Sunday, September 24, 2017

Septmeber 24: Sunday Afternoon, Classic Saint Marty, "In Praise of Daughters"

Welcome to Sunday afternoon. 

I've been working for a few hours on teaching stuff.  Now I'm doing blogging stuff.  Afterwards, I'm going to do poetry stuff.  I'm working on a couple new poems.  Tonight, I'll do some reading stuff.

Three years ago, I was worrying about boy stuff and dad stuff . . .

September 23, 2014:  Boys, Terry Godbey, "The Purity of Boys"

Yes, I've been thinking about little boys a lot these last couple of days.  Boy stuff.  I've never been a typical guy, especially in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where I grew up.  I don't like to fish.  The idea of shooting any living thing with a rifle makes me a little sick to my stomach.  I don't like the taste of most wild game meat.  Not my thing.  I'd rather read a good novel, watch a documentary on PBS, or read a poem.

Terry Godbey has a great poem about boys in her collection Flame.  The boys in the poem are trying to impress the girls.  The girls are trying to attract the boys.  There's much showing off by both genders.  But, in the end, they remain on their respective sides, wanting each other, but not knowing how to say so.

Saint Marty prefers that arrangement at the moment, especially for his teenage daughter.

The Purity of Boys

by:  Terry Godbey

Water glints and sparks as they spill
from the pool and smash the sunlight to bits,
every movement designed to impress,
each glance a measure of our meager curves.
They dive and ride their bodies,
bark like seals as we chatter
and make lacy splashes in the shallow end.
Each long day drips honeysuckle.
We burn with impatience,
count out coins for ice cream cones
that drizzle our striped towels.
Sulky, drowsy in the heat, we oil
our caramel skin, watch the boys
watch us and lay side by side,
arranging our long-stemmed legs
in the blue vase of afternoon.

And, since Terry Godbey's poem is about boys, I have a poem for you about girls . . .

In Praise of Daughters

by:  Martin Achatz

Zeus gave birth to Athena himself, from a pain in his deathless temples, ten thousand Greeks pounding the walls of Troy.  She charged from his skull, full grown and armored, wailed a war cry louder than the cries of all the mothers who've lost sons in battle.  A sound that shook the dust of Olympus.  Zeus heard her, saw the bronze on her breasts, watched her flight, up and up, and knew his creation was good, the way Elohim knew light and dark, heaven and earth, sea and mud, man and woman were good on day six.

I saw my daughter charge into the world on a morning of wind and ice.  Heard her first sound, a call to battle.  For oxygen and milk.  Her frog body, slick and red, mapped the contours of my heart, its empty ventricles and auricles.  Flooded them.  The way the sea flooded the Titanic that April night.  I foundered, split, capsized, went under.  Swallowed whole by an ocean of daughter.  Now, almost eleven years later, I watch her this autumn day.  She stands in a cyclone of gold and red.  The leaves spin, rise around her, catch her hands and feet and hair, carry her up and up.  To the clouds.  To the moons.  Up and up.  To the constellations.  Up and up.  Cassiopeia.  Andromeda.  Up and up.  Cygnus.  Scutum.  And up.  Virgo.  And up.  To the arms of Zeus.  Of Elohim.  Up.  Where she sings, dances like an owl-eyed goddess.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

September 23: God is Listening, Purgatory, Human Failings

"Did that really happen?" said Maggie White.  She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies.  Men looked at her and wanted to fill her up with babies right away.  She hadn't had even one baby yet.  She used birth control.

"Of course it happened," Trout told her.  "If I wrote something that hadn't really happened, and I tried to sell it, I could go to jail.  That's fraud."

Maggie believed him.  "I'd never thought about that before."

"Think about it now."

"It's like advertising.  You have to tell the truth in advertising, or you get in trouble."

"Exactly.  The same body of law applies."

"Do you think you might put us in a book sometime?"

"I put everything that happens to me in books."

"I guess I better be careful what I say."

"That's right.  And I'm not the only one who's listening.  God is listening, too.  And on Judgment Day he's going to tell you all the things you said and did.  If it turns out they're bad things instead of good things, that's too bad for you, because you'll burn forever and ever.  The burning never stops hurting."

Poor Maggie turned gray.  She believed that, too, and was petrified.

Kilgore Trout laughed uproariously.  A salmon egg flew out of his mouth and landed in Maggie's cleavage.

