Archives for March 2014

Follow-up to Saturday’s post

I feel like this needs to be played in a movie scene where a priest breaks down and shoots up. But then, I’m a trashy philistine.

Follow-up to follow-up to previous day’s post



From See Dick and Jane Run by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp…



Iowa will not be validated.


I don’t follow “Girls” and never had a desire to – but I do follow women – especially Ann Althouse.

She has a great post about the Iowa Workshop refusing to be validated by one of its own – that Lee Denim person or whatever her name is.



Selfie Alert IV

Clearcut Logging and Its Discontents

Korrektiv, meet Alanna-Marie Boudreau

How To Tell You’re Old, Part IV: People you remember as sweet little moppety children with big eyes and bigger hair on a tiny little body suddenly show up as grownup-type musicians, asking for money to make an album. The Boudreaus are dear family friends; they live in a wonderful old house overlooking a bend in the Tioughnioga River. Here’s a deceptively simple song of Ms. Boudreau’s from a while back:

Click that link!

How My Children See Me…


I wonder this like a tossed coin or playing card standing up on its edge.
Darkness closes in as I wade the shallows of sleep. Its current carries me
From my otherwise quiet bedroom. Over night, in its deepest, furthest

Regions, I am too far out or too far gone to recall bumped furniture’s sudden
Sharp report across the floor, or a soft whimper that would express
Tired and cold after the woodstove dies down and windows frost up.

Like living manna, little ones grow around us in bed, three draped between us,
One on the pullout, another curled like spaniel or setter at the wide foot
Of wide sleep.

It is the same when I go away for awhile. I will hold
Myself at an arm’s length of mind, cock-eyed, like someone vain trying
To shoot himself with a camera:

The boy, I wonder too, sees himself,
In me, but probably doesn’t or can’t now that he is caught up in the time
Of being too much a boy to see what manhood promises for him one day.

My oldest, she sees in me a faithless hero whom she has willed to love
The whole of – even the grumpiness which will grow like whiskers
At the short end of every day.

My middle one is fierce and psychological
All at once; she sees through convenient sibling alliances as tests of will
Chalked up to, tallied up and, with a hard hug for her old man, put up with.

The tow-headed two-year-old stands against her own grand confusion
With sky-blue eyes rimmed a teary red, two being the age of terrible things
Like bones breaking out of their own infancy. She sees me in violet tears.

When the youngest only gurgles his milky morning song in bed beside us,
He is considerate and smiling through yawns at the pre-dawn light.
I reach to kiss him farewell. Brute, nubby fingers fumble for me, clinging to see.

– 2003

Follow-up to previous day’s post


From Day by Day by Robert Lowell (probably Jeb O’Brian’s favorite poet).

NB: A first edition of this book was located in Dauphine Street Books in the French Quarter, a good place to ride the train to if you have the chance.

Selfie Alert III

Smile, sucka!


Keeping the Dog Far Hence: A Lenten Reflection


By Cecilia O’Brien

That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!


Waiting, waiting, waiting…

Lent arrives during the most appropriate season in our little patch of the world. Southwest Wisconsin at this time of year is a season of mud, dirty snow, patchy ice, fleeting sun and winds whispering promises of things to come. The days grow longer and the hours a bit slower as we wait, and wait, and wait for signs of spring.

The frozen ground begins to reveal the hidden sins of winter; animal waste, a plethora of bones dragged in by the dog, long lost mittens, buckets and plastic bags, and other sundry items that have fallen from our pockets or have been swept from our cars. It is ugly, the dirty snow, the brown earth, the garbage.

As is the season, so too is the state of our souls. Lent pulls back the blanket of complacency, revealing our imperfections, inconsistencies, and inadequacies. It lays bare the detritus from seasons past. Our souls are scarred with sins of gluttony, pride, selfishness, lust, anger…. The list goes on and on. It too is ugly, the blanket of complacency, the scars, the sins.

And yet hope lies in those winds of promise. Hope for new life, green pastures, gurgling streams, and the warming rays of the sun. Work must be done. The plastic and paper garbage must be secured lest the wind blows them in all directions once again.

The dog does not like to lose her many bones littering the lawn and field. We have tried burying them or tossing them over a distant ravine but she always manages to retrieve them, scattering them about, scars on our landscapes, obstacles in our paths. So the bones and garbage are collected, placed in garbage bags and sent to the county dump and recycling center to be crushed, incinerated, or reformed.

Our sins also have the tendency to make their way back to our soul’s landscape, blocking the way, obscuring the warming rays of the Son. They too must be collected and disposed, leaving our soul exposed to the light of grace.

The confessional is our soul’s county dump. We acknowledge our sins, gather them in a heap, and one by one feed them into the great incinerator of God’s mercy. Our soul’s soil lies exposed, to soak up the gift of grace through the sacraments.

So this Lent, as we wait and wait and wait, for the green of spring and the promise of resurrection, let’s gather up the garbage, the old bones, and dispense ourselves of them in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.

Paging Sid and Marty Kroft

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 12.18.17 PMPillsvillecoming soon! The thrilling adventures of Captain Xanax, the Viscount Viagra, and Princess Progestin!

Paging Dr. Percy

So I went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film very much about the importance of the artist.

And at the end, there was a note about how the film was inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig. Over at The New Yorker, Richard Brody shone a little light on the connection. Naturally, that led me to this longer consideration of Zweig in the magazine. Ah – a suicide. And naturally, that led me to this longer consideration of suicide’s resurgence, also in the magazine.

Artists, suicides, Zweig…ah. Of course. A Moveable Piece: Stefan Zweig and Walker Percy’s Problem of Artist-Writer Reentry, Jennifer Levasseur’s very fine presentation (attended by several members of the Kollektiv) at the second Walker Percy Conference (not to be confused with the Walker Percy Weekend, which somehow has yet to be mentioned on this blog).

Perhaps Dr. Percy is not quite as doomed to the past as I had feared. When I applied for the Amtrak writer thingy, I pitched The Last Gentlemen. Hoo!

Annuntiatio Domini

Cell 3 of the Convent of San Marco by Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

Cell 3 of the Convent of San Marco
by Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), 15th Century

From the Office of Readings in today’s Liturgy of the Hours, an excerpt from a letter by Pope St Leo the Great:

To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other. [… ]

One and the same person – this must be said over and over again – is truly the Son of God and truly the son of man.

Vatican discovers case where condom use does not interfere with morality of intercourse


Selfie alert II

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels - alabaster lantern - afternoon

Words of a Dying Man for Lent

A great personal reflection on Mr. Bones from the late Mario Palmaro, Italian author and journalist and, yes, Triddywacker:

The first thing that shakes you up about sickness is that it hits us without any warning and at a time we do not decide. We are at the mercy of events, and we can do nothing but accept them. Grave illness obliges one to become aware that we are truly mortal; even if death is the most certain thing in the world, modern man tends to live as if he should never die.

 In sickness you understand for the first time that life on earth is but a breath, you recognize with bitterness that you have not made it that masterpiece of holiness God had wanted. You experience a profound nostalgia for the good that you could have done and for the bad that you could have avoided. You look at the Crucifix and you understand that this is the heart of the Faith; without sacrifice Catholicism wouldn’t exist. Then you thank God for having made you a Catholic, a “little ” Catholic, a sinner, but who has an attentive Mother in the Church. So, grave sickness is a time of grace, but often the vices and miseries that have accompanied us in life remain, or even increase [during it]. It is as if the agony has already begun, and there is a battle going on for the destiny of my soul, because nobody can be sure of their own salvation.