Sleepless and long past midnight,


This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by James Green.                                                                                                                        

Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll,
which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words
of lament and mourning and woe . . . . Then he said to me,
“Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.”
So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
Ezekiel 2:9-10; 3:3

I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it.
Revelation 10:10

Sleepless and long past midnight,

I pour another glass of red wine
without a trace of guilt for drinking alone
and from my desk look into darkness

where a solitary point of light
from someone’s TV across the street
flickers blue-glow through the night

reminding me of my throbbing joints
that complain of the hard work of holding
all the pieces together, an effort I respect.

These are the hours we are warned about,
the dark night of the soul, when hollow doubt
most likes to drip into the sentient mind;

but tonight I have Hopkins and his sonnets,
words so delicious I could eat them and I think
of Ezekiel who once ate a book filled

with lament and mourning and woe he said tasted
as sweet as honey, Jeremiah too, and John the Apostle;
they all ate books, but I am no prophet.

The sweet taste of lamentation
is just one more paradox to try to digest
and eventually one begins to beg for clarity,

a sign even. I turn again to Hopkins,
who was a prophet, and wait for
the angel’s hand.


James Green has published four chapbooks of poetry. His most recent, Long Journey Home, was the winner of the 2019 Charles Dickson Chapbook Contest sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Society. His individual poems have appeared in literary magazines in Ireland, the UK, and the U.S. Formerly a university professor and administrator, he is now retired and resides in Muncie, Indiana. To learn more about James and his poetry, visit his website at www.jamesgreenpoetry.net.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Essmann, ICL Poetry Curator To submit poetry to be considered for the Catholic Poetry Room, visit our submission guidelines page.


Jeffrey Essmann is Poetry Editor for IntegratedCatholicLife.org and always searching for the best Catholic poetry from today's poets as well as those of the past.

Jeffrey is an essayist and poet living in New York. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review and The Road Not Taken. He is a Benedictine oblate of Mt. Saviour Monastery.

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