April 2008 Archives

The Last Secret of Fatima

| | Comments (4)

This book is credited to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who did contribute the majority of the content; however the person responsible for the questions, the layout, and the structure of the whole is a journalist by the name of Giuseppe de Carli who seems to have an unfortunate flair for the sensational. The book takes the form of a full-length interview with some supporting documentation at the end and a foreward by Pope Benedict XVI.

As an interview, the book has its ups and downs. There are unfortunate and sometimes meaningless digressions; the final 15% of the interview section has nothing whatsoever to do with the title of the book, and appears to be meaningless padding designed to form a "book-length" study; for those not intimately familiar with everyday events in Italy, there are meangingless, enigmatic and odd references to events that may or may not be related to the main theme--I somehow doubt that the death of Oriana Fallaci has a whole lot to do with the Fatima secrets.

There are times when de Carli, either legitimately, or out of a perverse sense of journalistic sensationalism forces the points of the so-called Fatimists, insisting at points the Sister Lucia's true revelations had been suppressed, or that there was a fourth secret, or that the final secret did not concern Pope John Paul II. Perhaps these are just meant to clear away the will 'o the wisps that seem to flicker around the edges of this phenomenon.

What the book highlighted for me is the source of my distaste for the entire Fatima phenomenon. As is so often the case, it isn't the veracity or likelihood of the events in Fatima in 1917, but the claims and exaggerations and distortions made by those most partisan to the Fatima visions.

What does come across in the book very nicely is a sense of Sister Lucia as a person. One feels that she was a lively, tart, impish character who took guff from no one and who shot straight from the hip. At one point in the interview we see this:

from The Last Secret of Fatima
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

After the Secret had been revealed, some people began to doubt the genuineness of the text. Lucia's Carmelite superior in Coimbra told her about this doubt: "They're saying that there's another secret." With a sigh, Lucia replied, "Well if they know what it is, then let them tell us. For my part, I don't know about any other secrets. Some people are never satisfied. Let's not pay them any mind."

A beautiful example of saintly saying-it-like-it-is.

The book does explore the last secret of Fatima. In addition, for those of us (like me) who knew virtually nothing about the Fatima event and aftermath, it sketches in the history and timeline of events. The revelation of the "secrets" of Fatima is a little odd, occurring as it does in 1941 and 1946; however, God works in His own ways and sometimes it takes time and courage to come forward with His truth.

One of the quiet gems of the book is a short theological commentary on the Fatima secrets and in particular the last secret by then Cardinal Ratzinger. In the course of this short (12 page) essay, Cardinal Ratzinger outlines the status of public and private revelations and provides an interpretive outline for the Fatima visions and their meaning for the world today.

from "Theological Commentary"
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

The teaching of the Church distinguishes between "public Revelation" and "private revelations." The two realities differ not only in degree but also in essence. The term "pubic Revelation" refers to the revealing action of God directed to humanity as a whole and which finds its literary expression in the two parts of the Bible: the Old and New Testaments. It is called "Revelation" because in it God gradually made himself known to men, to the point of becoming man himself, in order to draw to himself the whole world and unite it with himself through his Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. It is not a matter therefore of intellectual communication, but of a life-giving process in which God comes to meet man. At the same time this process naturally produces data pertaining to the mind and to the understanding of the mystery of God. It is a process that involves man in his entirety and therefore reason as well, but not reason alone. Because God is one, history, which he shares with humanity is also one. It is valid for all time, and it has reached its fulfillment in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Here, the man who was to become the Holy Father set out clearly the lines of demarcation. The essay continues with the same remarkable, succinct clarity and provides one of the deeply insightful high points of the book.

Overall The Last Secret of Fatima is a muddled, digressive, journalistic mess that nevertheless does cast a great deal of light on the phenomenon of Fatima and on the practices of the faithful who remain in line with church teaching. The book isn't for everyone, but it is certainly accessible to anyone sincerely interested in trying to separate the wheat from the chaff as far as Fatima is concerned. I'm glad I've read it because it has at once helped me to become both more informed about this small piece of Church History and more receptive and responsive to the Blessed Mother. In addition, it was a poignant reminder of how much I loved Pope John Paul the Great and how I look forward to the Church's revelation of God's will concerning his heavenly status. I won't say the same thing will happen for all who read it, but if you come looking for the truth, I think you may find a good deal of it between the covers of this book.

