December 21, 2015

Book review: “Get Shorty” by Elmore Leonard

As Elmore Leonard showed in his early novels and short stories, he could write a straight-ahead tale with a tight plot that unfolded step-by-step-by-step to a climax. In most of his later work, though, Leonard employed a much different approach. What there is of a plot, even if it involves danger and violence, isn’t very pressing. It is simply a flat stage on which his characters move. It is his characters who have his interest — and that of his readers. Get Shorty is one of these later books, published in 1990. Chili Palmer is a Miami loan shark who’s getting out of the business. Well, he’s being chased out by Ray “Bones” Barboni, a mobster he once cold-cocked and who’s had it in for Chili ever since. Anyway, Chili ends up in Hollywood. He hooks up with longtime schlock film producer Harry Zimm who, for the first time in his life, has a high-concept project to push. Also moving in and out of the story are Karen Flores, a former starlet famous for her full-throated scream in various Zimm movies; rich wastrel Ronnie Wingate and his savvy partner in a limousine-drug operation, Bo Catlett; and three-time Academy Award-winner Martin […]
December 15, 2015

Book review: “The Summons” by John Grisham

I was looking for a page-turner, and, for its opening chapters, The Summons by John Grisham supplied that. Ray Atlee, a law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia, gets a letter addressed to him and his younger brother Forrest from their father. It reads: Please make arrangements to appear in my study on Sunday, May 7, at 5 p.m., to discuss the administration of my estate. Sincerely, Rueben V. Atlee It’s a letter that gives an immediate insight into the relationship — and lack of one — that Ray has had up until now with his father, a retired judge who, until being unseated in an election nine years earlier, had been a major figure in Ford County, Mississippi. Forrest, a wastrel, lifelong addict, has had an even more tortuous connection with the Judge. Ray knows that his 79-year-old father is dying of cancer so he is shaken but not completely surprised when he arrives at the family home for the appointment to find his father dead with a packet of morphine nearby.   Neat packets of hundred-dollar bills What does stun him, though, is his discovery in dozens of boxes in cabinets in […]
December 8, 2015

Book review: “Women in Clothes” by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton & 639 others

Women in Clothes is a wonderful book, a cornucopia of insights into the ever-so-complicated feelings that women have about clothing. Although I like the idea of fashion as a kind of practical, everyday art, it’s an art for which I am without aptitude. I do love, however, to study the way human beings think and act, what makes us tick, especially human beings in groups that don’t include me. This book provided me with a delightful and ever-surprising glimpse into the psyches of women as reflected in their clothing and their emotions about their clothing. It allowed me to listen in on literally hundreds of women as they took part in a conversation about a subject that, clearly, is of great import to them. For a guy, reading the book might be called voyeuristic, yet I’m a human being who wears clothes, so none of this is completely foreign to me. While men in Western society aren’t as into fashion and clothing as women (except a small percentage that includes my son David), I’m sure any guy who reads Women in Clothes would feel resonances. Guys have their own clothing issues, and all of us are close to women who […]
December 7, 2015

Book review: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis

The Vermont doctor, successful and respected, is with friends, listening to the radio as Senator Buzz Windrip is nominated by the Democratic Party to become President of the United States. Windrip is a shoo-in in the 1936 election, and some of the friends around that radio fear that, given his proposals and the sorts of people he has gathered around himself, Windrip will become an American dictator. Bosh, the doctor says. Dictatorship? Better come into the office and let me examine your heads! Why, America’s the only free nation on earth. Besides! Country’s too big for a revolution. No, no! Couldn’t happen here! Yet, it does. And the doctor is one of the first to be marched out behind the courthouse and summarily executed by a firing squad. The book, written in 1935, is by Sinclair Lewis. Its title is: It Can’t Happen Here. And it’s all about how it can and, in this story of the then near-future, it does. Throughout the book, one character after another says, one way or another, says, “It can’t happen here.” And yet it does.   Alarming vision Windrip is a version of Louisiana Senator Huey Long, a demagogue, who was gearing up […]
November 29, 2015

David Michael Reardon (1951-2015)

