National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  September 19, 2003


Give me a teacher

Give me a teacher who gives a damn,
needs to know more than my name,
strains for the song I have not sung,
follows me in my ennui
to find my fishing hole.

Give me a teacher who gives a damn
seduces and surprises
spades the soil of me,
fertilizes feelings for what is fair,
with anger at what is not,
hope for solutions,
appetite for application.

Give me a teacher who gives a damn
who tenders truth and trust
more than rules and roles,
favors sticky freedoms
over cool controls
who risks career and cares
to take a stand for students,
is not unknown to laugh.

I can build you a future in what I am
if you give me a teacher who gives a damn.

-- Tom Keene
San Antonio


At times you see the world as it was--
a scene ventured into by pioneers
or even the dinosaurs well before them

or some of the people in between,
a passing scenario, just a glimpse
of how earth was with more forest, less

of what we’ve brought. Not so much granite
had been converted to gravestones.
Some sea creatures had not yet become

limestone. Even one hard shard of flint
was sometimes enough for survival or rescue.
We, of course, grew up scorning stones,

had no holy pebble to caress for good luck,
nor was hope for immortality assured by a jewel.
But even in a dream to see the world as it was

before sabers and cannons and too much fear
and too many words is a great joy, most often
achieved at dawn before gentle pink clouds conspire

to lure us back to the age of dread, the rule of
the ubiquitous giant mushroom and the men
who worship it, at the edge of the stone age to be.

Strange indeed that men renounce fiery dawn for that.

-- David Ray
Tucson, Ariz.


Hari Raya

The rains come in the afternoon
turning the sultry streets of Jalan Sultan
into rivers scattering the shopkeepers
who huddle under their tarps and lean-tos
to shield their counterfeit watches
Gucci handbags, designer sports clothes
and tennis shoes from the weather
I sip my beer on the patio of the Swiss Inn
with pen in hand waiting for the wild one
who arrives at midnight

“You have no inspiration only desperation”

She says as she struts away
to go shopping in the night market
in Chinatown leaving me
on the patio with pen in hand
hope sinking into the pit of despair
when suddenly the rain stops
and the streets come alive
The fasting ends and the prayers
and the feasting begin again

-- Thomas Gayton
San Diego

                                                                      -- Kathleen Gunton

If Women Ruled the World

No emperors, no kings, no chiefs,
Just leaders all called “Mother.”
And no more war
We’d never allow
-- no way, no how --
Our kids to kill each other.

-- Anna Lee Brendza
New Philadelphia, Ohio


Inside, we called to mind
the one whose blood was shed for others.
The choir sang and swayed,
the lectors read his words,
and the priest intoned the prayers
while one by one we stepped

Outside, where a medic swabbed our arms
and punctured our veins
and waited
while our blood was shed for others.
Then, we returned

Inside, to sip from the cup of wine
and know the sharp taste
of the blessing of the blood.

-- Catherine Wolf Maresca


National Catholic Reporter, September 19, 2003

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