Mar. 22, 2003

God is in the Cracks

by Robert Sward

(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?"


"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.
To 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 Notes:

It's the birthday of French-Canadian writer Gabrielle Roy, born in St. Boniface, Manitoba (1909). She is best known for her novel of social change, Bonheur d'occasion (translated as The Tin Flute, 1945), which has been called "Canada's most devastating novel." It 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 sullen gray to sparkling gold. Monsarrat tried to get his father to look back at the beautiful, gold 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, read the New York Times in first grade, and at 10 began studying lyric writing with Oscar Hammerstein, who was a family friend. When he was 26, Sondheim was asked to co-write lyrics for Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (1957). Initially, Sondheim was put out that he asked to co-write, and thought of every excuse not to accept the job. He told his agent, "I can't do this show. I've never been that poor and I've never even known a Puerto Rican!" Sondheim went on to compose his own music and lyrics in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Follies (1971), Sweeney Todd (1979), and Sunday in the Park with George (1984; Pulitzer).

It's the birthday of English illustrator Randolph Caldecott, born in Chester, England (1846). While 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 is 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. This experience shaped his writing techniques and habits: he learned to write fast and well in one draft. He wrote seven days a week, punching his typewriter keys by seven 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 100 books in his lifetime. In 1953, L'Amour published several western novels, of which the best known was Hondo (1953). In Ride the Dark Trail (1972), 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.®




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