Yearly Archives 2022

They’re Planting Tulips in Kharkiv

    THEY’RE PLANTING TULIPS IN KHARKIV

           By Andrew Hidas

The news tells us of mass
tulip plantings in Kharkiv,
just one more Ukrainian city
bringing new definition
to the word “beleaguered”
in this long spring of horrors.

I picture those tulips tightly clutched
in fists, shaken and ascending to
the heavens as an ultimate “Fuck you!”
to the bomb-droppers and missile senders
who become blinded by the color explosion
of tulip petals hurled aloft in anger, defiance
and hope—blessed, dubious, inexplicable hope.

In our front garden the other day,
the world’s most purposeful sparrow
hops across the gravel, sweeping
up dead leaves in her beak till they
obscure her entire head, a holy payload
destined to welcome life in a nearby tree.

I marvel at her madness of intention,
the sacred instinct for survival and comfort
guiding her every move like no missile
guidance system ever afforded ...

Read More

A Question From Marilynne Robinson: “What Are We Doing Here?”

So the United States, with plenty of company from around the world, is going through a terrible time. A devastating and wearisome pandemic, renewed inflation, climate change and its associated weather catastrophes, a reinflamed battle over abortion, a fight seemingly unto death over the very nature of how we acquire knowledge, see reality and practice democracy.

It’s hard to find optimists out there, and I wouldn’t claim you’ll discover a raging one in eminent novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson either.

What you will find throughout her work, though, and quite specifically in the title essay of her 2018 collection, “What Are We Doing Here?”, is a meticulously crafted case for the beauty and necessity of the humanities, and a passionate call for realizing the “grandeur” that, right along with our atavistic struggle for survival as high-functioning animals, is part and parcel of our humanity, if we can ...

Read More

Brilliant Songs #28: Mike Batt’s “Market Day in Guernica”

Eighty-five years ago this past week, April 26, 1937, was a market day in Guernica, Spain. It was a Monday, when farmers from the surrounding countryside would bring their crops into the town square to sell to residents and others who flowed in from surrounding towns in the autonomous Basque Country.

The Spanish Civil War was raging at the time, pitting the Republican government against General Francisco Franco’s rebel Nationalist faction and fascist allies Germany and Italy. Guernica, with a population of some 5,000, had not been a center of combat, but it stood some 30 kilometers east of Bilbao, population nearly 200,000, which Franco coveted as a strategically important possession to bring the government to its knees.

Batt was looking back to Guernica when he wrote this song, but nearly 20 years on and still active, the Twitter hashtag he features next to his name @MikeBatt is #StandWithUkraine.

That ma...

Read More

Elie Weisel and Volodymyr Zelensky’s Unanswered Questions

“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.”
—Joseph Conrad

***

Last week while reading through the latest reports of Russia’s continuing atrocities against Ukraine, I found myself suddenly bursting with indignation, yelling at my laptop as if I were 10 years old and made aware for the first time that the world can be a horrible place in which horrible things happen to undeserving people.

Many nations of the world are ‘doing something.’ Many things, actually, costing many dollars. But a powerful and potentially world-altering question lurks under those commitments: Is it enough?

Muttering obscenities about Vladimir Putin, indulging the thought that I would happily strangle him with my bare hands had I the opportunity, I was struck yet again by how incredulous it is that one nation (one man, actually) can simply decide to eliminate anothe...

Read More

Resurrection for Non-Christians: A Poem

               RESURRECTION FOR NON-CHRISTIANS

                                  By Andrew Hidas

Stay with me now, you non-Christians (of which I am one).
The hard believers will insist there’s nothing for you here,
Irredeemable heathens that you persist in Being.
But believe not, I say, in those believers, their binaries
Blinding them to nuance, context, symbol, the
Dusky liminal depths of myth more real than reality.

Resurrection is yours, too, for the taking.

You need not wear a cross on your chest,
Nor hang on one for the many sins you
Share in common with your brothers and sisters,
Perfection being the chimera that the
Christ himself was said to dispel.

Sinning is yours, too, for the committing.

You need only behold the tulips of spring,
The spring in your own step as day beckons
Or night falls with the slow revelation of stars.

Death and rebirth suffuse our lives, all life it...

Read More