Who is there for instance, in our times, who can devote himself with an easy mind to music, friendship, games, or happiness? Surely not the 'ethical' man, but only the Christian.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Monday, September 27, 2021
I'm merely a floater in the eye of God,
a flake of his winnowed chaff. A twig
from the tree at whose root his ax is laid,
if you believe Luke, and I do. I am a wisp
of the fog that blinds my world this morning. A drop
from a leaking tap. An odd button. A blot.
I'm less than the smallest bone of St. Catherine's
withered fore-finger; in Sienna it's preserved
behind glass and I'm not. I'm a loose tooth.
A hesitation of wind. The lost coin never found.
A river wrinkle come and gone. An eyelash
found by an ant in the dust. A blink.
Never bring attention to yourself.
Be an ordinary person.
Do your work, and then forget it.
Be simple, hidden, quiet, and small.
(The Holy Fathers say: “If you want to be known by God,
seek not to be known by people.”)
Don’t seek or expect praise from anyone or pity from anyone.
Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.
Father Thomas Hopko
Monday, September 20, 2021
Friday, September 10, 2021
Tuesday, September 07, 2021
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Making Beds with Cordelia at the Avalon Motel in Osoyoos: Summer 1973
She could sing Desperado just like Linda Ronstadt.
I showed her hospital corners and how to
smooth sheets like my mother taught me.
She didn’t have one – a mom.
Thrown out of the house – for nothing
according to her and I believed her,
believed the worst of fathers in general,
temper tantrums, hard hands and drinking.
She wouldn’t talk about him, not a thing,
but I remember something about two bitchy sisters –
one with a name like venereal disease
she walked right out of a magazine
with her long legs and sort of private smile –
smart too though she didn’t show off like I did
or mouth off either.
I taught her how to
tuck a bedspread under pillows then curve it
snug like a tight t-shirt. She had the knack.
When she wasn’t around I tried
to talk and dress and wear my hair like her,
be patient with my little niece, be nicer
than I was or am.
She lived alone
in our trailer out back of the motel
beside the slough we called a lake –
saving up for university she said.
Sometimes after work we’d lie together
under the walnut tree. I’d play with her hair
while she read Tess – rich green leaves
breaking the heat of an Okanagan afternoon.
I always thought she’d get discovered
like that dairy queen girl, that she’d marry
Strange thing is
I was the one who kind of made it in the end,
the one with the house and European holidays.
she was making her way for awhile,
then somehow it went bad again – a man,
some dark angel, following her.
It was a fast food joint on Highway 3
where it turned into Main Street.
Picnic tables in the breezeway, Creedence
screaming up around the bend on the jukebox.
No drive-thru windows like today.
People had to park, get out of their cars.
My father was boss, shape-shifted
from grease monkey in his own garage
to short order cook. Short temper cook
more like it. Hotter than burgers sizzling
on the grill. Hotter than chips in the deep fat fryer.
Him and his shout and his bottomless rum
and coke just inside the cooler door.
Scariest thing for me was making
chicken dinners when he was crazy
busy and the grill was packed. I’d crank
up the flames under the pressure cooker
in the back, drop thighs, legs, breasts,
wings, into popping oil then twist
the metal top on tight as I could.
Timing was critical and I was racing
up front with customers at windows,
making change with fingers burnt
from bagging burgers. Milkshakes
whizzed on metal sticks while I erected
dazzling ziggurats of soft ice cream cones.
All the time at the back the pressure
built. Always I expected the explosion.
My father’s holler. Flying metal, boiling oil.
Fast food shrapnel. Casualties.
When the cooker’s valves got flipped up,
they screamed like murder, smeared the air
with steam and grease. I served up impossible
crispy gold in a cardboard container.
For years I wore burn scars
on the soft insides of forearms.
They are faded, almost gone.
So is my father.
Nowadays summer never gets that hot.
We sat in lines on either side
of the belt’s endless loop. Across from me,
a woman in her fifties, black hair dull with dye,
flanked by cronies. She listed infirmities
as numerous as the cherries rolling by.
Her hands darted, deft as a lacemaker,
picked out the split and the bruised.
Beside me, the tough girls I drank
with in high school. The ones who still smoked,
who had sex in the back of Camaros
belonging to boyfriends who worked
at the mill. Girls who weren’t headed
to university when summer was over.
After eight days, the whistle blew for break
and the belt stopped. I fell off my stool.
Mesmerized. The foreman moved me
up the chain. Alone. I pushed boxes of Bings
around a corner. When that crop was done,
we all got laid off until the next call came.
I never went back.
Some nights before sleep, I see them glide by,
a stream of profligate hearts.
Sunday, August 15, 2021
Fred the Red loves a hug with the manager.
Buzz and Buzzette, giant furry bees, had a surprise when a 38-year-old on his stag joined them in full kit for their match-day rituals three years ago. Bertie Bee once rugby-tackled a naked streaker, who ended up somersaulting to the ground. Harry the Hornet is a cheerful, drum-bashing, man-sized wasp with a predilection for winding up Crystal Palace managers. He has been labelled "out of order" by Sam Allardyce and "disgraceful" by Roy Hodgson.
