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

Tulips Sans Chimneys

Tulips for Elsie cover image

Mr. Potter’s given us a bold adventurous book with plenty of sharp turns at high speed, with some gestures toward Neruda and Merwin but also “Sk8,” a gr8 skateboarding poem, and sonnets, and brave ventures into rhymed verse, poems for friends and relatives, “Stopping by Blogs on a Frosty Evening,” and poems of passionate love with angels looking down from above. Plus tulips and Elsie. —Garrison Keillor

I have enjoyed the company of Jonathan Potter’s poetry for years and rejoice at the arrival of this new collection with its unabashed delight, authentic intimacy, and emotionally convincing, often playful music. Potter is at turns a graceful, organic monologist and a wry, deft formalist. These are poems of generous mythmaking, self-deprecating humor, passion, and the glories of fatherhood. They inhabit a Seattle of historical icons and the poet’s own skateboarding youth, a London of “tidy grime” and love, and the derelict and divine streets and poetry community and waterfall of Spokane, this poet’s answer to Williams’ Paterson. By the time Potter wishes he could “become myself with vengeance / and take you with me,” he has done both. —Jonathan Johnson

In an era of poetry that plumbs humanity’s darker depths, it is a pleasant respite to read Jonathan Potter’s Tulips for Elsie, a collection that wears its pathos and its prosody lightly as it confronts life’s familiar concerns—love, sex, family life, and his beloved native place (Spokane, Washington)— with full-bodied affection and gentle irony. Many poems here are sonnets—not just Petrarchan or Shakespearean but also Onegin stanzas!—yet Potter makes rhyming in these conversationally-toned fourteeners look effortless. Particularly engaging are the portrait sonnets featuring poets and writers associated with Spokane (Alexie, Howell, Walter among them), the longer poems about the poet’s lively and accomplished daughters, and the poetic palimpsests replying to or parodying well-known classics. By the time we finish reading, we may feel ourselves, with the poet, to have “co-authored  . . . a beautiful book of longing.” —Carolyne Wright

‘…They Shall Bind You…’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

‘And you, O son of man, behold they shall put bands upon you, and they shall bind you with them: and you shall not go forth from the midst of them. And I will make your tongue stick fast to the roof of your mouth, and you shall be dumb….’

Ezekiel 3: 25-26

And…we’re out.

(Apologies for language in video.)

Well, it looks like someone went and made Alphonse into a movie.

Dept. of Rejected New Yorker Cartoons, New Editor Edition

noodz

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

We were poets once and young…

…or younger, anyway.

Desktop5So JOB was visiting the Dappled Things website, as one does, and he stumbled across this in the “featured poem of the day” department: a little ditty he composed a while back for some M.L. character…

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 11.18.37 AMI do so love “ogling theologians.”

[Image: Gargoyles at Notre Dame, and the Café Grotesque mascots they inspired.]

Rally, Korrektiv, rally — here cometh Sister Sinjin!

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Friend of Korrektiv Betty Duffy has formed a band and recorded an album. Let that be a spur for your own efforts, and also a spur to go, listen, and purchase.

From the Sister Sinjin blog: What Does Creativity Look Like Within the Covenant and Constrictions of Life’s Obligations?

When we met for the first time we talked about creativity as our culture celebrates it: Freeing yourself from distractions, surrounding yourself with all things beautiful, being lost inside the space created for yourself whether in nature or a coffee shop, throwing off any labels the world has placed on you and discovering your true self. Who doesn’t want all of that from time to time?

 We are at a different stage in our lives, however, where time for leisurely creativity is at a premium. And do we even want that? We all have families and loved ones that we’re not willing to sacrifice to art.

 Elise threw out the phrase “Creativity of Obligation” as a topic for exploration. What does it mean to be creative while embracing the roles, responsibilities and obligations of mother, wife, friend, minister, employee, Christian?

 What if creativity does not flow best into the limitless space we strive to create around ourselves? What if, instead, it is pressed out of us by the constant, repetitive, unending cycle of daily life? What if creativity is not the result of acting on our every desire, but rather what’s found after everything else has been drained from us?

 Maybe there, in the uncomfortable realities of our lives is where creativity is expressed, because it must be in order to survive the exhausting and the mundane. Maybe creativity is more incarnation than transcendence.

 Creativity of obligation requires us to show up with all our baggage and create something anyway.

 Two weeks after we first met we began recording an album. We have carved out space though it has been brief and hard won. Most of our creative process, however, has happened with children surrounding us, in dirty kitchens and cluttered cars.

 If we had all the time and resources in the world we could create something more grand, more elaborate, but not more beautiful. What results will be all of what we had to give in a brief period of time with pinched pennies and crying babies at our side.

