Scripture Nightmare

Supposedly You will spit people out
if they’re lukewarm and don’t love You enough,
so onto life’s afflictions and its doubt
we’ve got to add some other awful stuff:
the visions ancient people had of You
as angry, punitive, abusive dad,
who’d hurl us into hell for what we do–
if we’re not good enough or still too bad.
But I have had to spit out such a view,
that haunted, nearly driving me insane,
and damaged and killed many others too,
that’s deemed as sacred, but I find profane.
No, I can’t swallow, needing so much help,
a God by whom we’re spit instead of held.


Mario A.Pita

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Prayer Surprise

For Amy

You lay down on your bed as evening fell
and sank into an overwhelming gloom,
with hopelessness the only thing you felt
as night fell in your mind and in your room.
And you prayed for a sign of happiness,
that you believed you’d never feel again,
the world and life itself an awful mess
of misery that lasts till who knows when.
But when you went outside to water blooms,
a praying mantis landed on your hand,
dispelling in an instant all your glooms
through a sign that you could understand:
as if with some fun pun for you He played,
God sent a praying mantis when you prayed.

The Praying Mantis, Kim Hamrock

Mario A. Pita

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Soul Castles

For Marion Shore

A castle made of sand could not be kept
from being flattened by indifferent tides,
and when you thought of its demise you wept,
for nothing, in the end, it seems, abides.
The platitudes that half-consoled your kids
could also not withstand the waves’ assault
so that your woe flowed forth below eyelids
and burned with what the sea is full of—salt.
But in this world of beauties and of hassles,
of blisses mixed with ennui and woe,
we feel that we build models—like sand castles—
of things not dragged off in an undertow.
While loss of what can’t last has left us sore,
eternal castles line an imagined shore.

Photo: William Cho/Creative Commons

Mario A. Pita

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Mandala Family

for RAY

Mandalas weren’t of interest to me
until I saw the one that you had drawn,
a meditative, soothing one to see,
from which some offspring afterward would spawn,
when, based on yours, I and my family
employed the template you had labored on
to make our own mandalas happily,
before a Sunday afternoon was gone.
All that I know of you is what you drew
and that by some mind dog you have been bitten,
yet though you’re not someone I ever knew,
I dedicate these words that I have written
to telling you, in case some dark mood smothers,
through art you can bring happiness to others.


Mario A. Pita

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Summer Rescue

for Darioush

When you had swum and rose to leave a pond,
a force you can’t define bid you to stand,
to scan the shoreline and the waves beyond.
Not knowing why, you followed its command.
You saw then two young women, drowning, screaming.
A lifeguard raced but was too far to help.
You dove to them through water swiftly streaming,
returning them to shore, in your arms held.
But you don’t like the story to be told,
and joked you saved them since they were so pretty,
nor do you feel you did a thing that’s bold.
Had you not been there—what an awful pity:
their countless life dreams would have sunk to zero,
but you were there to save them, humble hero.

Mario A. Pita 

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Father Catharsis

for Dad


When I was little and I wished to learn
to play a piano, you shot down that wish
as something that a growing boy should spurn,
because you felt that it was sissyish.
You came from where machismo was the norm,
with chauvinism of a stubborn sort,
and seemed discouraged that I didn’t conform,
and I loved books and didn’t like a sport.
Now old and playing piano, I recall
with thankfulness that near your dying bed
those past concerns weren’t pertinent at all,
and I could hear great love in what you said:
“I hope you find someone. I hope you can,
and I wouldn’t even care if they’re a man.”

Keys #2, Debra Hurd


When I was small, you shut me in a closet
for something that I did that made you mad,
and though I don’t remember what had caused it,
I’ve often seen myself as being bad,
and justly and irrevocably locked
away, deprived of heaven with the dad
who made the universe and who had talked
with threats of hell far worse than those I had.
But you outgrew the dad that you had been,
repentant parent, bettering with age,
and I disarmed a harmful fear of sin,
of God as dad who’d lock me in a rage.
The closet door was opened. I could leave it.
If told that God is love, I can believe it.

