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Posts tagged "Poetry"

Chewing Tinfoil, Wanting God: Christian Wiman’s <i>He Held Radical Light</i>

Chewing Tinfoil, Wanting God: Christian Wiman’s He Held Radical Light

What is it we want when we can’t stop wanting? Christian Wiman’s new essays resist review. Reviews of art are always a strange effort, anyway. An exhibition of paintings or a play or a concert or a novel or a poem, all are experiences, experiences of difference—when our action is displaced but our hearts and […]

The Like Button – Mary Karr

From Tropic of Squalor, the latest collection of poems by former Mockingbird conference speaker Mary Karr.

The Like Button

Back in the before time
those days of amber
desire was an inner
and often ugly thing.
And if we wanted,
my brothers and hungry
sisters, we were oft flung
far from each other. Think
tin-cans-and-string far,
plum-colored-smoke-signal
far. No web wove the pinpoints
of ourselves into a map. No
upward thumb could be pressed
to say yes or its detractor: no.
Soon, we may each evolve
a glow button maybe mid brow,
so as we pass each other we can vote
praise or scorn to light up yay
or nay on a passing stranger’s face
a thumb. At first the young celebs
with asses you can serve drinks off
will rack up zillions of votes
till we tire of such bodacious butts,
and then the smart, the brave,
the strong will take their turns,
but what if we start to like,
say, the stout, the schlubby
neighbor raking leaves or that
subway sleeper who’s woven
yellow crime scene tape into
a jock strap—Police Line: Do
Not Cross—till all the undeodorized,
the unloved all their lives, start to feel
their foreheads blip
and blip as it becomes hip
to love the oddest, the most
perilously lonely. Imagine
the forever dispossessed
transforming as they feel the thumb
of yes impress itself
into the very flesh.

Naming the Impasse: Amos Niven Wilder and the Religious Imagination

Naming the Impasse: Amos Niven Wilder and the Religious Imagination

Over the past eight years or so, Mockingbird contributors have said quite a lot about the works of Thornton Niven Wilder. His contributions to the idea of a theo-poetic approach to the Gospel, i.e., an approach that avoids didacticism by employing literary archetypes to illustrate gospel themes, are well documented on this site. For a couple […]

Another Week Ends: Even More Camille Paglia, Digital Soul-Training, Backstabbing Enablers, Apolitical Auden, and Masculine Christianity

Another Week Ends: Even More Camille Paglia, Digital Soul-Training, Backstabbing Enablers, Apolitical Auden, and Masculine Christianity

1. Where to start with a hierarchy of most severe ‘little-l law’ in ‘secular’ society? We could start with body image, health, having cool experiences, and the like, but prosperity honestly takes the cake. And among the people who have already checked that box, it’s fast becoming political correctness. Political correctness is important, but its ascendant, […]

Who but the Lord? – Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes’ poem, “Who but the Lord?”–though explicitly written about and within a period of deep racial unrest in America and the fight for civil rights for African Americans–seems to strike a profound metaphorical chord within the theological discussion of the role of the law and the intense suffering, lament and doubt inhabiting the area between the work of the law and the beginning of grace.

lI looked and I saw
That man they call the Law.
He was coming
Down the street at me!
I had visions in my head
Of being laid out cold and dead,
Or else murdered
By the third degree.

I said, O, Lord, if you can,

Save me from that man!

Don’t let him make a pulp out of me!

But the Lord he was not quick.
The Law raised up his stick
And beat the living hell
Out of me!

Now, I do not understand
Why God don’t protect a man
From police brutality.
Being poor and black,
I’ve no weapon to strike back
So who but the Lord
Can protect me?

We’ll see.

Court of Grace

Some astounding verse from my good friend Hank Wall, Esquire from Columbia, SC…

Court of Grace

A court of grace would have no laws, but brim with broken hearts,

and flowing there, on stoney ground, would run a crimson tide,

a tide of love, a tide of tears, in thanks for sacrifice,

and flowing from the open doors, this tide would be poured out…

a river of new, unending healing balm, forgiving every doubt…

awash in answer to His prayers, His mercies, inside-out.

Language as Empathy: Compassion and the Grace of Expression

Language as Empathy: Compassion and the Grace of Expression

Over at The American Scholar, acclaimed poet Christian Wiman wrote an essay, entitled “Mortify Our Wolves“, on his sickness with cancer and the dynamics of loss more generally – from the perspective of a preternaturally articulate Christian and sufferer. For those interested in language, empathy, pastoral care, or just about anything else in the world, […]

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering "Burnt Norton" - Part 2

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 2

Have you ever wanted to reclaim the past? In images, especially those of poetry, we possess a moment frozen in time. It seems so accessible the more detailed and the more sensuous a description we give it—such as Eliot’s ghostly trip into the rose-garden last week—and yet the permanence which it suggests is devastatingly illusory. […]

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering "Burnt Norton" - Part 1

Mama Liked the Roses (And So Did T.S. Eliot): Deciphering “Burnt Norton” – Part 1

Eliot’s Four Quartets remain among his most critically acclaimed and notoriously inscrutable works. Although there’s no established consensus on the precise meaning of these poems, they’ve all been viewed as meditations on time, each focusing on a particular aspect of this central reality of human life. Constantly going back to the Quartets and always enjoying […]

The Battered Heart of Sanctification: The Poetry of John Donne

The Battered Heart of Sanctification: The Poetry of John Donne

John Donne’s poetry and sermons speak to the deepest part of the distraught sole. His own struggles and passion take on life and, especially, take on life within the reader. Through his poems, the reader, “meet[s] a turbulent soul, grieving over his sins, questions his faith, pondering his mortality, wrestling with God, striving for humility–and […]

The Law and The Gospel

The Law and The Gospel

“The Law and The Gospel” is a beautiful poem by the Scottish Divine Ralph Erskine (1685-1752). I have not read anything else he has written, but I found this poem conveys clearly and beautifully the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel. The law supposing I have all, Does ever for perfection call; The […]