Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beware the Melonheads This Halloween!

Since I live so near to the Chardon-Kirtland border, the wild woods where many of the local Melonheads are said to roam, I live in terror of Halloween. There are naysayers, sure. There are doubters. There are agnostics. But I have driven over "Crybaby Bridge" at midnight and heard their keening; I have driven over "Heartbeat Bridge," and felt their heartbeats and my own!

No, I don't doubt their existence. I have even caught fleeting glances of these enormous-headed "people," flitting from tree to tree in the deep woods along a branch of the Chagrin River. These restless souls, these creations of the evil Dr. Crowe, never at peace, wandering the woods--and scaring the bejeebers out of everyone in the area!

Be careful, my friend. Keep clear of the Melonheads of Kirtland-Chardon on this wicked holiday!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Colin at Halloween

Top: Bob with Colin (Colin's the one in the pumpkin suit) at Lakeland;
Middle: Emily with Colin in Chardon;
Bottom: An autumn portrait of Colin and Julia.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Great Poem, Great Song--One in German, One in Irish

This Wednesday I will have the opportunity to read a poem in German at the Lakeland Writing Carnival. This time I'll read from Rainer Maria Rilke's Das Stundenbuch, "The Book of Hours." Here is that magnificent poem:

Was wirst du tun, Gott, wenn ich sterbe?
Was wirst du tun, Gott, wenn ich sterbe?
Ich bin dein Krug (wenn ich zerscherbe?)
Ich bin dein Trank (wenn ich verderbe?)

Bin dein Gewand und dein Gewerbe,
mit mir verlierst du deinen Sinn.

Nach mir hast du kein Haus, darin
dich Worte, nah und warm, begrüßen.
Es fällt von deinen müden Füßen
die Samtsandale, die ich bin.

Dein großer Mantel lässt dich los.
Dein Blick, den ich mit meiner Wange
warm, wie mit einem Pfühl, empfange,
wird kommen, wird mich suchen, lange -
und legt beim Sonnenuntergange
sich fremden Steinen in den Schoß.

Was wirst du tun, Gott? Ich bin bange.

Here is an English translation:

What will you do, God, when I die?
I am your pitcher: I will shatter.
I am your drink: I will spoil.
I am your raiment and your trade:
without me you will lose all meaning.
After my death, you will have
no house where kind words
wrap you. The velvet slippers
will fall from your tired feet.
Your long cloak will release you.
Your glance, used to the cushion
of my warm cheek, will go out looking
for me and, when the sun goes down,
will lie in the lap of strange rocks.
What will you do, God? I'm anxious.

This isn't a terrible translation, but it sure loses the powerful magic, rhyme, and pacing of the German! Who would have thought German could be so beautiful!

Then I will sing a song in Irish Gaelic, An Ghaoth Aneas, "The Southwind." I have put the approximate pronunciation of each line between slashes (/):

An Ghaoth Aneas
An ghaoth aneas na mbraon mbog glas /un GHEE uh-NAHS nah MRANE mug glahs/
A ní gach faiche féarmhar /ah NEE gakh FEKH-uh FAIR-wahr/
Beir iasc is eas is grian I dteas /bare EE-usk iss AHS iss GREE-uhn ih DYAHS/
Is líon is meas ar ghéagaibh. /iss LEEN iss MAHS er YAYE-geeve/

Más síos ar fad a bhím féin seal /mahs SHEES er FAHD ah VEEM fane shahl/
Is mianach leatsa séideadh /iss MEE-uh-nakh LAHT-suh SHAY-duh/
Cuirim Rí na bhFeart dod chaomhaint ar neart /KREEM ree na vahrt d’ KHEENCH ernahrt/
Is tabhair don tír seo blas do bhéilse./iss taur don TYEER shuh blahs d’ VALE-shuh/

An English Translation (not word-for-word)

Dear South Wind of the soft green drops
Make every pasture sweet and grassy
Bring the salmon leaping up the falls
Bring the heat of the sun
Leave every branch laden with fruit

And when at times my spirit is low
It's your breath revives me
I pray that Almighty God may keep you strong
That you may always bring to this land
The taste of your mouth.

For a nice Youtube performance, go to

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Rescue of the Chilean Miners

Last night, around 11:30 PM, I watched as the first miner, Florencio Ávalos, emerged from the San Jose mine, about 45 kilometers from the Chilean city of Copiapó, the middle of the Atacama Desert (the driest desert on earth). This miner had been underground 69 days, and it took about 16 minutes riding in the rescue capsule, Fénix (Phoenix), to go the 2000 feet or so from the mine to the surface.

Then this morning, maybe around 7 AM Cleveland time, I saw the 9th miner, Mario Gómez, age 63, emerge from the capsule onto the surface of the earth (photo above). He embraced his wife and some of the rescuers, then knelt on the ground and prayed. I couldn't hear his prayer and probably would have understood only part of it. In my imagination, I heard him say the words of the Magnificat, in Spanish, his mother tongue:


Proclama mi alma la grandeza del Señor,
se alegra mi espíritu en Dios, mi salvador;
porque ha mirado la humillación de su esclava.

Desde ahora me felicitarán todas las generaciones,
porque el Poderoso ha hecho obras grandes por mí:
su nombre es santo,
y su misericordia llega a sus fieles
de generación en generación.

El hace proezas con su brazo:
dispersa a los soberbios de corazón,
derriba del trono a los poderosos
y enaltece a los humildes,
a los hambrientos los colma de bienes
y a los ricos los despide vacíos.

Auxilia a Israel, su siervo,
acordándose de la misericordia
-como lo había prometido a nuestros padres-
en favor de Abrahán y su descendencia por siempre.

(Lucas 1, 46-55)

This rescue is one of the greatest, most astonishing things I have witnessed in my lifetime. Praise the Lord! Deo Gratias!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Unending Tragedy of Iraq and Afghanistan

We received some devastating news last evening about a National Guard comrade of my niece, Michelle Zaremba. This fellow, John David Delaney, Michelle's co-driver on convoys in Iraq, apparently took his own life. I am lacking in details about this tragedy, but I think it might be the soldier who was driving with her when her truck was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). At the time, Easter of 2004, Michelle was slightly wounded and her co-driver seemed at first to be dead--but somehow he regained consciousness and they were both able to escape the truck before it incinerated.

Many soldiers are still in immanent danger in Iraq and Afghanistan. And thousands of others continue to suffer the aftereffects of the war via PTSD, nightmares, addictions, and other physical and psychic injuries. Our prayers are with them!

Here is a link to John Delaney's obituary:

It seems he was not the co-driver when Michelle Zarfemba was wounded; he drove with Michelle after that incident.