Mysterious Ways

What do poetry, literature, philosophy and science tell us about the Great Mysteries? What do our own senses (both common and uncommon) tell us? Does God exist, and if he does, does he sometimes move in Mysterious Ways? What do the great writers of the past and contemporary poets and writers have to say about such things? On these pages you can read what men and women as diverse as King David, Robert Oppenheimer, St. Paul, Albert Einstein, Emily Dickinson and the poets of the Bhagavad-Gita have to say about "things mysterious."

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.—Albert Einstein

The Eye of God

The "Eye of God" is a composite of images taken by the Hubble Telescope and the Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Featured Poems and Articles:

A simple proof that there is no "Hell" according to the Bible itself
Is the Bible infallible?
Very Mysterious Pictures of God's Handiwork (and Sense of Humor?)
Kids on Love: What the Real Experts Have to Say

Dear God: Kids "Wax Metaphysical"

Kids Say the Damnedest Things, Usually in Church
Loving Christian Mothers and the Cult of Hell: What Are They Doing to Their Own Children?
Michael, Wonderful and Glorious including The Gospel of Michael by Michael the Archangel
The Poisonous Tomato by Immanuel A. Michael
A Direct Experience with Universal Love by Sharron Rose
Two Tales of the Night Sky by Glory Sasikala Franklin and Harold McCurdy
Genie-Angels by Helen Bar-Lev, with comments by Michael R. Burch
Darkness by Gordon Ramel
A Life by Richard Moore
Missionaries by Sally Cook
Pain and Death by Richard Moore
Abraham Lincoln, Man of Poetic Mystery (and Ribald Doggerel) by Michael R. Burch
The Self: A Consideration by Richard Moore
A Riddle Written in Silver by Michael R. Burch
A. E. Housman Selected Poems
Flying the Flag on 9-11 by Michael R. Burch
Sandra Jane Burch: A Voice Beyond by Michael R. Burch
Fred McFeely Rogers on Boethius, Saint-Exupery and Yo-Yo Ma by Michael R. Burch
The Dream and Vision of Diane Adams
The Very Mysterious Metaphor of Entanglement by Michael R. Burch
Albert Einstein on "Things Mysterious" by Michael R. Burch
Sweet Mysterious Mercy and the Benevolent Math of Infinity by Michael R. Burch
Columbine Poem and Testimony of Darrell Scott (father of two Columbine students)
The Lynching of James Cameron
Of Mother Teresa, Angels and the Poorest of the Poor by Judy "Joy" Jones
Thy Will Be Done (Iron Lung) by Judy "Joy" Jones
Did Jesus Walk on the Water? by Judy "Joy" Jones
The Stone of Destiny (the Liath Fàil)
Jacob and the Angel
A Very Mysterious Letter by Ivan Panin to the New York Sun
The Shroud of Turin
Yeshua in the Tanakh
The Arrival
AFTER by Sharron Rose

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen

This page is something of a departure for The HyperTexts, or perhaps I should say something of a Departure and an Arrival. Although it's become thoroughly unfashionable to speak of God too intently or too earnestly these days, and although modern poets seem increasingly content to churn out unusual poems about unusual flowers with unusual names, while abandoning the far more interesting and perplexing questions of God, eternity, infinity and "things mysterious," the thought has occurred to me that perhaps our readers and poets might share my desire and plea: "Give us something more: something more substantial because it's less about substance, less about objects, less about mere things." To that end, here's a page all about the Great Mysteries. Please let me know your opinion of Mysterious Ways—good, bad or indifferent—by e-mailing me at If you're a writer, please feel free to make a submission of your best poems or short prose pieces on "things mysterious."Michael R. Burch, Editor

I want to find a solution, so I
write letters, poems, and sometimes
I touch solitude on the shoulder
and surrender to a great tranquility.
I understand I need courage
and sometimes, mysteriously,
I feel whole.
Luis Omar Salinas, from "Sometimes Mysteriously"

Why do we sometimes mysteriously feel whole, yet even more often, and just as mysteriously, feel incomplete? Is it not a Great Mystery that an "advanced ape" has stopped scratching its behind and picking lice from its increasingly balding pelt long enough to create art, idols, the Koran, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Torah, the Bible, and (almost as unbelievably) fly to the moon? Does God exist, and if he exists, does he indeed move in Mysterious Ways? It's an interesting question, and sometimes there appear to be interesting, if highly speculative, answers. If God does not exist, other questions are raised: What is the origin and purpose of conscience? Why are no two snowflakes identical, nor any two fingerprints? Such questions are best left to poets, of which, if he exists, God would certainly be first and foremost (and which might explain the inspired poetry of writers as diverse as King David and St. Paul). Questions abound, so let's explore the great questions: God, eternity, infinity, this present life and the afterlife, the purpose and meaning of beauty in nature and art, man's incredible ability to create, and his inexplicable lust to consume and destroy ...

