Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Victoria Cross Flower

The Victoria Cross Flower
By Arthur Stilwell

Crocuses are daring scouts! They come in courage
To reconnoitre the retreating troops
Of winter, braving the perilous aim
Of sniper frost and machine-gun sleet,
To plant the purple glory of their flag
Upon the emptiness of no-man's land,
As signal for the safe advance
Of all the armies of summer's flowers.

(Originally published Country Guide)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Medium: Pencils H and B

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Medium: H and B Pencils

Sunday, September 23, 2012




"Most experts agree that yodeling was used in Alpine folk music in the Central Alps as a method of communication between herders and their stock or between Alpine villages, with the multi-pitched "yelling" later becoming part of the region's traditional lore and musical expression. The calls may also have been endearments shepherds used to express affection to their herds. The earliest record of a yodel is in 1545, where it is described as "the call of a cowherd from Appenzell".

It is thought that yodeling was first introduced to the United States by German immigrants in Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. As the new settlers traveled south through the Appalachian Mountains and beyond into the Deep South they came into contact with Irish immigrants, Scandinavians (practictioners of a unique yodeling called kölning), and other nationalities including African slaves who communicated with "field hollers", described by Frederick Law Olmstead in 1853 as a ‘long, loud, musical shout, rising and falling and breaking into falsetto’. German yodeling may have converted southern field hollers into a more musical form and combined them with Irish narrative ballads, resulting in the unique form of the yodeling tradition in America. But it was Jimmie Rodgers, who combined the southern Black blues with the yodel in the 1920s, who introduced and popularized the American yodel in the United States." --Wikipedia

What is jodeling and what is field hollers, one could safely assume, goes back to the dawn of shepherding and farming itself, on all continents; though I would like to think its origins were even more primal than communication between people (or people to animals) over long distances: more like the spontaneous banishing of ghosts and shadows from the lonely hills, pushing back the boundaries of fear (it probably also made the animals produce more wholesome milk), declaring mastership over nature as children redeemed in Christ - like Tom Bombadil with his constant singing and pouncing from place to place.

That, I think, is the true origin - which is not natural, like art. To use William Golding's Lord of the Flies as an example: what is natural is to tell all the others in the deserted primal jungle island to shut up and to satiate them with meat and to cut off the sow's head and spit it on a pole as a peace offering to the Beast.

What is not natural is, in the midst of mounting tension and primitive chaos, to take up the conch and, standing in one's dignity, give wind to it, for all to hear and gather up their attention to something higher - precisely when fear would tell one to be practical.

Art is an extraneous exertion of the soul.

Zäuerli I guess is a Swiss jodeling group. I definitely could not listen to it all day, but I do like it. I first came to know the sound through Werner Herzog's at times ecstatic, at times pretentious film Heart of Glass. This is the beginning of the film:


Little Silences
By Owen Swain

When a loved one dies “before their time”
and no one tells us,
Time heals…

When we are pressed in, overwhelmed
and no one says,
God never gives us more than we can handle

When we are grieving beyond the vale
and no one says,
I understand exactly how you feel

When two lovers hold hands and heart
and neither says,
anything at all

When we don’t say, I’ll pray for you,
but in secret we do pray

When our child dies
and no one says,
She’s in a better place now

When they do not say
I’ll pray for you
but before their Father, in secret, they do pray for you

When no one presumes, patronizes, plagiarizes or pontificates
the little silence makes the world richer.

Owen Swain - art + poetry & such

Saturday, September 22, 2012


By Pavel Chichikov

I have a task for you, He said
Difficult for such as you
Pray for every enemy
And those you wounded, not a few,
Unceasing ask it without stint
As if your own soul needed it

As it needs and as it will,
There is no better prayer to pray,
Pray it now without demur
Pray it always night and day,
For that is how you need to be
If you would rise and follow Me

All are Mine, a formal dust,
I made them be as be they must
From moistened particles of clay
Which rise and move and speak and pray,
But move they will with limbs of light
Body, soul to be made right

Then you must be woven of
Such cloth as is the cloth of love
And that is purely golden thread
Without a mixture of the dead
And if you all the wounds forgive
                  Repent as well and you will live 

By Pavel Chichikov

Will you let this rain of sorrow cease?
Yes I will, He says, in lovingness and peace

Shall we meet the loved ones whom we cherish,
Love them better till our grieving vanish?

In Me there is no sorrowing nor can there be,
For in My presence grief is banished instantly

And grant a consummation of our love for You?
Yes, so far above your love are all things new

When my Lord of light will it appear,
Will it be tomorrow’s day or night, next year?

