Matter – Poem by Mary Beth


by Mary Beth Zeleznik

What does a dream possess
That weakens all aware thought?
With endless means a life is bought
And held over mounting crest
From the very height hued for rest
From steady hand, tightened tress
Dangling, with no ground, you fought
Rope around your breath, caught

Sky and sod remain firm
There is no look beyond the berm
So what is it, what is the matter?
A matter of time and its term
Across the clock face, arms squirm
Their duty could make a glass face shatter
And all the hours filled with chatter
Make the trembling ticking sadder

And in the stark, dewed light of a day
Return in tears to beg yesterday’s- to stay
To convince the invisible that you each are the same
Though they will not even tell their name
So how do you call them to come out and play?
A dream takes time as time takes a dream away
Both are shortened if we strike at their frame
And mistake their essence, then give them blame

But in the wakeful hours, you know the deal
Made without the heart’s consent
But can even the mind be content?
Thought rules the thinking and the feel
The matter around which your life is bent
Forced forward as brute scrapes your heel
From the motion of living your living reels
In the flicker of the dream glimpse what you meant:

To end this slow bodily perish, that happens too fast
And a form never leaves from where it lay
Only childhood’s sweetness for a mind to hast
To come out and play.  To stay, to stay
Make the orange of twilight to last
And linear paths are cut out of the clay
Of the ground which remains the unmoving cast
Of your home, and of the single day.

Copyright 2016 Mary Beth.

Silence Angel – Poem by Mary Beth

Silence Angel

Nightingale, you are known
For your powerful beautiful song sung
From your day or your night time tongue?
I cannot recall. But I might know your tone
your music bars in my skin, are stitches sewn
The water from your coat by the sun wrung
To grow the land, from the hand and lome
A voice from where your wings were hung.

To carry your call to little corners
Of this big place, you cover it with a knowing
Under your flying form cast no foreigners
Over all the land and it’s unknowing mourners
Your feathers never bowing and ever glowing
Immune to November’s blowing that has torn her
To the house of head you give its dormers
But wait Nightingale, where are you going?

I heard it said once somewhere
Heard it over and above the blare
penetrating my human weight and height
That beyond the warming of the sun so trite,
You do sing in the night. In the night.
Heard it out of a little tear
In the earth’s canvas pulled so tight
Though birdsong’s conversation status, rare.
And that after dark, there really exists no fright.

But tonight, your silence, angel, confounds
Thus, what is the body behind those tales of sounds?
That noise, it must be song of doubt
Pages and pages of music, bound
Friend of feathers with no pounds
Chirping, tiny in your clout
I am Silence bound, on leaf falling route
Where is your name of night in the gales about?
The mysterious heart around which I am wound.



RASP – Poem by Mary Beth

This blog is the exclusive location for great Catholic poet Mary Beth to unveil her work.  Please enjoy her latest.



I awaken from night thought to a drift of dust
Blown in from the tail of a yarn spun
Reckless, rushing to get done
By waking hour and the push of gust
Thrust from my lung, the dream hits sun

The pieces settle outside my mouth
I feel their brittleness with my cheek
As though sleeping at the edge of a creek
Then gravity speaks, northern water goes south
Try to crush a grain, my arm turns weak

I hold the little crystal up to my eye
Against the broken skin from the burn of your rasp.
In search of that particle of the answer why
Leave me to ask once more, then to cry.
As dancer, you twirl away from my grasp.

What was it tonight that gave you your fun?
A playground from the pain of my youth
Remembrance falls, from hanging from the bars, like a ton
Weighs in at nothing as out falls my tooth I have lost, but who are you to have won?

Vivid postcards spin in a vertigo head
Their pictures of now displayed in yesterday’s park spin on the wire, their pictures aptly tread
I struggle to balance for solid footing in the dark
Outside the images the land is stark.

Hark, who is there? I thought I heard
The small sound an animal’s animate word
From the woods at the edge of the childhood field
At the base of a tree, a solitary bird
Turns into a rock at which i kneeled

And reeled at the sight of the momevent lost
Where does it go, but in my memory recovered
Faceoff with the past pulls my face off, and hovered
Over the spot is the collector of cost A still, bleeding child, still unmothered.

