O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part VII

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part VII

 

7. O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,

the hope of the nations and their Saviour:

Come and save us, O Lord our God.

With us—where else would you be

except everywhere?

Those galaxies, universes

bubbling into being,

stretching out and letting go.

Photons, quarks in their crazy flavors.

Magma flow, the frozen layers.

White shells and bones.

All the acorns buried under leaves.

The burning horses, stray dogs.

The toddler with brain cancer.

The addict under the bridge

staring at the river.

The black man, shot dead

even as I write these words.

With us.

The woman grinding the last of the grain,

drawing the last bucket of water.

If you’re not with us,

where are we?

And if you are with us,

where are we?

Where?

Emmanuel.

O Come.

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O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part VI

O:  The Magnificat Antiphons, part VI

6. O Rex Gentium

O King of the nations, and their desire,

the cornerstone making both one:

Come and save the human race,

which you fashioned from clay.

The angels of the nations are tired.

They yearn for rest.  They don’t want

 

to fight one another. They want

to make love. While they would

 

settle for rest, for quiet,

for occasional rapture—

 

it’s been so long—what they desire

most is oblivion, the joy

 

of dissolution. Come, Desire.

Come Cornerstone.  Scatter them

 

into the unimaginable energies

they were before the nations

 

molded them into shapes of clay

and iron and bronze and gold.

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, Part V

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, Part V

5. O Oriens

O Morning Star,

splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:

Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Sun is our morning star,

up today, here, North,

as late as it goes,

down as early.

Like Rain, Sun

doesn’t care who we are,

even if we’re righteous,

even terrible.

Risen with healing in its wings—

see the wings?—

it drives the darkness out.

So they say.

Come then, Dayspring.

Come Sun, Yellow Star.

Come Enlightening.

Come back.

Wake us up.

Make us new.

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part IV

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part IV

 

4. O Clavis David

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;

you open and no one can shut;

you shut and no one can open:

Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,

those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Enough keys.

We have a ringful on our belts.

They rattle when we walk.

They weigh us down as we proceed

once again down the long hallway

past the doors.

A few have opened.

It took years

to find the right combination

of twist and force,

to learn the Magic Words.

We’re tired.

Our feet hurt.

And still they make barricades

on the other sides.

Set bars.

Change the locks.

We have so many heavy keys,

skeleton keys.

Put flesh on them.

Put your shoulder to the doors.

Beat them down.

Nobody answers when you knock.

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part III

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, part III

3. O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;

before you kings will shut their mouths,

to you the nations will make their prayer:

Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

What we need is fruit.

Come, Bathesheba’s soft sweet apricots,

Come seedful figs of David’s Mom.

Come, O come, barley from Ruth’s basket.

Be scattered and tossed,

carried by birds to God-knows-where.

Choke the thorns,

cover the highways with green,

bear and bear your million-fold.

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, parts I & II

O: The Magnificat Antiphons, parts I & II1.

 

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other,

mightily and sweetly ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Come, Sophia,

encircle us with your long arms,

convict us with your smile.

Teach us to watch the fox

and the owl; show us the terror

of the rabbit and the vole.

Frosted grass blackens

under our heavy feet.

Show us a gentler way.

 

2. O Adonai

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,

who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

and gave him the law on Sinai:

Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

 

O Come, Lord of might,

Great Lady of the stern face,

punisher of sinners. Come

and seize us by the scruffs,

knock our heads together,

make us sit in hard chairs

on either side of the battered

kitchen table. Set the timer

for five minutes, and when it rings,

make us say “We will love

one another” as if

we mean it.

HOTEL POEM, 5:30 A.M.

HOTEL POEM, 5:30 A.M.

Terrible coffee from the machine in the bathroom—

it’s too early for terrible coffee from the lobby.

I can write by the bathroom light

if I sit in this chair by the door.

John still sleeps.

All night I kept waking

and drifting off again trying to remember

the words to “The Highwayman,”

who kept morphing into Paul Revere.

Romantic figures on horseback—

one all fiction, one nearly so.

Revere did not ride into Concord, for example,

and he already knew they were coming by sea.

And there were two men in the North Church tower

sending the signal in case the riders didn’t make it.

But “The Somerset, British man of war” was real,

and when they rowed across the bay, they—

he was not alone in that boat— were afraid

they would be seen “just as the moon rose.”

Who cares?

The nameless  highwayman, on the other hand—

well, the musket drives me crazy.

How could Bess reach the trigger if the musket

was beside her and her hands were behind her?

And wouldn’t the trigger be too close to the floor

for a woman “tied up to attention” to reach?

Maybe someone on some online forum

could explain, but I’d rather

think about that than a few other things

I can name, but won’t. In the meantime,

Will “the people” waken in this “hour

of darkness and peril and need”?

Or stand around “dumb as a dog”?

Except dogs are hardly ever dumb.