Marjorie Maddox

Contributor Biography

Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); four children’s and YA books—including Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises and A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry, Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems, I’m Feeling Blue, Too! (2021 NCTE Notable Poetry Book)—Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry (assistant editor); and over 650 stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. She is the great grandniece of Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who helped break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball. The recipient of numerous awards, she gives readings and workshops around the country. Forthcoming in 2022 are her books Begin with a Question (Paraclete Press), as well as her ekphrastic collaboration with photographer Karen Elias, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts). Please see www.marjoriemaddox.com. 

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries

i.

Watch and pray but they are soon dead

asleep, the garden’s glory withering beneath

the woes they’ve closed their ears to. Behold

how their eyes refuse to see the body’s betrayals—

the hour is at hand—the mind’s murky memory

of belief loosened like the scattered silver

of dew upon that very morning’s branches

the Son of Man is... and they stretch, 

yawn, Rise, let us be going

ii.

 

Skin continues the lament: 

torso and limbs now twisted tissue

beneath the blood-cloaked Divine. Still,

He bows not to Pilate but that Other’s will, 

some soldier’s purple robe heavy 

on his wounded shoulders. Even now, 

the chief priests’ screams are crows

pecking at the Light.

iii.

 

Brow tattered by crown,

arms battered, He holds tight

our sins wound about that reedy scepter.

All hail the King they jeer, 

then kneel in mock tribute. 

Beneath the darkening skies,

they spit, then strip Him.

 

iv.

What does the world weigh

slit this way, infused with sorrow? 

The bones of betrayal are wood 

nailed with pain. When the stranger

lifts the tree, the God-man stumbles, 

falls, half-blind rises again, 

staggers foot after foot

toward the foretold.

v.

In the collapse of sky: 

hyssop and vinegar lifted;

tunic and spirit torn asunder.

What is left is dark pit,

thunder moaning, 

the mutilated body,

the Mother’s devastated heart.

His cracked It is finished 

echoes all the way

to the cave soon emptied

of doubt and what we

once were before Mercy

overtook the Garden.

Overboard

—after the painting “Jonah”

    by James Patrick Reid

Ready to swallow the fallen, the sea swells.

“The waters want me,” Jonah cries,

running, running, always running away. Called

 

to Nineveh, he fled the other way. Holed

up on a ship with his tempest of lies,

the fallen one is ready to be swallowed. The sea swells.

 

O great whale arise, each tooth a sword

aimed at the deserter. City and ship compromised,

the man’s running, running, always running away. Called

 

by the God we’re fleeing, like Jonah, we’re swallowed whole.

A mercy, this digestion of grace. Internalized,

we’re readied to swallow our fallenness. See how guilt swells

 

to epiphany and penance, here in the beast’s belly. 

In the foul cavern of ribs, Spirit swims in to evangelize  

the one running, running, always running away; He calls

 

and claims His own for three dark days, until captor expels

its captive, resurrection prophesized for the capsized,

the ready. Here, the fallen swallowed, mercy swells

always, the savior still running, running, running toward. Calling.

Genealogy

Chavah

when He breathed

into you—sleek bone chalice

where spirit un-caged choice—

and His wind swirled up and out

of you, Mother of All Living

to her, Mother of All Who Truly Live,

to him, Second Adam, the same 

naming of breath, chest, lips as the one

sleeping so still beside you, 

First Adam’s eyes (and yours) 

not yet seeing/tasting/knowing

that sweet breeze of Holy, tempered tsunami

that whirls and weaves the world together. 

O sacred heritage:

this creator/descendant resurrecting 

your dust into twin already cleansed

and choosing birth of the swaddled son, 

the one who breathed pure into her, 

Mother Mary, but first life into you,

Chavah.

Cracks

 

"Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush....

in the home begins the disruption of peace in the world."

 

—Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa keeps 

strumming and singing

Chapin’s “Cat’s in the

Cradle” in my hustle-

and-bustle on-constant-

replay dream where I 

 

never get to where I’m

trying to go, that universal

workaholic nightmare, don’t-           

step-on-the-cracks reality is

reality, the everyday kind

of power-walking the turn

 

around the corner that’s one

big square of Tantalus-tempting

glaring future that hasn’t started  

yet, never will, those damned

cracks thinking we have time

for fear, which, of course, is

 

all our time, these constant

blocks building apprehension

after apprehension, until sure

enough, there’s no room left

for cracks, our one way to hear

Mother T’s needed song.