It is My grace to weave such light from sorrow,
                  And when the cloth is finished never is tomorrow 

The Poetry of Pavel Chichikov

Friday, September 21, 2012

Papa Quote

"The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb. Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendor of holiness and art which have arisen in the community of believers than by the clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly are so frequent in the Church's human history. If the Church is to continue to transform and humanize the world, how can she dispense with the beauty in her liturgies, the beauty which is so closely linked with love and with the radiance of the Resurrection? No. Christians must not be too easily satisfied. They must make their Church into a place where beauty - and hence truth - is at home. Without this the world will become the first circle of Hell." --Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Medium: B and H Pencils

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Coyote's Story

The Coyote's Story
By Arthur Stilwell

I'm only an old coyote
(Pronounce the word I pray you--
To imitate our well-known bard Shakefang--
Ki-yoot rather than ki-oat or ki-oatee,
The false lingo of our American tribe).
My homestead's in lovely Qu'Apelle,
Swell for echoing coyote wails.
Well, I'm scoop-backed, arthritic, limpy,
And my fur is mangy; in short, I'm full of years.
Still I try my best to rustle for the kids,
With enough over for my ribs and Dinah's,
My helpmate, whom I fell for permanently
When she (such gentleness) licked me better
After a thirty-thirty slug boiled along my back,
The price of carelessness among the chickens.
In spite of that I can't resist a chicken,
So here I am serenading circle moon,
And heading for the farm I know so well,
The guy who plugged me ages ago, ages,
Who's fed us sometimes since, unknowingly;
I pad warily taught by that near-death,
And observe the fellow through a window,
Bowed, balding like me, dreaming in his chair
All alone, so I surmise his Dinah's gone;
I know his boys and girls have departed,
For it's long since I drew their target practice.
But what's all that to me; I'm famished,
And snout my way into the chicken coop,
Stuff my jaws with a brace of fine, fat hens,
An escape of cackles brings him to the door,
I wonder if the bullet will go through this time,
He stares round with odd, indifferent eyes,
And the fire that throws slugs is not in his hand,
So I bustle on home, mind deep with Dinah,
And I would feel much better, much,
If he had flung yells and curses after me,
Instead of turning back in silently.

(Originally published in Western People)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Last Hellos

The Last Hellos
By Les Murray

Don’t die, Dad —
but they die.

This last year he was wandery:
took off a new chainsaw blade
and cobbled a spare from bits.
Perhaps if I lay down
my head’ll come better again.
His left shoulder kept rising
higher in his cardigan.

He could see death in a face.
Family used to call him in
to look at sick ones and say.
At his own time, he was told.

The knob found in his head
was duck-egg size. Never hurt.
Two to six months, Cecil.  

I'll be right, he boomed
to his poor sister on the phone.
I’ll do that when I finish dyin.

Don’t die, Cecil.
But they do.

Going for last drives
in the bush, odd massive

board-slotted stumps bony white
in whipstick second growth.
I could chop all day. 

I could always cash
a cheque, in Sydney or anywhere.
Any of the shops.

Eating, still at the head
of the table, he now missed
food on his knife side.

Sorry, Dad, but like
have you forgiven your enemies?
Your father and all them?
All his lifetime of hurt.

I must have (grin). I don’t
think about that now.

People can’t say goodbye
any more. They say last hellos.

Going fast, over Christmas,
he’d still stumble out
of his room, where his photos
hang over the other furniture,
and play host to his mourners.

The courage of his bluster,
firm big voice of his confusion.

Two days in the hospital:
his long forearms were still
red mahogany. His hands
gripped steel frame. I’m dyin.

On the second day:
You’re bustin to talk
but I’m too busy dyin.

Grief ended when he died,
the widower like soldiers who
won’t live life their mates missed.

Good boy, Cecil! No more Bluey dog.
No more cowtime. No more stories.
We’re still using your imagination,
it was stronger than ours.

Your grave’s got littler
somehow, in the three months.
More pointy as the clay’s shrivelled,
like a stuck zip in a coat.

Your cricket boots are in
the State Museum! Odd letters
still come. Two more’s died since you:
Annie, and Stewart. Old Stewart.

On your day there was a good crowd,
family, and people from away.
But of course a lot had gone
to their own funerals first.

Snobs mind us off religion
nowadays, if they can.
Fuck them. I wish you God.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Dry maple leaves play
woods' gold edge, busking on boughs.
Birches throw their coins.
Medium: Pencils B and H

Monday, September 17, 2012

Max Monday

Max Beckmann made some sculptures, which Quappi cast in bronze after he died (click to enlarge):

Female Dancer, 1935

Back Bend, 1950

Man in the Dark, 1934

Crouching Woman, 1935

Adam and Eve, 1936

Snake Charmer, 1950

Image source

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Arvo's the man

Mein Weg hat Gipfel und Wellentäler:

Another organist playing the same, "My path has its peaks and its valleys...":

Dopo la Vittoria (After the Victory):


Icon - St. John the Glorious Forerunner

Litany of St. John the Baptist

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.

Queen of Prophets, pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, glorious forerunner of the Sun of Justice, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, minister of baptism to Jesus, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, burning and shining lamp of the world, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, angel of purity before thy birth, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, special friend and favourite of Christ, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, heavenly contemplative, whose element was prayer, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, intrepid preacher of truth, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, voice crying in the wilderness, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, miracle of mortification and penance, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, example of profound humility, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, glorious martyr of zeal for God's holy law, pray for us.