Oh, David. You’ve gone, and we have been left behind. I feel sadness and anger and guilt and pain and so many other emotions. This is why so much great art is about tragedy. We live our lives. Our bodies fall apart. We die. A couple of images have stuck with me over the past week. One is this: I see God opening his arms for you and giving you a deep hug as he welcomes you to heaven. But I know that you didn’t believe in such stuff. And I don’t want you to come back as a ghost to haunt me. So I’ll go to the other image. Our family, down the generations, is an intricately woven fabric. With your death, there is a rip in that fabric. It’s a rip that, over time, will be repaired. But there will always be a scar there. We are not the same now as we were earlier this month.   ***   You’re gone. But here’s the thing: You’re not gone. You are still with us in the fabric of our experiences, in the fabric of our existence. You have touched each of us in unique ways. You have helped […]
November 16, 2015

Book review: “Resistance” by Owen Sheers

The characters in Owen Sheers’ 2007 alternative-history novel Resistance are caught in a world where they know they lack control. They are the five Welsh farmwomen in the Olchon valley who wake up one morning to find their husbands missing, gone into the hills to fight as guerillas against the occupation troops of a triumphant German military. They are also the six members of a German patrol who, sent into the valley to locate a rare artifact, find a kind of harmony, tranquility and even normality after the terrors of battle. It is 1944, and Albrecht Wolfram, the 33-year-old captain leading the patrol, is a veteran who knows how much his life and the lives of his men are at the mercy of “a thousand other vagaries beyond his own decisions.” Such quirks of fate as: Blocks of wood pushed across a table in Berlin. Arrows drawn on a map pinned to the wall at the new Southern UK Headquarters. The Fuhrer’s toothache. A general’s capricious fit of arrogance. The trembling cross hairs of a sniper’s sights settling over an Adams apple. Also feeling like pawns are the farmwomen who see the disappearance of their husbands as a kind of […]
November 6, 2015

Book review: “Montaillou” by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie

Most editions of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie’s classic Montaillou, first published in French 40 years ago, have one of two subtitles, neither of which is very helpful. For some, the subtitle is Cathars and Catholics in a French Village 1294 – 1324 which is somewhat descriptive except who knows what a Cathar is? And, even if you know that they were heretics from the Catholic faith, also called Albigensians, why would you want to read a longish book about some religious dispute from seven centuries ago? For others, the subtitle is The Promised Land of Error which has the virtue and the fault of not saying anything. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the publishers didn’t take a phrase from the last page of Ladurie’s text and subtitle the book: A Factual History of Ordinary People. (To be fair, the cover of a more recent paperback edition skipped a subtitle and, in its place, described the book as “The bestselling portrait of life in a medieval village.”) As it was, despite seeing endless copies of this book in new and used bookstores for decades, I waited a long time to read Montaillou. Now, having finally gotten past […]
November 4, 2015

History Poems

At the Mayor’s Funeral By Patrick T. Reardon Those boys stayed in the church until seven the next morning, through the night. Do you know what tough duty that is? That’s a mother who’s giving stiffness to the spines of her children. ….. A. Einstein By Patrick T. Reardon The woman walked naked around the room, and I could not think. She bore me sons with that body, but wore at me with questions. I saw the film of the camp and the women stripped and led, awkward, holding themselves from the cold and from the stares, to the ovens. I hate those men and all the uniformed men, buttoned to the neck, chaste. I hate them more than I loved her ….. Two Deaths By Patrick T. Reardon (Lincoln) His finger compresses the tongue of metal. The hammer strikes. The bullet crosses space, embeds. (Booth) The spur catches. The bone breaks. The fire rages in the farmhouse surrounded. ….. Home life By Patrick T. Reardon Faulkner would slap his wife, once, hard, when her mind would drift and her speech slur. He would slap her face without thought and resume his conversation. MacArthur spoiled his son with toys the […]
November 3, 2015

