Showing posts with label poem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poem. Show all posts

Saturday, August 10, 2019


I Want You Back!

Tom, I want you back! Not sick,
Not in pain, not far too thin.
I want you back as you were,
Not young, in your fine maturity,
In the time before the cancer,
Uninvited, came and took you away.

(June Butler 4-30-2019)

Monday, January 21, 2019


So Long

so long
is in the song
and it's in the way you're gone
but it's like a foreign language
in my mind
and maybe I was blind
i could not see
and would not know
you're gone so long
so long.

(Langston Hughes)

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Each sunset is lovely
In its own way,
Except when the sky
Is all colored in gray.
The birdhouse collapsed
On three sides of four.
There it rests as a ruin
For me to abhor.
My neighbor says no
He will not take it down,
And there it still stands
Awaiting my frown.
My best view of sunset
The house must include,
And I sit here and ponder
Why neighbor's so rude.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of my sister Gayle. I still miss her. Frank, Donna, Gretchen, and Eric, I know you miss her, too. Though we didn't live near each other, we talked on the phone or emailed nearly every day and visited back and forth from time to time. I think she would have liked Facebook, warts and all.

The photo shows Gayle in York on a day trip from London when we traveled together to England. We took the train and saw York Minster and other sights in the city.

Below is a poem I wrote some years ago when my grief was fresher. As time passes, the hurt is less, but I've never stopped missing her.
Why Couldn't You Stay?

You walked away; you left us
Bereft, bereaved.
How could you go?
It wasn't your doing,
I know, I know.
Yet, how could you go?

Two years passed and gone,
Slipped away.
After you left, I'd think
I'll call her; I'll email.
Oh no! None of that!
You won't answer.

Now I know you're gone.
No thoughts of visits to come,
Seeing your face, hearing your voice,
The sound of your laughter.
Sadness lingers, emptiness remains.
Why couldn't you stay?

June Butler - 04-27-08

Friday, January 8, 2016


While you were living
    your life far away
the ones left behind,
    remembered in stray
thoughts between grieving
    and hints of regret,
got on with the business
    of calm and upset,
getting and spending
    and counting their hours
of meaning as special
    to no one in towers,
each decision made
    or left up to fate
creating a story
    of personal weight.
While you were living
    some thrived and some died,
saved letters unanswered
    a question of pride,
an after effect
    of striving to be,
fault, flaw or a strength earned,
    but never quite free
of lingering truth,
    a perception built
(how flimsy the cover!)
    on spit shine and guilt,
pretend that the bridge
    is the water gone,
no way of return or
    flash flood on your lawn.
While you were living
    in backwash still trapped
the ones carelessly used,
    just twigs to be snapped,
prospects promising
    melted like late snow
scattered by Spring’s first breath
    in a rush to go
anywhere not here,
    something new the lure,
change and motion required
    to escape the sure
effects of choices,
    the slippery slide,
want or need pragmatic?
    Let the dust decide.
While you were living
    no real turning back,
just rare sentimental
    re-shuffling the stack
of photos fading
    and intentions kind
accounted as actions
    then put out of mind,
no time to trouble
    with troubles not yours,
unchosen, conflicted,
    charity check chores.
And yet we hold you
    in memory clear,
as if you were standing
    still close, ever dear.
Splendid poem. I see myself in some of the lines. I'm grateful to Marthe for sending her poems and allowing me to publish them on my blog, which, alas, languishes from neglect.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Our Lady of the Driveway

O Mary of the Driveway,
Broken like your city,
Your head lies on the ground.
A sorry sight, a sign,
A sign of devastation
Wrought by wind and water,
Angry blow and raging flow.

A passer-by, one of tender heart,
Sees and stops and mourns your head
Lying there apart,
And gently, gently takes it
And replaces it.
There. Our Lady's whole again.
Or so it seems. Or is it so?

June Butler - 5-13-07
The anniversary of Katrina and the federal flood has been celebrated(!) for a month now in the local media, and I had to stop reading and watching.  Maybe the straw that broke the camel's back was the announcement that George W Bush would be in New Orleans, or maybe even before.  Since I'm pretty well played out on the subject, I dug out something from the past.

Thanks to Athenae at First Draft for the photo and the title. She took the picture when she was in New Orleans at the end of March, when a group of us led by FD bloggers, Athenae and Scout Prime, gathered in New Orleans in 2007 to gut a house that had flooded, view the destruction, and squeeze in a little fun.

