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#343 Stay, Don't Go

You told me to
never leave
before I
made my bed or
brushed my teeth

I was not to go
if my chores
were left undone
my homework

You said stay home
if I had no plans
or if
by chance I
had a cold

But you never
once told me
stay, don’t go
if heaven’s gates
opened just for me.

~ Emerson Sarni, Class of 2018
(This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2017 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#342 Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,  
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought  
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,  
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always  
(Still the dead one lay moaning)  
I was much too far out all my life  
And not waving but drowning.

~ Stevie Smith

#341 On the Side of the Road

Inspired by William Carlos Williams

a forgotten motorboat
displays its loose

grimy windshield with
spiderweb cracks and

weeds engulf its tarnished motor
extending as high as the

faded, red lettering
on the stern spelling


~ Joseph Weaver, Class of 2019
(This poem won Second Place in the 2017 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest and Honorable Mention in the 2017 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#340 The Last Swim of Summer

Our pool is still blue but a few leaves
have fallen, floating on the surface

of summer. The other swimmers
went home last week, tossed

their faded bathing suits aside,
so my daughter and I are alone

in the water which has grown colder
like a man’s hand at the end of

a romance. The lifeguard is under
her umbrella but her bags are packed

for college. We are swimming against
change, remembering the endless

shores of June: the light like lemonade,
fireflies inside our cupped hands,

watermelon night. We are swimming
towards the darkness of what

is next, walking away from the sounds
of laughter and splashing, towels

wrapped around the dampness of our loss.

~Faith Shearin
(presented by Tommy Mooney '20)

#339 I Saw The Moon's Black

I saw the moon’s black
and the flare
of the sun’s corona.

But I have borne witness
to nature’s palette

The blue
of Sara’s eyes
as she stood at the altar.

The pink
of the boy’s fingers
as he first grasped my hand.

And you have seen it too
though I know
not where or how.

Don’t be fooled
into thinking

miracles are far away
or that you must
look up to see.

~ Jeremy Rutledge
(presented by Mrs. Stephanie Allee)

#338: Graphite

Inspired by M. S. Merwin

Inside this pencil
is graphite,

a most peculiar substance
broken by the touch,
yet made from the same material
as diamond.

Some would say
it’s an imperfect brother,
yet it can tell a story
or solve for x.

What can it not do
inside this pencil?

~ Joseph Gioia, Class of 2019
(This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2017 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)

#337: Afternoon in School - The Last Lesson

When will the bell ring, and end this weariness?
How long have they tugged the leash, and strained apart
My pack of unruly hounds: I cannot start
Them again on a quarry of knowledge they hate to hunt,
I can haul them and urge them no more.
No more can I endure to bear the brunt
Of the books that lie out on the desks: a full three score
Of several insults of blotted pages and scrawl
Of slovenly work that they have offered me.
I am sick, and tired more than any thrall
Upon the woodstacks working weariedly.

And shall I take
The last dear fuel and heap it on my soul
Till I rouse my will like a fire to consume
Their dross of indifference, and burn the scroll
Of their insults in punishment?—I will not!
I will not waste myself to embers for them,
Not all for them shall the fires of my life be hot,
For myself a heap of ashes of weariness, till sleep
Shall have raked the embers clear: I will keep
Some of my strength for myself, for if I should sell
It all for them, I should hate them—
—I will sit and wait for the bell.

~D.H. Lawrence

#336: Instructions

(Inspired by Sheri Hostetler)

Get up on the right side of the bed, turn off the alarm,
put the waffle in the toaster, but don’t burn it
eat the waffle quickly, get in the shower,
soap, shampoo, conditioner, rinse, dry,
pack both bags, get in the car, sit and wait,
say goodbye, I love you, walk in, maybe hold the door,
listen for the bell, go to class, take notes,
listen for bell, wait for bell, plead for bell,
go to second class, repeat, repeat, repeat,
go to lunch, stand in line, take as much as you want,
sit, eat, talk, get in line and throw away food,
say thank you to the people who work for you,
go back to class, wait for bell, plead some more,
end of day, for school at least, then sports,
then homework, then some more, then procrastinate,
go to bed worried, get bad sleep,
get out of bed, put the waffle in the toaster, but don’t burn it,
eat the waffle, take a shower, go through the routine, pack both bags,
Wait, did I forget something?

~ Luke Fiala, Priory Class of 2019

(This poem was a Finalist in the 2017 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center)

#335: Fishing at Dawn

Towards dawn
I gaze into clementine skies
The water before me is at rest
Not a single ripple catches my eye

The lake
A near perfect reflection
Of the world above
The land kisses the water
On an endless horizon

I cast my line
Into that mirrorlike water
Shattering the heavenly image
Over and over

Until at last
The burning sky is extinguished
And stars dance upon the water
Like fireflies.

~ Nolan Kemna, Priory Class of 2017

(This poem Fourth Place in the 2017 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)

#334: Nostalgia

Through the door,
To the left,
In the kitchen,
Where Mom is cooking.

Down the stairs,
On the couch,
Where my dad may be,
Watching TV.

Back upstairs,
To the guest room,
Where my brother will be,
Playing with Riley.

To the top floor,
Through her door,
My sister will be,
Talking or studying.

