‘CRAZY DAYS’: ‘The Shot’

“You know ... ” the doctor says, leaning to speak into the young man’s ear as the song proceeds. “The bodhran was first used by Irish clans as a battle drum. It gave a steady rhythm for Celtic warriors facing conflicts. Warrior time.”

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Categories Memoir

NOTATIONS: ‘Tick-tick-tick …’

This quarter-century-old guestbook notation, scribbled and illustrated one cold February day on the grounds of a Buddhist monastery in the West Virginia hills, remains true, after all these years.

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Categories Memoir

Looking Down on Paris, 30 years gone

Exiting the spartan, Napoleonic era apartment building I have sort of broken into, I head for the highest hill in Paris. I am intent on seeing what I can see this Christmas Eve in Paris, 1986, while my Moroccan fellow traveler snores toward Christmas Day, as we take a break from helping build a Buddhist temple in a Parisian suburb.

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Categories Memoir

Holy Ghosts and Scapulars

I came upon one of my mother’s old rosaries in my collection of family stuff, and paired it on a tack beside my writing desk wall with some old religious medallions I earned on some long-ago Holy Day. Catholicism didn't take, but the accoutrements remain.

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Categories Photography

One key to rule them all

Much of my life and existence, my world view and how I spend my time, plus how I orient myself in the space-time continuum of ongoing mystery and confounding confusion, is summed up in this photograph.

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Categories Photography

Dear General de Gaulle …

The email arrived one day recently in my in-box from Glasgow, Scotland: Did you know, it said, that a letter your friend Sister Mary Pellicane sent to Charles de Gaulle is on sale on eBay in London? Um ... no. What?

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Categories Essays Memoir Profiles

The Art of the Song Lyric

The hand-transcribed song lyric considered as a work of art. Bouncing around Paris and the volcanic heartland of Gaul before easy access to printers and scanners, you had to make do when you wanted to travel with lyrics to the songs you hoped to sing.

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Categories Memoir

It’s an altar boy thing

Let's not talk about the moon anymore, but instead Solzhenitsyn's idea of 'political horror,' how to write a 'sorta memoir,' and breaking up with Twitter until the perp walk.

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Categories Essays

‘What Does the Past Look Like?’

A more Catholic grade school name you could / not conjure — Our Lady of the Rosary. Where, on a / bright Saturday afternoon, I'm surprised to find / an orange traffic cone propping open a first-floor / door. And so, as one will do when invited by the / cosmos to stroll the hallways where you once / walked…

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