Catholic Distance University

Daylight

J.B. Toner

The sun!  A million bird-hymns split the skies,
    His crimson halo sanctifies the peaks,
    Flings green on grass and blue on babbling creeks,
The violets open dew-bespangled eyes,
The shadows spring away in swift surprise,
    Bright clouds rush outwards, galleons white and sleek,
    A merry day his golden beams bespeak,
And azure oriflammes proclaim his rise. [Read more...]

The Telephone

A.R. Bossert

You lie through lines and falsely signal hope.
Mechanical imposter—she who spoke
Makes sweeter sounds than what comes through your holes.

Forgive me my accusatory tone—
See, I shall praise thee an angel dear
Who carries her sweet speech when we’re alone.
Then, eyelids closed, she whispers in my ear. [Read more...]

White Christmas

Joseph O’Brien

Forecasters generally consider a white Christmas to be an inch of snow on the ground or an inch falling that day.
—news item

But along the river bottoms, snow found no place,
When we went walking there
After life, abrupt, stillborn, fell apart.

Your flustered hands gently wrestled
With the chill in the folds of your overcoat.
Frightened doves, they could not bear to be held,

Holding to themselves
In a barren nest untouched by tenderness,
Yet wanting to fly from flesh to flesh. [Read more...]

108 Degrees

Gabriel Olearnik

  No word was given me, no legend 
   no ringing play, no tapestry of the coming time. 
   I did not know my name and of all things 
   there was only the lapping light, the sword and 
   sharp sand beneath my feet. 

The light is red thread on the clock 
4:48. Incomplete--an hour of wet 
salts and seven men murmuring.  [Read more...]

A Psalm for the Sibyl

On the Occasion of the 2,757th Birthday of the City of Rome
Apollo shines bright on her dappled stucco walls,
Like a vast and blank and gold-spotted canvas
Ripe with a possibility as multiform as the City
(For there is only ever one City)
In which it hangs like a vast inhabited museum exhibit.

[Read more...]

Bereite Dich, Zion

Grace Andreacchi

Fresh snow on the fields
and all along the track
frost flowers blooming.
In the distance a single light
flickers and dies
Overhead the stars like golden fireflies
are winking in the forest of the night.

I have put on my corals and rubies
I have put on my robe of purest light
I have sewed my heart to the sleeve of my garment
Ich bin bereit.

The Creek

R.S. Mitchell

Not rooted, as if cut and put for people,
an old tree stump waits in the creek,
a pedestal
for an office worker’s lunch break.
In miracles you may or not believe
but notice your face hovering over the water
and now perceive
the halo gliding under a strider,
how each foot-well puckers like a liquid lens. [Read more...]

An Advent Poem

In these last few days before Christmas, I don’t have any more spare time than the rest of you! Rather than giving you a full-length blog post, then, I asked a friend, J.B. Toner, if I could share a poem he wrote last year. You might know his name already, as he’s had a few things published in our quarterly issues.

N.B. He had some words and phrases from such notables as Keats, Shakespeare and Chesterton that he wanted to work in, so if you notice a few bits and pieces sounding familiar, that’s probably what you’re hearing. Also, take note of the unusual rhyme scheme he’s got goin’ on with the extra rhyme added into the second and fourth lines of each stanza, which, in addition to lending a tighter sense of unity to the poem, gives a hint of that mid-line Anglo-Saxon poetic caesura that all us Beowulf fans love so well. When I asked him about the pattern, he said it’s something Tolkein does, and that he hasn’t seen it anywhere else. So, with all that preamble, enjoy!

ADVENT

The Magi, with sagacious eye,
Afar descried and came to Him
With kingly gifts, on camels high,
Entrammelled by a brightness dim.

They sought a sweet and merry morn
Through lands forlorn and paths unseen,
And night was thrice night overhead
Through deserts red, incarnadine.

Locutioners of stars and signs
From heathen times, now called away
To know a new and tiny God,
Their hearts, though awed, in disarray.

What kept them on their wintry road,
Though doubt forbode and toils were hurled? –
Faith’s inexpugnability,
Which yearns to see a brave new world!

So let the martial lullaby
They heard on high still calm our souls
And rouse our minds for penitence,
Till merriments have made us whole.

 

Saint Catherine’s Wheel

Michael Schorsch

Catherine wheel.
A device used in the Middle Ages for public
execution named after Saint Catherine who famously
was to be tortured on one. The torturers firmly stretched the limbs
of the victim between the spokes of a wagon wheel and then bound
the limbs about with biting cord and then struck
the limbs with a sledgehammer breaking the bones and then braided [Read more...]

Four Calling Birds

Joseph O’Brien

1

The renditions of reminiscence vary to the degree
That the mind does not mind its own migratory encasement
In wan December grey. Thoughtful birds succeed effortlessly
When all days require faithful acts of constant discernment.

The leftover robin, though, plays off your own reality
All along, all the time letting you think up a good canard
Of collusion: the scene we see, its folksome frivolity,
Albeit withal, is only a plastic-coated Christmas card. [Read more...]

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