Finally to my room,
The bed not made,
My books are out,
Time to study no doubt.

This is my house,
Or what I call home.
Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister,
All on their own.

~ Jacob Williams, Class of 2017

(This poem won Second Place in the 2017 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center)

#333: In Our Woods, Sometimes a Rare Music

Every spring
I hear the thrush singing
in the glowing woods
he is only passing through.
His voice is deep,
then he lifts it until it seems
to fall from the sky.
I am thrilled.
I am grateful.

Then, by the end of morning,
he’s gone, nothing but silence
out of the tree
where he rested for a night.
And this I find acceptable.
Not enough is a poor life.
But too much is, well, too much.
Imagine Verdi or Mahler
every day, all day.
It would exhaust anyone.

~Mary Oliver

#332: Saint Judas

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.
Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.

~James Arlington Wright

#331: Daffodils

Yellow telephones
in a row in the garden
are ringing,
shrill with light.

Old-fashioned spring
brings earliest models out
each April the same,
naïve and classical.

Look into the yolk-
colored mouthpieces
alert with echoes.
Say hello to time.

~May Swenson

#330: Famous

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

~Naomi Shihab Nye

#329: St. Louis. Freezing Rain. Postlude

The icicles are trees this morning
in crystal wonderlands that burst the heart
all the Fabergés of every art
since cave men sketched their bison on the walls
are children building castles on the sand
compared to these—
twigs and limbs with every hang of ice
poise paradise in filaments of light
splintered through a million perfect prisms
throwing a circuit-breaker in our heads
lest overload should burn away the mind
and leave us foolish

and yet You chose in wisdom to forego
this icescape ecstasy when You came
to live a lifetime here so long ago
if You had come to Palestine today
You could yourself have seen with your own eyes
this sparkle kingdom that was gone by noon
with your own eyes You could yourself have seen
and then been back at the Beautiful Gate for evening prayer
by special Concorde via Tel Aviv
to hear the bombs go off and drink the wine
and see the sun go down and yet You chose
to see it all through mine.

~ Father Ralph Wright, O.S.B.

#328: Any Morning

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can't
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won't even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.

~William Stafford

#327: The Testament of a Fisherman

I fish because I love to.

Because I love the places where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful.

I fish because I love to. Because in a world where most folks seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion.

I fish because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape.

I fish because mercifully, there are no telephones on trout waters.

I fish because trout do not lie or cheat. They cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience.

I fish because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness.

I fish because bourbon out of an old tin cup always tastes better out there.

I fish because maybe one day I’ll catch a mermaid.

I fish because I suspect we are going along this way for the last time and I for one, don’t want to waste the trip.

And finally, I fish not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important, but because I suspect that so many of our other concerns are equally unimportant...and not nearly so much fun.

~Robert Traver (aka John Voelker)
Transcribed by Andrew Erker from “Testify - A Visual Poem of Trout Fishing”

#326: Good Night Near Christmas

And now good night. Good night to this old house
Whose breathing fires are banked for their night's rest.
Good night to lighted windows in the west.
Good night to neighbors and to neighbor's cows

Whose morning milk will be beside my door.
Good night to one star shining in. Good night
To earth, poor earth with its uncertain light,
Our little wandering planet still at war.

Good night to one unstarved and gnawing mouse
Between the inner and the outer wall.
He has a paper nest in which to crawl.
Good night to men who have no bed, no house.

~Robert Francis

#325: Beyond

the concrete
metal doors, glass
dead grass, sparkling
trash fumes, polluted
tall skyscrapers, wide
country roads, grazing
sits my crying family
for me to come back

~Jacob Deschler, Class of 2018
(This poem was a Finalist in the 2016 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center)

#324: Anthem

from the song by LEONARD COHEN

The birds they sang at the break of day
Start again I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will be fought again
The holy dove she will be caught again
bought and sold and bought again
the dove is never free.

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

#323: He Tells Her

Differences of Opinion



He tells her that the earth is flat—
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

~ Wendy Cope

#322: I Have a Knot in My Stomach

I have a knot in my stomach
And a mind that just won’t stop
I live in fear for my husband
I am the wife of a cop

I watch him strap his vest
And I hear his holster click
He kisses us goodbye
And I suddenly feel sick

I can’t turn off my thoughts
As I lay in bed alone
“Please God keep him safe”
“Please God bring him home”

I see the evil in this world
I see his brothers and sisters fall
Please don’t let that happen to him
Please don’t let me get that call

He is the one we need
When something isn’t right
While we all run away
He will stand and fight

He is called the Sheep Dog
And we are all his sheep
He is out there on the streets
While we are sound asleep

Being a cop is not his job
It’s who he is inside
When I say he is my husband
It brings me so much pride

I would like to say that he’s all mine
But that simply isn’t true
I have to share him with the world
I have to share with all of you

Some men can’t handle the power
And use it to do bad
But don’t blame that on the honest cop
That our little boy calls dad

Holidays and weekends
Are just another day
While we gather around the Christmas Tree
He is driving away

I hold our family together
I support him however I can
As he stands tall behind the Badge
I stand behind the man

~Kelly Iken

#321: Toward the Solstice

We burned our leaves on the bluest October day,
the sun still warm on our backs,
frost just a ghost in the shrubbery.
We raked the leaves into shifting piles on the lawn,
scooped them into deep round baskets
and spilled them in the street against the curb.
The vein of fire, unseen at first in diamond light,
whispered through oak leaves brown as butcher paper,
and maple still flushed with color like maps
torn from The Book of Knowledge.
We are letting go of October, relinquishing color,
readying ourselves for streets lacquered with ice,
the town closed like a walnut, locked inside the cold.

