EPIPHANY


INCARNATION MONASTERY

          BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA
with thanks to Thomas Matus OSB Cam

Incarnation M

There is nothing which exists separate from Me,
 Arjuna. The entire universe is suspended
From Me as my necklace of jewels.
—Krishna to Arjuna “The Bhagavad Gita



THERE IS IN GOD

[First First published on http://pcsj.org/2016CaesuraBronzeEdition,
an online publication of Caesura, Poetry Center San José‘s literary magazine.]

LAKE RONKONKOMA, LONG ISLAND

WP Lake Ronkonkama

Father-sepia

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 12.24.13 AM

BRIDGE OF SIGHS, VENICE

bridge-of-sighs

Lifting its heart to the sky, the sea sighs. Light
collides with darkness. Gondoliers are serenading
tourists: O Sole Mio. Through a tiny window of

the covered bridge a last look at freedom. Narrow
corridors and stark cells. Trap doors concealing
the Inquisitional Hall. Who tightened the chains?

Who betrayed whom? Who defended the accused?
Who offered comfort? Who visited the imprisoned?
Thunder cracks lightning’s whip forcing confessions

from the brave and timid alike. Rain is pouring
through gargoyles’ grimaces. Secret trials. Guilt’s
a far-gone conclusion. Texas prisons overflow,

so do jails in progressive California. Consider:
The New Jim Crow (by Michelle Robinson). Forget
about job-training, rehabilitation “You’re on your own!

Alcatraz glows through fog in San Francisco Bay.
Once a prison, now a popular tourist destination
(similarly the Dodge’s Palace). Driving north across

Golden Gate Bridge, exiting freeway 101, you’ll
discover San Quentin’s purgatorial fires turning into hell:
Three strikes and you’re out!” Death-row inmates

enduring a slow-going torture. Who knows how many
lives were destroyed by The Inquisition? What forms
of oppression exist in our country, our communities,

our work-places, our churches? Do insiders in all walks
of life decide the fate of outsiders? Are you, or someone
you know, homeless, sick, unemployed, underserved,

living alone? Beware if you’re a dark skinned male
subject to police searches, or if you are an immigrant,
who looks Hispanic. Deportation without a hearing

is common. And consider Amnesty International,
the Red Cross and Red Crescent denouncing our
Guantanamo prison. Bolts of lightning break through

clouds, shattering preconceived ideas of justice and
compassion. Articles of torture clearly on display–
manacles, the rack, spikes, chains. Frightful feats

happened here. Who believes we Americans are
innocents abroad? We see little, hear little, speak
little of what’s done in our name. Drones, counter-

insurgency attacks, collateral damage. Inmates are
shipped across the U.S. to Texas prisons, rarely close
enough for family visits. Yet the boasting TV blares:

We’re the best country ever on earth! Such a sense of
history! Such hubris! Oy Vey! as we say in Brooklyn.
Why not funnel reparations to the descendants of slaves?

Why keep funding our endless wars abroad and the dreadful
domestic drug war? We’re crossing the Bridge of Sighs,
O Sole Mio echoes in cells, so does San Marco’s Te Deum.

From: “Heart and Soul”—Poems by Carolyn Grassi
Patmos Press SF 2014

wire-fence

OH TIGRIS, OH EUPHRATES…

tigris-poem

map-rivers

CONVENT LESSONS

hudson
image-1
image2
oak-trees

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2016

A Happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends . . .

cornucopia

“Let me sit down with the ones I love best, Hear the old voices still ringin’ with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong, See the old table with all of its chairs
An’ I’ll put soul in my Thanksgivin’ prayers.”   [Edgar Albert Guest]


Here is my poem for this occasion: BENEDICTION.

benediction
CLICK HERE TO READ THE POEM IN LARGER PRINT.
benidiction

CALIFORNIA LIGHTS

City Lights

. . . the wide open California sky fills the car
with light, while my mother sits beside me,
this her first day out West, and in typical

