8 Christmas Poems

If we were to hear

with the wisdom in the heart of Mary

we would find the cows explaining sacred mysteries

to cradles and stars.

Our ambitions would fall away like pieces of broken light

and in the wake, another light,

a petal, a verb, a single horn

would call us into remembering

the feast of fruit and wine

that takes no prisoners.

Who can bear love like this?

It turns out,

only some illiterate shepherds,

a certain breed of wise men with blistered feet

a mother

a father

a few animals

a few stars.



might occasionally think of angels, saints and

the frenzy of light where they live, but be careful

pure fire is terribly inconvenient to mortals.

Their love has a habit

of bringing small economies to a standstill

not unlike a common terrorist.

How do we greet such rituals of undoing

as new year meets old, one moment to next,

bowing in confession of the manifold arrogance?

It isn’t clear, but don’t worry.

Something about this beating drum that collects

and disperses at once leaves pinholes through which

Wise men on clear nights can usually find Bethlehem. Look!

Look. They say that even we might find this kind of door

this kind of beginning.

A new year comes

The vessel of longing is cracked against the side of a new ship

like every moment, really

but this one we agree to call


Suppose for one moment

there are no more births

only this one cup,

this one unfolding

spinning like a lost planet burning itself into light.

This one present where the past

and the future

rushing together from opposite directions


forming the body and bone that is you.

Bring your full or broken cups

to this altar of creation


Sing your praises.



Newly minted snow

laid cold, still cold

and brackens of ice

reporting all we have of heaven

the ordinary miracles:

Windows still frost in old houses

Horses still stamp in stalls

Babies still cry in the night

Stars still bear witness in blackness

And what is important to know

There is still a place to return within

this makeshift temple

Barren limbs hanging in requiem

require something of us


Make free the lamb, you lambs

Bless the maker

Bless light, air, water

the lost grass

all that is made

even here in this

our cold and snowy night.


I am holding a small winged thing

a new dove

a baby wren

a shaking thing with newborn lamb’s legs

rivers of infant blood are running through it

Waiting for an annointment or a message

in my house I am surprised to find a different order

the order the heart brings to action

Small footsteps are new to me and

even in my husbands sighs

I hear love

My eyes are opening to graciousness

fallen like spring pollen

My ears are awake to the sound of thin glass straws

some breaking

some whistling in this strange wind moving

through the hollow shafts of God’s hair



Start anywhere

Start at the beginning

Start the slow climb to grace

wherever you find the smallest foothold

This moment’s beauty will do

So another birth happens

(and another death too

don’t forget).

Don’t forget

to die just a little before Christmas

in the silence of heart

so that the sacred pilgrimage can begin through snow

Bearing even this,

consider gazing at the cold, chanting stars

knowing that they are also fire

coming so far to reach you

coming here

coming now

coming just

as it all




You, voice of red

siren of this night’s glimmer

With a blank stare and a cracked harmony

you face the cold snow asking for forgiveness.

There is some kind of transgression here.  But really,

we know the love of loves

shines from even you

voice of red,

siren of snow.



This Winter’s blessing stands

like a fence post (flag pole, a broomstick)

alight the grey morning.

It gives peace to children of other planets.

 Even our own deserve

 the restless love of messiahs

who do not bear arms.


White snow falling, blessing cars and lawns,

blessing of innocence, blessing of sorrow

blessing of forgetfulness

Things change forms then,

becoming white and lost.

Nothing, it turns out, is  spared


 Falling like wasted moments or dust

blessings and song are landing 

featherlike, on the pain that can’t be moved.

Bells of the season, songs of dead.

This lonely season is a place of

infinite crucifixion.

     Oh dear son, oh dear son,

     Oh dear husband of so many years

     May I love and release you

     over and over and over and over


Beginnings have a fragrance

like the earth,

a particular pleasure

Sinking into it

Seeds sprout only in fertile places of decomposition

In stillness, darkness, dankness,

In sung quiet, held waiting

In a matrix that speaks

We lived before you

We became earth

and even the end is just fine

Here to sustain you.


We need that message on the first day

of anything, really.


Maybe especially this one.

(Written for New Year’s Day 2020)