Flannel and Fleece, a poem by S Francis


We wait in flannel and fleece
But wind cuts through sun-cries
To remind us of winter’s
Warlord of discontent.

Robin-bird hopped yesterday
Picking thawed earthworms
That had emerged sun-smiling:
Their moment had arrived!

The warlord whispers, “Not yet.”
We wait in flannel and fleece
Our smile carrying a heartbeat
That will be worthy of its moment.


Do you recall
The hopping

Hop along with me today,
Down the narrow trail,
Into the wood.
Let’s dig up the cool dirt
Soft mud for fingers to feel
The messy source of life.

Peak up at the sun
Taste its persistence
Finding a way into the soil
To kiss the dirt we dig up
Just to feel a little bit,
This messy source of life.

We shed flannel and fleece
Stripped naked, we bury sins
In the dirt. Smile at the sun.
Smile at the mess. Smile at
The robin-bird and hop along
Our heart in our tender toes.

(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

‘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

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