Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Poem for Robby on His Third Birthday

Robby's Third Birthday

"Here I am!" you announce,
Climbing out of your crib,
Surprising us in the family room.

Yes, here you are!
And we are so happy to celebrate
You, on your third birthday.

You, so full of joy and energy,
You so full of love for Mommy and Daddy,
Your big brother Colin and baby sister Ava,

For your Grandmas, Nana Gigi, Nana Linda,
Your Grampas, Bumpa and Brrr,
Aunts and Uncles, cousins and friends.

You, lover of music, running,
Trains, trucks, diggers, eating, napping . . .
We celebrate your joyous life!

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Robby!

Grampa Brrr / December 30, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Light Shines in the Darkness . . .

. . . and the darkness has not overcome it."

Christmas Gift at Solstice

If I could give one gift to you,
It would be an infusion of Hope,
Which, powered by your great Love,

Would energize this world,
Pouring Light into this darkness.

We will do this!

Bob Coughlin / December 21, 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Christbrand"--a Poem for Christmas--by Frank O'Malley


By Frank O’Malley

Let the Christbrand burst,
Let the Christbrand blazon.

Dartle whitely under the hearth-fire,
Unwind the wind, turn the thunderer,
And never, never thinning,
Forfend fear.
Flare up smartly, fix, flex, bless, inspire,
Instar the time, sear the sorcerer,
And never, never sparing,
Save all year.

Let the Christbrand burst,
Let the Christbrand blazon.

(Frank O’Malley was a beloved English Professor at the University of Notre Dame)

I was a student at the University of Notre Dame from 1966 to 1970 (with my sophomore year spent in a Notre Dame program in Austria). Frank O'Malley lived from 1909 to 1974, and taught at Notre Dame for about 40 years. O'Malley's word choice in this poem is unusual and you might need to look up some of these words. For example, I take "brand" here to mean "fire." The word "blazon" sounds like "blaze," but means to proclaim publicly. I take "forfend" to mean "fend off." So many of the words in this poem relate to fire--the Christbrand. I love the lines, "And never, never sparing, / Save all year." Yes, save all year!

My Notre Dame friend Ron Weisenberger, may he rest in peace, was a student of Frank O'Malley and first shared this poem with me.

A Poem for the Great Darkness and Silence

Winter Solstice

The chill creeps into the bones:
December 21 and sun gone long before 5 o’clock;
huge gray clouds roll in off Lake Erie
riding the Witch’s gale, spitting sleet and

fears as real and as organized as the swirl
of pin oak leaves down Lakeshore Boulevard.
This day, shaken by nameless fears,
seems to last forever:

I wonder how I will get through the next minute,
and the minute after that,
and the minute after that,

wonder if I can make it
until hope returns

until peace-which-surpasses-understanding,
as mysterious as winter solstice’s fear--
my heart standing still, turning cold,
my spirit abandoned--

until peace returns like grace like unexpected


Robert M. Coughlin