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Private Faces in Public Places

If the stature of a poet is measured by how well his words stick in the reader’s mind and refurbish our language, then W. H. Auden is one of the dominant English voices of the twentieth century. It is ironic that he came to “loathe” (his word) some of his best-remembered work. The most . . . . Continue Reading »

An Affair of Things

Christianity is an affair of things. The things we see and touch and smell are bearers of the living Christ over time. As inspiring and edifying as the works of great artists are—Caravaggio’s The Calling of St. ­Matthew in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, . . . . Continue Reading »

Via Negativa: Mourning Dove

Sightless in morning fog,she laces fallen fibers of fan palm, bunchgrass,the birch’s lost twigs, spins an empty creation.Conifer needles, the fox’s hair round out the void,what was cast off and left for dead now the dwelling,twined with stippled space of eggs to come, primevalpoint of departure, . . . . Continue Reading »

Some Changed Same

In whitest skeletons the shadows of daydusk dim and, mantle-like, settle and layupon bristling grass and sleeping hay. To become is to come from the camethrough old existence into some changed same.The shadows, in covering, assert twilight’s change. And the seed in the grass, as well as its . . . . Continue Reading »

Julian of Norwich in Seclusion

Because an anchoress could have a cat,We may assume she had one.  That it satBeside her while the pilgrims came and went,Giving, like her, a lesson in content.That it was quiet when her visions cameAnd when they passed it slumbered just the same,But any mice who trespassed in the cellWere given . . . . Continue Reading »


He tells himself a tale his grandmother told:Babuschka sleeps by the fire. Outside new snowLaps the window. Camels look in from the cold.Wise-crowned kings—they know her name—say, GoWith us, Babushka. Constellations stare down,Choirs of startled silence. Bolting the door,She stirs her . . . . Continue Reading »

Talking All Night

I asked my friend, the poet,how she was getting by.“Work and tears,”came her reply. “And listening,” she added,“in silence, to be sure.I listen closernow than before. It is a lot like reading,a thing I loved to do . . .What book felt likefirst love to you?” “It was in French,” I . . . . Continue Reading »

Requiem for Ethel

Your eyes sparkled. And there was playfulnessIn your smile that veiled your age,Softening the hard years with its warm caress. And oh, that accent—that Louisiana drawl—It dripped like summer-morning dewIn fields long in grass before harvest fall. You reached out when you spoke, with . . . . Continue Reading »

Breakfield Road

(for Jake, 1989-2005) The briar draws a perfect bead of bloodto tender flesh as my dog pulls his headfrom tangled vines and brittle winter thorns.He shakes and wags but otherwise remainsunfazed by such intrusions. He is quickto note the next small heap of leaves, to checkthe air, the ground, . . . . Continue Reading »

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