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A Morning Ode

Radiate joy in being born.
Glory in feeling the breeze of a spring morn.
Let your body radiate
And gladness clothe your heart
As you praise and contemplate
The priceless gift thou art.
Lift your shining face to the morning sun.
Let your eyes break free from sadness and gloom,
And thank God for the body that sprang
From your mother’s womb.

With string instruments sing.
Fill the air with songs of mirth.
Dance under the shadow of morning’s wing
For the gifts God has given you from birth
Then all manner of people
Will eat the manna
Of your awakening:
The weak will wax strong and glory in being alive,
The lonely shed their gloom and sing songs of mirth,
And the sad dry their tears and dance.

-- Br. Thomas More, CFX
Louisville, Ky.

Jonah’s Flight

Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish
from the presence of the Lord…
--Jonah 1:3

Off he flees in the opposite direction
of Nineveh, away from all those bacchic
Assyrians, who might repent at God’s word,
away from my presence, away from his call.

I, Yahweh, hat in hand, hear “No,
I will not go to Nineveh to preach
salvation from their ziggurats,
where incense is offered to Ishtar.”

Stomping righteous feet, he bitches toward Joppa:
“Yet now Nineveh, totem to blood,
whose shame stands naked before your face?
I, bring your nettled Word? Fat chance!

I pay my desperation fare, leave
behind his Lordship, land, and temple court.
But his presence violates the boundaries
of geography, pursues me on the sea.”

Quit of Yahweh he would be in Tarshish?
I, who invented chaos theory,
stretched out the heavens, shut in the upper waters,
laid the deep foundations of the earth,

and he would cup me in his hand, teach me wisdom,
put commands between my teeth, build borders
around my mercies. Tell me, you who are wise,
why am I lumbered with this frazzling prophet?

So I have the sailors suicide him
into the sea, swallowed into stomach
of my servant whale, who finds the prickly ballast
brings on indigestion. That speaks to me.

For three days and three nights Jonah
was in the dyspeptic beast, rumbling among
the odds and ends of last night’s supper,
then belched onto the port of his departing.

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

The Cleansing

The siren call of the ocean
Prances in with great foaming white caps --
Like the ravaging roar of pranksters
Bound on dancing to the shore.
Come in, come in they beckon.
Step out into the deep and I will wash you clean
Of all your weariness, your disappointment, your
Trust me with your flimsy life
As it washes away into the deep.
Dragging the fearful and timid straggler
Who is unable to surrender to the great cleansing.
The shore’s power circles the mystery of dying
and rising --
Life and death.
Awaken in us a surge of this new life.

-- Sr. Patrice Geppi, SSND


“Be alert!” says the Buddha.
“Stay awake.” But here, it is dark.

The amphibian lids droop over sleep,
and diamondbacks shift in Galapagos,

not knowing the notebooks, still dreaming
of dreaming, while finches’ beaks quiver:

The strategies of time roil in slow motion
until “kingfishers catch” -- “dragonflies draw”

and “shook foil” greets Hopkins on his knees,
scrutinizing fire and finding it good.

-- Anne Heutte

No Way Home

(for the memory of Paul Wellstone)
There was one light along
the road
And no stars
And the bridge is icy
And the flowers have fallen
Emmaus is on the low road
And we still look for the hitchhiker

-- Michael Welch
La Crosse, Wis.

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, November 29, 2002