Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's Poem In Your Pocket Day

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. What a fitting way to complete National Poetry Month! To learn more about this poetic celebration visit from the Academy of American Poets.

For my literary contribution, I have selected something I wrote several years ago when my three kids were tinier.  Middle daughter has always been joyously tactile in her appreciation of God's creation and the little corners of it that she gets to co create within.

small sacraments of a daughter 
by T. F. Silva

In the bathroom:
a paper cup, a plastic spoon,
a pool of puddled water poured
into a small pond upon the tiled floor.

In the hallway:
patches of damp carpet
places where your tipping vessel
(a teapot? a cereal bowl? a purse?)
required more balance than your tip
toed passage could provide.

In the playroom
I see without seeing:
a tabletop of lids and cups
boxes and tins
and you apportioning
dispensing each to each
in splashy messy wonder.

If I called out, "Emily?"
the silence would still speak
of you, bottom lip puckered,
half pushed out, anxiously
hoping for the transparency
of your non reply.

Aquarian maiden, water princess,
pour forth your liquid generosity
Cana-like, plentiful,
splattery passionate,
and leave for me the privilege
of the cleaning up.

And now, a word from a master:

Pied Beauty 
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things--
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
       For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough;
       And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                     Praise Him.

So - happy Poem in Your Pocket Day! A couple of my favorite poetry sites are the above referenced and former National Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day

   Dang the snooze button anyway! It should be called the snooze-you-lose button. How is it that I am so easily seduced by it's empty promises? Message to self - do the math. Delaying wake up by increments of 7 minutes will equal being late to work by increments of 7 minutes. Why increments of 7 minutes? That's what it gives me. Never set it. Never will. Why? Because I don't use the snooze button. Except when I do.

   Apparently I can be sold anything at 5 am in the morning. Like the idea that an additional 7 minutes will make getting out of bed a more enjoyable experience. Like the expectation that an additional 7 minutes of sleep will actually be experienced as a passage of time, and not just an immediate re-slap to the face. I don't know why telemarketers bother me at dinner time. I'm wide awake then and in no mood to hold for an important message. That's the time my wife and I are attempting to set food in front of the kids, keep the cat away from said food, and keep said food away from the carpet, laptops, heater vents and other non-food presentation surfaces. Oh - and my wife and I try to eat said food as well. Don't call me then. Call me at 5 am. It appears I am much more gullible at that hour and would probably be happily receptive to random offers of time shares and mortgage refies. And then call me again 7 minutes later. I'll probably buy another time share.

   Did you know that today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day? It is. It's official. April 23rd is the date usually given for William Shakespeare's birthday. The actual date is not on record. He was baptised on April 26th, 1564, and eventually died on April 23rd, 1616. I was expecting a Shakespearized Google page today - but no. Just Google in ordinary time. Anyway, I thought I would celebrate by penning the following monologue. The lone player, Tomardius, is late for work and having a conversation with his dashboard clock (write what you know.) Let's listen in.

Tomardius' Monologue
Act I Scene I: interior car, morning
Muted clock, thou slayeth me. Wordless, thy trumpet screameth to all sky. What need hast thou of vocabulary? Thou mocketh me that clocketh me. Devoid of passion, thou art logic's clodpole. Unengaged in the very torment that thou maketh manifest, thou showest me no mercy. Champion of my fault, setting forth my failure as a play in light, tenacious in its witness, unflinching in condemnation of my folly and yet seemingly witless of it's crushing weight upon me. Oh, thou art enjoying this. I could subdue thee. I could recreate thee in the image of mine own intent. Set the world and all creation spinning in reverse with but the command of a single button. I could change thee. But thou and I wouldst know the thing. Oh vexing arithmetic! The lie wouldst indeed be sweet, like sugar drizzled down upon candy, and then in chocolate wed! I would make my tongue the willing bed. O kittenhack! My lie would on it's countenance bare like a blemish the reminder of it's contrary nature. Never the thing, but the thing, plus or minus the lie. No. And I'll not give voice to thy sister radio. I'll not have thee joined, a villainous chorus of woe, reminding me of my inadequacies. Nay! Thou hast not won thy victory. I shall raise up now in resolve that which I failed to raise up in my person. Fly. I shall race yon Apollo. I shall rob the titan of his flame with the tempest of my wake. Watch now, wordless spitgape. I shall yet seize and own this hatchling day. Aside! What? Who is this scarlet interloper beckoning for mine other eye. Speak herald. What news bring thee? Low on fuel? Hellkite! I am slain.


