I have been a wayward waif of wandering
for too many days and too many nights—
knowing the way, too cowardly to follow.
A part of this world, as much as an old
willow standing in a field, or an ancient
stone lying hidden in weeds along a path.

And yet, not a part, pieces of me longing
to see the far reaching horizons of eternity.
Ready for the final adventure, the last journey
of a soul in conflict, weary from the battles.
Wanting to rest in mystical meadows where
wildflowers stand tall beside the lilies.

To be separate, away from the madness of
a world of godlessness, a world shining with
false lights of vanity, and fleeting dreams of
passing desires, and to walk in a true Light,
where no shadows may prevail, a Light of hope.
Where angels sing endless praises to the Almighty.

I long to walk with the Saints who have gone
before, those stalwart sentries of faith and valor—
the martyrs, no longer stained in blood, but clothed
in white shining garments of everlasting obedience,
wearing golden, gem-studded crowns of triumph!
O Lord, though I be awhile in this faithless world…

may I ever strive to separate myself from it!


© 2018 Richard Keith Carlton


Fallow Fields

Barren fields

Let fields lie fallow for a time.
Let sown-weary soil rest for a season.
For even the most fertile field may come
to poor harvest if plowed and tilled too often.

Allow the healing Wind to do its work;
blow across the tired ground long suffering,
its gusts gathering up useless weed and chaff,
grinding into dust that which offers no yield.

And in the fullness of time and season,
plow and till soil refreshed and willing.
Spread new seed along rut and furrow,
then wait and pray for the sacred rain.


© 2017 Richard Keith Carlton

a psalm for winter…


O Lord, in the silence of winter’s chill,
I have found peace in your steadfast love.
In solitude have you placed my spirit,
away from the damaging winds of summer.
When life wilted in the scorching days of
loss and the humid nights of hopelessness.

Into the cold lonely wilderness was I sent.
Not for penance, but for grace to be shown.
For in the frigid mornings of desperation,
along the icy streets of want and need,
I was healed, in flesh and in my spirit,
reborn with each silent gray morning.

Autumn’s disappointment and heartache
faded like dry leaves fallen along a path,
crushed forever into the ground of memory.
Now in the quiet season of life I am at peace,
warm in the knowledge of your unfailing love–
thankful for the purging season of my spirit.

© Richard Keith Carlton


by richard keith carlton


In this old house made of flesh and bone,
soul, spirit and heart, are many rooms…

Here at times in the long lonely hours,
ghosts seek to haunt me in the room of
the past, empty now, yet filled with shadows.
Only by hope and prayer, and trust in the
promises of future, do I endure their
accusing and threatening whispers.

I seek shelter most often in the room of
the soul, where God comforts me, cradling
me in His arms like a frightened little child.
There all shadows are dispersed in the
rattle of sacred beads, mingled with the
prayers of a thousand saints surrounding.

In the room of my heart I find joy in the
treasures given me through many years–
the love of my children, the wonderful gifts
given to a father undeserving, a jaded man
who by the grace of God, has survived all
adversities to be allowed the company of
such angels.

Many rooms in this old house are now empty,
left unattended, closed up, and unavailable for
viewing, even for me. Any memories dwelling
there have been covered in sheets of regret–
shrouds to cover the sorrow and the pain once
endured, old memories of a time turned to dust,
dead days, buried with time and best forgotten.

The years have taken their toll on this old house.
So many seasons, fair and foul, have left it a bit
tattered in places, storms and tempests, ice and
heat, all have battered it about through its time.
And yet, it stands. Shaking now and then from
harsh weather and sudden gusts of misfortune,
in need of some repair to be certain, but built on
a firm foundation, of faith, hope, and perseverance.

COME TO THE DESERT by Richard Keith Carlton


My son, why are you still wandering
aimlessly along the pathways of men—
searching for things of the soul among
empty souls, in places far from comfort?

Come to the desert. It is there I have
called you, have prepared you to inhabit.
In the dark nights of hunger and want,
you called to me in desperate hours to
save you, free you from chains of worldliness.
When no light shone in you, I was your light.

Who was there with you when the chilling
rains poured down torrents of loss and regret?
Where were the sons of men as you languished
in the scorching heat, walking lonely miles
without hope in a place you did not know,
surrounded by people you did not know?

It was then first I whispered to your poor heart,
“Come to the desert.” After the great fall, when
all seemed lost, and life filled with bitter wine,
I spoke to you my son, spoke to you of a desert.
A place not of time and space, but within you.

