Friday, April 30, 2004


Not the fine web-log of the same name, but making a correction to a slight spelling error. Probably too late to go through and correct the spelling in all the entries where I mention this item, so this entry will have to do:

The brand-name of the journal I've mentioned several times is Moleskine. That final "e" makes a BIG difference, especially when you're searching through the Google wilderness.

The journal is made in Italy, which kinda explains why Real Live Preacher would tell me it's pronounced "Mol-eh-skeen-eh".

This information does put my mind at ease. I've been having nightwares in which crazed Italians were out skinning moles for these journals ....
Ideé d’jour

The reason the Pentagon thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was they still had the receipts. — E-mail humor; original source unknown

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Ideé d’jour

Did you know that the worldwide food shortage that threatens up to five hundred million children could be alleviated at the cost of only one day, only ONE day, of modern warfare.
— Peter Ustinov, actor, writer and director (1921-2004)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

At the end of his book Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward asks the Resident how history would judge his Iraq war. Mr. Bush smiled: "‘History,’ he said, shrugging, taking his hands out of his pockets, extending his arms out and suggesting with his body language that it was so far off. ‘We won't know. We'll all be dead.’"

Unfortunately, this is the administration's attitude about environmental issues, as well. Who cares if the ozone burns away in just a few generations? My cronies & I will be dead by then.

And heck, come the rapture, God's gonna provide us with a brand-spanking new Earth. Yep, after the muscle-bound Jesus has cleaned the clock of all the Muslims, Buddhists, Democrats, and other infidel unbelievers, he's gonna scrub the atmosphere clean so we can start all over again.

All five Republicans who have actually obeyed every jot and tittle of the Mosaic code, that is.
Hand Mandala

These hands
those slender fingers
that silver thread

This silver thread
those illumined notes
that chapel of light

This chapel of light
the intricate lines
define that hungry dark

This darkness
that thin line
this doorway

Those pilgrims
walking through
that doorway

This chapel
that high silver thread
these hands

Hand Mandala
Here you see the mandala I produced in the workshop I describe below. What was interesting about this process was getting my inner critic/analyst to shut the heck up. The critic was saying "You know, this is unbalanced. If you put an element here, you really should balance it with an element here." Just when I put the critic back in his appropriate corner, the analyst would chime in: "You know what this means, don't you? You got secrets. You want to hold your light inside. The teacher's coming over now! She's going to be able to tell how screwed up you are!"

I think we spent, maybe, around 30 minutes creating these mandalas. Of that time, I think I had between 5 to 10 minutes where I could silence those dueling voices. During those times, my hand seemed to flow along the paper. Then my heart seemed to be singing through the whiteness. Well, that's prayer, isn't it?

By the way — my handy dictionary says the word "mandala" comes from Sanscrit, and means "a design symbolizing the universe". This design, I suppose, represents the universe of my soul as well as the greater universe. Both are connected, y'know.

Class time was constrained, so we had to stop at the end of those 30 minutes. As we were reflecting on the process, Ms. Rugh suggested we keep our mandalas in a spot where we would see it on a regular basis. She suggested it might call us to add more to it, or to respond to it in another artistic form (e.g., poetry). Naturally, Elsie asked if I would be writing a poem for my mandala. Thanks to my sense of being blocked, I was non-committal.

I did put the mandala across from my bed, where I would see it every night & every morning.

Phrases started coming into my head as I was driving home. Over the past few days, I've been recording those phrases in my new Moleskin (Mol-eh-skeen-eh, according to Real Live Preacher) Journal®.

Shall I let you peek behind the curtain? I think I shall:
These hands
this intimate intricate chapel of light
those quarter note fingers

This illuminated circle
describing the dark

These hands form
the illuminated circle
which describes the dark

These hands
those slender fingers
that thin silver thread

This chapel of light
those illuminated notes
describing the dark

These fingers
follow the thread
through the dark

Pilgrims honoring
the line that marks
this thin doorway

Moon mountains bow
before earth valleys
as these hands illumine the circuit
As you see, the poem was further honed in the process of transferring it from my Moleskin Journal® to my (larger) bedroom journal.

At least for the moment, the Moleskin is encouraging scribbling for its own sake. Not sure why. Maybe because it is so handy. Maybe because I often carry it close to my heart. Anyway, the notorious inner critic has been mostly quiet as I've scribbled in this new journal.

Perhaps, even though it is a rectangle rather than a circle, this new journal can be a mandala in which I honor & discover my soul.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Art Therapy & Spirituality

Image is the language of Soul – Thomas Moore
Saturday, April 24th
St. Gregory's University, Shawnee, OK
Facilitators: Madeline M. Rugh, Ph.D., A.T.R.
Sheryl Cozad, M.F.A.

Ms. Rugh began our session by emphasizing a small hearth she had created. It consisted of a stone, a feather, and a candle. She felt a hearth was important in this enclosed academic studio. A hearth should bring together the fundamental elements of earth (the stone), fire (the candle), air (the feather), and water. The blessed Hildegard von Bingen believed we needed these fundamental elements in our home to help center us, because we are made from them.

