This world is no match for your Love Being away from you Is death aiming to take my soul away My heart, so precious I won’t trade for a hundred thousand souls Your one smile, takes it for free Hafiz, it may be that you’ve just poured a toast that will wash love clean of all its pictures. ~ Hafiz

Man on Donkey

By Peter Steele, S.J. Beaten, still breathing, as awkward as a dog, He swags across the donkey, unaware Of who’s beside them, footsore in the slog Uphill for shelter and a kind of care.   Under the bloody bandages, some oil Soothes where wine has washed away the dirt To leave him clean and mortal. Alien soil, Continuing fear, is mingling hope with hurt.   Downslope, the priest is hustling on his way, Clean as a whistle, and the levite too, Who thought that pausing meant the devil to pay, And all the hours awarded them too few.   By the plodding beast, wordless and out of time, The stranger braces once more for the climb.

Mihi videtur ut palea

Father Nolan’s baritone would have made a camel blush But he launched into “Tantum Ergo” With the enthusiasm of an Irish barroom brawl. He was tone deaf  Bringing the mystery of all things transcendent Down to earth where mere mortals can fight about them. Brawls with priests in attendance are nothing new And not usually a laughing matter. Choirmaster trains with a whip No mercy for wayward lads. Nolan was deadly serious. I was once on his list. Aquinas tried to complete the work Of Nicaea. Truly god is truly god. True means true. It means When you bite the coin It cracks your teeth. Breath that rattles straw. More straw please.

A Few Still Words

  A retreat Chapbook Rohatsu, 2022 Ken Ireland Pilgrim's Progress In the Cave of Sister Mary Kevin, Ursuline Why Did Bodhidharma Kick Up His Heels? In defense of really bad poetry This One Precious Human Life A Dream Drape All the Mirrors Blessing the Boats (at St. Mary's) by Lucille Clifton; translation, Ken Ireland   Outside My Window Pilgrim's Progress Will my heart ever warm to these foreign gods? No matter that we shaved our heads for a while. No matter that we wore socks that felt more like gloves than the fingerless mittens that mother stuffed our hands into when the pond froze over. There is still some mystery the heart cannot speak.   Sometimes I feel as if I've been snowed into that one room school my grandpa talked of, huddled around the stove, a gang of kids jostling for attention like best grades, playing with tongue tangled words in a Sanskrit yeshiva, parsing phrases as cold as Tibetan snow. I aim for the precision of the shovel I used to dig out the fami