Friday, October 31, 2003

Response to "The floor is cold"

The dawn is cold, the sky
dim gray at 6:45 a.m.
I’m dressed, ready to drive to work.

We have kept: evenings alone,
walking through gardens,
listening to treasure chest hearts

opening. Now the evening
grows cold; we wrap ourselves
together like a winter scarf.
See Bolivia Poems, XI. Above poem is also available in Postcard Format.

Give Your Words a Cake Today

by George Wallace, poet laureate of Suffolk County, New York

give your words a cake today, it is the birthday of words
let all the minutes and seconds of silent contemplation join hands
let us gather mentally around the big-eyed party table

tell all the nouns and verbs wearing silver bracelets
tell that pair of gutterals in the corner lighting safety matches
time to ante up! here comes the birthday barge

the human race is draped in fresh blue crepe and admiration
tell all the vowels! let all the fricatives in on the news!
mother tongue has hung the hall with plenty of streamers

a raft of presents all wrapped up in pretty purple prose
and everywhere and everyone in the room calling for a speech
speech! speech! speech! praise for the birthday boy!

let us all hear the one horn blowing
let us all stuff his mouth with plenty of cake

Word for the Day

juggernaut (JUG-uhr-not) noun
[From Hindi jagannath (a title of Krishna, a Hindu god), from Sanskrit jagannath, from jagat (world) + nath (lord). A procession of Lord Jagannath takes place each year at Puri (India). Devotees pull a huge cart carrying the deity. Some have been accidentally crushed under the wheels (or are said to have thrown themselves under them).] A picture of the procession
1. Anything requiring blind sacrifice.
2. A massive relentless force, person, institution, etc. that crushes everything in its path.
From Word a Day

She Sleeps in Beauty

she sleeps in beauty
she dreams of orchids
she flies amoung cardinals

the north wind has awakened
but she sleeps toward the morning
and bends her hand toward her breast

the morning dances the earth awake
it gently bends to the horizon
and individually caresses each tree

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Rewrite: October Sky

The sky washes her face for October
trees & houses stack in layers that tend
to the north, in a line toward November.
She opens the eyes & to each heart sends
a secret invitation; a token
of days to come, of darkness set apart. 

The trees prepare to rest.  Sometimes broken,
but never destroyed, they face the dark
without vanity; they dress in bright colors
then slowly strip naked to brave the cold.

The sky will not accept any tone of dolor,
she is bright, she is exceedingly bold.
Each cloud a token of winter's coming snow
before time falls back, & our sky must go.
Rewrite of poem originally posted on October 24, 2003.

Ideé d’jour

Enjoy every sandwich.
— Warren Zevon (1947 – 2003), singer/songwriter
Quoted in Acoustic Guitar, December 2003; (14)6, 132: 19-20.

Poetic Powerpoint

While visiting Ron Silliman's Blog, I stumbled upon the concept of using Power Point for a poetry reading. Well, by coincidence, Power Point has been getting a lot of play at my day job lately.

One of the profs, who is in his late 60s, is tranferring all his lectures to Power Point. This guy is normally a cyberphobe, but he's like a little boy with a new toy as he compiles these lectures. I have produced the skeletons of a pair of PowerPoints for a couple of researchers/clinicians in the department. In other words, I digitized the Kodachrome slides and copied them to PowerPoint for the researcher to shuffle & title as desired. And, again by coincidence, one of my friends and I were talking about adapting PowerPoint for "Grand Rounds" type presentations.

Well, this being Sweeps Week and all, I decided to present a recent poem ("Fragments for Breakfast") in PowerPoint format. One of the perks of my day job is the use of Adobe Acrobat, so I was able to "publish" the PowerPoint to "pdf", therefore readable by anyone who has the free Adobe Reader.

Here it is for your potential reading pleasure. You may want to reduce magnification to around 45% so the slides will fit within your screen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

All Guy

On the advice of reviewer Michael Wells, I sent a recent block entry through the Gender Genie. I chose Bolivia IV: response (Tue, Oct 28, below), believing it to be one of my longer entries of late. With a total word-count of 316, this selection scored 401 on the Female Scale and 856 on the Male Scale.

The GB Poet entry is more problematic. If I only cut & paste his words, the Male/Female Scale are about equal — only about 3-4 points on either side of 300 each. If I include my comment (which raises the word count to 357), the entry scores as 260 Female and 597 Male.

It occurs to me there may be some sexual prejudice at work here. In other words, shorter passages may score as Male because men are stereotypically more laconic than women.

New Postcards

Both Hot Springs Response and "Evo Morales says (Bolivia IV: response, entry for Tues., Oct. 28, below) are now available in "Postcard Format". Both cards take 15 seconds or less to download, and the "Evo Morales" one features a couple of pictures of Ché Guevara (right).
“Vestige” is a good word to use.

Hot Springs Response

We were threaded into a shawl
woven from the colored fabric of humanity
Delicious soup, first meal after a long fast
We were bread for each other's heart
Woven with strands of hair and warm hands
We were poured out in kisses
This poem responds to L.C.'s Bolivia Poems, IX.