Madeline then discussed the origins of Art Therapy, which became an official discipline in 1977. It was created by two sisters; one a Freudian analyst, the other an artist. Each sister represents a different "leg" the discipline has had since its inception: the studio and the couch. The analytic (couch) side sees the discipline primarily as a diagnostic tool. In other words, the patient will draw something and the analyst will interpret the picture to discern what's wrong with the patient with the goal of a "cure".

This emphasis on interpretation, as you might see, negates creativity or aesthetics. Is it possible the Art Therapist could trade a story for the patient's creation? It may seem a subtle difference. It's the difference between telling someone what their art "means" and telling them what their art reminds you of.

This latter response demands a degree of vulnerability most analysts are not comfortable with. Enter James Hillman, and Depth Psychology.

Depth Psychology, building on the theories of Carl Jung, recognizes that Art and Spirituality have long been partners. From the famous cave paintings to Chartres' Rose Window, and on and on, humans have used art as a means of expressing, or relating to, the ineffable. In this model, the therapist listens to the whole of the client's life, using art as the medium for conversation. The art, therefore, has value on its own merit — rather than as a mere diagnostic tool.

Madeline then talked about some of her work as an Art Therapist. In particular, a painting she did for a client. The client told her his story, she prayerfully listened, then created a work of art which incorporated his talismans, spirit guides, and other symbols which were significant to the client.

After Ms. Cozad discussed similar work she has done, Madeline led the group through a hands-on experience. She explained that all care of the soul takes the form of a circle, and that we would be creating our own mandalas. She gave us some black construction paper, white-leaded pencils, and plastic plates.

She then led us in a prayer over our pencils. Talk about honoring your tools!

Open your heart.
Perceive pure soul light
being projected from the back of your skull
onto your third eye.
Feel this light fill your opened heart.
We then used a scratch sheet to get accustomed to our pencil — to get a sense of going from faint white to bright, hard white. Our goal, you see, was to illumniate the manadala.

She told us to lay each hand within the circle and trace it with the other, in any position we wished. From there, we created. With fear & trembling, we entered the mandala, working out our own soul.
Trace the labyrinth with your fingers.
Work into the dark.
Illuminate your circle.
Honor the fruitful darkness.
Ideé d’jour

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
— Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President (1809-1865)
To whit: the Patriot Act (Pts I & II). The pseudo-election of the current Resident. The gerrymandering of Texas, et al (i.e., Colorado). Diebold election machines. The list goes on ....

Monday, April 26, 2004

  1. Elastic :: man
  2. Intervention :: class
  3. Risk :: game
  4. Junk food :: junkie
  5. Arrogance :: American
  6. Responsibility :: Maturity
  7. X :: Malcolm
  8. Marshall :: Plan
  9. Kill :: the killer (or Bill)
  10. Brother :: Dave

The final entry is a sort of "two-fer": it represents both my relative and the comedian.  The first entry would be well understood by the Comic Book Guy.  There may be a connection between 5 and 6.  Like, if our leadership were mature enough to accept responsibility for its actions, perhaps the world community would not view it as being arrogant. Just a thought.
Surreal Compliment

Oh how my pathological scar desires to read poems through the ruddied girth of your soul!
— Courtesy The Surreal Compliment Generator.

Props to Rayne for the link!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Moleskin Fragments

Eat six metals
watch the rose window spin
like Ezekiel's wheel
Intimately folded eighth notes
across the Celtic line
Have you heard of the Moleskin ® Journal? I had not, until Real Live Preacher posted an entry about his.

Anyway, it's a charming (but, at $10 a pop, expensive) pocket-sized journal which has been used — according to the ads — by Van Gogh, Matisse, and Hemingway. One thing which makes this journal handy is its rigid "moleskin" cover, which makes it easier to write in when one doesn't have a hard surface to place the notebook on.

I bought mine yesterday, at Elsie's encouragement. Doubt I'll start writing like Real Live Preacher or Hemingway. But one guaranteed way for a writer to get over his/her block is for said writer to buy something to honor the trade. Notebook or pen, something about investing in either just about demands that something be written. I can't tell you how many partially full notebooks I have scattered about the place, but each one represents – in its way – a block and the leap over the block.

A word about the above fragments: the first "triad" came to me early Thursday morning. I had been awakened around 2:30 a.m. by 2-3 male cats seranading their intended. It took me a while to wake up enough to scatter the crew elsewhere. In the meantime, my unconscious came up with the mysterious phrase "eat six metals". May have been a curse intended for the horny felines, but I don't think so. There was something else that followed that injunction — some kind of promise, I think — but that's been lost. Anyway, after scattering the kitty chorus, I entered a semi-psychogogic state, and perceived a stained-glass rose window spinning (like Ezekiel's wheel) at the place of my third eye.