 Our obligations do not stop us from creating, they compel us.

Corporation Sole

fisher_king

The river that’s flowing before me now
Pretends to understand its lonely brother Styx.
It is October time, a time of myths
And stranger maths
Than summers know
Or passing springs can bring to sum.
The leaves surrender to a gathered text of sticks
Retailed for fuel and some

Forgotten task that lazes on the banks,
Awaiting frost’s soliloquy of spears and blades.
My whining spill of spooling line
Upsets a loon —
It glides and banks
A wake upon the distant shore.
Old grandsire Proteus appears at last, a blaze
Who builds his kindle, sure

Enough, from limb and branch of weeping pines.
The shivering fish that shake away my hook reform
Beneath the surface. Scaled with dusk,
They catch the disc
Of moon that spins and pines
For autumn’s tomb. A china plate
That shatters trees and stars, this lunar form
Resolves to hold the plait

Of Pitys’ hair the way that Pan had sighed
To grasp her battered body Boreas had thrown
In lust. So raw, his breath
Now fits its breadth
Along the side
Of evening’s flesh. Its chill now combs
My fire. I edge myself against this flaming throne
As ancient winter comes

To claim my blood as corporation sole.
The world’s collateral is not enough and preys
Upon my wasted groin.
(What god will groan
To claim my soul?)
With empty cup in hand, I wait
Between the river’s deep and castle keep. Each prays
To lift this golden weight.

If you’re clapping, stop it.

IMG_20150502_200308Rotate Caeli has a great sermon for this past Sunday (Extraordinary Form) by a priest in full communion with Rome on the Holy Father’s new document, The Joy of Marriage Sex. Listen and you’ll be mad you did – but at least now you can say, you know, you know.

Readings for this past Sunday (Extraordinary Form). (FYI)

 

Flies

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               The power of flies; they win battles, hinder our soul from acting, eat our body.
                                                                          – Pascal, Pensees, 367

I hate the thing I cannot be and yet
I know I’m not wrong for I’m never wrong.
I count the stars and one alone has set

Me going – all the rest can go to hell.
I didn’t make the flies, but I had put
Their song to good employment. Now they dwell

With me – and I should know, being the lord
Of the buggers, they make an easy sell
For cleaning up a butcher’s yard. Byword

Of light itself – I was it! But no more –
I’ve got a kitchen kingdom, fleshy sword
And flyblown maw instead to tend. I’m sore

At heart and hate the Jews – and Romans too.
But they can play very well together, or
I’ll see them die in their attempts. Then, through

The gates I see that star. That goddamn star.
No fly left out, no maggot stranded – no!
So how can stars be any different? Sure,

The cretins eat putrescence put in front
Of them, but never question it. Their care
For me – it knows no bounds! Each accident

Of nature, each festering harlot of
Ol’ Babylon, every mother-loving runt
Of a whoreson tabbed. Then I look above….

I’m not waiting around. No. Time to move.

Puppies and Thrones…, or, the Periwigs of Gomorrah Strike Back

f451

I have not read much science fiction* since my high school days but this post would be the second where I draw the reader’s attention to yet another Catholic science fiction writer  – John Wright(Here’s my first post on this topic). Has Catholic science fiction been making a quiet comeback? Percy dabbled; Miller plunged – is there something particular Catholic about science fiction?

Here, by the way, is a slew of reports on the controversy – note the pair of headlines: “Diversity wins as Sad Puppies lose at the Hugo awards” and “‘No Awards’ sweeps the Hugo Awards following controversy”. TRANSLATION: “No one wins – everyone wins.” Captain Beatty would be so proud.

 

* I still read Ray Bradbury on a somewhat regular basis, but I’ll argue another day why I don’t primarily consider him a science fiction writer (no more than, say, Twain, was primarily a Southern writer or Shakespeare primarily a playwright).

I Don’t Wanna Go to Mass

Something Potter came up with after his daughter said she didn’t want to go to mass. Apparently he was trying to one-up her in the anti-mass department.

Speaking of short poems about things…

Yep, this seems right…

Kennedy’s majority decision:

Hark! Love is love, and
love is love is love is love.
It is so ordered.

Burrito

burritoBurrito, bolus in my belly, fire in my breast. My dinner, my doom. Boo-rree-toh: the trill of the tongue wrapped before and behind by the osculating opening of the lips. Boo. Rree. Toh. It was lengua, stewed lengua, in the middle, morsels melting from meat to stock. It was beans and rice below. It was salsa de tomate on top. But in the tortilla it was all a Burrito.

