Category Poetry

Religious Huckster Take-Down: Carl Sandburg’s “To a Contemporary Bunkshooter”

There will always be Billy Sundays among us. Smooth, snake-tongued preachers talking up either the gospel of prosperity that creates prosperity mostly for themselves, or else painting pictures of heavenly hereafters with which their impoverished followers will be rewarded—provided they dig deep for what is in their meagerly endowed pockets to sustain the preacher’s enterprise.

The historical Billy Sunday was the latter, a ragingly successful turn-of-the-20th century evangelist who wowed crowds with theatrical religious oratory that he embellished with long slides across or dives off the stage, stunts that called upon his former career as a major league baseball player with a penchant for stealing bases.

Sunday soothed his listeners and their hollowed out lives with promises of heavenly days everlasting even as he himself became wealthy...

Read More

“Sonnets from the Portuguese:” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Valentine to the World

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese” has nothing to do with Portuguese or translations therefrom, and everything to do with Browning’s attempt, on behalf of ardent lovers the world over, to put into words what they often experience as the overwhelming, uniquely frustrating desire to bottle the wind, capture a star, cavort with the moon, and fully articulate the welter of emotions coursing through them at the sound, sight, touch and smell of their beloveds.

“There are no words…” lovers often say (if they are lucky), trailing off as they rock and roll, like an ocean liner atop roiling seas, with the emotion that both demands and makes impossible their word-bound expression...

Read More

A Prayer for Leonard Cohen, and That Syrian Girl Without a Hospital

nothing new, nothing to see,
just another mound of rubble

and still the dogs zig and
zag over the cold stones,
their handlers holding tight,
awaiting a pause and deeper

inhalation

now the rescuers kneel
removing stone by careful stone,
the veil of destruction lifted from

the face of a girl

awake, blinking, inert,
four days entombed
but alive, alive oh!

HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH,
HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH

(he sang of things
above and below,
the eternal fusion,
the fast and slow)

(the recurrent broken hallelujahs)

a man lifts her,
this perhaps 4-year-old,
the christ child in swaddling clothes
suffering the sins of the world

lord forgive them, for they know not what they do

HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH,
HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH

he scans the cratered street,
the search now for a car and
swift transport to the hospital

and the announcer, camera crew
providing witness to this atrocity

intones:

it’s a rush to get her to hospi...

Read More

water words

wet   life   drip   moist   damp   cloud

here   yes   drink   suck   slurp   gulp

gone   none   parched   pinched   paucity

salve   swim   immerse   cleanse   anoint

where   there   mirage   drought   dry

slip   slide   ease   merge   one   spurt

grasp   groan   cracked   arid   shrivel

douse   dunk   splash   soak   wade.

now oh lord deep bless bliss wet

Water Play by Prashant Godbole

Hands to Heavens by Rob McIlvaine

***

Visit Facebook for Traversing’s daily 1-minute blog, featuring snippets of wisdom and other musings from the world’s great thinkers and artists, accompanied always by lovely photography: http://www.facebook.com/TraversingBlog

Twitter: @AndrewHidas

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewhidas/

Deep appreciation to the photographers!

Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banne...

Read More

The Hope in Wildness: A Poetic Homage to John Muir

“In God’s wildness is the hope of the world,”
wrote John Muir while tramping through Alaska on
a long mission to meet that hope on its own terms.
Not to snub the majesty of perfect sunsets,
Muir might hasten to add, but is there a
nobler expression of divine enchantment,
of a super-charged world ripe and
overflowing with portent and awe,
than a severely blackened sky followed by
cascades of lightning against its canvas?

Or even in suburbia, biking in a hot howling wind,
when one forsakes actually getting anywhere, but
instead peddles slowly, mouth agape at neighborhood
trees gone horizontal under relentless gusts.

One is given to laughter in these moments,
marveling at the audacity of us humans,
all puffed up in our self-importance,
Charlie Chaplin characters marching up to
Brawny Nature and proclaiming our freedom
from its transgressions with the bulwarks of
our houses and stores, bricks and concret...

Read More