New Refrain

Painting by Megan Triantafillou

Mass with mastitis
mother by marriage says we’ll go to see Mother Mary but I know you know better
drinking in the sacrament of breath…

…Symposium of spirits concentrate there,
a kiss to sustain the learning world when by day and night
it hardens,
angels martyred
only to meet the gathered light and song and with new refrain go right back IN
TO bodies as
shining epistles altering helices and species Read More


What the Young Man Said in the Stairwell

Chongqing, China

The thought of having to be around people is cause for anxiety and Joshua says that’s probably a motherly instinct. People are usually either trying to get you to glorify the past or expound on a future one can’t possibly know. It may even be blaspheming to try. Mothers of newborns must be present and attentive constantly, with very little room for error. No, I don’t know where I’m going to call home in three months, and it’s not my concern. God knows. But they who worship the god of security don’t even know how to hear this, let alone accept my decision to trust.

Yesterday I realized it was the tenth anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. On that day I was working in the tallest building in Chongqing, a metropolis 300 miles from the epicenter. As I was teaching a class on the 15th floor, I felt the whole classroom start to sway. Read More

The Chosen Ones

Painting by Nick Andrew

Gripping wind’s reins
We weren’t supposed to love the wildness or poverty
or make a home of spruce boughs and the raw provisions of the wilderness
Set on eagle’s wings
We were supposed to taste manna as survival food, juniper berries, rich in bitters and ascorbate
Our dependence on your creation should have been a passing lesson
as we fled one oppressor to the next Read More

A Syllable

Painting by Teresa Saio

“It is a flash from the stage of non-belief to faith,
There is no more than a syllable between doubt and certainty;
Prize this precious moment dearly,
It is our life’s only fruit.”

– Omar Khayyam, from the Rubai’yat

I dive into the liquid syllable
Where pulpy time reveals the liminal Read More


The Medjugorje visionary saw Mary, Mother of God hovering above the couple’s marital bed years ago, on which we now all solemnly, humorlessly — the Catholic way — procession in and toss rose petals, strategically set as the climax of this strange retreat, hosted by the couple.
“And now, without further ado…”
Blessed be this holy site! Heal me from what ails me!

Miserere Domine!*

…In a nauseous wave I’m moved to clear the air and run out of the incensed house, myrrh potpourri and Advent boughs, perfected confectioneries and stained glass donation jars, into a southern December dusk where woods laugh but take my offering: Read More

Quaking Aspen

“Aspens in late winter” by Michael J. Lynch


I didn’t resolve to kiss Christ on the cheek until my 28th year. If years were days it would be one full moon cycle that I needed to live out every phase in order to trust in God, as I was at enmity with even the idea of there being one. My own lofty ideals of Man and self had to first fall.

S l o w l y.

Yet, waxing or waning, shown full or fully shadowed, the source of love and life was always there and now, I shudder in the warm tenderness. I am in awe. Read More


Painting by Elena Yushina

Sounds of imminent spring
and snowmelt gliss
But I’ll gently miss the deep
When winter’s silent weep Read More