Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Film

Barely making it

Soulful and tough in equal measure, The Pursuit of Happyness is the ideal movie for the Christmas season. It’s a triumph-of-the-spirit film in which the protagonist’s journey from poverty and occasional homelessness to solvency and the promise of a future is so thorny and obstacle-laden that you can’t imagine how he’s going to get there.
Poetry

Ordinary time

These midwinter days that bridge
Epiphany to Lent
can seem anything but ordinary
as the steady waxing light reflects
across old December’s glaze of ice,
a biting wind hisses across
the stark bones of the bracken,
and treetops signal sparse
against a sky expecting still
more snow before nightfall.
Scarlet and speckled birds
announce themselves about
the brightness of the holly,
spray from the creek creates
bright frosted chandeliers among
the tangled overhanging branches,
and dusk draws down its spangling
of stars so crystalline they lift the eye—
heart too—toward a principality
that banishes any vestige
of routine predictability.
Ordinariness exists—if at all—
within the desiccated soul,
too distracted by its fearful self
to notice.
Poetry

Rondel: Beside water at nightfall

So near to evening, thoughts against thought will run,
    unsettled in currents: fish, aswim down suddened light.
    Upon the bank, I’ve slowed to discern the turn toward night
in the songs of birds. Even water itself is by dark undone.

Trees and road, hill and distance—all coaxed into one.
    Stern shapelessness, I cannot place myself. Wouldn’t know right
so near to evening. Thoughts against thought will run,
    unsettled in currents: fish, aswim down suddened light.

like this, then—boat that drifts for the shore, done
    with floating blind. At the edge of my vision, a white
    something. Sand bar? Rock break? There’s not enough sight
to say. Will I learn at last how much such doubts have won?
So near to evening, thoughts against thought will run.







Poetry

What ever happened to the Baby Jesus?

Near chamomile and rosebud potpourri
a pair of porcelain camels rest, bit players
glazed and unaware of this faux Nativity.
Peasant extras lift their silent, pleasing prayers
with seasonal adoration. None harbors
signs of panic: no goats or stable maids,
no wise trio, those dazzled star readers
bearing gifts of frankincense and myrrh.
Not the puzzled carpenter from Galilee.
Not the curious shepherds, nor the virgin
exhausted still from her spotless labor.

These figures encircle a barren trough.
Where have you gone, O lost Christ child?
In truth, the Messiah’s size is the stuff
of legend: he’s been abducted. (No Ascension-
Come-Early before the ministry begins)
Not much bigger than a packing peanut,
the babe’s become an object of devotion,
begotten for those tenacious paws’ wild
swatting or mouth that totes the Savior in haste.
We spy the vacancy and know the culprit:
fat Larry, golden pear and roly-poly cat,

that ring-tailed and recidivist felon.
Regular brigand of the infant Son,
he mocks this fragile coffee-table cast.
We joke that his is a holy commission,
converting birthplace to an empty tomb,
Bethlehem yoking the born and risen.
Each time He’s someplace new: laundry room
or water dish. Under chair, in basement,
unknown manger now. And still His grace
and tiny lacquered limbs feel ever present,
embodying their reliquaried space.

Poetry

Poetry

      There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

                                    –Mark Strand

What shall I do with this book I love
so much I’d like to eat it? Meeting
the poet at a reading, I would cast
my eyes down. I’d walk behind him,
not stepping on his shadow. If he told me
I was half blind, I might lose sight
in both my eyes. At home, everything
I write becomes infected with his
wildness: for instance, this, which
I never planned, which has no ending.

Where shall I put the book, so full of life
my car could barely stick to the Expressway?
When my cold encyclopedias sense
its goofy brilliance, they climb and hang
on one another like Chinese gymnasts.
I must subtract to make a place
for the book to live. I lift out histories,
then other listless volumes. I toss my boring
files, erase the answering machine,
renounce the desk, computer, pens.

Only the illumination of St. John stays.
In my study’s scooped-out heart
I wait beside the book, which glows
with light borrowed from some distant star.
I look at St. John’s face. He gazes from
his throne, his eyes blazing with love
and understanding. Tongues of flame
play over him, sent from the Source
who is both arsonist and fireman,
and in his right hand, he holds a book.