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.

Dinner with Waifu (嫁との晩餐)

Flannery O'Connor Dinner

Supping with the beloved on an important anniversary.

‘… on the sand, / Half sunk, a shattered flattered visage lies …’

At the very end of Lent 2012, the six members of the Korrektiv Kollektiv received, as a gift from Matthew Lickona, cartoon portraits from the pen of the wonderful Daniel Mitsui. What Mitsui memorialized in those small and startling figures, with unobtrusive allusiveness and an unsettling but corrective touch of the grotesque that exemplified the Korrektiv ethos of the classic period, was a golden age: a flowering, a ripening, the sun at zenith.

But flowers fade; ripeness turns to rot; light declines toward a slow, final failure; and shadows lengthen and coalesce unto the great shade, Night, who is herself the shadow of Death.

You couldn’t have noticed all that fading, rotting, and declining, though, since none of it showed on the surface — until November 1. On that day — All Saints’ Day (bitter irony!) —  a mistake was made.

Now, at the beginning of Advent 2012, Mr Lickona has once again hired Daniel Mitsui — not to memorialize glory this time, but folly.

Fittingly so: Our Faith teaches that wrongs can be not merely prevented, not merely undone, but actually redeemed. And this is true.

For example: Though my addition to this blog’s roster may be a loss for you, the reader (not to mention the dragging-down it entails for Jonathans Potter and Webb, Mr Finnegan, Mr Lickona, Mr JOB, and Ms Expat), I get a brilliant Mitsui portrait:

Enigmatic, spooky, funny, and a good likeness to boot, though enough obscured to provide a useful degree of plausible deniability. I could hardly be happier with it. If only it had not come at such awful cost to you, dear friends.

Thank you for the picture, Mr Mitsui. Thank you for the present, Mr Lickona.

Thank you (in advance) for forbearing to sting, scorpion.

Σίμων ὁ μάγος


The fisherman-wizard spit-sprayed a bit
When he growled, ‘Grace is free, if you pray for it.
Damn your dough!’ Not too nice!
But there must be a price,
And as hell is my witness, I’ll pay for it.

Harold Fickett to Larry Doyle: Bring it on!

I think this response over at Crisis ought to warm the kardiak kockles of the Kollektiv Korrektiv.


Today in Waugh

No, not that Waugh.  His brother, Alec.  Actually, there is rather a bit about Evelyn, but the piece itself, by former New Yorker theater critic Brendan Gill in his late-in-life memoir A New York Life:  Of Friends and Others, is about Alec.

I am perhaps overly fond of reading harsh things about people of whom I suspect I am overly fond.  Evelyn Waugh, for example.  To wit:  “Everyone who knew [Alec] was quick to say how unlike his brother Evelyn he was, and this was intended to be perceived as a compliment, which indeed it was.  For Alec was charming and kindly and without, as the British say, ‘side,’ while Evelyn was a viperish and pretentious snob.  Alec was content to be an upper-middle-class Protestant; Evelyn would have liked to be a member of the ancient Catholic gentry.  Lacking that (to him) enviable ancestry, he produced an imitation that deceived no one and cost him much of his humanity.”

Oh, it goes on.  “[Alec] mocked the devout Catholic that Evelyn had become, pointing out that he wasn’t so devout as not to have perjured himself with regard to his first marriage in order to obtain the blessing of Holy Mother Church upon his second.  The church frowns upon a man’s having two living spouses; because a divorce has no standing in the eyes of the church, a marriage must be annulled, and the usual grounds for securing an annulment are, or used to be in the Waughs’ time, notably embarrassing – impotence, madness, malformation of the sexual organs, and so on.  ‘At Evelyn’s urging, I, too, p-p-perjured myself at the annulment hearings,’ Alec told me once.  ‘Evelyn had me lay it on good and thick…A whopper or two to help my saintly brother cost my conscience nothing.'”  Life is complicated.

