Poetry: “Dreams of a Newer Rood”

This one had three inspirations.

First, and obvious to students of early English literature, was the Anglo-Saxon poem “The Dream of the Rood“. When trying to get it published, I opted for the not-bad punning title “Passion Play”, but I reverted to the original title here.

Second was the curious group of people in the Philippines who reenact the Crucifixion every year.

Third was the line from Jethro Tull’s “Songs from the Wood“: “I am the cross to take your nail.”

No, this hasn’t turned into a poetry blog, but this was the poem I was looking for when I came across yesterday’s “Trade Talk“. I found it, embedded in gibberish, in an old WordPro file.

Then it got its own resurrection to appear here.


Dreams of a Newer Rood


Devout journey here Jesus to play,

Crucifixions cruel, uncommon meted here,

New Golgotha. Gashes torn

In pilgrim flesh, pious torture,

Nails driven deep in my wood,

Painshare with Christ the cross death.


Shrinking guts, shocked meat

Told by tendrils’ telemetry to me

Lurking in deathwood my lightcircuit mind.

Nanoagents command the carcass to stay

In life’s kingdom till Longinus spears

The body at twilight, takes it to cryotomb’s

Cold repose, resurrection days

Three after drama death staged.


Why do they seek the woe of Christ?

A puzzle of passion played barren,

Savior’s sacrifice shammed by man.

Poetry: “Trade Talk”

I was looking through the archives — inconveniently coded in an obscure file format — for another poem which I didn’t find.

So you get this instead.

Trade Talk

Love is the universal language, so they say.

But lust is really our creole tongue.

Just a few old words on symmetry’s serenity

And the value of clear skin.

But lust has its vowel shifts too:

Hirsute and shaven,

Solomon’s roe-breasts and silicon intrusions,

Milk white and California tan.

Some phrases are almost fetish obscure:

Geisha necks and Minoan eyes,

And flat-chested flappers.


Lust is the trade talk of genes.

But here, in media’s nation,

We have trading blocs of grammar deviations,

Strange syntax, new slangs of desire.

Is there no Chomsky subset of universal pant?

Will the Babel of petri dish and PCR

Add to lust’s cant?

Poetry: “Notes from a Children’s Memorial Service”

No end-of-the-year metrics for me. No New Year’s resolutions. It’s the unexamined life that’s worth living.

Still, in actually catching up on my blog reading lately, I’ve begin to think this blog is a bit too cold, a bit aloof in comparison to others. Maybe it could stand to be just a bit more chatty and less like the awkward uncle who recites prepared dialogue at his one-time social outing at Thanksgiving.

Maybe someday.

But I’ve also been thinking of posting (or republishing) some of my poetry. I make no claims for its worth only that, if I put it up, I think it’s as least as good as most contemporary poetry I see. (And the profile page does claim I’ve published poetry.) And I’m often too lazy to submit my stuff anywhere.

Actually, in this case, someone did think this was good enough to publish, at least in an online venture — in the early days of National Review Online to be specific. It appeared in July or August of 2000 I think. You’ll just have to take my word for that though. All online traces of it have vanished.

For the poetry haters (and I used to be one), I’ll helpfully code these adventures in funny typing with “Poetry” in the title to warn you away. Eventually, I’ll create another index page for them.

And, yes, the first one has a very cheery subject as the year expires.

Don’t come here expecting optimism and good times.

I said more chatty — not more cheerful.

Notes from a Children’s Memorial Service

Death made a present of pain.

Wrapped his gift in

Rioting cells and violent physics,

Life’s architecture carelessly copied.


They brought cards,

Paid to voice

The long, hollow shriek

Of absent years

With Hallmark, Shakespeare

And the King James on cardboard.


Barbies and Poohs

And Boy Scout badges, factory

Tokens of the dead.

Photos, crayon musings,

Crafted fish lures,

Shed skins of the dead.


They huddle on tables

About invisible fires,

Reefs of memories, lives

Grown to stone.


Death does not reap.

Death does not sow.

Death waits.


“Why” is the question everywhere.

“Because” is the first, last, only

Only answer.