The "couplet" came as I was driving home from an "Art Therapy & Spirituality" workshop Elsie and I attended in Shawnee last night. More about that workshop later.

Now, I'm going to church with Preferring Christ in my right hand and my mole journal in my left pants pocket. Who knows what new fragments will be collected?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Ideé d’jour

Poets are constitutionally obliged to be ... sad and lonely; otherwise we'd be writing advertising or self-help books.
— The Very Rt. Rev. Dr. Omed, poet & bon-vivant

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Emily for the Day

Sleep is supposed to be
By souls of sanity
The shutting of the eye.

Sleep is the station grand
Down which, on either hand
The hosts of witness stand!

Morn is supposed to be
By people of degree
The breaking of the Day.

Morning has not occurred!

That shall Aurora be —
East of Eternity —
One with the banner gay —
One in the red array —
That is the break of Day!

c. 1858; Johnson, poem 13, pg 12
Returning to poetry, specifically my study of the early work of Emily Dickinson — This is a charming poem, with a varying rhyme scheme and stanza length.
Most of the stanzas use a triple rhyme (note the "ands" in the second stanza and the "ays" in the final stanza), and it's entirely possible the final word of the first stanza is intended as half rhyme. The long "e" rhymes of the first stanza repeat in the third and fifth stanza. The lonely "ay" rhyme in the third stanza is used to conclude the poem in the fifth stanza. These repeated vowel sounds tend to hold the poem together, and emphasize the lack of a rhyme for the single-line fourth verse.

What I read into this poem is a conflict between people of reason and those who dream. The phrase "souls of sanity" is echoed by "people of degree", which suggests a certain irony, or tension. This tension is brought to the breaking point by the single-line fourth verse: "Morning has not occurred!"

In other words, all the tools of reason do not recognize true morning. "Morning", as a new beginning or new birth, is best recognized in brightly-dressed Aurora, the Roman Goddess of the dawn. This is the province of the poets and the dreamers.
Love, Italian Style

My referrer list made me aware that someone in Italy had Googled into this page. This, in turn, led me to an Italian version of this blog page. You know? I think I sound better in a Romance language.

Here's my "Woody Guthrie-ish" verse, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Uncle Sam" in Italian:
Non lasci il sole andare giù sullo zio Sam
Non lasci il sole andare giù sulla libertà
Non lasci la libertà essere di funzionare dalla città
Non lasci la nostra bandierina transformarsi in in treason
Non lasci la vittoria delle ombre
Neghi gli uomini poco profondi
Con le teste fatte di paglia

Non lasci il sole regolarsi su discorso libero,
vita, libertà e consuetudinario;
Non lasci che il timore regoli il giorno
Non voti i vostri diritti via

Non lasci il sole andare giù sullo zio Sam
Mantengalo vivo & camminando attraverso la nostra terra
Pretty cool, huh?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

“Best Of” Now Available

Not that I suppose anyone has been chomping at the bit, but I've finally completed a mini-site which compiles what I believe are the best entries I've posted over the past year (March 03 – March 04).

Click here for the "Home Page"

I'm afraid I was left to my own devices, as there were no nominations for best entries (insert appropriate Eyore-quality sigh here). I had a couple of criteria as I selected the entries: (1) entries I still liked upon re-reading; and (2) entries which received positive feed-back when they were posted.

The first two choices (listed under "Prose" on the home page) reflect firsts — the first entry on the blog, and the first poem I posted.

Here's the complete list:
  1. First Post
  2. First Poem
  3. On Forgiveness
  4. Meeting George Wallace
  5. Who Am I This Time?
  6. What's in a Name,II
  7. Happy Birthday, St. Leonard
  8. Today's Holy Reading
  9. Belated Lectio
  10. Automatic Apocalypse
  1. Beautiful Hands
  2. My beloved is handsome
  3. It's 4 a.m.
  4. She sleeps in beauty
  5. Door Open
  6. America, the Lost
  7. Storm at Midnight
  8. rosary guitar
  9. Ruby Stars
  10. Jonquil Dreams
Lastly, grateful props to Ms. Candide (of the late, lamented Thistle & Hemlock for her support and advice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

More Changes
I've been tweaking some things in the Saturn Sequence on-line chapbook. Among the notable changes: I've added 5 poems to the "Other Poems" section:
  1. Crash on the Highway
  2. Ghosts on the Radio
  3. The Green House
  4. Java Blues
  5. Death of the Father
Two of these are song lyrics. One of the songs is obviously a song; the other is not. Your mission: name the two songs.

What's On Your Desk?

My Desk
In his comment on my "Book Game" entry, Dr. Omed asked what books I have on my desk. As you can see, there is precious little room actually on my desk. I moved The Book of Mercy back to the book shelves, so the only book literally on my desk at the moment is the King James' Version of The Book of Psalms, which was given to me when I was very young (maybe age 5). Near the desk is Thomas H. Johnson's edition of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, which I've been drawing on as I sporadically study the work of that magnificent poet.