Bookmark and Share

Waters and Obama


Had I any interest at all in the present election, and had I any interest at all in Mr. Obama, this would have finished it off.

Bookmark and Share



While reading through Casti Connubii for quite a different purpose, I happened upon this:

104. Wherefore, let the faithful also be on their guard against the overrated independence of private judgment and that false autonomy of human reason. For it is quite foreign to everyone bearing the name of a Christian to trust his own mental powers with such pride as to agree only with those things which he can examine from their inner nature, and to imagine that the Church, sent by God to teach and guide all nations, is not conversant with present affairs and circumstances; or even that they must obey only in those matters which she has decreed by solemn definition as though her other decisions might be presumed to be false or putting forward insufficient motive for truth and honesty. Quite to the contrary, a characteristic of all true followers of Christ, lettered or unlettered, is to suffer themselves to be guided and led in all things that touch upon faith or morals by the Holy Church of God through its Supreme Pastor the Roman Pontiff, who is himself guided by Jesus Christ Our Lord.

While this will evince chagrin or excite anguish or rattle the cage of almost no one who passes through this way, I suspect that it would stick mightily in the craw of those who would prefer to pick and choose amongst the truths to which they wish to adhere. I wonder how many of us, even those in agreement with the sentiment, live the actuality of the final sentence in the excerpt above? I know that I truly do believe and hold true all that the Church teaches (in my very meager ability to comprehend it), and even so, practice differs from belief. Perhaps it is the road that transforms what is held intellectually into what is lived in reality that is the hardest road to walk.

Bookmark and Share

I have, of late, had the sometime pleasure of the company of a young American woman of my acquaintance at luncheon. While the venues, cuisines, and surroundings of our après-midi repast were variable and dependent upon the circumstances and opportunities available to us, they have always been of the greatest pleasure and entertainment to me.

Miss Archer is at once a very determined young lady, but one also tinged with the streak of independence set firmly in the ground of a graceful and enhancing naiveté, which conduces to my enjoyment of our conversational aperitifs.

I've grown somewhat concerned because whereas her talk was mostly of the many men who saw her and implored her favors while she remained on the Touchett family estate, more and more I am hearing of a person of interest who seems to have netted our pretty little bird without her own knowledge. And the more I hear of Osmond, the more concerned I become, because it occurs to me that there is some information circulating about him that does not redound to his credit. While one can never take seriously what circulates on the street or even in the salon, it has been my distinct displeasure to make the acquaintance of another member of the pretty scene that Miss Archer has laid before me.

Miss Archer never fails of speak of Madame Merle in anything but the most glowing terms, expressing only admiration for this widow, who, as Mr. Touchett has observed on occasion lacks any blot whatsoever on her record. One must wonder about such a record--how recent it must be and what must have been, with some great aplomb, expunged from that on-going document. My own sense of Madame Merle is not nearly so flattering to that personage. There is something about her that is, perhaps subtle is the word, but I think wily is closer to the sense. She seems to fashion les tableaux to fit the needs of the moment, and one cannot help but wonder what those needs might be. Mr. Touchett himself has confided to me that she is a woman of great and unrealized ambitions—and perhaps that view has colored my own of her character. For all I know she may be as spotless as she appears to the casual observer.

Bookmark and Share

Charles Darwin Online


Cambridge University is making available to the world at large works of Charles Darwin previously available only to scholars.

Darwin's Papers Online

To live in the digital age is both a blessing and a curse. File this one under blessings.

Bookmark and Share

Ants in Surrealism


The presence of ants in some surrealist imagery never fails to both amuse and, in some small way, horrify me. Luis Bunuel and Salvidor Dali brought this imagery to the forefront in Un Chien Andalou although it had been a staple of Dali's painting for some time before that. I won't pretend to know the significance of the ant, but it does present a compelling image for contemplation of the junction of the natural and supernatural which is where surrealism lives. (Even though its chief thinkers--not really being very profound thinkers--ever knew or acknowledged this. But then, we're talking André Breton and his crowd of absinthe-imbibing Parisomaniacs.)

Bookmark and Share

Hot off the Presses

| | Comments (1)

and so, in need of work. But I like the contours.

