The National Catholic Review



  • April 25, 2016

    Social movements need great art. They need it if only to make plain for themselves that success is not merely linear; that changing law is not the only way to reform; that vibrantly naming truth rips apart untruths.

    Four of the authors in this year’s spring poetry review (Juan Felipe Herrera, Joseph Brown, Reginald Dwayne Betts and Remi Kanazi) shine a light on the serrated edges of life: violence, injustice, hard living, deep wrongs. In one way or another they could all be said to...

  • April 4-11, 2016
    In dark matter, the hot bolt of deer— brambled rack, coiled haunch, stone spoor. A great stag bridled barely, its rider long thrown. This trace of breaking from wild, hint of bit.
  • March 28, 2016
    Spring is his burden, and the night, a robe: livid as poppies in a roadside wrap, facing the dying weather. Spring is the furrow on his shoulder swathe, between the neck and forearm. Thus was the intimation right: a savior comes out of Jerusalem, with pericardial thread to make a heart’s claim: that history bears his thumb, that saints soak up their suppers, while the food, redolent on the table, aches for his hands. And so he stops, shuffling between a bramble and a gate, making as if to leave...
  • March 14, 2016
    …moved over the face of the waters. And in reading this, the awareness that, more than once, God has turned my head in his direction, yet I haven’t seen the gesture for what it is. The world charges and is charged with a white-hot flame. I might turn away, but each morning my head is turned for me toward a crow’s flight, squirrel passage, or a person with whom I share an ever-present reaching toward. I let myself be turned sometimes. Sometimes I get into my car and drive away. Today I picture...
  • March 7, 2016

    One need not believe that ours are the worst of times to believe they are pretty bad. It’s not just that the U.S. economy is making a slow recovery from a Great Recession and that many people are un- or underemployed or that wages are stagnant while top executive incomes soar astronomically; or that the United States leads the world in incarceration rates, mainly of minority populations, particularly of young men; or that we were terrorized on Sept. 11, 2001...

  • March 7, 2016
    This morning, I hauled to the street A heavy wooden pallet, so beat The workmen had left it behind: Its boards, rough-hewn and splintering Against the asphalt. When I leaned It on the dumpster, with some twine And flattened cardboard boxes, too, For the trash-man, a March gust blew And overturned what I had built. The hard wood clattered on the road And split, exposed its secret load Of bent and rusted nails, now spilled, Scattered like seeds, like teeth and bones, Awaiting tires, the feet of...
  • February 29, 2016
    Jacob never climbed the ladder burning in his dream. Sleep pressed him like a stone in the dust, and when he should have risen like a flame to join that choir, he was sick of traveling, and closed his eyes to the Seraphim ascending, unconscious of the impossible distances between their steps, missed them mount the brilliant ladder, slowly disappearing into the scattered light between the stars, slept through it all, a stone upon a stone pillow, shivering. Gravity always greater than desire.
  • February 22, 2016

    Stream crossing, train whistle

    among the beech leaves rustling

    and a vulture swings down low over the boardwalk

    when the engine light barrels over the causeway

    and the geese lift over the dormant buds,

    a shimmer in the water’s mild ripple, in the liquid

    where the deer bounding and the dog barking

    and the family laughing their way


  • February 15, 2016
    After that business with the blackbird, Kevin sore-shouldered from his mortifications— the lent-long arms reach and supplications in service of life’s mysteries and flights— lay himself out, spread-eagled in paschal light, cozy in a copse of alders, cones and catkins, and slept the sleep of a child of God. Waking to a woman fast astraddle him in ways he’d never ere experienced and sensing frenzy in his nether regions so lovely that it must be mortal sin, he strove against the ginger-haired...
  • December 21-28, 2015
    I station Beckett like Gotama, mid-table, and spread before him the Sunday comics. I’ve pored over the Brueghelian welter: each interstice of time, its tenants and their possessions since Genesis, secreted in a cartoon panel, of exponential zeal and futility, the size of a handkerchief. The inventory of eternity, shape-shifting, yet captured, in pixilated frenzy. Waldo’s somewhere in there, gaunt, anonymous, camouflaged— red and white striped jersey, spectacles, bangs spilling from the stocking...