THE CREATION OF ADAM by Joseph Castorino

Inspired by Michelangelo’s masterpiece

The Father of Freedom reaches

across the atmosphere,

accompanied by His angels

which are clustered closely

in the blessed bouquet

of His bountiful love;

Adam is awestruck by the

generosity of the good God,

grateful for the gift of life,

and his eyes fill with tears

as he beholds the beauty of

the Compassionate Creator.

THE VINE by Joseph Castorino

You are The Vine,

and I am a little branch.

When I am proud,

I stubbornly cut myself

off from the Vine,

and I remain in self-love,

and without your grace,

my branch dries out

and my fruit shrivels up,

as my soul slowly dies.


But when I am humble,

I remain in your love,

and your delicious grace

surges through me and

thus my fruit sweetens,

as I am born again.

I am just a little branch,

but you are The Vine.

CONQUERED BY THE DIVINE MERCY by Joseph Castorino

Dark tempests savagely surged

through the sullen black sky,

searching for saints to devour,

desperately trying to demolish

and destroy the City of Light;

but the valiant Church Militant

launched their weapons of war,

and their faithful, fervent prayers

speared through the startled sky,

piercing it like holy missiles;

The Divine Mercy shone through,

in all His dazzling brilliance,

with great power and glory,

and the stunned storm clouds

retreated into the Great Abyss.

THE RESURRECTION by Joseph Castorino

I turn around and before me you stand,

one whose robe is dazzlingly white,

As you speak my name and say “Mary,”

you forever shatter my deep dark night;

With great love, you bestow your peace upon me,

through your wonderfully warm brown eyes,

Your merciful smile cheers my heart,

so that my soul can most sweetly arise;

In the joyful breeze of the Holy Spirit,

your flowing hair very gently swirls,

In my heart I totally surrender to you,

and for you this is a treasure of pearls.

THE CRUCIFIXION by Joseph Castorino

In a shadow of deep darkness, the Light

of the world hangs crooked on the cross,

A jagged crown of razor-thin thorns is

thrust maliciously into His throbbing head;

Bright-red blood and the fickle crowd’s

sour spittle trickle into His stinging eyes,

He licks His cracked lips, and He tastes

the bold bitter flavor of blood.

The Roman soldiers’ wild whips tore

and radically ripped Jesus’ holy flesh,

And now the sticky crusted wounds cling

to the weatherbeaten wood and ooze;

Knife-like nails puncture His hands and feet,

and make them look like cored apples,

His shoulders slump down, crushed under

the weight of every sin in human history.

The soldiers hellishly hammered the nails

into Jesus’ flesh, as if He were an animal,

Indescribable pain blasted through the

bones of His body like dynamite;

He now surrenders His body, mind, soul,

and spirit to the will of His Father,

He lovingly practices what He preached,

and He prays for His persecutors.

Jesus is high up, as if atop an isolated

island, surrounded by a sea of hate,

A cacophonous chorus of insults assails

His ears, and the smell of sin is in the air;

His mother, living in the dark night of

unknowing, silently waits and watches,

She kneels in total surrender, while a

sword of sorrow slashes her heavy heart.

In the afternoon, Golgotha is enveloped

in a mysterious murky darkness,

Then, when Jesus dies, the earth quakes

in violent anger at the murder of its Creator;

Rumbling and roaring, buildings catastrophically

crash and crumble to the ground,

The terrifying temblor forces the sanctuary’s

curtain to explosively burst apart.

That mysterious murky darkness remains

in the hearts of Jesus’ faithful followers,

Their entire worlds are seriously shaken,

and they are stunned and stupefied;

But on the third day, the nebulous fog

of uncertainty will finally dissolve,

On the third day, a heavenly ray of Light

will come, far brighter than the sun.

THE AGONY OF UNREQUITED LOVE by Joseph Castorino

I love you, I love you

so very much,

more than you

can possibly imagine,

yet you carelessly

turn your back on me

and you ignore me,

living your busy life

as if I never existed;

now I kneel here

in this olive garden,

with my warm hands

clasped tightly together,

so deeply and so greatly

in love with you,

and my heart is breaking

because I want to share

my life with you,

my heart is nearly broken

because I love you,

and I painfully weep

hot tears for you,

and my sweat turns into

drops of blood --

all because of you.

CARRYING MY CROSS by Joseph Castorino

Carrying my cross,

I take lumbering steps

up the steep mountain;

I grumble with every step,

like Job, wondering why

the Lord is asking me

to shuffle along, dragging

this heavy wood with me

wherever I go.


But then I come to

a dangerously deep

crevasse that threatens

to end my journey,

and even with a

giant Herculean leap,

I know that I would fall

down, down, down,

into the black throat

of the abyss below.