Brooklyn Flatbush fashion, enthusiastically exclaims:
“It’s so bright!” Sure enough, unfiltered by humidity,
unlike back East; such a stark contrast to Aberdeen,

her mother’s home city on the constantly cool, often
cloudy North Sea coast, while further north, the wild
windy Orkney Islands, origin for our Scottish Skea

ancestors, who set large stones in circles, dug deep
burrows to lure the sun at solstice into earthen caverns,
so celebrate, as a community, the arrow light

shooting through the dark, liquid-like gold pouring
into a primitive chalice, positioned at an angle,
welcoming that warm beam of shimmering hope

during dark chilly days; and now calling me to
wonder whether our subconscious is saturated
with ancestral memories, instinctive links, codes

embedded in DNA, elemental ancient worship,
akin to the Magi following a star along the Silk Road
to Palestine, arriving at an unlikely place, a manger

with a newborn asleep on straw, symbolizing salvation’s
unconditional love, rippling outwards in bands, such
sacred rituals, scriptural stories passed down over

centuries, lingering in voices of a grandmother telling
a childhood tale of her father, a sea-captain for
Cunard Lines, providing passage from Scotland

to New York harbor, Lady of Liberty lighting the way,
. . . remnants scattered, trace memory, my mother
drawn to the Atlantic, swimming with Dad, basking

in the summer sun, my brothers and I diving into sparkling
surf, tip-toeing on hot beach to the boardwalk for cokes
and hot-dogs . . . as with everyone’s childhood,

temporarily lost . . . I entered a convent far from
the sea, though splendid sights from Westchester’s
highest hill overlooking the Hudson; the back east

winter darkness providing hibernation, a slowing down
as our feline pets sleeping silently in shadows till sun-
beams touch their fur, waking to groom for essential

vitamin D; while our family further revitalized by
immigrating to sunny California, fiery gingko trees,
plum blossom orchards, grape vineyards, almond groves,

pines, redwoods, cypresses; glorious unexpected graces,
as my mother telling of her daily practice at day’s end:
walking to the window in Santa Clara’s Valley Village

retirement community, companioning the sun’s golden
crest over the darkening Santa Cruz mountains before
dipping into the Pacific, recalling her mother’s love of

sunsets from her Prospect Park apartment towards
the Brooklyn Bridge and family drives to Fort Greene’s
69th Street pier, facing city skyscrapers shimmering

in Hudson harbor, New Jersey aglow, lighthouse of memory
turning towards times Mom welcomed the eastern sun
over Silicon Valley, offering her warm afternoon walks

to Walgreens or Safeway, till twilight called her home,
as prayer does at dark, casting beams of hope into our hearts,
blessed rays she believed brought her beloved close . . .

Gingko leaves

HOMAGE TO GEORGE HERBERT

Throughout his life, George Herbert wrote religious poems characterized by a precision of language, a metrical versatility, and an ingenious use of imagery or conceits that was favoured by the metaphysical school of poets. Charles Cotton described him as a “soul composed of harmonies.”(Michael Schmidt, Poets on Poets essay on George Herbert)

HOMAGE TO GEORGE HERBERT (1593-1633)

“Listen sweet Dove to my song,
And spread your golden wings in me;
Hatching my tender heart so long,
Till it get wing and fly away with thee.”
— George Herbert

[Click to read in larger print]
Doves-1

Doves 2

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QUOTING RON HANSEN

"Carolyn Grassi's 'Heart and Soul' is fascinating in its fluent and affecting blend of memoir and poetry, reminiscence and sheer invention, loss, grief and homage. Adopting a persona at times, or imitating a seminal influence on her writing at other junctures, [Carolyn Grassi] has created a quilt of memories and reflections on a life's education—the journey we all hope to make from becoming to being, or from acting as disciples to representing ourselves and our art as apostles..."
Read the complete foreword by Ron Hansen in 'Heart and Soul' published by Patmos Press, San Francisco, CA.

Ron Hansen, author

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