Book review: “A House of My Own” by Sandra Cisneros

With a phrasing and bravado echoing Saul Bellow’s Augie March, Sandra Cisneros writes: I was north-of-the-border born and bred, an American-Mexican from “Chicano, Illinois,” street tough and city smart, wise to the ways of trick or treat. Yet, even as she writes those words, originally published in Elle magazine in 1991, she’s undercutting them, explaining that, because of her Chicago birth and upbringing, she knew nothing for a long time about a key element of her heritage, the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. I wish I’d grown up closer to the border like my friend Maria Limon of El Paso. Cisneros’s new autobiographical work A House of My Own is very much about borders and about houses, particularly “the house one calls the self.” It is made up of 42 non-fiction chapters, most of which have previously appeared as book introductions or articles in newspapers and magazines, or were presented in lectures. “My stray lambs,” she calls them.   Complex and nuanced Make no mistake, though. A House of My Own isn’t a greatest hits collection or a slap-dash clean-out-the-archive grouping. It is a surprisingly resonant account of Cisneros’s life which is woven through each of these […]
November 2, 2015

Book review: “Windy City Sinners” by Melanie Villines

All religions are a little bit wacky, and that’s certainly true for a new church on Chicago’s Far Northwest Side. For one thing, there’s the name: Redemption Dry Cleaners. For another, the congregants are called customers. For a third, there is a series of stained-glass windows that are a sort of Stations of the Cross but featuring a goose. Then, there is the Christmas Day service at which Marek Jablonski, a 19-year-old Polish immigrant, walks down the aisle, carrying an envelope containing $200 as well as a box with a large plastic goose and an array of fitted outfits. Marek looks up at the final window which depicts in stained glass a goose being stolen by a man in a black ski mask. From his pocket, he pulls a black ski mask and puts it over his head, saying: “It is me.” “Ohhhh!” the crowd gasps, like the audience of an Oprah Winfrey show. “I was robber.” Virginia Martyniak who presides over this new church tells Marek to kneel and begins to pray: “Heavenly spirit, use your most powerful cleaning solutions to wipe the sins from this man’s soul.” Right away, Marek feels as if his body has been plugged […]
October 27, 2015

Book review: “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” by Jack Weatherford

I know that I should like Jack Weatherford’s Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. It is a detailed, well-documented, well-researched look at the rise of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. Actually, I should say “empires” since the unified domain that Temujin created in the 13th century on his way to becoming Genghis Khan (which means “strong, wolf-like leader”) was quickly fragmented among four branches of his family. Weatherford’s 2004 book is filled with insights into the culture of the Mongols and their methods of war-making. He examines the seemingly endless ways in which the Mongols, in their empire-building, had an impact on every corner of Asia and Europe. So why do I come away from the book dissatisfied? The fault, I acknowledge, may lie with myself. Perhaps Weatherford provided so much information and perspective new to me that my circuits overloaded, and I just couldn’t hold my own as a reader.   Three faults? I can’t help thinking, though, that there were perhaps three faults of the book that caused me to lose my way. The first is that Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is ostensibly a biography of Genghis Khan — […]
October 26, 2015

Book review: “The Marne” by Edith Wharton

Nearly a century after World War I, the hopeful, innocent, sentimental ending of Edith Wharton’s novella The Marne is jarring. This was a war in which much of a generation of young men on both sides lost their lives in bloody battles across huge stalemated fronts. A war in which attempts at strategy were overwhelmed by the armaments of heightened technical and industrial sophistication, grinding up waves of troops like mechanical threshers. It was a war that destroyed all military romance and glamor. A war exemplified in such novels as Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and R. H. Mottram’s Spanish Farm Trilogy (1924-1926). Unlike those books, however, Wharton’s The Marne wasn’t published several years after the conflict when the shattering realities of the trenches could be faced in all their existential insanity and inanity.   The home front The war was still raging on October 26, 1918, when the 15,000-word novella was published in the Saturday Evening Post, and fighting continued for two more weeks. So, The Marne, which came out as a book later that year, doesn’t have the post-war, angst-filled perspective of Remarque, Mottram and other writers. Also, it really isn’t a book about […]
October 23, 2015

THREE COCHINEAL BOOKS – 3 – “A Red Like No Other: How Cochineal Colored the World — an Epic Story of Art, Culture, Science, and Trade,” Edited by Carmella Padilla and Barbara Anderson