Ask the dream, once it is complete
When do you sleep? How do you work?
Look overhead, to see the flying muffled fleet
There is the answer, in their engine’s murk
As it covers your sky like an oiled sleet.

And through the weight, of the rainy sign
That waters every growing care I devise a plan from under the White Pine
To escape the rasp from whittling bare
All of the past on this earth that binds

I could stay awake tonight and wander this park
As I can’t find the gate, since you mentioned her name
Night comes, I swing to the sound of the Meadowlark
Who calls us to be, both of us tame
Running on cool grass, we play in the dark.


Degree Bought – Poem by Mary Beth

Degree Bought

Looking into cloud of white
All of living’s fight
Made up of memories dressed
Up in finest gold, guessed
To be the one old friend
Who left their mind, left mind to fend
Alone with rows of falling, renewing thought
Of degree, strongest, thick and bought
With the too steep price of now
Wrangling thief, take a bow

Answers do ignore questions
Open to all mean suggestion
Hewing at hint of ordinary day
Vague chances observed from far away
Their movements seem to celebrate
Exclusion of your little weight
Dead eye, looking back on dead eyes
Memory lives, in the heart where it dies
Climbs out for inkling of air
Succumbs again to the wont of care

Inquiry, whispers, louder than talk
Keep their voices down, up the walk
Leaves swirl around their path
Then settled nervously in the wake of wrath
Close the door, against the lot
The plank, a landscape carved of knots
A chair in the corner to prop against,
Means letting go of the door from whence
The voice threat has quieted to lull
the host to peer outside his hull

Cross it out with a cross of string
Tighten till the tether wrings
Water from the vapor, grey
Carry it back to backyard bay
The field of thought, watered and plowed
A fight to the finish, of punching a cloud.


Gable – Poem by Mary Beth

by Mary Beth Zeleznik Artz

Ordered for life, a blue little place,
The only on the block in darkened space, grown by the sun and held by the moon.
My flying home, I’ll see you soon.

Dwellers have told of, since I was a child, The human weather, as something mild.
At the very first able to hear a fable,
Under the covers, beneath her sum gable.

A mind jarred by wonder, in springs from her bays, Made speechless by her free giving and taking days.
As soon as I caught one, it was gone
As grass grew, I grew, smaller on my lawn.

The atmosphere of this place, and her conditions, are not at all like the human renditions!
Their tale of this world is plastic to the touch, molded by small hands, a place I fear so much.

With a gathered grip, they hold on to small sand, Though breath bequeathed them a fertile land.
I nest in the hour that is hers,
They kick the moments with their spurs.

And pound their stakes into monotony’s rhyme, As though it were theirs, in their mimic and mime.
But allow me to fasten my little bird wing, To your minutes, though they fly, made up of seconds that sing.

I will hold on, though I weep for each drop, Of our time passed in duty to beauty the mop.
It startles my system with how quickly it flees, But the only meaning is from the sight that bleeds.

The scented air chokes a reminder still, Of the senses I try to bind with the will.
The picket bares the name of birth,
that there is still mourning to be had in the earth.

So do settle back and tell me your hurt, I will listen and you will girt.
With those old fleeing hours, that
We will keep under the span of our hats.

Mine is much less significant in size,
Than yours, past the clouds an unseeable rise.
Perhaps there is no top to your arcing dome, You extend beyond our planting loam.

But mine fits under yours in a little stack, Beyond us, stars, in a fabric of silken blue black.
Will the old gold days hurt us the same, up there?
Will we be able to, for once, just sit and stare?

I’d rather, I must, hold fast to your static flight, Where you will lead me into the mildest of nights.
With no threat to interval, under the rise, Will I find that you have been my wild blue in thin disguise?

Then I can finally have you, and all of our days, and my eyes will at last be sufficient to take in your ways.
In lushest green and clearest blue, I will call earthly bluff, back in time when all of your beauty for which my senses weren’t enough.

