For Joseph Charles MacKenzie

Herein lies silence and serenity,
Along with untold tales of many men,
Mixing mud and straw, soon to be a home,
Where wives gave an hundred births dignity,

Often joy, tinged with great sadness, and then
Blood red roses bowed with bitter aplomb;
Outside, the waiting wind heaves a gusty
Sigh, hearing the triumph of birth anew,

Time is but the scratch of a finger-nail,
The scent of roses, dry, withered, musty:
Let my soul roam, through this ripe rendezvous,
Where life bewitched all with a babe’s bright wail.

The balustrades of bonding are ancient rites
Set in adobe walls where love alights.

© Sam Gilliland

Fr. Francis Miller, OFM

Residing in Scotland, Sam Gilliland is a champion of Lallans (the Scottish language) poetry and a recipient of Sangschaw’s prestigious MacDiarmid Tassie. With three previous collections of poetry published his work in Scots includes A Rickle O Banes (Penny Wheep Press). Founder/Secretary of Ayrshire Writers & Artists Society the organisation became the home of The Scottish International Open Poetry Competition, to which he devoted twenty eight years of his life as co-administrator and judge.

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2 Responses

  1. ben grinberg

    the southwest

    being in sedona
    the old indian winds
    mixed with new american eyes
    time stood still
    as clouds flew by

    one day it was snow
    one day red hot arizona
    and then there’s adobe
    and friars
    no end to this place
    desert hazel aroma

  2. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    I am greatly honoured by Mr. Gilliland’s exquisite verses which are directly inspired by the photograph of Fr. Francis in El Rancho de las Golondrinas in the ancient Spanish hamlet of La Cienega just outside of Santa Fe.

    The image is that of a morada, a kind of village oratory specific to our penitente culture in New Mexico. Here, the penitente confradias would meet at least three times a day to sing their alabados and antiphonally chant the psalms of the Franciscan office. The daily Rosary was also sung in the moradas in a most peculiar way.

    Thus, Christianity was preserved in North America for some 400 years often in the absence of the Franciscan missionaries who were too few to accommodate the outlying villages of northern New Mexico. It is appropriate that a Franciscan whose faith is strictly speaking identical to that of his forebears who created New Mexico should also be represented in the image.

    Even more profound is the homage Mr. Gilliland pays to my people and our traditional culture by this very charming sonnet.

    Truly, poetry transcends oceans.


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