Monday, March 28, 2011

Love's World

Blue Sky

As I said before, poetry is not my natural medium. Still, poetry and music have been much on my mind lately. In response to my previous and rather depressing offering, the ever-resilient TechnoBabe asked if I'd written anything that reflects a more current state of mind. The short answer is no. However, I will share one more poem that is close and that is, perhaps, my personal favorite.


Once upon a lonely I'm
Happy in a sudden let's
Show me how a heart forgets

Caught between a have of or
Rainier than Autumn sighs
Hold me in your sparkling eyes

Lost inside a flash of if
Something less than very we
Something more than simply me

Show me how a heart forgets
Stranded on a shoal of time
Happy in a sudden let's
Once upon a lonely I'm


Written about and for the woman who would become Mrs. Cricket, soon after we met. Her eyes are an alarming shade of pale blue and do, in fact, sparkle. Fourteen years later, I still mean every word.

Respectfully Yours,


Thursday, March 24, 2011


Broken Egg

I write essays. Poetry is not my natural medium. I admire people who write it often and well, but I am not one of them. Even so, every now and then, I manage to produce one. Many years ago I filled notebook after notebook with what was largely irredeemable garbage. This is one of the few I thought worth keeping. Once upon a time I might have called it Mad Boy's Love Song. Since I am neither of those things anymore, I will call it simply Villanelle. It isn't really, for reasons I have long forgotten, but it feels like one.


I dream I am an egg about to crack.
I tie myself with knotted bits of string
To hold myself together, front and back.

My shell is shattered into ragged shards
That somehow balance shakily on edge.
I tie myself with knotted bits of string.

But every time I move the tiny knots
Unravel, and I tie them up again
While elsewhere other parts begin to fray.

The broken shards of eggshell, razor sharp,
Each time I move, all rattle out of place,
And cut another strand of string away.

Yellow life-blood oozes at my seams.
The slippery cords begin to fall apart.
I tied myself with little bits of string,
A safety net that didn't mean a thing.


Depressing? Maybe, but we all have our moments, don't we? Though this poem no longer reflects my state of mind, I'm glad I kept it all the same. Perhaps we might all do well to remember a bit of advice a monk shared with me: Cheer up! It gets worse!

Respectfully Yours,


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pratie Song

A repost, but still suitable for the day
especially as I've written nothing new on the subject.
(Now with audio! Click here to listen.)

The Pratie Song
An Irish-American Ballad

O, My name is Willie Brennan and my story I will tell
I was born in County Kerry and in Ireland I did dwell
But I had to leave my country in the year of '48
And go sailing for America to fill my bloody plate.

O, I'm sailing away for Americay
And I'll have a drink to try and lift my mood
For I'll miss my native peat
But I've nothing left to eat
And I'm going to sail away to find some food.

It was in the year of '48 I took my knife and fork
And boarded on a coffin ship headed for New York
For my people were all starving in every vale and field
And I had to sail two thousand miles to get a feckin' meal.

O, I'm sailing away for Americay
And you know I've searched the green land o'er and o'er
But I couldn't fill my platie
With a single boiled potatie
'Cos in Ireland there's no praties anymore.

A million empty bellies we laid beneath the sod
And we raised our empty glasses and commended them to God
And a million empty bellies from the towns of County Cork
Went sailing for the delis in the city of New York.

O, we're sailing away for Americay
Yes, we're going to find the praties once again.
For there was beef and corn and grain
But to Charles Trevelyan's shame
Not a crust or crumb for honest Irishmen.

So listen all my children and I'll tell you once again
Why the cities of America are filled with Irishmen
From the Cardinal's high cathedral
To the worker in the street
We all came to America
To get something to eat!

O, we're sailing away for Americay
And you know we'll miss old Ireland now and then
But we'll sit and eat our praties
In the dear United Staties
'Til the praties come to Ireland once again.


Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig
agus go mbeannaí Dia duit

Cricket & Porcupine

Friday, March 11, 2011

Moose And Mooch

Egg McMuffin.JPG

Warning: F-bomb alert. Should you find that offensive, please stop reading now. I assure you, however, it would be impossible for me to tell this little tale of misspent youth without it. Really.

We called him Mooch for the obvious reason. He was, in truth, a good kid, just constantly broke and always willing to have you supply a remedy. An example: One day as we were tramping along somewhere, I bemoaned my own lack of funds. Turning to another friend, Mooch said

Gimme five bucks.

The fiver was grudgingly produced and handed over. Before I could even roll my eyes he handed it to me.

Here. You can pay me back anytime.

Moose was not particularly moose-like. His surname was Muszynski, which was evidently two syllables too many. But enough introductions.

The Oldsmobile flew past me, stopped short, and backed up far too fast. Moose rolled down his window.

Hey man, want a ride?


We're going to McD's first.


Mooch was shotgun. I hopped in the back and we pealed out, squealing into the McDonald's parking lot much too soon after. Mooch piped up.

Get me a fuckin' Egg McMuffin, willya?

Moose was indignant.

Bullshit! Don't you ever have any cash?

Aw, c'mon man. Just get me a fuckin' Egg McMuffin.

Moose thought for a second, then his eyes lit up.

All right. I'll tell ya what. You go in there and order a fuckin' Egg fuckin' Mc fuckin' Muffin fuckin'. You don't say anything else, got me? You walk up and order a fuckin' Egg fuckin' Mc fuckin' Muffin fuckin', just like that, and I'll pay for it.


