Poem: Fat Contented Ladies

I took this photograph of a decorative electric light bulb and lamp at the Louis H. Lattimer Museum in Queens.
photo credit: Greig Roselli*
the fat contented ladies with their
formaldehyde eyeliner, pat expressions -
flit around like wearied gods
looking for a handout, a dimpled whisper -

I can’t stand ‘em
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*I took this photograph of a decorative electric light bulb and lamp at the Louis H. Lattimer Museum in Queens.


Of Carmelites and African Greys

Brother Gabriel Rivet, OSB
In a mostly abandoned seminary building I climb a flight of stairs, pass two meowing cats and knock on the door of an old prefect’s office to rendezvous (as I do every Saturday afternoon) with Gabriel Rivet, a monk of Saint Joseph Abbey, a Benedictine monastery on the outskirts of Covington, Louisiana, a bedroom community of New Orleans. The office is musty, retired parrot feathers garner the air and there is a strong scent of vegetables, parrot mix and the lulling hum of daytime television. “Mostly to entertain her,” Gabriel tells me pointing to the African Grey who does, in fact, seem to be watching TV, her head cocked to one side, intent, soaking it all in. Newspapers line the bottom of Jocko’s cage, old Times Picayunes and church bulletins; Br. Gabriel is exceedingly insistent that I place three layers of print to cover Jocko’s cage and to make sure I secure the edges with scotch tape. While he prepares Jocko’s egg – a treat the avian companion gets every afternoon – we talk about Saint Thérèse, Saint Benedict and monasticism. “You want your egg, Jocko?” Gabriel croons, motioning to the bird with a plate he places on top of the cage. Jocko knows the routine and determinedly climbs up to eat her fill of the yellow yolk. Usually, the monk, who will celebrate his fiftieth year of monastic profession this summer, offers me the white of the egg. “It’s not good for her. No nutritional value.”


Poem: "On the steps of my porch"

    Never imagined to what extent love could take me,

    to which crevice it would find a home
    in my body
    and dwell there ...

    a place love could harbor and
    somehow blossom,
    take root in a wound −
    this mixed up home of sinew and blood,
    love has discovered a smile −

    an embrace that I did not expect,
    in the form of you,
    at the steps,
Image Source: © 2004 Greig Roselli


Video: First Profession of a Benedictine Monk

"Accept me Lord as you have promised so that I may live and let me not be put to shame in my hope"
Psalm 31:17

In the Benedictine monastery of Saint Joseph in Saint Benedict Louisiana, monks of the Swiss-American Congregation pledge their first monastic vows in the presence of the abbot, their fellow monastic brothers, and the community gathered in the Abbey Church. 

When a monk takes his first vows (or, temporary vows), he has pledged stability, obedience, and conversion to the monastic way of life for up to a three year period, after which he is free to petition for solemn profession, which is a permanent vow.

In case you didn't know:
Benedictine monks take three vows:

Stability - The monk chooses to live out his life with a particular monastic community.

Obedience - The monk pledges obedience to the abbot of the monastery.

Conversion to the Monastic Way of Live - The monk lives his life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict.
Video Source: © 2003 Greig Roselli


Poem: "Car Stereo"

A man in a business suit and tie sits and reads a report while riding in a crowded commuter train on the northeast corridor.

Dvořák strums his fingers on the dashboard,
a melodic lilt to the tune of lips.

Bells ring successively, a resonant thud that
dispels the cold (morning), an evocation
of circles in disturbed coffee,
stained Styrofoam forgets about the lingering smell.
Empty cans shift near the axles by my feet.
I stoop to catch one before the exposed tram
wheel slices my hand from my wrist,
(my body parts would’ve been strewn there. music dissonant)

as Praha descends and ascends,
sucker green-licked traffic lights,
the handicap tick, tick, ticking –
A.I. good Samaritans –
and Rita stares as Brahms plays on her RCA;

she massages her left leg, her mind returns to plans,
abuse and peanut butter –
Olivia coos: astonishment over the frigidity
of her utilitarian security

Dvořák strums his fingers on Praha
like the rhythm of the Communist-planned subway.
The dashboard’s littered with defunct bills -
theatre tickets, plastic, Aspercreme, and hosiery –
the lusty (morning), an evocation of
lingering dichondra. The music is a chorus
of malcontent girls and boys.

The car stereo statics, shifts
to the arrangement of cobblestones.

The music is a chorus of digested notes,
garbled eruptions, masticated syncopation,
uniform stares.

Rita’s listless, schizoid hands fixed
on the vinyl seat cover, fixed
on unfinished plans.
The security belt
warms Olivia’s skin; Blue emits from the tracks; 
Dvořák drives by
thinking of sex and royal fudge
as we all sit and relax,
trammeled by the astonishment of evocation,
snow collecting, rotting – a wolf in the thicket,
the tolls of Saint Vitus evoke in my ears.
Image Source: © 2001 Zachary Morrison