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Archives for December 2017

Sign of the Times (Gone By)

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Ripe fruit left hanging on a tree: a sure sign that your children are not spending as much time at home as they used to.

Is Pope Francis a Heretic?

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Hey, I’m just asking a question. Kidding! Actually, it’s Marist priest Fr. James L. Heft, head of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California, who is asking — and presumably answering — that question as part of the Institute’s Condon Lecture series. Friends of Korrektiv will no doubt recall the mini-Summit – JOB, Angelico, yours truly — held at the Institute’s conference on the Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination a couple of years back, when Wiseblood’s Joshua “Feather Pen” Hren stood up in the middle of Tobias Wolff’s talk and said, “Me. I’m the future of the Catholic literary imagination.” Notice was, as they say, served.*

Anyway, I’m guessing Fr. Heft’s answer is going to be firmly in the negative, but I did thrill to see the word “heretic” in such a rarefied setting.

Dept. of Rejected New Yorker Cartoons, New Editor Edition

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Well, The New Yorker got a new cartoon editor, so to celebrate, I sent a new cartoon.

Elsewhere

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Korrektiv is gearing up for a great and productive 2018. (It’s good to let publishing start-ups lie fallow every few years, planting only word-fixing crops like JOB’s poetry to replenish the creative urge.) In the meantime, Friend of Korrektiv and Wiseblood wizard Joshua “Word Bird” Hren has a new poem up over at First Things. Read it, and then raise your hand if you had to look up “numinous” to make sure you had it right. Now raise your hand if you had to look up “logikēn latreian.” Søren says, Raise your hand.

Wine Country Fires, California

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                  A wineless man on your seat of native rock.
                              -Oedipus at Colonus

October 2017

When anger flames in torrid waves,
      Component fires and torrid ash,
      The wine that rivers ocean’s crush
      Beneath the land beneath our flesh
Embroils its blood in soil that drives
Imbibing tongues in speechless droves
      To writhe and rave like Tantalus
            At all that frank and fruitless fall survives.

The flow of sweetest liquor from out
      The arteries of Bacchus to veins
      Of Hades’ quenchless burning vines—
      Now hush our wish in panic winds
That lust for soot and loss. By sweat
And brow each duct and gland is sweet
      As ash to taste—and snapping seines
            Are sorrow’s final scenes erupting from the fruit.

When fury cruises the rooted ferrules
       Of California hills, each crest,
      A purple burn now bruised by fist
      And kick of flame, jets a tempest
That slows the dribble of stolen jewels;
And diamondbacks now rue their rule
Of descending ocean-greens which fuel
      A rattled jujube forest
            With gimcrack roots like crucibles crossed—

The dials of day shatter the sun
      And splice the starry dais of night
      Into Persephone’s inferno, hot
      And swift to wilt with volcanic hate.
With flaring dragons’ wings one
Wincing and glancing ember can spin
      The worms of circumstance to cut
            Antigone’s acres from vintage possession.

Thus, a subterranean succubus
      And its phantom spirits drain away
      While Ariadne’s leafy array
      Collapses: a funereal display
Of scorched heddles and phoenixes—
Tarantula winds now spin and truss
      The trellised moments, fruit as fey
            As tragedy’s sightless path to Colonus.

When sparks at root engender quick
      And truncated lightning, a satanic drop
      Of flammable fruit, its molten sap
      Melts these pacific sands. The map
And glass that chart the fickle rock
Of feckless Sisyphus now trick
      To cull the strangling spill and slip
      Of sloughing dust, a chaos sifting at our back.

When raging nature’s racing wind
      Draws a crop of glimmering flint
      And slashes this flashing monument
      To the palisades of time, spent
With flowing ebb, the tide is spanned
And cursed with spawning cinder’s brand,
      The heaven-falling harvest bent
            To hold us fast and take our final stand.

Still, netting proof’s reproof
      The eye that hangs by lash and lid
      Is witness to the arid mood
      Now sere with smoking wands of wood;
Our hands now poised to grope in love
Another mothering flame—from roof
      To groin—now wineless, blind and sad
            As Oedipus—house-erect yet fathering a grave.

Adam’s Alphabet: A Poem for Advent

Adam's Alphabet

All faith consists in Jesus Christ and in Adam,
and all morality in lust and in grace.

-Pascal

Adam’s anguished alphabet bungles the blood
Because Beelzebub became the cause
Creating crass chaos—deadliest of deaths—
Demanding destruction, what Eden earned.
Eve elected her fervent fellow, framed
For feting that green-gartered gallant who grounds
Grey the groynes and hearthstones that heat his hell.
Her heart, his hands, iuncta iuvant,
Inked up and iodine-red, judge the jet juice
Jerked from jaundiced kinks, kiting and kept
Kinetic in kleptic larceny’s lust.
Lo, law and ministrations to mammon
Manumit nothing but the nihil noted
Now in nations, urb et orb, and ordained
Officially on parchment’s passing pips.
Past passages and quotidian quandaries,
Queer the question: Quid est veritas? Right
Remains a rash, a scandalous stigma
Settling the scored sill of temple and thought—
Together taking umbrage underground
Unable to unearth all the virgin virtues
Villified by a vicious, warring world.
Well would it be if excellence exempted
Xerxes from Yahweh’s yawning yen, yearning,
Yoked to yesterday’s yondermost zone,
Zany with zephyrs for Adam’s ashes.

Zealots of zero, though, yank yammering yesses
Yoemen yell from sexless texts — Man’s own
X-rayed lexicons of wode warnings.
Willing, the world waits, revamping vaunted
Venus’s vanities. Uranus unfurled
Understands useless time as torn tissues
Tied to each solemn syllable of sound
Signifying a sore sight — reason’s right
Rescued from this round reliquary’s quagmire.
Qualified, the quest for peace, each person’s plight,
Perforce prays to obviate Eve’s ovaries:
Observe in one alone who negates and nips
Negative notions of mankind, her mother-maned
Mantle magnifying a love lauded
Lusty, loud and long to kismet’s Kαλον.
Keeping kindhearted for Joseph the just,
Jerusalem’s jewel invites the in-dreamt
I AM to inhabit her hallowed house.
He inspires, instead, gaining from her grant
Given ground foreclosed from the fell fall
Free as fields, fallow to its fruitless ends.
Envious, the enemy, dares this dreamed
Damnation a done deal. But incarned
Caritas came to christen blood and breathe
Balm for ancient agony’s ache, always
As Adam’s alphabet amended in ‘zblood.

Mars Hill, J.F. and JOB

powers typewriter

“I think what Powers is trying to say is ‘No look, there’s a whole other side: there’s a lot of boring Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock stuff going on in the priesthood.’ And I think that’s what he wanted to show. I think he wanted to show that the priesthood was not glamorous, but that there was a profound struggle going on.”