for Gloria (1934-2013)

Tough, keen, opinionated, shrewd:
Collected junk, shared what she found
With those who shared her roof and food,
With those who shared her daily round.

She prayed her daily round of beads.
She loved the ancient Latin Rite,
The Athanasian among creeds,
Allied with Michael in the fight.

Her children chose religious life —
At least most did. It was the strict
Strange convents, often found in strife
With mainstream Catholics that they picked.

And when they laid their mom to rest
The casket’s hinged half-open lid
From head to foot was pinkly dressed
With roses, prayerwise garlanded.



Bear of God

for Fr. Arvydas (1958-2011)

__As tall as God’s own bear,
Robed in a cassock, weighing in his hands
A golden rosary, immense and rare,
____He led the way
__To where the cemetery stands,
Led the procession to the dead’s abode
Down the brown broad autumnal road
____That All Souls’ Day.

__Then they recalled how he,
Ignoring the officials with the hearse
Who moved the sheet where he had marked the cross,
____Formed it again
__Directly on the coffin’s wood,
Let the dirt trickle from his massive paw,
Then paced into the hills to pray, withdraw,
____Head wet with rain.



Monika Cooper is an American family woman.

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22 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    2 striking memorials, Monika. Archbp. Bergoglio recently regretted strife among Catholics (“Prayerwise”). Now even consistent critics of the pope are starting to think of (some?) orthodox Catholics as at odds with the true Church. Maybe the contention would subside if there were more priests like your Fr. Arvydas.

    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you, Julian, and thank you for the introduction to Archbishop Broglio. I don’t know if you’ve also noticed but there seems to be a multiplication of slips-of-the-tongue lately, some of them really troubling. I think our language is being attacked on multiple fronts and the imp of the perverse is having a field day. All the more reason for us to write poems that are as clear and prismatic as we can make them.

      I hardly knew Fr. Arvydas but that didn’t matter. I’ll never forget him. There are few like him but each is a light in the darkness.

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        Since the error in my response has not been corrected (auto-correct triumphs again) maybe I’ll just refer to people by initials and context will tell readers whether B means Biden, Bergoglio, or maybe Byron.

  2. Daniel Kemper

    These carefully, prayerfully crafted little gems caught and held my attention. I’m not a Catholic, but have a chosen-brother who is, and the first poem’s ending in roses reminded me distinctly of a miracle he actually witnessed/was part of. –Just after long, difficult prayer work with a saint, in the car on the way back in the dead of a San Antonio winter, the car filled with the overwhelming scent of roses. Others in the car caught it too. That’s her calling card, the saint.

    Anyway, I love the balance, pace, precision of these poems. Looking for more of your work!

    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you so much, Daniel. Beautiful miracle story. Was your brother’s saint Little Therese, by any chance?

  3. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Those are two preciously crafted prayerful homages for those who made a difference in life. I can feel your abiding love for them and admiration for how they lived. You touched me with your caring for them in your classically rhymed poetry.

  4. James Sale

    Yes, I agree with the comments of others: these are wonderfully crafted pieces, and the craft creates a touching sincerity seemingly beyond artifice. Well done.

  5. Margaret Coats

    Lovely pair of portraits for November, Monika, each redolent with the odor of sanctity. May they rest in peace. Each poem has precisely beautiful ending lines. The conclusion for the priest implies his identity as “another Christ,” withdrawing to pray alone.

    • Monika Cooper

      Margaret, you would pick up on the Gospel allusion there and I’m very glad you did. I wanted this poem to point to Christ as one particular priest made him present. I wrote to Julian above that “there are few like him” but, as I kept naming and remembering them to myself, I began to see again the stars between the stars. The fact is, that the stars among our priests are mostly invisible until we start to try to count them. Thank you for your comment here in the midst of so much else. As ever, it means a lot to me.

      • Margaret Coats

        You are right, Monica. As “other Christs,” good priests are stars placed among us, but often unnoticed. Each is an individual, but they reflect the same image. Happy thanksgiving!

      • Monika Cooper

        Happy thanksgiving, Margaret! The Lord has done all things abundantly.

  6. C.B. Anderson

    As always, Monika, you manage to dig deep into the heart of matters, which is exactly what I would expect from “an American family woman.” Stay with us, because your words ring truer than most, and we would be diminished without them.

    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you for your words, C. B. It’s such a honor to ride with you and the other poets here. May our words ring ever truer and we be made ever more perfect instruments. Because the world needs the truth!

  7. Sally Cook

    Dear Monika –
    It is so true that we are lacking in any sort of truth today.
    IOnce, in high school I felt an overwhelming feeling one of my best
    one of my best teachers would teacher would never return to the classroom I knew this because at that moment the room fill

    ed with a surfeit of ee3licate the odor of roses. I took s truth, which it was.=======

    Your poems have that ring of truth about.

    rhe .

    was an overwhelming

    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you, Sally. Strange moment that must have been, knowing your teacher would not be back, but seems like there was a blessing in it. There’s a blessing in the breath of roses, even and especially when you can’t see them.


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