Advent 7: Shedding

When the cry comes out – Prepare the way!
are we found listening, heeding or tending to
our own private laneways, our private gains?
If I am to hear Him when He should appear
and if my feet will be swift and fleet,
I must jettison all
that I hold yet holds me, and
throw off the loves that so easily entangle,
ready to run at the sound of His steps.

Advent 5: Last Things

Hospital room. While my uncle and I tried
to tend to my grandmother’s needs, we heard
behind the curtain divider
a granddaughter and grandson discuss
cremation plans
and how the west has avoided death
while the east (both fresh from travel) takes
the wiser path, rubbing
face and hands in body ash
and staring death’s immanence in the eyes.
“What a drain on public money,” they decried,
to describe their grandmother’s dying days.
I fetched pillows and poured water into
polystyrene cups (she never drank from those
when she had a choice)
and tried to stare my last enemy down.
Where is your victory? Where’s your sting?
All I could muster as prayer was, Come.


                    In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger
(T.S. Eliot, “Gerontion”)
Still He bursts into our courts
Where our Pharisee-hearts change coins for doves
And the tables we man to show who’s in charge
Are upturned by His rage.
Still He comes with sword to divide
Soul from marrow and father from son,
Our many-tufted prickling weeds
From among the wheat.
Still He comes with light, with flame,
The ex-nihilo energy of singular force,
Moses’ bush-consuming-fire,
The fiery-bright I Am.
Still He comes to shake, to heal,
To wash in the waters of forty-day-flood,
To call frail Lazarus out of his tomb
And shake the rich man’s knees.
Still He comes like lamb, like lion,
A thief in the forests of the night,
An unblemished, bleeding sacrifice –
Mighty, grace in His mane.