Suddenly, a white Dove

darts right past me,

causing me to jump back

from the edge of the cliff;

as I do so, the cross falls

forward so that its top

now rests on the other side,

forming a wooden bridge.


After I carefully crawl

to the other side,

I look back at the cross,

wondering if I should

kick it down over

the edge of the cliff,

but, instead, I choose

to slowly pick it up,

embrace it, and

faithfully follow

in the footsteps of Jesus.

TO POPE BENEDICT XVI by Joseph Castorino

As you bashfully smile,

you extend both arms

and wiggle your fingers:

your welcoming wave

is a gentle greeting to

the pilgrims at St. Peter’s.

A prudent theologian,

you write the most

eloquent of encyclicals;

a classical pianist,

you wisely speak about

true beauty and true art.

In your own quiet way

you shepherd the flock,

for you’re a very holy man;

you’re an obedient son,

a simple man of Love,

a humble genius.

THE DARKNESS OF DOOM by Joseph Castorino

Act I

There was midnight madness

in the heart of darkness,

where lustful lovers caroused

and burned with wild passion,

and although they were

warned by pilgrims who

were on their way to Rome,

they lived the philosophy

of carpe diem:

they could always repent

tomorrow;

but early in the morning

on the very next day,

an event took place

that forever changed

the world of Pompeii:

it was August 24, 79 AD, and

proud Pompeii was bathed

in warm peaceful sunshine

when the earth began to quake

to the awakening heartbeat

that began to stir deep inside of

the voluptuous Vesuvius,

and here and there the roof tiles

of the stately city of Pompeii

undulated in a rhythmic motion,

up and down, and up and down,

before resting quietly

and slumbering again,

as Vesuvius silently and stealthily

yawned a slow stream of

thin white smoke into the

clear blue sky.

Act II

By the afternoon,

there was a light veil

of white smoke that now

draped Vesuvius’ verdant body,

but when she suddenly and

violently erupted in anger,

belching coal-colored smoke

from her crater’s trembling lips

and spewing it high into

the pale blue sky,

it was only a matter of seconds

before flaming black rocks,

like Mephistophelian meteorites,

revengefully rained down

from the swiftly darkening sky,

smashing the roof tiles and

crushing the marble statues

above the villas’ courtyards;

meanwhile, the stunned citizens

scrambled and stumbled around

as the vigorous heartbeat

of the vain Vesuvius

pounded powerfully,

and a cataclysmic earthquake

ripped through Pompeii:

the sleeping giant

was now fully awake;

as the terrified men and women

raised their wild eyes

to the sullen sky,

they screamed like savages

and cursed their pagan gods

for punishing them,

and they spat in the air

at their pathetic gods.

Act III

Several hours later,

above the hellish rubble

of this humbled city,

the black sun approached the

black horizon and ominous clouds

suffocated the helpless sky:

Pompeii wailed in pain

and writhed woefully

as the victorious Vesuvius,

bathed in the seductive

red glow of liquid lava,

relentlessly embraced the

city in her hot wrath,

and electric bolts of

volcanic lightning danced

like convulsive demons

and lit up the murky sky

as ashen rain fell feebly

to the flaming ruins below;

maimed dogs howled in horror

at the shockingly surreal and

apocalyptic spectacle,

while the lonely human survivors,

their psyches severely shattered,

huddled together for cover

under the crumbling columns

that were sinking in a sea of

charcoal-gray ashes.

Act IV

As the sun slowly rose

the next morning,

the new day dawned with

a deep deafening silence,

and the sickly sun shuddered

as it peered through the

broken black clouds,

lamenting the loss of the

once grand city of Pompeii;

as the scattered survivors

clutched ever so tightly to

their shredded sliver of hope,

it appeared that perhaps the

volcanic storm had finally

exhausted itself,

and the remaining citizens,

with empty expressions

on their blank faces,

slowly and weakly

began the process of

putting the splintered pieces

of their lives back together again;

but in the distance

they suddenly heard a

thunderous roar that

rapidly and frighteningly

crescendoed as it drew nearer,

sounding very much like

a stampede of the gods;

with great trepidation,

the people lifted their

bloodshot eyes and they saw a

massive wall of

whirling gray clouds --

as tall as Vesuvius herself --

rushing madly along the

surface of the ground and

coming right towards them;

it paused momentarily,

as if trying to catch its breath,

before making one last

diabolical attack upon its enemy;

then in a twinkle of time,

the voracious cloud of hot ash

charged through and hungrily devoured

the crumpled carcass

of pitiful Pompeii.