GB II, Poet

They want to kill and create chaos.
That's the nature of a terrorist, that's what terrorists do.
They commit suicide acts against innocent people and then
expect people to say, well, gosh, we better — better not try to fight you anymore.
But I will tell you, I would assume that they're
either, or, and probably both Baathists and foreign terrorists.
You ought to look at my speech.
And so, as I said yesterday, we will not be — I said today again,
I believe we can reach a proper accord
to protect the integrity of the daily brief process
I think you ought to look at my speech.
Not every action requires military action.
Resolutions were passed — not one, two or three, but a lot.
Look at my speech.
She's an unsticker.
I hope not. That's what the terrorists want. They want countries to say,
oh, gosh, well, we better not send anybody there because somebody might get hurt.
That's precisely what they're trying to do.
That’s what terrorists do.
They commit suicide acts.
And this country will stay the course.
We'll do our job.
And it's to our interest that we do our job.
Well, I think the American people are patient during an election year,
because they tend to be able to differentiate between politics and reality.
That’s what they do.
As a matter of fact, the American people are —
the electorate is a heck of a lot smarter than most politicians.
She’s an unsticker.
What terrorists do. I said today again,
he's disguised a weapons program, he had ambitions.
Casus belli, it means a — that would have been a cause for a war.
It’s to our interest that we do our job.
That’s what terrorists do. I think you ought to look at my speech.
It struck me early this morning that GB II was something of a language poet. This is based, I’ll admit, on a very limited experience of language poets, and may not be fair to them or our Fearless Leader.

In any event, this poem is taken verbatim (with some slight editing) from GB’s press conference yesterday morning. Source: US Newswire.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Bolivia IV: response

Evo Morales says:
Tomorrow we build
from the shattered totem
we rebuild the fields
where children will play
Brother Ché, el gringo
was driven from La Paz
and now yellow potatoes
purple papas & llama meat
feed us all
The earth greets us
the rivers rejoice
the mountains clap their hands
This is a response poem to one of the poems L.C. wrote while she was on a mission trip in Bolivia. You may read L.C.'s poem here; look for "Bolivia Poems, IV".

Purists may think we're cheating at the "Postcard Poem" game, but it was just too impractical to actually mail the cards — L.C. would be home before I received the cards, if we had; and she may never have received the cards I sent (if I literally sent them to Bolivia). Some of the cards we wrote "blind" do seem to comment on each other, but we agreed to write new responses to be included in a chapbook.

Just to ponder the process for a moment: like my earlier "response" poem, I've nabbed snippet phrases from L.C.'s poem, rearranged them, and then gave them a new meaning. This is similar to a technique Ruark L. has used with my work posted at the Poetry Espresso e-list. In this case, the new meaning comments on current affairs.

Ché may be a frequent visitor to my poems — he appears here because of the mention in the linked article about Evo Morales. Many probably already know Ché Guevera died in Bolivia, so I'm charmed by the idea of his ghost hovering over this series of poems.

We plan to have the chapbook available for L.C.'s premiere art show, on Nov. 23rd. The format of the book will owe much to the books Cassie Lewis has produced.

Write now to pre-order copies of this limited edition chapbook. Depending on production costs, I expect the selling price to be between $3-$5.

Rush Laughs, Correction

Cousin Phyllis has made me aware that the "article" I posted on Thursday, Oct. 23, actually originated from The Onion, a satirical site. I presented and commented on this article as if it were an actual news item, although I was unable to find verification. I cited my source (Progressive Voice) precisely because I had some doubt about the veracity of the article. I should have stated my doubts in my original entry.

I regret the error. In fairness to the man, I hereby reprint Mr. Limbaugh's actual statement (as relayed to me by Cousin Phyllis):
NEW YORK, Oct. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Rush Limbaugh today issued the following statement on his radio program:

"You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life. So I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication.

"I first started taking prescription painkillers some years ago when my doctor prescribed them to treat post surgical pain following spinal surgery. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and I continued to have severe pain in my lower back and also in my neck due to herniated discs. I am still experiencing that pain. Rather than opt for additional surgery for these conditions, I chose to treat the pain with prescribed medication. This medication turned out to be highly addictive.

"Over the past several years I have tried to break my dependence on pain pills and, in fact, twice checked myself into medical facilities in an attempt to do so. I have recently agreed with my physician about the next steps.

"Immediately following this broadcast, I am checking myself into a treatment center for the next 30 days to once and for all break the hold this highly addictive medication has on me. The show will continue during this time, of course, with an array of guest hosts you have come to know and respect.

"I am not making any excuses. You know, over the years athletes and celebrities have emerged from treatment centers to great fanfare and praise for conquering great demons. They are said to be great role models and examples for others. Well, I am no role model. I refuse to let anyone think I am doing something great here, when there are people you never hear about, who face long odds and never resort to such escapes. They are the role models. I am no victim and do not portray myself as such. I take full responsibility for my problem.

"At the present time, the authorities are conducting an investigation, and I have been asked to limit my public comments until this investigation is complete. So I will only say that the stories you have read and heard contain inaccuracies and distortions, which I will clear up when I am free to speak about them.

"I deeply appreciate all your support over this last tumultuous week. It has sustained me. I ask now for your prayers. I look forward to resuming our excursion into broadcast excellence together."
Mr. Limbaugh clearly states that he is no victim. One may reasonably infer from his statement that he acknowledges that his actions were wrong. This seems to support my primary assertion in my original entry — whether the drugs are for "real" pain, or were once prescribed does not alter the fact that buying prescription drugs on the "blackmarket" is illegal. In the eyes of the law, there is little difference between blackmarket OxyContin or heroin — either one is illegal.

My secondary assertion was that Rush Limbaugh is primarily an entertainer, and should not be taken seriously as a commentator. Considering my failure to fully check my sources and/or facts, perhaps I need to be more cautious about where I point fingers.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled poetic programming.

