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

How MLK Composed “I Have a Dream”

Caraway in the News

What the Sky Lacks investigates the similarities and differences of disparate places. Between the cold, flat plains of North Dakota and the foothills and rivers of the inland northwest, these poems explore the dynamics of habitation: what it takes to live in a place, to be in a place, and to be from a place.

Unto Us a Book

What the Sky Lacks

coming soon

Google Alert: Catholic Arts Today

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The good people at the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship could not help but cast a curious eye on the strange and shadowy world of Catholic art, and for whatever reason, they saw fit to take note of my little poem “Leaving.” I’m tickled pink.

Two Short Poems about (Post) Modern Philosophy

On Trying to Read Heidegger’s Being and Time
What is worth noting about such rarefied
reasoning is that so much needs to be clarified.

Deconstruct This
How high he climbed up a tree
in his study Of Grammatology!

Three Very Short Poems about Scenes from Scripture

In the Days of Noah
Because of our sins, the antediluvial
age gave way to one more pluvial.

Tithe—Or Else!!
If you don’t, you’ll fear a
finish like Ananias and Sapphira.

What About Some Fresh Towels?
What’s worst,” they said to Moses,
”After the thirst, is the hyperhidrosis.”

Two Short Poems about Morphemes, Bound and Unbound

Lament for an Augment
My favorite juice to drink
is Cran-Raspberry,
but if asked what I think
of the capitals and hyphen,
I would take my pen,
affix a Yuk! and gasp, Very!

Amidst Endings and Beginnings
For that first, lost syllable, the word sample
is an excellent example of aphesis,
not unlike apocope, when Mrs. (old, ample)
is remade (please don’t laugh) a Miss.

Five Short Poems about the Sixth Commandment

By Their Silence or a Certain Anxious Patter
For the observant boniface
Adultery is commonplace.

At a Motel Near the Airport
As one fly said to the other on a strip of glue,
“Nice place you picked for our rendezvous!”

Again the End of Him
She knew it had to be a con
when he said, “I’ll call anon!”

Always More to the Story
Re: their daughter and the groom,
Dad had a shrewd sense
of just who had screwed whom.
Mom tried to show prudence.

She Herself Enjoyed a Glass of Wine
But every date they’d had so far was a vinous
affair of inebriated intimacy—a big minus.

‘the kitten games of syntax and rhetoric’

He [i.e., Lactantius] delighted in writing, in the joinery and embellishment of his sentences*, in the consciousness of high rare virtue when every word had been used in its purest and most precise sense, in the kitten games of syntax and rhetoric. Words could do anything except generate their own meaning.

–Evelyn Waugh, Helena (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012), Nook edition, chap. 6, p. 8.

[Read more…]

“impactful”

Al Michaels just said it during the Super Bowl pre-game. I guess it’s here to stay.

Is Neuroscience Catching Up with Walker Percy?

Lakoff and Johnson’s program is as anti-Platonic as it’s possible to get. It undermines the argument that human minds can reveal transcendent truths about reality in transparent language. They argue instead that human cognition is embodied—that human concepts are shaped by the physical features of human brains and bodies. “Our physiology provides the concepts for our philosophy,” Lakoff wrote in his introduction to Benjamin Bergen’s 2012 book, Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning. Marianna Bolognesi, a linguist at the International Center for Intercultural Exchange, in Siena, Italy, puts it this way: “The classical view of cognition is that language is an independent system made with abstract symbols that work independently from our bodies. This view has been challenged by the embodied account of cognition which states that language is tightly connected to our experience. Our bodily experience.”

More

Pending

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12 July 2012

A slipper hangs from tiny toes: Our Lord –
A little child – has seen His cross and spear,
Has sped to her whose heart will know a sword.
She holds Him close. Her gaze is dark and clear.
They hang in golden silence…. Twitterings
Of careless birds bring day. Dawn fades the dark.
The clockwork clicks. The hammer hangs, then rings.
The planet turns, and swings along its arc….
The morning sun glides silent up the sky.
The moments pass beneath its sightless ray.
Some few hang solid like an ambered fly;
The rest, like Polaroids, fade fast away….
The noonday sun hangs high. Three things are all:
The point, the palm, the hammer poised to fall.

