Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Music

Sound alternatives

Gracing the cover of Paul Simon’s album Surprise (Warner Brothers) is an image of a wide-eyed infant. It’s a fitting one, as this album represents a potent artistic rebirth.
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.























Poetry

Fallen

For we are fallen like the trees . . .
                Wendell Berry

Still teeming with green
The body of branches my children once climbed

Lay fallen on our lawn. Through our window
We’d watched the storm’s silver arm

Fling a rain-swelled axe into our white ash.
Watched its torso split. Watched one half lean

Into nothing, drop like a scarf.
And after, we sawed the massive bough,

Sorting the limbs still so
Electric with life, that green

Burned onto our hands and legs
While dust like ashes

Settled to the ground.

















Film

Rise and fall

Steve Zaillian’s adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s 1946 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel All the King’s Men, about the making of a demagogue—modeled on Louisiana governor (and later senator) Huey Long—is languid, undramatic and shapeless. Zaillian has a talent for streamlining big, incident-filled books.
Film

Magic

It was the age of levitations and decapitations, of ghostly apparitions and sudden vanishings, as if the tottering Hapsburg Empire were revealing through the medium of its magicians its secret desire for annihilation.” So writes Pulitzer Prize–winning author Steven Millhauser in “Eisenheim the Illusionist,” one of the finest stories in his 1990 collection The Barnum Museum.