Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ora pro nobis, author of The Idea of a University

The beatification and canonization of someone who lived in modern times makes a silly spectacle. John Henry Newman was a talented polemicist; and given his effect on thoughtful, but somewhat weedy, young men, he must have been a charismatic figure in his way. But do you believe he worked the requisite miracles? Do you think he's specially able to intercede for you with The Virgin Mary, this author of the novels Loss and Gain and Callista?

I suspect that if we had known St Francis or St Jude or St Patrick the way men within our memory knew Newman--that is, as someone to argue politics with over a beer--we'd find their sainthood equally preposterous. Who is playing advocatus diaboli in the canonization process? Has he spoken to Chuck Kingsley and Matt Arnold yet?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Talking to Myself

So I was talking to myself. "Self," I said, "this is disappointing." "Then why do you keep sending them out?" said my self. "At your age, you still hoping to be discovered?" "What's the alternative?" I said. "Don't send them out," said my self. "Oh," I said. "I never thought of that."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It Appears There Are Swans on the Roof of That Office Building

The blancoed office building flaps,
covered in swans. The roof is white
with spots of orange, a flash of black
like semaphore. They’re never still.

Arrivals and departures seem
off schedule, bent by maintenance
left unperformed while bombardiers
brought down protest. Why here, why now,

why only on the roof, will be
explained in Union Halls, The Grange,
by Leda in her signet ring,
and CNN. A broken swan

comes tumbling 7 stories down.
Wide wings aflame in late-day sun
evaporate before they hit.
It’s love in dreams. The dying swan

pirouettes. Cobs and cobblers cry
to muted trumpets, shouldering
swansdown aside, startled and stuck,
lorelei high over black streets.