RIP OED

http://booksandpublishing.com/the-latest-news/rip-for-oed-as-worlds-finest-dictionary-goes-out-of-print

Webb has a set. Scholars will be knocking at his door when the (other) Web unravels.

No Word Is an Island

image

Kidney?

From Kevin Williamson:

“But Chris Hayes and others of that kidney are so committed to the narrative of helplessness—particularly black helplessness—that they either will not or cannot account for the facts of the case.”

Yep, kidney. From Websters:

3: sort or kind especially with regard to temperament: “a nice helpful guy, of a different kidney entirely from the …” Secret Police, Paula Lecler.

Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 14-19

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One chapter down; forty to go! Today’s post concludes Part 1, Chapter 1 of my attempt to rewrite Crime and Punishment as a verse novel à la Eugene Onegin.

Click here and scroll down to review the story to date.

Thanks to all who have read along so far. As always, your comments — including, but not limited to, negative comments — would be very welcome.

Is the story bogging down at any point? Is the action or setting ever confusing? Are there any trite rhymes? Any syntactic absurdities, prosodic infelicities, or lapses of characterization?

And is there anything that ‘works’ especially well?

1.1.14
He scans the space: a table (smallish),
A sofa (tall), and chairs (a few) —
All cheap and old, yet bright with polish,
Immaculate; the floor gleams, too.
(‘Lizavéta’s work’, he thinks; ‘that’s certain.’)
Here hangs a small icon… A curtain
Hangs there, in lieu of bedroom doors;
Beyond it stands a chest of drawers,
He knows — though he has yet to enter
The shadow of that shrouded cell….
… His hostess pipes up sternly: ‘Well?’
‘I’d like to pawn…’ he says; presents her
A pocket watch (worn silver-plate).
‘Good sir, your payment’s two days late:

1.1.15
‘Your other pledge is past redemption.’
‘I know, Alyóna, ma’am — my ring….
Please give me just a month’s extension.’
‘I’ll do as I please with that thing.’
‘Well…. How much for this watch? It’s silver.’
‘Not even worth the work to pilfer
A piece of trash like that, my friend.’
‘It was my father’s…. If you’ll lend
Four roubles, ma’am, I will redeem it.’
‘I see. Before, I was too nice —
I lent you more than that ring’s price.
As for this watch, now, take or leave it:
A rouble and a half.’ ‘You might —
One and a half, good sir.’ ‘…….. All right.’

1.1.16
She takes her keys out of her pocket;
She takes his watch behind the shroud.
He strains his ears; hears her unlock it —
The top drawer, scraping high and loud….
While he had been discreetly peering
At her (right pocket’s) steely keyring,
One key’d looked larger than the rest:
(‘Not for a drawer…. A trunk? A chest?
… But this is all so nauseating!’)
‘You owe me thirty-five, all told.’
(She’s back!) ‘Here’s one-fifteen; I’ll hold
The watch.’ He stands there, hesitating —
Then speaks: ‘In one more day… or two
… I might… have another pledge… for you…

1.1.17
‘… A cigarette case… silver… fancy!’
‘All right. We’ll talk about it then.
Good night.’ ‘Your sister! Any chance she
Might sort of… sometimes… wander in?’
‘What do you want with Lizaveta?’
‘Oh, nothing, ma’am.’ ‘You want to meet her?’
‘No no, madame, I just… Good-bye.’
He turns, and goes — and starts to cry:
‘Oh God! Can I –? Can I imagine?
How could –? Is my mind capable –?
My heart, so hateful? Horrible!
A month! A month, bent to this passion –!’
His self-disgust is oceans wide….
He sinks, and chokes — and steps outside.

1.1.18
The evening sun continues bleeding
Its dying light upon the host
Of Petersburg, while, all unheeding,
Our Rodya passes like a ghost
Among them, heart and mind encumbered:
He reels, colliding like a drunkard
Along the boulevard, until
His feet and thoughts at last are still:
Up from a dingy basement tavern,
Two tipsy, cursing men emerge;
Raskolnikov now has the urge
To go spelunk that urban cavern.
A sticky table; frosty beer;
A gulp. His thoughts begin to clear!