~Mark Perlberg

#320: The Poem

(inspired by Raymond Carver)

The poem I began during x-period

The poem written before English class

The poem scribbled in pencil

The poem that the eraser wrote more

The poem written over scratched out lines

The poem written on this page

The poem that is self aware

The poem whose forced rhyme didn't work

The poem inspired by various other poems

The poem that was thought up in the shower after school

The poem I never wrote

The poem I waited a week to create

The poem that waited a little too long

The poem composed while eating lunch The poem that continued right after

The poem written by two diferent hands

The poem that just spelled "different" wrong

The poem that could never be finished

The poem that had to be finished

The poem that ended early

~ Elias Chahoud, Priory Class of 2018
(This poem was a Finalist in the 2016 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center)

#319: Perfection, Perfection

("I will walk the way of perfection." Psalm 101:2)

I have had it with perfection.
I have packed my bags,
I am out of here.

As certain as rain
will make you wet,
perfection will do you

It droppeth not as dew
upon the summer grass
to give liberty and green

Perfection straineth out
the quality of mercy,
withers rapture at its

Before the battle is half begun,
cold probity thinks
it can't be won, concedes the

I've handed in my notice,
given back my keys,
signed my severance check, I

Hints I could have taken:
Even the perfect chiseled form of
Michelangelo's radiant David

the Venus de Milo
has no arms,
the Liberty Bell is

~Kilian McDonnell

#318: Raking Leaves

There is something soothing about the scrape of a rake,
the rhythmic process of pulling dead leaves,
bending to pick them up, dumping them
in curbside lawn bags,
something soothing about the way the sun
warms your hair one of these last
seventy-degree days as you labor past
soreness in your arms, until you forget
emails to send, reports to file,
take-home work you left at the office,
until you forget the splendid mums will shrivel,
the tree that sheds now will wear nothing soon,
and you will curse the cold.

~Brian Fanelli

#317: Windows is Shutting Down

Windows is shutting down, and grammar are
On their last leg. So what am we to do?
A letter of complaint go just so far,
Proving the only one in step are you.

Better, perhaps, to simply let it goes.
A sentence have to be screwed pretty bad
Before they gets to where you doesnt knows
The meaning what it must of meant to had.

The meteor have hit. Extinction spread,
But evolution do not stop for that.
A mutant languages rise from the dead
And all them rules is suddenly old hat.

Too bad for we, us what has had so long
The best seat from the only game in town.
But there it am, and whom can say its wrong?
Those are the break. Windows is shutting down.

~Clive James

#316: Introduction to Mystery Novels

(inspired by Billy Collins)

I ask them to read a novel
and unlock the mystery
that lies between the covers.

I want them to be a kid in a corn maze
left to ponder each dead end

or an eager child
deciphering hidden clues
to a written scavenger hunt.

I want them to be a dog on a walk
and explore each possible scent.

But their natural desire is to look online
or read the last few pages.

~ Jack Wagner, Class of 2018
(This poem was a Finalist in the 2016 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#315: Dancing Nails

The carpenter moves side to side
striking the nails with a rhythmic pulse
until in the wood they hide.

A beautiful table of cherry,
curled trim, beast’s legs,
and feasts for royalty it will carry.

From the table the carpenter will never eat
still he pounds the nails,
as he listens to their beat.

His customer will have it long,
but only the carpenter
will know its song.

~Brett Greiner, Class of 2018
This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2016 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.

#314: Silence

The loudest of all things
Is silence.
When one cannot speak,
And falls to being a mute,
Everyone hears him.
Silence can be broken
But it is soon followed by an even louder silence
A silence that can never be broken.
These unbroken silences
Are lost friends
The ones we want to talk to
And yet
We can’t seem to find the right words
To break the silence.
~ Mitchell Schaedler, Priory Class of 2016

#313: Watching

            (inspired by Raymond Carver)
He watched as his mother smiled at him for the first time.
He watched as he got his first A in class.
Watched as his father left at 11:00 P.M. to get some milk.
As his mother struggled to make ends meet.
As his best friend was getting bullied throughout ninth grade.
As his best friend moved away after ninth grade.
His first R-rated movie.
The weary students walking out of the open doors,
ending the last day of high school.
As his girlfriend slammed the door on him, then his wife.
He watched as the plane flew away from his old life.
And as the cute flight attendant handed him salted peanuts.
He watched Big Ben ring nine times, signaling the end of the day.
As his boat took off from the Amalfi coast.
As his ship was battered by blustering winds.
The sunrise after the storm, looking over on the cherry blossoms of Japan.
The captain negotiating with him, he watched.
As his son and wife ran around in Trafalgar Square.
As he almost tripped down the stairs in the Eiffel Tower.
As his boss promoted him, and as the cash flowed in.
He watched the candles on his 60th birthday cake flicker out.
The shock on his sister’s face when he couldn’t remember her name.
The eternal look of peace in his wife’s closed eyes.
As needles of morphine were inserted into his arm.
He laughed as he watched a rerun of “Gilligan’s Island”
He watched as the world fell sideways.
~ Sohan Kancherla, Class of 2018
(This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2016 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#312: Crystal Hotel