[cayo hueso]

Deconstruction of the Ant Hill

On the sill a pile of sand as
though the beach had come to visit,
and on it, thousands of golden
lithe-bodied ants fidgeted and
jittered, waving antennae and
pawing the air more forcefully
than any foam-flecked battle horse.
Across the wide expanse of wooden
plank, three golden soldiers dragged one
large black-bodied, full-bellied queen.
And through the brown mill on the stairs
that curled around the central shaft
the mournful hum of servant tykes
who hand one to one buckets
filled with syrup or water up
to some hidden destination.

Here's what happened:
In panic, the heavy bottomed
glass bowl came down on the trekking
four. The fat black ant was smashed flat
as the boards themselves, a mere stain
for future pondering. And with
that motion the mill was freed. The sound
slowed then stopped and though the buckets
went awhile, they too slowed then stopped
and the dazed children turned and stared,
golden eyes filling with hot [fat?] tears
that did not spill. They stood, stock-still
on the stairs that circled the shaft
and waited in the weighty air
of the close summer day, as women
in bonnets last seen a century
ago entered, through a small pane
of light and led them two by two
away. The mournful sound settled
into the brown wood and the stairway
emptied into light.

A mere draft, but vividly seen and felt. Much to be done, but mostly tweaking--it says all it was meant to say, and what that might be, I leave up to you.

Bookmark and Share

I Have a Theory


Like Miss Archer herself, I am filled with useless theories and baseless speculations. But it occurred to me, while reading The Portrait of a Lady that Henry James himself resides within the novel in the skin of Henrietta Stackpole.

Ms. Stackpole tells Isabel that she has no affinity for inanimate objects and she doesn't care to write home about places and mere scenery. Her interest is in people and how they interact and what they are. She sees, of course, with her own blinders in place. However, she does see.

Henry James, for all of his skill with character, lacks any sense of place or time. You read through the book not knowing what people are dressed in, where they are standing, what the scenery is like. Isabel Archer's entire trip trough London is summed up in a short paragraph of about three sentences. We have no opportunity to visit with her the British Museum, much less to sit a moment under those grand trees of Kensington Gardens.

Yes indeed, James makes short shrift of scenery and, indeed, almost any form of set decoration. And we have characters who wander about in a largely and mysteriously featureless world. It amazes me how bereft of this sort of detail the book is.

On the other hand, it simply isn't required for what Mr. James wishes to divulge to us. And so, in that sense, it is handled perfectly.

However, I have theory. . .

Bookmark and Share

Definitely Cayo Hueso

| | Comments (1)

While the previous poem certainly fits into the geographical category of Cayo Hueso, there is some question about its thematic link. Not so here.


Learn to see again, open
eyes and let the light vanquish.

It is darkness that trains the eye
to be thankful for the light,
because in the darkness the eye will
see things of its own invention--
spots of yellow light, a greater
darkness crawling across the less,
spidery veins of blue, of milky light
that does not focus. Light shine comes
as relief to the eye straining to make real.

Sometimes, as I lay in bed at night,
I practice seeing through my eyelids.
In that imperfect dark I can make
out every contour of the bed frame,
the dresser, the armoire. No eye
could see better in any light,
dark-sight sees the real contours
of unreal things.

The eye of the giant squid is as large
as a dinner plate. In the deep , cold
waters, even with its massive eye,
the squid becomes calimari for the sperm whale.

An untitled piece, this morning broken apart from the titled piece that follows it.


The perpetually shifting balance
of the egret prowling the hedge-tops
in search of food. What wonders
would be seen if we could see
all at once, but vision is itself
a limit, and we cannot see
all-at-once, often not even

What Lies Beneath

The water strider balances on a skin
of water dimpling the surface
with its six legs. And from
beneath, what does this look like
but a bubbled sky?

Bookmark and Share

Will It Never End?


Well, we're all mortal, but I hope until then not.

What You See When You Close Your Eyes

Depends upon the day.
__Sometimes it is the darkness of eyelids
__Sometimes it is the orange brightness
____of eyelids, or the red-heat glow
____of tired eyes.
But sometimes
it is the cobalt-verdigris sea, shifting
as you look.
___________Or the span of space
in the broken road crashing out
into the deep-blue air, deafening
in the difference.
________________Or the chain
of clouds that is the sky's
reflection of the crescent
curve of the tropical chain.

