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Thich Nhat Hanh and a 3-Hole Punch

Thich Nhat Hanh and a 3-hole punch.
An egg for breakfast and soup for lunch.

Life is composed of books and things.
We read. We sew. The telephone rings.

Bones are broken and babies are born,
Laundry gets done in the early morn.

Children stray, then mend their lives.
God’s aware and very wise.

We sleep. We wake. We do our tasks.
When life gets tough we wear our masks.

We meet the challenge day by day.
We change and grow along the way.

The bottom line … I have a hunch
is Thich Nhat Hanh and a 3-hole punch.

-- Marilyn Cunin
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

This place

My uncle and I find chairs
pushed up against the wall
and we sit, balancing
our plates on our knees.

“Your mother says you
have to write a book
to get your doctor degree,”
he says over the music.

I tell him that is so
and that I am writing
about the problem of evil.
His face is open and so

I say it is about how
God is all-powerful
and all-good and yet
bad things happen in the world.

He nods and chews and
looks down at his plate
and I am reminded that
he never misses church

and that he is never on committees
and that he sits on the back pew
and has a Bible with
a cover worn smooth and soft.

“I sure don’t know,”
he says, leaning over,
watching the bride
and groom cut the cake.

“But I figure
this place isn’t Heaven.
We want it to be.
But it just isn’t.”

The bride feeds the
groom a piece of cake
and well-dressed children
chase each other in circles.

-- Dale Wisely
Birmingham, Ala.

The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation

A friend has altered a ritual
practiced for many years
at the end of a day of cleaning and writing
of weeding and feeding the garden and self:
she has kept the four o’clock hour sacred --
low tea for some, for her whiskey
and writing in a journal what the day has been
events and her thoughts about them.

She has added the rosary formerly prayed
in her rocking chair at the day’s beginning
to the journal and whiskey
at the day’s end
when she settles at table with friends and family:
the sick and the well
the lonely, the beleaguered
the quick and the dead

all of them gathered in her large heart
to share a drink and a prayer to Mary
who had a family, after all
and knows firsthand the permutations.

Who knows but she may pull up a chair,
pour herself a whiskey and toast to life.

-- Judith Robbins
Whitefield, Maine

Sunday Mass

We shake hands
Her home
Is fifty miles west
Of where
We celebrate
Eternal mysteries.
I marvel
That she of the untied shoelace
And serene hands
Lets hunger
Compel her miles …

Somewhere from the vast beyond
Where God does not weekly come.

-- Rita Chase
Watertown, S.D.

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, November 23, 2001