Now back to Alec, and now for the fun part.  “All his life, he was mad about women; he married several times, and had scores of mistresses over a period of fifty years.”  Yes, yes, and?  Well, Alec liked to stay at the Algonquin when he was in New York, which was rather a lot.  From there, he would venture out to various wonderful places for lunch – he was handy with an anecdote.  “Still,” writes Gill, “I came to suspect that perhaps the happiest portion of Alec’s day had already been experienced by the time he turned up at one or another of his clubs and began to hold his companions spellbound.  this happiness was linked to another establishment on West Forty-fourth Street, only a few hundred feet from the Algonquin:  the turn-of-the-century Hudson Theater, which at the time I am speaking of had fallen on hard times and was no longer being used as a legitimate theater.  It had been reduced to showing movies, and not ordinary movies…

“In old age, his once hectic sex life reduced to a jumble of delectable if no longer accurate memories, Alec took comfort in attending these pornographic movies.  The first show at the Hudson began promptly at 11 a.m., and Alec arranged his schedule accordingly…One was tempted to hail him, old friend that he was, but no – he had an important appointment, and nothing must cause him the least delay in keeping it.”

One might, if one were a certain sort of awful person, take a certain measure of amused bemusement in the notion of such a tidy arrangement of one’s libidinous life, of words like “promptly” and “comfort” being applied to matters pornographic.  I am not intending the least sort of blasphemy in saying that it sounds rather like worship – heading down to Our Lady of Perpetual Availability for the reliable gratification of that imagined communion…

Speaking of creating reality…

More here.

Merry Kristmas, Kollektiv and Korrektiv Korrespondents!



Θρῇκἐς τε γλαυκοὺς καὶ πυρρούς… – Xenophanes

The Jordan shines with sliver chits
That flit like fish. They just wait there
For true-blue eyes and steady wits
To fling upon the killing air.

I’m no fisherman, though – I’m told
The sea’s never been in my loins.
So I’ll take the sun…. See! It’s gold
Has turned my hair to flaming coins!

Such coin’s as good as any oil
That drips upon a rabbi’s beard.
But dip a finger in his bowl –
And would he say so? Not a word!

“We should act,” he’d say, “as we know” –
But judge: who is free to do so?

Electric Grace

Hacienda chapel, Thomas Aquinas College.



The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself.
We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum.
– From “Amen” by Bruno Heydrich

Jan. 20, 1942

Wannsee House. Its wings of stone unfold
To expand upon a mere eighty-five minutes
Enclosed by the written minutes of history.
They bear our words aloft as its only witnesses.
But stark with refutation of its pinions,
The villa’s cold, translucent panes, dark and
Deformed, ripple and buckle before
A thousand winter suns and earnest Baltic winds.
Thus comes death from the east? We’ll make reply:
The sound of quills sharpening. The suck
And sumptuous appetite of fountain pens
Leaning their brass beaks into their work,
Engorging bladders, gobbed and dripping black
At the gathering of nibs by the inkwell.

But I am undisturbed. The serenity here
Is music missing only the poetry of action –
It will come along soon enough for our tastes.
There, on the other side, the Wintergarden.
The crouching stone bench. The runic sundial
In total shade. The fountain fossilized and mute.
These true residents alone rejoice in time.
The rest, we are boarders urged to move on.
So, the rose’s thorns and dead petals gone to earth,
The seasons’ nine months of pretty leaves
Received as refugees, hide in their surroundings.
The ordered beauty of the Wintergarten,
It pains me to speculate on its Junes, Julys….
The opera of the rose, the overture of its folds.
Now, nostalgia is all, memory without redress.
Rendered to earth, abused until the spring,
The squared-off trimness is blurred with sorrow.

The last of the boots have made their statement
And stand at attention. The first shall be last….

In through the alcove’s wall of windows,
The light become a translation of rainbows.
The sagging panes like ice sheets in slow melt
Bulge the leaden frame’s base into the sill
As if the entire house were sinking back to earth.
But we know it is not. Quite the opposite.
Today, Wannsee is the only place left on earth.
From here, we rebuild and rejoice in the light
We shed for humanity, our humanity.
As if fostering songs of spring in winter’s heart,
Das Wannseehaus’s windows showcase
The lake spreading its stain of bruised blue.
The Grossen Wannsee: famous for its regattas
And tea parties, Weimar excess married to
The older considerations, including cognac
Served by waiters dressed for the occasion
As male brides in polished spats and whites,
Winking at you as they light your wife’s cigarette.

