Our Lady of Madhu ©2018 Alfred Eaker
At This Precise Moment of History by Thomas Merton
At this precise moment of history
With Goody-two-shoes running for Congress
We are testing supersonic engines
To keep God safe in the cherry tree.
When I said so in this space last Thursday
I meant what I said: power struggles.
You would never dream of such corn. The colonials in
sandalwood like running wide open and available for
protection. You can throw them away without a refund.
Dr. Hanfstaengel who was not called Putzi except by
those who did not know him is taped in the national
archives. J. Edgar Hoover he ought to know
And does know.
But calls Dr. Hanfstaengel Putzi nevertheless
Somewhere on tape in the
He (Dr. H.) is not a silly man.
He left in disgust
About the same time Shirley Temple
Sat on Roosevelt’s knee
An accomplished pianist
A remembered personality.
He (Dr. H.) began to teach
To his mother a Queen Bee
In the American colony.
What is your attitude toward historical subjects?
—Perhaps it’s their size!
When I said this in space you would never believe
Corn Colonel was so expatriated.
—If you think you know,
Take this wheel
And become standard.
She is my only living mother
This bee of the bloody arts
Bandaging victims of Saturday’s dance
Like a veritable sphinx
In a totally new combination.
The Queen Mother is an enduring vignette
at an early age.
Now she ought to be kept in submersible
For a while.
What is your attitude toward historical subjects
Like Queen Colonies?
—They are permanently fortified
For shape retention.
Seven zippered pockets
Close to my old place
Waiting by the road
Big disk brakes
Long lights stabbing at the
Two together piggyback
In a stark sports roadster
Regretting his previous outburst
Al loads his Cadillac
She is my only living investment
She examines the housing industry
Counts 3.5 million postwar children
And draws her own conclusion
In the commercial fishing field.
Voice of little sexy ventriloquist mignonne:
“Well I think all of us are agreed and sincerely I my-
self believe that honest people on both sides have got
it all on tape. Governor Reagan thinks that nuclear
wampums are a last resort that ought not to be re-
sorted.” (But little mignonne went right to the point
with: “We have a commitment to fulfill and we better
do it quick.” No dupe she!)
All historians die of the same events at least twice.
I feel that I ought to open this case with an apology.
Dr. H. certainly has a beautiful voice. He is not a silly
man. He is misunderstood even by Presidents.
You people are criticizing the Church but what are
you going to put in her place? Sometime sit down with
a pencil and paper and ask yourself what you’ve got
that the Church hasn’t.
Nothing to add
But the big voice of a detective
Using the wrong first names
In national archives.
She sat in shocking pink with an industrial zipper spe-
cially designed for sitting on the knees of presidents in
broad daylight. She spoke the president’s mind. “We
have a last resort to be resorted and we better do it
quick.” He wondered at what he had just said.
It was all like running wideopen in a loose gown
At least someplace.
PIETA (2011) oil on canvas © 2011 Alfred Eaker
Death (Thomas Merton)
Where are the merchants and the money-lenders
Whose love sang in the wires between the seaports and the
Is the old trader any safer than the sailor sent to drown
Crossing the world’s end in a wooden schooner?
Where are the generals who sacked the sunny cities
And burned the cattle and the grain?
Or is the politician any safer in his offices
Than a soldier shot in the eye?
Take time to tremble lest you come without reflection
To feel the furious mercies of my friendship,
(Says death) because I come as quick as intuition.
Cliffs of your hangovers were never half so dizzy as my
Flesh cannot wrestle with the waters that ire in the earth,
Nor spirit rest in icy clay!
More than the momentary night of faith, to the lost dead,
Shall be their never-ending midnight:
Yet all my power is conquered by a child’s “Hail Mary”
And all my night forever lightened by one waxen candle!
Our Lady Aparecida ©2018 Alfred Eaker
Aubade: The Annunciation (Thomas Merton)
When the dim light, at Lauds, comes strike her window,
Bellsong falls out of Heaven with a sound of glass.
Prayers fly in the mind like larks,
Thoughts hide in the height like hawks:
And while the country churches tell their blessings to the
Her slow words move
(Like summer winds the wheat) her innocent love:
Desires glitter in her mind
Like morning stars:
Until her name is suddenly spoken
Like a meteor falling.
She can no longer hear shrill day
Sing in the east,
Nor see the lovely woods begin to toss their manes.
The rivers have begun to sing.
The little clouds shine in the sky like girls:
She has no eyes to see their faces.
Speech of an angel shines in the waters of her thought
Rides like a sunburst on the hillsides of her heart.
And is brought home like harvests,
Hid in her house, and stored
Like the sweet summer’s riches in our peaceful barns.
But in the world of March outside her dwelling,
The farmers and the planters
Fear to begin their sowing, and its lengthy labor,
Where, on the brown, bare furrows,
The winter wind still croons as dumb as pain.
Annunciation (oil on canvas) © 2011 Alfred Eaker
Annunciation (Thomas Merton)
Ashes of paper, ashes of a world
Wandering, when fire is done:
We argue with the drops of rain!