Act V

As Time drearily dragged the

morning into afternoon,

the poor Pompeians

were forever frozen

and cemented into history,

buried alive in a twelve-foot

blizzard of blazing ashes;

the solitary sun looked down

sadly upon the waveless

gray ocean of volcanic ash,

and Pompeii was nothing more

than a desolate wasteland --

even the powerful Vesuvius

was left seriously crippled,

with her cone blown off

by the explosiveness of her fury;

when the news of this event finally

reached the imperial city of Rome,

Pope Cletus gathered for mass

with his flock and, together,

they fervently prayed for

the souls of the victims who perished

in the very dark tragedy of

the doomed city of Pompeii.

THE CHEMISTRY OF REVOLUTIONS by Joseph Castorino

A Circular Poem with No Beginning and No End

revolution?

it all starts when the

emotional electrons of

selfishness and fear

crash and collide,

thereby causing a chain reaction

that sparks the pulsating protons

and irascible ions of

savage seething anger and of

horribly hellish hate,

and this in turn ignites the

molecules of misery that

electrically explode into

woeful wailing wars and

dreadful devastating death;

but the question is this:

will there ever be

an end to

TO JESUS THROUGH MARY by Joseph Castorino

A DIVINE MERCY PRAYER

Dearest Mary, Queen of All Hearts,

Star of Love in the dark night,

Have mercy on us,

And on the whole world:

Pray for us!

Precious Jesus, King of the Universe,

Lord of Love and Lord of Light,

Have mercy on us,

And on the whole world:

I trust in You!

MARIAN SYMPHONY NO. 11 by Joseph Castorino

A Poem about Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

In stature the bishop was rather short,

But spoke with power like a judge in court;

Sometimes his sharp eyes were piercing swords,

Other times his smile was warm, like the Lord’s;

His divine sense of humor won us all,

Yes, “Uncle Fultie” always had a ball;

His Shakespearean drama shook the soul,

Yet leading us to Heaven was his goal.

TO ST. PATRICK by Joseph Castorino

You’re a stout lad from the big Scottish isle,

A future bishop without any guile;

Kidnappers took you away from your home,

Across a sea that rippled with white foam;

In Ireland you were made a poor slave,

Life was rough, though you tried hard to be brave;

You drew close to God and He set you free,

At last with your eyes your homeland you see;

You return to Ireland so smart, so wise,

And clearly reveal all the devil’s lies;

You pray “Christ on my left, Christ on my right,”

And you help the Irish find the true Light.

WHO WAS JUDAS ISCARIOT? by Joseph Castorino

Was he actually

humble?

Or did his pride

puff

like swollen eyelids and make him

stumble?

Was he possibly

kind?

Or did silent envy

creep

like a serpent into his

mind?

Did he patiently

wait?

Or did his simmering anger

boil

as he smelled that costly nard with

hate?

Did he have

zeal?

Or was his faith

sluggish

like at his last supper

meal?

Did he perchance

share?

Or did his fingers

clutch

the silver coins to keep in his

lair?

Did his temperance avoid every

snag?

Or was he a glutton who

gobbled

all the leftover loaves from his

bag?

Did he have self-

control?

Or did he pant and burn for

power

since killing the Romans was his

goal?

Did he ultimately

repent?

Or did his soul

fall

through the noose like

cement?

THE INFERNO: A DIVINE COMEDY by Joseph Castorino

Let’s now take a tour through Dante’s

Inferno by going back in time,

It’s all about poetic justice down there,

So let the punishment fit the crime!

Hell is shaped like a giant funnel,

And it leads to the center of the Earth,

It’s an ugly place with a vile stench,

And it’s certainly not known for mirth.

In the Vestibule are those neither good

Nor bad who are like the living dead,

And as they are stung by wild wasps,

Their elastic eyes pop out of their head.

In Circle One are the honorable pagans,

Who lived by the glory of reasoning,

These souls are feeling sad in limbo,

Since they will never taste heavenly seasoning.

In Circle Two are those with carnal passions,

Who allowed sensuality to abound,

Lustful lovers are kissed by a whirling tempest

In an eternal merry-go-round.

In Circle Three are the vomit-stained gluttons,

In a squalid snow unholy,

Three-headed Cerberus loves their fatty flavor

Even more than a tasty cannoli.

In Circle Four are the hoarders and wasters,

Whose only idol in life was money,

They all have heavy weights on their backs,

And shuffle around kind of funny.

In Circle Five the wrathful are swimming

In the swampy Stygian mud,

They look like the drool a cow spits out,

After it has blandly chewed its cud.

A flame from the Great Tower

Marks a shift from upper to lower hell,

This flashing fire signals hell’s capital

In lieu of a funeral bell.

In Circle Six stands the City of Dis,

Shrouded with the smokiest fog,

The heretics are cooked in flaming graves,

As if they are a barbecued hot dog.

