Dust is the name of the game
on the petals of the
Black Eyed Susan
dried brown faces of
Queen Annes Lace.
Who can keep pace in
during dog days
dogtrotting toward September.
gall blisters plague the oak,
and the tent worm
Behind the hill the tireless whippoorwill
takes over the
Stars glow like fire chips
and under the blaze
whirr me to sleep.
-- Sr. Martha Wickham, ASC
Carrying Around Infinity
Red Bub, Ill.
If only we could deal with infinity better,
forget its nubby presence in our sidebag,
resist its vacuum
pull, the longings, restlessness
If only we could not feel its
the insistent press of chaos all around,
not hear its lilt,
the steady rumble in the undertone
Then, perhaps --
the race to
stillness could be won.
-- Maryanne Hannan
In the Spanish Class
We are the immigrants here. The border
That we must
wade like a Rio Grande
Is this river of words, a swift flow
bilingual lips of la maestra,
Our teacher, but for us treacherous
irregular verbs, potholed with unpronounced
Aspirates. And she is the border
Defending the purity of her mother-tongue,
She will soap our
mouths for mother-offending
Obscenities. She walks on the water of
With flamenco hips, la maestra, while pursuing
Our illegal entry,
we flounder and dare
Whirling eddies of estar, crosscurrents of
-- Nancy G. Westerfield
Cana, or Not a Perfect Carpenter
They have no wine. -- John 2:3;
Like us in all things, but sin. -- Hebrews 4:15
had to come from somewhere.
Expectations have histories.
Out of the
one does not say
They have no wine,
on the gathering of the clouds,
or how early is the spring this
Surely she knew before she came.
Had he bent more than
as he hammered the oak plank,
cut too short for the table
and turning, to be sure
the door was closed,
did he, in a
lengthen it an inch or two,
a quick impatient wonder
to cover his mistake?
But through the lattice,
did she see and
Had she asked him to build a porch
with beams from
where she could catch the breeze,
watch the sun go down?
Then as cedar rafters above gave way,
did he twist the law of
put a kink in the path of falling timbers?
And did she duck --
-- Fr. Kilian McDonnell, OSB
Once, a Sunday morning when I was far from home,
that slight confusion that one may have
With what is new and strange, I
chose a place to pray
And found I had knelt down without much thought
There in a special place. I did not know at once
Until it seemed
too late to move away.
In the front pews, kept just for those who cannot
All through liturgy they signed as one
And with such joy and great
devotion for the hour
The words of prayers and hymns, and in
Whispered signs that passed as pollen, unhearing one
as flower to flower.
The children looked on, with much curiosity
invader of their space stood to sing,
Paused mid-sign as lip-read song began
I wished them peace in words that they wound never hear,
deeply moved by their devotion at the end;
I blessed myself, and made the
only sign I know.
-- Jim Cassidy
Use the links below to read previous Poetry pages. Use
your browser's Back button to return to this page.
1999 in POETRY
Poems should be 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 firstname.lastname@example.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, August 11,