1.1.19
‘No need to worry any longer,’
He says — and smiles! — with rising cheer.
‘A simple side-effect of hunger;
Just takes a little bread and beer!’
Smiles all around! Lighthearted, hearty,
He beams at one departing party
(Four men; a girl; accordion),
Grins at a fat Siberian.
Above the pale cucumber salads,
Black bread, and kippers past their peak
— Which emanate an evil reek —
Drone mediocre drinking ballads.
An ex-official sits aloof —
Alone, but for his eighty-proof.

Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 11, 12, & 13

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The adaptation of Crime and Punishment into a verse novel à la Eugene Onegin continues.

Click here to catch up on the story.

1.1.11

If you’ll excuse the interruption,
Dear reader — Something in the way
Of a digression on the Russian
For ‘crime’: It’s ‘prestuplénie’,
Which (in more literal translation)
Means (to a close approximation)
Transgression, or ‘a step across’ —
Concision’s gain, nuance’s loss.
(I claim no special erudition;
I’m just repeating what I’ve read,
But this is what I think it said
In Norton’s Critical Edition.)
We here conclude our brief aside
And rejoin Rodya in mid-stride.

1.1.12

He’s in. His hostess glowers sharply —
Sharp little eyes, sharp little nose:
A tiny, desiccated harpy,
Of sixty years, one would suppose.
Her head is bare; her hair is sallow,
Just touched with grey, smeared thick with tallow.
Her neck is yellow, long, and thin —
Much like the leg of some old hen.
Upon her shoulders hangs a mangy
Old capelet cut from yellowed fur,
For even summer’s cold to her.
She coughs, regarding Rodya strangely.
(‘Does she suspect –? Of course, I must
Act all-correct… establish trust…

1.1.13

‘… show some respect — That’s always prudent!’),
He thinks, and makes a little bow.
‘Raskolnikov, madame — a student.
I came last month…. I’ve come back now.’
‘I know, good sir.’ She’s brusque and hurried.
(‘Was she this way before? I’m worried….
Her piercing eyes… her voice’s edge….’
)
‘I’m here about — about a pledge!’
She glares, then points — still coughing, groaning,
‘In there, good sir.’ And so he goes
Into a faded room that glows
With ruby hues before the gloaming…
Stained scarlet by a long, late ray….
(‘The sun will blaze like thisthat day!’)

Raskolnikov – Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 9 and 10

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In honor of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Apostles to the Slavs, whose feast-day was 14 February, here are the latest stanzas in my ongoing project of adapting Crime and Punishment to the sonnet-stanza form of Eugene Onegin. It’s been thirteen-and-a-half months since the last update, but, plot-wise, things are, I daresay, on the verge of getting real.

Click here to read the previous stanzas.

I welcome your comments, whether effusive or abusive.

1.1.9

The stairs he climbs are dark and narrow.
‘Still dark… still safe…. That’s good… but think!
Just now, I’m frozen to the marrow!
How, then, will I feel… on the brink
Of –?
’ Rodya all but crashes into
A pair of porters — two old men who
Are lugging down the furniture
From someone’s flat… Fourth floor! He’s sure
It’s from the old crone’s only neighbor.
‘That German clerk is clearing out
… So no one else will be about
If I…. That’s good! Then why belabor
The point? It’s time. I’m doing well….’
He’s at the door. He rings the bell —

1.1.10

And flinches from its tinny tinkling:
Its feeble chime seems to recall
Some distant, half-remembered inkling.
‘That certain sound…? It’s nothing! All
These flats have bells like that! … I know this!
Why did I cringe? It goes to show this
Is still too soon; I’m still too weak
For now!’ The hinges groan and creak:
A little gap; a glimpse; the glitter
Of wary eyes that peek, then spy
The porters and the clerk nearby.
The hag seems reassured a bit: Her
Apartment door now opens wide —
And now, our Rodya steps inside.