Fire Stairs

Each weekday morning
i climb six flights
to my office.

Sealed into a shaft
Of concrete and iron,
i slowly


Nodding silently
To standpipes
And sprinkler valves
And the scuff mark
Shaped like a
Soda bottle.

Each landing
Its landmark,
Each numeral
Its meaning and place.

The elevator is faster
But it is crowded
And sullen
And the journey means

i prefer to climb,
My briefcase
Bumping against my hip
Like a saddlebag
Against the flanks
Of a prospector's mule:

Each nudge
Reminds me
Of what i carry
And what is carrying

i ascend
Alone and silent
To my bower
Of glass and steel,

And when i arrive,
i feel the gentle thud
Of pumping blood

The stretch of tendons
The mild, muscular heat
And the knowledge

That at the end of this journey
There is work to be done.

The stairs are there
For safety, and
Each day
They quietly,
My life.

--Mr. Gobley


The Teacher

The Teacher
Looked into
My eyes
And said
"You have
A beautiful soul"

And i wanted to ask
what it was that he saw

But at that time
There was
An arc of light a
Above his head

Pale but certain
Streaming with needles

It would not be moved

i said to myself
This man will be
My guide

And i embarked

It is a long road
A crowded
But lonely journey
Leading --

No one knows

But i know this:

i will grow
Only insofar
As i trust

Only insofar
As my fears
Are not my masters.

i will shout to you
From all along
This road

Streaming needles
Of love and longing
Lonely learning
A burning beacon
Shone on

Free from torment
At last
i am
On the long
Lonely road

--Mr. Gobley



They call it that
Because it is hard
And because it does not end
And you cannot leave it,
Though it may leave you.

It is a hardbitten,
Anglo-Saxon word,
The sound of an axe
Brought down
In bitterness
On the growth
Of a vast and lonely

Is a word
That followed us
From Eden,
Mocked us,
Made us sweat
And curse,
No matter
What we achieved.

We are supremely blessed
To know this curse:
Poised at the top of Creation
And yet held within it,
We alone
Know infinite toil:

As our bodies never stop
Regenerating, recycling,
Sorting --
Rejecting, Absorbing --
So we are alone
Among all creatures,
Sculpting ourselves
Out of sand,

Fashioning universes
Out of found objects
And each others'
Dangerous brilliance.

Say with me
This prayer:

Let my work
Be Your work.

Let my effort
Bear fruit.

Let my desire
Take wing.

i am
In Your employ.

My fruit
Is borne of
Your mighty tree.

i rise
Toward you,
Bearing that
Lightest of burdens:

What little
i have done
That might earn
And spread
Your blessing.

--Mr. Gobley


To Do List


The cycling of air
Begins the renourishment
Of all that lives.
Each breath, a miracle of
Endless genesis
Of beginningless life,
Is a promise fulfilled
Against staggering odds.


All senses
Connect all matter,
And all that matters.
To touch is to
Forge a link
And to grow strong:
Skin to sacred skin
Or sense to
We absorb
What is touched
And give back
To the Maker
A new blessing,
A new strength:
God is helped.


Do not cast yourself
In the mind's
Dwell in
The growing miracle
Of how much
You know:
That you at once
And partake
Means that you
Make meaning
Out of thin air.

My list says
Nothing else.

--Mr. Gobley