Copyright 2015

Heroic Catholic

As Americans we never learn that one of the main causes of the Revolutionary War was anti-Catholicism by many of the founding fathers and English settlers.  They weren’t happy at all with King George for allowing the former French colonists to practice their Catholic faith openly following France’s defeat in the French and Indian war.  We also never learn about the horrific treatment of Catholics in the French Revolution.

The same goes for the Spanish Civil war.  Did you know these facts about the Spanish civil war (taken from the Regina Magazine article below):  “It was no longer safe to publicly express one’s religious vows. By the end of the War, twelve bishops, 4,184 priests, 2,365 monks and approximately 300 nuns made the ultimate sacrifice for the Church.”  That is a lot of blood and death for just being Catholic.

As traditional Catholics we must get ready for the persecution to come from the world.  It has always been this way and always will be this way until Jesus comes again.  But we are lucky to be able to die for Jesus and his Church and be a witness for the one true faith for our fellow humans.

Please read the article below about poet Roy Campbell, one of the great Catholic converts in the Church’s illustrious history.  He also is one of the inspirations for the heroic Aragorn Character in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings!!

St. John of the Cross, Ora Pro Nobis!


Faith Under Fire

How Roy Campbell Saved the Writings of St John of the Cross From the Bonfires of the Spanish Civil War

by Meghan Ferrara

It may seem improbable to consider that St. John of the Cross, the Spanish Civil War, and JRR Tolkien have anything in common. However, all three share one important connection: the South African poet Roy Campbell, and therein lies a tale of intrigue, bravery and faith.

This remarkable narrative is set against the upheaval of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s. There was much unrest in Spain leading up to the elections of February 1936, as ordinary Spaniards from various factions sought to oust the Republican junta. This tension evolved into full-blown riots that swept through the entire country. Demonstrations soon turned virulently anticlerical and resulted in the destruction of churches and persecution of priests, monks, and others in the consecrated life.

It was no longer safe to publicly express one’s religious vows. By the end of the War, twelve bishops, 4,184 priests, 2,365 monks and approximately 300 nuns made the ultimate sacrifice for the Church.

It was amid this peril that Roy Campbell and his family converted to the Catholic faith, though this journey had been years in the making.

Early Years in South Africa and Oxford

Born in 1901, Campbell spent much of his youth in South Africa. He arrived at Oxford in 1919 to begin his collegiate studies. The poet enjoyed a meteoric rise to success in the English literary world and by the age of 22 his works were compared to those of T.S. Elliot of whom he was a contemporary along with Dylan Thomas, Edith Sitwell, and Percy Wyndham Lewis.

Campbell also counted George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, T S Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, J.R.R Tolkien and C S Lewis among his friends. These friendships were a defining characteristic of his professional career as well as his personal life. J.R.R. Tolkien’s first impression of Campbell proved to be particularly memorable. One night in 1944, he observed the poet secluded in the dark corner of a pub peering intently at C.S. Lewis and listening to his lively conversation. This encounter vividly reminded Tolkien, in the midst of writing The Lord of the Rings, of the enigmatic Aragorn whom the hobbits meet in a similar fashion at the beginning of the trilogy. Campbell’s previous experiences and adventures heavily influenced the further development of this pivotal character.


POET ROY CAMPBELL (LEFT) WAS KNOWN FOR HIS CATHOLIC FAITH. The path to his conversion began with his marriage to his wife, Mary (pictured here with writer Jacob Kramer and famous artist’s model ‘Dolores’). Mary’s passionate, lifelong devotion to St. Teresa of Avila spurred an avid interest in Spain, both of which she eventually shared with her husband.

 A Dangerous Time To Be Catholic

The Campbell family, which grew to include daughters Anna and Teresa, moved to Barcelona in the autumn of 1933 after living in Provence for several years. It was during this time that the family began to convert to the Catholic faith. They moved to Altea, near Alicante, in May 1934. It was here that the whole family was formally baptized into the Catholic Church in June 1935. By 1936 the Campbells had moved to Toledo. Little did they imagine that their newfound faith would be severely tested in the months ahead.

