Shadow

Too many wander

In shadows that stretch

Well beyond origin

Led astray by syn-

thetic fleeting lust

A Vacuum of love

Trailing off behind

Leaving a pall spread

Wide as a mountain

Crested horizon

Yet daylight darkened

By shadow-forming

Christians not bowed down

Cannot keep God’s grace

From pouring outward

Through poor and humble

Servants on the ground

Reckoning

With that I hammered the stake in the ground

Your frail fingers cold at the ends of limbs

While I try to steal a glimpse without sound

Instead left recoiling from your word whims

That was when in the sand I drew a line

In an effort to save her last few tears

I moved outdoors the storm that was now mine

A  herd of goats rounded up by my fears

‘Twas then over my shoulder recanting

Since pride and fear had gone out for a smoke

Prayers sent for grace and tenderness lacking

Grateful that in time He’s lifted the cloak

These skins that we fashion upon our own

Will be torn back bearing fruits of seeds sewn

In Part

Before me as a flickering lamp

persisting unextinguished

Amidst chilling drafts rising through gaps

worn between seasoned floor boards

Your serenity is the platform

on which each of my steps land

Illumining the immediate

Dank darkness that surrounds me

For the windows in this house contain

Glass through which we see only

Darkly

Enough

If I sit down quietly
Then slide to my knees
Palms facing each other
Raised up before my face
Will a thirty-second recitation
Of your name in time
With each exhaled breath
Be enough to burn
The root of the kudzu vine
To free my laden soul to be
At ease — my head resting
On your lap and drifting
Will a night of rest
With you be enough
To navigate tomorrow’s
Hazy glare and hairpin turns
Or will I end up again
Sitting down quietly before
Sliding to my knees
Raising prayerful hands
Recognizing the beginning
And the end

“Sister Joanna Washes the Floor” A Poem by Mary Rose O’Reilley

Long after hours I slog
from scrubbing the bishop’s kitchen
A crack of light from the dining room

cuts the floor
and I dutifully check for bandits —
it’s only himself, the rector,

the bishop’s lawyer, and Father O’Toole.
Roman collars and ties loose,
Jack Daniel’s making his rounds

though not to excess.
The cards catch my eye —
a deck worn soft

at the margins of mystery:
queens, kings, tricksters with all
the old glamour worn down to a blur

tamed and laid on the table.
I set down my slop bucket hard
and they jump. My suds

slosh on the tile. “It’s Sister –”
the rector reminds them,
folding his hand.

He never remembers my name.
“You could slip on that floor,”
I say mildly. “I’ll go for the mop.”

It stands out under the moon.
Each frond frozen, the hair
of a virgin who’s dead.

Above  her the litter of stars,
a tarot of possibility
over my head.

-From Mary Rose O’Reilley’s collection of poems titled HALF WILD

Reflecting on R.E.M.’s Summer Album REVEAL

R.E.M. released REVEAL in 2001 lush with a delectable blend of acoustic and electronic, guitar, and drum machine. While critically acclaimed it didn’t sell as well as other members of the R.E.M. library and, subsequently, remains an underrated album. But, that’s just it. It’s strength lies in its cohesiveness in theme, lyric, texture, and tone as an album. Since its release in 2001 it has been a constant companion amidst a slew of albums that have floated in and then back out of rotation by various artists and bands. I’ve created a site devoted to the album complete with video links, published album reviews, REVEAL-era artwork and photos, and lyrics (lyric page still under construction). Also included is an exclusive reflection from part-time R.E.M. extended-band member Ken Stringfellow (The Posies and The Disciplines) about his experiences taking part in the making of REVEAL. Why not check it out?

Second To One

Stepping over the fulcrum, walking
Through the just sprung gate
Attempting to take in, now, humbled
Their destitute view
Weigh their needs against your convenience
Let grace ween you from
The ill appetite of your ego
Sobering your soul
To walk fresh in another’s worn boots
Letting demons slide
Off you to be tread upon the ground
In the wake of love

“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
John 13:34-35