Palm Sunday

My heart swells with blissful anticipation as I welcome spring each year, red-breasted robins feasting on worms and early morning birds chirping in the quiet distance. Happy days of drenching rains nourishing all that is life and all that brings joy to the world. I eagerly wait for another Palm Sunday, a most festive day for my family and me as we celebrate the memories of so many loved ones who have died and left us to remember their lives of grace and integrity and so much soulfulness.

My father woke us early to attend Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End. I remember the long procession of parishioners as we slowly made our way through the colossal church while Cardinal Cushing spoke those odd Latin words that all of us, somehow, understood. This Catholic tradition, still deeply ingrained in our Palm Sundays, except that now we are without Uncle Joe, as he accompanied us each year and loved us all as he loved his own child. I never thought he would die. I always believed his love for me would keep him alive forever. And when I kissed him goodbye, his icy cheek wasn’t real anymore. His lifeless body, gone perhaps, but his generous spirit lives eternally within those of us who loved him so much. [Read more…]

Ticking Time Bomb

James Joyce once said that every story must have an “epiphany”. In the dictionary, epiphany  is defined as ‘a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being’, or a ‘moment of sudden revelation.’ The reader’s world is changed through this revelation, and the change is permanent.

What’s true for stories is also true for poetry.

It is not an exaggeration to say that a great poem is a ticking bomb... until it explodes, but the explosion must not take place in the poem itself, it must be delayed until it reaches the reader. The reader turns the page, closes the book, and… bang.  If it goes off too soon, the effect on the reader is diminished, it’s residual. Shrapnel pieces are scattered all over his body, but the force doesn’t reach his insides, it doesn’t effect the permanent change that Joyce is talking about.

A good poem assassinates the reader.