Sunday, May 21, 2017

Irises in Bloom!

It's time to stroll the iris rainbow
at the Presby Memorial Iris Garden
in Montclair, New Jersey.


Presby Memorial Iris Garden, Montclair, NJ



 THE IRIS GARDEN

I delightedly strolled
along an iris rainbow
one effulgent Sunday in May
while would-be VanGoghs
painted under sunbrellas.

God could’ve made irises gray,
but He’s as lavish with color
as He is with love.

Maude Carolan




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Remembering Mom on Mother's Day

Frances Longo Walsh


MOTHER
In loving memory of Frances Longo Walsh (1915-1966)

I recall the way
my mother’s whole body jiggled when she laughed,
her sweet, shy smile,
that she understood Italian, but never spoke it,
the utter simplicity of her desires...
never asking for or receiving much
and not once complaining.
She had all she wanted, a home and family.

I remember the helpmeet working side by side
with our father, clearing the land
and building our stucco home.

My mind’s eye sees her plucking
chicken feathers in the backyard,
walking uphill home from the bus stop,
huffing, puffing;
scratching her itching back
against the bedroom door frame;
camping, just to please us children,
though it was more work than fun for her.

Recall, as if it were yesterday,
the flowery apron over her housedress
with its chain of safety pins
and her elastic band bracelets,
and Mother, standing at the stove, stirring
the bubbling red sauce in the big enamel pot.

Little Mommy, four-foot-ten and overweight—
She served herself the skimpiest portions,
never ate dessert, but occasionally gave in
to one indulgence: a crusty Italian bastone
from Minardi’s, sliced and spread with a pat of butter.

Hindsight reveals her quick on her feet
in the yard goods department at Quackenbush’s,
where customers remembered her
for smiles as quick as her feet.

When she arrived home, she changed her clothes
and aired out one of her two work dresses
on the clothesline off the back porch.

In retrospect, I see her
rolling her dark hair back into two neat curls
above her forehead,
applying red lipstick to her upper lip,
bringing both lips together to transfer color
to the lower, then, blotting.

Never attended high school, but
she could add columns of numbers
rapidly, in her head.
She read the newspaper nightly,
and completed the crossword puzzle.

My memory flashes to her relaxing evenings
in our parlor, in the old tufted chair,
watching Alfred Hitchcock or Lucy or
Barbara Stanwick in, “The Big Valley”.
She never missed the easy crooning of Perry Como.
He was her favorite. (He’d been a barber, like her father.)

I remember it pleased our father
that she always waited up for him
till he arrived home after working
the night shift at Wright’s.

Yes, I still see clearly, her dear kerchiefed head,
which Gramma remarked, made her look
like a peasant in a babushka.

Remember trying to convince her to hike her hemlines,
wear “Kiss Me Pink” lipstick, update her hair style,
learn to drive.

Flashback to hear her inviting my date
to come in for a cup of tea at our kitchen table
when he brought me home.

Vividly, I recollect the day
she was curled up tight on the couch.
She didn’t want me to call the ambulance,
though her hernia was strangling,
didn’t want to spoil plans
my sister and I had with our friends.
I disobeyed. The doctors operated just in time,
before gangrene set in.

My mind’s eye still sees tears in her eyes
when she came to my wedding
without my father.

And I remember her joy
to learn both daughters were pregnant, however,

she died before her grandchildren were born.

Oh! How much her grandchildren have missed
for never having known her—

which is one of the reasons
I’ve written this poem

Maude Carolan

Happy Mother's Day
to all moms, everywhere...
God bless you all!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Alana's First Communion Day

God bless my granddaughter, Alana,
who celebrated her First Holy Communion, Saturday,
 at St. Mary's RC Church, Pompton Lakes, NJ.

Alana Dulce Muniz



The following poem goes back, back, back in time 
to when my sister Carol and me
celebrated our First Communion in 1950.


FIRST COMMUNION, 1950

It was a long, long time ago, but
I remember as if it were yesterday—
My sister Carol was six; I was seven
Viola, my mother's best friend
sewed lovely white dresses for us
Mine had a bodice of white embroidered flowers
and a shimmery organdy skirt
Carol's, just the opposite
had an organdy bodice and flowery skirt
We wore crinoline slips
and pristine white stockings
shiny white Mary Janes
and tulle veils adorned with sprigs
of lily of the valley at the crown

Carol and I practiced walking
with hands in prayer
down the long church aisle
to receive the Little White Host
at the altar rail

We each nervously whispered
our first confession to the priest
in a dark confessional
the size of a small closet
We said the Act of Contrition
received absolution
and prayed our penance prayers
all in anticipation
of our First Communion Day

…but, my sister became ill
She had the measles
so I received my First Communion
without her, but with all the other
First Communicant boys and girls
of St. Bonaventure Roman Catholic Church

We were well prepared—
schooled in the liturgy
the songs and prayers
Most importantly, we all truly loved Jesus

As I sat, quiet and still
like a pure wingless angel
in the old wooden pew
gazing at the stained glass windows
listening to the Latin Mass
and the ringing of the Offertory chimes
my stomach began to feel queasy
I had fasted, as was the custom
from midnight, the night before—
the first fast of my life
so I thought I was just hungry
but I developed chills and felt faint
and wanted to go home

Nevertheless, I said the prayers
and sang the songs
and received the precious Holy Bread
from the hand of the priest
upon my tongue, happy
that Jesus now lived inside of me

After Mass was over
I went home and straight to bed
Little red spots dotted my face and body
…Measles, of course

Two Sundays later
Carol and I dressed up
in our beautiful white finery--
Two healthy little brides of Christ
and received Holy Eucharist, together

Maude Carolan Pych

Alana

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Blow the Shofar in Zion...

