First and Second

by Jeffrey Essmann

The first was tender, poor and pure, we’re told: 
The ox so dumb and donkey in their stalls
With angels slipping through the very walls
Of heaven to proclaim the birth foretold;
And even on a night all dank and cold
The warmth of glory shepherds quite enthralls
And to a tiny sleeping god it calls
Them there to see eternal life unfold.
But there’s a fearful something ‘bout the next: 
A blare of trumpets stabbing blackened skies
And all the long-dead rising from their graves
Announces judgment with the hope annexed
That just as fearful is the love that saves
And human failing finally justifies.

Jeffrey Essmann is an essayist and poet living in New York. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them Dappled Things, the St. Austin ReviewThe Society of Classical PoetsAmethyst ReviewAgape ReviewAmerica MagazineU.S. Catholic, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal, Edge of FaithPensive, and various venues of the Benedictine monastery with which he is an oblate. He is editor of the Catholic Poetry Room page on the Integrated Catholic Life website.

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