A quiet sorrow
never heard in the din of humanity,
lost amid clanging bells of busyness.
Sorrow for soul, sorrow for self
and quiet anguish for lives wasted.

In the quiet hours
listen to the soft gentle voice of mercy,
shutting out tormented cries of a world
gone wrong, of a world gone mad—
listen in the quiet to hope.

In a quiet space
away from the horrors of mortality—
crimes against the children of God.
In silent shadows, with silent tears,
pray for mankind in quiet sorrow.


© Richard Keith Carlton





They linger in mist
across a great divide
between the here and the now.
A mile from heaven, they wait,
amidst cleansing fire, the final beckoning—
in the hall of souls.

The past left behind
lost forever and a day
when time determined all things.
Now in a constant gray they wait,
where time has been swallowed in eternity—
in the hall of souls.

Say a prayer for them
from this mortal dwelling,
offer them a moment’s suffering.
For when at last they journey home,
they may remember to pray for you—
in the hall of souls.


© Richard Keith Carlton




I follow you now, with a new pace,
resolved to never turn back or aside—
no matter how often I stumble or grow
weary. I have followed the songs of sirens,
gone astray and afield of truth, only to
find myself lost in some valley barren—
a thousand miles and heartaches from you.

But then, you told me long ago, when first
I heard your words of life and hope, that
should I follow, I must take up any crosses
that would come my way, to never look
back, trusting you would lead me home—
lead me to truth, the only truth. Beyond
these plains and highways of toil and woe.

Long the journey has been, my Lord indeed,
and filled with days of sweet and beautiful
consolations to heart and soul. And nights
as well, when the cold specters of shadows
seemed my only companions, their icy fingers
gripping me, so that at times, I felt I would be
pulled into a black hole of nothingness.

And when least expecting it, the shadows
would disperse, light would shine, and I could
once again see clearly the road leading home.
Come what may, what winds of circumstance
may blow, I have come too far to turn back.
I will follow you. For what else can I do—
to whom shall I go dear Lord?

You have the words of eternal life.


© Richard Keith Carlton

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