Monday

Mar. 22, 2004

God is in the Cracks

by Robert Sward

MONDAY, 22 MARCH, 2004
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "God is in the Cracks," by Robert Sward, from Rosicrucian in the Basement (Black Moss Press).

God is in the Cracks

"Just a tiny crack separates this world
from the next, and you step over it
      every day,
God is in the cracks."
Foot propped up, nurse hovering, phone ringing.
"Relax and breathe from your heels.
Now, that's breathing.
So, tell me, have you enrolled yet?"

"Enrolled?"

"In the Illinois College of Podiatry."

"Dad, I have a job. I teach."

"Ha! Well, I'm a man of the lower extremities."

"Dad, I'm fifty-three."

"So what? I'm eighty. I knew you
before you began wearing shoes.
Too good for feet?" he asks.
"I. Me. Mind:
      That's all I get from your poetry.
Your words lack feet. Forget the mind.
Mind is all over the place. There's no support.
You want me to be proud of you? Be a foot man.
Here, son," he says, handing me back my shoes,
"try walking in these.
Arch supports. Now there's a subject.
Some day you'll write about arch supports."


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of writer Gabrielle Roy, born in St. Boniface, Manitoba (1909). She's best known for her novel Bonheur d'occasion (The Tin Flute, 1945), which chronicles a love triangle played out between a waitress and two men in St. Henri, a working class district of Montreal, during the winter of 1940.


It's the birthday of novelist Nicholas Monsarrat, born in Liverpool, England (1910). His most famous novel is The Cruel Sea (1951), about two British war ships, the Compass Rose and the Saltash, and their desperate fight with Nazi U-boats in World War II. The title was inspired by a conversation that Monsarrat had with his father one summer when he was a child. After a brutal storm that had lasted two days, Monsarrat and his father walked down to the shore to look at the ocean. As they turned to go home, the sun, which had been absent for days, suddenly came out, turning the water from gray to gold. Monsarrat tried to get his father to look back at the water, but his father refused. "The sea is not beautiful," he told his son, "it is cruel."


It's the birthday of composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, born in New York City (1930). The son of a successful dress manufacturer, Sondheim's childhood was comfortably upper-middle class. He was a precocious child: he skipped kindergarten, began reading the New York Times in the first grade, and at ten began studying lyric writing with Oscar Hammerstein, who was a family friend. Sondheim went on to compose his own music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Follies (1971), Sweeney Todd (1979) and Sunday in the Park with George (1984).


It's the birthday of illustrator Randolph Caldecott, born in Chester, England (1846). While he was working as a bank clerk in Manchester, Caldecott began drawing for local magazines. After making connections with other artists, he turned professional and moved to London, where he began drawing for the popular magazine Punch. He illustrated Washington Irving's Sketch Book (1875) and Bracebridge Hall (1876). But he's best remembered for his colored picture books for children, and for the medal for excellence in children's book illustration that bears his name.


It's the birthday of western writer Louis L'Amour, born Louis Dearborn LaMoore in Jamestown, North Dakota (1908). Probably the most popular writer of westerns in American history, L'Amour began his career writing pulp-fiction. He wrote seven days a week, starting by seven o'clock each morning. He often worked on several novels simultaneously; when he became frustrated with a novel in one typewriter, he would work on another story in progress in another. These writing habits enabled him to write more than one hundred books in his lifetime, including Hondo (1953) and Ride the Dark Trail (1972), in which he wrote, "I just pointed my rifle at him . . . and let him have the big one right through the third button on his shirt. If he ever figured to sew that particular button on again he was going to have to scrape it off his backbone.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









«

»

  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »