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Fast is the wrong word. The right word is
pain or truth or slow. Decision comes
first no, curiosity, then dreams,
imagination, then fear and doubt.
We know we have chosen not to eat
only in the middle of the fast.

Water has a taste, a flavor. Ice
is extravagant. We learn food is
everywhere: pictures of food, smells,
sounds of food cooking … We spend all day
thinking of food. We plan carefully
how to break our fast: ice cream for two.

Smugness is a problem. We tell all
friends. We feel good about self-denial.
Prayer is far from our minds. Still … control,
discipline may lead someday to prayer --
small steps for small feet. We learn the power
of small things: fruit, bread. We chew hunger.

-- Steven Shoemaker
Champaign, Ill.


Of Course I know you!
You Love Me!!
Feeding me your life
Through my nostrils
Breath by silent breath
For years of days and nights
Through tears and laughing joy --

Why else
Would you do that?
And walk me and jog me
and swim and dance me
and fly me --
And think my soul
To heights I sometimes reach
And give me Ecstasy -- and Joy!!

I’m on to you --

How can I but kneel --

-- Inge Hardison
New York

White Stone

To everyone who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.
-- Revelation 2:17, New Oxford Annotated Bible

in the molecules
of this small stone --
my little name
If it’s spelled out
in the great hum
hovering between
the electrons
and atoms,
I’ll find it.
Some say
the epitaphs of all
the stars wait
in the silence
of such stones.
Some say such
thoughts are
as audacious
as the requiems
we write to explore
them. This little
stone and I have
been here since
dawn. I’ve seen
what’s written there
but dare not tell.

-- Fredrick Zydek
Omaha, Neb.


I take in the out-breath of breathers.
I give out their in-breath.
I am one whole leaf among hundreds
on this branch,
among tens of thousands on this tree,
among who knows how many on this planet,
how many among the eons ago and to come.

Come fall’s drop-off and winter’s stagnation,
I pass through this form to others,
so much so, that I-the-leaf am no-leaf,
no one-thing, entering another breath
of some whole, I strive to,
but never can, comprehend,
yet comprehends me.

-- Tom Keene
San Antonio

2002 in Poetry

2001 in Poetry

2000 in Poetry

1999 in Poetry

Poems should be previously unpublished and limited to about 50 lines and preferably typed. Please send poems to NCR POETRY, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City MO 64111-1203. Or via e-mail to poetry@natcath.org or fax (816) 968-2280. Please include your street address, city, state, zip and daytime telephone number. NCR offers a small payment for poems we publish, so please include your Social Security number.

National Catholic Reporter, March 1, 2002