Old Dante’s Damning Powers
Joe M. Ruggier

Many people, in particular modern Catholics, are scandalized by Dante, particularly by his Inferno, wherein Dante positioned real, historical figures among others which are mythological. I once told the Catholics … “Church teaching about Hell is dogmatic theology whatever you say. Why does Dante make you such a terrible insult with Hell? Because he hates you? Or because he wishes you better? The critics, the poetry lovers, the professors understand Dante correctly, and so do the artists … the artists, in particular, are right to love Dante so deeply because they know that his honour is a sincere honour to them and they understand him most correctly in that they understand that his intentions are to save them!” The poem below is where my further reflections led me Joe Ruggier

Old Dante’s damning powers are as God wants—
he snubs with Hell only where he wishes better.
If people do not like them, people should
control their own—damning powers being,
most likely, the only supernatural power
most people have. Dante’s Inferno speaks
to their condition: they read it and reread it;
and in regards to Hell, Church teaching is
dogmatic. If, however, it does not speak
to your condition, you may read Purgatory,
the most human, the most touching, among
great Poems, where, suffer what you may, the edges
are all solace, the consolation of all the faithful
who are not perfect … to whom the Lord may say:
“I’m going to torture you upon the violin!”
and we learn Love, and Holy Spirit, and enter
Heaven musicians like Yehudi Menuhin:
a school for all — Purgatory the blest!

Part 6 from The Dark Side of the Deity: InterludeJoe M. Ruggier

When Satan hurled, before the Dawn,
  defiance at the Lord of History;
and Michael stood, and Glory shone,
  Whose hand controlled the timeless Mystery?
        Who but the Insult was the leveler;
        Deliverer and bedeviler?

When Athens, sung in verse and prose,
  caught all the World's imagination;
when Ilion fell, and Rome arose,
  and Time went on like pagination:
       Who but the Insult was the leveler;
       Deliverer and bedeviler?

When books, in numberless infinities,
  cross‑fertilize the teeming brain,
and warring, vex the Soul with Vanities,
  and Insults hurtle, Insults rain:
       Who but the Insult is the leveler;
       Deliverer and bedeviler?

And when we too shall cease to be,
  like all the Kingdoms of the Past,
and groaning, gasping, wrenching free,
  we bite, at last, alone, the dust:
       Who but the Insult is the leveler;
       Deliverer and bedeviler?

When church‑bells fill the wandering fields
          with Love and Fear,
the Flesh and Blood of Jesus yields
          deliverance dear,
to them who believe in the Compliment Sinsear.

Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering.—
R. Buckminster Fuller

View Low-Resolution Image

What indeed is Earth but a Nest
from whose rim we are all falling?

Emily Dickinson

We are learning to fly—every day ...
learning to fly—away, away
O, love is not in the ephemeral flight,
but love, Love! is our destination:
Blessed land of eternal sunrise, radiant beyond night.
Let us bear one another up in our vast migration.

Michael R. Burch

Generations have asked
Where in the body is soul’s place?
What fallacy, this endeavor
As if mortal frame could contain
The body’s in the soul—
Surrounded by its
Soft shell carapace
Of forever.
Francine L. Trevens, "Fallacy"

The photograph above is a view of the Space Shuttle's Remote Manipulator System (RMS) end effector over an Earth limb with a solar starburst pattern behind it.

Now I am become Death [Shiva], the Destroyer of Worlds.
Physicist Robert Oppenheimer, the Supervising Scientist of the Manhattan Project, often called "the father of the atomic bomb," borrowing from the poetry of the Bhagavad-Gita after watching the first detonation of a nuclear weapon.

If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty One ...
I am become Death,
The Shatterer of Worlds.

