O Morning Star

December 21st, 2019

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.
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O Key of David

December 20th, 2019

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
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O Root of Jesse

December 19th, 2019

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
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O Adonai

December 18th, 2019


O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento
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O Wisdom

December 17th, 2019

The “O Antiphons” begin:

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
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On writing in a post-truth world

December 5th, 2019

Some thoughts from those wiser than I: Read the rest of this entry »

Countering historical amnesia

February 8th, 2019

A promising attempt to recall conveniently forgotten episodes in US history recently debuted at NPR with a story on the CIA-engineered overthrow of Iran’s constitutionally legitimate prime minister, Mohammad Modsaddegh, in 1953. It’s worth a listen and even makes room for some narrative complexity despite the breezy, children’s program format that has infected so much of NPR’s programming following the abrupt removal of Bob Edwards from Morning Edition in 2004. (It appears today’s haute bourgeoisie require quick vocal turns, inexplicable repetition, and scripted banter to match the attention span of a mayfly with ADHD.) Read the rest of this entry »

The Fig

November 15th, 2018

 

Here’s a recording of me reading from my 2013 poetry collection, Flesh Becomes Word, published by Dos Madres Press.

The accompanying image is shared here courtesy of John Volck, who happens to be my brother and a visual artist of breathtaking ability.

The Fig

My lover fills all things with love’s perfume,
but I, distracted, lose the scent in names:
words without sense, vacant experience. Read the rest of this entry »

A Sensible Emptiness

January 15th, 2018

Below is the late Richard Wilbur’s metaphorical exploration of one sentence of Thomas Traherne’s: “”Life without objects is a sensible emptiness, and that is a greater misery than death or nothing.” (Second Century, Meditation 65) The little we know of Traherne’s life reveals a man of fascinating contradictions: a kind and self-effacing mystical poet full of childlike wonder at creation, whose only work published in his lifetime was a prose polemic rife with conspiracy theories and dripping with white-hot rage at everything and everyone Catholic. Largely unknown to or ignored by scholars until the twentieth century, much of Traherne’s work remains unpublished. In this poem, Richard Wilbur captures the felicitous spirit of Traherne’s verse, described by one critic as “bafflingly simple.” Read the rest of this entry »

Caring for Words, XIII: Words Cannot Contain…

January 6th, 2018


Epiphany, Theophany, Three Kings Day. Gifts, carried by the wise, in oddly-fashioned coffers. After twelve days spent pondering the health of words in a sickened language, we end where we began: marveling at the power and fragility of these vessels of meaning. I hope the journey better prepares us to defend them from the cynics, the forgers, the looters.

Care for the words you receive. Honor the words you share. Rejoice at their abilities. Stay mindful of their limits. Attend carefully to those passages in a life when words can do no more than gesture beyond themselves. Rather than mourning what seems like failure, imagine their exhilaration, poised at the edges of signification like climbers on a volcanic rim, dangling their aching legs over the abyss. Return there often. Feel the rising heat, the alpine wind. If words cannot contain our lives, they can show others the way. Read the rest of this entry »