By this point, Spain was embroiled in a full-blown civil war and it was a dangerous time to be Catholic. Nonetheless, Campbell and his family befriended the Carmelite monastery in Toledo and in March of 1936, the monks briefly took refuge in his home. Then, on July 21st, Republican forces marched on the city. The Carmelites again sought assistance from the Campbells. This time, however, it was not for their own safety, but to protect the Carmelite archives, including the personal papers of St. John of the Cross. Campbell agreed and that night a trunk with the precious legacy was delivered to him.

Over the next few days the poet and his family watched in horror as the violence committed by the Republican forces overtook the city. Many Catholic religious, including their friends the 17 monks from a nearby Carmelite monastery, were martyred.

Begging the intercession of St. John of the Cross

Several days later, on July 31st, the militia arrived to search the Campbell home. Anticipating such a visit, Roy and Mary had already taken the precaution of concealing all their crucifixes and religious images.

The Campbells’ greatest concern, however, was the discovery of the Carmelite trunk. During the soldiers’ presence in his house, Roy implored the intercession of St. John of the Cross, [i] promising to translate the saint’s works into English if the lives of his wife and daughters were spared.

Campbell’s prayers were answered. The search was not especially meticulous, the militia even leaning their rifles on the trunk at one point without seeking to examine its contents. The significance of the rescue of these documents became evident as the Campbells observed the republican forces burn the rest of the 30,000 works of the Carmelite library.

Campbell honored his promise to St. John and his translations were received to great popular and critical acclaim. As a reward for their courage, Cardinal Gomá, the Catholic Primate of Spain, confirmed the Campbells, though even this held great risk and had to be undertaken in the secrecy of night.


THROUGH HIS PERSEVERANCE AND FAITH, ROY CAMPBELL SAVED ONE OF SPAIN’S AND THE CHURCH’S GREATEST TREASURES. Today, both St John’s poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature.


“In March 1936 the anti-clerical contagion spreading across Spain reached the streets of Toledo, the ancient city in which the Campbells had made their home. Churches were burned in a series of violent riots in which priests and nuns were attacked. During these bloody disturbances, Roy and Mary Campbell sheltered in their house several of the Carmelite monks from the neighboring monastery. In the following weeks, the situation worsened. Portraits of Marx and Lenin were posted on every street corner, and horrific tales began to filter in from surrounding villages of priests being shot and wealthy men being butchered in front of their families. Toledo’s beleaguered Christians braced themselves for the next wave of persecution, and the Campbells, in an atmosphere that must have seemed eerily reminiscent of early Christians in the Catacombs of Rome, were confirmed in a secret ceremony, before dawn, by Cardinal Goma, the elderly Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain. In July 1936, the civil war erupted onto the streets of Toledo, heralded by the arrival in the city of Communist militiamen from Madrid. With no one to defend them, the priests, monks, and nuns fell prey to the hatred of their adversaries. The seventeen monks from the Carmelite monastery were rounded up, herded on to the street and shot. Campbell discovered their murdered bodies, left lying where they fell. He also discovered the bodies of other priests lying in the narrow street where the priests had been murdered. Swarms of flies surrounded their bodies, and scrawled in their blood on the wall was written, ‘Thus strikes the CHEKA.’” — Joseph Pearce, Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, 2001

Cover Dust – Poem by Mary Beth

Cover Dust

By Mary Beth Zeleznik Artz

Stranded home, ill at rest on the shore, colored grey by the dwellers she bore.
Inches closer to the waterline each year.
Inside, forced so quiet by the silence in the mirrors.

Now no breath warms her walls to plaster bones, closed windows and forever silent phones.
What happened in there? For even she hardly knows, her cold company; the November wind warns as it blows.

Sheets to cover dust, strangle the couches and chairs.
Indelible dents, left by bodies and their cares, while the beds are stripped, bare and exposed.
Now filled with questions in their repose.

The end to dreams, of driftwood roiling around.
In cold water wash, your burning form wound, pull it up onto your shore then push it out, into the extract of the greater thought about.

Forced by the wet onto the dry of sand,
What you see of this mind is in the movement of the hand.
In the days hence, more trees broken from their soil.
But your heart to the wave, still, persists loyal.

I can take over, push them to their drench.
I stay here, I fight for them from muddied trench.
Yours and mine now, they’re mine now in number, For my slanted home they are the lumber.

