February 19, 2007

"As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it."

prcover_4.jpgWendell Berry, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

It's hard to extricate just one part of this poem and hold it out, but I love this line. It speaks to the independent spirit, the life of authenticity, the hopeful anarchism that I aspire to.

The poem ends with the two words, "Practice resurrection," which is a challenge to me and any who follow Christ and it is tied in with this kind of ornery spirit that Berry talks about throughout this poem. Resurrection, after all, is an ultimately defiant act. It is telling the "generals and politicos" that you can kill my body, but even in death I can defy you. It is present when Christ tells Pilate that he has no power over him, even when he stands bound before him.

This ornery spirituality is a reminder for me not to get too comfortable with the status quo, not to get too chumy with the powers that be, because ultimately the status quo will change and the powers will fail.

40 for 40, #11

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January 19, 2007

Stop All the Clocks

clockmidnight.jpgThe last time I had been in that living room was a few weeks earlier. Some members of my church and I had come caroling. The elderly couple positively beamed at the visit. Evelyn grinned from ear to ear. After we had finished singing she rushed about to make sure all the carolers had some treat or another, paying special attention to the children.

I looked around the quiet room now. Once filled with song it was now void of the jolly Christmas lights. Needlepoint was framed and hung on the walls and symmetrically placed portraits of grandchildren had a place of honor. Arnold, a small man, filled the room with his barely suppressed emotions. He had a smile that didn’t quite extend to his eyes. He pointed to a clock on the other side of the room. “It stopped last night when she died,” he said matter-of-factly.

I nodded, amazed but not really surprised. So much of Evelyn was in this place. Why should the house that she called home, that she made home, be denied its mourning?

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W. H. Auden

December 10, 2006

Empty Spaces

coffee_cup_empty_by_frogg_s.jpgInstead of crosses on gold chains
we should wear tiny caves,
small hollows against our chests.
The empty space for the womb after
Mary delivered the child.
The hollow chamber for the stable after
it hosted the birth.
The spacious sepulchral of the tomb after
the women arrived at dawn.

Michelle M. Hargrave, 2005

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November 8, 2006

You did a hell of a job, Rummy...

rum-viper5.jpgDonald Rumsfeld was finally fired today after a long record of gross incompetence. But I liked his poetry. Maybe he has a literary career in his future. I will say farewell with one of my favorite poems, er, press briefings of his.

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

February 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

And here's a recitation!

July 4, 2006

A Poem for Independence Day

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry

soilhands.jpeg Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

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June 19, 2006


My kids and I are enjoying camp this week. Which led to a discussion about lanyards with my friend Fuzzy. Which reminded me of this poem by Billy Collins. Enjoy!

The Lanyard by Billy Collins

keychain_rwb_small.gifThe other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

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