A throat cleared, the table cleared of lunch.
I hum a snatch of something from childhood.
It’s almost a prayer, a strange sense of reaching
For something in the heart, a picture book
From childhood you know is not there,
And yet you reach. –A windows bursts open
And secretaries scramble to save their papers.
The wind wounds the lake with slanted shadows.
Calls for fresh rounds of cigarettes and coffee
Return us to the world of things at hand.
The napkin rings serve as playthings; forks mark
Locations, and knives point out supply routes
While pepper mill and salt box serve as depots.

As we attend to business, upper-class whores,
Like a gaggle of lawyers awaiting cases,
Sit in a corner, awaiting further orders.
Tossed in scripted nonchalance, our field hats
With eagle crests and patent leather brims
Pile like grey soufflés on the table in the hall.
The darkened stains of sweat on the inner rim
Of each bears up like a happy thought
That moment when we took our seats,
And launched into the formal conference,
Determining history, and bleeding red ink
From our hands to pen and paper, stamped
As any heel to stone, any steel to wood.
No words can describe. No words do justice.
How do you explain success in such terms?

The light from the lake conspired with my joy.
It was total. It was fulfillment. All eyes on me.
It was more than my father could compose
From his conservatory eyes and metronome.
The failed composer and failed watercolorist,
Birds of a feather, never would listen, never know…
I was an artist, more so. My subject was man
And I myself the canvas, the instrument, the form.
The successful service man, his uniform tastes
And predilections easing his ride up the ranks.
Begin with broken glass and long knives, night and fog,
But no more color-coded index cards and file drawers.
No crackling telephone receivers gone
Suddenly dead. I can now admit, the joy
Provided sober perspective of that day.

Afterwards, confirming success to its accessories,
As we stood to a portrait of our fearless one,
Goddamn me, but I almost blessed myself!
A decrepit force of habit I hadn’t quite
Abolished – like fear of Jew blood trapped
In veins. The corners of my eyes confirmed:
No fear, then, for none saw the slender hand
Rising in the air, spidery fingers folded
Like a tulip to the temple, the leaning forward
In utter beatitude, slowly descending to meet
The hand that upward reaches… – Interrupted,
Jerked away from leprosy’s white hot flame.
Who saw? None because the index cards saw first.
None. Not among those men of beautiful will –
Those thirteen officers and captains of their time,
Numbering more than a jury, less than an army.

A scrape of chairs across marble, hands clapped
Backs slapped, chevron-crosses polished up
By quick breath beneath an elbow, a sleeve, a cuff.
Timepieces cross-checked with wall clocks.
An hour and a half. In that time, roads were paved
For war with bone meal, brick and seashell;
A satisfactory framework of redress.
The human machinery fine-tuned with gas
And clever transcendence – history
As hysteria. Mystery as miasma. Hatred
As achievement. Time pieces rechecked.
Spectacles, credentials and genitals adjusted.
Before next orders of business consume us,
There’s still time for sluts and sips from a glass.
And we would decant and sip our cognac.
The servants would wink as they lit our cigarettes.
The sluts would take and swallow our orders.
The world’s problems would find solution
Like squalling babes drawn to flowing teats.
In the name of the Fuhrer, and the Reich
And the Holy Fatherland. Amen. Amen.

Another Perspective

   Religious people are nerds.

Rimbaud’s Last Stand

One shipment: a single tusk
One shipment: two tusks
One shipment: three tusks
One shipment: four tusks
One shipment: two tusks
– Rimbaud’s last poem, as dictated to his sister

I. In Marseilles
Harar was hell, my last season
Before packing off for Marseilles
And the dark shadow of Mama,
Never to see the Ivory Coast . . .
Which was my dream, my poetics,
My languishing and (Eh!) my paradise.

II. In Ethiopia
And if I’d never resorted
To carving my bowl from wood?
And if I never came here, never
Returned to hovel-living,
To black, primitive souls, trading
My garret-fevers for jungle-rot?

Dining my soul on pineapple,
I’d hobble down to the seashore,
Seeing why it takes the poets
To name a place: My Cote d’Ivoire,
Bone-white strips of blinding-hot sand,
My universe might have coalesced to coral.

Instead, I overfeed my body
On dry cakes and putrid water.
I crisscross the Red Sea, Harar
To Aden and back, hectic for
One more deal, something to show besides
A bullet-wound’s rose bloom and dirty poems.

The jungle’s eyes narrow; its edge
Touches my hut. It knows regret
Is useless. But how do I keep
The powder dry? Why ask anything?
The jungle dims its eyes, hard-edged
In day’s wilting heat; it asks no questions.