As Elsie has pointed out, I have a series of neat piles throughout the house. So, in no special order, here are the books stacked in strategic places about the house:

  • Sing Out! v48, no 1
  • Linda Cobb: Talking Dirty with / Talking Dirty Laundry with / the Queen of Clean
  • Patricia Cornwell: Portrait of a Killer
  • UNESCO: Our North American Heritage
  • Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales (NCE)
  • Thich Nhat Hanh: Going Home: Jesus & Buddha as Brothers
  • Kevin Phillips: American Dynasty
  • Barbara Kingsolver: Small Wonder
  • Richard Rhodes: How to Write
  • Larry Dossey: Prayer is Good Medicine
  • Malachy McCourt: Danny Boy – Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad
  • Marianne Williamson: Illuminata
  • Susan Wooldridge: poemcrazy
  • Roberts & Amidon, eds: Prayers for a Thousand Years
Flight Path
  • Norvene Vest: Preferring Christ: A Devotional Commentary & Workbook on the Rule of St. Benedict
  • Paul Begala: It's Still the Economy Stupid
  • Margaret Crave: I Heard the Owl Call My Name
  • Andy Gill & Kevin Odegard: A Simple Twist of Fate: Bob Dylan and the Making of Blood on the Tracks
  • Thomas a´Kempis: Of the Imitation of Christ
  • Terry Southern: Red-Dirt Marijuana
  • Patrick McDonnell: Mutts 6 - A Little Look-See
  • Terry Moore: Strangers in Paradise 12: Heart in Hand
I am actively reading A Simple Twist of Fate and Benedict's Dharma (the latter edited by Patrick Henry). I also read Entertainment Weekly as I eat breakfast. If that's not too much information.

Dr. Omed has also challenged me to craft a found poem from these fifth line on page 23 of each of these books. I'll consider it. Might be just the thing I need to break my current block.

Monday, April 19, 2004


I have moved the location of my electronic chapbook, The Saturn Sequence. This new location insures that you (my trusted and loyal audience) will be able to read the poetry collected without the distraction of persistent pop-up ads.

I am also working on the "Best of 2003-2004" pages, which will include poetry and prose selections that have been posted on this site from March of '03 through March '04.

Stay tuned for more details.
  1. Virginia :: Roanoke
  2. Soft :: tissue
  3. Carol :: Y—
  4. Vanity :: Fair
  5. Feminist :: humanist
  6. Alias :: Sydney Briscoe
  7. Coward :: Noel
  8. Beer :: chaser
  9. Chance :: the Gardner
  10. Honest :: to goodness
Item 3 refers to a friend named Carol. Item 6 is related to a tv program. I think the other responses may go without explanation.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Book Game

I first saw this peculiar game mentioned at Katey's One Good Bumblebee. Since then, I've seen it at Mabrina's Forge, the Stickpoet, and elsewhere.

Gotta say, I don't really get the point of the excercise, but it's a cute idea. Besides, the Good Doctor has done it. So, I naturally do as the Doctor orders.

Here's the rules:
  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.
The book which is on my (somewhat cluttered) desk at the moment is Book of Mercy by Leonard Cohen (Random House, New York, NY, © 1984). This book is promoted as "contemporary psalms", and I'm inclined to agree. Uniquely, these are psalms written as prose poetry.

Psalm 11 begins on page 23 of this particular edition. The fifth sentence of this psalm is "Various families came to him and showed him all the chairs he might sit in."

Now what does that tell us? What does it tell me that Dr. Omed has Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson close to hand? Not much, I suppose. It does introduce folk in the blogverse to a number of different books, and alternate voices.

All to the good.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Ideé d’jour

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
— Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel laureate (1879-1955)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Egg with Cross
Nick arranged the altar flowers at the Cathedral every week for a number of years. Nick was an artist in many ways, and arranging the altar flowers was one way he shared that gift with the Church.

Another way Nick shared his artistic gift was through hand-painted Easter eggs. He used wooden eggs, rather than blown natural eggs. These eggs were given to the Sunday School teachers. One example is below, under "Easter Phoenix"; another example is above. Considering these wooden eggs are the same size as an average hen's egg, the detail is impressive.

Fran has a glass bowl full of eggs painted by Nick. She and her husband Gary also have a painting, and a beautiful sculpture done by Nick.
Bowl of Eggs Painted by Nick Irza

Chris tells the story of how Nick slipped a painted egg into his pocket last Easter (or maybe the prior Easter).  Chris believes to this day that Nick "stole" one of the eggs in Fran's bowl.

Nick died the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving.  He was arranging the flowers for Sunday, with a special Thanksgiving theme.  He passed out, and was rushed to the nearest hospital.  By the time the ambulance reached the hospital, Nick was dead.

I never met Nick.  Based on the stories told, I would have remembered him. As Fran said, "He would not let you ignore him."

At the funeral, Dean Back referred to Nick as a "Child of God." Certainly, Nick had been baptized into God's family; but he did not have all the rights & privileges of any other member.