   To learn more about Talk Like Shakespeare Day go to  and release your inner bard. 

   Was Shakespeare Catholic? Amardeep Singh, Blogger and Assistant Professor of English at Lehigh University considers the possibility in her blog, linked Here. Singh references a Shakespeare biography by Stephen Greenblatt titled Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. Singh draws from a review of the book in the Chronicle which can be read Here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's Official - It's All About the Donuts

If you read it in a blog, it must be true!

"In a double blind study that stands to become a landmark in the sociology of religion, American sociologist and RBCU* professor James Thurber has discovered the hidden source in contemporary practices of Catholic religiosity: donuts." The Ironic Catholic

Read all the tasty proof at

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Creation Is Messy

     A puppet theater. That was the vision our middle daughter went forth with (actually, out back with in this case.) It started as a group project, suggested by her older brother. Her little sister and a couple of neighbor kids were around as well when the idea was hatched. I'm not sure how focussed the vision was at first, or how long it remained a group project. Minutes apparently. Later, when cleanup was suggested, none of the others took ownership. When I came upon the project in it's final stages, the other children had long left the effort and the yard. They were in the living room playing Wii with flesh colored hands. But this daughter, she was still embracing the vision. The vision was also embracing her, and the outdoor storage box that she was creating upon.    My wife frowned from the doorway when she saw me taking a photo of the artist at work. Why was I documenting a mess?
    Our family vitally requires my wifes practicality. For example, she thought of having our little Jackson Pollock remove her shoes before encountering the living room carpet. I would have thought of that too, and thought of it again and again as I was futilely scrubbing foam carpet cleaner into the newly tie-dyed berber
    Creation is messy, be it puppet theaters or the cosmos. Sometimes the painter spills. Sometimes the spillage is the thing. Even for a moment.  Considering myself, I sometimes wonder if God created me on his canvas, or on his dropcloth. Thank God we were all keepers.

If you would like to get "virtually" in touch with your own inner-mess maker, try your own take on Jackson Pollock creativity at  Enter .

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Will There Be Donuts?

     I remember one Sunday morning a few years back, my wife and I were hurriedly buckling the kids into the minivan trying to beat the start time for the next Mass at St. Convenience's. St Convenience is any parish other than your usual parish that has a mass time which most closely fits an altered Sunday itinerary. You either slept in late because of a pretty good Saturday night, or you're going in early so that you can squeeze in an all day event immediately afterwards. Basically minimum requirement triaging. I don't remember the specific reason for that Sunday morning, but I do remember explaining the change in our schedule to our youngest as I buckled her into her carseat. She had only one question.
     "Will there be doughnuts?"
     "Oh no!" I thought, "The carrot has been taken from the stick - and she knows." I also remember making the attempt to ease her disappointment with a little preschool catechesis, and I think I remember not being very successful.
It wasn't her fault. She had a very good right to be disappointed, because it really wasn't about the donuts. This particular daughter usually orphaned her donut after a single bite and ran off to be busy with the real attraction of coffee hour. Being in the moment of community. Outside voices inside (with an outside option on most days.) Running, weaving through the maze of chairs and tables, giddy laughing, untethered. Finding friends, or making some. The happy buzz of dozens of voices speaking at once, as one.
     At mass, we the collected, the unsorted assembly, are called to be one. We are called to communion. We are called to become one body. In the Eucharist, we become that one body. Even though we rush in from so many different points of view and states of grace, our God re images us into one harmonious people. Is it wrong then, to want to take this gift from the politeness of our pews and not immediately disperse it to the parking lot? Isn't it a good thing to commit twenty more minutes for a kind of second communion, to spend time actually in communion with the other human faces of our Lord's Eucharistic presence? I mean, most of the people we worship with and share the miracle with, never get past a hand shaking relationship with us. Head nods and smiles and parking lot waves. 
     We should let the kids run a bit. They've been (mostly) quiet for an hour. We could have a cup of coffee and maybe a refill. Find out how George's surgery went. Hear about Tom and Joy's vacation. Get an update on the Smith's kids, and their kid's kids. Welcome the stranger. Listen to the aged. Share stories. Plan plans. Dream dreams. Grow together.
Donuts can be a very good thing. Maple bars. Old fashioned. Jelly filled. Come on people. Let there be donuts.