Catholic Celebrities in Need of Prayers

Of course all celebrites need your prayers, but since I was about to title this Catholics Behaving Badly or something similar, perhaps we could focus some of our spiritual efforts on behalf of coreligionist Brian Williams, who seems to be having an especially hard time of it these last few weeks. Right now it’s a somewhat embellished story about getting shot down in a Chinook helicopter, last month it was having to defend his daughter’s acting abilities, or maybe career choices (actually, no, don’t follow that second link, especially if you’re in a public place), as one of the stars on HBO’s Girls

“She’s always been an actress. For us, watching her is the family occupation and everybody has to remember it’s acting, no animals were harmed during the filming, and ideally nobody gets hurt.“

Think your life is rough? I don’t care how wealthy or insulated or just plain spoiled rotten he or they or you are—that is rough.

God help us all.

Charity Case

cancun-poverty-4

 

Yucca in Yucatan lances the wind
And faded fuchsia shacks litter the beach.
The days reel out like fishing lines in the surf.

And the sea waves rush on in like the blink
Of an autistic child who sees between
The folds of time, unable to make mistakes.

Outside my bungalow, the sun is white
Like the eyes of children wanting to pour
Into one’s pockets, saying, “Take me with.”

Thick with a hangover, the hunt begins
For a half-cold beer from the late model
Frigidaire. It’s bone-rattling sound

Made me think affection part of the plan;
But love is like most things in this country,
Better for the bargain the more one has . . .

So to be honest, I came down to serve
My lust first and the poor, who of course can
Afford American lust least, last.

We met at a party for professors,
Your husband among them, and my wife. You said
“You must come see my Mexican orphanage!

“You die just to feel good about these kids!”
And then some noise about core values and
Transcending parochial perspectives.

The first time we slept together I blamed
“The emotional moment.” The second time,
You reasoned sense into it, convenient

In equation. But the last time, as you
Put your clothes back on, I reached out to you
And, sitting up in bed, I said, “I love-”

You worked at your make up and fixed your hair,
The mirror hid your frigid smile, and surf
Grew silent at my door – which slammed so hard

Loose change rattled on the room’s one nightstand.

Wiseblood report: late to post about Late to Love by Sam Rocha

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On August 28, 2014, Wiseblood Records released our inaugural collection of music, Late to Love, by Sam Rocha. Late to Love is musically inspired by the genealogy of soul music that scans the genres of spirituals, folk, gospel, country, R&B, blues, funk, jazz, hip-hop, neo-soul and nu-jazz. T-Bone Walker, Ray Charles, Gil Scott Heron, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, and Curtis Mayfield—with dashes of Willie Nelson and Pat Metheny—are the old foundation for something entirely new: Augustinian soul music.

Late to Love is an original concept album that performs a reading of Augustine’s Confessions through soul music. It is not a generic ode to a saint or holy person, nor it is a neutral and uncontroversial celebration of an important ancient book. From beginning to end Rocha offers a bold and fresh reading of Augustine’s Confessions where the form is the content, where melody and verse take the place of assertions and argument.

You can order up a copy here. I bought mine, and will post again after I’ve worked the envy out of my ears and given it a good listen or two. In the meantime, ol’ Cosmos the in Lost is mighty pleased. And you can give it a preview whirl here.

Time for Confession

to the tune of “It Was a Good Day”

And this, my brothers and sisters,
is how I ended up with one of the ladies
from my mother’s book club:
I was home from school for the summer,

taking a break from mowing the lawn
to get a glass of cold milk from the fridge.
I went in to the living room
to see if there were any snacks left,

just as the circle was just breaking up,
and found two women talking
as my mother showed three others
to the door. And then there was one.

“Well the horses might be pretty,
but the goddamn book is beautiful,”
she said, waiving the book like a pennant.
“Have you read it?” I took a bite

from a biscuit and said, “Uh … no.”
Took a sip of milk. Gulped.
“You probably spend all your time
chasing pretty girls, don’t you?”

“Uh …” Before I could finish she said,
“Won’t have much luck with that mustache,”
and after wiping the white from my lip
… today was like one of those fly dreams …

with her thumb, then licked it clean.

Today in Porn – Childhood Nostalgia Edition

I was perusing Hugh Hefner’s Twitter feed, as one does, when I happened upon this item from his Saturday Scrapbook collection:

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 9.50.05 AMI’m not sure what it means that two of the great architects of my childhood delight – Bill Cosby and Shel Silverstein – enjoyed playing croquet (and possibly other sporting activities) with the guy who founded Playboy magazine, but I did think it worth noting.

Those really were the glory days for ol’ Hef. Here’s a particularly witty cartoon from the magazine during that era:

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 8.37.43 AMGet it? Women are never too young to make men feel inadequate! Oh Hef, you scamp.