In Other Words (A Dark Ekphrastic)

So if you were to ask me what’s on my mind today as I write, I’d have to say Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s fifth novel. I’ve read two other of his novels, The Road and Child of God, and just this past Tuesday after a sixteen-year hiatus, his newest novel, The Passenger was released (to be read). He has a lot to say against the backdrop of the Bible, human history, Western literature, and it’s all about the human heart, the worst of it, the meager remnants of conscience in preserving “civilization,” the struggle against Evil. It’s no mystery why Blood Meridian has been compared to Melville’s Moby Dick. There’s no call to be smug about being just human. And the shame only comes when we ignore the divine, the image of God in each of us.

you say, everything’s not black and white,
drawing white shades over black night
in a ghost town where folks walk on tight-
ropes past the presidio’s edge, swallowing fright.

you say, there are safety nets, nobody gets hurt
not even ones on the highest wires lose their shirt
c’mon, a little dunk in a cesspool as you hit the dirt,
an umbrella in case of rain, keep your poise, insert

[sounds off screen, fade to …]

life: blood red.


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The Blind Detective

On terra damnata,
the rind of a moon over
history’s purgatorial waste,

she traces the scarred earth,
the braille of ocotillo,
lizards, whinstone, curvature

of monoclines, a geologist
of cemeteries, cairns,
listening for hollow bells

marking Cain’s passage
towards nuclear holocaust
with soulless eyes.


Search and see if this does not ring of someone who’s lately been immersed in Dante and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. It’s obvious Dante continues to influence the best of our contemporary writers, especially McCarthy, who critics have called America’s greatest contemporary novelist in a class with Hawthorne, Melville and Faulkner.

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