First Web Publication

You may recall that I submitted a poem I wrote back in 1975 to the Virtual Occocuan, for inclusion in its "Danger Issue". I'm happy to report the poem was published! You may scroll down to Wed. Oct. 22, to read "On Searching for Love and Finding the Night", or you can see the title listed on Virtual Occocuan's Table of Contents. The worthy seeker will also learn my "birth name".

Coming up: sometime this winter (I presume), I will be published in the on-line journal Poetry Bay. Details to follow. Time for breakfast, now.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Blog Sweeps Week

The entries this week will more intentionally focus on poetry and poetics. Michael Wells, who blogs at StickPoetSuperhero has instituted a one-person "Sweeps Week" where he will read and rate nominated poetry sites. The only requirement is that the site "MUST be a blog that has some major poetry or poetics connection."

Although I began this site as a means to discuss current political issues, and to share my religious/philosophical musings, it has focused more on poetry for the past month or two. Believing this qualified me for Michael's sweep week, I asked my blog be entered.

So: when I don't have a new poem to share, I will post something older & discuss it. I might even return to reflecting on William Blake's “Proverbs of Hell” from The Marriage of Heaven & Hell.

Hi, Michael!

Ideé d’jour

It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.
— William Carlos Williams, poet (1883-1963)

Friday, October 24, 2003

October Sky

The sky washes her face for October
clouds come & go, driven by the wind
as the wind blows hard toward November
she opens the eyes & to each heart sends
a secret invitation; a token
of days to come, of darkness set apart.
Caution! Sonnet under construction. Here you see the first six lines. I have written more here, which will give you an opportunity to see one of Dr. Omed's fine drawings.

Ideé d’jour

If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.
— Confucius, philosopher and teacher (c. 551–478 BCE)

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Rush Laughs

This just in from The Progressive Voice:
WEST PALM BEACH, FL—Frankly discussing his addiction to painkillers, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience Monday that his abuse of OxyContin was a "remnant of the anything-goes ideology of the Clinton Administration." "Friends, all I can say is 'I told you so," said Limbaugh, from an undisclosed drug-treatment facility. "Were it not for Bill Clinton's loose policies on drug offenders and his rampant immorality, I would not have found myself in this predicament." Limbaugh added that he's staying at a rehab center created by the tax-and-spend liberals.
I've pretty much avoided the topic of Rush Limbaugh's troubles — except to comment that he clearly knows as much about sports as he does politics. But this quote pretty much proved something I've long suspected about Rush.

Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer, not a commentator. He's not necessarily the scary one; I'm more concerned about the people who take him seriously. Can this guy seriously be blaming his problems on Bill Clinton? Seems contrary to the dominant conservative philosophy of taking responsibility for one's own actions. It is, at best, a variant of the "twinkie

The statement seems to me to be an obvious joke. And I see little reason to take anything else Rush says much more seriously than this statement.

A number of Rush's conservative defenders have pointed out he was taking this medication for pain. Well, I'm sure there's
other drug addicts who would claim they take their drug of choice to deal with pain. The fact that Rush was buying the
drug on the black market suggests he wanted to increase the dose his doctor prescribed, or that his doctor stopped
prescribing the medication. In either case, buying prescription drugs from the black market is illegal.

The real difference between Rush and people in the joint for buying illegal drugs? Rush is white, well-to-do, and popular.
If he was a person of color, or lower-class, odds are pretty good he'd be in the joint.

For a different point of view, visit Cousin Phyllis, and read "Rush Limbaugh", on Saturday, October 18, 2003.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


You can ask the question, but you can't hear the answer.
— Third year medical student

Ideé d’jour

[A bomb] expands; it only destroys because it broadens; even so, thought only destroys because it broadens. A man's brain is a bomb
— G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday, p38, 1986 Dover, New York; originally © 1908
Might be a good entry for the "Danger" issue of the Virtual Occocuan (see below).

On Searching for Love & Finding the Night

Switchblade knife revealed in pale moon light;
people speaking, their silence saying more;
an oceanic heart bursting on the shore
of this ancient black cloth spotted with white.
Ah, love prowls with claws withdrawn late tonight
as blindmen wait at corners to cross o'er
and vile passion sits behind a locked door.
Can there be nothing to set this aright?

The phone rings; a voice answers as the past
is soon recalled: “Let us once again meet,”
she says, “Ours was a promise that should last.”
My blood is spread on my skin like a sheet —
no hopes or accusations can be cast —
just: “I'll not see you again, empty street.”

circa 1975
Mark Hoback, editor of Virtual Occoquan has requested submissions on the topic of "Danger." I've already submitted Rainy Morning, which is tangetical in its danger. Then, sometime last night, it occurred to me this anti-love sonnet from my poetic cedar chest might be closer to the theme.

"Sonnet?" you ask. Well, yeah, not to brag or anything, but this is a Petrarchin Sonnet. I haven't memorized all existing sonnets, but I suspect this is one of the few that basicly says "I hate your guts."

Oh, yeah: it used to be one of Dr. Omed's favorites, as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


I haven't thought of Nancy S— in sometime. The last time I saw her was July 4, 2000, when we went to her daughter's to watch fireworks. But I thought of her last night, as I meditated on the sanctuary light during Compline (which followed a Benedictine study).

Nancy and I were never romantically involved. She was married when we first met, and we saw each other as adopted siblings. This remained true even after she divorced.

But the incident I remembered as I prayed occurred while Nancy was still married: we went to St. Gregory's for a retreat together. One night, in the cloister, Nancy watched the sanctuary light flicker. And she realized that it was a metaphor for her faith — sometimes faint, sometimes strong.