The Atomic Age began at exactly 5:30 Mountain War Time on the morning of July 15, 1945, on a stretch of semi-desert land about five airline miles from Alamogordo, New Mexico. And just at that instance there rose from the bowels of the earth a light not of this world, the light of many suns in one.William Laurence, New York Times, September 26, 1945

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I'll forgive the great big one on me.
Robert Frost

Pragmatist—Edmund Conti

Apocalypse soon
Coming our way
Ground zero at noon
Halve a nice day.

The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions—
Edmund Conti


Lucifer, to the Enola Gay—
Michael R. Burch

Go then, and give them my meaning
so that their teeming
become my city.
Bring back a pretty
a chrysanthemum,
perhaps, to bloom
if but an hour,
within a certain room
of mine
the sun does not rise or fall,
and the moon,
though it is content to shine,
helps nothing at all.

if I hear the wistful call
of their voices
regretting choices
or perhaps not made
in time,
I can look back upon it and recall,
in all of its forms sublime,
Death will never be holy again.

Seeing Your great form with many faces, many eyes, many arms, many thighs and feet, and many terrible tusks and stomachs, O Mighty Armed, the worlds are terrified and so am I.Bhagavad Gita 11.23

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3, generally attributed to St. Paul (the King James Bible uses "charity" where the editor has substituted "love," the word used in various other translations).

It is of particular interest to me as a poet and editor that such sparkling poetry, and surely the best definition of love ever penned!, sprang from the pen of Paul: Pharisee, zealot, murderer, apostle, theologian, and a particularly thorny thorn in the posteriors of judges, kings and emperors. Such evocative poetry seems out of character for the man who attempted to ravel the complex theological weave of Christianity. Surely Paul was inspired, but whence comes such inspiration? I'm reminded of the Biblical account that God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. A word English-speaking poets are inordinately fond of, "inspiration," derives from the Latin inspirare, "to breathe in." And our word "spirit," similarly derived, once meant, literally, "breath." The first two verses of Genesis say: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. There's something magical about that last sentence, which, if we substitute "breath" for "Spirit," has connotations of "imparted vitality" or "stirred things up." Breath, spirit, life, vitality, inspiration and creation are all somehow mysteriously, miraculously linked. The ancient Greeks could not explain the source of lyric poetry and so invented the muse Erato ...

Panel of Erato by Vouet

... along with her eight sisters. Together the nine muses presided over the inspiration of the arts and sciences. Erato is often pictured with a lyre, from which we get the "lyric" in lyric poetry ...

Aerato Mosaic
Aerato, section of Roman mosaic, 240 A.D.
The muses, to my knowledge, are not taken seriously as gods these days, unless one worships cartoons or ditzy Albert Brooks movies, but a far more powerfully enduring personality, Jesus Christ, told Nicodemus: The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. In fact, much of the Old and New Testaments consists of accounts of what very ordinary men and women have accomplished under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Whether or not one takes those accounts as "gospel truth," it is virtually impossible to read any length of the Bible without running smack-dab into God Almightythe very Spirit of man's inspiration.

But I digress! Getting back to Paul's epiphany on the nature of love: today man is caught between the seemingly nebulous idea of love and unthinkable but all-too-probable doomsday horrors such as nuclear holocaust and untreatable bio-engineered diseases. Man has already endured The Holocaust, the Black Death, AIDS, Ebola and (horror of horrors and conundrum of conundrums) "reality-based" TV shows. He has come through so far, though by no means unscathed. St. Paul, if he were with us today, would no doubt assure us that the love of God is not nebulous, but all-powerful and all-healing, should we only accept it. Can a combination of science and poetry help solve the puzzle of whether God exists, and if he does exist, whether he might possibly care about us? Well, it will certainly be interesting to explore and think about the possibilities ...
He who sees me in all things, and all things in me, is never far from me, and I am never far from him.—Lord Krishna from Chapter 6, Bhishma (P. Lal); also part of Bhagavad Gita

O Krishna, son of Devaki,
Lord of the universe, of inexhaustible powers,
Krishna of the blue-lotus skin,
Krishna of the white-lily eyes,
Saffron-robed Krishna,
Help me now!
Draupadi's cry to Krishna in Book Three The Forest (P. Lal)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  
Philippians 4:8, generally attributed to St. Paul

Numberless are the world's wonders, but nonenone more wondrous than the body of man.Sophocles