A vacant bathroom with an open window
Nine stories up mold grows on the walls,
Steam from a sewer floating from below
Sirens passing by like the whistling wind.
Across the street is a neon sign
Blinking red and green, “Crystal Hotel,”
Crimson and emerald sitting on porcelain
Light shining off the tub’s still water.
Frosted glass shielding the shine
Flakes landing on the window sill,
Piling up on scratched, dry wood
The smell of diesel drifts inside.
Cabs waiting under a gloomy night sky
Beggars line the streets and sleep on benches,
“Crystal Hotel” is still buzzing and flashing
The radiator hums while God sends more snow.
~ Harry Zohner, Class of 2016
This poem won Second Place in the 2016 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest and Honorable Mention in the 2016 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.

#311: Paper Thin

a gust of wind,
a drop of rain,
a mere whisper
could ruin her.
she was
paper thin
~ George Ahlering, Class of 2016
(This poem won Fifth Place in the 2016 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)

#310: A Summer's Closing

Flies danced upon
the rusted radiator,
shining through the summer steam.
Their tiny feet tapped across
the beaming metal, like a
stage in miniature, performing to
an audience of none.
Flying into the air
and landing with a small tick,
they danced for hours,
until the sun fell from the cloudy
window, and the summer steam
condensed to a cool breeze.
~ Thomas Weiss, Class of 2016
(This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2016 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)

#309: Sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
       For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
       That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

~William Shakespeare

#308: Afternoons

His ergonomic desk chair turns into a spaceship
as he reclines
and soars among the stars.
Then, when a giant stack of papers crashes upon his desk
and shakes his cubicle to its core,
he is likewise shaken back into reality.
The seismic drop generates enough force
to knock over a photograph of his wife and 4 year old son,
breaking the picture frame that was paid for by his
unglamorous, robotic
life in the cubicle.
He wakes up.
Reality sets in.
It’s 2:30 on a Wednesday.
He is no astronaut.
Picturesque views from the pilot seat of the rocket
are replaced by
midyear reports and spreadsheets.
Stop Dreaming.
Yet the bright glow of the monitor,
still reminds him of the Sun.
~ Matthew Braddock, Priory Class of 2016

#307: Common Cold

Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I'm not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever's hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare's plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!

~Ogden Nash

#306: February 29

An extra day—


Like the painting's fifth cow,
who looks out directly,
straight toward you,
from inside her black and white spots.


An extra day—


Accidental, surely:
the made calendar stumbling over the real
as a drunk trips over a threshold
too low to see.


An extra day—


With a second cup of black coffee.
A friendly but businesslike phone call.
A mailed-back package.
Some extra work, but not too much—
just one day’s worth, exactly.


An extra day—


Not unlike the space
between a door and its frame
when one room is lit and another is not,
and one changes into the other
as a woman exchanges a scarf.


An extra day—


Extraordinarily like any other.
And still
there is some generosity to it,
like a letter re-readable after its writer has died.


~ Jane Hirshfield

#305 Poem to Celebrate the Day that Pitchers and Catchers Report to Training Camp

One time years ago when I was a geeky goofy gawky teenager
I stood on the baseball mound and waited as our coach ambled
Out to give me advice or take me out, I couldn’t tell just which
From his face. Even though I had walked a couple of guys and
Another kid had hit a ball so hard it bounced through the fence
Before the outfielders could react, the coach didn’t seem angry.
Coaches on other teams got mad and threw things and shouted,
But not our coach, that I remember. When our coach arrived at
The mound I held out the ball, as we had been taught, and tried
To stay calm, but he said no no, stay in, you’re doing just great,
I just came out to talk a little. Boy, did that kid crush that curve
Or what? I haven’t seen a ball hit that hard in years. You notice
The sound the bat made? Kind of a basso whunk? Authoritative,
I would call that sound. Inarguable. Instantly identifiable, right?
I don’t think we spend sufficient time appreciating the sonorous
Aspects of the game, you know what I mean? The small musics,
You might say. Like how the fungo bat has a high note. Sounds
Sort of happy and relaxed, a before-the-game sound. And cleats
On concrete, that sounds cool. Clatter, that’s the word. So, what
Are you going to throw this next kid? I’d just stay with the heat;
Now, I know you say you have no control, and while that’s true,
You may actually suddenly achieve control – it’s not impossible.
And remember that every wild pitch causes trepidation and awe,
Which are not conducive to hitting. Hey, look a blue heron! See,
Right there, by the right field line! Wow. Okay, kid, go get them.
~ Brian Doyle

#304 I a Man of Unclean Lips

I a man
Of unclean lips
Whose human hands
Are less clean still
Do dare to hold you
And utter words
No mere mortal
Had ever dared
To think much less
To speak
This is my body
This my blood
Do this in my
And in that moment
Of mystery sweet
And so so terrible
May God have mercy
On my soul
— Father Gerard Garrigan, O.S.B.

