Archive for October, 2014


“Slipping the clippers through the telephone wire…”

Because I’m monstrously busy, I figure it’s time to bring back some of the more literal monsters featured on this blog from 2009 to 2012. Every few weeks, I challenged myself to wander up to the National Cathedral, where I chose from among its myriad gargoyles and grotesques and wrote a poem inspired by what I’d seen.

With the kind permission of the cathedral, I collected the resulting poems, 53 in all, in a 138-page paperback that you can order online, buy at the cathedral gift shop, or purchase from me via email. (You can browse the first drafts of 51 of the poems here.)

Written for Halloween 2010, the following poem fell from the mouth of a hard-to-photograph gargoyle known as “Stabber.” Visitors to cathedrals are sometimes confused, even startled, by gargoyles that honor irreverence or depict blatant evil. This suicidal, Gollum-like ghoul isn’t equivocal; he knows what he is.


ALL HALLOWS’ EVE

Long live the weeds and the wilderness—yet
What would be left of the wildness and wet
Were it not for the curdle, the canker, the theft
That threaten to render the blessèd bereft?

Our beady-boned eyebulge flits over the burn;
Wily we twitch through the sack-shriveled fern
As the groin-growls enrage us where daggers bite through,
Damning the bloodline that dapples the dew.

Yet rounded in couplets, despair-darksome sneering,
Frown pitchblack poets defy all our leering,
Twindled revisioners burbling like broth,
Donning their Jesuit wind-shriven cloth.

What pumpkin-maws mumble, we ache to express;
Ghouls plunder verses they dare not possess.
Take heed of the unhallowed eyeblight you mourn:
Then know why the saints of the morning were born.


“Kindled by the dying embers of another working day…”

According to one Carolingian poet, October was perfect for harvesting grapes and chasing swine into forests to chow down on autumn nuts. Fireside wine and a pig roast can wait; for now, I can offer only this backlog of savory links.

Literary scholar and critic D.G. Myers has died—but his final blog post, “Choosing life in the face of death,” is a worthy memorial.

Another Damned Medievalist explains what should be obvious: that being an adjunct professor is not at all like slavery.

Nancy Marie Brown considers Icelandic volcanoes on the anniversary of Snorri Sturlusson’s killing.

Added to my Christmas list: Medievalism: Key Critical Terms.

Flavia, a college professor, shares what she learned from doing the work she assigns.

At Book and Sword, Sean Manning meets Ötzi, who died in an Alpine pass some 5,300 years ago.

Jake Seliger knows that the best teachers aren’t always the best credentialed.

Scott Bailey offers a fiction-writing lesson from Robert Browning.

Cynthia Haven pays tribute to murdered journalist Steve Sotloff. Did you know he and his loved ones successfully hid his religion from his captors?

The indefatigable Steve Donoghue reads The Oxford Book of Letters.

Pete at Petelit continues to add to his blog post of memorable opening lines.

Recalling his software days, poet Dale Favier notes that “nothing has been built to specs.”

At First Known When Lost, Stephen Pentz links poetry to moments when life “clicks.”

George, the thoughtful fellow at 20011, blogs about coding and cooking, the pleasures of summer, and overuse of the term “iconic.”

Congrats to Tolkien scholar Jason Fisher, whose blog post became a essay in a reference book.

Daniel Franke wonders about Bill Gates and “big history.”

Diane L. Major remembers Harriet Tubman.