We Were All Odysseus in Those Days

A young man learns to shoot
& dies in the mud
an ocean away from home,
a rifle in his fingers
& the sky dripping
from his heart. Next to him
a friend watches
his final breath slip
ragged into the ditch,
a thing the friend will carry
back to America—
wound, souvenir,
backstory. He’ll teach
literature to young people
for 40 years. He’ll coach
his daughters’ softball teams.
Root for Red Wings
& Lions & Tigers. Dance
well. Love generously.
He’ll be quick with a joke
& firm with handshakes.
He’ll rarely talk
about the war. If asked
he’ll tell you instead
his favorite story:
Odysseus escaping
from the Cyclops
with a bad pun & good wine
& a sharp stick.
It’s about buying time
& making do, he’ll say.
It’s about doing what it takes
to get home, & you see
he has been talking
about the war all along.
We all want the same thing
from this world:
*Call me nobody. Let me live.*

Amorak Huey

Will You?

When, at the end, the children wanted
to add glitter to their valentines, I said no.

I said *nope, no, no glitter*, and then,
when they started to fuss, I found myself

saying something my brother’s football coach
used to bark from the sidelines when one

of his players showed signs of being
human: *oh come on now, suck it up.*

That’s what I said to my children.
*Suck what up?* my daughter asked,

and, because she is so young, I told her
I didn’t know and never mind, and she took

that for an answer. My children are so young
when I turn off the radio as the news turns

to counting the dead or naming the act,
they aren’t even suspicious. My children

are so young they cannot imagine a world
like the one they live in. Their God is still

a real God, a whole God, a God made wholly
of actions. And I think they think I work

for that God. And I know they will someday soon
see everything and they will know about

everything and they will no longer take
never mind for an answer. The valentines

would’ve been better with glitter, and my son
hurt himself on an envelope, and then, much

later, when we were eating dinner, my daughter
realized she’d forgotten one of the three

Henrys in her class. *How can there be three Henrys *
*in one class?* I said, and she said, *Because there are.*

And so, before bed we took everything out
again—paper and pens and stamps and scissors—

and she sat at the table with her freshly washed hair
parted smartly down the middle and wrote

*WILL YOU BE MINE, HENRY T.?* and she did it
so carefully, I could hardly stand to watch.

Carrie Fountain

Never may the fruit be plucked

Never, never may the fruit be plucked from the bough
And gathered into barrels.
He that would eat of love must eat it where it hangs.
Though the branches bend like reeds,
Though the ripe fruit splash in the grass or wrinkle on the tree,
He that would eat of love may bear away with him
Only what his belly can hold,
Nothing in the apron,
Nothing in the pockets.
Never, never may the fruit be gathered from the bough
And harvested in barrels.
The winter of love is a cellar of empty bins,
In an orchard soft with rot.

—Edna St. Vincent Millay

Books Read 2018

  1. The Farthest Shore, Ursula Le Guin*****
  2. Tehanu, Ursula Le Guin*****
  3. Jeeves and the Tie That Binds, P.G. Wodehouse****
  4. Tales From Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin*****
  5. Legends of the West, Stanford Kay

    How to Read a Poem and Fall In Love with Poetry, Edward Hirsch*****

  6. Angel Fire, Joyce Carol Oates**
  7. Gabriel: A Poem, Edward Hirsch*****
  8. Still Another Day/Aún, Pablo Neruda, Tr. William O’Daly***
  9. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat*****
  10. The Other Wind, Ursula Le Guin*****
  11. Turtle Island, Gary Snyder***
  12. Tell Me, Tell Me: Granite, Steel, and Other Topics, Marianne Moore**
  13. The Wasteland  and Other Poems, T.S. Eliot***
  14. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, Joy Harjo***
  15. Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, Anthony Esolen**
  16. On Love: Poems, Edward Hirsch***
  17. Poems, C. S. Lewis, Walter Hooper, Ed.***
  18. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J. K. Rowling*****
  19. The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, Rod Dreher***
  20. Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World, Charles Chaput*****
  21. The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius, Tr. W.V. Cooper****
  22. On the Blue Shore of Silence: Poems of the Sea, Pablo Neruda, Tr. Alastair Reed, Ill. Mary Heebner***
  23. Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story is God’s Story, Anthony Esolen****
  24. School of Athens, Stanford Kay

    The Plague, Albert Camus*****

  25. Modern Man In Search of a Soul, Carl Jung*****
  26. Felicity, Mary Oliver****
  27. No-Drama Discipline, Daniel Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne, Ph.D.***
  28. The Divine Comedy: 1 Hell, Dante Alighieri, Tr. Dorothy Sayers****
  29. The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt****
  30. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling*****
  31. Endpoint & Other Poems, John Updike**
  32. Neruda And Vallejo: Selected Poems, Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo, Ed. Robert Bly, Tr. Robert Bly, John Knoepfle, & James Wright****
  33. Spill Simmer Falter Wither, Sara Baume***
  34. Nine Horses: Poems, Billy Collins***
  35. Erratic Facts, Kay Ryan*****
  36. What Work Is: Poems, Philip Levine*****
  37. Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky*****
  38. Americans’ Favorite Poems, Ed. Robert Pinsky & Maggie Dietz****
  39. Selected Poems of Robert Frost, Robert Frost**
  40. Otherwise: New & Selected Poems, Jane Kenyon****
  41. Whereas: Poems, Layli Long Soldier***
  42. Free Range Kids, Lenore Skenazy***
  43. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan Peterson*****
  44. The Storyteller, Mario Vargas Llosa****
  45. The Loyalties of Robinson Jeffers, Radcliffe Squires****
  46. Training in Christianity & The Edifying Discourse which Accompanied It, Soren Kierkegaard****
  47. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential, Carol S. Dweck****
  48. Roan Stallion, Tamar, & Other Poems, Robinson Jeffers*****
  49. Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud, Tr. James Strachey****
  50. Box #1, Stanford Kay