#303 Winter

She is bundled up in
a huge feather-stuffed,
black overcoat. He a
thin grey sport coat
with three silk
brown t-shirts
underneath a white
shirt and black tie.

Her hair covered
by a black beret
with netting shadowing
her face,
while he wears
nothing on his head.

He with black trousers
flapping in the brittle wind
and her stockings underneath
her black skirt
exposed from under
the overcoat.

They stand still,
down. Nothing
but a coffin
being lowered in winter.

~ John Forshaw, Class of 2017

(This poem was a Finalist in the 2015 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#302 Shelved

Under the stairs, in darkness, in boxes,
sleep reindeer, contemplating
their papier-mâché existence.

Sheathed in four-wall cardboard
lie wreathes, beads, plastic pine needles,
reveling in their year-round uselessness.

Ornaments rest face down
in dejected stupor, remembering
glory days of winter solstice.

Santa lounges on his side,
his neon “ho ho ho” without
its seasonal flicker.

The plastic manger is unplugged
and folded in the corner,
awaiting next December’s electric socket.

Out back, wrapping paper
scrapes along the alley pavement,
resisting the stiff gusts of January.

And ribbons dance momentarily,
feigning rehearsed enthusiasm,
hoping to once again be unforgotten.

~ Philip Kemp, Priory Class of 2005

#301 Escapist, Never

He is no fugitive, escaped, escaping
No one has seen him stumble looking back.
His fear is not behind him but beside him
On either hand to make his course perhaps
A crooked straightness yet no less a straightness.
He runs face forward.  He is a pursuer.
He seeks a seeker who in his turn seeks
Another still, lost far into the distance.
Any who seek him seek in him the seeker.
His life is a pursuit of a pursuit forever.
It is the future that creates his present.
All is an interminable chain of longing.

— Robert Frost


#300 Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
     And wild and sweet
     The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
     Had rolled along
     The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
     A voice, a chime,
     A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
     And with the sound
     The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
     And made forlorn
     The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth," I said;
     “For hate is strong,
     And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
     The Wrong shall fail,
     The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

#299 The End of Science Fiction

This is not fantasy, this is our life.
We are the characters
who have invaded the moon,
who cannot stop their computers.
We are the gods who can unmake
the world in seven days.

Both hands are stopped at noon.
We are beginning to live forever,
in lightweight, aluminum bodies
with numbers stamped on our backs.
We dial our words like Muzak.
We hear each other through water.

The genre is dead. Invent something new.
Invent a man and a woman
naked in a garden,
invent a child that will save the world,
a man who carries his father
out of a burning city.
Invent a spool of thread
that leads a hero to safety,
invent an island on which he abandons
the woman who saved his life
with no loss of sleep over his betrayal.

Invent us as we were
before our bodies glittered
and we stopped bleeding:
invent a shepherd who kills a giant,
a girl who grows into a tree,
a woman who refuses to turn
her back on the past and is changed to salt,
a boy who steals his brother’s birthright
and becomes the head of a nation.
Invent real tears, hard love,
slow-spoken, ancient words,
difficult as a child’s
first steps across a room.

~Lisel Mueller

#298 Larry Bird

What’s the word on Larry Bird?
If looks could kill
He would have served
A thousand terms
Of life without parole
Trash talker extraordinaire
“Which one of you guys
Is gonna finish second?”
Eyes in the back of his head
Improbable, phenomenal
No look passes
Those hell bent crashes
Flinging his body to the floor
In pursuit of all those errant balls
Jump shot honed by hours alone
In an empty gym
While others still were in their beds
And when he jumped
He hardly left the floor
And yet a rebounder
Outstanding by will
And craftiness alone
The Hick from French Lick
Whom Magic revered,
Countless defenders feared
Who left it all out on the court
Whose playing days were far too few
And though the game will be played
For, oh, another eon or two
We’ll never see the likes of you

~ Father Gerard Garrigan, O.S.B.
8 February 2015




#297 My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
     Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
     She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
     She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
     Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
     The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
     And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
     The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
     And they are better for her praise.

~Robert Frost


#296 The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife,

Who judgment upon you must pass;

The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one starring back from the glass.

He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest.
For he's with you clear up to the end,

And you've passed the most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,

But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years.
And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be the heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the man in the glass.

~ Dale Wimbrow

#295 Hope is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

~ Emily Dickinson

#294 A Mind

                                               inspired by M.S. Merwin

Inside this pencil is a mind,

with unknown fascinations.

I use this pencil for writing papers,

I use it for stories, poems, and prose,

I use it to write lists,

I use it to make very specific observations.

I like this pencil.

This pencil constructs ideas,

which can make you think one thing,

and do the other.

~ John Forshaw, Class of 2017
(This poem was a Finalist in the 2015 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contestsponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#293 In the Pot

                                              (inspired by WCW)

two fistfuls of

through which the

of green shoots

~ Cesar Azrak, Priory Class of 2016
(This poem won First Place in the 2015 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)

#292 How to Live

Inspired by Charles Harper Webb

Drink whatever you like as long as it won’t kill you.
Read Grisham, Brown, Hemingway, Christie,
Seuss, and Shakespeare too
Buy a boat even if you never use it
Eat whatever the heart desires,
as long as it doesn’t explode
Drive with caution, the 5 seconds you save
isn’t worth it in the end.

