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



thin curtain

There is a curtain, a thin shroud like cloth, between
the glories of heaven and the toils of earth.
It is a scant divider, yet as thick as a dense forest
to our limited visions of the here and beyond.
The other side of the curtain, the realm of supernatural,
seems such a mystery to us who wander a brief time
on natural plains of flesh and blood, who like passing
shadows dart here and there across the brick walls of
our three dimensional perceptions of life’s realities—
believing and accepting only what can be seen or touched.

Sadly, we refuse to see the fragile thread of mortality given us.
Which can be easily snatched away in the blink of an eye.
We walk in blind denial, that it is only a matter of time
before we depart the natural world for the supernatural—
before we pass through a thin curtain between time and eternity.
But pass through we shall, each of us, in a designated hour.
And no matter our beliefs, or denials of a life beyond this,
one day, for better or worse, we will pass through that thin
curtain, where the natural becomes the supernatural.


© Richard Keith Carlton



I am no longer interested in the dance of earth.
Let the sky and trees take my place, and dance merrily
with scattered stones caked with moss, in blissful folly.
This aging pilgrim has at last set his heart and mind
on things of God, of that glory awaiting beyond the
fickle clouds which change from gray to blue and back again.
Long did I dance in fields littered with vain glorious stones—
with lighthearted and careless creatures without concern.
Until my body, tired and weary, fell upon the ground of
consequence and necessary retribution.

How can I dance now? How can I play earth’s fool
when the songs filling my heart inspire me to dance
in the court of angels and saints? I would rather play the
jester in that court, than play the fool in the dark and cold
court of humanity. I shall not perform for shallow hearts,
but offer the songs of my life, of my spirit and my soul to
the King and Queen of hearts! For even in that mystical court
of beauty and goodness, the jester is hailed as a prince.
May the dance of earth continue without me. I have chosen
to close my ears to the tuneless melodies of humanity.


© 2017 Richard Keith Carlton

A KNIGHT’S PRAYER / For the Queen of Heaven and Earth by Richard Keith Carlton



Hail to thee, Mother of sorrows,
Mother of the Word Incarnate.
I pledge to thee, O most chaste,
Virgin ever, Immaculate One—
all that I am, all that I will ever be!
In thy heart, may my heart dwell,
from thy faith, may mine be blessed.
In thine obedience, might I learn
to obey my King and merciful Lord.

Guide me along the path given to me,
lead me always toward righteousness.
Protect me in battle, tend to my wounds
should I fall or stumble in my ways.
To thou, Holy Mother of God, to thou,
my Queen, I give my life, that thou
may present me worthy and acceptable
a servant, to the King of might and glory—
a knight humble, in the service of heaven.



© Richard Keith Carlton



We stand on the wall, wounded sentries,
on the wall between heaven and earth.
Stand in the gap, watching ever, praying
for those near and far, loved ones, and friends,
too busy in their lives to know concern for
the state of their souls. In silent vigil at times,
and at others, pleading in desperate voices
to the far gates of heaven.

We are many, and diverse in our states of life.
Some have not fared well in life’s journey—
failures in the blind eyed standards of this world.
Which sees only the now, with little or no thought
of eternal things, those things of God and of soul.
Whether old and young, rich or poor, healthy, or
infirmed, joyous or broken, we stand on the wall.
Gazing across pale, blighted fields of earth,
into the deep blue skies of eternity.

We rise at dawn, donning the armor of God,
light candles in darkened rooms, smoke trails
rising upward, as incense of ancient days, sweet
aromas of praise and supplication to the Holy One.
And through all hours, whether of faith or of doubt,
pray for those hearts dear to us, for the world, and
for those who have passed from these mortal plains,
and suffer for a while in valleys of necessary purging.

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord! Cry for mercy—
sentinels of the dawn, we cry to you Lord. Not for our
own welfare, but for those we love, for those who have
forsaken or forgotten you, those who have rejected you,
those who have offended you, those who despise you.
O gracious and merciful God, hear our voices and give
ear to the appeals of your wounded servants—
soldiers in the rain, standing firm, ever vigilant.
Watchers on the wall, between heaven and earth!


© Richard Keith Carlton