Photo credit: feedmysheepjerusalem.com

MARCO SOUNDS THE SHOFAR
Israel Pilgrimage—2006

Marco bought a shofar in Galilee—
a long and spiraled Yemenite shofar
made from the horn
of a kudo antelope

With a deep and steady breath
Marco blows its harrowing thunder
over the Mount of Olives
the Western Wall
the Jordan River
and just about every site
we visit in holy Zion

trumpeting its long distinctive wail
to jolt us from our complacency—

Wake up!

Warning all hearers:

Prepare! Repent!

Wake up! Oh Sleepers—
Wake up! and follow the Lord, your God!

Anne brought her tambourine
from New Jersey—
It’s shaped like a Star of David
Colorful ribbons stream
from its six points

Like Miriam, Anne lifts it high
and dances with delight
praising Adonai with worshipful women
from all over the world
as their swirling skirts sweep the ground
It’s Shabbat, in Jerusalem
at the Western Wall

and I bought a tallit in Tiberius—
blue and white like the Israeli flag
with knotted fringes in the corners
to remind me God’s promises are true

a traditional prayer shawl
to wrap snuggly around my shoulders
like God’s loving arms
enfolding me
as I pray


Maude Carolan Pych

Sunday, April 23, 2017

On the Road to Emmaus...

Image credit: milfordandrewpastor.com


THE EMMAUS TRIPTYCH

Luke 24:13-35

I. THE UNNAMED FRIEND

Cleopas and friend walked and talked
with lumbering gaits and downcast faces
shining hopes of sweet redemption
dashed and obliterated

They asked of each other the Why question
for if anyone had come to fill those old prophecies
surely it had seemed to be Him
that Jesus they'd come to know
through signs and wonders
that appeared to be miraculous

Their so-called Messiah had been crucified
was dead and gone. Yes, gone, gone, gone!
Even His cold dead body was missing
from the tomb that had been sealed—

He approached them
in the midst of their perplexity
on the road to Emmaus
He walked with them, talked with them
they even felt His fire
but didn't know who He was

and strange as that may seem
how often have I been
the unnamed friend of Cleopas?
I, too, profess to know Him, know Him well
yet fail to recognize Him along the road

II. THE STRANGER

Taking the barley loaf in his hands
the stranger lifted it

Baruch ata Adonai
Eloheynu Melech ha Olam
ha motzie lechem
min ha'aretz

He tore it, offered it, and just as it fell
into reaching grasps
their astonished eyes recognized Him
and in that instant
He utterly vanished from their sight!

Leaping from the table, Cleopas and his friend
stumbled over each other
looking under, over, around and around
knowing even as they did
it was True after all

As they looked at each other
their disbelief became relief
the sweet awakening of a deep Belief

for Truth visited them along the way
joined them at their table, broke their humble bread
They asked each other

Were not our hearts burning
as He talked with us on the road
and opened the Scriptures to us?

Now, blazing temples of Holy Fire
they suddenly knew their once shattered hearts
would never cool again

III. MY EMMAUS

When I first found You, or You found me
I thought I'd go from strength to strength
pinnacle to pinnacle, joy to joy
and so it was for a season
when love was new

then the whirlwind came
thrashing through my world
upending all my securities
leaving me stunned, broken, alone
certain I would die

so I waited for You to save me
waited for prayers pleaded at Your scarred feet
to avail their just reward
for I believed in You, trusted, hoped
Eyes veiled, I couldn't find You
failed to recognize You along the road

Had I believed in vain?

Then You began to speak
not audibly, but  whenever I opened Your Word
Radiance, Glory, Unfailing Love
sprang from the page and became manifest
My heart blazed! I began to shine!

Now, on the other side of sorrow
I dare not forget my burning heart,
Your Glorious Presence
so I abide, remembering
it is You, my Jesus
Who walks with me along the road

Maude Carolan

Saturday, April 15, 2017

He is Risen, Indeed!

It's Resurrection Day!!!
Alleluia!

Maude's Easter bread
right out of the oven!


RISEN

It’s Holy Saturday

Dough is rising
on the kitchen counter

filling me with thoughts
of rising

helium balloons
set free

sunrise
over the Sea of Galilee

waking up

rising

soap bubbles
floating skyward

seagulls soaring

fireworks
booming and bursting

jet planes at take-off

rocket ships
with long trails of fire
zooming to the moon

O, but nothing

nowhere

and no one

has ever done it

or will

…like Jesus

Maude Carolan Pych

...Sunday's Comin'!!! Alleluia!

A-Poem-a-Day Until Resurrection Day


I’VE READ THE END OF THE BOOK

Twice I heard Tony Campolo deliver
his famous and rousing sermon
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’!
at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove
He drummed home the point
that everything may look bleak on Friday, but…
come Sunday, it’s a totally different story

Now, I’m not thinking of just any dark and bleak Friday
I’m thinking about the original Good Friday—
thinking the only reason I can bear
to contemplate that good and terrible day
is because I know
a few days later there was
a mind-blowing, miraculous Sunday—
…Resurrection Sunday!

The disciples didn’t have
the advantage I have—
They didn’t understand
life after death
couldn’t comprehend
atonement for sin
just didn’t get it
that their teacher and friend, Jesus
could die upon a cross
for the sins of the world
They didn’t know the future—
Sure, they may’ve read portions of the Scrolls
but they didn’t have the whole wonderful Book
                                             
I do have the whole Book
I’ve read ahead
and studied the pages         
I know what follows
the Good Friday story—
The victorious hope-giving
hallelujah happy ending

I know my sins are forgiven
I know I’m going to live forever
Yes, I know what happened next
and that makes all the difference


Maude Carolan Pych