Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

Three Very Short Poems about Authors Who Wrote about the Sea

Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
After years at sea, he adapted a nom
de plume
for English language readers,
still recognized as a Polish phenom,
among the very best of modern writers.

Had He Caught Moby Dick
Ahab would have had to buy a pan
to fry up all that leviathan.

The Man Who Swallowed the Ocean
The flesh eaten right off Santiago’s skeleton
became the villager’s favorite feuilleton,
but who knows what monsters from the deep
might then have figured in Papa’s sleep.

Maybe next year, Cormac…

This year belongs to a Belarussian – that is, a bella Belarussian

Svetlana Alexievich

And I have no doubt that Fables of the Dead will soon be up for nomination as well – as soon as it appears in print…

John Barleycorn in Rags

john barleycorn

He is John, man in ragged overcoat
Long to withered knees
Manbeard made of clipped leaves and twigs

Man with face of rough bark
John who walks Saturday-night stupor
Through sibilant rings

Of maple, elm and linden leaves,
Swiftly satyr-dancing
Into crackling flower of fire

In peripatetic permutations, cough
Of dry staccato vespers, leaf to stone,
Each skeletal ballet whispers

He who is barrowed by mottled stile,
Stilled and waked in copper kettle,
Kegged and bunged for cooling cellar

In hoarse tones violent riots of autumn
Become seasonal rites trans-
Corporeal, quiet in slow burn

He is John of the demijohn
Bottle god of good folk,
Fanatic familiar of flagon, flask and firkin

His limber limbs are all consumed,
Sap-drunk as wasp and hornet
Dry and empty as cracked bobbin,

His spirit tumbles leaves down empty lanes
And empty well; he is spirit in wind,
He makes spirits from color, heat and motion

He is tall shoots and thick roots,
A shock of fruited stalks between
Breaks from his loamy scalp.

His anatomy taps boot heels,
Claps coarse palms. He, mate of dance,
Husband of hilarity, spouse of song.

Brittle brown leaves, fallen angels
Dancing down cold swift winds
Hymns that scrape, swirl and click

And always he must come along,
Always feed fire’s fermenting flower –
He empties nectar from his eye

He is John, and John must die.

Three Very Short Poems about the Competitive Spirit

Lois Loses With Long Odds
She began to drum her fingers and furrow
her brow—then laid down a Yarborough.

The San Patricio Rattlesnake Races
The snake able to most quickly slither, wins—
as long as it doesn’t start withershins.

At a Competitive Eating Contest
A dozen hot dogs isn’t just skosh
or a losing total, but très gauche.


bishop in drag

Here I was all set to vent my journalistic outrage (and privately, I did) regarding this kuffuffle, when a more staid and sober friend sent along the above as Exhibit A for The Possible Reason Behind the Reason Mularkey Had to Go

She also engages in a lot of modernist talk about art that I’m not sure squares with Catholic aesthetics – but I’ll let the philosophes among us make that call…

“Dorfman is an artist who understands that. The animated tactility of his work testifies to the obstinate fact that art comes to us from gifted hands in service to an eye. At the end of the day, sensibility is everything.”

As my friend asks, whither transcendence?


One mild evening in early fall somewhere in the middle of God’s country…

colloquium 1

I made a drink


and a diverse group of Catholic gentlemen talked a little Plato.

colloquium 3

We talked and talked and drank and drank and talked and drank …. until the horse came home.

Two Short Poems on Letters and Numbers

Down on the Farm
On a page as white as milk, row
after row of black letters filled
a large field of text to be tilled
with red tools, such as a pilcrow.

Way Out There
Neither the infinite nor the infinitesimal
will you reach with yet another decimal.

Two Short Poems about Toenail Fungus

My Onychomycosis
It takes a lot of chutzpa
to walk into a foot spa.

After His Toenails Were Trimmed
He had terrible athlete’s foot
and (whenever he ran) asthma. Boric
acid helped heal his hoof,
but made jogging phantasmagoric.

“Phone a Friend”

That night
Your voice
Was just right
I had no choice
But to ask
If you would
Accept the task
If you could
Embrace the wonder
Of being
Embrace the blunder
Of seeing
Me through the haze
For the rest of your days.

Blue, Tangled up in

Something from the Potter down-and-out audio files.