[cayo hueso?]

Bookmark and Share

More Cayo Hueso, I'm Afraid


Things That Don't Travel Well

Glass balls and
unwrapped geegaws
and cut paper
pictures and
in boxes and
most mysteriously
of all

Bookmark and Share

Not really. Instead I had a creepy little dream in which a very punked out proto-goth androgyne was taking me somewhere for some unspecified but distinctly unsavory or unpleasant rendezvous. He asked me, "Haven't you ever defied God?"

I answered, "Of course I have. All the time. But. . ." and fortunately that little walk came to a screeching halt with the sound of the alarm.

But the question and its circumstances were salutary and rewarding because it caused me to think that while I do defy God and while I do sin and ignore the things I ought to do, and while I am imperfect in the practice of my faith and even in holding the central principles of it, nevertheless, I always do what I do knowing that God exists. That may not seem like much, but when I got down under the skin of that statement, I realized that it is not possible for me NOT to believe in God. Despite all of the arguments I have read and those I can dream up myself, the existence of God is more proven to me than any proven fact or visible reality. God exists. I know that is belief, but I have discovered the place that Mortimer Adler describes when he says that belief can be the strongest knowledge there is.

So it is for me. I cannot choose to not believe in God or to act as though I don't believe in Him. I can choose to do what I want anyway. I can choose to go against the law I know to be true. (And I frequently do both of these things.) But I can't say, "There is no God and so I'm free to do as I choose." That simply isn't an option.

The odd part is I can't tell you why there is this solid foundation. Or I can tell you why but it would be meaningless to someone who lacked it. Grace. Amazing grace. He has graced me with this gift, this rock to which I always return. I cannot escape from Him, but He is no relentless hound--no, He is an island in a cobalt sea where the breezes play day and night and I am the only person to see and enjoy its pleasant shores--or if I am not alone, the crowds on the island are as vapor and there is neither clamor nor anguish in it. When I stray far from my island, the memory of it always calls me home. It does not follow me, it sings to me and calls me back.

And here is the song I hear (though not necessarily in Dean Martin's voice--but also not necessary NOT in Dean Martin's voice.)

Return to Me

Return to me
Oh my dear I'm so lonely
Hurry back, hurry back
Oh my love hurry back I'm yours

Return to me
For my heart wants you only
Hurry home, hurry home
Won't you please hurry home to my heart

My darling, if I hurt you I'm sorry
Forgive me and please say you are mine

Return to me
Please come back bella mia
Hurry back, hurry home to my arms
To my lips and my heart

Retorna me
Cara mia ti amo
Solo tu, solo tu, solo tu, solo tu
Mio cuore

Yes, God sings that to me--all of it--not that He can err or He can be the cause of my straying. But His love is in His kenosis and He, being love, can know that love hurts even when it does not desire to.

(Okay, so my theology isn't so great, I'll admit that. But theology is only as good as the purpose it serves--and if that purpose is to make one cling to God, then the theology, however inexact performs the necessary, life-giving function. We don't get into heaven based on our quiz scores.)

Bookmark and Share

I have not posted memes or quiz answers in a very long time, and have no intention of resuming after this post. However, because Enbretheliel asks so nicely and is in need of our prayers and good wishes and acts, I offer this small mitzvah--an answer to her tag:

1. Do you associate reading particular books with the places you read them or events of the time you read them?

Unfortunately, in one case, quite vividly. I think I was reading Stephen King's Four Past Midnight or a collection of his short stories--I know it by looking at the cover, when my mother died. I never finished the book.

On a happier note, but a sadder book, I read Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner on a flight home from Sacramento California.

Similarly, I finished my most recent read of The Sound and the Fury on a flight back from Boston.

2. Do you remember the books you read or do they fade quickly? Or do you remember some better than others? How about remembering details like character names, not just overall plot?

Some books remain with me and pluck at me. Chief among those are Henry James's The Golden Bowl, which struck me as a very odd predecessor to the absurdist dramas of Samuel Beckett. It seemed to me that throughout this entire book there were four or five disembodied heads that swirled around making life miserable for one another.