The church would not recognize Nick's relationship with Jim. The church has no service for such unions. When Jim died earlier the same year, their relationship could not be officially recognized. 

If Nick had been ordained to the priesthood, he could not have had such an open relationship with Jim.  Nor, according to many, could he be a Bishop.

Were Nick and Jim such notorious sinners?  It's hard to believe that; their relationship lasted more than a decade (15-20, I believe). In the gift of these eggs, in the altar flowers, we see how freely Nick shared himself with God's family.

In the stories told this Sunday, I saw how deeply Nick touched many lives in God's family.

Isn't it about time we accepted Nick and Jim, as well as Edie and Gail, as full members of God's family?


  1. Boxing :: Day
  2. Lewis :: & Clark
  3. Bodyguard :: Postman
  4. Burnout :: Case
  5. Cruising :: on a lazy afternoon...
  6. Easter :: egg
  7. AA :: Bill W
  8. Research :: Park
  9. Redemption :: Avenue
  10. Snickers :: Bar

Ideé d’jour

All marketing is proselytizing. Diet Coke is trying to convert people from Diet Pepsi.
— Phil Vischer, producer of the Veggie Tales series, quoted in Entertainment Weekly #760 (April 16, 2004), 36

Monday, April 12, 2004

This Bunny Died For You

Much in the spirit of my iconoclastic friend, I wanted to post an image of the Easter Bunny being crucified. OK, warped sense of humor, but I'm not alone: see The Passion of the Bunny.

Oh, those crazy AOG'ers! The point of scourging the Easter Bunny, apparantly, was to make the point that Easter was about more than said Bunny. And yet, they're torturing it just as Jesus was reportedly tortured.

I wonder whether Ms. Bickerton, the youth minister at the church which did this presentation, still has her position.
Easter Phoenx
Art by Nick Irza, d. 11/03.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Ideé d’jour

Jump-up Johnnies
Life itself is the proper binge — Julia Child, quoted in the Little Zen Book

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The Vision, The Poem

Just remembered I have a new poem/card I haven't linked you to yet. This is another response to one of Natalie d'Arbeloff's digital images. This one has a slightly different lay-out than my normal "poem postcard"; I think of it as a sort of notecard.

The poem is only three lines long, but it took a couple of days to hone to where I was happy with it. More time was taken in the design — I used the positioning function of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to place the poem on the nice dark blue background Natalie created for the left side. The web-savvy among you will be aware that a browser above version 4 or 5 will be required to properly view this page. In fact, you may not be able to read the poem at all (unless you use View/Source), since the lettering is yellow. My limited research suggests most people are using a browser above 4 or 5; if you are not, my apologies. May I recommend Firefox?
Just learned that Natalie has just posted the full series of digital images on her site, here. The ones she initially loaned me are the top four pictured. I hope to have a poetic response to each of these by the end of April.

I like all of these pictures, but my favorites (beyond those four) are Pregnant, Wondering, Meditation, and Resurrection. So, do drop by Natalie's Augustine blog; tell her jac sent ya.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Seeking Shelter

I'm taking a break from Emily Dickinson today, to write about a lyrical ballad which - for me - relates to Good Friday.

This ballad was written in 1974. It is a both a true ballad, and a sung ballad. It begins:
’Twas in another lifetime,
One of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue
And the road was full of mud
I come in from the wilderness,
A creature void of form;
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you
Shelter from the storm."
You may recognize it now. It's a song from Bob Dylan's album, Blood on the Tracks. The lyrics for the rest of the song may be read here [note the transcriber breaks the lines differently than I would].

With ten verses, this almost qualifies as one of Dylan's long story songs; and thus, we may rightly call it a sung ballad. But it also fits a rhythmic pattern that may sound familiar from our study of Emily Dickinson poems: 4 accents in the first line, three in the following; the remaining verses generally fit that same model. This is the troubador's ballad form. And, if Dylan is telling a story here, it's appropriate that he use the troubador ballad form.

But what is the story? One striking clue occurs in what I count as the fifth verse: "She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns." Then there's this line in the penultimate verse: "In a little hilltop village / they gambled for my clothes." Certainly, in the context of Good Friday, we recognize the scene. What makes this even more striking to me is that the fact that Dylan wrote this five years before Slow Train Coming and his noisy conversion to Christianity.

We might discount these lines as throw-away, but there's other hints and reflections hidden in the song. In the fourth verse he sings, "I was hunted like a crocodile / Ravaged in the corn", which to my ear sounds very like "I am a worm and no man" from Psalm 22 (vs. 6); this same psalm has a number of other animal images (bulls, dogs, lions) which might also apply. In the 7th verse, "The deputy walks on hard nails / And the preacher rides a mount ... And the one-eyed undertaker blows a futile horn"; this reminds me of Psalm 22, verse 16: "the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me". Then, that line about gambling for his clothes - that could refer to verse 18 ("They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture") as much as it does to the Passion story.

