Monday, April 15, 2013

To Boylston St.

Bombs exploded today on a street I've walked up and down more times than I can remember. I had my heart broken on that street and I fell in love with my wife on that street. It is a street I've ignored, headphones in, on my way to more important things, and it is also a street that I've soaked in on Sunday afternoons. It is both local and touristy. It is friendly to business people and shoppers, parades and rush hour traffic alike. If the Commons and the Gardens are the lush pulmonary center of Boston, Boylston Street is her femoral artery.

And today, on a holiday so proudly local that it borders on pagan, Boylston Street was desecrated with violence. We won't know why the bombs were made and set where and when they were, probably for sometime and maybe not at all. We'll never know why an eight year old child had to die a violent death, because there can be no "why" for that. Those who have the liberty of paying attention will collect the stories of kindness and courage that always tumble from us in extremis. Others, not content with such crystalline shards of humanity will, in the heat of the moment, blow bulbs of speculation that cool into air-tight orbs, as smooth as they are fragile. We should, all of us, reach for those we love.

That impulse, to reach for those we love, cannot be impugned. The fear, the worry that it evinces has its roots sunk deep in the bonds of family and true friendship. But I have, beneath the fear for the safety and the well being of me and mine, a fear that is broader, quieter, and further reaching. I am afraid that we will lose our grip on civilization and on society. I am afraid that the bonds of social cooperation, those bonds that make streets like Boylston places of work and play, of banality and moment, will slip out of our grasp. Now, the loss that we acutely fear, that of our loved ones and especially to violence, bursts into our lives. But the loss of trust and human dignity that accompanies the withering of civilizations, that creeps across our generations. We mark its achievements with dates and battles in the books of history, but its process is deliberate and as subtle as it is relentless. It is this sludge of civil discord that keeps me awake in my bed, much more than the astringent of random violence. This is my abiding fear.

And yet. And yet this deeper fear calls out for a deeper love. It is a love we saw, through smoke and screams, in those who ran towards the blast and not away from it. But in the clear air, it is a love that returns good for evil. It is a love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. It does not just protect its own, nor trust its own. It is a love that hopes when things are catastrophic, that hopes even when eight year olds aren't safe. And it is a love that perseveres, not only when the work is hard and the odds are steep, but also at the hour of death, when it knows that the days labors are done. Such a love knows that its love is not enough, and loves still.

Love still, friends. Love still.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

T.S. Eliot Is Better (Than This Blog)



As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved
in her laughter and being part of it, until her
teeth were only accidental stars with a talent
for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps,
inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally
in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by
the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter
with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading
a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty
green iron table, saying: "If the lady and
gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden,
if the lady and gentleman wish to take their
tea in the garden ..." I decided that if the
shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of
the fragments of the afternoon might be collected,
and I concentrated my attention with careful
subtlety to this end.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don't Panic

I'll return to you soon. The good news is I finished my MA in Philosophy at Boston College and now I'm embarking on a carefree summer!!

And that means I'll return to you soon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


So, I'm coming up on having to write a couple of papers, prepare for my MA comprehensives and make some tough decisions about how I'm going to spend the next year or two. I'm sure (and if history is any indication) as I get overwhelmed with all of this, I'll feel impelled to play a little and write for this. Still, for the moment, I'm going to make no promises and say that you'll likely not get too much out of me for about a month.

But when the summer rolls around, I have a feeling this will be a blooming, buzzing concatenation of images and words and word-images.

Hope everyone is feeling Spring.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nothing To Remember: Epilogue

She locked the door behind him and looked at the raw circles set about the extremities of her slender feet, hugging her bare arms against the wrinkled and delicate fabric of the sweater she wore with nothing underneath. Setting a kettle to boil, she gathered sheets and duvet and pillows up, arranging them back about her mattress. Shaking out the quilt, which she’d found at the bottom of a pile of aged linens in a box at the flea market in the west coast city where she’d loved a boy for the first time, the floral print underwear she’d set aside all week tumbled onto the hardwood in a wad. Her mind wandered back so many hours as she sat cross-legged on the floor before them.

In those heels for the third night, she’d been thankful for the acrid apple flavored vodka swirling in the bottom of the sweating glass. So long as she didn’t get carried away in the tingling carbonation of feminine laughter, she’d stood lean and craning. For a moment, she had allowed herself to close her eyes and tilted her head to the side to enjoy the draft from the single pane windows on her neck and the thin flesh stretched across the bone behind her ear. This young man before her kept resting his fingers against the descending slope at the bottom corner of her abdomen and she kept pretending not to notice. Instead, she looked at his boots and nodded as though listening to whatever it was he was just saying about writing. But mostly, she thought about how her pillow would smell of cigarettes in the sunny afternoon after he had left and she lay wondering when next he would call.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nothing To Remember Pt. III

The flat was palatial in that “old world” sense. The ceilings seemed to be lifting away from the floor all the time, the way the espresso from the cafĂ© down the rue made the top of your head feel as you reached its bottom. Everything ornate and rosette’d and engraved, so much so that surfaces seemed more pockmarked than decorated. Alyson could hardly imagine this place on a winter evening, the single pane windows like cellophane stretched between shriveled fingers of wood. Those summer months, they just stayed swung open at every hour. Moths made pilgrimages to the few, flickering lamps every night. They had nearly no furniture. Mattresses on floors. Treacherous, wreaking chairs parked beside milk crates and wood boxes pilfered from behind the tavern. The problem with “summer in Paris” was that you were trapped in every other summer in Paris. Even huddled, teeth-chattering, in that damp, frigid alley in March, Alyson didn’t really miss it.

The light, above her in the kitchen window, dumped a yellow wash across the alley. A tittering laughter clattered against the cement around her. His voice, muted and indecipherable, murmured beneath it all. Alyson peaked, though she didn’t need to.

That summer, they would smoke cigarettes and talk too loudly out on the balcony of the sprawling flat. All those American girls, it’s a wonder more of France’s young men didn’t gather beneath that balcony like dogs outside a butcher’s dumpster. They were all but hollering about the tragedy of this or that when they failed to notice the intermingling of a foreign trail of smoke amongst their own. Andrew, in his outrageous boots, had leaned against the column beneath their sheltering parapet, to smoke and listen.

Inside the kitchen, where Alyson didn’t need to see, his hands were on the redhead’s waist and her chin was tucked against her shoulder. Alyson knew that they were leaning against the sink. In Paris, it had been one of those awful cast iron basins with no counter beside it to set your coffee press to dry or to lay out ingredients. Here it was some dull aluminum thing, no doubt, with miles of counter space. Every spurned American housewife, baking away her loneliness, had demanded it. He’d place his thumb along that nigh-translucent waif’s perfect little jaw-line and turn her head up to his. Then he’d press his lips and musky breath with hers.

Andrew threw his hat to them and made them promise to return it that evening. They laughed and made no promises. Inside, Alyson wrote her initials on it’s fraying tag.

When she woke up the following morning, she was still mostly dressed.

His attention had been very much like Paris after the rain. At night, everything sparkles and you feel yourself as the first-born of creation and culture. And yet, in the mornings, the sun casts mottled shadows on every embellishment. Every quaint little flaw of the antiqued is just the marring of too many trespassers.

When the elite of a moment are many, Alyson began to think in a way she’d never say aloud, you realize it may be better to be forgotten.