I don't think Kilgore Trout believes in Judgment Day or God or eternal fire.  He's simply messing with innocent Maggie.  Telling her things to elicit responses that amuse him.  Or maybe he does hold that concept of God, the Almighty Judge and Jury.  No matter.  His laughter is genuine and more than a little cruel, regardless of his personal theology.

I was sort of raised with this depiction of God.  I remember, when I was a kid, reading a really thick book about Purgatory.  It had a black cover, with white lettering.  Hundreds and hundreds of pages about punishment and purification and souls.  It was more terrifying than Stephen King or William Peter Blatty or Bram Stoker.  It gave me nightmares of lakes of fire.  Molten lead being poured into my mouth for lies that I'd told or repeated.  Hot pokers being shoved into my eyes for looking at pictures in magazines my brothers kept under their mattresses.

When I attend Mass now, I don't hear a whole lot of talk about Purgatory.  It's still a part of the Catholic belief system.  However, it's not a huge selling point for the Church.  Not that the Catholic Church is a commodity to be advertised and marketed.  But, torture does not give people the warm fuzzies.

I know what you're wondering:  Does Saint Marty believe in Purgatory?  My answer to that question is complicated.  I believe in redemption.  I believe that everyone can be saved.  I believe in God's love more than God's anger.  Being a parent, I know that my kids can drive me crazy sometimes, but I still love them.  So I'm sure the God gets a little insane about the stuff His kids do, as well.  That doesn't mean He sends hurricanes and tsunamis to punish us.  I don't think God is like that.

God wants me to be the best me I can be, because I'm a reflection of His love.  That's the thing that people tend to forget.  God wants each and every one of us to make the world a better place.  If we don't do that, God isn't angry.  He's sad.  Disappointed.  But He understands that we are human, with human failings.  And He understands and loves those failings, as well

Saint Marty is thankful today for love.

September 23: A Little Old, Paul Muldoon, "Wind and Tree"

I'm feeling a little old today for some reason.  Tired.  A little sore.  Like I could sit on my couch and sleep for about three or four hours.

Of course, I can't do that.  My daughter has a school thing this morning.  I have schoolwork to do, planning for next week.  I'm going to clean my house this afternoon.  Play the organ for Mass at 4:30 p.m.  Then, I may go home and collapse.

Just typing all that made me feel old.  Gone are the Saturdays where my main worry was whether Bugs Bunny was on TV.  When the hours stretched out full of possibility.  When one of the most exciting things was a trip to the library to see what new books had arrived. 

Nowadays, Saint Marty's Saturdays are pretty much planned out before he even gets up in the morning.

Wind and Tree

by:  Paul Muldoon

In the way that most of the wind
Happens where there are trees,
Most of the world is centred
About ourselves.
Often where the wind has gathered
The trees together and together,
One tree will take
Another in her arms and hold.
Their branches that are grinding
Madly together and together,
It is no real fire.
They are breaking each other.
Often I think I should be like
The single tree, going nowhere,
Since my own arm cannot and will not
Break the other.  Yet by my broken bones
I tell new weather.

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22: Pennywise Time, Paul Muldoon, "Cuckoo Corn"

I've spent most of the day inside, in an office without windows.  I didn't see the thunderstorm roll through this afternoon, with sideways rain and a sky dark as a coal miner's lungs.  When I left work, things had improved a little.  It was still raining, but the sky was ashy grey.

Today is the Fall Equinox.  At 4:04 this afternoon, daylight and darkness balanced.  Twelve hours and twelve hours.  From this day, until the Winter Solstice, night will overtake day, second by second.  By All Hallow's Eve, the little ghouls and ghosts will have plenty of storm sewer, Pennywise time.

Tonight, Saint Marty has another Halloweeny poem for your reading pleasure.

Cuckoo Corn

by:  Paul Muldoon

That seed that goes into the ground
After the first cuckoo
Is said to grow short and light
Like the beard of a boy.
Thought Spring was slow this year,
And the seed late, after that Summer
The corn was long and heavy
As the hair of any girl.
They claim she had no business being near a thresher,
This girl whose hair floated as if underwater
In a wind that would have cleaned corn, who was strangled
By the flapping belt.  But she had reason,
I being her lover, she being this man's daughter,
Knowing of cuckoo corn, of seed and season.