What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!William Shakespeare

When Albert Einstein says, There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle, he seems to be in agreement with the Psalmist's I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. King David, Sophocles, Shakespeare and Einstein though far apart in time, seem to be in accord, if not downright harmony. The universe is a miracle, and the more scientists explore it, the more miraculous, mysterious and inexplicable it seems. And yet life is infinitely more miraculous, more inexplicable, more mysterious ... while the ultimate mystery is surely the incomprehensibly complex mind (and correspondingly complex mindsets) of man. Isaac Asimov said the human brain is "the most complex and orderly organization of matter in the universe." Ian Glynn said, "The human brain is the most complex object we are aware of in the universe, and not the least of its many remarkable achievements is the partial elucidation of its own working." Interestingly, the Biblical creation story ends with the creation of man in "the image of God," which would make him the apex and culmination of creation. While some scientists theorize that man is still evolving, this seems counter-intuitive, as man has outstripped his genes and now lives and procreates despite numerous genetic imperfections that Darwinian evolution would have summarily dismissed: poor eyesight, diabetes, cancer, terminal ugliness. Today men and women can have children despite nature and without even having met each other. But man is surely not evolving for the better, so he must be de-evolving for the worse. And the Bible claims man has fallen, which seems to fit his circumstances and the evidence ...

Man cannot afford to be a naturalist, to look at Nature directly, but only with the side of his eye. He must look through her and beyond her.   Henry David Thoreau

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.Genesis 1:3, generally attributed to Moses

Modern Science has crudely paraphrased God, while simultaneously attempting to remove him from its snapshot and caption of creation: the unwieldy "Big Bang theory." How infinitely more poetic is "Let there be light" than "the Big Bang." God is a poet, science is a tool. God is the ultimate artist, science is a schoolboy's toy microscope. Therein lies the difference. And it's interesting that many of the greatest scientists and thinkers of all time, including Einstein and Newton, didn't try to explain away the divine logic and order of the universe.

Of course religions often give us very strange accounts of creation. In Norse mythology, for instance, things began with an abyss bounded on either side by fire and ice. Where the fire and ice mingled, they formed a frost giant, Ymir, and a cow, Auðhumla, who licked hoar frost and salt from blocks of ice until Búri, the ancestor of the gods, emerged. Ymir produced his own unlikely progeny, sweating male and female frost giants from his armpits. Búri married a giantess excreted from Ymir's left armpit. Later Odin and his two brothers, the sons of Búri's son Borr, killed Ymir, and the brothers created the universe from Ymir's corpse. Ymir's blood became the seas and lakes; his flesh the earth; his bones the mountains; his teeth the rocks; his hair the trees. Using Ymir's skull, the brothers created the sky and supported its corners with the four dwarfs Nordi, Surdi, Austri and Westri, from whose names we get the compass points North, South, East and West. Tossing unlikely, unlucky Ymir's brains high into the air, Odin & Bros. created the clouds. The inventive if volatile brothers then found two pieces of driftwood and from them created the first man Ask (Ash) and the first woman Embla (possibly "Elm" or "Vine").







Detail of a memorial stone, dated from about A.D. 500, found during the restoration of a church at Sanda in Gotland. Image courtesy of Gotlands Fornsal, Visby.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.Genesis 1:1-4
The Bible begins the story of man with the creation of his home: the planet earth. In the first four verses of Genesis, one can see the "dust settling" so to speak, of many millennia of volcanic eruptions that would have left the earth's atmosphere thick and impenetrable, even to the rays of the sun. Think of the first day when the light finally broke through and the wonders and glories of the heavens were revealed! Earth's first "day," metaphorically if not literally, would have been the first time the rising and setting of the sun was witnessed upon the face of the earth. Only then could the cycles of day and night, of growth and rest, of birth and death and renewal, begin . . .

And now, on to suspicions of (and poets suspicious of) heaven ...

Elder, Today, a session wiser
And fainter, too, as Wiseness is —
I find myself still softly searching
For my Delinquent Palaces —

And Suspicion, like a Finger
Touches my Forehead now and then
That I am looking oppositely
For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven —
Emily Dickinson

On a Nun—Jacopo Vittorelli

Of two fair virgins, modest, though admired,
          Heaven made us happy; and now, wretched sires,
          Heaven for a nobler doom their worth desires,
          And gazing upon either, both required.
Mine, while the torch of Hymen newly fired
          Becomes extinguish’d, soon—too soon—expires:
          But thine, within the closing gate retired,
          Eternal captive, to her God aspires.
But thou, at least, from out the jealous door,
          Which shuts between your never-meeting eyes;
          May’st hear her sweet and pious voice once more:
I to the marble, where my daughter lies,
          Rush,—the swoln flood of bitterness I pour,
          And knock, and knock, and knock—but none replies.