When the monsoons return, someone
Will come to replace me, someone
Else will come to sell these guns, lock,
Stock and barrel, to King Menelik
And his indiscriminate wars
Waged for a bunch of rotten bananas.

Caveat mercator is the key:
Otherwise, Menelik et al
Calmly amputate body from
Soul; then, carry out the head in
Its own wooden bowl. Then, maybe,
Report the agent’s death in cloying words.

Crates of tusk and hairy leather
Wait for cheap caravans to gore
Me of francs. “When you do business,”
I wrote mama, “in these hellish
Places, you never get out. . . in fact,
You go deeper – ever think of selling slaves?”

I myself have sent several letters
To my managers. Not a word
In reply. But I will continue
To send mail, artless vitriol
That it is, to keep my wits sharp
And ward off attacks of memory.

Yes, my customers grow tired, bored.
My ledger bleeds unpaid debts.
I lost my last shipment, thirty
Crates of carbines, in a typhoon.
But between tempers and tempests,
I must believe replacements coming.

III. In Aden
The Red Sea’s a clean line of horizon;
No ship’s smokestacks to smudge the strict
Emptiness. In palm shade, I make
My stand, reclined as a naked girl
Spoons meat from imported coconut,
Scraped clean down to the same emptiness.

IV. Back in Ethiopia
I, the first, am also the last.
Poor Verlaine, more child than I, gone
From myself – poor shot that he was.
– But a better fate than oblivion
In a pile of unopened mail
– Damn the Home Office for making me wait!

I imagine already I am
Become a mere fiction, full of ink,
A terrible infant who did not
Fulfill his promises, one by one
Disappointing investors and
Giving my critics due satisfaction.

A terrible amusement for
The Republic, I was the savoir fare
France was looking for. These Goddamned
Heathen, though, love a good story
To tell. No doubt, like all critics,
They will resort me with my own words.

V. Back in Marseilles
I have run guns through Africa,
But no more. I have attempted
Trade in ivory, gold, but no more.
Instead, I will just sit here, stumped
From the groin, smoking my pipe,
Loitering, still jealous of the stars in heaven.
– 2002

More bad news from the chancery…

As a bishop, who now serves as a cardinal in the Vatican, once told me, if we get it wrong about how life is made (he was talking about contraception but including homosexuality), invariably we’re going to get it wrong about life itself.

Read it and weep.


Heads up.

The kind of Catholic Church bloodletting-style reporting we really ought to be doing on our own.

And here’s a followup.

Rough going.  “An untenable and corrosive hypocrisy” indeed.

The Rise and Fall of Fr. Corapi

Lord, have mercy. A strange, sad case, but also … well … perhaps the makings of some fictive fun in the manner of Love in the Ruins. Who’s game? This guy would make Tom More blush.

From The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity:

He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute; He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs; He has recently engaged in sexting activity with one or more women in Montana; He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the Society.

As for the nitty gritty details and debate, fortunately Mark Shea got embroiled in all that, so we don’t have to.

Knee: Commence Asskicking Protocol…

Initiate jerking sequence in Three. Two. One.

I wrote a comment!

Over at Heather King’s Shirt of Flame!  (Of course, you’re supposed to click for the original essay, not the comment.)


With so few priests who perform exorcisms, and the stigma around it, exorcists are not eager to be identified. Efforts to interview them on Friday were unsuccessful. Bishop Paprocki said he was surprised at the turnout for the conference: 66 priests and 56 bishops. The goal is for each diocese to have someone who can at least screen requests for exorcisms.

True story: I once had a book contract to write a book about the search for Satan in the modern world. My big coup was that I had a line on the exorcist for the Diocese of Chicago. But alas – one more for the failure pile. Too soon, too little, too late.

[UPDATE: My big beef with the article is that it contradicts itself. It opens by saying that the conference is being called to meet a demand from the faithful. But later, they find someone to say that it’s a top-down decision, an intentional effort to reassert the Church’s singular status. Well, which is it? Does the Church exist to control the faithful, or to serve them?]

[Image courtesy of my old friend Jaques Callot.]

[UPDATE UPDATE: The World’s Worst Catholic weighs in, and digs gently into the nature of evil to boot!]