The statue of the Virgin Mary stood in a driveway with the head broken off, and a kind person put the head back in place. The photo and the title struck me with such force when I first saw it that I have never forgotten. The image of the statue of Mary in the driveway - "Mary, full of grace" as Athenae calls her - was the symbol of my destroyed and broken home town, my abandoned city, my beloved New Orleans - always full of grace to me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


An Invitation - Marthe G. Walsh
a villanelle call to prayer

Let us talk with God, oh near friend of a friend,
Surrender, together, in love to this clear divine recognition:
Our voices, our choices, by One were given, with intent to attend.

If a silent response we were meant to send,
The Creator would have made us all mute, unable to petition.
Oh let us talk with God, near friend of a friend.

Sing with adorations, with errors contend,
Patience, praise, doubt, fear, idle tears, our Lord hears without condition.
Our voices, our choices, by One were given, with intent to attend.

In offering ourselves, on knees meant to bend,
We show that we know the need to mend, and just Who can grant remission.
Let us talk with God, near friend of a friend.

In this conversation we need not pretend,
Or try to amend, ask for another, seek peace in devotion,
Our voices, our choices by One were given, with intent to attend.

With you, with all, with God, is the point in the end,
To be in relation, in response full of meaning, with a mission.
Let us talk with God, near friend of a friend.
Our voices, our choices by One were given, with intent to attend.
The poem is from Marthe's collection, Heretic for a Loving God, and is used with permission.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Not silver bells

Silver Knells
(don’t take it too seriously … really) Marthe G. Walsh

Hurry scurry, festive flurry,
 with a holiday flare,
extra effort to make all things pretty,
divine presence or just nonsense,
 we could all use a break,
and a pause from that app meant to sell …

scented cones, plum-ey scones,
   it’s profit time at the groc’ry,
jing-a-ling, cashiers sing,
   seasonal overtime pay.

In the kitchen, there’s fried chicken
   and twelve turkeys prepared
for the shoppers too stressed for home cooking;
see the carts roll, truffle tart stroll,
   toddlers making a scene,
and around all a myth mingling spell …

 scented cones, plum-ey scones,
   it’s profit time at the groc’ry,
jing-a-ling, cashiers sing,
   seasonal overtime pay.

On the flat roof, there’s no real proof,
 of an elvish night flight,
just a sale sign with icicles jolly;
the menorah’s in the lobby
   near the Kwanza display,
and the waft through packed aisles you might smell …

scented cones, plum-ey scones,
   it’s profit time at the groc’ry,
jing-a-ling, cashiers sing,
   seasonal overtime pay.
Time for a humor break.  Thanks, Marthe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


On Being Asked To Write A Poem Against The War In Vietnam

Well I have and in fact
more than one and I'll
tell you this too

I wrote one against
Algeria that nightmare
and another against

Korea and another
against the one
I was in

and I don't remember
how many against
the three

when I was a boy
Abyssinia Spain and
Harlan County

and not one
breath was restored
to one

shattered throat
mans womans or childs
not one not

but death went on and on
never looking aside

except now and then
with a furtive half-smile
to make sure I was noticing.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Paul Baum - "Harvested Fields in a Flat Landscape"
A hint of brown in the low cloud layer, dun
they call it, light reflected from
fields cut to stubble, leaves moving to umber,
russet and gold, chlorophyll in retrograde,
temperate zone transitioning
from relentless summer cheer to winter chill
    dull, sad, depressing, this color,
     the consensus view, death before we renew
       dissonances old, unresolved.
It all comes back to this, always, always this,
metaphors , similes, nature
imagery because sprouting and budding,
growing and frost reassure us,
comfort with predictability, relax
into the what we can see, know,
     surety that does not require decision,
      just observation, no payment
       due or pestering for more and more and more,
just a force beyond our control,
independent of the press of human choice
that promises all, but does not
guarantee, success in productivity,
hides like snow blindness the contours
of reality and downside risk ignored
     by easy winners fattening
      on a harvest of accepted fictions sown
       to distract, deflect their weakness.
God paternal or mother earth eternal,
some insist on the either/or
then moot the argument with a willfulness
of neither that makes petulance
itself a form of worship, a self-focus
oblivious to living things,
     pretend the sphere is flat, the axis upright
not a bit off plumb, stay indoors
when clouds refuse to endorse the light logic
that prefers bright and brash and loud
to the subtleties of consideration
possible without the raw glare
of uninterrupted sun, the surge and ebb
of atmosphere necessary
     as the tides scrubbing sores humanity leaves
      on the beachhead of creation.
       Tilt on, dear earth, even if thy will be dun.

