Faith, Undefined, a poem by S Francis

How can you not be lonely, God?
Unfathomable knowledge that together,
If it were an ocean, we could not cross
In our strongest ship before the steel
Would fatigue and buckle at the ribs
Sinking us into what we do not know.

We cobble together words and believe
They are enough to speak your name
Enough to define your wisdom, bind us
To any dimension of our existences
Within which we would only tremble
At the depths of what we do not know.

So instead, I take up residence in a room
Beside your own, knowing a slight sneeze
Would tear down these walls dividing us.
I sit in silence, ever hopeful for a breath
To be heard beyond the beams that hold up
The roof over all that we do not know.

Written after reading ‘You, Neighbor God, if sometimes in the long night’ by Rilke from Book of Hours as translated by Edward Snow and published by North Point Press in New York, 2009

(C) Stephen Fuller, 2019

Norfolk Emergency Shelter Team #1, a poem by S Francis

To just sit and listen
A collector of sounds
A cell phone ding
A chorus of snores
An idle conversation
Insomniacs’ tales
An occasional cough
An epic fart Dads love
Two more poor choices
Some bad luck
I am on a mat
On the gymnasium floor
Belly full of food
Prepared by strangers
And to these noises
I would sleep
Not keep watch
As now, alert for
Abnormal behavior,
Checking bathrooms.
I sit and collect
More sounds
Assembling wisdom.

(C) Stephen Fuller, 2019

Through the Gentle Breeze, a poem by S Francis

In the comfort of a Welsh wool sweater
I brave the winter. Though it has turned
Its corner, the buds on trees still wait.
The seeds in dirt, too, long for warmth
Before they push out of their shells seeking
Sun. Yes, the branches of trees are barren
Still. Yet now, I look at them and see paths
I can follow to climb their trunks and reach
The tops where I know his music will sing
Through the gentle breeze of spring. Continue reading

‘Wed me to this hour’, a poem by S Francis

Wed me to this hour
That wraps its ring around me
Encircling what remains of before
When I was not what this is.

I became what desire made,
Not what needed making, so
Trembled.

I tremble again and again.

As gold shimmers in its pan
Waiting to be sifted from dirt
Melted down to begin again.

Written after reading ‘Now the hour bends down and touches me’ by Rilke from Book of Hours as translated by Edward Snow and published by North Point Press in New York, 2009

(C) Stephen Fuller, 2019

A Wordless Effigy, a poem by S Francis

I want to define with whom I speak
When I call out his name:
A wordless effigy.
But, I do not. Listen instead
To the wind and its trailing silence.

Still down to the dirt on knees
To feel the cool damp flesh
That tumbles through fingers
Pealing me away bit by bit
Back into the man bit by bit

I met when I stood on that rock,
A shadowed boy who saw a view
Of mountains and trees, and heard
In the wind’s trailing silence
Words that are no longer needed.

Written after reading Rilke’s ‘I have many brothers who wear light cassocks’ from Book of Hours as translated by Edward Snow, published by North Point Press in New York, 2009.

(C) Stephen Fuller, 2019

I Ask My Soul, a poem by S Francis

Neruda tells us his soul is an empty carousel
At sunset. I ask you what is your soul, then?
You ask me, “and yours?” This I contemplate,
Tonight. I sit in my bed, an unusually warm
December day has turned its axis past setting.
The kaleidoscope horses stabled and the carts
In the garage. My mind, though, still turns,
Thought over thought, the bitter and the sweet,
The hopeful and forlorn, like the carny tune
That radiates out from the carousel’s core.
Thoughts that fail to mate with notes that ring
From one ear to the next before ricocheting
Into the atmosphere. Orange clouds now grey
Just like the purple and the red and the pink.
Have I answered your question, my soul?
What is it? I do not know, I shall sleep
In hope of casting a net in my dreams
Where what lurks behind thought’s torment
Emerges in story more absurd than the life
We haul out each morning to escape the dark
That the empty carousel illuminates when
The sun sets on Neruda’s leaving only mine.

(C) Stephen Fuller, 2019

‘Recollect whispers in tree tops’ a poem by S Francis

Recollect whispers in tree tops
What was thought as just wind
Is the flowering of His seed
Risen up from dirt
Through roots and trunk
To shine as tender green gems
That capture His breath
To blow Mercy back on us:

Still growing,
Still seeking.

Yes, a life that began so small
Now feels vast.

A life that must know death
First must live.

So recollect the whispers in trees
And know it to be not just wind
But the actualization of living
In these moments before death.

Written after reading Rilke’s ‘I find you, Lord, in all things and in all’ as translated by Stephen Mitchell, published by Vintage International, NYC in 1982.

(C) Stephen Fuller, 2019

‘I hear Your voice and begin to dream’ a poem by S Francis

I hear Your voice and begin to dream
As once when the dreamer was me.
I wake, though, on earth in its mire
Feelings’ muddied wings not able to rise
Out of their nest as if chrysalis
Crisped the skin to a hardened shell
That would not crack to expose magnificence.
These wings will be bright blue and green
Like the sea mating the sky in silence.
A prayer surging up from the soul
Sings to God’s whispers in the tree tops.
And I try once again, flexing the flesh
That clings to the bones of feathers
That will carry me up to join His chorus.

Written after reading Rilke’s ‘I am, O Anxious One. Don’t you hear my voice’ as translated by Stephen Mitchell, published by Vintage International, NYC in 1982. Take a look at this beautiful musical rendition of the poem:

(C) Stephen Fuller, 2019

Night Has Carved, a poem by S Francis

Night has decided to carve
From black felt, light holes
Through which sun peaks
Onto the darkness and laughs

Says, “Enough.” So night opens
To let day through, a warm hand
That wraps around the branch
Upon which an ornament hung.

Now night has decided to go
To allow day to feel light whole
No longer will it just peak at
The ornament on which we hang

(C) Stephen Fuller, 2018