Listen to whatever you like
but don’t let the artist lead you astray
Focus when you’re writing and never write
what you don’t believe
Make your word the most sacred thing besides God

Don’t base your actions on fortune cookies, mind readers, palm readers,
or any kind of reader you can think of.
Like the things you like and
dislike what you don’t
See the sun rise but don’t look straight at it

Do something stupid enough so that you won’t do it again
Don’t hurt anyone
Find a stray dog and help it out
Find a stray human and help him out
Don’t play God or you will never meet him

Be polite when you finally do meet him.
Always say please and thank you
Never ask for too much
Be greedy in moderation and be needless
in moderation too.
Find what you love and do it.

~ Harry Lindmark, Class of  2017
(This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2015 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)


#291 The Kid

The kid who often tried too hard
The kid who didn’t try hard enough
The kid who fell from the top of the rope in gym class
The kid who always had a way with girls, or so he thought
The kid with the nearly illegible handwriting
The kid whose blazer was too big
The kid who could not stand the thought of eating an oyster
The kid who always had a hole in his sweatpants
The kid who needed new sweatpants
The kid who loved the smell of smoke in the fall
The kid who broke the garage door window with a left-footed blast
The kid who did not own up to the broken window
The kid whose mind ran in every direction
The kid who now takes a pill for that
The kid who ran away from home when he was 5 years old
The kid who didn’t get 3 houses away before he teared up
The kid who shakes when he is nervous
The kid whose life awaits him

~ Mark Ciapciak, Class of 2017
(This poem was a Finalist in the 2015 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)


#290 Forgetting

                                inspired by Raymond Carver
He forgot the second verse of his favorite song,
how it goes,
or its general tune.
He forgot the actor’s name,
then the movie just two weeks later.
He forgot to think of the future
and, deliberately, the past.
He forgot why he was there,
where he was,
and why he cared.
He forgot his homework,
and which of his home’s light bulbs work.
He forgot what he made,
and occasionally what made him.
He forgot how to sleep,
how to feel,
how to communicate all together.
He forgot empty space
and filled his mind with things that weren’t.
He forgot how to forget
and remembered how to remember.
Immediately relearning how to forget,
to feel safe again,
to forget that he existed
so that he could figure out how to,
and to forget the world to find it.

He forgot birthdays,
in the car, in the next room,
where he was going,
and what he was doing.
He forgot about everything but forgetting.

Slowly, but certainly,
he forgot how to function.
And so, one day,
he was just altogether forgotten.

~ David Holmes, Class of 2016
(This poem won Third Place in the 2015 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)

#289 i thank You God for most this amazing

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

~ e. e. cummings

#288 The Old Station

with pumps run dry

chipped paint,

with trash

weeds growing

Inspired by William Carlos Williams

~ Harry Lindmark, Class of 2017

(This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2015 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)

#287 The Perfect Pebble

loaded into
the ready

with delicate

the water
with vision

above the
current on a

~ Logan Bealke, Class of 2015
(Logan is Priory’s 2014-2015 Austin Rennick Poetry Prize winner.)

#286 Daily Noises

Alarm ringing

Shower running

Door slamming

Traffic buzzing

Cars crashing

Late, sprinting

Boss yelling

Phone ringing

Wife crying

Workers laughing

Truck speeding

Sirens wailing

Door opening

Soda fizzing

Couch creaking

Children screaming

Yourself sighing

Eyes closing

Alarm ringing

~ Ben Kraus, Class of 2015

(This poem was a Finalist in the 2015 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#285 - Sparkling Ice

She braces herself

as her partner tosses her

through the air into

a double-axel.

She twirls

seemingly uncontrollable

until she releases her arms,

stopping the momentum

and giving back her balance

as she presses

the outer edge of her blade

back into the fresh ice.

— Jeffrey Michalski, '15

(This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2015 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contestsponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#284 - What Google Told Me

(Inspired by Christopher Reid) 

That I shouldn’t be searching that.

That I was having network connectivity issues.

That “Google” is spelled wrong.

That I do not have homework.

That Area 51 is a real place.

That I have 12 new emails.

That I should get outside more.

That the new iPhone just came out.

That I need to install Flash to play that game.

That it is better than Bing.

That self-driving cars are a reality.

That there are about 39,300,000 results for “How to write a good poem.”

That it is more than a search engine.

That it bought YouTube.

That it is monitoring my search data.

That I can’t block that feature.

That it is perfectly safe.

That I really should go outside more.

That it wouldn’t exist without me.

That I can download movies and music for free now.

That I need to learn how to spell.

That it holds over 100 million gigabytes.

That I’m not the only person searching my name right now.

That it should be trusted.

That things are only getting better.

— James Orme-Rogers, '17

(This poem won Second Place in the 2015 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest and was a finalist in the 2015 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Contest sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center)

#283 - Another Miller

 In Shattucks, a place now well worn,

with the red seats pealing,

and the table darkened with spilled coffee,

sits a man, with an old John Deere hat, a red work shirt,

and worn out boots.


