Category Archives: Featured

Good Friday


He’s gone

to find the animal

who tells the story

that destroys us;

he wants to interview

the angel with the teeth;



disfigured miniature

intaglios: clay

dolls of heroes, words

burnt into buried stones,

the molds for masks we



and wear for worship,

somber and nodding and

simpler than we know we are.

Look at the bloodless body

hanging from a rootless tree:


no wonder

in our fear we carve it,

paint it, sing of it, and

pray to believe that only one

unlike ourselves is sanctioned

to attempt such things.

— from Without Paradise


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HORIZON: November 14, 2016


A giant copper moon flares on the lake

in the early dark, and on the car radio, talk.

Talk trying to chew despair. Talk about fear

to hide fear. Talk about talk about talk.

Fifty cents, a dollar a word. It is all just talk


until it isn’t. A day may come soon when

we have to pay with our lives for the lives

of our friends. What else did we ever have

to pay with? What else were we ever for?

Each ripple on the lake is a lick of flame.

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Winter Psalm

The snow storm today inspires me to post this poem again, from Emblem:


Boston snowbound, Logan closed, snowplows

and salt-trucks flashing yellow, drifts

tall as a man some places, visibility poor,

I sit by the window and watch the snow


blow sideways north-northeast, hot cup

in hand, robe over pajamas.

You have made me to seek refuge

and charged me to care for my brothers.


How cruel. That could only be You out there

howling, cracking the trees, burying everything.

What could I possibly want from You

that would not undo the whole world as it is?

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Our Man in Boston 12/21/15


Robert Birnbaum, who has conversed with many more illustrious persons and personages than yours truly, recorded our colloquy on his popular site OUR MAN IN BOSTON.

Our meandering, not to say rambling, conversation is HERE: 

His previous posting included book recommendations from a number of readers, including me.

I think his whole enterprise of gathering, aggregating, curating is worth a reader’s time. You can keep scrolling backward and never reach boredom. But do so slowly, take it in. There’s a richness here, of eccentricity, perspicacity, and wit that you won’t find anywhere else. Enjoy!

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ASSAY: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, special conference issue

ASSAY: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, special conference issue

Included in this remarkable issue is the panel, Confronting Our Fears: Turning Adversity Into Art, in which I participated along with Jo-Scott Coe, Meredith Hall, Renee D’Aoust, and Michael Steinberg

from the program:

“Seasoned memoirists know that writing about our personal misfortunes, fears, and demons can produce rich, even urgent, writing. But that is only true when we use those hardships and struggles not simply for confession or disclosure but as raw materials for creating literary works. Citing their own and others’ work, five writer-teachers offer strategies designed to show aspiring memoirists how to transform frightening, disturbing experiences into artfully crafted, shared human narratives.”

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Also in the current issue of The Manhattan Review


Rain, rain, go on


and rain. I’ve been given

this time by my mother.

I’ve known about water

forever, and fear

is no stranger either.


Rain. Go on. Rain.

The fires burn


no matter what I do,

the fires of my fathers,

and will sear me

one day, maybe soon,

and also you.


Burn, go on and burn.

We are not much —


light, ash, particulate

of the erotic and such

temporary tragedies

as interrupt it. To call us

seeds would serve,


or waterbeads, or sparks.

Go on. On and on.


— Richard Hoffman

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