For me, the punchline to the whole thing comes in the last line (appropriately): "Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born". The feminine Dylan is singing of is not the anima-projection he found in his wife Sarah; it is a woman who was with God from the beginning. In other words, the Hagia Sophia, the divine feminine.

And what does it say to me, on this Good Friday 2004? It reminds me that living the Christian life is not easy. Anyone who believes they can reach a meaningful Easter without the suffering of Good Friday is denying a part of our essential humanity. As the Buddha said, "Life is suffering". We do not reach the Promised Land without turning our back on what enslaves us. Odds are we will wander in the wilderness, or lay awake through the Dark Night of the Soul called Crow Time.

But there is shelter available, even in the wilderness. The Divine Feminine does not shun Crow Time or the Darkness or the Wilderness. She will meet us there, walking up to us in grace and beauty. Though we may "get our signals crossed" and find ourselves "living in a foreign country", she will continue to be our companion. Offering the protection and healing of her wings. Leading the way to shelter. Shelter from the storm.
Psalm 22, KJV

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Prize-Winning Sermon

Hey! Psst! Spare five minutes to read a good Unitarian Sermon? It's a good sermon for Holy Week, an excellent sermon for tomorrow (Good Friday). It's a good sermon for anyone who has walked through the Wilderness, or felt the clock tick in Crow Time.

This sermon moved me to tears. It's rare the printed word does that for me (with the exception of the Real Live Preacher).

Props to Jill's Enormously Witty Blog for pointing me in the direction of this sermon.
Under Construction
Stars unfolding petals
like ripples on the water.
My hair is in the stars;
my heart, the moon's daughter.

The river runs through me
to my distant lover's arms.
I practice his name at dawn,
chanting Aurora's charms.
This is a poem I wrote in response to one of Natalie's images (see The Image, The Inspiration, below). Natalie admitted, with admirable reluctance, that this poem didn't fit her picture that well.

So — does it work on its own? I wrote the first draft of this early last week, when I was making plans for my Emily Dickinson series. It seems possible — nay, even probable — that I was trying to channel Ms Dickinson's style (note, in particular, the rhyme scheme).

Does it need more work? Or is it best suited for my cedar chest?

Emily D. for Today

The morns are meeker than they were —
The nuts are getting brown —
The berry's cheek is plumper —
The Rose is out of town.

The Maple wears a gayer scarf —
The field a scarlet gown —
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

c. 1858; Johnson pg 11
We immediately notice the rhyme scheme in today's poem is more regular than the past two I've selected. Looking at the eight lines as a whole, I read it as a, b, c, b, d, b, e, b. I am assuming, based Emily's later works, that "on" is intended as an "eye rhyme" for "gown", et al.

If you are not a recovering English major, you may wonder what I mean by "eye rhyme." This is also sometimes called "slant rhyme" but I prefer the former, colloquial, term, because it explains itself so neatly. Which is to say, an "eye rhyme" are two words that look like they should rhyme, but don't.

Well, of course only the hammiest Irish character actor would pronounce "on" so it rhymes with "gown". That's where the "slant" comes in – the words might have only a consonant and vowel in common. As I mentioned yesterday, there are times when one can't be certain how liberal to be when anticipating Ms. Dickinson's intended rhymes. But, since this a, b, c, b pattern is fairly common in Emily's work, I believe I'm on safe ground.

The meter is similar to yesterday's poem: mostly iambs, like "The morns are meeker than they were". But there is some variance in meter. The line that sticks out, for me, is the final line: "I'll put a trinket on". See the problem? It seems to be missing a beat, even though it has the same number of syllables as the fourth line in the first stanza (its logical mate). Count Chockula might make it sound like iambs, but I'm darned if I can using ordinary speech patterns.

Is this intentional? I can hardly claim to read Emily Dickinson's mind, but an argument could be made. The sprung rhythm does emphasis that final word, which alerts us to the difference between "trinket" and the "gay" apparel of the natural world in the previous lines.

It's a charming poem. To the best of my memory, it's not one that normally appears in anthologies. But, again, we begin to see more marks of Emily's developing poetic voice.

Today's Postcard

Pink Moon

Click picture to read the poem. Then, pop back here to leave a comment.

Bonus Ideé d’jour

Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
— Joseph Addison, writer (1672-1719)
Poetic Ideé d’jour
"Poetry continually cleanses the language. For every lie we're told by advertisers and politicians, we need one poem to balance it." — Jorie Graham, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and co-chair of The Academy of American Poets.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


  1. Condemn:: forgive
  2. Promiscuous:: liberated
  3. Pro-life:: pro-choice (or:: pro-enslavement)
  4. Mona Lisa:: blues
  5. Crown:: Royal
  6. Mumble:: stumble
  7. Hack:: computer
  8. Diet:: Soda
  9. Introduction:: to the Arts
  10. Latin America:: revolution

Emily For Today

My wheel is in the dark!
I cannot see a spoke
Yet I know its dripping feet
Go round and round.