If it was going to cost him anyway, at least Moose was going to be entertained. After a quick rehearsal take, we walked in.

Can I help you?

Yeah. Gimme a fuckin' Egg fuckin' Mc fuckin' Muffin fuckin'.

The cashier barely looked up.

Ya want some fuckin' orange juice with that?

Right before Moose and I completely lost it, we heard Mooch

Aw, what the fuck.

If this story has a moral, I don't see it. And that is just as well.

Respectfully Yours,


Wednesday, March 9, 2011



I confess to Almighty God,
And to you, my brothers and sisters,
That I have sinned through my own fault,
In my thoughts and in my words,
In what I have done and what I have failed to do.
And I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin,
All the angels and saints,
And you, my brothers and sisters,
To pray for me to the Lord, Our God.

The Confiteor


I have a confession to make.

Though I sometimes feel compelled, it is always difficult to write about my interior life. Perhaps you read some of these essays and imagine you like what I have said. If you don't know me in person, you could well be left with the impression that I am holier than I am. This would be a mistake.

It is true that I attend Mass, I pray, I read the Scriptures. I believe in God. I spend time in monasteries. All this is fine, but it is not holiness.

My tastes are spartan, even austere to some. I don't crave the latest, newest, or best. For the most part, I am content with my lot. I have relatively few possessions. I love solitude and silence. All this is fine, but it is not holiness.

There is nothing wrong with these things, but the trappings of religion or the desire to live a simple life do not, in themselves, make us holy. These things can all be seen. It is entirely possible to do these things and still be very much of the world. This is not enough. What matters is our inner life: those things which are strictly between us and God.

The secrets of our hearts are known to us and Him alone. Perhaps we try to hide them, even from ourselves. But, if we are honest, we know what is there, and it can be ugly.

We try to console ourselves; I am a good person. There is usually some truth to this. A paralyzing scrupulosity or a blind self-hatred is not what we need. Perhaps we are good by some measures. Even so, I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts, my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.

Sad, but true.

The Sacrament of Penance is perhaps the most misunderstood sacrament; misunderstood by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. This is unfortunate, for it has a power unlike any of the others. An examination of conscience, however brutal, is an exercise not in self-loathing, but in honesty. To say your sins aloud before another person is to confront them openly and repent. To hear the words of absolution is a physical sign that your prayer has been answered.

The Sacrament of Penance is not something we do for God. It is something God has done for us.

It is ironic that we live in such a confessional society. People confess their sins everywhere: in print, online, on TV: to psychiatrists, social workers, and talk show hosts. Clearly, we have a deep need to unburden ourselves.

When I was a boy, someone gave me a copy of T.A. For Tots. You remember the one: warm fuzzies and cold pricklies? I'm OK, you're OK? Even then I had my doubts about that. Now, I'm sure of it. In truth, neither one of us is all that OK, but we are loved all the same, and that is much better.

As we enter into this season of Lent, think of this: even Mother Teresa confessed her sins every week. What could she possibly have to confess? I don't know. But I know I am no Mother Teresa.

I have a confession to make.

Respectfully Yours,


Monday, March 7, 2011

In Silence

Come away to a lonely place all by yourselves and rest awhile.
Mark 6: 31

As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Psalm 42: 2

All the trees of the forest exult before the Lord.
Psalm 96: 12

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46: 10

Whenever you pray, go to your room,
close your door and pray to your Father in private.
Matthew 6: 6


I arrived to find the monastery blanketed in snow. It seemed as if even nature itself wanted to observe silence in that place. It is an all-penetrating silence; it has seeped into the stones of the buildings, into the very ground they stand upon. It is a silence you can almost hear.

It is the sound of prayer, the song of peace. If you are fortunate, it is a small, still voice, somewhere near your heart. If you really listen, you might find out something you need to know.

I entered the monastery not quite knowing what I was looking for. I wondered, and I prayed. Chances are, I prayed for you. When you have hours to devote to prayer, you find yourself praying for everyone and everything. I do, anyway. That is the easy part. It's a lead-in to the real questions: " Who do you say that I am?" and "Who am I?"

And you pray until your soul is rubbed raw, and you realize that, in the main, your life has been a failure and a fraud. Almost every day, you have failed to live the Gospel; almost every day, you have lived the worst sort of lies, the ones you tell to yourself.

And then you find mercy and grace. It was not you who chose me; it was I who chose you. Before you were born, I called you by name. It is almost impossible to communicate anything about grace to another person. It is not, after all, a thing in the usual sense. It is the very spirit of God acting within us.

Still, I would say that grace begins with the capacity to believe ourselves loved. Only then can we even begin to shine forth the Divine love on those around us. Be merciful, and you shall find mercy. And the mercy of God is far beyond human understanding. The Hebrew word chesed, which we translate as "mercy," encompasses much more than compassion. It is strength, fidelity, love, sanctity and more.

When a man enters a Cistercian monastery, he is asked a ritual question: What do you seek? The answer is: The mercy of God and of the Order. Perhaps that is what I was looking for too. Perhaps it was what I needed to find. God knows.

Trappist monks seem severe from a distance. They often appear to ignore both you and the other monks. They usually pass in a swish of robes, eyes down. It is in their rule. Should you catch a glimpse of their faces, though, you will find something else. Even the most elderly monk has the eyes of a child and a radiant smile. He has found what he was seeking.

What do you seek?

Respectfully Yours,