These are the words of the first and the last
who holds the seven stars in his right hand.
The cloudless mornings now are overcast
and the first light of your golden lampstand
though not yet a shade, now darkens, dwindles.
You know the heft of love and quiet work;
know again the one who in you kindles
fire from driftwood and conjures from this murk
a light to banish shadows and the wraiths
that lurk therein. Do as you did at first
in the hour of your first love, first faith;
as an infant looks to the one who nursed
her through the long night, trust, come, draw near.
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.


Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
A boy saw his young neighbor steal his bike
so he followed him home to put the fear
of God in him. But the house was much like
his own, only it seemed colder, no coal
for winter, and the man who opened the door
made his son return the thing he stole
with white eyed tears and would have offered more
if he could. When the boy told the tale to
his mother, she halved the Christmas feast
and sent him back to the house with what few
dollars she could spare for even the least
of these. She worked without regret or frown;
though the poor suffer, they receive a crown.


Though the poor suffer, they receive a crown.
But others wear their crowns today in Rome
and sit upon the thrones of your grey town
where Balaam and the idols make their home.
My children, build no temples here of stone
but live instead as lightly as a bird
who belongs to a sky he does not own.
Or like the sheep following their shepherd;
their home is not the field, but Him. Now come
straying sheep, hear his voice, return and cleave.
Those who are faithful to the last will, from
the hand of a sword-bearing God, receive
the hidden manna and the victor’s claim:
a secret white stone bearing a new name.


A secret white stone bearing a new name
for those who keep no secrets with Jezebel.
Wise as serpents, they do not try to tame
the Great Dragon with tongues nor ancient spells.
Of such “knowledge,” be innocent as doves
and mind what you allow into your bed.
The prophetess offers beauty and love
but will bind you to a mattress of dread
with lips of honey and a tongue of oil.
He knows you, how your love, and faith and deeds
have grown. You are his treasure and his toil
and he will raise the harvest from the seeds.
“I give no other load: do not succumb;
hold fast to what you have until I come.”


Hold fast to what you have until I come.
You have the look of one who is alive
but the tips of your fingers have grown numb
and leprous white; you are dead. Now strive
to wake from this unfeeling ruined dream.
You slumber though a thief is at your door
whose fiery eyes command the seraphim
and readies himself for the break of war
where, at last, he will defeat the fallen stars
the dark, and even death forevermore.
Your healing he has purchased by his scars
and by his death, the dead he will restore
to life. And though they wander, sin, and doubt
those blood-bought names he never will blot out.


Those blood-bought names he never will blot out.
Long have been the years of our pilgrimage
and the herds have withered in the drought.
Still the shepherd leads and calls for courage.
He leads them to an uncrossable sea
and standing upon that desolate shore
he withdraws from his cloak King David’s key
and, with a word, creates there an open door.
The door opened by that key no one can close
and all those souls who enter by that gate
will come to the Temple wearing white clothes
and bearing new names. Come, the hour is late.
The Light does not wait and the Son proceeds;
the High King has come and he knows your deeds.


The High King has come and he knows your deeds;
he knows that you are neither hot nor cold.
All this he knows, and still he intercedes
as priest before the throne of grace. Behold
the man upon the cross. Both God and Lamb.
He binds all peoples in one heart and mind;
the dead reborn as sons of Abraham
though they are wretched, poor, naked, and blind.
All those he loves will know his discipline
and the lost he gathers into one flock.
He will dine with you and you with him.
Listen now, he stands at the door and knocks.
Unlock your door and hold your rescue fast.
These are the words of the first and the last.