(Marthe G. Walsh)
Image from WikiGallery.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


September Midday Mass

The tall old priest entered the half-lit sacristy,
fresh from his usual Tuesday morning studies.
The fair-haired acolyte with the bad complexion
was ready, vested, standing in the dimness
quietly. The old priest noticed he was sniffing
and his eyes were red. A failed romance,
he thought; but keeping his own rule on chit-chat
in the sacristy, vested silently.
The old familiar motions and the prayers
displaced whatever thoughts he might have had;
the only dialogue to break the stillness was
the rote exchange of formal preparation.

Then, in one motion as he slipped his hand
beneath the pale green veil, the other hand
upon the burse, he lifted vested vessels,
turned and followed in the sniffing server’s
wake. Eyes lowered to the holy burden
in his hand, he failed to notice that
the chapel for this midday feria —
on other days like this with one or two
at most — was full of worshippers; until
he raised his eyes, and saw the pews were filled —
but undeterred began the liturgy:
the lessons and the gospel from last Sunday,
his sermon brief, but pointed, on the texts.
It wasn’t till the acolyte began
the people’s prayers, and choked out words of planes
that brought a city’s towers down, and crashed
into the Pentagon, and plowed a field
in Pennsylvania, that the old priest knew
this was no ordinary Tuesday in
September —
not ordinary time at all,
that day he missed the towers’ fall.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
March 8, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Yesterday, the sky at sunset was so breathtakingly beautiful during my walk that it almost hurt; it was nearly too much.  I looked here and there at the colors and gasped in delight more than once.  On the way home, as I walked east, away from the sunset, I turned around several times to look westward and continued to look upward at the ever-changing panorama.  I didn't have a camera with me, as is usual when the sky is most splendid, which is probably all to the good because I attended to the beauty rather than to trying to capture the moment with the camera.  I wish so much to give expression to what I've seen through painting or a poem.  Painting is not an option, so I tried a poem but came up with only a brief, inadequate bit of what?  Doggerel?
Sunset splashes color on horizon low
And high sky.  Peachy pink, aqua-blue,
Smoky blue, gently bathe the eye till
A stab of blazing yellow-orange
Pierces sight.
The colors were lovelier than those in the photo.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Ordinary (yet extraordinary) display at evening,
But for sometimes obscuring clouds,
Each sunset delights with colors gathered
From sky's broad palette.

Houses, trees obscure the view behind the house
Of fiery sun's swift plunge below earth's horizon,
Yet, hues and contrast enchant the eyes
As fast intake of breath reveals the wonder.
(June Butler - 5/25/2014)

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Off  Spring

The trees held off longer
than the daffodils
buds anxious to burst
bulging with the lingering
 polar vortex induced
     (scary new weather channel term,
       a syntax of dread deniers reject)
delay, burgeoning
     (old word, comforting)
of Spring insistent
in its taken for granted reliability
but the yellow trumpets could not wait
sprung from deep mulch
on ancient cue
only to bow and bow to late snow
glittering in pre-dawn street lamps
surrounded goose displaced
by development, nesting
among the flowers
stoic periscope of neck
still in the wind
not just stubborn, on guard
grounded in its duty to protect
a thing to be admired
     (“it ain’t natural” – refuge of the
        ignorant believing in blunt force)
adaptation the skill
survivors display and teach
when the arrogance of dominance
lets loose waves
of unintended consequence
ah! changeable weather
it did clear, it did warm a bit
and the gander in the lead
in considerate slow motion stroll
parades the grey poupon goslings
up the driveway toward
last remnants of the wild back lot
little feet all blurry in their scurry
one behind the goose trailing
headlong rush to stay close
just barely managing it …
(a silent prayer for that one:
        let try matter more than speed)
leave bread upon the grass
among weeds beginning to flower
an offering to feed the inheritors
of what we’ve done
without the thing most “natural”
to human  kind: thinking.

(Marthe G. Walsh)

Marthe's play with the meaning of words in the poem is very fine.

Pictures from here, here, and here.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Caravaggio - Supper at Emmaus
Then he [Jesus] said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over. "So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?"

(Luke 24:25-32)
What would it have been like to be among the disciples on the road to Emmaus with Jesus and hear him explain the Scriptures? What would it have been like to break bread with Jesus that night? Although they did not know him as they walked with him, there was something about him that made them want to remain in his presence. I put myself in their company.
Come And Eat With Me

Will you come and eat with me?
You can stay the night.
Stay just a while and have a meal.
As we break our bread, we'll talk.
Stay with me; rest a while.

Here, take your bread.
Wait! Who are you?
You are Jesus, the one who died!
You are dead, but here you are alive,
Here you break bread with me.

You made me come alive,
As you spoke to me of the prophets.
You set my heart on fire when you told me
How you had to suffer and to die.
What! You're gone? Just like that?