Where hunger is sated by things sacred, thirst
quenched in the cup of suffering and humility.
Away from needless distractions and enticements—
in the bare desert of mind, heart, spirit and soul.
Do not wait long, for time races against mortality,
against one searching and longing for eternal things.
The hour is late. Leave behind all vain glories,
do not conform to the habits of this jaded world.

But follow your spirit’s desires, satisfy the
anxious longings and groanings of your poor soul,
and listen to the inner whisperings I speak to you.
Be at peace now, my son, before the last setting
of the sun upon your days, and come with me—
Come to the desert.



On one of those blissfully chilling nights
in January, as I stood gazing into a beautiful
blackboard sky, spotted with stars as clear
as sunlight passing through a glass of crystal,
my heart was filled with the realities of life.
As though God Himself had whispered to
my weariness of spirit, and fragility soul,
that life, my life, was a passing shadow.

I thought about my past, and that inner
voice asked me if it were possible for me
to change one thing, one moment, of my past.
No, of course not, no one change any part of
the past, the good or the bad of it. I thought of
the future and the words of Carl Sandburg came
to mind, “ No one has a jump on the future.”
Truth spoke to my heart, to my reason, that

there were less sunsets ahead of me than behind
me, and that, in the winter of my days, that time
would not allow me the luxury of planning great
and wonderful things, which probably would never
come to be. The past was gone, unchangeable, the
future, uncertain. But that I was certain of two things:
the present moment, and what I could do with it,
and that I, one day, like all others, was going to die.

The thought of my passing did not frighten me, but
sobered me, awakened me and roused me as much
as the chilling January wind rushing through me.
“I want to finish well” I said to the good God.
What I had done was done. I could not change one
single thing, “And Lord, I do not know how long
You have given me before my race here is run.”
“But here I am God, I have this beautiful winter night,
beneath a billion stars of light shining from heaven.”

And as though an answer, the inner whisperings deep
inside of me, where God does His work in all of us,
reminded me of the words of St. Paul, the Apostle,
“Do not be conformed to the ways of this world any
longer, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Then I remembered the words of Christ, Himself,
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all the rest will be given to you as well. Do not worry
for tomorrow, for the day has troubles enough of its own.”

No burning bush that night. No heavenly visions.
Truth spoken to my heart, in the secret place where
the natural meets the supernatural, when the veil between
heaven and earth is pulled back for just a moment, and
our gracious and merciful Father whispers to His child.
Death will come for me, I do not know the hour, but I
know it will come. And it is up to me to decide what
is important to me in the time given to me before death
comes knocking, and how I will spend that time.

I decided that it was true, I must live in this world a time,
but I would not be of this world. I set my heart and mind
on things above, and began to build a treasure for myself
beyond the past, the present, to that eternal kingdom, and
on the things of God. And since that cold January night,
peace has come. Yes, there have been struggles, and I have
stumbled along the narrow way, and will do so again.
But the peace of God, which transcends human understanding,
is not a fleeting peace one feels for a moment, but a peace

that seeps quietly into the depths of a man, into the soul,
down in that quiet place the jaded world cannot enter.
It comes without fanfare at times, silently, as fog creeps
upon a harbor in the first hours of dawn. It remains there,
protecting, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
That wonderful, merciful peace of God, dwells forever in
us, reminding us, even on chilling January evening, filled
with crystalline lights against a black sky of velvet glory, that
we are mere shadows passing through the night. That we
will stumble at times along our way, but with His help,
no matter our past or future, we can finish well.


© Richard Keith Carlton



Come soon old friend, before winter.
For in that season of purging the
good and gracious God calls me to solitude.
He knows well the toll summer takes
upon my fragile spirit and tender soul—
knows well the conflicts which rage
inside of me thru that scorching season.

Bring with you, the books I left behind,
those sacred tomes which filled my heart
with light and heavenly inspirations.
Leave all else in the dust of yesterday—
faded dreams, and pitiful poetry of pathos.
I fear old affections to worldly possessions
may turn me back from the way I have chosen.

Let us share laughter and tears equally,
for life gives both without discrimination
or concern to the welfare of heart and spirit.
I have, my comrade of light and gentle heart,
chosen the better part, and I trust our Lord
will not let it be taken from me. And if possible,
come before winter, before I surrender all to
the peace found in that sacred season of solitude.

© Richard Keith Carlton