          (translation above by Lord Byron)

On a Nun

We had two daughters, my friend,
          Pearls, not diamonds; lustrous, not bright
          Still some jealous god envied us the sight,
          Took by force what we could not defend.
My own dear child from her newmade marriage bed,
          Gone to a place beyond a father’s care;
          Yours, to her god, as well as dead,
          Held captive by an eternal prayer.
Your loss, my friend, I know seems great,
          But there is solace for your pain,
          A small, still voice behind the grate.
I on marble long have lain,
          Shed bitter tears to bitter fate,
          And called, and called, and called in vain.

          (transcripted from Byron by Jim Boring)

Can we believe the accounts of the Bible? Men like Methuselah who lived for over 900 years? Who would want to live that long and be that good? Inquiring minds like Richard Moore's want to know ...

The Saints—Richard Moore

What do we mean by the sweet saints, singing at peace in the Heavens,
  free of our curse, old age?
                                           Men in the Ages of Gold—
can it be true that they lived for a long time? Maybe it only
  seemed long. What if they aged
                                                    rapidly, happy to die?
Then to themselves they would live long, seemingly almost forever.
  If they had perfectly lived,
                                           wouldn't they willingly die,
just when the slightest decrepitude told them the party was waning?
  Only unsatisfied guests
                                        hate to relinquish the feast,
lingering overexcited, like children refusing their bedtime,
  having experienced too
                                       much for the day to absorb,
so they are querulous now for the unfelt toys that escaped them.
  Greed and unsatisfied lusts
                                              give me my terror of death.
Shy Amazonian Indians don't live long by our standards
  and, as a rule, by their mid
                                             thirties they're tired of life—
which in their tropical jungle is placid, desireless, easy—
  and, when their prime's past, die
                                                       painlessly as they were born.
Civilized people, describing them, find this tendency shocking;
  what is it, though, but a true
                                                image of Heavenly bliss?
Living forever: what's that but to live for as long as you want to?
  Surely our clinging to life
                                           catches this agony, age.
When we are freed from desires, than we, too, climb into Heaven,
  we, too, live as the old
                                     Patriarchs did, without age.

From Pygmies and Pyramids  by Richard Moore; originally published in Sewanee Review.

Of course, poets have always been suspicious of those who claim to know and do God's will, especially when war and mayhem are involved ...

The Pentagon Version of "Onward Christian Soldiers"Jim Dunlap

Mistletoe and holly, turkey, pumpkin pie,
Candied yams and all the trimmings,
Don't speak to us of Christ's beginnings — 
How we've gathered hereand why.
The clouds of evil hover near us,
But we choose to disregard, because
We're anticipating Santa Claus,
And the world has cause to fear us.
Such good people surely can't do wrong
God is on our sidethey'll finally learn;
Or their cities, and their souls, will burn.
So, why not relax, and sing along?
    "Onward Christian soldiers, flay them — 
    If they're not like us, go out and slay them."

Trapped between heaven and hell, between an uncertain beginning and an unknown end, poets often find strength in adversity, in the Divine, within themselves ...

They say that "Time assuages" —
Time never did assuage —
An actual suffering strengthens
As Sinews do, with age —
Emily Dickinson

Exhilaration—is within —
There can be no Outer Wine
So royally intoxicate
As that diviner Brand
The Soul achieves—Herself —
To drink—or set away
For Visitor—Or Sacrament —
Emily Dickinson

The poet's telescope and microscope would see all, if it were possible ...

I made my soul familiar —
with her extremity
Emily Dickinson

And grasp at life with calloused or delicately-manicured fingers ...

I felt my life with both my hands
To see if it was there —
Emily Dickinson

Finding life a curious elixir of mingled hope and despair, of miracles and "commonplaces" ...

Is this the Hope that opens and shuts,
like the eye of the Wax Doll?
Emily Dickinson

I took one Draught of Life —
I'll tell you what I paid —
Precisely an existence —
The market price, they said.
Emily Dickinson

And all the while the poet wonders if others see, or understand, or even bother to look for, or take a stab at knowledge ...

As we pass Houses musing slow
If they be occupied
So minds pass minds
If they be occupied
Emily Dickinson

The unexamined life is not worth living.—Socrates

Only to find the oddest occupant of all ...