The phrase that occurred to me in chapel last night remained through the morning: “She prayed to the beat of the candle” Naturally, that became the first line of my latest "Postcard Poem. This one features a stained-glass luminary by Connie Beckers.

As always, I encourage you to read the card, then return here to comment.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Fragments for Breakfast Follow-Up

Your correspondent has been experimenting with Cascading Style Sheets (a.k.a., "CSS"), and has created a Postcard Poem which uses a couple of CSS's neat features. Question: how do you fit extra-long text into a 216x332 space? Simple: the "overflow" element in CSS.

Based on my research, this should view equally well in all browsers.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

A Beat Evening

L.C.P. and I went to an evening of films relating to the Beat Generation. I've been thinking a lot about the beats the past couple of weeks, primarily Jack Kerouac, probably because his name came up in a poem by our NY friend Geo. Wallace.

The first film was a short written and narrated by Jack Kerouac, titled "Pull My Daisy". The 27 minute film relates an actual event that happened at the home of Neal and Carolyn Cassidy, when they were trying to entertain "The Bishop" while their beat friends (e.g., Gregory Corso and Allen Ginsberg) were hanging out at their home. Zaniness ensues.

Aside from the fun of seeing the actual people play themselves, the real revelation was Kerouac's voice. The guy could have been an actor — he had a real facility with character voices. He did a passable Irish accent, a voice very similar to Ginsberg’s, and a decent Brooklyn accent. There were a couple of points where he did word play jazz that was worthy of James Joyce.

The "main feature" was a documentary titled "The Source", which talks about the origins of the Beat Generation, and its influence on the hippies of the 60s and 70s, and the punks of the 80s. It opened with Ginsberg flipping through a photo album, with great shots of Neal Cassidy, Kerouac, and others. Of course, Ginsberg was a frequent interview subject, as were William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Ken Kesey.

Footnote: Ginsberg and Burroughs died within four months of each other, in 1997.
from On Neal’s Ashes
Delicate eyes that blinked blue Rockies all ash
nipples, Ribs I touched w/ my thumb are ash
mouth my tongue touched once or twice all ash
bony cheeks soft on my belly are cinder, ash

— from The Fall of America © 1972, Allen Ginsberg
One of the treats of this film were the sequences with Neal Cassidy, which included some snippets of his voice. As most Beatologists know, Cassidy was Kerouac’s inspiration and muse, especially for On the Road. Based on what I saw in the movie, Cassidy was a pretty strange character; today he might be diagnosed as bipolar.

L.C.’s comment after the documentary was that it wasn’t very entertaining, but it was very interesting. There were times it had a disjointed narrative flow, but that seemed appropriate to the subject. For example, there were a number of times the narrative was broken by popular images of the beats, e.g., Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs, Brando in "The Wild One", etc.

As for my personal Beat library — sadly, I sold most of my Kerouac books when I moved to OKC four years ago. I had to be especially hard-hearted at the time, and I did not think it likely that I would re-read any of the books. The one book I still own is the one I’ve started any number of times and found hard to finish: Dr. Sax.

Ironically, the first book by Jack Kerouac I read was Pic, which is one of the few pieces of straight-ahead fiction he wrote (i.e., it wasn’t based on his life or friends). I read it in my freshman year of high school, and I remember giving it a positive book report.

I have five collections of Ginsberg’s poetry, four of which are autographed by the man himself. I read Ginsberg in small smatterings, and generally skim over his more blatantly homoerotic poetry.

The author Charles Bukowski was name-checked in the movie. At one time, Dana was a fan, and I’ve read Ham & Rye. Main thing I remember about that book was the scene described was almost as awful as the opening paragraphs of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.

Speaking of my man Henry, the movie didn’t mention Miller or the Lost Generation of the 20s, but I think that earlier generation had some similarities to the Beats – that same post-war up-rootedness and distrust of the status quo. Certainly, Miller’s peripatetic life was a fore-runner of Kerouac’s life “on the road”.

When we first met, LCP thought I was bohemian. Which would suggest I was heavily influenced by my reading of Miller and the beats. Well, I’m no poster boy for the American dream, but there are some ways in which I am very middle class. I own my home, I commute to work, and I work 8 - 5 weekdays. Can't be much more proletariat than that.

I remember my Princeton summer, back in 1979, which was probably the most "bohemian" period in my life. I was living in a small two-room apartment on Nassau Street with three other guys. We were all doing art and poetry. On the whole, however, I think I was more self-destructive than I was creative.

One strong similarity, however, is my sense that the spiritual is more important than the material. Art trumps commerce, in my world. Poetry, music, and painting are more important than "getting ahead".

My comment, after the movie, was to note the similarities between the 50s and the present — America was involved in what seemed a questionable conflict (the Korean War), and there was an emphasis on conformity. There's no question that many who opposed America’s attack on Iraq are the Beat Generation’s children.

Friday, October 17, 2003

More on Lambeth

Fr. Bojangles has some astute observations on the politics behind the actions in Lambeth on Wednesday and Thursday of this week (see "Autonomous until...."). While you're on Fr. Bojangles' blog, read Update, which reproduces the full text of a pastoral letter from Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.

Shorter version: the "conservative" element in the church perceives the ordination of Canon Robinson as "unilateral ignorance of positions taken by the Communion at previous Lambeth Conferences." Presiding Bishop Griswold would make two points in his pastoral letter: (1) the consent to the ordination of Canon Robinson "does not settle the questions concerning human sexuality" (2)the resolution regarding "the blessing of same sex unions is not about approval but rather the acknowledgment that there are a variety of pastoral practices within our common life."