My foot is on the Tide!
An unfrequented road —
Yet have all roads
A clearing at the end —

Some have resigned the Loom —
Some in the busy tomb
Find quaint employ —

Some with new — stately feet —
Pass royal through the gate —
Flinging the problem back
At you and I!

c. 1858; Johnson, pg. 10
More early work from Emily Dickinson. I tried to comment on yesterday's poem, but lacked the formal terms to describe what she was doing rhythmically. As with yesterday's poem, the basic meter seems to be the iamb; for example, the first two lines seem to scan:
My wheel is in the dark!
I cannot see a spoke
Immediately,  the next line varies the model: "Yet I know its dripping feet..."

Aside from "loom / tomb" in the third stanza, there does not seem to be a rhyme scheme. There may be some "eye" rhymes here, but one would have to be extremely forgiving to say "feet" rhymes with "gate" in the final stanza.

So, mechanically, the thing holding the poem together is the shifting rhythm. The diction is also striking: "Some in the busy tomb / Find quaint employ" is an irony worthy of Andrew Marvel or John Donne. In fact, I sense an echo of Marvel's "Coy Mistress" in the line.

Thematically, this seems to be a sort of puzzle poem (as yesterday's was). I think we can enjoy it on its own merits, without trying to resolve what Emily is talking about. But part of the fun is resolving that problem, and understanding what that answer means to us.

Returning to my belief that reading the Complete Works is beneficial to the beginning poet, one can identify some elements here that are typical of Ms. Dickinson's future work. The most obvious is her frequent, and hap-hazard, use of the dash as a punctuation mark (here represented by the —). Second, is her growing sense of rhythm. Third, is her distinctive turn of phrase. The irony in the third stanza is one example of her turn of phrase; another is "Pass royal through the gate" in the concluding stanza.  For some reason, I really like that one; it seems appropriately compressed.

Reading through Emily Dickinson's Complete Works, as compiled and edited by Thomas Johnson, is proving to be a fruitful poetry workshop.

Today's Postcard

Elsie and I have been having a lot of fun with our digital cameras. My recent extreme close-up of a daffodil has inspired her to take similar pictures.

I wrote a poemlette this morning which seemed to especially fit a picture Elsie took about two weeks ago. Naturally, the whole thing is now preserved in Postcard Format.

Meanwhile, Augustine has some kind words about this space (see "Digital Dialogue," dated April 6, 2004). In particular, she described "Love During Wartime" as "a gentle, unhurried stroll into poetry, politics, religion, justice and such."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Hope you enjoy today's Postcard.
Ideé d’jour
The poet – when [she] is writing – is a priest, the poem is a temple; epiphanies and communion take place within it.
— Denise Levertov, quoted in The Oregonian, 04/04/04

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I'm a Lowly Insect
At least, I am according to The Truth Laid Bear (TTLB) ecosystem.

I think I've evolved from a "crusty crustaceon" thanks to the fact that Augustine added me to her "Blogs I read" list. Prior to this, (according to TTLB), only one other blog linked to this one. Props to Ms. Mambrina!

Thing is, I know I'm linked elsewhere. For some reason TTLB's system doesn't pick up the Tent Show, or Correction, or a half dozen others.

C’est l’vie.

I'm a lowly insect. As it should be. "A worm and no man," as the Psalmist says.

It's good for my humilty.

Emily For Today

There is a word
Which bears a sword
Can pierce an armed man —
It hurls its barbed syllables
And is mute again —
But where it fell
The saved will tell
On patriotic day,
Some epauletted Brother
Gave his breath away.

Wherever runs the breathless sun —
Wherever roams the day —
There is its noiseless onset —
There is its victory!
Behold the keenest marksman!
The most accomplished shot!
Time's sublimest target
Is a soul "forgot!"

Emily Dickinson, c. 1858
Johnson, pg 9; © 1960, Little, Brown & Co.
Ideé d’jour
To the complaint, 'There are no people in these photographs,' I respond, 'There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.'
— Ansel Adams, photographer (1902-1984)

Monday, April 05, 2004

Received Wisdom

If you look at the light,
you'll sneeze.

Keep your mouth closed
when peeling onions,
and you won't cry.

Here's a good weapon:
carry your longest key
between your middle and ring finger;
if attacked, aim at the soft bits.

It must be true!
I saw it on a sit-com!

The Image, the Inspiration

The poem below is my response to a picture by Natalie d’Arbeloff. You may recall I mentioned a collaboration with an artist a few days ago (well, Friday). This is it, sort of.

Through the traditional baffles & chambers, I discovered Natalie's work at Blaugustine; which is a blog maintained by her alter-ego, Augustine. Might sound a bit off, but it's worth a visit. Trust me. It is, it really is.

If nothing else, you've got to read Augustine's Interview with God. Reading this feature convinced me I had discovered a kindred spirit. So, naturally, I suggested some form of "collaboration", and Natalie was willing to give it a try.

