Thursday, November 3, 2016

I've written a poem in Spanish about a tragedy at the Mexican-American border.

en la frontera, los inmigrantes desesperados . . .

mujeres y niños llorones,
policía exigiendo documentos, pasaportes--

algunos niños agarran fuertemente los pasaportes americanos--
y las manos de sus madres--

pero las madres no tienen nada,
ningún pasaporte,

ninguna esperanza
para el viaje de vuelta largo a Guatemala,

donde no existe un futuro,
no existe nada.

[on the border, the desperate immigrants / mothers and children weeping / police demanding documents, passports / some children grasp fiercely their American passports and the hands of their mothers / but the mothers have nothing / no passport / no hope / for the long journey back to Guatemala / where there exists no future / where there is nothing]

I wrote this poem in response to a news report I saw two days ago on Univision. Here's a link to the piece:

If that doesn't work click here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Poem for Our Times--by William Butler Yeats ("The Second Coming")

Check out the first stanza, especially the final line.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Game 5 of the 1995 World Series--We Were There

The Cleveland Indians played the Atlantic Braves in the 1995 World Series, losing to them in 6 games. I got to see game 5 at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, along with Linda and two of my daughters, Julia and Carolan. The youngest, Emily was at home that evening.

When you hear about the cost of seats at the 2016 World Series between Cleveland and Chicago, it might seem strange that we could afford to buy 4 tickets back in 1995. But those tickets only cost us $16 or $18 apiece. The Indians had a lottery for non-season ticket holders to buy tickets. I sent in a postcard  to get into this lottery, and won the right to buy 4 tickets to game 5. Today, people are paying $800 for standing room tickets. We had seats, in the upper deck in right field. In the 8th inning of that game, Jim Thome hit a home run that landed not far to the right of us. I jumped up trying to move toward the ball and hurt myself a bit when I landed.

Albert Belle also hit a homer for the Indians and Orel Hershiser was the winning pitcher, with José Mesa getting the save. The final score was 5-4 Cleveland. The fans were ecstatic after the game and you would have thought that we had just won the entire World Series, rather than one game. People were so excited, cars were honking horns for an hour. It was tremendously fun--it was our World Series victory.

The Atlanta Braves had one of the greatest pitching staffs in history, featuring Hall of Famers John Smolz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux. We pretty much knew that it would take a miracle to win the series. Game 6 was held in Atalanta, and Tom Glavine (with the 9th inning pitched by closer Mark Wohlers), threw a one-hit shutout--and that was it.

43,595 people saw game 5--and we were among them. Afterwards, we celebrated our World Series victory.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Letter to My Grandchildren (Poem)

Letter to the Future: For Colin, Robby, and Ava

Boys, Ava,

Nobody will ever love you
The way I, we, Nana and I
Love you.

A long way from here,
If you are ever in trouble,
Ever lonely, ever despair,

Ever wake in fear in the middle of the night,

Remember this:

Nothing you could ever do
Would separate our love from you.

            Bob Coughlin / October 9, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Poem about the Silence of the Church on Trump's Candidacy

Silence Says it All

The bishops are silent
the pastors, deacons, priests—are silent
before the candidate who speaks and acts
            at times like a monster,
calling twice for his supporters to assassinate his opponent,
riding (indeed steering!) a racist meme for five years—
that Obama is not an American--
galloping all the way to the presidential candidacy,
slandering Immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, even the Pope,
mocking the disabled, demeaning a war hero
            because he was a prisoner of war,
stirring the xenophobic shadow lurking within us all . . .

and the bishops are silent, tongue-tied.

The heart aches, and thinks back
to Germany and Italy in the 1930s.

Robert M. Coughlin / September 21, 2016

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Petitions/Prayer of the Faithful for September 18, 2016

Ellen McHugh wrote these petitions for St. Mary's in Painesville, Ohio:

Prayer of the Faithful for September 18th, 2016
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Celebrant: As people of faith, we pray now for ourselves and for all those throughout the world in need of God’s generous mercy.

For our church leaders who give witness to Jesus who became servant of all—may the Gospel message they share influence the hearts and minds of all people to become defenders of life, agents of peace, and advocates of mercy.  We pray to the Lord. 

For all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world; that their work may reflect your will in promoting justice and peace.  We pray to the Lord. 

For our candidates and catechumens; may the grace of the Holy Spirit guide and uphold them to joyfully witness and share your gospel as children of the light.  We pray to the Lord.

For the most vulnerable among us; for the poor and the homeless, for the sick and their caregivers.  And for all of us at St. Mary— open our hearts to your Spirit that we may bear witness to your infinite love and saving grace.  We pray to the Lord.

For the beauty of the created world at harvest time:  Inspire us to manage faithfully the riches of this good earth that, in our caring, we may give witness to your sustaining love.  We pray to the Lord
And for those for whom this Mass is offered [name them]. We pray to the Lord.

Let us pause now and silently offer to the Father our own particular intentions [allow for silence. . .].  We pray to the Lord.

Celebrant:  God of glory and majesty, help us to serve you faithfully as children of the light—to be for others what Jesus is for us: pardon and peace, new life and blessing. We ask this in the name of your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

New Poem--about the Homeless and Hungry

[All names in this poem are fictional]

The Deep-down Loneliness of the Homeless and the Hungry

Again and again I have noticed the deep down loneliness
Of the homeless folks who dine with us . . .

Liz, now walking with a cane, sneaking around the church
Looking for a cranny where she can spend the night,
Her mind a jumble of sweetness and anger.

Stanley, dressed impeccably, looking like an insurance salesman,
Wheeling his cart full of his possessions. I wonder
Where does he sleep? How is he able to clean up,
Present himself as if he is some upper middle class white collar guy . . .

Jimmy, looking much older, talking to himself,
Friend to my blacksheep cousins—could have married one of them!

Erin, who eagerly hugs Cathleen, then comes to the kitchen while we are cleaning up—
To hug her again.
He looks like he should be able to make it,
But something mysterious holds him back.

I look at the beautiful children, daughters and sons of the Homeless or Hungry,
Wonder about their futures. Right now many of them are happy, carefree.
One reminds me of my beautiful grandsons!
Where will they be in January, when Lake Erie sends us feet of snow and blasts of bitter
Cold? I think: I could help these innocent ones . . .

Jack sitting all day near the wall by McDonalds, with his homeless cart,
What does he do, how does he spend his time?
Another Jack, looking like an Indian,
His hair pulled back in a ponytail,
Sometimes very sweet, sometimes staggeringly drunk.

Most have their routines, lunch at the Salvation Army, supper at St. James or St. Mary’s,
Sometimes enough coins scrounged for McDonalds,
Mornings and afternoons at the Morley Library,
Nights at Project Hope, or in some car, in an alley,
An abandoned building, on somebody’s porch,
In a tent by the Grand River, in the woods behind the power plant.

So little comfort in their everyday lives, lives we can barely understand.

I hope we bring them good food two nights a week,
Some companionship, some kindness,
Some beauty,
Maybe a laugh . . .

Wish we could do more . . .

Bob Coughlin / September 15, 2016