He notices the bright red neon sign doesn't work,

and Main Street, outside the window, is dark,

taken over by Hell.

He sits, pulls out a Camel cigarette, and

thinks of how much time has passed.


After his two boys left,

most of his time is dark, and

he sits alone in the corner with a jukebox.

He remembers cooking sausage and eggs for his sons,

the boys crying when mom left,

the boys dealing with the death of the dog,

and the hope in their eyes when they set off to college.


Afterwards, darkness, he could remember nothing,

his slate was clean.


Suddenly, the bell clatters,

and a gust of cold wind wakes him

from his dreams.

He notices the greasy windows,

and the empty beer glass in his hand.

He calls the server, Mary,

a young gal in her mid 20s,

and says, “Another Miller.”

He takes a sip

and returns to the darkness.

— Urban Cornett, '15 

(This poem was a Finalist in the 2015 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contestsponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center.)

#282 - Beyond

 Beyond you is a world,

so perfect

yet conflicted.

No one knows where

or how to get there.

All I know

is I’m ok

right where I am.

— John Forshaw, '17

(This poem won Honorable Mention in the 2015 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)

#281 - The Curve of the Wave

The curve of the wave

is like the curve of the world.

Every wave’s curve echoes

the curve of the earth.

The curve of the wave

comes and goes endlessly,

just as the earth is endlessly filled

with curves of its land.

Every curve has an end,

but then a new curve emerges

to revive the breath of the wild.

At the world’s heart

is the curve of the wave.


— Nathan Walk, Class of 2015

(This poem won recognition in the 2015 Wednesday Club of St. Louis Junior Poetry Contest.)


#279 - Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.


— Robert Frost


#278 - Dust of Snow

The way a crow

Shook down on me

The dust of snow

From a hemlock tree


Has given my heart

A change of mood

And saved some part

Of a day I had rued.


— Robert Frost


#277 - One River, One Boat

"I know there's something better down the road."

~ Elizabeth Alexander


Because our history is a knot
we try to unravel, while others
try to tighten it, we tire easily
and fray the cords that bind us.


The cord is a slow moving river,
spiraling across the land
in a succession of S's,
splintering near the sea.


Picture us all, crowded onto a boat
at the last bend in the river:
watch children stepping off the school bus,
parents late for work, grandparents


fishing for favorite memories,
teachers tapping their desks
with red pens, firemen suiting up
to save us, nurses making rounds,


baristas grinding coffee beans,
dockworkers unloading apartment size
containers of computers and toys
from factories across the sea.


Every morning a different veteran
stands at the base of the bridge
holding a cardboard sign
with misspelled words and an empty cup.


In fields at daybreak, rows of migrant
farm workers standing on ladders, break open
iced peach blossoms; their breath rising
and resting above the frozen fields like clouds.


A jonboat drifts down the river.
Inside, a small boy lies on his back;
hand laced behind his head, he watches
stars fade from the sky and dreams.


Consider the prophet John, calling us
from the edge of the wilderness to name
the harm that has been done, to make it
plain, and enter the river and rise.


It is not about asking for forgiveness.
It is not about bowing our heads in shame;
because it all begins and ends here:
while workers unearth trenches


at Gadsden's Wharf, where 100,000
Africans were imprisoned within brick walls
awaiting auction, death, or worse.
Where the dead were thrown into the water,


and the river clogged with corpses
has kept centuries of silence.
It is time to gather at the water's edge,
and toss wreaths into this watery grave.


And it is time to praise the judge
who cleared George Stinney's name,
seventy years after the fact,
we honor him; we pray.


Here, where the Confederate flag still flies
beside the Statehouse, haunted by our past,
conflicted about the future; at the heart
of it, we are at war with ourselves


huddled together on this boat
handed down to us – stuck
at the last bend of a wide river
splintering near the sea.


~ Marjory Wentworth


#276 - I'm Nobody

I'm nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there's a pair of us—don't tell!

They'd banish us, you know.


How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!


~ Emily Dickinson


#275 - Christmas Lie

Fake snow on my fake Christmas tree.

Fake Santa at the mall, fakely asking me.

Fake Elves six feet tall and fake reindeer

in the hall decked with fake holly, what

shameful folly Christmas has become.


Fake hats on heads in my TV,

with fake smiles as they yell at me,

proclaiming the birth of new

technology for me to buy while

vainly trying not to truly cry

for a season lost in lust.


True star in a true night sky.

True men who truly die.

True kings on their royal knees,

bringing gifts that truly please

into a manger look and sigh:

there does the truth in Christmas lie.


— Tim Poepsel, '05


#274 - Christmas Mail

By Ted Kooser

Cards in each mailbox,

angel, manger, star and lamb,

as the rural carrier,

driving the snowy roads,

hears from her bundles

the plaintive bleating of sheep,

the shuffle of sandals,

the clopping of camels.

At stop after stop,

she opens the little tin door

and places deep in the shadows

the shepherds and wise men,

the donkeys lank and weary,

the cow who chews and muses.

And from her Styrofoam cup,

white as a star and perched

on the dashboard, leading her

ever into the distance,

there is a hint of hazelnut,

and then a touch of myrrh.


#273 - Let America Be America Again

By Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain                                      
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,                                                       
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again! 

