desire after work
I caress my wife’s brown hair
this is how I pray
as the clouds evaporate
I stroke the length of her thigh

Friday and Phoebe and I watch “The Newshour”, largely for the pleasure of hollering at Republicans. After that, we turn to “The Office” or some such, because, as Phoebe says, by 8 or 9 she’s “running out of I. Q. points.” That said, I often enjoy the silence when I go home, those hours between when I get off and Phoebe gets home.

I’m Catholic. I get monasticism. I really do. I don’t get choosing not to get laid. I don’t get choosing not to watch a good Cardinals game. But silence, I get silence.

silently I pray
I leave my flute on the porch
if God wants music …
a breeze over the mouthpiece
the instrument plays itself

From the outside looking in, Catholic ceremonies seem exotic. From the inside, there is a sameness that easily leads to the contemplative moment. The Mass is the same Mass, whether it is said by the Pope or a parish priest in Rome, Georgia.

after a sermon on ashes
he recalls his childhood
the singularity of blood
the sun he once hid with his hand

I drive by my childhood parish. Christ The King in St. Louis. My childhood memories of Lent begin with ashes. “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.” The season was filled with images of death and penance. The priest wore violet vestments. All the statues were covered in a similar dark purple. We didn’t sing the “Gloria” or an “Alleluia”. The season was filled with silence.

if it be Your will
that I’m silent as I was
before poetry
then let my poetry be
what I yowl before I pray

Every day during Lent, we kids went to Mass before school. And every day during Lent, we prayed The Stations Of The Cross after school. Every school day for the forty days of Lent. Confession on Saturday. Sunday Mass. The Triduum. It is worth repeating that, as exotic as all these prayers may seem, they are virtually the same prayers over and over. I think of the rosary, for example, as the Catholic chant. All of this is to say that I learned early the contemplative moment, be it in the caress or the “Memorare”, the novena or the ninth inning.

on days I don’t feel
like praying I hold Phoebe
instead of my beads
this is my true rosary
I stroke the length of her thigh


Filed under: Prose