The Lingering Night


In the lingering night
I hear You. In my heart, in the deepness
of my spirit, Your whispers, calm the tempests
that blow worldly fears and anxieties upon me.
And I know I am not alone.
Your image appears, tearing through dark shades
of unbelief, shining soft lights of faith and truth
into the damp, lifeless caverns of my soul.

I feel a quiver, a slight tremble of inspiration,
and a part of me feels a stirring of something real—
a thing unseen, once known, and now remembered.
It is You. Coming through the shadows towards me,
a candle in the darkness of this tomb of lethargy.
Silent. Towards me. Bringing light, not with judgment,
but with love and understanding. For you know
where it is I have been, and the crosses I have borne.

Here in the lingering night,
I whisper to You, to my image of You, from this
empty room where I have settled for a while, weary
of the journey, weakened, if for only a time, from
so many days and nights out on the highways of time—
on the backroads, of life, my life, this life. This piece
of the world where I have risen and fallen a thousand
times and in a thousand ways.

Candles begin to flicker out. Small tongues of dying light.
I close my eyes and stutter a prayer, mutter some
litany to the saints, trying to light a fire down in my soul.
And when I almost surrender to the shadows of doubt,
I hear You. In my heart, hear You whisper from a place
beyond shadows, a place of light, and I know You are near—
close to me, bringing real Light, that cannot flicker and
burn out, real fire, that will burn all of my days—
and beyond, across the highways of eternity.

And I know I am not alone, here in the lingering night.


© Richard Keith Carlton




I awake each morning, further from the past,
closer to the last sunrise, the final sunset in
a pilgrim’s journey of exile through a foreign land.
Each morning, I long more and more for home.
I dream of it, while asleep, or awake, as a child
lost for a time and separated from mother and father.

My longing is not one of sadness, but more of a
sweet melancholy, a pang of missing something only
remembered in the soul, recollected in gentle inspirations,
inner whisperings of those from a homeland far away.
And I answer those whisperings with tender prayers
from a heart yearning to see what is only now, imagined.

Prayers offered from a spirit weary of worldly things,
which come and go as so many mists and shadows.
Offered to heavenly siblings who beckon to a brother,
a fellow sojourner of earth, as once long ago were they,
to rise above barren fields of earthly ambitions and concerns.

To strive through all circumstances, to prepare for myself
treasures in the homeland for which I desire at last to see.
Prayers. Sometimes from desperation, at other times,
rising like incense upward, beyond what I was, away from
what I am, into a blue sky of what I so wish to be.

More than fanciful wishes, or dreams of folly, the longings
of heart, mind, spirit and soul, spoken in whispered words of
love and gratitude, at times, merely groans from deep within.
A longing to see the Father, the Son, the Mother, the brothers
and sisters waiting for me, praying for me, to come home.

© 2017 Richard Keith Carlton

DESPERATE HOURS / The Agony of St. Peter



St Peter Lamentation

“You will betray me three times before the cock crows…”

In a corner of an upper room in the great city,
he huddled, apart from the others, with his frantic thoughts,
a storm blowing wind and rain against the walls
of his dwelling and against the walls of his broken heart.
His body, a heap of weariness and pain, tears streaming
down his worn face—a mirror of his anguish.

There was no consolation for this sorrow.
For he had betrayed the one he loved most—
whom he had sworn to defend unto death.
“O God!” He screamed from deep in his soul.
“My God! Please forgive my miserable weakness!”

But his thoughts were lost in the roar of the
raging storm, within and without.
There would be no comfort for him this night.
All that he had hoped and believed in for so long
had been taken away and nailed to a cross.

Sweet memories flooded his troubled mind.
Haunting him, taunting him with their beauty.
Days of glory whispered to his broken heart,
reminding him of his contemptible, selfish crime,
like a sword, cutting deep into his conscience.

The others kept a safe distance from him
fearing he may fly into a sudden rage of temper.
And knowing, there were no words to console.
He was the Rock—the one chosen to be so.
sitting alone now with his thoughts, alone
to bear these desperate hours.


© Richard Keith Carlton


first light final

What keeps them going, those hopeful hearts?
It’s something remembered, that first light, breaking
through the darkest shadows of a moment or an hour,
or a thousand days of longing and desperation.

A child’s vision dream in a dimly lit hallway,
standing alone, watching Him approach silently,
holding a candle, the way, the truth, the life.
For one it was a vision not of the eyes but the soul.
When a breath of the spirit transformed brokenness
in a man into an unexpected act of divine mercy.

The first light. The first taste of true love, not of
this world, but a supernatural, healing love, that
burns into the heart, spirit and soul, a fire so deep
that its light cannot be extinguished or forgotten.
Through the darkest night of living, in the sorrowful
hours of loss, deprivation, and hopelessness.

They fall, and they rise, seven times seventy times,
those hopeful hearts, keep straining forward, pressing
on, through the muck and mire of life’s endless swamps.
Because no matter the circumstances, no matter the cold
grip of shadows, they remember always, that first light,
pursuing, hunting, longing for it, till the last breath.


© Richard Keith Carlton





Old man of my yesterdays, I bid you farewell—
a final goodbye, without tears or regret at this parting.
Except perhaps the regret of allowing you to hold sway
over so many of my days, hours, and years.

So often, the new man within me, sought to break free
from the chain your many sins and misjudgments caused
to be forged. Fought at times, to find his way back to
the road of light, and leave you in the darkness you loved.

But the sword of shadow which you wielded freely was
a strong and fierce weapon against a spirit so vulnerable—
broken from a thousand sorrows and tears and regrets.
An easy prey to old habits and urges you molded so long.

Now at last, though my flesh and bones be wearied from
the arduous journey of my travels on this fallen star of earth,
there is a new man born within, not fashioned from the
black dust of yesterdays, but in fields of heavenly promise.

Raised from the hard ground of disappointment and failure,
to rise strong and free, as a beautiful flower rises to greet
and praise the Sun of a new morning, of a new life.
Sprinkled with the sacred dew of God’s Love and Mercy!

Farewell old man of yesterday’s vain glorious dreams.
The sword of shadow has disappeared in the light of healing,
and the new man within me stands ready for the future,
wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

© Richard Keith Carlton