The Mountains

Mark Amorose

The flatlands are our home: the fecund plains
with skies untouched by angularity,
roads rulered on a checkerboard of grains,
and rivers sauntering towards the sea.
What is it, then, that urges us to go
where bear-tooth summits tear a salmon sky,
where soil is stone, and cataracts don’t know
that water’s meant to flow but not to fly?

The mountains are the earth despising earth:
in one great striving, all of nature seeks
to leap above itself: even the trees
renounce round crowns for heaven-pointed peaks.
And we perceive our more-than-mortal worth,
ascending Rockies, Alps, or Pyrenees.

The Figure of Saint Cyricus

Alejandro Escudé

Francesco Laurana 
Italian, Belgium, about 1470 – 1480 

In common time, the light reflected
On the babe’s marble head—star-blurred red.
A carnival of the carnal, the rose-blood bloomed
As his tiny body tumbled outside the city
Along with the mother’s severed head.

Martyr of the child dead,
He sits, a baby torso with an old man’s head.
Eyes turned upward, heavenward,
Gripping the palm branch, like the lollipop
My daughter, same age as the saint, requests
Soon as we’re safe inside our home.

I am transfixed by the boy rising
Out of the boiling tub, having met his executioner,
Having refused, a child’s natural willfulness,
To worship the idols the king.
Surrounding him, royal portraits on the walls
Sing a circumscribing hymn—beseeching
The residue of sanctity he left behind,
Odor of holy water, oil and incense.
I break out of my maudlin mood
To recognize Cyricus, child-saint,
Martyr for the youth who will not acquiesce
To the horrible powers of adulthood,
Who, in his innocence, preserved Christ’s crown.
Oh impenetrable being carved in stone!
I give myself to you, not to my child alone.

The Play Continues

J.B. Toner

For Peg

We tire, and wither, and our souls grow old;
   The trillion miracles that swarm our sight
   No longer lend our hoary hearts delight—
Bright kings enthroned, we weary of our gold.
But oh, our Father is more young than we:
   A child who never tires of one glad tale,
   He calls an encore, lifely, without fail,
And younger actors age-old lines do read.
For every birth renews, redeems, the world—
   To startled eyes, just closed on Heaven's views,
The dazzling panoramas are unfurled,
   With dawn-dew-dappled grace freshly imbued;
And one child born to one good-hearted girl
   Can make the very earth and heavens new.

Outside a Clinic

Mark Amorose

A crimson window framed in black and white
that cracks the slate of February’s sky
lets in a ray of rectifying light
to startle from their sleep the passersby.
What is this great and ghoulish valentine
from which the ruins of a cupid cry
a sanguinary season’s wish? “Be mine,”
the ruddy little body seems to sigh.
Can we still walk in shadow past a place
where lust pays brutal avarice to kill,
and see unmoved a butchered cherub’s face
outside this latest dark satanic mill?
Or has the crimson sign held in the light
turned February’s gray to black-and-white?

Mark Amorose lives in Mesa, Arizona, with his wife, Maria, and their six children. He teaches humane letters and poetry at Tempe Preparatory Academy.

Vox Dei

J.B. Toner

Creation is a soaring symphony,
 A euphony, polyphony, a hymn—
 The joyous thunders of the seraphim
Commingle with the murmurs of the trees,
The rising madrigals of morning birds,
 The choric song of rain upon the earth,
 The rushing tide crescendoing with mirth,
The howling wind that God's wild glee avers.
 Some days I stare into the sun at noon,
 And almost swear I see a merry grin;
   If only I could hear His voice, I think,
 Uplifted in some strange immortal tune,
 I might learn hope amidst my doubt and sin—
   But sometimes it's enough to see Him wink.

The Theology of Waiting

Genevieve Cunningham

Imagine a flawless note, particular,
Uninhibited, unwound, consummate;
Stroked from tamed wood
To breathe, expand, fill a room,
Press against wall and ceiling,
Seep into the stairwell, seeking
An attic window, escaping;
And pursuit is futile. Listen:
All is silent, vast in the new soundlessness,
Heart racing in the recent absence
Of instrumental sound. [Read more…]

Dogwood

Sr. Mary Catherine Vukmanic, OSU

Forsythia comes first, then violet.
(Who watch for them through winter months agree)
Forsythia comes first, then violet
But till the dogwood bloom, it is not spring for me. [Read more…]

The Paschal Four

Timothy Barr

I.

When in subtle mass I weighed,
Latent boughs kicked fleshy drum.
Falling circumstances staid
The appetite for love and thumb.
Patience swaddled in the moons
Through clouds about my nebulous form;
My origin loved me in monsoons
Though I was yet naught but worm.
In sphere I was, as sphere I made
Tunnels of blood stretched heavenward,
Ropes of life were spun and frayed
Nightish bastion, quelled in cord. [Read more…]

Humility

J.B. Toner

How many times, I wonder, have I prayed
 With all my waning strength for some one grace,
 One desperate panacea to efface
The miseries that make my faint hopes fade—
How many nights have passed in my despair
 Before I found the wits and faith to see
 The providential serendipity
Whereby the Lord ignores and answers prayer?
 For, peering out from terror’s shroud voluminous,
   At last I realize that what I ask
 Is not in keeping with the soul-wyrd numinous
   Which glows within my heart behind doubt’s mask—
 But when at last I glimpse His purpose luminous,
   I bow before my long-appointed task.

[Read more…]