Betrayed by a Kiss

John Savoie

Thou lookest far into eternity,
with those bright dying eyes!
Then tell me what thou seest?
— The Scarlet Letter, Ch. xxiii.

In this room there is something
other than us, not me, not mine,
and as I look on you, resting
between breaths, passing beyond
pain, free at last of all possession,
I know it cannot be yours. [Read more…]

The Wave

Bruce Guernsey

In a picture my father took
when I was young
I am smiling and waving, “Hi,”
a fat-faced kid
waving for the camera,
for his father’s eye.

In Italy, years later,
I learned the way
they wave good-by,
the hand turned around
waving, “come back,”
when you say, “Ciao.”

I crossed the ocean to get there,
waving to my father
from the deck, both
when I left
and when I got back,
searching the crowd for his hand.

Physics tells us
the waves of the sea are a lie—
the water hardly moves
as energy passes through.
It is motion that washes ashore,
turns the sand.

Today, when my father
left on the train,
I waved again,
finding his window.
He held up his hand
and as the car rolled out on its tide,
I ran along with it like a kid,
waving in Italian.

The Ballad of the Magi

Gabriel Olearnik

(Translated from the Polish of Krzystof Kamil Baczynski)

They sieved the mysteries in themselves, like
close grains of perfumed sand
as they, three kings, rode
through the red and burning land.

The camel rocked like a shipmast
and the sand became like water
and one of them reflected: “I am young
and the hour of glory is not yet gone.”

“And I shall see in flames of porphyry
how blooms the radiance of stronger spells
how might, might outstripping deeds, swells
up this once, this one and only time.”

Snake-like, the tiger coiled his strength
the fur and muscles playing like a harp
and on this tiger rode the second king
who tore his silver hair in thought.

“Now—he murmured—after so many years,
once I behold the miracle of writhing flame,
my spells will open the treasure troves to me,
the blood will run in all my auguries.”

“The earth filled like a golden nut
will crack her shell like ice
and the diamond caves, their mouths will open
this once, this one and only time.”

The third king rode a giant fish
as big as an island
they sped through the steppe with nimbleness
billowing on a bright wind.

He hummed “At last, for a century desired
the flowering and end of fire
in the circle of entangled harmonies
I shall see—and become divine.”

“On the dry leaves of my blackest books
pours the wisdom of eternal, starlit lands
I will cup it in vessel of my hands
this once, this one and only time.”

In palaces set on fields of green
where waves of baize rose like stormy seas
the three kings had three bells of brightest peal
and every day they hid their hearts therein.

They ran too fast, so in that haste
they brought only thoughts filled with sin.
And so, like pillars of golden dust
they knelt before a mystery
not seeing that their hearts were dragged along
the earth behind, like beaten dogs.

And in that instant, all the kings at once
saw the child—like a drop of light—
and beheld within the mirror of themselves
—a thing black, cracked and roaring.

Suddenly, they felt three hearts again
which clenched like fists from sorrow
so they returned with great peace within
rocked by the beasts as if in lullaby:

The camel swayed like a mast set free
the tiger purred quiet as the sea
the fish walked firmly on the misty air.
And like a stream, it rose and flowed in them.

They returned, running from above
the three kings who had learned of love.

Axis Mundi

Jerry Windley-Daoust

So, if you would be a Saint,
by which I mean that S-T
stands stoutly before your name;
and miracles multiply
like dandelions springing
wild from your incorrupt heart;
and your wise eyes stare star-like
from icons, your head haloed
on silver platters of paint;
and we remember your death-
day with feasts, and bells ringing;
if you would be, in short, thou:
—then pray, do not be too loud
stalking that shimmering bird;
do not go crashing headlong
through bushes, burning or not;
do not shout, and do not move
suddenly, as if grasping
feathers would give you flight. No;
be the axis of the world,
the spinning earth’s still center:
be a rock-rooted old oak,
strong limbs sieving the long sky
for such as the wind might send.
Wait; pray for thy beloved
to rise, bend, and then descend,
alighting at last upon
your cupped hands,
your parted lips,
your outstretched tongue;
the burning bird
setting you ablaze.


Gabriel Olearnik

There is a silhouette to the pressure of jeans
thigh and tight cloth. In darkness let me dwell
awhile. The comfortable bloom of night
heavy bedded here the growth of stone
cathedral lint. Arched catbacked ceiling
the snore of old grapes—love—
two bicycle racks, two men and one horse
the Temple. We were poor knights indeed.
Limestone mossed up in the glow of candles.
Grey chlorophyll. And the stale air of cellars. [Read more…]

Chapel of Relics

Matthew Alderman

The glacial white paint comes peeling away
From the monumental doorframe,
Peeling away in great strips like some fabulous
Undiagnosed disease:
And the columns all around are cold and mottled,
Pale and dead and grey.
I stand at the grate,
Looking in through holy prison-bars
Rich with swirling ironwork arabesques
Moorish Palermo turned baroque. [Read more…]

This one’s for you.

Two weeks ago a group of students and alumni from the University of Dallas got together to record an album, gathering in one of the crummy old student apartments that we’ve all loved to hate. They crafted a beautiful and real collection of songs, poems and reflections, some original, some traditional. I loved going to UD for so many reasons. The week in which this album was recorded was an incredible testament to the best parts of that school; a young alumnus had just died very unexpectedly, and alumni from all over the country, even one young alumna teaching as far away as Korea, dropped everything without hesitation to come back to Irving to be with each other, remember their dear friend, and stand by his young widow, Emma.

From the album description: “Anyone who knew Andrew, or had only met him, knew that he lived most of his life in music. In fact, I don’t know of anyone who ever met him without his guitar on. So it was natural, when those of us who first learned of his sudden death and were struck down and sick at heart—, it was natural that we only wanted to hear songs, and only songs that reminded us of him.” Like so many UD students before him, he was also a great lover of poetry and literature, particularly works by Wallace Stevens and James Joyce. All of this is reflected in the tribute his friends have put together. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. There’s no fancy editing, no polishing and perfecting—it’s just exactly what it is, exactly what it is meant to be: a group of friends remembering and honoring one of their own, complete with a few tears, and drinks raised to him. Someone made some short videos of the recording process; here is one of those:


Andrew leaves behind his wife, Emma, who was set to graduate this spring, his baby girl, Charlotte, who had her first birthday just after he died, and a second baby girl, due to arrive this fall. You can download and listen to the album for free, or make a donation to help his family, on this page. And, please share it with your friends and families.



Mike Aquilina

Some hundred miles of cable span the skies
and stretch beneath the streets from you to me.
Expensive men and instruments assize
your signal strength and tone and clarity.

But where’s the gauge to count or man to mark
the elements conveyed across the wire
each time you call: the copper takes the spark
and bears your voice, your warmth, your light, your fire.

Kingdom for a Horse

Mela Kirkpatrick
Saul’s horse knew the secret art
of conversion, the sudden buck
that throws a man so the back of his head
thuds the hard earth just so,
the momentary loss of orientation,
and then, above,
the quiet intensity of noon’s light
paralyzing the senses. [Read more…]