No need to go into all the gory details here, but this is how it's worked out: Natalie has been kind enough to let me view a bit of the art she has digitally drawn on the computer. These are images which have not yet been posted on her own site. I am writing poetic responses to them, then putting the whole thing into my "poetry postcard" format. My commitment is to ask Natalie's permission before letting the world see the final product.

Natalie isn't my editor (though I probably need one). Nor is she an artistic prima-donna. She simply has the right to decide how her images are used. It's a basic application of the Golden Rule, and I'm sure she would extend the same courtesy to me if she wanted to use one of my poems with one of her art-pieces.

So ... still with me? Here's the image that inspired the poem below (it has a reprint of the poem, along with your correspondent's birth name).

Let us know what you think of the finished product.
My beloved folds his hands
and watches the carpet awaken.
The carpet breathes beneath him.

I see his reflection in his chair.
His hands form a cathedral.
I come through the red door.

I am the red door.
I am the infinite hour.
I am the petals opening.
Been working on this for a few days. It's in response to an image, and I'm waiting for authorization before I link you to said image.

So, the question is, does the poem work without the image?

"I'm wearing my Bob Dylan mask." — Your correspondent, circa 1985.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Emily for the Day

Read several poems by Emily Dickinson last night, as my observance of National Poetry Month continues. I have in my lap The Complete Poems, edited by Thomas H. Johnson. Doctor Omed (can I ever stop talking about him?) directed me to this at a used book sale in Tulsa last year. But that's another story.

I began, logically enough, at the first poem in the collection. It's dated "Valentine week, 1850"; it begins
Awake ye muses nine, sing me a strain divine,
Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine!

Oh, the Earth was made for lovers, for damsel, and hopeless swain,
For sighing, and gentle whispering, and unity made of twain.
Trust me, it doesn't get much better from there.

But, the advantage of reading "complete poems", at least for the aspiring poet, is to see the development of the voice and talent. Just a few years later, in 1854, she wrote
Frequently the woods are pink —
Frequently are brown.
Frequently the hills undress
Behind my native town.
Here, we can see the beginning of a voice we've come to know & love.

More to come, as I pay Emily more visits.

Happy Blogday, Dr. Omed!

Yesterday was Dr. Omed's "blogday" (as he calls it), the anniversary of the day he posted his first entry at his Tent Show Revival. He followed me by about a week, though I'm unaware of whether he was copying (or inspired by) me.

If he has said, I've forgotten.

I am a tad jealous. The good Doctor has more comments at his Tent Show, and apparantly a few more visitors. I think his "Nun of the Week" might be part of it. His poetry keeps getting better & better. I tend to think his is better than mine, but I'm too close to judge.

But, aside from the writing, I think the readership has something to do with the method we've chosen to publish our web-logs. Dr. Omed is using the Salon server, which has a built-in community. This service also has a handy comment system, which uses cookies to remember the user each time they post a comment (thus, I've posted as "Jonah" in most of the Salon-based blogs).

If "blogger" or "blogspot" has any sort of community, I've yet to discover it. Since I'm using the free version of blogger, folk have to scan past the notorious banner ads. And, I'm using a free version of the Haloscan commenting system, which does not use cookies to "remember" folk who post here frequently. Thus, folk like the venerable Doctor have to type their name, web-site, etc each time they post a comment. I'll note that one is not required to fill out each of those fields, but plugging in your blog-site in a comment field is a great way to promote it.

All that is beside the point. I'm actually glad Dr. Omed is finding success in the Salon. I look forward to another year full of faux-president-bashing (sorry, I refuse to say the man's name), scurrilous nuns, dancing scizzors, and great poetry.
Ideé d’jour 
Learning of many things does not teach intelligence.  — Heraclitus (535-475 B.C.E.)

Friday, April 02, 2004

Ideé d’jour
At bottom, every man knows perfectly well that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time.
— Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

Thursday, April 01, 2004

April Is National Poetry Month!

Michael, at Stick Poet Superhero has a number of good suggestions on how to celebrate this special month. Of special interest is the Poet's Almanac, which is offering "30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month."

I also recommend that you visit Jilly, at the Poetry Hut. She has daily poetry-related news and ideas that will be worth your perusal.

As for your humble correspondent, I shall try to focus on poetry this month. Already, you see an occasional poem below, in celebration of the return of my hat. So — either poems, or poetry-related entries. Who knows? Maybe I can once again achieve a poem-a-day.

I do have a couple of poetry-related projects in the pipeline: one is religious in nature, and is the culmination of about three months worth of work. The other is a very special collaboration with an artist whose work I recently discovered.

Finally, I have the goal of reading one Emily Dickinson poem a day. I plan to comment, or respond to these poems here as the month goes by. In the words of my cyber-friend, Michael Wells, "She is a wonder, isn't she".
The hat came back.
Though I thought it was a goner,
my old friend returned.
It heard me calling,
and found its way back to my hand.

My hat came back.
We have journeyed together for so long,
it chose to return
rather than seek a new companion.

My hat came back.
And the house is filled with rejoicing.

We shall not lose faith with each other.