St. John the Baptist, gloriously fulfilling thy mission, pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Pray for us, O glorious St. John the Baptist,

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray: O God, Who hast honored this world by the birth of Saint John the Baptist, grant that Thy faithful people may rejoice in the way of eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

R. Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Medium: B Pencil

In Beirut

"It was during the second of our meetings that the magnificent statue of Saint Maron was blessed. His silent presence at the side of Saint Peter’s Basilica is a constant reminder of Lebanon in the very place where the Apostle Peter was laid to rest. It witnesses to a long spiritual heritage, confirming the Lebanese people’s veneration for the first of the Apostles and for his successors. It is in order to underline the great devotion to Simon Peter that the Maronite Patriarchs add Boutros to their first name. It is wonderful to see how, from that Petrine sanctuary, Saint Maron intercedes continually for your country and for the entire Middle East...

...Like me, you know that this equilibrium, which is presented everywhere as an example, is extremely delicate. Sometimes it seems about to snap like a bow which is overstretched or submitted to pressures which are too often partisan, even selfish, contrary and extraneous to Lebanese harmony and gentleness. This is where real moderation and great wisdom are tested. And reason must overcome one-sided passion in order to promote the greater good of all. Did not the great King Solomon, who knew Hiram, King of Tyre, consider that wisdom was the supreme virtue? This is why he pleaded to God for it insistently, and God gave him a wise and intelligent heart (1 Kg 3:9-12).

I have also come to say how important the presence of God is in the life of everyone and how the manner of coexistence, this conviviality to which your country wishes to bear witness, will run deep only if it is founded upon a welcoming regard for the other and upon an attitude of benevolence, and if it is rooted in God who wishes all men to be brothers. The celebrated Lebanese equilibrium which wishes to continue to be a reality, will continue through the good will and commitment of all Lebanese. Only then will it serve as a model to the inhabitants of the whole region and of the entire world. This is not just a human task, but a gift of God which should be sought with insistence, preserved at all costs, and consolidated with determination..."

The Holy Father in his opening address on arriving in Beirut. The whole address can be read at Zenit.

That sentence, "This is not just a human task, but a gift of God which should be sought with insistence, preserved at all costs, and consolidated with determination" makes in one swing this coexistence absolutely distinct from that of those syncretist bumper stickers.

Friday, September 14, 2012


By Arthur Stilwell

Like stags, head hitting head,
The clouds battle with antlers of lightning,
And deep challenges of thunder.

Charges, glares and buglings falter;
The stags have fallen,
Their strength pants into stillness.

In the growing stormless light,
Perhaps someone wonders,
Must peace come only after war.

(Originally published in St. Joseph's Messenger, Jersey City, N.J.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Medium: Some pencils

Max Monday

The King - By Max Beckmann (click to enlarge)

"We can trace the the change in Beckmann's awareness of his true self in the two versions of The King, done in 1933 and 1937. This is the artist in familiar clownish costume, but wearing the royal crown. In the earlier version, which we now only know through a photograph, he has still immense self-possession. He sits on a severe throne, flanked by women - the clinging young beauty, the ominous old sage. He is supported by a pillar to the right and an open expanse to the left. His eyes survey us gravely but calmly. If there is anxiety, it is behind him, where he cannot see it; the hooded woman regards him with foreboding, and we deduce (this is 1933, remember) that trouble may be on the way. In 1937, the trouble has come, darkening the scene, frightening the woman, causing the king to draw himself up to encounter his fate. Beckmann grew increasingly addicted to the black line, a heavy outline for his images, as if to make their impact inescapable. This can become almost a savage underlining, as here, where parts of the picture thicken with ominous significance. The old woman has darkened into an overcast profile, with shadowed hand warding off approaching evil. The girl has moved from before the throne to a strangely intimate position between the king's legs. She clasps him, terrified, gently immobilising his hands. And who is the king? Beckmann disguised? His noble head is practically unreadable: this is his own private affair. What is shown is his attitude, one of sovereign control. No clown's dress can make a fool of a true king, and if his escape seems barred in all directions by bizarre obstacles, he is undeterred. With its deeply glowing colours and rich, positive lines and blurs of black, this is one of Beckmann's most memorable achievements" --Sister Wendy Beckett, Max Beckmann and the Self

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Medium: Pencils I can't remember which


Between thumb and forefinger is the universal space in which the rosary bead gets held - obviously - and I've always used the thumb to bring the bead in, as in a pulling motion along a rope or chain, feeding the bead inside my hand when going to the next one (often resulting in moments when a bunch of beads therein must be released), which, without thinking about, I also took for universal, until one day not too long ago, while in a group praying the rosary, I observed someone using the thumb to push the bead away and out, rather than pulling it in, like one were to walk in the same direction as yourself (the direction of the rosary being counter-clockwise), starting in the same place, but backing towards the same direction, and that, together with the realization that I had never really observed this before, was the weirdest.

Medium: B Pencil

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Medium: Pencils, pencils and pencils