I can hear thunder grind against the earth, vibrate with imprecations. Nature's tossing down her gauntlet, promising extended sieges, threatening to lock us in tragedy the way she locks a fly in amber, so I flee to the store, wanting to lay in plenty. Entering the bright delirium, I harvest cans of gumbo and chowder, embrace beets and turnips who've repented living as fanged roots. I gather wheat in tiny wheels of pasta, while a stock boy wipes his hands on his blue apron and reaches crackers for a child, and the scarf lady summons me to read a label. Mark this, the inauspicious aisle where we have met. I say, build an altar. Let the sideshow of breads praise our communion. Let chèvre and camembert commemorate the place where we say to one another, Three inches! We're in for it now! and other liturgies of festive panic. Because soon enough the thunder will take back its fulminations, black clouds break from their huddle, wheel and gallop off, leaving us shy and silent, wondering what that holy moment meant, what this altar signifies, the brief joy strangers gave to one another.
To say thanks for reading this poem, And all the other ones I've inflicted Upon you over all these years. I did Think, many times, of your gracious Acceptance of that which you didn't Ask for, and perhaps did not actually Want; but I never said thanks, did I? So I do. I wanted to . . . I don't know, Connect, somehow, though we don't Know each other; maybe that is why I so wanted to connect, so often with Just a little poem, like this. It matters To connect, in some sweet holy way, More than we can gauge. My sincere Thanks for the gift of your attention; Witness is our great work. You knew That, I know—I'm just reminding us.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).