Wild Fire, Alexandra Romano


When someone came to talk to me, I froze,
while we vacationed in the ‘sunshine state’
far from my elementary school and snows,
around a hotel table where we ate.
And when my classmate left, you shook your head,
interpreting as rudeness being shy,
and turning toward my sister sternly said
of me, “Shall you kill him, or shall I?”
Years later, I remember with dismay
the life that shyness cost me in my prime
but wish that you had not talked in this way
that made me perpetrator of a crime.
A truth may need a gentle way to say it.
My shyness grew tenfold. I couldn’t slay it.

David and Goliath by Gerard Stricher


“I wish I kept the family together”
you once exclaimed with palpable remorse,
its members staying joined as by a tether
that had been snipped in your and mom’s divorce.
“Your mother couldn’t love me anymore
because I had become a monkey.”—so
you told me in a hospital before
the final illness forcing you to go.
And I said nothing, sitting at your side,
although for years I had the same wish too,
that you had not split up, but that wish died,
replaced by separate hopes for mom and you.
Water under the bridge may beckon, yet
we have to cross, above the deep regret.

Bridge Over the Life, Leonid Afremov


You never told me of the birds and bees,
just asked if I had questions. I said “No”
embarrassed of all things to do with these,
though there was much for years I wouldn’t know.
Then something natural became a shame,
an undesired urge that I suppressed,
and later still I often felt the same;
a failure to control made me depressed.
Though I don’t blame you, still I wish you had
spoken then of birds and bees, so I
might not have made them cause for being sad
but welcomed them between the blooms and sky.
What gorgeous songs the birds then might have sung.
Instead, for years, I only felt bees stung.

Aug 13 Bees 6x6a.jpg
Bees, Karen Tarlton


When you and mom split up, I went with her,
not only physically but in my being—
moving far from who I thought you were
within my adolescent way of seeing.
While you were of the Earth, I wished to be
of unadulterated sky—a monk—
of mind unclouded by carnality
and never sink to any depths you’d sunk.
Instead, like Icarus, I flew and fell
and singed myself in grasping for the sun,
with ignorance and arrogance as well,
but there’s still hope for you and for your son:
we did and do our best with all the given
and pray our falls and failings are forgiven.

The Fall of Icarus, Ivan Gotsev


When I was twenty-two, I was confined,
committed not to love but to a ward—
as horrifying thoughts engulfed my mind,
and I became a person I abhorred.
“I never knew what that was all about”
you sadly said, yet I deemed it too late
to talk of while your suffering drowned out
my own: you neared your expiration date.
And I believed that I was fully cured
of youthful illness that assaulted me,
and didn’t know that what I had endured,
and suffer now, is Scrupulosity.
But I wish that no truth had been withheld
now that by my two arms you can’t be held.

The High Council Wolfang Lettl 2004 .PNG
The High Council, Wolfang Lettl, 2004


“You know now how a parent loves their kid”
you said, because I have one of my own,
as you embraced me right before death hid
your being in some dimension that’s unknown.
And love that’s sometimes hidden was in view
in your concern for me despite the illness
that in a short time would be taking you
to a place of silence and of stillness.
But when you last were sitting on the chair
in my apartment it wasn’t apparent to me,
while you were still in good health, full of care,
and that myopia has haunted memory:
for years, each night, I hugged the vacant air,
imagining you still were sitting there.

Armchair, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff


When I was young, I used a lens you bought
to magnify the planets and the moon,
so I could see details, not just a dot,
or a mockingbird sing right up-close a tune.
Yet though I saw into the depths of space,
I couldn’t see your depths of love and joy
before your final illness and embrace,
when I no longer was a fledgling boy.
But now I see what hadn’t been apparent,
your helpfulness and qualities within you,
your work as volunteer and friend and parent,
the kinds of work I hope I can continue.
Errors may have left a trail of scars,
but through the darkness we have seen the stars.

Starry Night Over The Rhone, Vincent Van Gogh

Mario A. Pita

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For Emily

As “Pomp and Circumstance” played through loud speakers,
you entered in procession with your class
of gleeful, graduating High School seniors,
and tears erupted as I watched you pass,
and I had not expected I would cry,
although this was a milestone event,
yet tears slid down my face that had been dry,
a flood I could do nothing to prevent.
As ocean water surges on a shore,
my salty tears surged on your milestone,
moved by the moment and the years before,
your reaping for the efforts you had sown.
I wept as I saw you amidst the crowd,
as I was happy for you, and am proud.


Mario A. Pita

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