A Flurry of Owls

From the October 2016 Print Edition

Once again a child asks me suddenly What is a poem?,And once again I find myself riffing freely and happilyWithout the slightest scholarly expertise or knowledge;But I am entranced by how poems can hint and suggestAnd point toward things deeper than words. A poem isAn owl feather, I say. It’s not . . . . Continue Reading »

The Wild of the Mass

From First Thoughts

Only say the word and I shall be healed. Isn’t that the most humble unadorned thing you can say about faith? Don’t you always say that with a shiver in your heart? The hair prickles on my head sometimes when I say that. Continue Reading »

Did You Get to Jersey Much?

From First Thoughts

But if you looked at the map closely you would notice towns with names like Hohokus, and Buttzville, and Ong’s Hat, and clearly those were goof names, which made you suspect that there was actually no such thing as New Jersey, that New Jersey was an idea, an illusion, a conspiracy, a deft jest perpetrated by cartographers in their cups and now accepted as wholly real by all sorts of people. Continue Reading »

100th Street">100th Street

From the Aug/Sept 2016 Print Edition

By chance I was in New York City seven months after September 11, and I saw a moment that I still turn over and over in my mind like a puzzle, like a koan, like a prism. I had spent the day at a conference crammed with uninformed opinions and droning speeches and stern lectures, and by the evening I . . . . Continue Reading »

The Wizard's Boy

From First Thoughts

Another great thing about being an altar boy was getting to the church early, before everyone except the ostentatiously devotional railbirds who actually competed to see who could be there first kneeling at the rail fingering their rosaries and pretending to be lost in meditative reverence but . . . . Continue Reading »