Tom Sawyer is another. I think of Aunt Polly looking over her glasses and under her glasses, but never through her glasses for so small a thing as a boy.

Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance haunts all of my reading--most particularly the hair collector and the beggar-maker.

As a general rule, however, I forget most of a book and retain a sense of it or a scene or two. For example, I remember very clearly the climactic scene from Silence by Shusaku Endo. Same with near the end of The Violent Bear it Away, l was stunned by Flannery's venturing into the world she did.

But I've gone on too long. Suffice to say that some books, stylistically or incidentally remain firmly in mind, while other evaporate out of my head almost immediately.

3. Have you ever forgotten you've read/own a book and borrowed/bought it again?

All the time, particularly with unmemorable books that sound as though they ought to be memorable.

Not that I remember, if you don't mind such a perversely ironic answer.

Bookmark and Share

The Wacky World of Henry James


As typified by two passages from the current read:

from The Portrait of a Lady
Henry James

Isabel was sure moreover that her mild forehead and silver cross referred to some weird Anglican mystery, some delightful reinstitution perhaps of the quaint office of the canoness.

[Harriet Stackpole speaking with Lord Warburton]

". . . . I don't approve of you, you know; I feel as if I ought to tell you that."

"Don't approve of me?"

"Yes; I don't suppose any one ever said such a thing to you before, did they? I don't approve of lords as an institution. I think the world has got beyond them--far beyond."

"Oh, so do I. I don't approve of myself in the least. Sometimes it comes over me--how I should object to myself if I were not myself, don't you know? But that's rather good, by the wayl--not to be vainglorious."

"Why don't you give it up then?" Miss Stackpole enquired.

"Give up--a--?" asked Lord Warburton, meeting her harsh inflexion with a very mellow one.

"Give up being a lord."

"Oh, I'm so little of one! One would really forget all about it if you wretched Americans were not constantly remind one. However, I do think of giving it up, the litter there is left of it, one of these days."

"I should like to see you do it!" Henrietta exclaimed rather grimly.

"I'll invite you to the ceremony; we'll have supper and a dance."

Critics note that much of James's work is about this conflict between the Old World and the New World, with the New representing innocence and rugged individualism and self-determination (as noted in the character of Miss Archer herself.) Having not read sufficiently in his oeuvre to make such sweeping judgments, I'll accept the advise of the critics. If so, in these interchanges we see some of the downside of innocence and self-determination--a kind of naive arrogance that can pronounce with impunity on things it does not understand and look down upon all things foreign as "quaint" and "charming" or unlikeable institutions.

There is a price to pay for this sort of arrogance and previous reading has led me to believe that Miss Archer, much to her woe is to be brought up sharp against it.

Whatever the case, I'll keep you informed. And hopefully you can be as amused as I am.

Bookmark and Share

Yesterday, while driving home from work, the subject of Sunday's homily came up. I was surprised because when one of our priests starts speaking it is a signal for the shields to go up and to warp out of there for the brief span of the homily. There's nothing really wrong--the homilies just tend to be long and picaresque, bearing little or no resemblance to the passages that we had just heard. I attribute this to the Priest's advanced age and his 60's-type delivery and his own rather leftist political agenda.

In the course of the homily the Priest misspoke. I am certain, from what I know of him that he did not mean it when he said, "God created an imperfect world."

On the way home (to get back to the point) Sam said, "You know, when Fr. X said that God created an imperfect world, he was wrong. God created a perfect world and then they eated the apple and everything went all wrong."

Even if he's having trouble with English verb conjugations, he got the theological nicety correct. God did not create an imperfect world. His creation is perfect, our disobedience corrupted it and brought it all down with us.

I've often pondered why this should be so--why would Adam's disobedience affect the world of cats and dogs? Why is this necessarily so?

And it occurred to me, that it is, once more, a sign of His love for us. Humanity could not exist in a perfect world because of its own imperfection. It would be a constant stimulus to envy, jealousy, and destruction. The food of such a world would be like poison to us.

Regardless of why it is so, Samuel understood the concept of the fall and applied it better than our Priest in his homily. (Which is, as I noted, unsurprising. This particular Priest has more "off" than "on" homilies, but he has a loving and gracious heart and he works hard for all of us at a time in life when he is certainly entitled to rest, take it easy, and enjoy life.)

