Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

Learning by heart

The service will be over in ten minutes, but we’re stuck
saying the creed. It’s hot. Our voices
run together, muddled, a swampy stream.
We stick at the sibilants, slogging through, plodding on.

No clarity, except for when we all pause
for the same breath, suck up all the air
in the room, and use it to shape these worn-out words
so many have already spent breath saying.
                                       I believe—

—who was conceived by the Virgin married, I say, a slip
I hope no one heard, but then a man behind me
falters, mumbles something about light (that isn’t in this one)

and I recall saying the Nicene Creed standing
beside one of my college professors
who quietly called the Holy Spirit “She”—

—She has spoken to us through the prophets, I tried saying
once, but then all day, I couldn’t stop thinking about
Her, deep in those quiet conversations, handing over words

to be handed down, the ones we should have
learned by heart by now. How disappointed she must be
we still slip after all this time?

We’re walking along the rickety edge of Babel

trying to learn by heart, without reading,
trying to walk by faith, still slipping.

















Film

Portrait of the artist

The satirical comedy Art School Confidential features Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) as a student at a prestigious Manhattan art college who discovers that it’s not the paradise he dreamed it would be. His classmates lack taste and imagination, his instructors are competitive and self-involved, and everyone is focused on the promise of a glitzy career rather than on education.
Music

Sound alternatives

In the two-CD effort Why Not Sea Monsters? Songs from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, (Carpet Square) Justin Roberts steers clear of any ham-fisted agenda while staying faithful to the power and majesty of the Bible stories, and making them his stories.
On the “Hebrew Scriptures” CD, Roberts gets things off to a clever start with “Why Not a Spark?” Singing in a style that suggests John Lennon, James Taylor and Glenn Tilbrook, Roberts lays out the tale of creation as if God were a smiling child in a swirling cosmic sandbox: “On the fourth day / God said, Where are the stars? / Where’s Mercury, Venus and Mars?/ Where’s all those old rusty cars? / Wait, that’s later!”
Poetry

Parable

Maker of galaxies, at latest count
Billions! And who can say that our Big Bang
Was not preceded, from your primal fount
By other billions, while the angels sang?
Then shall we take the word of a great Jew,
That one child is more precious in your sight
Than all the rocks in all the worlds you view,
And loyal anima is your delight?
Maker of galaxies, how then weigh out
A small Iraqi eye, terror-suffused,
Against the marvels you have brought about,
Why are your little children so abused?
“Not bread, not miracles, not use of power,”
So your Son said. We must await your hour.



Poetry

Labors of love

Spring did not officially arrive
until two this afternoon,
or so the weatherspinner had informed us,
so that when, at morning prayer,
my still wintered words were interrupted
by a pair of honking calls,
I laughed aloud
to think that my Canadian neighbors
of several springtimes had beaten nature’s clock
by seven hours and more to seek
their customary lot along the creek
for hatching this year’s brood.

Minutes later—the creed
and half a prayer, no less—
and their first raucous pass to reconnoitre
was followed by the splashdown run,
low now across our deck
and through the clustered trees
onto that quiet pool stretching above the rapids
where, over the next few days, they will be joined,
most likely, by a familiar pair of mallard ducks
who share their taste in shoreline real estate.
Meanwhile a red-tailed hawk
orbits high aloft
in leisurely anticipation.