Monday, July 22, 2013


By Andrew Hudgins

Storms of perfume lift from honeysuckle,
lilac, clover—and drift across the threshold,
outside reclaiming inside as its home.
Warm days whirl in a bright unnumberable blur,
a cup—a grail brimmed with delirium
and humbling boredom both.  I was a boy,
I thought I'd always be a boy, pell—mell,
mean, and gaily murderous one moment
as I decapitated daises with a stick,
then overcome with summer's opium,
numb—slumberous.  I thought I'd always be a boy,
each day its own millennium, each
one thousand years of daylight ending in
the night watch, summer's pervigilium,
which I could never keep because by sunset
I was an old man.  I was Methuselah,
the oldest man in the holy book.  I drowsed.
I nodded, slept—and without my watching, the world,
whose permanence I doubted, returned again,
bluebell and blue jay, speedwell and cardinal
still there when the light swept back,
and so was I, which I had also doubted.
I understood with horror then with joy,
dubious and luminous joy: it simply spins.
It doesn't need my feet to make it turn.
It doesn't even need my eyes to watch it,
and I, though a latecomer to its surface, I'd
be leaving early.  It was my duty to stay awake
and sing if I could keep my mind on singing,
not extinction, as blurred green summer, lifted
to its apex, succumbed to gravity and fell
to autumn, Ilium, and ashes.  In joy
we are our own uncomprehending mourners,
and more than joy I longed for understanding
and more than understanding I longed for joy.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Two Things on Four Books

It's been a pretty big month; Serena got the Internet and I got air conditioning, so I'd say together, we're basically living all the way in the 21st century for the first time in a while. High-fives all around.

I don't have anything super in-depth to say about any one thing I've read lately, but here's a drive-by of the last four books I've read (one of which I'm only halfway through) and two things that I've liked about them:

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan, and The Liars' Club, by Mary Karr

First, Mary Karr is fantastic. I'll probably write more on that later, but for now, just trust me. She really is. You should go read "Disgraceland" if you need to be sure. Anyway, she had a pretty unfortunate childhood (her mom tried to shoot her dad, stuff like that) and wrote a memoir about it. Karr's book essentially posits that really horrible things can happen to you and you can overcome them and eventually have a normal, healthy life. Egan's book (which is a novel) touches on the same issue. Pretty simple. I find it heartening. Is this lame? Is it lame that sometimes I just want to read about how you can move on from really awful things that happen to you? Anyway, if you want the case to be made for the possibility of normalcy, you should read these two books back-to-back.

Last, Dakota by Kathleen Norris and My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman (which I'm only halfway through) both lean heavily on others' writings. Norris has an epigraph at the beginning of each of her chapters and constantly cites the Desert Fathers. And Wiman's book almost feels more like a scrapbook or an anthology than an essay collection. The great thing about that is that you get quick little exposures to people like Randall Jarrell, Patrick Kavanagh, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Robert Bringhurst, and lots of others. His book almost feels more like a synthesis of others' thought than anything else; it's really honest and see-through. It feels very rich, and I like it.