This Was Not Supposed To Be a Tragedy

by John traqair57 (

Rayshard Brooks was drunk
but he wasn’t hurting anyone.
Just fallen asleep in the Wendy’s drive-through
blocking folk
picking up their Baconators and frosties

But no one seemed to mind too much.
(This, was not a tragedy)
and folk just edged their cars around him
and let him sleep.

When the police arrived they were polite.
They knocked first
then opened his car door for the world to see
his gently snoring body

(It was not a tragedy)
If anything, it probably made us smile.
Just a sleepy man waking up-
confused, rubbing his eyes
and wondering where he was.

A new translation of Beowulf

Photo by author (Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley, 2020)

As of 2020, there are already 688 translations of this Old English epic. Why another? Franz Kafka once said that “If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books… A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us.” And sometimes a new translation can be this “axe”.

With that in mind, I bought the new Headley translation of Beowulf I recently discovered at Barnes & Noble. (Seamus Heaney’s…

A Violation of Nature

Photo by Andrew Spencer

The famous 20th-century theologian, Karl Barth, once described the Christian life as a “standing in the air.” In other words, a violation of gravity. He spoke these words as a German when he saw his own beloved country—an epicenter of Christian theology and the humanities, systematically wipe out 6 million Jews.

This horror only confirmed Barth’s Calvinistic conviction that all humans — including Christians — were “totally depraved”* And that the teachings of Jesus, of loving our enemies and forgiving those who wronged us, were impossible — barring some miraculous intervention into the human psyche.

And this brings us to…

Six vignettes

1. Playing the piano again

Photo by the author (Fingers of Grace Watkins)

She was 90
when I took this picture
of her ancient finger

pointing to the word “There” —
as if to show me
where she was going

I had beckoned her to sit
at the out-of-tune piano
to show her a song she had loved

She shuffled over and sat —
lifting her eyes from keys to song
as if trying to recall some faded prowess

Then slowly
lifted a hand
and suspended it above the keys

as if to see
if the old muscle memory
would return

but it just hovered there
like a tiny…

An open letter to some fellow white evangelical Christians

The Ouroboros (Wikipedia Common Domain)

Recently we seem to be living in alternative realities — you and I — like being on the inside of an atom in which particles appear to be in two places at the same time, alternative facts present themselves, two presidents have been elected, and a democratic God has anointed one, while a republican God has anointed another.

“Don’t tread on me!” was our motto as English colonists. But over the past four years The Ouroboros — a powerful serpent devouring itself — seems to be replacing the eagle as our national symbol.

When I arrived here as an immigrant…

Photo by author (Grace Watkins at 90)

Vignette of a matriarch #6

Mark C Watney

English Professor at Sterling College KS.

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