At this particular place, what you’re seeing, essentially, is the process that had widened that valley over the last [glacial period]. … What you’re seeing is a landscape still recovering from glaciations. It’s a 15,000-year hangover." 
***Geologist on the Washington mudslides

O Mother Earth,

you still remember 
how the ice cut you

 and never forgot
the rape of your trees

while ignoring
 the houses of the
recent arrivals.

Did you feel the
small tremor 
the False Pass fault
coming through 
your saturated limbs
triggered you to
abandon your
show of strength 
caused you to be
 fully separated 
from your weaknesses.

The First Night

         The worst thing about death must be
          the first night.
--Juan Ramón Jiménez

Before I opened you, Jiménez,
it never occurred to me that day and night
would continue to circle each other in the ring of death,

but now you have me wondering
if there will also be a sun and a moon
and will the dead gather to watch them rise and set

then repair, each soul alone,
to some ghastly equivalent of a bed.
Or will the first night be the only night,

a darkness for which we have no other name?
How feeble our vocabulary in the face of death,
How impossible to write it down.

This is where language will stop,
the horse we have ridden all our lives
rearing up at the edge of a dizzying cliff.

The word that was in the beginning
and the word that was made flesh—
those and all the other words will cease.

Even now, reading you on this trellised porch,
how can I describe a sun that will shine after death?
But it is enough to frighten me

into paying more attention to the world’s day-moon,
to sunlight bright on water
or fragmented in a grove of trees,

and to look more closely here at these small leaves,
these sentinel thorns,
whose employment it is to guard the rose.
 Billy Collins


Awake O Sleeper

I don't know
why I am trying
to answer her
rhetorical question
as I cringe from the sight
of the string
of bloody floss.

The bright lights.
The rubber fingers. 
The salty blood.

Maybe it's 
one of the few
times in life when 
one is fully exposed
by their negligence.

And at the end,
I pause at the front desk
to schedule
my next confessional.

The Definition of Sin

Sin is an offense against 
and right conscience.

It is a failure 
in genuine love for 
God and neighbor 
caused by a 
perverse attachment to certain goods. 

It wounds the nature of man 
and injures human solidarity. 
It has been defined as
an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.

Sin is an offense against God:
 "Against you, you alone, 
have I sinned, and done 
that which is evil in your sight." 

Sin sets itself 
against God's love for us 
and turns our hearts away from it. 

Like the first sin, 
it is disobedience, 
a revolt against God 
through the will to become "like gods,"  

Sin is thus 
"love of oneself even to contempt of God."

In this proud self-exaltation, 
sin is diametrically opposed 
to the obedience of Jesus, 
which achieves our salvation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church


A Pile of Dry Shit

Matthew 5:8 ; Matthew 5:43-44

One day a famous government officer met a highly respected elderly master. 
Being conceited, he wanted to prove that he was the superior person.

As their conversation drew on, he asked the master, 
"Old monk, do you know what I think of you and the things you said?"

The master replied, "I don't care what you think of me. 
You are entitled to have your own opinion."

The officer snorted, "Well, I will tell you what I think anyway. 
In my eyes, you are just like a pile of dry shit!"

The master simply smiled and stayed quiet.

Seeing that his insult had fallen into deaf ears, he asked curiously, "And what do you think of me?"

The master said, "In my eyes, you are just like the Buddha."

Hearing this remark, the officer left happily and bragged to his wife about the incident.

His wife said to him, 
"You conceited fool! 
When a person has a heart 
like a pile of dry shit, 
he sees everyone in that light. 

The elderly master has a heart 
like that of the Buddha, 
and that is why in his eyes, 
everyone, including you, is like the Buddha!"



Twelve tribes of Israel
Eleven curtains for the tabernacle
Ten commandments given to the freed slaves
Nine months to take David's ill-advised census
Eight day old boys circumcised
Seven years Jacob worked to marry Rachel
Six days of labor before a day of rest
Five smooth stones for a slingshot
Four corners of cloaks have tassles
Three sacred festivals
Two women and a baby come before a king
And one God
who created it all from an empty void.


