Echo Lake

Timothy Ferris

Between two mountains of hollow height,
By rope swings, cliffs, and lofty trees,
We played in spring’s obliging breeze
In the water, Echo Lake. [Read more…]

Tulips for Elsie

Jonathan Potter

The day before you died I thought I’d bring
You tulips for your bedside table, bright
Ones, pink and white, to give your gaze a place
To rest, to make your labor seem less harsh.
I told my daughter so, my four-year-old
Who’d told me I should visit you, who’d hinted:
Your work, this dying business you were in,
Was making worldly things seem flimsy, thin. [Read more…]

O Gates Lift Up Your Heads

Michael J. Miller

O lift your heads, reach up, you gates!
The King of glory comes and waits:
   The King of kings, the Lord of all,
   And Savior of a world in thrall.
Salvation, life He comes to bring.
Rejoice, therefore, and with us sing:
   All praise to you, my God,
   Creator from of old.

[Read more…]

The White Stone

J.B. Toner

For Blaise Gerard Kurtz

To him who overcometh, says the Lord,
A white stone will be given whereupon
Is writ his name, known only to himself
And God Most High: his true, eternal name.
I AM has sent us, given us His Word
(The Word Who is God and is with God too),
By word brought forth the firmaments of earth
And peopled them with everlasting souls:
We see His Name in bird and flame and breath,
And every blade of grass; and yet–and yet–
These are but adumbrations of that Name. [Read more…]

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.

Pulling Free

John Savoie

From the neighbor’s backyard fence
one plank is pulling free—
popping eyes of paired nails,
startled mouth that did not know
it would hurt so much, or guess
that pain could move so slow,
and the deep grain whorling
around that knotted O.
[Read more…]

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.