For an even-handed over-view of Biblical verses which are considered to address the issue of homosexuality, I direct you to this essay by Stephen Bates, the religious affairs correspondent for The Guardian.

On the whole, I feel slightly more hopeful after reading Fr. Bojangles' entry. We need not have an irrevocable schism over this matter — as much as the AAC may desire it — so long as we can maintain a respectful dialogue.

Fragments for Breakfast

words just fall from my lips
but won't come to my fingers

i'm sitting in the dark hours of pre-dawn
blessed by a street lamp's halo

too early to be afraid
too late to turn back

words just fall
leaves fly up like dust devils

don't trust my words
they're too weary

leaves fly up in memory
her hair falls down in your face

her voice rises up
as she lies beside you

time ticks slowly by
disconnected couplets
fragments for breakfast

I’m thinking in couplets
but dreaming in triplets

everything that was left out
something overheard

beneath inconstant clouds
that dart across the sky

rain clouds go south
thin white clouds go north

I’m dreaming drawings on the sand
I’m dreaming of a song

or the memory of a song
my fingers remember her hair

time ticks slowly by
disconnected couplets
fragments for breakfast

Ideé d’jour (2)

I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.
— Wolfgang Amadeus Moszart, 1756-1791

Ideé d’jour

But man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep.
— William Shakespeare

House of Phyllis

Cousin Phyllis has started her very own web-log, House of Phyllis. She just has a pair of entries at the moment. She's unapologetically conservative, which sets her at the opposite end of the political spectrum from your humble correspondent. So, as she adds to her "blog", you may want to visit her "house" to get a second opinion.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Meeting at Lambeth

I have long been taught that the foundation of Episcopal/Anglican teaching is compromised of three parts: scripture, tradition, and reason. This is sometimes referred to as the "the three-legged stool." As Anglican bishops gather at Lambeth Palace, England, to consider the controversy surrounding homosexuality, it seems to me that the conflict lies in which of these “legs” receives the most weight.

Mistaking a part of the truth for the whole truth.
One group would emphasize a traditional reading of scripture (which views homosexuality as a sin), while the other group would emphasize reason (which does not view homosexuality as a sin). While I am one of the latter group, I would affirm that an over-emphasis on any one leg may lead to heresy. 

According to the "Articles of Faith" as recorded in the back of the Book of Common Prayer, Episcopalians believe God inspired humans to write scripture.  Further, we believe that we understand scripture through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Both of these tenets of our faith allow for the possibility of human error and prejudice.  Though some evangelicals resist a historical-critical reading of scripture, I believe this is the most valid way to read it.

If Christians were honest, they would admit that they do not abide by all the commandments of scripture themselves.
— Real Live Preacher
Once again, if you are interested in reading a detailed refutation of the verses commonly used to define homosexuality as a sin, I direct you to the work of “Real Live Preacher”.  Bottom line: the concept of sexual identity originated in the 19th Century, with Freud.  The idea of homosexuality, as we understand it today, would have been totally foreign to the writers of the Bible.  Additionally, as we prepare to condemn others for their sins, we are well advised to consider the log in our own eye first.

The conference did, however, welcome [people] that have broken away from the Episcopal Church in past decades because of revisions to The Book of Common Prayer and [the] decision, in 1976, to authorize ordaining women to the priesthood.
Is there any possibility of compromise?  Members of the American Anglican Council (AAC) would probably say no.  However, this group has shown little tolerance for compromise; they would not allow Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, or one of his representatives, to attend their meeting in Dallas last week.  But they did welcome former Episcopalians who have left the church in response to the ordination of women and the 1979 change in liturgy.  Which suggests that AAC's goals extend beyond the question of sexuality.

. . . as a body we deeply regret the actions of ... the Episcopal Church (USA) . . .
As I write this, the bishops (a.k.a. "primates") meeting at Lambeth have issued a statement, which says, in part, that the decision to accept the ordination of an openly gay bishop “jeopardize[s] our sacramental fellowship with each other.”  It goes on to say:
If [Canon Robinson's] consecration proceeds, we recognise (sic) that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised (sic) by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the Episcopal Church (USA).
These seem very strong words, indeed. Yet, they are less than the strong censure AAC and the African Anglican Church were hoping for. Ultimately, this conference has referred the matter to two committees for review over the course of the coming year.

In the meantime, I hope individual churches and dioceses will host open dialogues where reason, tradition, and scripture may seek common ground.

So be it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


Clear blue one p.m. sky, wind out of the south at 20 mph, 30% humidity, barometric pressure steady at 30.05.

A cop is following a lady in a tight red sweater and close-fitting jeans. He's her boyfriend.

All I can see of the world is roughly 180° around me;
people pass by
they will not be actors in my play.

This quality of light
bursts open the heart
leaves scatter across the lawn.
Props to Cassie Lewis.

Mystery Solved

I think I've figured out why GWB wanted to attack Iraq. Nope, not oil, not revenge for his daddy, or even Pax Americana.

Now, let's face it: his pre-presidential resume suggests that King GB II is not the sharpest tack in the box. In any other wealthy family, he'd be the ne'er-do-well son folk joked about or whispered about. Any cogent statements that have come from his lips were certainly scripted by others. And even his most shining moment — the speech after 9/11 — was marred by moral absolutism.

I think GB confused Iraq and Iran. There's only one letter difference between the English spelling of the two countries. And, with his faux-Texas twang, they sound very similar.

