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The Work of Brothers

find a brother in the rubble.
After so many days,
the body should be hard to take.
And yet, as they wrap him in the flag,
they speak to the corpse.

Don’t worry about it.
Don’t you worry about it, Mike.
You’re all right. You’re all right.
We’re carrying you out of here.

And from the hands of one
to the hands of another
and then to another
down the line,
across smoldering hills
and valleys never meant to be,
they pass their brother

-- Dale Wisely
Birmingham, Ala.


All the monks are merry
In the monastery
Though they must leave their homes
To study great big tomes.
They work among the vines
And make delicious wines.
Their beards and toes are curled.
They never miss the world.

When I am in a funk
I wish I were a monk.

-- Marilyn Donnelly

Saints are Sometimes Strange

Simeon Stylites
was a Syrian monk
and stylite, if you please.
“What is a stylite?” you ask.
One of an ascetic class
(This will make your jaw drop)
Who lived on the very top
Of columns or high pillars
(How’s that for thrillers?)
The reason why is a mystery
nonetheless true according to
ecclesiastical history.
One thing we know:
Simeon the stylite
never needed a skylight.

-- Marilyn Donnelly

Random Alignment

“Heaven and earth are threads from one loom”
-- Shaker proverb
Twelfth Night past,
the Christmas tree
discarded outside
my kitchen window,
shorn of ornament
save remnant flutterings
of tinsel,
faces into the wind,
bemused, unruffled,
like dispossessed royalty
denying the coup

a meringue of snow
frosts it prettily,
layers of sleet
sheathe the limbs
in amniotic ice,
preserving each needle
in singular perfection,
like bees in amber

all the while
from the gutter above,
an icicle thick
as a wrestler’s neck
inches towards the treetop
in single-minded
relentless yearning,
closer and closer
with each day’s balance
of freeze and thaw

until a whip of bitter wind
molds the icicle melt
into a finger gently bent
to grasp the goal,
like the finger of God
reaching for Adam

in such meeting
Heaven and earth
meld as seamless

-- Ethel Pochocki
Brooks, Maine

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Poems should be previously unpublished and limited to about 50 lines and preferably typed.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, January 18, 2002