Sunday, February 26, 2017

February 26: Oscar Night, Classic Saint Marty, "Easter Bread"

I have been going a little crazy today.  Church this morning.  An interview this afternoon about being Poet Laureate.  Then jump starting a car, fixing a flat tire, writing for a Lenten devotional.  It is now 8 p.m., and the Oscar broadcast is just getting started. 

I am tired.  Don't know if I'm going to be able to make it to the end of the Academy Awards this year.  It's going to be a very long evening.

Saint Marty give thanks tonight for Wheat Thins and Easy Cheese.

February 24, 2013:  Oscar Night, Party

Yes, tonight Hollywood celebrates itself in the year's biggest pageant of cinematic self-absorption.  The dresses, the tuxedos, the jewelry, the hairdos.  The limos and red carpet.  And, of course, the burning question on everyone's mind:  "Who are you wearing?"

I recognize the supreme shallowness of the Oscars.  I know that, really, who wins Best Supporting Actor or Best Actress isn't going to bring about peace in the Middle East.  I also know that, tomorrow morning, when the Oscar parties on the West Coast are winding down and all the stars are stumbling back to their hotel rooms, my life will be the same.  Same job.  Same money problems.  Same worries.

Yet, for one night, I can be selfish and catty and vapid.  I can imagine my life revolves around whether Lincoln or Argo wins Best Picture.  I will be at an Oscar party.  There will be cheese and crackers and rotelle dip.  I will compete against my siblings and parents and children and in-laws for the honor of taking home a mock-Oscar statuette.  It will be cut-throat.  We will tease and taunt and humiliate each other.  It's one of my favorite nights of the year.

Yes, the Saint Marty clan takes its Oscars seriously.

A poem for tonight about bread . . .

Easter Bread

by:  Martin Achatz

My mother made it on Holy Saturday
In her bowl as green as Easter grass.
She'd mix water, salt, sugar, flour,
Shortening and yeast, fold it
With her hands, over and over,
Until dough took shape, white
As my winter skin.  Then she kneaded,
Pushed and pounded, picked it up,
Slammed it down on the kitchen table,
Made the room shake with violence,
Sounds like sledges and spikes,
Holy, Easter sounds.  After she was done,
My mother left the bowl on the counter,
Draped with a towel.  She waited
For the dough to leaven, the yeast
To work like prayer, make the dough
Rise higher and higher, swell, stretch
Like a pregnant womb.  My mother
Returned, kneaded, punched
It into submission, broke
Its will, began the process anew.
As night fell, the dough rose and rose.
Some time after I went to bed,
My mother sliced loaves, and baked. 
On Easter morning, I woke
To the aroma of fresh bread.
Resurrection, sweet and warm
As the wren.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 25: Judged, Competition, "Simeon's Promise"

It's difficult watching your children do anything where they may be judged as good or bad, whether it's dancing or wrestling or singing or reading.  I find myself wanting to punch other parents in the mouth as they sit in the bleachers, screaming at their kids.

I haven't raised either of my kids to be bloodthirsty when it comes to competition.  My wife and I always emphasize simply doing the best they can.  Unfortunately, a lot of other parents have different values.

I often wonder how Mary and Joseph may have treated Jesus as a child.  Wondered whether he was a perfect son, never doing anything wrong, picking up after himself, treating all of his friends with kindness.  I mean, in things I've read, it's always emphasized that Christ was fully human and fully divine.

That fully human side interests me.  The side that gets angry, overturns tables, whips money changers with ropes.  That's something that I can understand.  As a writer/poet, I find perfection a little . . . boring.  It's imperfections that interest me.

Saint Marty is and always will be a work in progress.

Simeon's Promise

by:  Martin Achatz

The Virgin saw the face of God
Daily, took it in her hands,
Saw Eden's requiem in His eyes.
For 33 years, she hoarded the mysteries
of Him in her breast,
Like black pearls.
When He died, she rubbed her fingers
Raw on those dark stones, felt
the bite of His birth,
The salt of His scourging.
Did she pray on those dim gems
For the day when she would see
His face again, unfolding
Like a lightning storm,
A bright gout of love,
In the oyster of her heart?

February 25: Eve, Beauty Anywhere, Cold Medicine

Next to the golden boots were a pair of feet which were swaddled in rags.  They were crisscrossed by canvas straps, were shod with hinged wooden clogs.  Billy looked up at the face that went with the clogs.  It was the face of a blond angel, of a fifteen-year-old boy.

The boy was as beautiful as Eve.

I don't have a whole lot of time to get deep this morning.  The fifteen-year-old boy is another image of innocence.  That the innocence is attached to a Nazi youth is a little troubling.  The blond angel may not be an angel, but Billy, unstuck in time, inexperienced at war, is grasping at any possibility of kindness and beauty.

It is going to be a busy day.  As I said last night, there's a wrestling tournament, a dance rehearsal, and a church service.  Some time in there, I need to work on a new poem and figure out what I'm going to read at Tuesday night's poetry reading, all the while hopped up on cold medicine.

There's always the possibility of finding beauty anywhere you go.  There's snow coming down hard right now.  There are pancakes in front of me.  I'm on the front page of the local newspaper for being the new Poet Laureate of Upper Peninsula.  Despite feeling like I've been run through a wood chipper, I think today is going to be pretty good.

Saint Marty is thankful today for kids who pass along illnesses.  Not.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Febraury 24: Colson Whitehead, Untied States, "In the Beginning"

Sorry that I didn't post last night.  Too tired after my book club gathering.  This month, we read Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad.  It was fantastic and disturbing and led to a long discussion of immigrants and travel bans in the Untied States (typo intentional). It was a really great night, but I was exhausted when it was all over.

I am still pretty tired, so I let my daughter pick out a poem tonight.  She paged through my collection, came up with a poem about herself.

Saint Marty has a date with some cold medicine and a pillow.

In the Beginning

by:  Martin Achatz

Celeste rolls on the carpet
like dice that won't pause
on green felt, won't give
me the satisfaction
of 3 or 6, 1 or 5.
There is too much in her
knee-and-wall world to touch, too
many snakes with cardboard wings,
neon troikas plastered with words--
apple, cow, star.  When I speak to her,
she studies me, tries to unravel
my dictionary of sound.
Can I teach her to love language
the way lightning loves redwoods?
What will her first word be?
Will she shock me
with hamster, fridge, triangle?  Will
she point out the window, say
wind?  Will she sing the world,
the way Christ sang when He slid
from Mary's iron-taut uterus,
tasted her blood, saw Joseph radiant
with sweat?  Will Celeste's mouth open,
flood waters pour out, 40 days
and nights, preparing the world
for the rainbow of her tongue?