e-mail us


From My Heart’s Memoirs

Morro Bay Rock
majestically enshrined
your silence worships God
your beauty praises Him.
your dust rushing to the sea
let me touch you
before you are gone

Snails love my succulents
They sleep on the leaves
Eat their bed

My Lhasa Su Ming
Kumar from afar Tibet
Hears the heartbreaking news
Of her homeland
Cries in her dog dish

Mountains, pregnant with the future
Bellies of stone, lie in wait for
God’s final volcanic eruption

Who God is bewilders
Bedevils, befogs, even heaven
Is He a what? Is He a Who?
Neither, my friend.
God is an Is.

-- Priscilla Piche
San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Father Louis’ Nose Job
A soliloquy after The Sign of Jonas (1953)

-- in the hospital again, where there’s
no odor of sanctity. Fumes of isopropyl,
not incense, fill the air of every room.
Still, nurses wear white gauze masks
and sterile walls distract the appetite.

Here in the world I reject the senses.
At ten, Dr. Roser begins to trim inches
of bone and membrane from the septum
inside my bulbous Picasso nez. As he prunes
my cupiditas, blood blossoms everywhere.

A novice nurse turns green as snot and flees
the room, renouncing my flesh. Yet Sister Liz
holds fast, both fingers rosary beads and mops
my brow with a handkerchief, as if I’d carried
my own cross from Gethsemane’s garden.

Next thing I know they trundle my bed
into the hall and a whiff of salvation wafts
over me; I lean on my left elbow like a guest
at Caesar’s evening banquet, my pulped proboscis
aiming toward the cafeteria kitchen. Later,

I dream of feasting on pungent loaves and fishes.
When I wake to winter light, I retreat to an empty,
cloistered room, and on Father Osborn’s Underwood
transform twenty unleavened sheets of paper
into the ending of Bread in the Wilderness.

-- Matthew Brennan
Terre Haute, Ind.

Toward My First Hearing Aid

Must you mumble your words,
slur your vowels,
garble consonants,
mute the labials,
soften the sibilants,
rush to the end,
drop the last syllable?
And of late, you whisper
velvety conspiracies
against me.

Must I teach phonetics again?
Why don’t you speak precisely?
Like Professor Higgins,
I am a reasonable sort of a man,
bearing malice toward none,
if only dipthongs were purer,
phrases not swallowed,
if sounds and lives did not decay.
Must you mumble your words?

-- Fr. Kilian McDonnell, OSB
Collegeville, Minn.

you live in my privacy

daffodils bow grazing the ground
covering your body
as I kneel beside you
longing to breathe in your arms

I hear doves murmuring
emptiness tolls of your leaving tolls of my tarrying
waiting for you to call my name

tears break through my silent dam
mist walls our stone-stilled moment

-- dolores shanahan
Fort Salonga, N.Y.

1999 in POETRY

2000 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 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, October 13, 2000