The Power of Positive Thinking

I saw a fellow suffer such a crushing blow
as would have forged a saint out of a lesser man,
and yet he would not suffer, would not cry, or bow.

He kept his head erect, maintained a steady hand,
and sailed away with stolid cheer the sea to cross
and leave a matching wreckage in some other land.

He gave us one glimpse only of his inner gloss,
a single lifting of the curtain: as he turned,
he shook his fist at all behind who mourned his loss.

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Poems for the Feast of the Holy Innocents

When I pointed out this morning that our baby Matthew would have been killed had he been in those villages near Bethlehem, my fifteen-year-old daughter Bernadette was thoughtful.  This evening, she gave me a set of poems she had written, and I want to share them here:

The Mother

Have you ever seen a baby’s smile light up the room?
Seen sheer happiness for no more reason than a laugh?
Have you ever heard a baby’s song without a tune?
Or, playful, fought him for your bread, at least a half?

Continue reading “Poems for the Feast of the Holy Innocents”

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New Advent CD from Wyoming Catholic College

Last year I had the honor of reporting that my poem “David’s Town,” set to music by Peter Kwasniewski, was performed by an ensemble in Scotland.  This year I am happy to announce that “David’s Town” has been included on Wyoming Catholic College’s new Advent CD.  It is a special song, because it is the only hymn to my knowledge that devotes one stanza to each of the “three comings” celebrated in Advent:  the first coming in humility, the second coming in mystery, and the third coming in glory.

The new CD is beautifully done, recorded by a special student ensemble led by Kwasniewski.  You can find lyrics, information, and a way to purchase the CD here.  Take a look!  We’re doing an important work at WCC, and every CD purchase helps us keep the lights on both literally and figuratively.

Meanwhile, to give you a sense for the quality both of the performance and the recording, here is the “David’s Town” track:

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There Are Ticks in the Woods

Today’s offering, a silly poem I wrote for my children and recited at one of those glorious Friday family poetry-fests.  It is to be read (a) out loud, (b) briskly, and (c) with a straight face.  See if you can manage all three:

There Are Ticks in the Woods

There are ticks in the woods!
There are ticks in the woods!
They are flying to get fixins
For to make their wicked tixins
For to bite the juicy children
Who would walk in the woods.

There are tocks in the woods!
There are tocks in the woods!
They have shoes and put their socks in
For to make their evil toxins
For to bite the juicy children
Who would walk in the woods.

Now the ticks with their tixin
Dug a pit and threw some sticks in,
While the tocks with their toxin
Made a trap and put some rocks in.
But a tick fell on the rocks
And a tock fell on the sticks,
So the tick was sick with toxin
And the tock was socked with tixin.

So beware of the woods!
Beware of the woods!
Clever traps could draw a fox in
To the ticks that now have toxin,
So beware, all juicy children
Who would walk in the woods.

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A Sequence for Advent

A few years ago, we bought a wooden advent calendar with little doors concealing magnetic figures that can be arranged on a nativity scene:

Advent Calendar

Last year during Advent I set myself a poetic challenge:  I would hide a slip of paper behind the door with each figure, and on that paper would be a rhyming couplet that said something about the figure; all the couplets together would form a coherent poem to be recited on Christmas Eve when the last door had been opened.  I had to think ahead about the best order for the figures, taking into account that the biggest ones could not fit behind the littlest doors.  But once the order was set, I wrote the couplets day by day, scrambling each evening to prepare the morning’s rhyme.  Some mornings I made excuses to delay the morning Advent Calendar ritual and buy extra time to write!

Once the first stanza was done, my friend Peter Kwasniewski composed a Gregorian chant setting for it, in the one-note-one-syllabus style of a liturgical “sequence” like the Victimae paschali.  The “Advent sequence” was a success, and the melody haunting:  you can read and decide for yourself here.  If you are not familiar with Gregorian chant notation, you can listen to my rendition of it here:

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Casey in the Classroom

matthew served the point up which no one had seen before but once served once served it was not his but ours and we batted it back to the net for tim to slam down while we cheered and watched so ran the plan but tim slipped and tessa leapt to keep the point in the air while we all took positions then the teacher through our midst came to hammer home the point over the net with his hand like a giant and his face like a thunder cloud and in the wake of his resounding whack we stood with mouths like mackeral to see the point on the ground still on our side of the net and not over the net at all.

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