From the Dream Journals of Denis Devlin

10 June 1932

I’m in a cinema. The darkness smells,
But all around, fresh-faced Americans
Light up with me to hear the chorus bells,
See bride kiss bridegroom, as the camera pans
Away from them and up into the sky,
Until the village church and grey-streaked cloud
Disintegrate in celluloid and die
To purest white like Christ’s flash-printed shroud.

I slap my hands down on the rests to rise,
And think the audience should leave—we all
Should leave. But, then, I notice one girl’s eyes
Are still fixed toward the stage. She starts to call,
And so does everyone, but I can’t hear.
All silence, and the screen a brilliant white,
As squads of stiff-necked Free State soldiers steer
A woman and a child before our sight.

This Marvelous Being

How long it lasts, his gazing in the glass,
…..Before his parents stir behind their door,
Before he hears the furnace light its gas
…..And warm the tile of the bathroom floor,
He cannot say, so rapt is he to see
…..The darkening hairs that shade above his lip,
…..To comb them back with thumb and finger tip
And marvel at becoming come to be.

Not far away, a father fills his mug
…..And lifts the blind to show the black outside.
The day’s beginning he greets with a shrug,
…..Suspending every thought he must decide,
And turns to fetch the milk. There, on the fridge,
…..Cling faces of his children in cheap frames,
…..And now he lingers, murmuring their names,
As one stares out in awe from some high bridge.

Sloth

the notion of acedia means that a man does not, in the last resort, give the consent of his will to his own being; that beneath the dynamic activity of his existence, he is still not at one with himself
….. ….. -Joseph Pieper

 

When autumn came, my grandfather set up
Behind a metal desk in his garage,
With slender ballpeen hammer and curved pick
….. To hull and crack

The acrid mound of tennis-ball-sized husks
From which he freed those gnarled piths of black walnuts
Gathered beneath our trees the weeks before
….. And meant for this.

To Ernest Hilbert

Somewhere between John Lennon’s name as pop
Icon and as the spirit of an age,
…..Where the Tradition shrivels to tradition,
Extends an alley littered with foam cups,
Cigarette butts, gallstones, champagne, a page
…..From William James, GQ, or True Crime fiction.
This poor, neglected corridor divides
The office suites a rare books dealer rents
…..From kitchen noises at a grand hotel
Where cakes are being iced for naïve brides.
It echoes a street prophet’s loud two cents
…..That nothing without whiskey can end well.
How, Ernie, you found this place, I don’t know,
But in your books, you hold it up for show.