A Red Like No Other is several books in one, and that may be too many for some readers and, at the same time, not enough. I found it fascinating. It often demanded hard work from me as a reader, but it always rewarded my efforts. It is the story of the American cochineal bug, a tiny insect that lives on a cactus and provides a deep red color like freshly shed blood that has been used as a dye since the second century B.C. The word “cochineal” is based on the combination of two Aztec words that mean “cactus blood.” DNA research, as well as other studies, indicates that the American cochineal species originated in the Oaxaca area of what is now Mexico. From there it spread into South American and, later, across the globe. The story of cochineal is about local and world economics, about transcontinental trade, about the rise and fall of empires, about slave-trading and the redcoats of the British army, about fashion and status, about brightly decorated furniture, about great works of Western art, about the chemistry and recipes of dye-making, about financial speculation and about elegant clothing throughout the world and down the centuries. […]
October 22, 2015

THREE COCHINEAL BOOKS – 2 – “Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color” by Elena Phipps

In 1776, a French spy went to Oaxaca in Spanish-held Mexico. He was there to steal a treasure — a tiny bug called cochineal. The female of this insect species had been used in the Americas since at least the second century B.C. to provide a rich red dye, particularly for textiles. Following the arrival of the Spanish in the 1520s, it became an important trade good. Indeed, Elena Phipps writes in her 2010 book Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color, “[B]y the mid-sixteenth century the Spanish flotillas that traveled annually between the Americas and Spain were bringing literally tons of the dried insects to Europe.” In one year alone, 72 tons of the dried bodies of cochineal was shipped from Lima to Spain. “Cochineal, along with gold and silver from the Americas,” Phipps notes, “enabled the Spanish Crown to finance its empire…” Throughout human history, red has been among the most highly prized colors because it’s so difficult to achieve. Phipps delineates the many means used to create red dye, such as minerals, and notes, “The most brilliant crimson red dye, however, was obtained from a group of scale insects of the superfamily Coccoidea.” And the most […]
October 21, 2015

THREE COCHINEAL BOOKS – 1 – “A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage and the Quest for the Color of Desire” by Amy Butler Greenfield

A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield won wide praise from reviewers when it was published in 2005. Without question, it is a jaunty, entertaining and informative book. Yet, there is an awkwardness at its core. It is a book about the dyestuff cochineal which, when it arrived from the New World in the 16th century, “was the closest thing Europe had ever seen to a perfect red.” Previously, textile makers and painters had used a variety of red dyes, the best of which were St. John’s blood (later called Polish cochineal) and Armenian red (later called Armenian cochineal). Garfield writes: But cochineal had three advantages that St. John’s blood and Armenian red lacked. First, cochineal insects produced their carminic acid with far fewer lipids than did the plump little Armenian insects, whose fat melted in the dyepot and sometimes coated the threads of silk preventing the fibers from fully absorbing the dye. Second, cochineal could be more efficiently produced than either…, and it could be harvested several times a year. Third — and most important — cochineal yielded far more powerful dye than any of the Old World reds. […]
October 19, 2015

Book review: “The Plot Against America” by Philip Roth

Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America is a particularly scary book to read in the fall of 2015 when businessman Donald Trump and an array of other candidates for the Republican nomination for President are spouting an irresponsible and demagogic rhetoric, unheard at the center of American politics ever in the nation’s history.   It’s a novel of alternative — i.e., “what if?” — history, and it’s based on the proposition that, in 1940, Charles A. Lindbergh becomes the Republican presidential nominee and, running a campaign based solely on image, defeats FDR. Once in office, the Lindberg administration starts, quiet step by quiet step, to isolate and marginalize Jews. Within two years, there are Kristallnacht-like anti-Jewish riots in major cities across the nation as well as arrests of virtually all major Jewish figures and their Gentile supporters. It’s a warning that’s been written before. In 1935, as Adolf Hitler achieved dominance in Germany, Sinclair Lewis published It Can’t Happen Here, a novel about a newly elected American president who imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a paramilitary force. It Can’t Happen Here ends with the nation in a civil war. Oddly — and unaccountably to my mind — Roth […]
October 14, 2015

Book review: “Red & White Quilts: Infinite Variety” by Elizabeth V. Warren with Maggi Gordon