What will fill this house when the mind has shot?
Trust the marksman as he aims through dark galaxy, for the dot.
Up, hanging dearly to the end of Heavenward’s quill.
Wire pulled, taught in the fragility of the will.

When water covers dust and timber soaked, Water’s edge no longer provoked.
When body covers dust, gust will move,
The unfailing heart, water will prove.

Copyright 2015

Other Side of the Hearth – Poem by Mary Beth

by Mary Beth Zeleznik Artz

Wooden pieces of past beyond the hearth of a home, lying flat with the same chipped face.
Wind hisses lament, under sky’s dalliance dome, funneled through flue to relight embers haste.

Fire, sudden, as recall’s breath stirs every air, and assembles the olden town to come to call.
Face down your enemy, memory dares,
Open your eyes, but gone is the light in the hall.

Glowing red reminiscence at the foot of your bed, Were the flames and your burns only a dream?
Show your hands to your face! Reveal pyre’s treads, for things are precisely as they seem.

Watering can on the stone, half full and meant for flowers, Little Thing, stand up, make your way to that site.
Water’s choice, of where to set your bowers, in growth to the living, or in death to a fright.

Stumble through the charge, most known mode of travel, arms outstretched try to block the air.
Step on your own loose threads, gown begins to unravel, bareness, under smoldering remains’ glare.

Fall into the gathered water,
it spills around your feet,
Kick it into the flame of your foe.
Wind gone out of you by remembrance tarted treat, of barefoot splashing puddles from long ago.

Springs spring life, back into your limbs, standing silent in the pond of That old gold day.
Your natural world dampens on anything but whim, your head moves up out of its wilted way.

And though the heat and hue and hour you fought,
listen, for they whistle a song of childhood light.
On the other side of the hearth lies the fire of thought, as cinders like lightning bugs make their flight into the night.

Copyright 2015

Old Arc – Poem by Mary Beth

Old Arc

by Mary Beth Zeleznik Artz

O relevant arc of age, forgotten and abraded, works that once labored to assert height.
For ease and advantage, your carved braiding traded, with verdant valleys and hills, now planed in our sight.
Old arc, your reverberation has never faded, though we are too caught up in the fighting to engage in the fight.
But upon you our inevitable is fiercely weighted.

And we waited, solemn, for our weights transference, a load to be borne by your crowning stone.
Look up after a forest’s worth of breaths endurance, and down to the threshold, though you may look alone.
With the will to chew through earthly bridle durance, to look so alone with your senses honed.
Where you made not just the entry but the entered known.

Old arc here is where your mortar is dried to sand, by those who sprinkle it into their eyes.
Flaming wounds are dowsed and fanned, powder, the substance of former ties.
Subdued mind built for the unseen, subverted craft of hand, and a heart’s foregone pounding of the several tries.
The early fire extinguished by indifferent sighs.

Tried and sentenced to a love unrequited, threshing the hold for an uncrossed form.
Candles with clean wicks, but yearning lighted, shrouds to our insides are curtains torn.
To your stone, a false friendly fire short sighted, exposes your many faces worn.
Ricochet felt at your beauty shorn.

But old arc, we can still hear the sounds you made, by pain of chisel smoothed over by intent.
We play them in our heads in sleep haunted and frayed, come down to us by the sharp top point over which you’re bent.
And lent our ears to your unyielding, crying aid, our welded armor your hail song dents.
Like Crickets to soothe us, you sing on the blade.

But allow your children one last sweeping motion, this time, not to walk by, but swirl beneath.
To dust off the crumbs we cast at your feet, with feathers from a dove, in the shape of wreath.
Now the tears of regret come home as the cleaning devotion, of our roped off rooms of our own notion.
Upon the cord we will draw our swords, unsheathed.

And sword of paint to cut at our behest, we are hollowed by the same tools to which you gave way.
Flooded by steep mournings painted crest, as interior waits for light, like torch to a cave.
Hues deepen across the canvas of Our Lady’s pierced vest.
What you did to our voices in the gold of your nave.
Old Arc you crowned us with a glimpse of the Infant’s rest.

