First Things RSS Feed - A. M. Juster
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60Scops and Skaldshttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/08/scops-and-skalds
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400Becoming a Poet in Anglo-Saxon England by emily thornbury cambridge, 338 pages, $99
Elegy for a Horseshoe Crabhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2015/08/elegy-for-a-horseshoe-crab
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 00:00:00 -0400Here on the sand lies crusty
the stalwart crab of the marine Old Right.
Untouched by any trendy stimulus,
our kind assesses change in clear, cold light
before once more deciding to hold tight.
]]>The Devil in the Detailshttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/02/the-devil-in-the-details
Sat, 01 Feb 2014 00:00:00 -0500Slow, old python of my Everglades,
he astutely picks where he invades:
data dumps; the depths of lower courts;
knotted weeds in annual reports.
Rounded figures fail to square; a will
screws the worthy with a codicil.
Minds don’t meet as handshake deals unravel.
Lawyered butchers walk; accountants cavil.
Hear him honing clauses. Hear his hiss
polish premises and promises.
Check what he has brushed.
]]>Japanese Maple in Januaryhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/01/japanese-maple-in-january
Tue, 01 Jan 2013 00:00:00 -0500 All spring she brushed aside my arguments
that it was cheaper and would make more sense
to fill the yard with hardy Yankee stock.
She bought her maple, junked the chain-link fence,
and tried to start a lawn; our crabby flock
of grackles grew too fat on seed to quarrel.
While masons tamed the mud with slate and rock,
she planted birches, hollies and a laurel.
New pickets kept our neighbors in their place.
October stripped the birches down to bone,
as if to warn the weak. Beside new stone
the pygmy flared with plum and amber lace.
As ice was making oaks bow, crack and groan,
her vision shimmered with a stubborn grace.
]]>Three Riddles by Saint Aldhelmhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/08/three-riddles-by-saint-aldhelm
Wed, 01 Aug 2012 00:00:00 -0400 63
When bloody flooding killed the human race
And brand-new oceans put man in his place,
Except for those who carried mankinds seed,
I, first of creatures, snubbed what law decreed,
While I mocked yielding to the Lords command,
For which, I think, a poet would declare,
The sin revealed on sea was cleansed on land.
Now I wont fill my brood with banquet fare
Until I see plumes blacken on their skin.
Remove a letter, I will lack my kin.
When Gods seas punished vile abomination
And water cleansed our sins contamination,
I would fulfill, first, Fathers proclamation,
Marking with fruit the start of Earths salvation.
I always bear a heart, thus, thats serene
And stay a joyous bird without dark spleen.
I always come before clear light with light,
And, brilliant sign of sun, which makes things bright,
I am deflected angling through air.
I love the East, for brilliance starts out where
Indias lands discern an early glow.
O yielding to Gods law was once delightful!
Alas! Proud, I then fell while feeling spiteful,
And so revenge undid a deadly foe,
And thus six friends and I ascend the skies;
Books can reveal them when a readers wise.
]]>Farewell, Mr. Wizardhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/11/farewell-mr-wizard
Tue, 01 Nov 2011 00:00:00 -0400 I conjure NBC in black-and-white.
You drop dry ice in water; fog is rising.
You sell us Celsius and Fahrenheit.
I lose you in a cloud of advertising”
Winston, Esso, Zenith, Mr. Clean,
those thirty-second breaks for Ovaltine”
then smile at Bunsen burners and balloons,
more ropes and pulleys. You are mesmerizing
as familiar things become surprising.
I dream of robots, rayguns, Mars and moons,
and know that someday Chevrolets will fly.
. I can’t make your show go on.
Space shuttles fall; the pumps are running dry.
Jihadists shop for warheads . . . Godspeed, Don.
]]>Rejection Note for Paradise Regainedhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/03/rejection-note-for-paradise-regained
Mon, 01 Mar 2010 00:00:00 -0500 Loved that first book”its got no equal”
but, Johnny, we don’t love your sequel.
If you would only take a chance
on self-help or a gay romance,
wed let you keep your last advance.
Phony conspiracies would do
if you could find a hook or two”
like someone famous who won’t sue.
Marketing knows youll see the light,
and thinks Da Vinci is just right.
]]>No Man’s Islandhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/11/no-mans-island
Sun, 01 Nov 2009 00:00:00 -0400 for JFK Jr.
A strip of violet quivers in the haze”
a near-mirage above the furrowed grays
and blues of Vineyard Sound, an afterthought
of windworn scrub the military bought
and then abandoned.
Peace returned except
for sea retaking shoreline. Surf has swept
away most tools of combat, but in dense
tangles of grass and vines old armaments
remain as lattices of rusted lace.
Signs tell the curious to leave this place,
but squadrons of resurgent birds ignore
these teetering commands of the Cold War;
gulls bomb the rocks with crabs. A few miles north,
two shrouded boats are crossing back and forth
as if to mark where Camelots last son
thought he could see the sky where there was none.
]]>An Execration for an Unfaithful Husbandhttps://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/10/an-execration-for-an-unfaithful-husband
Sat, 10 Oct 2009 00:00:00 -0400 O may the girlfriend of your nightmares stalk
you on the Internet, and need to talk,
and may no Xanax lessen your despair
as you obsess about what she will share,
and may her many messages explain
why your restraining orders are insane!
Fri, 01 May 2009 00:00:00 -0400 Despite what’s promised when you marry, actual results may vary.