Thomas Holahan, CSP

Contributor Biography

Thomas Holahan is a Catholic priest living in New York City. He has conducted poetry workshops in Boulder, Colorado and Berkeley, California. Often his poetry takes on the quest for the transcendent in the ordinary world, supporting the belief that God can always be found there. He leads a poetry collective and an email discussion group. He has recently been published in Listening and The Ekphrastic Review.

Chandeliers of Saint Paul’s Chapel

Shimmery now from subway tremors,

they hang, fracturing the light

of New York City in all directions.

 

Bought from the Dutch some two hundred

years ago, they disappeared when gas

succeeded candles

but made a comeback

with electricity.

 

Fragile yet tenacious, their facets

mirrored the Twin Towers’ end and

the ashy aftermath and

the glassy arrow point façade of

Tower One,

just across the street,

beyond the graveyard.

 

Shimmery from heartbeats, sinewy

from memory,

their lights

still burn.

To an Amaryllis

Some suffering came to you,

an early frost, a knife cut,

a fungal invasion.

 

Reeling, you began your long smooth

stem, knowing by rote

the way.

But flowering,

that immodest breaking

forth,

proved too much.

By summer’s end

you withered to the ground.

 

Never would I have known,

from that green stalk,

your troubles.

 

Some suffering had come to you,

an early frost, a knife cut,

a fungal invasion.

Fragile War

The materiel of war can quickly fill

an ocean, field or sky.

Its bulk and sometimes its

complexity all focused for impact.

Some objects can wait

decades to mistakenly

explode in a new school’s

playground.

Others easily slip from the air

when one wing flap

disintegrates.

And the silent machines propelled

through water must hold tight

not to sink.

Even entombed in museums,

dust and rust and the sun’s

unfiltered rays

age the means of war,

just as the thin skin of a soldier,

if not pierced by metal or

molecule, is withered

by the time it takes to live.

War Heritage Museum

Brussels, Belgium

When It Became Mine

This Christmas a friend sent me

a handmade card

with just a star on the front.

 

Inside it read:

For every searching heart,

a shining star

 

I hadn’t thought I warranted a star.

 

It was then

I looked into the sky.

Terminal

Blue plastic rosary beads

clutched,

dentures out,

thin from illness

she declares,

“I had a good life.”

 

Not my first

conclusion.

So I ask,

“What prayers do you

remember?”

 

What else

could she have?

“The Artist is Present”

—for Marina Abramović

 

there is a door

narrower than the ones

you know

 

there is a room

wider than

you can see

 

. . .

 

only the prepared

can divest themselves

completely

 

only the exposed

can reveal

every secret

 

. . .

 

the dream that suffering

brings

is holy

 

the place

where we are found

is sacred

 

the one

who passes carefully through

is redeemed

Dennis Yeo

Contributor Biography

In a career spanning over thirty years, Dennis Yeo has taught elementary, secondary, junior college and tertiary levels. He currently lectures at the English Language and Literature Academic Group, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His poem, "The Statute of Liberty", was one of the winners in Poetry Festival (Singapore) 2017. His first short story, "Close to You", is in A View of Stars: Stories of Love

Resurgam

Arms outstretched the second

the bullet pierced flesh, spilled blood

and dissected soul from body.

Wearing civilian clothes, he was

one of us, born of woman,

mortal, alive and capable

of dying. 

 

His rifle, his sceptre, falls from his right hand,

no pain or anger in his tilted visage,

just submission to a higher plan.

The time was here.

The work was done.

He was finished. 

 

We hide as it were our faces from this.

Who was he? Where is this hill?
Did it happen? Or was it all 

staged so that those who believe

will see him

Living, not dying,

the moment eternalised

for the new world to see:

this falling soldier

as he fell.

Author's Note:

This poem was written based on Robert Capa’s famous war photograph, The Falling Soldier, which was taken during the Spanish Civil War. Spain and the Philippines share a common history in that the Philippines was part of the Spanish empire for three hundred years and was the sole Spanish colony in Asia. During the Spanish Civil War, Filipino volunteers fought for both sides in the war.

Faiiling Soldier Photo.jpeg

The photo appears to capture a Republican soldier at the very moment of his death. Following its publication, the photograph was acclaimed as one of the greatest ever taken, but since the 1970s, there have been significant doubts about its authenticity due to its location, the identity of its subject, and the discovery of staged photographs taken at the same time and place. Richard Whelan in This is War! Robert Capa at Work says that this is “a photograph that one believes to be genuine but that one cannot know with absolute certainty to be a truthful documentation”.

 

The insignificant death of one soldier takes on symbolic value. This resonates with the sacrifice of Christ on Golgotha. The event of Christ’s death remains one that is fundamental to our faith, though it is cast with accusations of fabrication and invention.