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Archives for 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

wildfire wine

                  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.”

Variations on a theme

He who hesitates is lost
He who masticates is flossed
He who vegetates is mossed
He who masturbates is tossed
He who capitulates is bossed
He who gesticulates is crossed
He who intoxicates is sauced

Short Story: A Poem

“For my pleasure I had as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down.”
—Robert Frost

*
I. The Boxer Rebellion

Your turn of that page
has opened a drawer.
My home. I am his underwear.

He’ll always show you
the contents of his drawers
but never what he’s wearing.

He’s that kind of fellow.
But I’ll give you a clue:
I am his only pair of boxers.

To put it briefly,
he suffers a shortage.
Why only one of me?

Why only one day
of freedom per week
when he could have seven?

That is the question
I once heard
his girlfriend ask.

He replied like Robert Frost
that a little freedom
is almost too much

and went home and
put on briefs.
Short changed.

*
II. A Brief History of the Work Week

Briefs #1 (Sunday)
Freedom’s just another word for lost
In funhouse laundromats where dreams are tossed.

Briefs #2 (Monday)
You’ve got to work to make a living wage,
You’ve got to button up your daily rage.

Briefs #3 (Tuesday)
You’ve got to count your syllables and keep
Your cock and scrotum snug and fast asleep.

Briefs #4 (Wednesday)
You’ve got to keep your humpday hopes pressed down,
It makes no difference if you smile or frown.

Briefs #5 (Thursday)
You might love her, she might love you, but then
Your Adam’s apple bulges up again.

Briefs #6 (Friday)
Thank God? Well, maybe in the morning light,
But Eden’s underwear gets torn at night.

Briefs Chorus (all together)
Like Frost said, don’t play tennis without net.
Don’t let your balls fly free from match to set.

*
III. The Girl Who Was Saturday

I like it when my man is frisky
But when he drinks too much he gets so frisky
Like a shooting star on a Saturday night
He shines so bright but then he passes out.

I like it when he takes me out dancing,
I like it when he cuts loose a little bit, you know,
On a Saturday night after a long week of work,
When he takes off that tie, loosens up his collar, and swings like a birch tree.

I like it when my man gets frisky
And I like to drink and have a good time
But if he drinks too much too fast he passes out too soon
And when I’m ready for the fun to continue on, he’s gone.

He’s lying there in his boxer shorts. I love those boxers,
The ones with the palm trees and the Christmas lights,
He looks so peaceful sleeping there, like an angel, like a fallen soldier, like a child,
But I want my man to wake up and take me to the promised land.

I like it when my man is frisky, when he’s had just a little whisky.
But when I see him on a Wednesday or a Thursday,
He never has those boxers on, he’s wound up tight and white,
But I love my man when he gets frisky on a Saturday night.

*
IV. The Naked Poet Speaks

O boxers, I hear the siren call
Of your easy-open fly
And your free and airy ways.

O briefs, you’ve
held me close and kept me
Safe since childhood.

O Adam, O Eve, O Fruit
Of the Loom, what have you wrought?
Who told you you were naked?

Since childhood, I’ve been
Burdened and blessed with the words
For the days of the week.

I’ve been clothed
With the fabric of toil and dread,
Of yesterday and tomorrow.

But now I stand undressed
Before the dresser of my shame,
I stare into the abyss of my drawers.

In this present moment
I ask of you, O Robert Frost: speak
Your will and testament to me.

*
V. The Shorts Not Worn
(with apologies to Robert Frost and his underwear)

Two shorts submerged in a yellow drawer
And sorry I could not model both
And be one wearer, long I wore
The tighter briefs till I was sore
And then I bent and scratched my undergrowth.

Then took the boxers, just as fair
And having no doubt the looser fit
They were the ones I wanted to wear;
So easy to whip it out and piss anywhere,
The opening truly being made for it.

And both that morning equally lay
In my drawer with shirtsers and socksers.
Oh, I kept the briefs for another day!
Yet knowing how freedom has to have its way
I doubted if I should ever change from boxers.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
On Korrektiv.org ages and ages hence.
Two pairs of shorts in a drawer, and I—
I wore the ones more loose to thigh
And that has made all the difference.

*
VI. Whose Woods These Are

We hope you’ve enjoyed our brief exposé.
The frost is coming, so bundle up, okay?
Be it brief or boxer, boxer or brief,
Relax, unwind, get some relief.

*
VII. Epilogue

The page has turned, the drawer
is closed. The leaves are
falling from the trees.

One brisk fall morn, in the middle of the week,
whistling a carefree tune, he put me on,
slipped on some pants, a shirt, socks and loafers.

I said, Man are you puttin’ me on?
He said: Well,
I’m taking the day off.

And we went shopping
over at that dress-for-less place
and bought a bunch more of me.

Two packs of three, to be exact,
and that’s enough to form a tribe,
for seven days of freedom every goddam week.

The woodchucks and squirrels
are squirreling away their nuts
in the backyard as daylight declines.

But his are hanging loose now
as he kneels and asks his girl
if she’ll tie the knot with him next summer.

So it seems that just when he found
his freedom, he gives it up.
I’m not surprised. He’s that kind of fellow.

*
*
*
THE END

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Birthday Limerick

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A fellow named Potter was born
On this date in a stable, forlorn
And the angels sang Hank
Williams songs while they drank
Irish ale from the night till the morn.