We meet no Stranger
but Ourself.
Emily Dickinson

With perhaps the even odder encouragement that such oddness must be of great interest to God ...

Then—on divinest tiptoe—standing —
Might He but spy the lady's soul —
Emily Dickinson

And the poet postulates, or at least examines the possibility of, a unique form of immortality ...

A Letter always seemed to me
like Immortality,
for is it not the Mind alone,
without corporeal friend?
Emily Dickinson

The poet is not beyond paranoia (if it is paranoia), or the use of the paranoiac's "they." Sometimes it seems the sole purpose and obsession of organized religion is to slam the gates of heaven in the faces of "sinners." Sinners being, of course, everyone except themselves and their ilk ...

Why—do they shut Me out of Heaven?
Emily Dickinson

The poet is an odd creature who can see both the potential dangers of heaven and the possible charms of Hell ...

A Thunder storm combines the charms
Of Winter and of Hell.
Emily Dickinson

Heaven will not be as good as earth,
unless it bring with it
that sweet power to remember,
which is the Staple of Heaven—here.
Emily Dickinson

What once was "Heaven"
Is "Zenith" now —
Emily Dickinson

Elder, Today, a session wiser
And fainter, too, as Wiseness is —
I find myself still softly searching
For my Delinquent Palaces —

And Suspicion, like a Finger
Touches my Forehead now and then
That I am looking oppositely
For the site of the Kingdom of Heaven —
Emily Dickinson (repetition intended)

And even recognize that earth, with all its warts, retains something of Eden ...

Eden is that old-fashioned House
We dwell in every day
Without suspecting our abode
Until we drive away.
Emily Dickinson

The poet may be perplexed at being "too lifted" (perhaps meaning too much inspired) by her own "little Circuit" and "little Well," but how thankful we readers are for the results ...

I should have been too glad, I see —
Too lifted—for the scant degree
Of Life's penurious Round —
My little Circuit would have shamed
This new Circumference—have blamed —
The homelier time behind.
Emily Dickinson

I know where Wells grow —
Droughtless Wells —
I think a little Well—like Mine —
Dearer to understand —
Emily Dickinson

In the end, the poet is like a bee pollinating the earth's future transcendent flowers, both knowing and unknowing (Dickinson was nigh unknown and unread in her own day) ...

How many Flowers fail in Wood —
Or perish from the Hill —
Without the privilege to know
That they are Beautiful—

How many cast a nameless Pod
Upon the nearest Breeze —
Unconscious of the Scarlet Freight —
It bear to Other Eyes —
Emily Dickinson

My best Acquaintances are those
With Whom I spoke no Word —
Emily Dickinson

The honest poet knows others have done what she has only thought and said ...

Feet, small as mine—have marched in Revolution 
Firm to the Drum— 
Hands—not so stout—hoisted them—in witness— 
When Speech went numb— 
Let me not shame their sublime deportments— 
Drilled bright— 
Beckoning—Etruscan invitation— 
Toward Light—

Contemporary poets and friends of The HyperTexts have much worth hearing to say about "things mysterious" ...

Meister Eckhart's Christmas Sermon   Lee Evans
O Christians! What good
Behooves you to kneel
At mangers of wood
To praise the unreal?
Lullaby, goodnight,
A Savior is born
To waken the Light
Within us this morn.
Your god and your soul
Are figures of speech!
To that which is whole,
Mere words cannot reach.
Lullaby, goodnight,
A Savior is born
To waken the Light
Within us this morn.
And whoso lays waste
To self, he deserts
All semblance and taste
Of pleasure or mirth.
Lullaby, goodnight,
A Savior is born
To waken the Light
Within us this morn.
Then out of the void
A Word came to me,
And spoke of a joy
Too deep to be seized.
Lullaby, goodnight,
A Savior is born
To waken the Light
Within us this morn.

