"We can make a ladder of our vices if we tread them underfoot." --St. Augustine

Monday, November 21, 2005

This Is Not a Birthday Poem

Today is your birthday,
the twenty-first of November,
two thousand and five,
in the year of our Lord,
the feast of the Presentation of Mary,
a day after Christ the King.
This is not a birthday poem
to be recited in a party
when strangers can masquerade as friends
and real friends are nowhere to be found
because distances are keeping them busy
with their crowded lives.
Rather it is a hymn of praise
to our living God,
also a thank-you gesture to our parents.

His Absence Leaves a Trail...

I remember Father Nicanor Lana, OSA:
the wunderkind.
He worked like a horse
and labored with dignity.
The silent walls of Holy Rosary Church
give voice to his heroism.
He struggled alone
to combat hubris,
lost the battle
but ended up winning the war
by leaving behind a much better world
than when he found it.
Eloquent is this man.
His life can speak.
I'll always remember Father Nicanor.
His absence leaves a trail...

In the Vineyard of the Lord

They're all here,
these three seekers of truth
who've found ahead of me
the highest form
of chivalry
in the vineyard of the Lord
this part of East Harlem:
Padre Angel, the impresario of veladas
back in our university days
when wasted manpower
was as alien as terror attacks
and the faithful made
the sign of the cross
in honor of the Blessed Trinity
every time they met three friars
walking together
in white habit;
he's the superior,
the pastor of the Holy Rosary Parish,
the soft-spoken angel
who speaks the best Spanish
this part of East Harlem;
Padre Pepe,
whose sephardic lineage
radiates in the way he prepares
our weekend meals
when Yolanda the cook
takes her weekend break;
the friar who puts work
the main ingredient of his life
this part of East Harlem;
Padre Abel the philosopher,
whose hospital ministry
enriches our community life
with his cleanliness and godliness
this part of East Harlem.
More than missionaries these three--
unrecognized, unheralded, unsung--
labor tirelessly, unceasingly, joyfully
in the vineyard of the Lord
this part of East Harlem.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

In the Most Holy Name of Jesus

In East Harlem
Spanish is the only language
people care to speak.
When I hear them talk
I remember
the first Augustinians
who evangelized my homeland
and taught our people
the most holy name of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, it's great to be here
working in your most holy name.

When Friends Call

When friends call
or email me their joyful acceptance
of my being where I am now
as part of God's most holy will,
I tell them that not even Zeus
can prevent Destiny
from bringing what must come to pass
to its irreversible conclusion.
But, of course, this is no time
for lores and mythologies,
so I'm back to Christ's parable
of the mustard seed
and urge them to help me pray
that whatever I sow here
at East Harlem
may indeed be according to God's plan
in the economy of salvation
so it will grow and bear fruit
and yield a rich harvest
in the fullness of God's time.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thank You, Lord!

Today I receive a letter
which turns out to be
an official order
issued by my Father Provincial
attaching me
to the circumscription of Spain
and assigning me
to the house of the Holy Rosary Parish
at Manhattan.
Thank you, Lord!

God Is My Boss

God is my boss.
He has made me a free man
by dying for my sins.

Lord, I offer you my nothingness.
I know that out of nothing
You can, if you
will it so, create.
I'm nothing, Lord.
Without you I'm a broken vessel.
Let your Spirit breathe unto me
so I can be made whole again.

By the East River

By the East River,
here I sit down but never weep
over the misfortunes
suffered by the discarded and unloved.
Why should I not rejoice, Lord,
when Zion is just a breath away?
Let me sing your praises, Lord.
You're my boss. You do know
how to take good care of me.

Status Quo

So you want to know how I'm doing?
Nothing doing.
Solutions are sealed in the lips
of so-called friends, brethren,
colleagues, comrades at arms,
first among equals, or whatever.
I'm in a state
of suspended animation.

Lord, Are You That Far?

Lord, are you that far?
Lord, are you that unreachable?
Lord, must you remain forever silent?
Lord, must you hide your face away from us forever?
Lord, why are those ordained
to mediate between you and their fellowmen
garble your gospel of truth and love
with their pharisaical utterings?
Lord, why do some of your servants behave
like a conquering horde of puny gods, unaccountable
to no one?

Thursday, November 17, 2005


A hemisphere away
I'm stuck to bear the gridlock
in the corridor
of lukewarm indecisions.
Like the voyagers of yore,
I've always thought that nothing
changes more than the faces of the seasons;
but I've discovered none too late
that indifference, garbed in the garment
of fraternal concern,
conceals the vested mantra of autumn:
"In the name of God, in the name of God."
It's all in the name of dominion.

Unfazed and unruffled I wait
for the ocean to cover the earth,
for the earth to swallow the ocean,
for the ocean and the earth
to bring about
the Armageddon.

This Is My Second Exile

This is my second exile
from my benighted homeland.
This time the journey leads to heaven,
compassed by stars and stripes.

Who can fathom the wisdom of the Inscrutable?
Who can divine the will of the Almighty?

Thieves and usurpers,
propelled by dark angels of relativism,
tyrannize my benighted homeland.
Emboldened by the people's helplessnes,
they sow havoc and terror,
invoking God's name
as they make pact with the Devil.
When they suppress dissent,
nuns, seminarians, priests, bishops are not spared
from their water cannons.

Life has become one cheap thrill
in my benighted homeland.
Lord, how long must we endure
the reign of thieves and usurpers?

Ars Poetica

Once again I'm one
with the destitute, the exiled, the oppressed.
Of them I sing, to them I dedicate
my craft of sullen art.
What does it matter now to us, brethren?
The curse of ignorance has been broken.
We've been delivered from false convictions.
The Cross is ever nearer.
This is all that matters now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dark Forces Lurk Behind Me

Dark forces lurk behnd me
like overly friendly strangers
furtively plying their deadly wares
to impressionable children.
At times they titillate
the trusting and the gullible
who mistake love for greed,
the root of subhuman misery.
Sensing their terrible intent,
I keep my faith and pledge
my allegiance to my Creator.

Lord, I Can Hear You

Lord, I can hear you
in the silence of the skyscrapers
when at night they overwhelm my humanity
with their towering gravity.
I know you are just around
to hear me unburden myself in silence
because there's no other way
to express myself
and for you to listen.
It is when I hear myself in you
that I can hear you.