Easter Evening Appearance

Luke 24

Sealed up within my upper room,
Absorbed by morbid discontent
And fear, I questioned everything
I’ve done and wondered what it meant.
Though slim perspective chided me
And better angels gently mocked,
When I’m alone there in that room,
The door is pretty firmly locked.

Then suddenly He’s there with me.
At first I reckon Him the ghost
Of my desire, the haunting form
Of all my soul holds uppermost.
But then He questions my dismay;
Shows me His wounds and bids me peace.
And as He speaks of suffering,
I know at last a strange release.




Ode to a Photo of My Father

_He glows there with his northern pike
As through the mists of Time and Polaroid,
_A vision of success the like
Of which the Big Bear crowd had not enjoyed
_Since August last at very least.
__It long had been his wish
To tangle with and conquer such a beast,
While I, not wanting to impoverish
His joy, stayed safely back from such a fish.



Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Agape Review, America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review, U.S. Catholic, Grand Little Things, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

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8 Responses

  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    Luke 24 is such a beautifully haunting and joyful part of the Gospel story, and you have given this part of it such a quietly triumphant tone here, from the perspective of someone who has been crushed in spirit by Christ’s death and doesn’t yet know of His resurrection. You’ve described his frame of mind succinctly, and quietly yet powerfully. I love the line, “And better angels gently mocked.” (I imagine the poet looking for a rhyme for “locked”, and having the aha-moment about that line when he thought of “mocked”.) “At first I reckon Him the ghost / Of my desire…” is a psychologically insightful line, as well! This is a haunting, peaceful, and joyful poem all at once. In “Ode”, “As through the mists of Time and Polaroid” is my favorite line.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    The Easter poem is subdued and “laid back,” as the colloquial speech has it. This goes along with the ambience of Luke 24, where events of an astoundning and earthshaking nature are dealt with in a somewhat quiet and restrained manner. The women coming with ointment and spices to the empty tomb, the appearance of angels, Peter seeing the empty tomb himself, those on the road to Emmaus, and the initial perception that the visible Jesus was a spirit — all this seems to generate a reaction of repressed amazement, as if what had been foretold was impossible of fulfillment, and therefore the human mind would explode if it did not resist it at first.

    Essmann’s poem captures this kind of psychological reaction. The speaker in the upper room seems trapped and resigned to his emotional lowness. And when consolation comes, he can barely believe it. But he must, because it is so real.

  3. Margaret Coats

    What a wonderful personal apparition on Easter evening! Each appearance of Jesus during the day has its own personal quality to the unexpecting viewer, and that is what you, Jeffrey, manage to convey in your own style. The “strange release” must have been felt by all, however they reacted thereupon, and your choice of words for it again brings you into their company.

    And is that you in the background of your father’s photo with his prize pike? Most appropriate to explain your appearance and non-appearance by taking that “extra rhyme” out of the 7-line poem and using it in a rhyming couplet conclusion.

  4. Roy Eugene Peterson

    “Easter Evening Appearance” is a precious poem dealing with extremes of emotion from abject sorrow to sudden surprise and wonderment. This is such a fitting poem for Easter and an inspiration.

    “Ode to a Photo of My Father” is another precious poem paying homage to a loved one who had attained one of his greatest wishes in life. You must have had several emotions staying back from the Polaroid photo-taking.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    “Easter Evening Appearance” is a glorious ray of hope to melt the morbid discontent of fear’s dark abyss. I love the mention of that “upper room” – just the place to be when one is tormented by earthly ills. The closing line is beautiful… I can feel the relief of that miraculous moment.

    I like the way in “Ode to a Photo of My Father”, you manage to breathe life into a cherished piece of sepia-tinted history allowing this reader to feel Dad’s excitement and his son’s joy and trepidation. Beautifully written! Jeffrey, thank you!

  6. Jeffrey Essmann

    Thanks so much, everyone, and a blessed Easter to you all.

    When Evan first told me he was posting these two together, I wondered at the juxtaposition. But now I see, reading them through again in light of your very kind comments, that the through-line of the two pieces is a strange joy–at the miraculous and at the mundane. So happy to have been able to share it with you all. Thanks again.

  7. Warren Bonham

    I very much enjoyed both of these! We’re all fishing for something.

  8. jd

    Have come to these quite late, Jeffrey, but both are beautiful as is the painting of St. Luke. Thank you.


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