Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Soul

I am asking myself a question
when I write those two words.

It has been said that God will not be mocked,
so I am not afraid to ask.

I am in a small room
typing on a black plastic keyboard
having just read the words of a friend about
the desert he is in;
Iraq, war, separation,

the soul.
Some of us are forced to stand still in the dark and face ourselves.

I lift my trembling hand out over the dark lake.
What do I hope for, oh Soul, in all of this reaching,
say it back to me:


Sunday, December 17, 2006


It’s such a small miracle –
1 days oil stretching to 8.
No one come death-ragged from
the gaping tomb,
no one taken up
in a whirl of fire.
I almost believe it
like I would believe you if you told me
that you made a cake yesterday
and it came out
with the shape of a feather on it.
Feathers mean something to you and I,
vaguely. Just enough. But if none had come
no one would be weeping.
No souls would plummet to the earth.
We’d wait awhile
till we got the oil
and come up with a reason
why it was all perfect timing –
light the candles,
call it “When the Oil
Finally Showed Up Day.”
But it stretched.
You pulled the cake
from the hot tomb
and across its yellow face
a feather had been mysteriously swirled.
You called me.
I remember.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Native Hill

I am heading back toward home soon for Christmas - early this week.
For awhile, I thought that it was good to call whatever place I was in, I was living, my home, in order to fully define myself as a man - a rock - carrying his home on his back like a manly snail. Snails are manly in this sense.
Irvine is lovely, and I can feel myself acclimating to its oceanview desert scrubbrush wilderness. But it is not home. It is not in my blood. And the ridiculous suit of armor, concrete and plastic, that has been pulled over top of its rooty desert beauty, makes it nearly impossible for me to love it fully.
Can a man love a city? Yes. A city, glass and chrome, does not seem quite as much of an insult to land as this sprawling suburbia that Irvine is made of - that shrieks when it sees an open spot, diving to clap a strip mall over it.
The Lord is making me sane in an insane world. I am afraid it is going to be painful. I am afraid of the pain of sanity in America.
Wendell Berry, author of the essay A Native Hill, has his land in Kentucky - he can stand back and say "Well at least I settled in a place, and raised a family, and did not destroy, but shepherded, made good." Wendell, I am a wanderer - I am a shepherd only to a flock of wild visions.
Can a man find a home in an idea? Can he find home in a Spirit? Can he find home in a woman?
This below is one the last poems from Shepherd, which I've been working on over the course of the last year.


If in the wild places of the world
you come across the cloaked figure
of a man clenching a black bag
pacing or perched in a squat
on the high point of a desert rock,
violently sweating,

leave him be. He
is looking for his home

and he does not have a home.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Listen to the Italian for a Moment

click on Scarlatti's wig to hear a snippet of his music


First, a shout out to Google for revamping - it's much more excellenter now.

Second, a shout out to Allesandro Scarlatti. A prominent figure in the landscape of Baroque composers, Scarlatti's pieces have levity, energy and clarity even through their relative complexity. Music beyond the Baroque era is often full of a complexity that can become a sort of heaviness - like hearing Joyce read aloud. Its beautiful, but too much. Scarlatti's music seems to be a perfect balance, for my ear, between simplicity and complexity, joy and sorrow. I am listening to Sinfonia in C Major, and I don't have any idea what this means (specifically the Sinfonia part), but I am enjoying immensely even in my ignorance.

Third, a shout out to the students in 39B Rhetoric & Critical Reading, section whatever-the-stink-it-was, who learned a thing or two I think, and enjoyed themselves in the process - this is all a way of saying that I liked my students, and am sad to part with them. They will always hold a place in my heart until they don't anymore.

Christmas is coming. Listen world - the One you long for has come. Let's tell each other the story again.