Copyright 2015

Tin Can – Poem by Mary Beth

Tin Can

by Mary Beth Zeleznik Artz

In the darkened wood grows a fern, its whips as light as breezes.
In a soil feeding not, cracked and mean.
A home to reject water, clutches and seizes.
From the natural world, the planting is coerced to wean.

Get close enough to feel if it plated itself with thorns,
A curious life, I was curious about it not a little.
The unrecognized left alone, meekness adorns.
The small beauty, the dirty air, and me in the middle.

So alone, alone taking in this thing of being,
Something in the tiny leaves would leave me unsettled.
Passers by invade with vacancy, no senses meant for seeing,
Invaded home, I am not sorry I meddled.

Your fronds like wings, kindly and cute,
But none can glean this from afar.
For what can be known when we walk like a brute,
Not the feeding field below nor the upward star.

To put you in that place  where you can thrive,
Suddenly an urge to take you from this ground.
But to go searching holds the chance we won’t survive,
Paradise may not be lost in the lost and found.

I begin to act still, wrap my hands around you,
And in the stillness of that instant I am lent.
I look up and see It matters not to the undisturbed sky of blue
I look back to see my choking fingers, your spine is bent.

A constant weighing of odds as this odd life weighs,
Why do we have to continually decide?
How can one be trapped, motionless by fleeing hours and days,
Begging more from the clock as we hurry our breath to subside.

Dirt under my skin as I worked this over,
And overworked my head once more.
A mind’s constant hunger is a hunter and a rover,
Within the folds you choose an answer and a score.

And in this fleeting moment of a lifetime of thought,
The fern has faded at the tutelage of my hand.
What I have learned, is that what I have taught?
All she wanted was her stake of this embittered land.

The face of beauty falling, across her imperfect lines,
Pack the dirt around her again, frantically I work.
Fight the gross weight pushing you, and read the signs,
Though death appears perfect where life does lurk.

I feel something sharp, but it also shines,
The created is supple, what is made can only hurt.
But which substance will it end up being that binds?
There on my knees, pushing down the crumbling dark earth.

The thing has pierced my flesh as I try to save a life,
A sting in an instant, then follows, a  longer flow of blood.
Pulsing out a code, forced to read what is rife,
The liquid life within blends with the dirt to make a mud.

There beneath the shine is a rusty old tin,
A jagged and buried home in which she grows.
The gleaming rim in the ground, it gashed my skin
As I balance on this greater rim, searching an explanation to expose.

And grateful for my wound, my friend to be, the fern,
Her face of beauty asks and rises tall.
Somehow, I want to thank her in turn,
She is the countenance of sadness, at rest in the restlessness of the fall.

And then in the fall, she withdraws from us and from living,
Where will she go, those months when she hides from our sight?
A mystery supreme in the thanks  and the giving,
Lucky little fern, she escapes the ballast and the blight.

A notion that cannot seem to leave me alone,
that she is somewhere, even when she goes away.
And like those that others hoard in their homes,
leaves me alone to play hide and go seek with a day.

And most hours and minutes I do not know,
this mud of blood and dirt, I do what with it?
They reap and so I sow and I sow,
Disarm my arm, the instrument of failed physics.

But now I know the friend who gives the very breath to my lungs,
And strange to learn my breath goes back to her in the thicket of the wood.
A mother doesn’t rest until she finds her young,
Our deal struck in nature is for good.

Oh so many leaves that line that spine of those long whips,
you search for your rare and dire drink, but are left as pulp.
For another planting has but one leaf on a stem that slowly sips,
your multitudes demand multitudes of breathless gulps.

But do not fear the aloneness amidst the company of your leaves,
there is friendship you have forged inside your waking slumber.
Can you observe the tireless builder who plans, lifts and heaves?,
Count your leaves and compare with His, your end number.

And even though you go unnoticed still,
You were at some time planted by someone, into that can.
A corroded container holds the whole of a moment’s perfected will,
A refusal of meaninglessness, a meeting of beauty and man.

Is it that the rate of survival is to be slow indeed?
Your ever near death on this ground to give your life it’s ever after?
The planter works not on whim, nor just the easy growing seed,
But the delicate, and the deluge of tears to water the final laughter.

Copyright 2015