Bookmark and Share

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher



Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

In sun-spotted shadow worn wood railing
half hidden, so at first I did not know
what I saw--a shadow that fluttered and limped
and then I saw the small wounded bird, wing
broken, it flopped pitifully, drawing
me closer, calling me for help, but not
really. Clever mother bird leads me far
from the nest of her precious young. I hear
a cry for help, she presents a meal
for the taking. All so her children, those
small peeps might live to one day
face their own monsters.

[cayo hueso]

Bookmark and Share

More (Not Less) of Cayo Hueso


Fragments toward an End

shard of beach bleached bone
shredding the shore sand
raised ribs breathing water
femur forming a bone bridge
tibia fibula phalanges
mandibula scapulum no scapula
vertebrae (amazing though they do not
know it hyoid bone)
radius ulna ilium ischium
a catalog of catastrophe
an abundance an overflowing of death
all applies a name


Breathing as through some horrible
dream, mist thick and magic
he sees without seeing.

Breathing a thick mist dream
a laboring, long shuddering
intake that seeks to calm the inner
trembling that threatens to shake
all apart, he seeks to not see
what is plainly before him.

Bookmark and Share

Cayo Hueso the Poem

| | Comments (2)

I know you're tired of seeing the words and probably don't much care what they are about. However, this is the first try after about thirty drafts of making sense of the title poem.

Cayo Hueso

white, shards not sand
that stick up seaside
a primordial picket fence
or cage, clearly
visible even from the uneven
burnt blue ocean.

I cannot know how I am loved, I
do not know how I love. The word
means as much as "cloud" and has
all the substance--cotton puff
pushing across blue springtime's face.

"Call me an ambulance."The wind
rushing over the grey water's wash
drowns sound so I must say,
"Excuse me."
____________"I don't feel so good,"
and indeed on this very coldest
of days, the coldest seen here
in forty years, his face is as
grey as the sky and sea.
And so I call.
____________It's a small
island, a speck in the sea
and in no time measured from a
city-dweller's point of view,
the flashing lights pull up the narrow
way. "What's up, old man?" the beard speaks
almost before the ambulance has stopped.

And I remember it started life
as Cayo Hueso, and bones,
even if shrouded in a little flesh
still stud the shores on windy days.

I wanted to go winter sailing
even though the sea upset
me. But I didn't
even get to see the sea I had
come to love.

But consolation is a restaurant
on the marina that serves
steaming bowls of tomatoey
conch chowder. And so I rest
content in grey.

The bones are still here,
they hire small children
to walk the beaches before
dawn and collect them
in baskets, so the tourists
will not be upset and call
for help.
________Sometimes they fail.

Named then for the strand washed
reminders of our interiority--
what is not seen lies below
and upholds what is.
For this there is no help
on cold grey days. Or,
it is indeed its own help.

It's rough, I admit--an still isn't quite there. It is, perhaps, at times too blunt and too much. And yet, it hints at what I'm trying to get at. It serves well as a draft to move forward with, perhaps adding parts, certainly reworking some lines and sections. It is, in sum, a very interior poem that really resisted ever becoming exterior.

Bookmark and Share

Poem in a confessional vein


I have to admit that it scares me a little to bring this one to light because it may be one of the more raw and for that one of the more true poems that I have ever written. Not true in the sense of portraying objective reality, but true rather in the grasping at a sense of the interior reality that sometimes becomes known to us.

So, as the audience is so tiny, and consists mostly of the sympathetic, I garner the courage to place this among the poems of the recent past.


They say a season of light
but this light comes from fuel
of the human heart and thus becomes
a season of ash and dust
a season of endless lament
as we wait for a joyless birth
as we wait for the disappointing
consummation of all.

In the vast meaningless
emptiness of what we see and do
Advent is the hardest darkness
because the heart that has been
indurated cannot bear nor even see
the light.

For some joy, for others an endless
tunnel and this hand is dealt out
blindly. God allows what He allows
and there is no stinting on it.
For some the love of God is made
manifest in this bitterness
in the taste of ash.
I can pretend no longer
His absence cracks my heart
and releases nothing
chained as I am to dust.

