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Poetry

To Martin, on His Wife, the Original “Opt-Out”

Soren Kierkegaard once said Martin Luther might as well have married a “wooden plank” Katherine, Kette, hidden in herring barrels, driven into town to hunt a husband, of all the renegade nuns, so young, eyes roving from the cloister, she refused to be “placed,” so you wed her. Doctor Hammer-in-Hand, you were never a “sexless log,” six children and a hoard of orphans clustered in the Black Cloister homestead. Nowadays, Katie’d be a keeper – queen of sustainable living, herbal…
December 30, 2017
Poetry

I Come

Charlotte Elliot No one wants to come just as they are to the Lord. Only children, who go just as they are to anything – rumpled hair at the wedding, shoes on the wrong feet at Grandma’s. Too young to have learned better, to carry a disapproving sneer to their closets and mirrors. We come to the altar with bloodied knees and hands, we come to the Lord praying “Just as I am” And maybe, yes, it is possible to…
December 30, 2017
Poetry

“Where Is God?”

my daughter asks. And I tell her to point anywhere she wants. She points at a dead worm on the sidewalk. “Yes,” I say. “God’s in the worm?” “No,” I say. I take her finger, hug it. “In the pointer.” Ron Riekki’s books include U.P.: a novel; The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works; Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017). Photo: Detail from…
August 31, 2017
Poetry

In the Living Room, Listening to Gregorian Chant

One sustained Alleluia kisses the psalmodic couch, the sanctified family photos, and the unstained glass window where I see a monk- neighbor in medieval bathrobe find that he has no mail, reaching into the emptiness and coming out with his blessed hand. Ron Riekki’s books include U.P.: a novel; The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works; Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017). Photo:…
August 31, 2017
Poetry

A Nice Bit of Work

If I sit on the porch and look out on the morning, It is the dust I first see on the window panes, Smudged here and there where my hand has brushed it And speckled where condensation has dried. I could stop here and think about cleaning, About making the moment better next time. Or I might grasp the obvious metaphor And scrub away at my own grimy soul, But I would rather watch the tiny bug Crawling up the…
June 30, 2017
Poetry

Habitat

Miles and a moment’s ease flake away – the toddler shook us awake to ask When did Jesus paint our skin? Like memories of San Francisco we stayed a bit undusted, overlooking ourselves like silk-stranded ceiling corners. Bits of every epidermal surface flake away to pile in and around us. Cracked caulk and shower tile heap like moraine scree – not much room for the likes of a caricature plant, a euphorbia, or a firebush. Peter Bast lives and works…
June 30, 2017
Poetry

Whaling

The whale I lost in a book of water I look for with a pair of binoculars. I trawl for whale; I leave it verses. There is a great weight at the end of my line. It is a school. The mouths are difficult to make out, but they are open. I think about this for a good while. I end up on another page in another volume. Search engines comb the net with virtual tridents. It occurs to me…
April 29, 2017
Poetry

Letter to Audubon from St. Francis

As you read these words, I lie lynx-like. I lie lynx-like in prairie sage, in a phase of abstinence. The yelp I trust is periodic; I have it from the mouth of an honest woodcock. A wild idea, or so it seems, to let go of venery. For all my lithe, I am not averse to buds, the spice bush; the tongue, per se, by which I forage is a nuisance. It melts. Becomes earmarked. In its stead, I self-devour.…
April 29, 2017
Poetry

Thoughts on Holbein’s Portrait of John Calvin

To you, O Lord, I offer my heart, promptly and sincerely.  – John Calvin From the time I was eight I have pondered your portrait, felt your finger pointing at me, punctuating. each. petaled. syllable of your theological bouquet till I could recite you in my sleep. Your rigid words, stoic pose, painted stare intimidated me, like the look my mom would give (and I now give my son) when I fidgeted in church. For years I searched and turned…
February 28, 2017