A Very Brief Review of When Books Went to War

…tyrants don’t want people thinking for themselves. Books are dangerous to bullies, whether they are Hitler, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, Vlad the Bad Putin, Chairman Xi, or the Ms. Grundy down the street.

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The Machine Pauses – Three Days in ICU

Oh, isn’t it awkward being passed along / Up and down confusing, fluorescent-lit corridors / From receptionist to nurse-practitioner / To technician to physician and back again

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Edna St. Vincent Millay and Her Pickup Truck

The fragility of teenaged boys is well known / Despite their tough hands stained with oil and grease / And their slouch and their ‘tude, wanting to be grown / Their loud voices disturbing the classroom’s peace

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All Children by Nature Have a Desire to Learn

Once upon a time, I was sitting in the car, reading and waiting for the spouse-person who was yakking with some other women after Mass. Suddenly, I noticed a little boy standing next to me at the window. He said, “You look like Father Brown.”

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Children Following the Star on Christmas Eve

Good children dress warmly to watch for the star / The star of Bethlehem, the shepherds’ star / The star of the magi, true-guiding star / And more than all of these, the children’s star

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Word Sung as Light

A deep, slow stream of tones, of modes, of chants / Where time and all eternity flow as one / Through voices and dreamlike echoings / Among the Altars of the earth and sky

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The Grinches Who Steal Childhood

I’ve always thought that the best reading lesson is predicated on a child, a fishing pole, a pond, and an old copy of Howard Pyle’s Robin Hood on a quiet summer afternoon before it’s time to get the cows up for the evening milking.

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A Tiny Tinsel Star

While cleaning house I found a tinsel star / A tiny tinsel star from long ago / When once upon a time it shone so far / Above a Christmas scene in cotton snow

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The Poets of Rapallo, a Review

The Poets of Rapallo by Lauren Arrington (Oxford University Press) is a brilliant first draft; one looks forward to reading the completed work.

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On the Eve of Advent

On the eve of Advent Jupiter ascends / As is his custom at dusk this time of year / Then Mars and the company of Orion / And all the dutiful stars awake, arise

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Autumn: Do I Turn the Thermostat Forward

The thermostat that I set for seventy / In the August heat was entirely too warm / And now in November it’s entirely too cold / Why can’t thermostats get the temperature right?

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A Few Veterans’ Day Thoughts for our Kids

Don’t let anyone dismiss your generation with cheap and shabby stereotypes. YOU would carry a baby amid the screams and terror and dust and heat to a waiting airplane and then return to the perimeter for another child or young mother or old man or anyone who needed your help.

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The Result was Silence

If you have stood your watch throughout the night / To guard a clothesline of national importance / Dug foxholes only to fill them up again / And then patrolled through long days in the heat

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That Final Trip

A friend wanted to visit the bones of her people / And give their graves some weed-killer and tending / I was deputed to follow along: / Cemeteries are dangerous places

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Autumn is Life Writing its Autobiography

Autumn is not the end of summer, nor yet / Is autumn the beginning of winter; it is / Itself. Autumn is not between anything / Autumn is the culmination of seasons

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Ceilings Breaking Glass Icons

Newsies, both in print and on the telescreens, seem unable to refer to anyone who has died as anything other than an icon. As a metaphor, this never worked well, anyway, as an icon is a two-dimensional painting or drawing—the Orthodox term is “written”—of a religious figure for inspiration. Obviously a human being, alive or dead, cannot be an icon in any meaningful sense…

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Upon Reading

At least I think I read it, did I not? / The book exists and was read, but by whom? / I’m beginning to feel that I’m the trousered ape / Who feels that a slide rule is for scratching one’s back

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