What would it be like to have 653 red and white American quilts assembled and displayed together in the same place? That unusual question was at the heart of the Infinite Variety exhibit in the Park Avenue Armory in New York City, sponsored in 2011 by the American Folk Art Museum for six days, March 25-30. The answer: A kind of delight-filled ecstasy. Historian and art critic Simon Schama wrote that his response to the show was pure, runaway, skipping-through-the-puddles joy. This show, featuring the treasure trove of a single collector, Joanna S. Rose, was, Schama wrote, “a monster of happiness that will have no competition anywhere this season for sheer sensory riot or ecstatic retinal shock.” Thousands attended the free show, but only those lucky enough to be in New York for the exhibit’s  short run.   Grandeur Now comes Red & White Quilts: Infinite Variety by Elizabeth V. Warren with Maggi Gordon (Skira Rizzoli, 352 pages, $60) in which all 653 quilts, exquisitely photographed by Gavin Ashworth, are displayed for close and careful inspection by anyone. So, what’s the response to seeing all of these quilts assembled in a single book? The answer: Breathless astonishment at the grandeur […]
October 12, 2015

Essay: Believing in Movies

Through much of the 20th century, American movies acted as if sex didn’t exist. Oh, they’d hint at it, but film-makers feared being slapped down by those custodians of mainstream cultural mores, the censors. Today, there are no censors, and sex and nudity are all over the screen. Now it’s God and religious faith that are missing in action. Consider three excellent movies of the past year: Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Tommy Lee Jones’s The Homesman. Each tells a compelling story with great skill and artistry, but each has a failure of nerve when it comes to confronting the reality of religious faith. Unbroken, based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book, is the story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympian athlete who survives a plane crash and 47 days on a raft in the ocean only to land in a series of Japanese prisoner of war camps. He is shown praying to God on the raft, but a key element of the book is absent from the film — Zamperini’s post-war conversion by a young Billy Graham and his work with Graham in the evangelist’s crusades. What’s omitted from Noah is God. Here, Noah (Russell Crowe) could be just another […]
October 11, 2015

Sister Aches and Brother Pains

When I wake in the morning, Sister Aches and Brother Pains are there to greet me. Brother Death, sitting on a chair in the corner, gives me a smile and a nod. Sister Aches is dressed in a nun’s long black habit. The thick fabric covers her rotund figure. Her neck seems to be bothering her. Every few minutes, she raises her left shoulder as if to clear some obstruction or unkink a muscle. She bustles about the bedroom, and it seems I can hear her bones creak with each rapid movement. I have no idea what she’s doing. Over at the window, Brother Pains has a flat face, or maybe it’s just so empty of emotion. His gaze is interior. He wears his body like a suit of armor. He is dressed in a power-blue polo shirt and khaki shorts. Out in the car, I head to breakfast. Sister Aches sits next to me in the passenger seat. Behind me is Brother Pains. To his right — I can see him in my rearview mirror — is Brother Death. He smiles and gives me a nod. That night, at basketball, Sister Aches and Brother Pains plod after me, up […]
October 1, 2015

Book review: “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past” by A. Roger Ekirch

I found A. Roger Ekirch’s At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published in 2004, endlessly fascinating — and endlessly irritating. What Ekirch set out to do in this book was to look at the myriad aspects of life after dark for the people in preindustrial Europe and North America (generally 1500 through 1750). He looks at how people got around (and didn’t) in the dark, how they used moonlight and candlelight to see after sunset, how they acted on the roadways and in their homes at night, and much, much, much more. And he succeeds wonderfully in examining hundreds of ways in which life after dark was different than life in the daylight — and, by implication, the ways in which life at night in the preindustrial world was different than life at night in the present-day. For instance, did you ever wonder what it must have been like to fall ill in a world before electricity and other artificial illumination? Ekirch did, and he reports: Not only was sickness common, but darkness contributed its share of injuries. Families possessed a passing knowledge of remedies and cures, combined with a small inventory of potions, plasters, and possets, some acquired […]
September 23, 2015

Book review: “When God Was a Little Girl” by David R. Weiss, illustrated by Joan Hernandez Lindeman