Full of Grace

and that one-true Good,

your Magnificat soothes

our mournings,

cradles a world sad 

with its own un-doing.

 

Mother Mary,

hold our earth-stained hands;

let us crawl on the lap

that held Him.

Voices Raised

—Ephesians 2:19

No longer strangers and foreigners,

we’re fellow citizens with the saints—

 

native and naturalized jointly

inhabitants of the ethereal,

 

mercy in perpetuity—

a claim so strange it rewrites

 

all requirements of residency, 

every psyche’s by-laws. 

 

No longer partitioned off 

by sin, by regret, by self-righteousness;

 

on reservations, on street corners; 

behind walls; behind barbed wire; 

 

behind preconceived Hallelujahs & Amens;

flat blessings and fat curses

 

of who, what, where, when, why 

we are; behind and for all, yes

 

we sing acapella & instrumental,

harmony & melody;

 

we sing citizenship & pledge;

throughout the holy household, 

 

with our off-key, shrill, and wobbly

human notes, by God we sing!

Hierarchy

—Ephesians 1:2; 3:7, 8, 13-15, 20

Less than 

Paul’s less than

the least of all saints,

 

I full-swoon tribulations,

melodramatically tumble off

the pedestals of grace,

 

arrive sprawled and spread-eagled

in the Victorian-style parlor

of “Peace be with you.”

 

Cut off at my once-bowed knees,

I’ve lost sight of any inner woman

in need of strengthening what once

 

was Sabbath-strong by the effectual power

of His working but now in need

of stones and less than

        

his less than

          the least of all saints

full swoon                   tumbling

       

cut off

less than

Paul’s less than

 

unable to do exceeding abundantly

the least.  

  Peace be with

 

all the less than’s,

grace fainting daily 

into Amen,

into above all 

that we ask,

cry, think;

 

grace be to you the less-than’s, the

broken, and daily pieces of peace.

Author's Note:

"Overboard" was a finalist for the Catholic Literary Arts 2021 Sacred Arts Contest.

"Genealogy" was a finalist for the Catholic Literary Arts 2020 Advent Contest Celebration: Waiting with Mary the Mother of God During Advent. The poem

appeared on their website in December 2020.

"Cracks" and "Full of Grace" were previously published in US Catholic.

"Voices Raised" was previously published in Poems for Ephesians.

"Hierarchy" was previously published in Mockingbird.

Rose Adams

Contributor Biography

Rose Adams is a visual artist and poet living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She teaches at NSCAD University. As a poet, she has published in numerous literary journals including The Antigonish Review, Grain, and Prism. She has two chapbooks, published by Bitterzoet Press (Chicago) and the QEII Hospital (Halifax). She often writes poetry that “dialogues” with her paintings. She has two children and lives with her dog and parrot.

Sunrise in the Basement of the Atlantic Christian Training Centre

At the piano, dark forgotten varnish and yellow ivory keys

I open a book to Granny’s hymns. In my mind,

I’m back in the corner of my mother’s house

in the tidy grey and pink upstairs room

where the pump organ was lodged

after it was saved  

when furniture was thrown on the fire, 

the spinning wheel a blazing circle   

when granny “broke-up” housekeeping

                                                  with a vengeance.

 

Granny would sit on her organ throne

pumping away with her heron thin translucent legs  

her voice holding to the last note of “God Save My Soul”

or “Nearer My God To Thee”,  

notes wavering in the air.

 

Playing and singing these hymns in institutional silence

my voice is a wake for the white straw hat ribbons trailing

                                                                               behind

as I walked to Sunday School summer mornings.   

Closeted in a dark cement basement, dirty yellow walls

on wooden benches six inches off the floor,   

a print of Jesus placed up high at the ceiling

where brown sienna clouded his head

and tiny red and yellow warblers 

fluttered by his glowing halo.

 

I sat patiently, ribbons lying flat on my back,

patent shoes trying to stay unmarked

waiting for Junior Choir when I would put on the flowing white robe,

sing those high clear notes, and my wings would let me fly

to the top of the ceiling to hover with the birds  

in the picture while feeling

the warmth of the halo on my wings.