People calling themselves Christians
Eric Nunnally

Pain draws beautifully ...
Subjects breathe easier, being told how to pose
         And daydream as on lazy afternoons, their peace borrowed
         From a generous bank of ignorance
         Sometimes confused with
         Faith …

I’ve seen pictures of their campfires
Where they’ve confused people
         For marshmallows
         And crosses for firewood

         Pose anyway, smiling, safe in the mentality of
         The way people think in groups
         Like sheep
         With no shepherd

They are lovely people with happy faces
Carrying God on wallet inserts, softened from the heat of back pockets
         On wristbands, dirty with sweat and sloughed-off skin
         Delicately chained around their necks, a memento of an execution

         The idea of suffering is something they keep close

Their Bibles are leather bound with gilded pages
They memorize the words, as if from a famous poem
         And recite those words
         Because repetition means something
         But like so many kids with good grades after an exam
         They still don’t understand

A superstitious lot
They are afraid of being wrong
         And cling to their rights, truth be damned

And say, “Praise the Lord! Brother and sister, and Amen!”
Even when I see through their smiles
         Into their hearts

And know them not

The Weekday SongLee Evans

The hunchback hobbled homeward
At twilight one fine day,
And spied a band of fairies
A-dancing in his way
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

"Come dance with us, O hunchback!"
They shouted from their ring.
"Come sing the Song of Weekdays,"
The very song we sing
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday."

The hunchback joined their circle,
And hand in hand he danced,
The fairy queen his partner,
Exulting in a trance
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

The fays were so delighted
The hunchback danced so well,
They took the hump that stooped him
And blessed him with a spell
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Though crooked he had joined in,
He parted from them straight;
And no one recognized him
When he came home so late
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

The night was young; the fairies
Commenced again their reel,
All in the merry moonlight,
In all their joy revealed
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Along then came a tailor,
A bold and handsome man
Who stepped up to the dancers,
And pushed into their band
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

He gave the queen a sly wink,
And rudely wrapped his arm
About her fairy shoulders,
And chanted with the charm
   Of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

And so this foolish person
Cavorted with the fays,
Until he added Thursday,
Friday, and Saturday
   To Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Then everything got ugly.
The fairies held him down
And clapped the hump upon him
The hunchback had disowned
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Now you who hear this story
It may be are forewarned:
The humble are made perfect,
The vain become deformed,
   On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

God's Little Joke AsideLaurel Johnson
God knew the sort of music
it would take to make my heartsong
swell, maintain itself through every season.
You. He threw you at me,
then sat back to watch the fireworks
like I was his personal July Fourth celebration.
No man had ever turned me on before.
(My grandma said I was a spinster,
without a man at twenty three,
engrossed in my profession
instead of hatching babies
to enlarge the family tree.)
First time we met, fine lanugo
arced with electricity
so fierce I looked for burn marks
later in the mirror as I cried,
then finally vomited in desperation.
You went across the ocean
to some foreign land and all I could remember
was your hand, the way it casually
caressed my shoulder when you said goodbye.
I couldn't cry or eat, avoided sleep,
imagining that you might die and I
would never know what it was like
to have you sleep beside me
or bring to life inside me what I knew
was lying dormant, waiting.
You returned, determined to enjoy a ten course dinner —
me—as your reward for bravery beyond the call of duty.
Medals for valor covering your chest
were not enough. You wanted something warm
to prove that you were still alive.
Oh I can't go on with this.
Please don't make me reminisce.
You know the way our story went
and so do I. Don't make me cry.
God got his fireworks, enjoyed the show
awhile, then struck a vicious blow
just to prove he could.
Now nothing's good,
not wild and sweet between us like before,
but God's little joke aside,
it was fun while it lasted.

PiecemealLaurel Johnson
The preacher pontificated about how we humans
with our limited understanding
correlate God's ways to those of our earthly fathers.
No wonder I'm dysfunctional, imagining
God in his omnipotence wreaking drunken havoc
through the Universe, abusing helpless children,
breaking most of the Ten Commandments
and beating the crap out of any single person
with the nerve to criticize him.
I've studied every promise God ever made
in the Old Testament, words cast in stone
or whispered in the ears of chosen prophets
wearing ragged robes. I've taken prophecies apart
and contemplated meanings veiled in mystery. 
I know God is a jealous God, jealous like my earthly father.
I know God turned a woman into salt for disobeying. 
A painless transformation into salt is nothing compared
to what MY father dishes out for disobeying. 
Yes, I know God set a bush on fire and told a loving
father to burn his son alive, then changed his mind
at the last minute. My dad used lighted cigarettes
or horseradish hidden in the mashed potatoes
as my burning punishment, but seldom had a change of heart
or kindly turn. He liked to burn and punish,
rarely forgave, and always dealt a painful vengeance. 
Perhaps he can't destroy a city or a country like Our Father
up in Heaven. No, he does it one person at a time, piecemeal —
a woman, then one by one her children.

