Culture Shock

As announced with the official relaunch of this blog, I stated my intent to share creative pieces from time to time. This task is important, I believe, not just to see my work in pixilated print, but also because if we are going to be about the business of remaking culture that we have something thoughtful to offer our hearers. Modernism has done so thorough a job of demolishing Western manners, religion, and ethics that, were we merely to demolish Modernism without a viable successor we would find ourselves as Jeremiah without Jerusalem. One is reminded of the unclean spirit of Matthew’s gospel (12:43-45), which is exorcised and, finding its previous host unoccupied, returns with seven more unclean spirits. Lamenting a supposed golden age will not suffice. If we are to repair the foundations, we must have the tools of creation as well as criticism. I offer this poem for your enjoyment and edification, not under the presumption that it is a work of art worthy of your attention, but simply because there is value in the attempt.

For those who have ever found themselves a stranger in a strange land, you may relate to this autobiographical work, which occurred when making our move from California to Edinburgh. I wrote it as it happened, a literal event, but one which I hope allows the reader to find additional meanings—allegorical, moral, even anagogical. If you have interpretations, applause, criticism, or suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them. I fear, of course, it may not be very good; but, then again, we must all make a start in whatever manner we can, that we may reveal the Good in all things.

Culture Shock

It passes your lips, furtively

at first, after the waitress turns

away, her punk pink hair a buoy

bobbing backward. Glazing the fare

before, rejecting toads in holes,

scorched eggs, and Welsh rabbits, you flopped

on eggs partnered with tomatoes,

the path of least resistance, sure

that Yorkshire substance shares no kin

with Jello. But no travel books

devoured during the flight, your course

in Burns and Boswell, nor the tastes

of traveling websites mention this

strange blackened cake. No matter. You

dwell cleft, a disembodied shell,

a ten-hour abstraction across

a pond, uncertain of the time,

unwilling to ignore the gall

of an angry paunch. And then the smell

of sausage, texture faint with oats,

and its sharp metallic taste strikes

you hard and wakes your senses;

even somnolent you can’t forget

your first.

      Weeks pass, at market there

you see the now familiar dish

and ask its name. The chequer smiles,

invites you in the outside joke—

and though your bile rises at the thought,

laughing timid with her, you long

to slip again into the taste

of blood pudding.

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