Somewhat more bleak (rueful grin) than some of the others--but a glimpse of the landscape. For those who have seen it, think of the Anthony Hopkins version of Titus Andronicus and the finding of the sister and you have a sense of it. It comes and it goes and it does not torment even as it does and I can't explain it any more than that--chained as I am to dust.

Bookmark and Share

Another for Cayo Hueso

| | Comments (1)

The True Disciple

God's holy hate sanctifies my own
for hear these words He has uttered
Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated
so simply He blesses me when I blast
those who do not know Him and many that do
the people who have abandoned Him and those
who lyingly stayed nearby

He blesses every thought that passes through my head
they all are holy as He is holy
placed there by the Lord who is the God
who made me as I am
Holy in my lust
Holy in my hate
all my desires are sanctified by His will
all my spite righteous through His might and love

Bookmark and Share

Cayo Hueso, Cont.


The Friction of Trees

In this grey, loud noise
who would think that
it is the friction of trees,
bushes, grass, rocks, roads
that weeds the winds of the storm?
What seems a sandpiper's hop
from the shore, and yet
when the wind winds through,
combed and pulled by
leafy limbs, clawed by sawgrass
and palmettos, threaded and
braided by bush, brush, and grass
it is thinned from roar to shriek.

Bookmark and Share

Turandot--Orlando Opera


Friday night we went out to see the last opera of the season. This year it was Turandot. (For anyone curious that is pronounced pretty much as spelled in english--Tur-ahn-dot.) And it was magnificent. Orlando Opera company had gone all out to make certain that this 50th season closer would be a set of performances to remember, and they handily accomplished the goal. The sets, costumes, and staging were all spot-on, the orchestral unusually fine under the baton of Anton Coppola, and the singing by both hired talent and the company professionals, top-notch.

The story of the Opera is pretty repellent and ridiculous, and had me half alienated to start with--but as it played out, I was won over--which speaks to the power of Puccini's music.

The Opera is in Three Acts and starts abruptly, without an overture. I speculated that this may have been because Puccini never finished the Opera--it is his last and the music he composed for it ends somewhere in the third act. I speculate and suggest that Overtures may be among the last pieces composed for an Opera, requiring, as they do, a full range of the ideas in the remainder of the music. However, that is speculation.

What is not speculation is that while this is Puccini, it is Puccini in 1922 or so, and it reflects some of what was going on in music through the early twentieth century. There is some discordant and dissonant scoring, largely masked by the fact that the Opera takes place in China and Chinese harmonics are evident throughout the score.

Unlike Madama Butterfly, which to my mind had a single powerful, gorgeous, memorable aria--the music throughout this Opera has several memorable themes, not the least of which occurs in act three when Calaf, the hero, sings what for lack of a better analogy might be called his "Rumpelstiltskin" aria. Turandot, the Princess, is busy torturing and threatening the people of Peking to find our heroes name so that she will not have to marry him in the morning. While the people and Ping, Pang, and Pong (somewhat comic relief characters) plead with him for the sake of all to reveal it, he sings a powerful and memorable aria, which even the most casual classical listener is probably familiar with--"Nessun Dorma." (For better insights into the libretto and the meaning of all the weird goings-on, you might check out this site wherein I found the lyrics to the aria.

The performance of this aria with chorus caused a collective peril of anoxia in the audience--not a sound, not a rustle, nothing--still, quiet, attentive, rapt. And, of course, that was the intent of the composer. Probably the most magnificent of all of his Arias, in what is undoubtedly the capstone (both literally and metaphorically) of his career in Opera.

I had gone ready to hate it, from the story, from my previous Puccini experience, from the fact that I could just barely keep my eyes open. And I came away wanting to have a copy of this Opera so that I could listen to it regularly.

If anyone from the company happens to read this, Bravo and Brava. Magnifico.

Later: Our Local newspaper's review with film clips including Nessun Dorma.

Bookmark and Share

Today's Cayo Hueso again

| | Comments (3)

From a recent trip:

Boston Cobblestones

The narrow way between
the Oyster House and the Bell-in-Hand
is paved with cobbles that knew
and shaped the first streets here.

I step on the same stones that bore
the weight of independence; that
carried those who planned
to tan the sea with British tea.

And in the misty too cool
evening it is easy to see that
they walk here still--that what we are
and what we have was given to us
from the hands of ghosts
who linger here to remind us
of the meaning that is beyond us.