Twelve disciples of the New Israel
Eleven of them after the cross
Ten coins reunited with their owner
Nine cured lepers not turning back
Eight unmentioned people who also passed the robbed one
Seven loaves to be blessed
Six stone containers to be filled
Five virgins were foolish/Five were wise
Four days Lazarus was in the tomb
Three gathered in His name
Two pieces of wood
And one empty tomb
which opened the gates of the Kingdom.


The Pogues    (Music)

Seen the carnival at Rome 
Had the women I had the booze 
All I can remember now 
Is little kids without no shoes 
So I saw that train 
And I got on it 
With a heartful of hate 
And a lust for vomit 
Now I'm walking on the sunny side of the street

Stepped over bodies in Bombay 
Tried to make it to the U.S.A. 
Ended up in Nepal 
Up on the roof with nothing at all 
And I knew that day 
I was going to stay 
Right where I am, on the sunny side of the street

Been in a palace, been in a jail 
I just don't want to be reborn a snail 
Just want to spend eternity 
Right where I am, on the sunny side of the street

As my mother wept it was then I swore 
To take my life as I would a whore 
I know I'm better than before 
I will not be reconstructed 
Just wanna stay right here 
On the sunny side of the street


Meditation on Mary McCleary's Prodigal Son

(click to enlarge)

A fact of life is
that ranchers 
are land rich and cash poor.

So when the 
baby boy asked
for his inheritance,
the Father had
to place a parcel 
of the homestead
on the market
to make it happen.

And after the sale,
the Law abiding brother
dutifully pulled 
the fence and barb wire
from the old property line
and started to place the new 
boundaries of the estate.

And with each post 
he pounded into place,
he imagined his 
departed brother
nailing someone 
in a distant land. 

Angry Young Man

Luke 15:29:  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.'

poor child
of the Law!

There is no 
or rule
in your 
Book of Law
on how to
throw a party!

And  after
seeing how 
Grace celebrates,
you stormed up 
to your room
and started
to write
the absolute manifesto
on how to have fun.


The grace of God means something like: 
Here is your life.  

You might never have been, 
but you are because the party
wouldn’t have been complete without you.  

Here is the world.  
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  

Don’t be afraid.  
I am with you.  
Nothing can ever separate us.  

It’s for you I created the universe.  
I love you.  

There’s only one catch.  

Like any other gift, 
the gift of grace can be yours 
only if you reach out and take it.  

Maybe being able to reach and take it is a gift too. 

Frederick Buechner


Ash Wednesday (2014)

approach the altar
to accept the dirt cross
and hear the words
said to the first couple.

After this holy event,
we leave the temple
with Cain's mark of 

But unlike Adam's progeny,
who wandered
east of Eden,
we place our trust
in the One
who tells us
He knows
the way


A young fugitive who comes to a town where the people are willing to take him in and hide him. When soldiers arrive in search of the fugitive, the townspeople protest that they know nothing. Suspecting their lie, the soldiers warn that, unless the fugitive is turned over by morning, the entire town will be destroyed.

In deep fear the people rush to their pastor for counsel. The priest, greatly troubled, starts searching scripture for an answer. All night he reads and finds nothing. Then, just before dawn, his eyes fall on a passage, 'It is better that one man should die for the people than the whole people be lost.'

He is sure that's the answer, and goes to the people with the news. The soldiers are informed that the fugitive is indeed hidden among them, and the young man is taken away. They throw a big party in the town, lasting far into the night, and celebrate their deliverance by the grace of God.

But the pastor returns to his study, still troubled. An angel appears to him and asks what's the problem. 'I still don't feel right about turning over the fugitive,' the pastor says. The angel replies, 'Did you know that he was the Messiah?'

The pastor is incredulous. 'How was I to know?' he asks. 'If, instead of reading your Bible,' the angel replies, 'you had taken time to visit the young man and looking into his eyes, you would have known he was the Messiah.'

Silent God

This is my prayer—
That, though I may not see,
I be aware
Of the Silent God
Who stands by me.
That, though I may not feel,
I be aware
Of the Mighty Love
Which doggedly follows me.
That, though I may not respond,
I be aware
That God—my Silent, Mighty God,
Waits each day.
Quietly, hopefully, persistently.
Waits each day and through each night
For me.
For me—alone.

Edwina Gateley