Prayer for the Subway

I roar past
Old bones
Through centuries
Of Exhalation

Cubes of light
Become the semaphore
Of locomotion
Tunnels of tile
Are running ellipses

I examine silhouettes
Divine the auras
Of commuters

Read the same ads
Over and over:
Mantras that move

We all
Bow our heads
In prayer for each other
And sway in unison
To the screeching song
Of the iron choir

We ask
For the safe arrival
The timely departure

The peaceful ride
Toward the next ride
And the next
And the next

--Mr. Gobley


Prayer for Waiting in Line

i thank
God and Gravity
that i can stand.

i thank those
who are waiting
to serve me
for expending moments
of their lives
so that they
may help
me with mine.

i thank
the Mysterious Maker
for the back
of this woman's head,
her twisted braids,
her flowered blouse:

and i thank this same
for giving me the
fevered imagination
that lets me conjure
her life story
while we wait.

This emptiest
of moments
is so full of
and sensation
that i must leave off
telling of it
and get to
living it --

--Mr. Gobley


After the Ritual

The chairs are askew,
And the children
Are tousled
And smeared with food --
Walking palettes,
Paused at life's messy canvas.

The men fold tables,
The women make
With dish towels
And speak
Of who will host
Next year.

The air is moist,
Smelling of spilled wine
And spent thunderstorms.

The teenagers resume watching
Sex and the City;
The elders
Conduct gentle inquisitions
Of their granddaughters'

The majesty of the moment
Has departed,
But in its gentle wake
Is the ageless
Wonder of all
That we may come to know --

And rest, rest:
The relief
And the exultation
Of the newly dead.

--Mr. Gobley


To Be What We Are Not

We are so eager
To be
What we are not
That we never
Quite become
What we are.

We are so hungry
To have
What we lack
That we never
Truly possess

i have never
been myself
until this
fleeting moment;

and yet,
the moment
is gone,

and so,
am i.

--Mr. Gobley


In Memory of a Spiritual Mentor: 1908-1971

You were like no one else.

Everything about you
was open
to everything about you.

Even your skin
was the color
of all people,
as if to remind

that our skin
is no identity badge
but a canvas
upon which
the history
of our souls
is painted.

You saw,
into this world,
and through it
to others.

You loved me --
of this i am certain --
in part because you saw that,
with the unknowing omniscience
of a child,
i loved God.

You taught
with your eyes.

Your soul
burned for God,
shrank from praise,
retreated to its small
bright room
of plants
and icons,
there to reach
toward its Maker.

i cannot fathom,
cannot forgive
that, after all this,
you died alone.

And yet,
you have forgiven.
You have said as much.

And in this,
you live still:
bound back up
in eternal becoming
you wash the stones
on the other shore

and prepare a feast
of forgiveness
for those who come.

-- Mr. Gobley