followed this announcement. The Báb was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and finally on July 9, 1850 was executed in the public square of the city of Tabríz. Some 20,000 of His followers perished in a series of massacres throughout Persia. Today, the majestic building with the golden dome, overlooking the Bay of Haifa, Israel, and set amidst beautiful gardens, is the Shrine where The Báb‘s earthly remains are entombed.

“They Might Have Opened
All the Doors”

They might have opened all the doors; they might have paced the floors;
They might have seen His image somewhere in the dream or lingering
In atavistic traces of His family line, the graces, strong and nimble fingering
Upon the instrument, the shrill nib carving statues from the stone,
in voice a thousand rapturous scores.
They might have seen themselves beside Him somewhere there in the breach,
His sun’s withdrawal at implosion, His apogée at dusk approaching
Whispering luminosities, crescendi in the vibration in clefs defying
barriers and shibboleths, crouching
In scattered catacombs, beyond the reach
Of mortals East and all expectant worshipers at West, in haste ancipating
Bas-relief scrawled along the walls and fractured vents
up from the seabed of all humanity,
Famed and storied such that His arrival only rivalled Bethlehem’s nativity
And by appointment, lest the Great Announcement
failed to spawn a catholic antipathy.
With but a word, the pantheon of deities and vain imaginings
that once were stone
were given breath to stifle such precocity in letters as the pen
Cannot recall nor circumscribe: that night, the Nineteen found their mark
as lightning from East to West and back again.

…admittedly obscure, my few words here will find their meaning in the hearts of all Bahá’ís who know the significance of this day; to all the rest, I beg indulgence for these few hours…

43:1 Afterward he brought me to The Báb, even The Báb that looketh toward the East: 43:2 And, behold, Bahá’u’lláh came from the way of the East: and His voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with His glory.

43:3 And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.

43:4 And Bahá’u’lláh came into the House by the way of The Báb whose prospect is toward the East.

Ezekiel

“Sonnet in Honour of the Feast of `Azamat or “Grandeur'”

Bahá’ís throughout the world gather this evening after sunset or tomorrow before sunset within the First Day of the Month of `Azamat [Grandeur] to celebrate the first day of the Bahá’í Month of `Azamat.

Mixed-comb-with-markup

“Sonnet in Honour of the Feast of `Azamat or “Grandeur'”

As if we can not be denied nor satisfied, we never quite say enough.
Spoils, the pain of living fêted, foils in which we grope and grow
As serious as honeybees, as laborious as ladybugs indifferent as they know
Their daily bread and signs depend not on commerce but industry. Rough
Terrain, yes! but praise no matter what may be the trappings.
The cause is paramount, practitioners partition tracks of land
And sacrifice themselves in the finding—as do mountains inevitably to sand
Or are simply swept away in time along the delta seashores lapping.
Random landings shoulder makeshift homes with open arms
Along the scores of symphonies, a little high amid the treble, alarming
All that’s bass—too many notes, perhaps—but not for the proud volcano.
Gifts in memory or dreams, men now somehow reign in stars and haloes.
Even so, it’s not so much the harvest in files but humanity sheds a light
On God’s humility in grandeur’s breath that gives all that blossoms life.

lady

“Sonnet in Honour of the Feast of Jamál or “Beauty”

Bahá’ís throughout the world gather together before sunset to commemorate the first day of the Bahá’í Month of Jamál or “Beauty.”

AAAA

“Sonnet in Honour of the Feast of Jamál or “Beauty”

Dust from dust, the single particle,
The transformation, rust, the curse and blessings, ornamental numbers
To please the unities—vary weights to settle the matter—cosmic lumbers
Fortified in broad strokes,  letters given seraphs, articles
Of incorporation; yes! but to whom; to what eye or ear? Neanderthal
Or philistine, both regard beauteous bending of the light obliterating
A thing of greater timing than Movement alliterating
This with that, or these with those. The call
For more than senses can tolerate compromises
An abyss of physical multitudes and armies marshalled
To reconstruct themselves in harmonies, arsenals
Of discordant sighs and the mysteries of transubstantiation. Chaos apprised
Is order where there was none, beauty is but a cut, a degree above
The alloy wherein instinct succeeds and fear has turned to love.

…art by Robert Becker

“A Respite”

“A Respite”

A respite in the air today and news,
And down the chute comes something nice,
Some piece of fond assurance, the sweetness of advice
To justify past days and weeks of toil and views
Obscured by all that’s loud and cumbersome above;
Below, scenarios of arteries and paths
Through streets on seamless days. No dragons’ nostrils’ wrath
Knows no better than to lie between the wings of doves
Or gentle nestlings in the palms of all the psalms of fortune.
Today a gentle width in avenues and boulevards
And all the right-of-ways are opened wide, the gloss of plastic cards
In bank machines, the brighter melodies of shallow i-Tunes
Whistled in the mind on buses at the hour of noon.
A mystery witnessed in the heart, eternity cut short too soon.