If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

shy, with roses

shy, with roses

RE: Instructions on the Discovery of Joy

People tell you to find perspective by

pulling out, seeing the big picture, getting

a bird’s eye view, when in fact we must sometimes

bend down on our hands and knees and crawl

in our blue jeans through the garden. The falcon, after all,

does not, when he circles the globe, pecking skyscrapers

and whisking cirrus clouds into a lather, see the earth as a whole,

as the astronauts do: Manila lit up like a thousand firecrackers

lying end to end, one oil tanker in the Atlantic holding

a candle above the waves, Rome dark as a tub. No,

they have incredible binocular vision, as any nature journal

will tell you, eyes that can see 10, 20,

100 times better than our own. Don’t you think

they might ever pass the cumulonimbus time

by spying on field mice in the grass, looking into their tiny

dark eyes, like peeking through the iris of a needle; finding

the car keys of the absentminded man in the red sweater,

reading the postman’s mail: the address, the addressee.

Can’t you imagine them delighting

in the small beautiful things of the everyday?

Think now of the dragonfly, blue as diamond,

that passed you this morning, late for something

but you don’t know what, checking his watch

and buzzing the hour to himself in starts and stops.

Or the leaf at the very top of the maple in front of you:

its yellow veins, the joy it takes in being

the hand of the tree reaching out into space

and caching light. Or the velvet button

on your favorite blouse, the one closest

to your heart, holding things in, containing as many threads

as cells in the eye of gnat; Hope walking over in a plaid shirt

with my words written across his name tag, lending you

the biggest magnifying glass in his vast collection, slipping

the smallest kiss into your eye.

 

For now we see through a glass, darkly; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Bread

Sometimes when I am feeling lonely at dinner
and everything seems cheap, and full
of dispassionate sex, fervent unbelief,
trivial small talk on weather that is not beautiful,
who is sleeping with whom but neither of them
I would sleep with myself – when I feel that way
I like to take a piece of whole wheat bread
from the deli in the dining hall, butter it well
and thickly, buttering it with all the dripping
glory of a blue sunset that I have been trying
to write a poem about for days, that I cannot describe
to anyone; the solid plainness of a low stone wall,
the curve of an oak in the early morning. I pretend
I am at my grandparent’s house in Olney
where there was always a basket of bread
on the table, covered with a pale pink cloth,
where I would take special pride in helping
to set things out for dinner, with the knives and forks
in their proper places, like the prayer before meals.
My grandmother when tucking us in
would pray quietly and softly for full sleep,
refreshing, faith, and brush the hair back
from my forehead, and kiss me goodnight,
even when I grew too old for her to remind me
to hang my towel on the banister to dry.
Today at the organ recital I turned to my friend
sitting next to me, a smooth face carved into the wood
of the pillar beside us listening in, and said that it sounded
like a freight train crashing into something, or a storm
on huge seas, with the organist the pilot at the helm
turning the whole sound into the waves.
Now I am sitting outside under a tree, watching
the sun set, catching mosquitoes in my hands
and letting them go again.

If

Use “epistemologically” naturally in a sentence
and I will shake your hand with a firm grip.

Use it twice in a persuasive essay
and I will pay your train fare for a month.

Put it in bold on the front of your Christmas card
and I will get drunk and sing love songs beneath your window.

Have it tattooed across your chest
and I will name my first born child after you.

Breathe it in and out, whisper it while you sleep,
and I will give myself to you, body and soul.

I will pull the shades down in our two room apartment
in Brooklyn, cup your cheek in my hands and kiss your face

sweetly, and then again, once for every word
in the dictionary, reading the definitions aloud, slowly,

until it is late and we are the only ones awake
in the whole city, and the moon rises in the sky

like a great white period, the one at the end
of the poem you read on the train that morning, the one

you thought was especially beautiful, and which captured
something of leaving, something of staying still,

of love and the small good things men do; the lamps coming on,
the pigeons falling asleep all at once in the eaves.

Are these the best course text titles or what? “Monsters in Medieval Literature” takes the biscuit

•Bisclavret
•“Monster Culture: Seven Theses”
•“Conceptualizing the Monstrous”
•“Gerald and the Werewolf”
•“Idols and Simulacra: Paganity, Hybridity, and Representation in Mandeville’s Travels”
•“Metalepsis and Monstrosity: The Boundaries of Narrative Structure in Beowulf”
•“Beyond Abjection: The Problem with Grendel’s Mother Again”

Carlisle Road, PA Route 74 North

A country road at fifty miles per hour,
trees to either side, and a cool breeze
going in one window
and out the other like breath. Ahead,
low mountains pale blue with distance, and a sunset
bedding down between long straight clouds.
On the curb to the left, a billboard of a woman
with her face cupped in both hands, above her the words
“Where is God in all this suffering?”

Earlier this summer I was helping a friend clean out and fix up another friend’s house in West Philly. He’d moved to Georgia with his family but had left quite a few tools and schtuff in his carpentry workshop in the basement, and while clearing that out we found a huge stack of his now outdated business cards with his name and number and old address.  I didn’t want to just throw them out, and they’re such a lovely little self-contained size, so I took them home and keep them in my right hand drawer and whip one out and do a tiny little drawing on the back whenever I feel the mood. Recently scanned the forty-six I have so far, so they might begin to appear by degrees on here, shiftily, like a lizard creeping out of a hole in the wall to quietly steal your favorite wide-brim hat.

Earlier this summer I was helping a friend clean out and fix up another friend’s house in West Philly. He’d moved to Georgia with his family but had left quite a few tools and schtuff in his carpentry workshop in the basement, and while clearing that out we found a huge stack of his now outdated business cards with his name and number and old address. 

I didn’t want to just throw them out, and they’re such a lovely little self-contained size, so I took them home and keep them in my right hand drawer and whip one out and do a tiny little drawing on the back whenever I feel the mood. Recently scanned the forty-six I have so far, so they might begin to appear by degrees on here, shiftily, like a lizard creeping out of a hole in the wall to quietly steal your favorite wide-brim hat.