You Who Sleep Soundly Through Our Bleakest Hour
 Rhina P. Espaillat

You who sleep soundly through our bleakest hour,
who hear the meekest cry, and turn away,
who ride the river, blessing it with power
to cancel what we've made day by slow day;
You whom we cannot know nor flee, who hide
behind your countless aliases, who bear
the weapon of your absence like a tide
against our helplessness, and fail to care;
You who stand by while madness picks the lock,
stroke cuts the wires, tumor rigs the mine:
Look how we scour the earth to find—in rock,
in fire, in word—your signature, some sign
of you in thought that quarrels with your will,
and as it quarrels, hungers for you still.

God?Harvey Stanbrough

If you are there, bequeath a gentle snow
to blanket grass and hills and trees and us,
the weary ones who really need to know
if you are there. Bequeath a gentle snow,
and let it drift to comfort us below
these endless marble rows, victorious.
If you are there, bequeath a gentle snow
to blanket grass and hills and trees and us.

Breaking the Tenth, Mowing
Harvey Stanbrough

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house...
nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."
— Moses, Exodus 20:17

We stroll across the grass together, tied,
machine and I, together at the hip,
making the outward appearance that I'm in charge,
albeit of a friendly partnership.

My neighbor mows his lawn in comfort, kingly,
sitting, riding as I strain and sweat
and shove. "To get my exercise" I say,
then smile and covet, for the briefest moment,

my neighbor's ass, or rather its location,
seated as it is upon the throne
of his machine, whirring beneath him gaily,
measuring the world to one trim height.

Escaping the Light of Day
Mary L. Mazzocco

I dream my life away.
Escape the hell of wakefulness,
trapped by the light of day.

Is it wrong, who's to say?
In somnambulant bliss,
I dream my life away.

Escape—go where I may.
In the night, adventuress,
trapped by the light of day.

The dawn is always gray.
Gathered into nothingness,
I dream my life away.

Reality came to stay.
Detained me in willfulness,
trapped by the light of day.

Reverie leads the way,
casts nets of happiness.
I dream my life away,
trapped by the light of day.

Grace and Sorrow  Mary L. Mazzocco

Two women grieve in quiet night
Nocturnal breezes pause, to listen
And share their loss with kind insight
Two women grieve in quiet night
As Venus watches, ever-bright
From sky above where moonlight glistens
Two women grieve in quiet night
Nocturnal breezes pause, to listen

Spent petals rustle calm release
Their time is now, there’s no tomorrow
They’ll pass this life, decay with ease
Spent petals rustle calm release
They’ve played their role as nature pleased
They share the women’s tears and sorrow
Spent petals rustle calm release
Their time is now, there’s no tomorrow

In faith, the constellations blaze
Celestial graces never end
Eternal spirit, white-hot gaze
In faith, the constellations blaze
One woman weeps, the other prays
Their grief and loss shall not transcend
The faith of constellations' blaze
Celestial graces never end

Lennon Was No Plastic OnoJim Dunlap

It's been some time, but we'll never forget
the man and his lyrics—"Let It Be"
wasn't really his game—the John we met
could "Imagine" much more than we'd see.
He believed in justice and dignity,
fought for the down-trodden poor and oppressed,
worked to eradicate all bigotry,
and brightened his age—we were blessed.

Imagine no religion, hounding men to hell,
no prejudice marring humanity's rest,
no darkness embracing the blasting knell
of evil, destroying our khaki-clad best —
imagine the peace love's practicing yields —
envy John, sleeping in Strawberry Fields,

forever ...

A Proof of Love
—Joe M. Ruggier

NOW WHEN I was fresh and easy, I would go
to Church ... devotion fill’d my soul with tears.
I guessed not all Gospels could so tiresome grow—
the same words repeated for twice a thousand years.
But middle-aged I have become aware
of all the paranoia, boredom, pain,
where with lame hands I grope ... of empty air
and dust, and chances lost, and littlest gain.
Yet here I am, my God, where I relax
in warmth of heaters, and Thy glowing smile,
where words, repeated, securer are than cheques,
the Love which then I felt, now lost awhile.
Thus We gave God, Whose Love does not change the story,
a proof of Love—seal of eternal glory!

From Songs of Gentlest Reflection, copyright © Joe M. Ruggier, 2003, 2004