Catholic Distance University

Loki Brother to My Blood

Gabriel Olearnik

Suffering reknits creation. In suffering we become the actors in the divine drama, until the beauty of the uncreated is made fully manifest. —Op. cit 32.


There is a traced place around the drag of your eyes

that a traitor the face is. Here, the forehead is like sand

Here, the mouth torn with terse flattery

as if the lips were scarred by threadpoint.

In the badlands of your youth

the wilderness of first loving

walking with you was like dark walnut with a hint of fire

and your smile broke teeth. [Read more...]

Drinking with Lucifer

J.B. Toner

“Well, Mick, what’s this stuff called again—Bushmills?
It’s very good, but I’ve had better yet:
The scarlet ale of Aztec altars wet,
The absinthe of an abdicated will,
The mead of churning spilth from poison mills,
The wine of groaning thralldom’s tortured sweat,
The black milk of despair from souls of jet,
Sweet seas of tears that drown the looming hills.” [Read more...]

Lessons Beyond the Death Camps

James Wilson

The work of salvation takes place in obscurity and stillness. In the heart’s quiet dialogue with God the living building blocks out of which the kingdom of God grows are prepared, the chosen instruments for the construction forged.
—St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross


Some will remember you for what they call you,
A fact or category, and some will
Remember chiefly how you died, and think
Of blood’s enthralling stain. Still others reach [Read more...]


Tim Kearns

Blue-armoured, somnolent, and taped
hands poised—as if in measurement
of the day’s haul—the lobster sits
beside the scale, like Scorpio
to Libra in zodiacal
parody: his deliverance
or Thermidor waits on the stars.

Tin buttresses shoulder the shale,
rattle with each raw gust of wind,
and cast themselves the stopping place
for blinkers, wiping spectacles;
marauding down the lines of stalls,
and baring heads and witness to
the spawn-eyed fish and knots of shells.

Crustaceous greetings worry at
the glacial banks behind the glass.
The lobster, though, sits pretty on
a chopping board. And one boy stands
glued to the spot, hooked as it were.
Indifferently the knife falls—
breaches the saddle, saws the tail.

For all its arms, it could not see
off this. Perhaps the boy wonders
how it must feel to be thus rent,
and how an unabated breeze
might tease his nerves with salty rime,
before he turns to find his kin,
and I check in with mine.

Tim Kearns is Head of English at Kilgraston School in Scotland. He has had a number of poems published in the UK, and has recently edited Selected Poems of Sherwin Stephenson, 1947-49, due for publication in December.

Cave of the Hands, et al.

Marci Rae Johnson

They couldn’t write so they drew themselves.
On the cave walls they drew their own bodies
and the bodies of the animals they killed,

which were also gods. They drew calcite spirits,
dancers black with bat excrement, hands
for holding power. The eye. The tooth.

Only the left hand, which could strike the right
cheek, leaving the other free for contemplation.
We also killed the god who came. In our paintings,

though, he looked like us. Fat baby, barefoot
child. A man with secrets. We killed him because
we were hungry. Because the other cheek refused.

Marci Rae Johnson teaches English at Valparaiso University. She is also the Poetry Editor for WordFarm press and The Cresset. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Redivider, The Curator, Books & Culture, The Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Louisville Review, Rock & Sling, The Other Journal, Relief, The Christian Century, and 32 Poems, among others. Her first collection of poetry won the Powder Horn Prize and will be published by Sage Hill Press later this year.

The New Pope Talks About the Contents of His Briefcase

Dante Di Stefano

Asked what was in the black briefcase
that he carried onto the plane by himself
en route to Brazil, Francis said he had
a razor, a breviary, a book about St. Teresa,

a razor because favelas rise like stubble
all over the world, a razor because turning
the other cheek often exposes five o’clock
shadow, a razor because the meek

shall inherit the cutting instruments,
a razor because the meek shall inherit
the sting no styptic can staunch, a razor
because the sharp edge recalls Gethsemane

and Gethsemane is the world right now,
a breviary because prayer requires prompting
even among the holy, a simple breviary
because a flock forgets the shepherd’s staff,

an ornate breviary because the basilica
of orchard, the basilica of forest and field,
obliges its priests to chant down the Babylon
of Rome, a breviary because the liturgy

always takes place in the dirtiest street,
a book about Saint Theresa of Avila
because recollection leads to devotion
and devotion leads to ecstasy, a book

about Saint Theresa because the prayer
of quiet culls a blessing from tears,
a book about Saint Theresa because if you
have God you will want for nothing,

a book about Theresa because the church
canonizes a new saint every minute
as if desperate to bludgeon us into heaven,
a razor, a breviary, a book about a saint,

because Christ has no body now on earth
but yours, and you have no baggage
now on earth save what nicks, what abridges,
what records, what beatifies what sorrow.

Dante Di Stefano is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing at Binghamton University. His poetry and essays have appeared recently in Shenandoah, The Hollins Critic, The Grove Review, Brilliant Corners, Bayou Magazine, and elsewhere. He won the 2013 Academy of American Poets College Prize and was the first place winner of the 2012 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. He is also a poetry editor for Harpur Palate literary magazine.

Missa San Joaquin

Don Thompson

I. Kyrie

We grub, we scrape the hardpan,
water all summer and harvest
shallow abundance—but no mercy.

Kyrie eleison

The earth has turned its back on us,
yielding, for most,
only to the grave digger’s shovel. [Read more...]

Leaving Song

Katy Willis

Now is the winter of my discontent
  To be reformed, transfigured into spring?
  I cannot seem to hold to anything
That by this sudden blossom is not rent.
I leave a love behind, unfathomed still;
  I have a hope before me, waiting yet;
  And trapped so, where no boundaries are set,
I find a faith, an unexpected will. [Read more...]

Fragments, for Mary

I. What woman could bind
Death’s bane to flesh,
What mother dare
Her God to mortal;
What womb would bear
That mortal fare?

II. The purging flame
Burns in the bush–
The fertile virgin
In consummation
Unconsuming. [Read more...]


William Daugherty

“Oh, William, look! How beautiful!” she said;

and, keen to help, I also turned my head
to see the objet d’art that she admired:
a handsome bronze our gallery acquired
from some estate—two lovers rapt in one
another’s gaze, mote-dazzled in the sun.

“Mary liked this stuff. I never did.”
He was tall but stooped. His right hand hid
his trembling left; a silver pompadour
gave him a courtly air. Her pert couture,
her simple pearls, her much too auburn hair
contrasted with her face, long etched by care. [Read more...]