    Field Stones: Poems, Robert Kinsley***

  51. The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: Volume 1: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn*****
  52. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe***
  53. Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent & Easter, Eberhard Arnold, St. Augustine, Wendell Berry, et. al.****
  54. Paul: A Biography, N.T. Wright (Audio)*****
  55. Gardens of the World, Radcliffe Squires**
  56. Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, Tr. D.C. Lau***
  57. The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell (Audio)*****
  58. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious, Carl Jung, Tr. R. F. C. Hull***
  59. Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather (Audio)****
  60. The Trial, Franz Kafka, Tr. Breon Mitchell (Audio)****
  61. On Becoming a Person, Carl Rogers***
  62. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, Charles Duhigg (Audio)***
  63. God, Dreams, and Revelation, Morton T. Kelsey****
  64. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad****
  65. Catholic Social Teaching: A Way In, Stratford Caldecott***
  66. Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger****
  67. The Portal of the Mystery of Hope, Charles Peguy****
  68. Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Tr. Constance Garnett*****
  69. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, Miorslav Volf****
  70. The History of French Painting, Stanford Kay

    Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen***

  71. Leisure, The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper***
  72. The Beginning and the End, Nicolas Berdyaev****
  73. Bruno: Chief of Police, Martin Walker*****
  74. Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, Mary Oliver****
  75. How to Go From Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps, Christian Smith****
  76. The Ghost Trio, Linda Bierds**
  77. A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver***
  78. A Secular Age, Charles Taylor*****
  79. How to (Not) Be Secular,  James K. A. Smith***
  80. The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis*****
  81. Tea Lover’s Treasury, James Norwood Pratt, Intro. M. F. K. Fisher**
  82. The Image, Daniel J. Boorstin***
  83. A Prayer Journal, Flannery O’Connor****
  84. The Dark Vineyard, Martin Walker****
  85. At The Existential Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails, Sarah Bakewell*****
  86. The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis*****
  87. R.S. Thomas: Everyman Poetry, R.S. Thomas, Ed. Anthony Thwaite****
  88. Existence and the Existent, Jacques Maritain***
  89. Black Diamond, Martin Walker*****
  90. Alexandria, Stanford Kay

    Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, Søren Kierkegaard**

  91. The Carrying, Ada Limón****
  92. Creative Fidelity, Gabriel Marcel****
  93. Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner*****
  94. INFJ Handbook: INFJ Personality Guide for the Rarest Myers-Briggs Personality Type, Glenn Miller***
  95. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams****
  96. Fast Animal, Tim Seibles****
  97. The Crowded Grave: A Mystery of the French Countryside (Bruno Chief Of Police Book 4), Martin Walker*****
  98. Bruno and the Carol Singers, (Bruno Chief of Police Short Story), Martin Walker***
  99. In The Shelter: Finding a Home in the World, Pádraig Ó Tuma
  100. Fifty Years of Catholic Theology: Conversations with Yves Congar, Ed. and Intro. Bernard Lauret**
  101. Bright Dead Things: Poems, Ada Limón*****
  102. The Magician’s Nephew, C.S. Lewis*****
  103. Prince Caspian, C.S. Lewis*****
  104. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis*****
  105. The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis*****
  106. The Portable Jung, C.G. Jung, Ed. Joseph Campbell*****
  107. Existentialism, John Macquarrie*****
  108. The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type, Lauren Sapala****
  109. Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up****
  110. The Devil’s Cave (Bruno Chief of Police Book 5), Martin Walker****
Blues Section, Stanford Kay

Ivan Illich on Crossing the Threshold of the Age of Instrumentality

Cayley: You suggested earlier that a new possibility has been opened by the ending of the age of instrumentality…

Illich: I think so. In this world I couldn’t find a better situation in which to live with those I love, and those are exactly people who are overwhelmingly aware of the fact that they have passed beyond a threshold. And because they are no longer so deeply imbued by the spirit of instrumentality, or of futility, they can understand what I mean by gratuity. I do believe that there is a way of being understood today when you speak about gratuity, and gratuity in its most beautiful flowering, is praise, mutual enjoyment, and what some people, such as those who propose a new orthodoxy* discover, is that the message of Christianity is that we live together, praising the fact that we are where we are and who we are, and that contrition and forgiveness are part of that which we celebrate, doxologically.

Cayley: With praise…

Illich: Yea.

–Ivan Illich & David Cayley, The Rivers North of the Future: The Testament of Ivan Illich, Ch 21, pg 229

*i.e. Radical Orthodoxy

On the Centennial of Armistice Day, November 11th, 2018

On Receiving the First News of the War

Snow is a strange white word;
No ice or frost
Has asked of bud or bird
For Winter’s cost.

Yet ice and frost and snow
From earth to sky
This Summer land doth know;
No man knows why.

In all men’s hearts it is:
Some spirit old
Hath turned with malign kiss
Our lives to mould.

Red fangs have torn His face,
God’s blood is shed:
He mourns from His lone place
His children dead.

O ancient crimson curse!
Corrode, consume;
Give back this universe
Its pristine bloom.

Isaac Rosenberg, 1890 – 1918