David R. Weiss tells a sweet story about a father and a young daughter in When God Was a Little Girl, playfully and joyfully illustrated by Joan Hernandez Lindeman. Yet, the power of this 32-page children’s book isn’t that it’s another finely produced work to entertain and inspire young people. This book takes the radical approach of imagining God as a child, not an adult; as a Supreme Being of giggles, not a thundering blame-leveler; and, most significantly as a female, not a male. God transcends time and space, transcends physical characteristics such as gender. You might just as well assert that God has brown skin or red hair or blue eyes. Still, as human beings, we like to picture God as one of us. Jesus, of course, was one of us — is one of us. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that we are required to think of the Creator as an old guy with a long white beard. Or of the Holy Spirit as a little white bird. As human beings, we use our imaginations to fit abstract concepts into physical images. Or maybe it’s better to say that we look at our physical world and develop abstract concepts. […]
September 22, 2015

Poem: “Just one of those things”

Baubles, bangles and beads lay jangled together on the kitchen table. The boy gazed at the flash of color and then out into the night sky at the blue moon. The mother did dishes and sang in a joyful voice, “Willow, weep for me.” For the boy, she was the most beautiful girl in the world. Later, he was a priest in the tavern where he said, “I won’t dance,” and they all laughed and beat him body and soul. Later, in the still of the night, he whispered, “Let’s fall in love.” She said, “I like the sunrise,” and looked past the breakwater, out to the horizon beyond the sea. Later, frail and failing, he watched each morning for that lucky old sun and said to Doreen, the worker, “I’m waiting until the real thing comes along.” Doreen wasn’t listening, her mind caught in a loop of the question: “What’ll I do?” Patrick T. Reardon 9.22.2015   Photo by Magic4walls
September 21, 2015

The secret life of cemeteries

We’re entering the season of cemeteries, autumn when the leaves turn brown and fall from the trees like so many souls giving up the ghost. With Halloween, we’ll see a lot of comic graves on napkins, balloons and other party frills as well as in the spooky holiday decorations on homes. For more than 1,000 years, Halloween has been part of a three-day set of Christian holy days along with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. (Hallow is an archaic word for Saint.) While All Saints’ Day was a time to honor those who had lived righteous lives, All Souls’ Day was a time to remember all who had died, particularly relatives and friends. As such it was a day when many families would go to cemeteries to visit the graves of loved ones. Veterans Day (November 11) has also been a popular time to bring flowers and say prayers at the burial places of men and women who had served in the military.   Cemetery picnics A century ago, people felt fairly comfortable in graveyards, comfortable enough to bring a blanket and a food basket to have a bit of a picnic. Now, though, on most days, you […]
September 18, 2015

Book review: “The Shepherd’s Crown” by Terry Pratchett

Granny Weatherwax returned home from her work as a witch, the most powerful witch on the Discworld. She took a very short nap — “Granny Weatherwax allowed herself not forty winks but just one” — and then went out and cleaned the privy, scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing. Then, looking into the privy’s shimmering water, she realized she could also see her face. And she sighed and said, “Drat, and tomorrow was going to be a much better day.” The next few pages, early as they are in The Shepherd’s Crown, are the core of the novel, the last of Terry Pratchett’s dozens of books about the fantastic flat planet of Discworld where the dwarfs, vampires, humans, goblins, elves, wizards, werewolves, trolls, witches and other odd living being are, well, pretty much like us.     Pure Pratchett But, before I discuss those few pages, let me get a few things out of the way. In December, 2007, Pratchett announced that he was suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. In the face of this dread diagnosis, he redoubled his efforts to get the stories bouncing around in his head onto the pages of his books, producing five and, now posthumously, […]
September 10, 2015

Poem: “Magnificat”

Magnificat By Patrick T. Reardon My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. — Luke 1: 46-55 I am God’s magnifying glass. My heart thrills. I am a worm and no man, but blessed. God of might, God of holiness, God of mercy. The proud scattered. The high brought low, sent empty away. The poor on the cliff at the chasm, looking down into the flames. The poor, fed.                       Patrick T. Reardon 9.10.15