Bookmark and Share

Continuing Cayo Hueso



I carry this decay in my body
a sign of its destruction and the source
of my uneasy delight.
As I chart its progress
I see how what is outside
reflects what's within. No sign that this
may be a sickness unto death,
a small discomfort, a little pain
a swelling, a redness, the sweet
throbbing--almost bliss--that is the warning
not all is well. And I have within
my power, the ability to change
this, at least postpone what will be
awhile. And yet, frozen, I do nothing.

Bookmark and Share

Henry James is one of those writers who seems to be four or five or six different writers depending on when the work you are reading was written. There is an evolution of complexity and theme and intent throughout his work and in the first great work of the "middle period," there is a command of style, language, character, and incident that yields both a lovely and luxurious prose and a novel of high drama if of little incident.

from The Portrait of a Lady
Henry James

He was far from the time when he had found it hard that he should be obliged to give up the idea of distinguishing himself, an idea none the less importunate for being vague and not the less delightful for having to struggle in the same breast with bursts of inspiring self-criticism. His friends at present judged him more cheerful and attributed it to a theory, over which they shook their heads knowingly, that he would recover his health. His serenity was but the array of wild flowers niched in his ruin.

And again, something not often associated with James, humor:

Of their opinions Isabel was never very definitely informed; but it may interest the reader ro know that while they had recognised in the late Mr. Archer a remarkably handsome head and a very taking manner (indeed, as one of them had said, he was always taking something), they had declared that he was making a very poor use of his life.

And from a conversation between Ralph Touchett and his mother:

"No, I don't think I pity her. She doesn't strike me as inviting compassion. I think I envy her. Before being sure, however, give me a hint of where you see your duty."

"In showing her four European countries--I shall leave her the choice of two of them--and in giving her the opportunity of perfecting herself in French, which she already knows very well."

Ralph frowned a little. "That sounds rather dry--even allowing her the choice of two countries."

Block by block and word by careful word, the sentences pile up together to erect an edifice, a carefully constructed picture of a person and a personality. As in Daisy Miller, the first impression is of someone somewhat brash and perhaps a little (in the terms of the day) "saucy," but definitely of interest. We know, of course, that the end, foreshadowed in the beginning by Mr. and Mrs. Touchett's marriage, is not likely to be a happy one--the reader is nevertheless compelled down the avenue paved by such rich bricks to discover not only what happens but who Isabel Archer is.

Bookmark and Share

Cloud of Unknowing


The first part of this poem appeared earlier:


And so I move from knowing
to unknowing--not merely ignorance
but undoing the knowing I have
untying the knots and staring underneath
at what cannot be known once it is known.

When you choose to unknow
you cannot. It comes upon you
as a gift,the promise of bliss
that unmakes what you have known--
makes holes in what is
through which light might shine.

But the gift is two-edged
and what is unknown
breaks the links between things
known. Knowledge leaks out
mystery seeps in.

Our broken knowledge
is the gift of humility,
it isn't forgetting--a loss,
and absence. It is a secret
unraveling, a complete undoing.

Not passive, not receding
prominent and pointed
as the needle that breaches
the fabric, making holes
that let us know what is real.

Bookmark and Share

Untitled Poem [Cayo Hueso]


These clouds move with this wind
and their motion moves and
changes all the changes
they have made. What are they
that their change can make what
we see different? We
see in a new way, see
as we are meant to, as
we must if we wish to
know what cannot be known.
All changed by lax clouds, all
that we known is unknown
even by us, even
by those so near us, by
those who would love us, those
who would hate us, all who
touch us, whom we all touch.

Bookmark and Share

Fort Jefferson

The world changed that day when the white rock shifted
and became the small shell of a turbaned
snail, harsh in sunlight against the red brick.

Bookmark and Share

More Cayo Hueso


Bahia Honda

When I try to see,
to match that blue that
eludes me, that sea
melting into sky--
when I try to see
it, become lost in
it, wear it ribbon-
like on my clothes. I
hear then the sound of
it, smell the smell it
makes. I see the sun
the clouds, the loose strife
of it broken on
the beach bench, stranding
the red-brown algae.
And wonder at seas
that hold so much brown
being, alone so

Bookmark and Share



About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

May 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll