The Treasure in the Trash

Johnston graphicAs much as I associate Kansas with The Wizard of Oz, I have yet to come across one canary-colored brick in my eight years as a Kansan. There are, however, a number of historic red brick sidewalks and streets in Lawrence, the city I call home. The words “LAWRENCE KANSAS” appear, imprinted, on the bricks, so no one can mistake their parentage—they belong to their municipal mother.

One day, while walking alone on one of those sidewalks several years ago, a red milk crate sitting next to a dumpster in a nearby alleyway caught my eye. I decided to investigate, and soon found myself thumbing through the cache of rejected records inside—my inner pop culture junkie jonesing for a fix, my eyes sparkling in their sockets like twin disco balls.

Had my wife Becki seen me, she would have said I reminded her of the silver-haired hoarder who rummaged through the rubbish bins outside of her old apartment. How could either of us forget that bow-backed man, whose spine was shaped like the curve of a shepherd’s crook?

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Trouble Called Again Last Night

Carphone useTrouble called again last Thursday night. The number illuminated in the landline phone’s small window. Mother. She’s eighty-four now. Father’s eighty-seven. They sold their house—where we lived when I was in in high school—about twenty-five years ago. Moved into a condo. They’re still living in the condo, independently.

A few nights earlier, during one of my routine every-other-day-or-so phone calls with her, Mom told me that Dad had a cold. He’d spent most of the day sleeping.

Dad’s a big guy, height and girth, though his impressive belly has deflated considerably over the last few years: a few hospitalizations, a diminished appetite. Though he doesn’t complain about it, he suffers from painful arthritis. With a cane, which he uses reluctantly, he shuffles around the condo, and inches his way from condo to car to restaurant to cardiologist to condo to couch for TV. He hardly has the strength to push himself up from the sofa. Gravity is calling him home.

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Epic Tales: an Interview with Amit Majmudar, part 2

Claude_Lorrain_024Guest post by Sarah Arthur

Continued from yesterday. 

SA:  In your essay “Me and the Monotheists,” you say that even though you are a Hindu, many Christians seem to warmly welcome your poetry (e.g., I’ve included your poem “Incarnation” in the anthology Light Upon Light). You say this is primarily about “aesthetic resonance”—particularly with imagery—but you also point to the English language itself as being encoded with biblical influence.

And yet not every contemporary English-speaking poet writes this way. Can you elaborate?

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Inside My Nostalgia Box

SeventeenLook at my new Easter eggs.
Red and blue with yellow legs.
See them run around and around.
Then they tumble on the ground
.

I’ve just discovered this intriguingly surrealist verse in a box in my attic labeled “Nostalgia.” The box has been sitting there for decades, and I got curious recently about what might be in it. Judging from the large, carefully printed lettering of this poem, I’d guess it’s from first grade, before I’d learned cursive.

Examples of my literary juvenilia abound in this box. I’ll spare you most of them. But one poem from my high-school literary magazine, Inkling, stands out for me. Called “Waiting,” it begins:

On a battered bench in a city park
Sits a man—old, tired, and weak;
On his aged skin there is many a mark—
A scar on his neck. A cut on his cheek
.

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Greg Wolfe Made Me a Better Writer: 25 Years of Image

proofreadingGuest post by William Coleman

To celebrate Image’s twenty-fifth anniversary we are posting a series of essays by people who have encountered our programs over the years.

My first task at Image was to write to Ray Bradbury. That, I told my disbelieving self, was my job: to send proof pages of new work to the man whose old work so absorbed me at fifteen that all I could do for a year was write version after watered-down version of Dandelion Wine.

What saved my cover letter from devolving into a Chris Farley SNL sketch (“You remember when you said the birds scattered like skipped stones across the inverted pond of heaven? Yeah…that was…that was awesome.”) was my overweening desire not to be sent home on the very morning I began acting as managing editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion.

Luckily for me, my predecessor, Richard Wilkinson, had left some ready language in the Dell, and I was able to maintain my position.

Close to six, Image’s founder Greg Wolfe returned from his think-tank day job somewhere in the woods of Delaware and invited me to join him and his wife Suzanne in their living room for drinks. To accomplish this, I walked all of thirty feet. In those days, the whole of Images office space comprised Greg’s study, next to the family laundry room.

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