There have been reports that Osama's son has set up shop in Iran. Both national and international intelligence suggests there actually are Al-Queda cells in Iran. Not much question that Iran has actual programs to build nuclear weapons. No evidence that Iran had any direct involvement with 9/11, but certainly the ACTUAL presence of Al-Queda is suggestive.

So: it's simple. GB simply got the two countries confused. Too bad nobody pointed out the difference before a misunderstanding could become a quagmire.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Poeme d’jour

morning skies autumn dark
singing in the shower
haunted by rain

rained last night,
streets are still damp
haunted by starlight

singing in the shower
stepping through the morning
haunted by your voice
Now available in Postcard Format, with stained-glass work by Connie Beckers.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Ideé d’jour

A book is a story for the mind. A song is a story for the soul.
— Eric Pio, poet

Friday, October 10, 2003

Weekend Off

It's shaping up to be a busy weekend, so you probably won't hear from me until Monday. While you're waiting for my return, take a few minutes to take the Christian Science Monitor's Neocon Quiz.

I took it on the advice of the esteemed and venerable Dr. Omed, only to discover that I'm an isolationist and a liberal.

Naturally, the latter is no surprise to me. But, I am a bit surprised about the former. However, as Rob Salkowitz notes at Emphasis Added, the pendulum of what characteristics define a liberal or conservative keeps shifting (See "The Pendulum" under Friday, October 10, 2003).

Anyway. Have a good weekend.

St. George's Guild

If you have a better memory than me, you probably remember my post about the benefit dance Da Band performed for St. George's Guild. You may kinda wonder why I haven't posted anything about the outcome. Easy answer: been distracted by other things, like the Winter Sprites, and the latest flurry of "Weather Poems".

The band played from about 7:15 pm ’til about 10:30 pm last Friday, October 3. People danced, and those who have previously heard us (e.g., at our debut Memorial Day gig) commented that we've improved. A lot of folk were very impressed with my harmonica playing; one fellow commented that I made the instrument talk.

Who knew?

For me, the bottom line is the benefit aspect of the event. Over $1,500 was raised for St. George's Guild. I'm very proud of the generosity shown by our audience. This money will go toward helping Oklahoma City's (primarily downtown) indigent pay gas or other utility bills. I'll note that the money always goes directly to the utility — never into the client's hands. There's a couple of ways to look at this — I think it might be a way to avoid leading the client into temptation.

Anyway, I've seen St. George's at work, and a number of friends have been helped by this agency. The Guild is all volunteer, so donations go directly to assist the client. The volunteers have been trained in non-judgmental listening, and often that's the ministry the clients need the most.

I urge you to seek out similar agencies in your area, and donate what you can: whether that be money, time, or talent. Current economic times will likely find many more people seeking this valuable ministry.

Morning Fever

Rain-heavy cloudy skies
areas of patchy fog
the city waxes mystical

i swim in a brook of voices
they rush through my hair
yet seem distant

Walk with me now, Jack Kerouac:
we've got wine dharma
we've got jazz dharma

We've got autumn blooming
we've got our voices
joining the eternal stream
The image above reflects a slightly distorted version of this poem (more fun with Photoshop). Click to see a larger version of the image.

From Book of Haikus by Jack Kerouac

In the sun
   the butterfly wings
Like a church
circa 1954
ed. Regina Weinreich, 2003, Penguin, New York

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Rainy Morning

Raining since before dawn.
Thankful bird chats up the morning —
its song upholds the Celestial Dome

such that the roof parts
and light filters through
gun-metal & silver-grey clouds

Our world is so small
i could walk from you to Australia
from Australia back to birdsong
Postcard Format, with mysterious slide as the verso side. Estimated 19 second down-load time.

Oddly enough, the last three things I've written have referenced the weather. Could it be I have unintentionally started a new series?

Casting the Stone

I keep wondering what it is about homosexuality that has caused our Episcopal friends in Dallas and Florida to decide it is the one sin which makes one unworthy to serve in the ordained ministry. I don't agree that it is a sin, but isn't one of the tenets of the dominant Protestant denominations that we are all sinners? Even if homosexuality is a sin, I don't suppose living in a committed relationship ranks as a cardinal sin.

The Real Live Preacher (RLP) has a detailed exegesis on the verses traditionally used to support the belief that homosexuality is a sin, and presents a very strong argument that these verses do not refer to homosexuality in the same sense as we understand it today. I will say, up front, that I agree with each one of RLP's points. I do not have the seminary training an ordained minister has, but I have done a fairly close study of the Bible. And I find myself in total accord with RLP's first point: we pick & choose those parts of the Bible to support whatever position we already hold. For example, I prefer not to view the divine as a "Vengeful God", so I screen out a great deal of the smiting that occurs in the historical books of the Bible, and focus on the "Suffering Servant" of Isaiah.

The eighteenth-century mystical poet William Blake puts it this way, in his poem The Everlasting Gospel:
The Vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision’s greatest enemy.
Thine has a great hook nose like thine;
Mine has a snub nose like to mine.
So, perhaps our friends in Dallas choose to focus on Leviticus 8:22, and choose to ignore the 88 other "purity" laws of Leviticus. Perhaps they would tell us that Christ's sacrifice freed us from the old law, and just need to look to the writings of Paul to be assured that homosexuality is an abomination. Well, as the RLP points out, I'm not convinced that Paul is writing about homosexuality in the same sense as we understand it.

