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Poetry

Beggars, a Poem: Notes on Need and Circumstance

Beggars, a Poem: Notes on Need and Circumstance

This reflection and accompanying poem come to us from Becky Carlozzi. The night before my husband and I left for our fifteen-year anniversary trip to Italy, I received a phone call that my friend had been arrested and would spend several weeks in jail. The following day, staring out a window at 30,000 feet, I […]

What Shall It Profit? by William Dean Howells

What Shall It Profit?
William Dean Howells

If I lay waste and wither up with doubt
The blessed fields of heaven where once my faith
Possessed itself serenely safe from death;
If I deny the things past finding out;
Or if I orphan my own soul of One
That seemed a Father, and make void the place
Within me where He dwelt in power and grace,
What do I gain by that I have undone?

“Good Friday: No Way Out but Straight Through, Jack” - Vicki Hearne

“Good Friday: No Way Out but Straight Through, Jack”
by Vicki Hearne (1946-2001)

It’s like chance, but chance knocks but
Won’t open the door, and here’s
A greater thing than we have
Ever done (before we learn
What we are doing). The god
Will become so resplendent
With wounds our eyes must dazzle,

But now our hands hold aloft
The spears that dance in the light
From the hillside. Ecstasy,
Even, should not distract us:
The flesh must be opened full
To the light and wait, bleeding
In welcome. And in welcome

The elegant wounds will close
With all of us safe inside.
But we are not now to know
With Whom we trifle, not yet
To ask forgiveness lest we
Not plunge the gleaming weapons
Heartily. Grief will give wings

And song reveal the purple
Gold, the burnished ground, the flame.

______

featured image: Cross with arma Christi, wood cross, Joaquín López Antay, Fowler Museum at UCLA.

We Are Always in the Wrong: The Absurd Command, Part 2

We Are Always in the Wrong: The Absurd Command, Part 2

Continuing from last week’s first part. Kierkegaard once (indirectly) wrote that it is an edifying thought that “before God we are always in the wrong.” Not because he was an apologist for the perfectionist strain of popular Calvinism (thank God) but because this view recalibrates our lenses to assess what actually is the case. A […]

The Imperfect Eye - John L'Heureux

From Picnic in Bablyon, L’Heureux’s journals from 1963-’67.

The Imperfect Eye

I saw tonight that he is on my side,
the lion. For the first time, I saw it.
And by God all the furniture got up

and danced (that hulking desk
a creditable tango) and I, though not much
on my feet, waltzed through Judah

like a Crazy-priest. Sometimes joy
is like that, coming quick as dandelions
springing to attention while the sun

shudders still—a little—from the melting
winter. Anyway here I was with lions
to account for and that desk

and questionable antics all along
(indignities of sun and dandelions
while our bones still creak with Lent)

and I thought God, what now, until
again I heard the music of the dance
again I waltzed through Judah.

“I something fear my father’s wrath” no more.

Distilled (still aging)

The following poem was written by Nathan F. Elmore

With special thanks to mezcal. I certainly didn’t find you.

Eight to twelve years, depending—
a hand
suddenly a blade
the heart stripped
every fire a thirst

(more…)

What to Like about <i>Like</i>

What to Like about Like

This poetry review was written by Joey Jekel. What do translations of Homer, the Eurasian refugee crisis, blacksmithing, and Alice in Wonderland all have in common? They are all in the strange and pleasing ken of A. E. Stallings. A previous resident of Athens, Georgia and current resident of Athens, Greece, this contemporary poet and […]

And a Time to Laugh: The Comedy of Christmas in Auden and <i>The Second Shepherds' Play</i>

And a Time to Laugh: The Comedy of Christmas in Auden and The Second Shepherds' Play

Christmas is ridiculous. That’s probably one reason it took the spot of ancient midwinter festivals like Saturnalia, when everything went topsy-turvy. Consider this excerpt from Auden’s For the Time Being, when Simeon at last sees Jesus: SIMEON Because in Him the Flesh is united to the Word without magical transformation, Imagination is redeemed from promiscuous […]

Stopping

Stopping

This poem was written by John Nolan: Stopping I cannot stop stopping I simply cannot My brain will keep talking Unless I can slot Away impulse and image and instant and id And if they persist a visit begins From the wilderness washing Like particle mist Mutated mangled from sixty minutes All bundled in twelves […]

Stories Told Behind Auden's Back

Stories Told Behind Auden's Back

The less you know about a person, the easier it is to venerate them, which is why you generally don’t want your children writing your biography. My favorite parts of biographies are not the quotes from the person being written about, but rather from those who knew them well — or — too well. This […]

Chewing Tinfoil, Wanting God: Christian Wiman’s <i>He Held Radical Light</i>

Chewing Tinfoil, Wanting God: Christian Wiman’s He Held Radical Light

What is it we want when we can’t stop wanting? Christian Wiman’s new essays resist review. Reviews of art are always a strange effort, anyway. An exhibition of paintings or a play or a concert or a novel or a poem, all are experiences, experiences of difference—when our action is displaced but our hearts and […]

The Altar - George Herbert

A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant rears,
Made of a heart and cemented with tears;
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workman’s tool hath touch’d the same.
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow’r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame
To praise thy name.
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
Oh, let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.