To a Trappist
Oh, to be he, with snakes in the jakes!
Cistercian Merton, in his hermitage of icons,
in his dream-den where Proverb sings a secret ageless wisdom,
yes, the monk of hopeful phone-calls to hospitals of love.
Cistercian Merton, left of center, marginal in the rusted trailer,
patron of my fringe existence, pray for me
with your edifying cables, your sensational times,
your blind-lion tears between loblolly pines,
your vanishing trails to the stone Buddhas of unforeseen heaven,
your vow of silent conversation, prosing haiku pictures
of the cloistered farm, of nature’s wreckage,
of the ramshackle glory of things as they are,
your coffee on cold mornings, your dexterous calligraphies,
your ephemeral Zen monuments of anguish and joy,
your sinful-saintly standing watch as the world does its work,
your searing psalmody, your soaring liturgies, your telling beads of heartbreak,
your sighs to the hills and frosted nightstars
of a distant immortal Kentucky.