Even if Paul is condemning homosexuality, is it reasonable to believe that Paul is deconstructing the Old Law just to build a new one? Paul is the one who assures us that Christ's sacrifice frees us from the constraints of Leviticus and the thousand-and-one laws the Pharisees had constructed on top of Torah. It seems illogical to think Christ would sacrifice Himself to end one Law simply to institute a new Law which is to be observed in the same strict manner (i.e., such that one's salvation depends upon it). And let us be mindful of the fact that Paul was very proud of his logic and his ability to reason.

Perhaps it will help to turn to the words of Jesus. As RLP points out, Jesus does not say anything about homosexuality. Even in Matthew, the most legalistic of the Gospels, Jesus is totally silent on the subject of homosexualty. Which suggests the matter was a non-issue for Jesus. If one looks for a statement from Jesus concerning a new Law, there is one thing which remains consistent in all four Gospels: the "Law" of Love. In John, "a new commandment I give you, to Love one another as I have loved you." I'm pretty sure the synoptics (Mk, Mt, & Lk) all site the "Great Commandment": "Love God with all your body, all your mind, and all your heart; and love your neighbor as yourself."

Somehow, I don't think the proposed actions of the dioceses of Dallas and Florida fit into that Law of Love. They seem very taken with their self-righteousness, seemingly unaware that they will be judged by the same Law they would impose.

So, what is it about homosexuality that makes it worse than "lusting in one's heart"? I suppose our Dallas friends would say it is the fact that gays continue in their "sin". But the verse I just cited from Matthew makes it clear that just thinking about a sin is as bad as doing it. Have our friends in Dallas NEVER lusted for a woman or coveted another person's property? Have they always been scrupulous about church finances?

More basically: have they been faithful stewards of God's creation? Have they spoken out against pollution or injustice with the same fervor they use to speak against homosexuality? How faithful are they in caring for the "widow and children"?

Unless they prove faithful in all these things, I would suggest they reconsider picking up that stone of "schism". I don't suppose I will change anyone's mind here; but I do strongly believe our "schismatic" friends are on a profoundly wrong road. As they would point out to gays, lesbians, et al: it's never too late to repent.

So be it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Altered Sprite

Well, I've been playing with photoshop again. To your left, you'll see a thumbnail of an altered picture of my Winter Sprite. I've dashed off another seasonal Postcard Poem for this picture to grace. The picture with the postcard is bigger; in fact, it will take about 30 sec. to down-load. But, at least you get a hint from this thumbnail.

So, let's talk process for a minute. I took the original picture, along with pictures of Elsie's Winter Sprite, and some rather attractive weeds in my yard, with my Canon PowerShot A200, which records the images at a resolution of 2.0 megapixels. I imported the shots into Photoshop. I have access to Photoshop Deluxe at work, and have Photoshop Elements at home. I resized and cropped pictures in Photoshop Deluxe, and stored them on a handy server.

The original image, at 1024 x 768, provided both versions of my Winter Sprite; I simply cropped one version a little closer than the other. One of the paintbrush options in photoshop is "Dissolve", and you may set the percentage rate of dissolve. The background colors here were applied at 45%. Just for fun, I used the object tool to add the purple circle. Although this level of dissovle already had a "pastel" effect, I wanted to increase it, so I applied the "rough pastel" filter.

I compressed it using "Save for Web", imported it into my postcard format, then dashed off the poem — fragments of which have been running through my head all day. To create the thumbnail you see here, I resized the picture and "Saved for Web" again.

Ain't technology fun, sometimes?

Ideé d’jour

Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the sense shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.
— Helen Adams Keller, lecturer and author (1880-1968)

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Partly cloudy skies

This inauspicious title is the first line of my latest Postcard Poem. This one takes 12 seconds to down-load. The very sensual image is from the drawing pad of Elsie. If that doesn't tempt you to click through, I don't know what will!

Several Postcard Poems have settled into an interesting form — three stanzas of three lines each. Today's postcard, and the bed tangles the air (from Oct. 2) are formed from inter-related haiku.

After the rush of writing a poem a day for a couple of months, I've decided to let myself ease back a bit. My current "contract with myself" is to write at least one poem a week. Inspiration or not. I've even given myself a deadline — write a poem by Wednesday of each week. So, I've met the deadline for this week.

My current plan is to return to the "poem-a-day" discipline for November. I think of it as a birthday present to myself.

By the way, I've been posting most of these as "Postcard Poems" primarily so they would have a permanent home. Blogspot's database seems slightly unreliable, so it seemed wise to store these poems elsewhere.

Click through, enjoy, then leave me a note in the comments.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Linda's Bolivia Poems

You may recall that "Elsie" (neé Linda) and I contracted to write a Postcard Poem each day while she was in Bolivia on a mission trip. Linda has now posted her poems at her on-line chapbook, Papal Poems, all entered under Monday, October 6, with the title(s) “Boliva Poems” (I – XIII). She thoughtfully entered each poem as a seperate entry, so you may comment on individual poems, if you are so inclined.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Linda's Winter Sprite

My response:
I am dancing
My face is a jewel
I have golden hair
I have a rose at my throat
I hold a cardinal feather in
my right hand
I have a jewel on my left
ribbons at my waist
— pink, pale pink, blue —
bodice wound in white
I am silver bright hand
shining my sigil feather
I am blue dress
I am tafetta flowers
sigil, n.
1. a seal; a signet
2. in astrology and magic, an image or sign supposed to exercise occult powers
— Webster's New 20th Century Dictionary Unabridged, 2e

My Winter Sprite

i am reaching south
i embrace sky with birds in flight
arms wrapped in purple morning strands
my voice is a jewel
i have dark eyes
purple straw hair
blossoms echo of spring
on my left & on my right
— near each inner ear
my heart burns autumn
sacred stone at my neck
my belt is the oro boros
— snake revolving to itself —
my feet fly with the egrets & the eagle
i am oak
i am mossy
my face is honest Oklahoma clay
i am wound in white
i am wound in blue
i am wound in my birth on the tree
and my life tangled in the weeds
wound amoung the tall grass & the twigs
i reveal i conceal
i am wound in my birth
i am wound in my future
my jewel showing the path
my autumnal heart throwing moonlight on the Way
You may read Linda's poetic response to this figure in her entry "A Winter Sprite" on Sunday, Oct. 5, at Papal Poems.

