Psalm CIV: Benedic, Anima Mea

O praise the Lord, my soul. The aspens sigh
As high above Mount Axtell in blue sky
The hawk cries out God’s glory, and the clouds
Grow to a thunderhead that blots and crowds
Out light. The Lord’s electric bolts flash down
Demonstrative on forests and the town:
If He but touch the hills they quake and smoke.
The mighty crashes scare and deafen folk
As far as the elegant condos. Now the sun
Returns, and shines on pumas as they run
On highest peaks, who seek their meat from God
And range down after deer on trails I trod
Before the rain, composing hymns of praise
To sing in aspen country all my days.



Psalm CXLIV: Benedictus Dominus

The Lord’s bright lightning strikes sharp Whetstone’s peak;
We see how small man is beneath these skies.
Deliver us, O Lord, for we are weak,
From preachers of new vanities and lies.
O bless the Lord, our castle and our shield,
Who cares for us though we are small poor things;
Who guards our sleek fine Herefords in this field
Slaked by canals from Whetstone’s snow-fed springs.
We pray our sons grow tall in our green county
And daughters ski high ridges in deep snow
And summers yield us tons of hay, good bounty;
We’ll savor August sweetness when we mow.
O keep us from the peril of the sword;
O save our peace and well-loved pastures, Lord.



Psalm CLVI: Domine, Extra Intellectum

O Lord beyond the ken of any mind,
We hope for peace and plenty on our earth;
For prudence, true compassion, and no lies
From leaders who we see are full of vice.
O Lord of galaxies, our human kind
Knows history shows our prayers have little worth.
What then to do but mutter and chastise?
But will complaints and grimaces suffice?
O Lord, we can do much if we are brave
Confronting those who fake the truth for gain;
Ours is a fair Republic we can save
Together in a strong and straight campaign
That works to make us free of haughty men,
Free of foul threats, equal and proud again.



Peter Bridges has been hiking and climbing for three decades in the West Elk Mountains near Crested Butte, Colorado. He holds degrees from Dartmouth and Columbia and spent a career in the U.S. Foreign Service, ending as ambassador to Somalia. His diplomatic memoir, Safirka: An American Envoy, and the biographies of two once famous Americans, John Moncure Daniel and Donn Piatt, were published by Kent State University Press. He has self-published a second memoir, Woods Waters Peaks: A Diplomat Outdoors, and a volume of a hundred Sonnets from the Elk Mountains. His articles, essays, and poems have appeared in American Diplomacy, Eclectica, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and elsewhere.

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4 Responses

  1. Leo Zoutewelle

    Peter, your psalms speak to us with irresistible energy! Thanks,

  2. Rod

    Peter these are absolutely beautiful poems ! I have never been to Colorado ( though I did recently watch a documentary on the life of John Denver) but you have made me feel like I have. I was also reminded of John Greenleaf Whittier as I read. There’s nothing better than to see our Creator’s creation creating – thank you for sharing.

  3. C.B. Anderson


    There’s nothing like mountains. For three years I lived in Blue, Arizona (look it up on google maps), and in many ways the experience transformed me. I only wish I’d gotten out of the valley more often, but I was tied to a garden beside the Blue River, an alternative version of the Lord’s bounty.


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