#272 - Onto a Vast Plain

You are not surprised at the force of the storm—

you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.


The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees' blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.


Summer was like your house: you knew
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.


The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.


Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.



(translation by Joanna Macy + Anita Barrows)


#271 - Spring and Fall

to a young child

Margaret, are you grieving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leaves like the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah! as the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you will weep and know why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Sorrow’s springs are the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It is the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.


~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

#270 - It's Snowing Silence Out of Nowhere Now

   and the Silence was made flake

          and drifted upon us . . .


It’s snowing Silence out of nowhere now

and no one seems to know quite what this means,

unless it means that words have had their day

and Silence is now master of all things. 

Perhaps the words that should have brought us close

have shouted us apart right at the seams,

so Silence settles on the human heart

and drifts down out of nowhere on flake wings.

The flakes that gesture white against the door

conduct a silent requiem for war.


- Fr. Ralph Wright, O.S.B.

from Life Is Simpler Toward Evening


#269 - Ferguson and Bethlehem

Who is this child about whom angels sing

This little one in swaddling clothes

Whom shepherds and wise men came to see

Whom only the humble soul can know.


He is the one who came long ago

To save us all from sin and doom

Being born in a manger, poor and cold

Coming forth from the Blessed Virgin’s womb.


He is the same who set the stars

Who made the earth, the seas and sky

And each and every one of us

For whom for love of us he died.


He came to bring mercy, peace and love

To a world of spite and strife and hate

He only asks we share his love

And even now, it’s not too late.


Now, now in Ferguson again

The bullets fly and strife once more

The broken windows, broken hearts

This strife and vi’lence as of yore.


And now in Ferguson so far, so far

From Bethlehem again we ask,

We ask where will, where will it start

This justice, mercy, love, and peace.


There’s only one place it will start

There’s only one place it can start

Only, only in my own heart,

Only, only in my own heart.


He came to bring mercy, peace and love

To a world of spite and strife and hate

He only asks we share his love

And even now, it’s not too late.

And even now, it’s not too late.

- Gerard Garrigan, O.S.B.


See a moving performance of FERGUSON AND BETHLEHEM (song):


Music written and performed on piano by Mike Sissin

Sung by Ron Wilkinson

Lyrics by Gerard Garrigan, O.S.B.


Please continue to pray for peace, justice, reconciliation, and healing in Ferguson, in our country, and, first of all, in our own hearts.


#268 - In the City

In the City

(inspired by WCW)


on wet roads

of a small city


the street lamps

start to flicker


and the ivy



up cracked,

brick walls


toward the

grey sky


- Harry Zohner, '16


(This poem was a finalist in the St. Louis Poetry Center’s 2014 Beverly Hopkins Memorial Poetry Contest.)


#267 - A.D.H.D.

In honor of the Priory School Junior High Cross Country Team

Coach! I don’t think I can run today I think I’m going to have a colon attack I’m pretty sure it’s my colon It could easily be my spleen though Where are we running anyway Not that I care because I’m not running because of my exploding colon Or spleen But seriously it might explode That kind of thing happens sometimes, you know I knew this kid once whose colon exploded and it was really really gross There was like colon juice everywhere Like a million people threw up who saw it No seriously it was like bright orange Anyway you can’t make me run I won’t do it Colon attacks can be very serious If I die of a colon attack I’m going to sue you and then I’m going to sue the school and then I’m going to sue god and then you’ll have to go work as a dog groomer or something My dog is dead It’s ok though I didn’t like him I HATE MYSELF AND I WANT TO DIE Just kidding coach I’m bi-polar too you know Plus I forgot my shoes.

- J. Augustine Wetta, O.S.B.


#266 - The Life (inspired by Geoffrey Brock)

It bends over the edge

            like an aged tree

about to fall off the cliff

            and into the ravine below


It seems to defy gravity

            the age-old force that controls everything

with finger-like roots

            it barely holds on


But the trunk of the tree

            everything it has made and lived for

weighs it down

            and makes holding on hard


And the leaves changing with the seasons

            seem ephemeral

and do nothing for the tree

            but make it want to stay one more season.


And just when it looks

            like the tree could hold on

for a little longer more

            to see the leaves change again


The roots lose their hold

            and gravity finally wins

as trunk, leaves, and roots,

            the whole tree falls into the ravine.


- George O’Sullivan, '16


#265 - Dancing Nails

Dancing Nails


Like a hopeful telekinetic

the student tries to move the clock with listless eyes,

passing the time with nonchalance,

humming In the Hall of the Mountain King in his head,

and tapping out like a trumpeter the William Tell Overture

with dancing nails.

And, as if moved by this forceful orchestra,

the class bell rings, and the operatic movements

begin anew, himself the conductor

of the Magic Dancing Nails.


- John Russell, '16


#264 - The Mower

The Mower

by Philip Larkin

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found

A hedgehog jammed up against the blades, 

Killed.  It had been in the long grass,


I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.

Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world

Unmendably.  Burial was no help:


Next morning I got up and it did not.

The first day after a death, the absence

Is always the same; we should be careful


Of each other, we should be kind

While there is still time.


“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4


Saint Louis Abbey

Saint Louis Priory School

500 South Mason Road
St. Louis, MO 63141
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