Until one comes Who walks unseen
Even in elements we have destroyed.
Deeper than any nerve
He enters flesh and bone.
Planting His truth, He puts our substance on.
Air, earth, and rain
Rework the frame that fire has ruined.
What was dead is waiting for His Flame.
Sparks of His Spirit spend their seeds, and hide
To grow like irises, born before summertime.
These blue thinas bud in Israel.
The girl prays by the bare wall
Between the lamp and the chair.
(Framed with an angel in our galleries
She has a richer painted room, sometimes a crown.
Yet seven pillars of obscurity
Build her to Wisdom’s house, and Ark, and Tower.
She is the Secret of another Testament
She owns their manna in her jar.)
Fifteen years old –
The flowers printed on her dress
Cease moving in the middle of her prayer
When God, Who sends the messenger,
Meets His messenger in her Heart.
Her answer, between breath and breath,
Wrings from her innocence our Sacrament!
In her white body God becomes our Bread.
It is her tenderness
Heats the dead world like David on his bed.
Times that were too soon criminal
And never wanted to be normal
Evade the beast that has pursued
You, me and Adam out of Eden’s wood.
Suddenly we find ourselves assembled
Cured and recollected under several green trees.
Her prudence wrestled with the Dove
To hide us in His cloud of steel and silver:
These are the mysteries of her Son.
And here my heart, a purchased outlaw,
Prays in her possession
Until her Jesus makes my heart
Smile like a flower in her blameless hand.
OUR LADY OF THE WOODS ©1994 ALFRED EAKER
Winter’s Night (Thomas Merton)
When, in the dark, the frost cracks on the window
The children awaken, and whisper.
One says the moonlight grated like a skate
Across the freezing river.
Another hears the starlight breaking like a knifeblade
Upon the silent, steelbright pond.
They say the trees are stiller than the frozen water
From waiting for a shouting light, a heavenly message.
Yet it is far from Christmas, when a star
Sang in the pane, as brittle as their innocence!
For now the light of early Lent
Glitters upon the icy step –
“We have wept letters to our patron saints,
(The children say) yet slept before they ended.”
Oh, is there in this night no sound of strings, of singers!
None coming from the wedding, no, nor
(The sleepy virgins stir, and trim their lamps.)
The moonlight rings upon the ice as sudden as a
Starlight clinks upon the dooryard stone, too like a
And the children are again, awake,
And all call out in whispers to their guardian angels.
“Our Lady Of Sorrows,” ©2009 Alfred Eaker (Franciscan Hermitage, Indianapolis)
The Evening of the Visitation (Thomas Merton)
Go, roads, to the four quarters of our quiet distance,
While you, full moon, wise queen,
Begin your evening journey to the hills of heaven,
And travel no less stately in the summer sky
Than Mary, going to the house of Zachary.
The woods are silent with the sleep of doves,
The valleys with the sleep of streams,
And all our barns are happy with peace of cattle gone to rest.
Still wakeful, in the fields, the shocks of wheat
Preach and say prayers:
You sheaves, make all your evensongs as sweet as ours,
Whose summer world, all ready for the granary and barn,
Seems to have seen, this day,
Into the secret of the Lord’s Nativity.
Now at the fall of night, you shocks,
Still bend your heads like kind and humble kings
The way you did this golden morning when you saw God’s
While all our windows fill and sweeten
With the mild vespers of the hay and barley.
You moon and rising stars, pour on our barns and houses
Your gentle benedictions.
Remind us how our Mother, with far subtler and more holy
Blesses our rooves and eaves,
Our shutters, lattices and sills,
Our doors, and floors, and stairs, and rooms, and bedrooms,
Smiling by night upon her sleeping children:
O gentle Mary! Our lovely Mother in heaven!
Song for Our Lady of Cobre (Thomas Merton)
The white girls lift their heads like trees,
The black girls go
Reflected like flamingoes in the street.
The white girls sing as shrill as water,
The black girls talk as quiet as clay.
The white girls open their arms like clouds,
The black girls close their eyes like wings:
Angels bow down like bells,
Angels look up like toys,
Because the heavenly stars
Stand in a ring:
And all the pieces of the mosaic, earth,
Get up and fly away like birds.
Our Lady Of The Mermaids (oil on canvas) © 2011 Alfred Eaker (Franciscan Hermitage, Indianapolis)
Cana (Thomas Merton)
Once when our eyes were clean as noon, our rooms
Filled with the joys of Cana’s feast:
For Jesus came, and His disciples, and His Mother,
And after them the singers
And some men with violins.
Once when our minds were Galilees,
And clean as skies our faces,
Our simple rooms were charmed with sun.
Our thoughts went in and out in whiter coats than
In Cana’s crowded rooms, at Cana’s tables.
Nor did we seem to fear the wine would fail:
For ready, in a row, to fill with water and a miracle,
We saw our earthen vessels, waiting empty.
What wine those humble waterjars foretell!
Wine for the ones who, bended to the dirty earth,
Have feared, since lovely Eden, the sun’s fire,
Yet hardly mumble, in their dusty mouths, one prayer.
Wine for old Adam, digging in the briars!