Circle Seven is a little bit different,

And it’s divided into three separate rounds,

The sinners are suffering in divers ways,

Making all kinds of screaming sounds.

In Round One are the violent souls,

Mad warlords who wanted to be boss,

Their heads bob in a boiling river of blood,

Like meatballs in tomato sauce.

In Round Two the suicides have turned into

Trees that have black leaves on top,

Their souls are bottled up inside,

Very much like bubbly soda pop.

In Round Three the blasphemers lie on burning sand,

And it makes them really sizzle,

They must have heard the forecast wrong,

Because there is a fiery drizzle.

Circle Eight is also quite unusual,

Divided into bolgias numbering ten,

Each bolgia is a deep, cavernous ditch,

More filthy than a swine’s muddy pen.

In Bolgia One are the selfish seducers,

Who perennially rush around in a mob,

They look like interns late for the subway,

Who are afraid of losing their job.

In Bolgia Two are the flatterers,

Who speak words of sweet sugar-coated goo,

One of them falls into the pool of excrement,

And swallows a mouthful or two.

Bolgia Three is lined with a honeycomb of tubes,

For simoniacs who misused their position,

They’re crammed head-first into each of them,

With their feet ignited by nuclear fission.

In Bolgia Four are the fortune tellers who

Thought predicting the future was pretty neat,

But now they have their heads on backwards,

And they look like twisted pretzels when they eat.

In Bolgia Five, the grafters look like fried frogs,

Peering out from the boiling black tar,

When a demon raked one with a grappling hook,

He felt like he got flattened by a car.

In Bolgia Six are the hypocrites, wearing

Beautiful robes of the heaviest lead,

With buckling knees, they’re sweating bullets,

And their faces are turning strawberry red.

In Bolgia Seven are the thieves,

Who are grievously guilty of blame,

The serpents squeeze them very tight,

And like matches they burst into flame.

In Bolgia Eight are the evil counselors,

Whose murky malevolence is most dire,

They could really go for some lemonade,

Since they are wading in a lake of fire.

In Bolgia Nine are the sowers of discord,

Who are decapitated by a demon who looks drunk,

One of them palms his head in his hand,

Like a basketball player preparing to dunk.

In Bolgia Ten are the crafty counterfeiters,

Who loved to print monetary junk,

Now their skin is crusted with horrid diseases,

And they have a stench like a fricasseed skunk.

In Circle Nine are the beastly betrayers,

Whose souls are so grimly black,

The devil chews and chomps on them,

In a crunchy never-ending snack.

Finally we’ve reached the bottom of hell,

And our fascinating journey is done,

Hopefully Dante is pleased with the result,

As we’ve had just a little bit of fun.

But the moral of the story is to remember always

The very true words of St. John Vianney,

He put it quite well when he said with utter sincerity,

“Hell exists!”

TO ST. TERESA OF AVILA by Joseph Castorino

As a strong spiritual mother,

You reliably and respectably

Reform the Carmelite order,

And your holy friendship

With St. John of the Cross

Helps your soul spiral upwards

Towards the Heavenly Kingdom;

Then, you close your eyes and

Your spirit penetrates into the heart

Of the Interior Castle of prayer,

And there, in the dark night,

You discover the true Light.

TO ST. BERNADETTE OF LOURDES by Joseph Castorino

Your magnificent story I will tell:

The wondrous Miracle of Massabielle;

Our Lady came in breathtaking beauty,

And she knew that you would do your duty;

You came before her as God’s little child,

And looking down on you, she warmly smiled;

She gently asked you to dig in the ground,

And there spring waters were suddenly found;

Cripples bathed in the stream with salty tears,

And walked away whole without any fears;

Then hardened hearts started to melt,

And before the good God they humbly knelt.

TO OUR LADY OF LOURDES by Joseph Castorino

The Little Candle said to Our Lady,

“Your merciful and majestic eyes

are dazzlingly modest,

Sparkling like radiant jewels

of kindness and compassion;

Your serene smile swiftly

steals my humble heart,

As you point me towards the

path that leads to Jesus;

Your majestic mantle and sky-blue

sash dance joyfully in the breeze,

Reflecting the mildness and the

gentleness of the good God;

Your ladylike lips whisper

words of wisdom

That split the air like

atomic loving lightning;

Your sweet, saintly actions

ripple through the universe,

Like warm, welcoming waves

of heavenly peace.”

O DEAREST LADY OF LOURDES by Joseph Castorino

As I gently finger the beads of the rosary,

I touch your warm soft hands,

I gaze into your merciful, majestic eyes,

And I contemplate your loveliness;

Together our precious prayers mingle,

And rise up like sweet incense,

Its scent perfumes the halls of Heaven,

And delights the Lord of Light.