Stamford the Lion has looked much happier since the arrival of his female companion, Bridget. Filbert Fox has been to every home match since 1992 but his two erstwhile sidekicks, Vicky Vixen and Cousin Dennis, disappeared together years ago. Hmmmn. In 1998 the fan who dressed up as Hercules the Lion to entertain the crowd on match days was relieved of his duties following a half-time kerfuffle with a beauty queen.Moonchester and Moonbeam surely hail from a place called Blue Moon as they are, yes, blue and, yes, Blue Moon is the club anthem. Unfunny foam creatures have never caught on at Everton, thankfully, but the tradition of a Toffee Lady throwing sweets to the crowd before kick-off is alive and well.
The death of much-loved mascot Kayla the eagle last year was greeted with an outpouring of emotion from fans. Many made donations to her former home at the Eagle Heights sanctuary near Dartford that have helped it to survive the pandemic.
Sammy the Saint made a name for himself with some dad-dancing in 2012, performing a half-time rendition of Gangnam Style.
Captain Canary has been rebooted for the 2021-22 season. Thinner, yellower, smilier, he now comes with massive eyebrows. Chirpy Cockerel was remodelled after a more sinister previous look. Remember the dead eyes?
from The Manchester Guardian pre-season team profiles, 2021.
Bertie Bee, Burnley
Stamford the Lion, Chelsea
Kayla the Eagle, Crystal Palace
Filbert Fox, Leicester City
Moonchester and Moonbeam, Manchester City
Fred the Red, Manchester United
Captain Canary, Norwich
Sammy the Saint, Southampton
Chirpy Cockerel, Tottenham Hotspur
Harry the Hornet, Watford
Monday, July 26, 2021
Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.
It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.
I been shaking two nickels together for a month, trying to get them to mate.
It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.
She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.
The coffee shop smell was strong enough to build a garage on.
She had eyes like strange sins.
Until you guys own your own souls you don’t own mine.
I looked back at Breeze. He was about as excited as a hole in the wall.
I’m all done with hating you. It’s all washed out of me. I hate people hard, but I don’t hate them very long.
She looked playful and eager, but not quite sure of herself, like a new kitten in a house where they don’t care much about kittens.
“I don’t like your manner,” Kingsley said in a voice you could have cracked a Brazil nut on.
She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.
Leave us do the thinking, sweetheart. It takes equipment.
California, the department-store state. The most of everything and the best of nothing.
I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars.
The French have a phrase for it. The bastards have a phrase for everything and they are always right. To say goodbye is to die a little.
I belonged in Idle Valley like a pearl onion on a banana split.
I’m not a young man. I’m old, tired and full of no coffee.
Guns never settle anything, I said. They are just a fast curtain to a bad second act.
Don’t kid yourself. You’re a dirty low-down detective. Kiss me.
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Tuesday, July 06, 2021
Friday, July 02, 2021
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Sunday, May 23, 2021
Friday, May 21, 2021
Friday, April 30, 2021
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Friday, April 09, 2021
Had a brief chat with God the other day. This was at the United States Post Office. God was manning the counter from one to five, as he does every blessed day. He actually says every blessed day and he means it. You never saw a more patient being. He never loses his cool and believe me he could. I would. I have been in line behind crazies at his window and heard vituperative abuse and vulgar character assassination and scurrilous insinuation and never once did I witness any flash of temper in response to this on his part. I have asked him how he could maintain his cool and he says things like I try to put myself in their position and Witnessing vented emotion is part of the job and All storms blow over and It's only frustration and There are so many much more serious things and We are all neighbors in the end. I am impressed by these sentiments, in large part because I share them consistently in theory but inconsistently in practice. God, however, does not waver nor does he fluctuate in his equanimity. He stands there quietly as people bang their fists on his counter and offer rude remarks and stomp away muttering darkly. He does not smile when someone gets upset. He says he has learned that some people get more upset if you wmile when they are upset. He listens to what they say and often, I notice, he makes a note on a pad as they leave. I make a note if I think they have a good point we should discuss with management, he says. Often what is couched as a complaint is actually a good point about how we could be of better service. He remembers pretty much every regular who comes to his window and he greets them politely by name. Sometimes he will inquire after children and animals. Dogs adore God and will sometimes rear up on his counter to see him better. He greets them politely by name surprisingly often. I would guess I know a hundred dogs by name, he says. Hardly any cats. People don't take their cats with them when they go to the Post Office. I make a joke about how cats are the children of Lucifer and he does not smile and I realize later that probably Lucifer is still a deeply sad and touchy subject for him. How would you feel if one of your best friends, one of your most trusted companions, tried to steal everything you had and were and did, and for this breathtaking betrayal he was cast shrieking into the darkness, no longer the Shining One, the Morning Star, but the very essence of squirming withered despair, until the end of time? Wouldn't you be haunted and sad about that ever after? I would. I felt bad and told God I was sorry about making a stupid joke. I said I made stupid jokes all the time even though I was now an older citizen and ought to have learned by now to not be so flippant. And God said, No worries, and Better a poor joke than something worse, and Do you want to use the book rate for your package, which will save you about five bucks? And I said yes, sir, and thank you, and walked out of the Post Office thinking that if we cannot see God in the vessels into which the electricity of astonishing life is poured by a profligate creation, vessels like this wonderfully and eternally gracious gentleman at the Post Office, then we are very bad at the religion we claim to practice, which says forthrightly that God is everywhere available, if only we remove the beam from our eyes, and bow in humility and gratitude for the miraculous, which falleth even as the light from the sun, which touches all beings, and is withheld from none. So it is that I have seen God at the United States Post Office, and spoken to him, and been edified and elevated by his grace, which slakes all those who thirst; which is each of us, which is all of us.
from "One Long River of Song"