Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

Laughter

When I’m reading a joke out loud
from a new joke book, I hear
my voice start to falter, from laughter,
almost to weep, from laughter,
the way my sister’s voice did as a child
or a woman, especially if somebody
made a bathroom joke; and my father’s
voice did, when he wasn’t just poking
fun at someone, when he found
something really funny; slapstick
got him laughing that way, sometimes.
A laughter beyond words, maybe
beyond grief. As I hear myself
laughing like them, with them,
I say: a laughter beyond death.
Poetry

Wayfaring strangers

This is a Spiritual War, you’ve got to understand that,
says the man on NPR. I’m getting out of my car

when his voice grabs hold, pulls me toward the dial.
My son died last week, he says, Humvee hit a mine—

it’s a Spiritual War. Anybody who doesn’t believe
me, just look right there in the Bible, you’ll see.

Right there, I say to him—yeah, like the Word is some dog-eared
road atlas. Just thumb down the index to Spiritual Warfare,

subheading Iraq, and you’ll see it all mapped out
right there waiting for you. No interpretation

required. Look right there and you’ll know how
to deploy, when to attack, where to stand when

it all goes down. My wife calls from the porch and I release
my stranglehold on the steering wheel. How long

have I sat, car door ajar, one foot grounded, parsing
this man’s language of loss? Oblique rays

of dusk cut swaths of light across the meadow,
halted only at pasture’s edge by a stand

of sweet gums. The trees reach, lean into the light,
pulling me with them; thus we bend,

blind pilgrims all, tilting
toward a New Jerusalem.























Film

Jesus boot camp

I made a weekend visit to an Amish community in northern Indiana just days after the funerals of the Amish schoolgirls shot in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse. I happened to pass a schoolyard outside a one-room schoolhouse where a dozen or so Amish children were playing and staring out through the fence. It gave me chills.
Poetry

Ready or not

The readiness is all, he says, but I’m not
ready, not for this: the bluebird back before
her time—that is, if she ever left—the winter
soft as summer mist when pink buds swell
too soon, surprising. Which should, it seems,
be cause for joy, but, yet again, it is not so,
for on this fragile island earth, ice fields melt,
dark waters rise, and sweeping north in wild
flight, swans bear within them seeds of death,
not yet in bloom, but it will come when warbler,
wood duck, raven, wren drop from the silent sky
like stones; and in the green dawn no birds sing.
Film

Tinseltown exposé

Television cemented stardom in the 1950s for many celebrities of radio, vaudeville and motion pictures—Lucille Ball, Milton Berle, even Alfred Hitchcock. The first TV star created by the infant medium was George Reeves.