• 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.

  • 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.

  • Photography

    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.

  • 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.

  • Essays,  Memoir,  Profiles

    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?

  • Memoir

    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.

  • Essays

    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.

  • Essays,  Memoir

    “Stormtroopers & Grandmas”

    The balls of his black pupils stare at me intently, oddly echoed by the round marble of a self-shaved head. Moments later, I have second thoughts about my diplomacy as “Speak English or Die” batters the room.

  • Memoir,  Photography,  Poetry

    ‘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 a half-century gone, I walk in.

  • Art,  Longform Essays,  Memoir

    ‘I can see clearly now’

    I had to get out of town. Get lost, evade the race of human beings. Seek out geese and turtles, beavers and blue herons. Gunned the car 50 miles per hour, 70, 80. Slowed to make the left turn. Parked on white gravel near the trail head. The way forward was barred by a long rusted gate, hinged and anchored to a chest-high concrete post. Only footfalls allowed hereafter.