Creating a Winter Sprite

Yesterday morning, Linda & I went to an art experience directed by Madeline Rugh. I am not familiar with Ms. Rugh’s work, but Linda describes her as one of central Oklahoma’s pre-eminent artists.

The event was held at Ginko Tree Studios, which is located a few miles east of Lake Thunderbird on Alemeda Street in Norman, OK. The studio is a rich & colorful space whose vivid interior reflects the owner. It is surrounded by well-tended gardens, and is blessed by a tree-line at its southern end.

As I recall, this event was billed as an art experience, rather than as a workshop. A workshop may have focused more on technique; this event focused on listening, observation, and honoring.

Madeline began the morning by explaining that the nine participants (seven women, two men) would be hunter/gathers, like our ancestors. We would gather "a stick, and maybe a stone." But, rather than seeking certain sticks or particular types of stones, we would go forth meditating on the question "What am I harvesting?"

As we walked quietly meditating on this question, we were instructed to be very aware of the "between places" — such as where the tree line meets the sky. We were also asked to leave something of ourselves in honor of the thing we were taking — for example, a word of silent thanks, or something more personal, like saliva.

I walked a mown path which ended at a gravel road. At the very end of that path, on my right side, was an oak tree. There were a few low-lying limbs with dying twigs on their ends; these seemed to have possibilities for the project. Yet, I was uncertain about breaking the twigs off the tree — it seemed "purer" somehow, to collect something which had naturally fallen off. Still, I walked through shin-high grass to get a closer look at the branches in question. As I was walking, I happened to notice a stick in a "Y" formation which was already on the ground.

I looked at it for a moment. It almost seemed too big — yet it seemed to be recommending itself. I breathed over it for a few minutes, then finally accepted it.

Not far from this tree, at the south-west corner of the mown path and the gravel road, was a concrete slab. And on that slab was a small red stone. At first, the stone seemed too small to be proportional with the stick I had selected. I even walked away from it — but finally I accepted it, as well.

When we returned to the studio, there were a number of materials available with which to decorate the stick: chenille, scrap fabric, beads, faux jewels, and so on. A technique for attaching the stone head with pipe cleaners had previously been described. As a part of this process, I discovered the joys of the hot glue gun.

The final part of the process was to write a poem from the point of view of the sprite we had created. Using my work as an example, Madeline said, “I am green-armed / I am reaching”, and so on. I suspect she used my work as an example simply because it was in proximity to where she was standing at the time.

After we had written poems about our own work, we were told to trade "dolls" and do the same poetic exercise with someone else's creation. By chance, Linda & I exchanged winter sprites. As you shall see, I was a little more verbose about my work than Linda's.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Happy Birthday, Gore Vidal

"Ms. Candide", who writes at "Thistle and Hemlock", just reminded me that today is Gore Vidal's birthday. Ms. Candide also provided the picture to your right. PBS recently aired a special about Mr. Vidal, which reminded me of why he's my hero.

Gore has an Oklahoma connection, in that he was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He spent much of his life in Washington, DC, assisting his uncle Sen. Gore (not Al, but relation). Gore's Washington novels (Lincoln, Burr, et al) are worth reading just because of Mr. Vidal's insight into the backroom maneuverings of the nation's capital.

As I recall, the first Gore Vidal novel I read was The City & the Pillar, which is essentially the story of how he became aware of his homosexuality. I read this book sometime during — or slightly after — highschool. Aside from thin rumors of fellow students' sexual preferences in high school, I had little awareness of homosexuality, and this novel blew me away.

Lately, Gore has been collecting op-ed pieces in pamplets, Blood for Oil being the latest. I can give these books a qualified recommendation — the price is right (about $2.95 each), for one thing. But, the essays can be a little repitious if read in one sitting.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Benefit Performance

Da Band (five middle-aged guys reliving their youth) presents a Dance Benefit for St. George’s Guild this Friday, October 3rd.  St. Georges’ Guild is a ministry of the Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City to the indigent, primarily in down-town Oklahoma City.  There is no cover, or beverage charge, but all proceeds go to this worthy ministry.

Concert will be in Dean Willey Hall, beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 3.  Hope to see you there!

Call & Response

Elsie and I are in the process of creating a chapbook of the Postcard Poems we wrote while she was in Bolivia. You may have already read the poems I wrote during this period; if not, they're indexed here. See the poems marked "Novena" (so named because this discipline lasted a little over nine days).

One of the ideas we've had is to pick out our favorites of the other's poems, and write responses to them. Here's a poem Elsie wrote:
Sick all over
Is not an easy feeling
Tried to go to work
My stomach said “No”
The bed tangles my brain.
The air is not enough
Mañana will be better

Here's my response:

the bed tangles the air
parrots sit shiva on the bricks
sun sleeps through morning

macaw rainbows flit
breath hangs cloudy on the roof
men set beams
Naturally, this whole thing is in Postcard Format, with art by your correspondent.