(June Butler - 4/9/07)
Collect of the Day: Third Sunday of Easter
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)

Sunday, April 27, 2014


MANFREDI, Bartolomeo
The Denial of St Peter
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

(Gospel of John 18:15-17, 25-27)
CARAVAGGIO - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
But Thomas (who was called the Twin ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe."  Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"  Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

(Gospel of John 20:24-29)
God's Woman

Peter, Thomas, are you my kin?
I call you, "Brother". Are we alike?
You imperfect ones, a doubter, a denier,
Am I your sister?

"I tell you I do not know him!"
Three times your Lord denied.
Oh, Peter, when you heard the cock crow,
Your salty tears were bitter.

You, Thomas, to touch, to see was all.
"Me believe? When I see the nail marks,
When I put my finger in his side."
"My Lord and my God!"

You, my brothers, deeply, fully human,
You flaw-filled men of God,
You give me strength; you give me courage.
Perhaps I'll be God's woman, after all.

(June Butler 4/18/07)

Images from the Web Gallery of Art.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


A Pre-Easter Musing

Just a mist of green at first, as if some
seasonal Vestal fleeing the unwanted grasp
of Old Man Winter had shed a veil from
her layers of promise to escape, left it sheer
and shivering among blades faded brown,
the uncounted bones no one holds dear,
then two days warmth tease real growth from chill muck,
grass and daffodils spiking up from mulch, turning
the dial from frozen/frown to joy/awestruck.
It will be enough, for a moment, this soft breeze
borne renewal, comfort in known cycles,
until the lawn needs mowing, pollen makes us sneeze.
Abundance gets devalued, and Given
gets no respect from Earned in a market system
that treasures rare, prizes trophies riven
from foundations meant for all, but held by just one,
and envy’s seen as flattery by those
so blinded by success they think they own the Son,
would keep Him in their palaces of pride,
bar the rabble access with tests of  purity,
make Love the exclusive lot only they divide
amongst themselves and call it the worthy’s reward
until they catch a glimpse of some pauper’s
dance before the Vigil’s bonfire on the greensward,
unreserved, question if their more is real
or just a well-appointed delusion of joy
even the poor can’t be bothered to steal.
Creatures of habit, accustomed to more and more,
privatize the common rather than share,
deny mystery with logic, call it a score,
because it seems not enough, this one life, we crave
eternity, yet many turn down the offer,
as if it might be crowded in an empty grave.

(Marthe G. Walsh)
Photo from Wikipedia Commons.


HOLBEIN, Hans the Younger
The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)
Cold In The Tomb

Jesus is dead, stone cold in the tomb.
The Lord of Life breathes no more.
The Marys weep, the mother, the friend,
Bereft, bereaved, their dearest gone away.

The Lamb of God, abandoned by God,
To ignominious death high on a tree
Of shame.  And us?  Left to weep
With the grieving Marys.  Oh, God!

Night approaches; strength fails.
Heal our broken hearts; revive our
Weary bodies; renew again our
Wondrous hopes and dreams.

June Butler  4-7-12
Holbein's  painting of the dead Christ shocks and stuns in its portrayal of the reality of death.

Image from the Web Gallery of Art. 

Friday, April 18, 2014


"Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)" - Salvador Dalí

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)

Did You Die For Me?

Did you die for me,
Jesus, did you?
Did God raise you for me?

Why? Why for me?
What good am I?
What use to you?

You say because you love me.
Why do you love me?
Because you are love, you say.

I must love my brother;
I must love my sister.
As you love me, so must I love.

Spirit of God,
Dove of love,
Fill my heart to overflowing.

(June Butler - 3-20-08)
Though I looked at other paintings of the Crucifixion, the Dali is so very stark and powerful, that I posted it once again.
Gospel of John 19:1-19

Thursday, April 17, 2014


The Last Supper
  Galleria Borghese, Rome
Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)
The Last Supper

Come, my friends, it's Passover night.
Find the room; prepare the table.
Buy the bread; get the wine.
One of you will betray me.

Take and eat. This is my body,
Given for you.
Drink the cup, my blood shed for you
And many.

We'll not eat together again
Until kingdom come.
Sing with me now, for you'll run
When they take me.

"Oh, no, Lord, not I!"
Peter, my friend, you will,
And deny me, too.

(June Butler - 3/12/08)
Bassano's painting is admirable and unusual because he depicts Christ and the apostles as entirely human, rather than as haloed saints, and because the setting of gathering is somewhat disorderly in appearance, as such gatherings would be in real life.  Also, I love the dog curled up asleep by the table.

Gospel of Mark 14:12-25 (NRSV)