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The First Bread


No recipe propped next to flouring board,
no careful measuring by cup or spoon,
no oven to circulate even heat

instead, an impetus to hand-mill grain,
to mix with oil, with water, to roll flat
and feed toward a flame

Who can guess at the number of attempts?
A browned, amorphous edge, dough and fire
monitored by human eye alone,

lavash, tortilla, naan,
cake, pita, matzah.
The blackened, failed crusts that made their names.

Consider the choice to cover it overnight,
yeast spores gorging under cloth, dough-growth,
shock in the morning reveal.

The baker kneads,
the people need,
and we eat on—

butter and knife,
sandwich, toast,
confident in its perfection.

Still, in our golden age,
where all must be known
and mastered,

a moment’s inattention
or a degree of difference
can leave a lasting burn.

Bryn Homuth
After breakfast
October 27, 2015

"Jewish Baker, 1921"
Oil on canvas 
Yehuda Pen 


Gambler, No. 4 [The Joys of Cycling]

“Yes, Sir, there are many happy people here. There are many people here who are watching hundreds, and who think hundreds are watching them.” — Dr. Johnson 

I hold that if a modern actually followed me around and observed me, he (or she!) would grow bored and fall asleep; they may imagine themselves to have time-warped. I believe my brother-in-law said something along the lines of “You are the true hipster. You do things they would do, without knowing they are supposed to be cool.” If that is my title, so be it. I press on.

The new “hip” thing I have picked up this weekend is riding a bike. This arose from a tragedy. This weekend I received the dreadful news that my lovely Toyota blew a head gasket; while waiting for the news, I wrote a forthcoming poem (full of angst and anguish) about my deep disdain for the automobile. (I here spare you from my poetry, dear committed reader.) We must observe, as a race of humans with feet, knees, legs, that the automobile makes us less human. Take this moment to close your eyes and imagine your town without any cars. What do you see? What do you hear? What can you DO? Beautiful isn’t it? To walk wherever your feet may take you without getting blasted by a Mac Truck, to hear human voices mingled with their feet tapping against the concrete, to hear birds singing for joy that the monsters are gone, these are beautiful, other-worldly joys, and I think we should all take up metaphorical weapons against those dreadful dragons spewing smoke and smog and making men mad who would otherwise be quite sane and happy.

“Such was the happy garden-state,
While man there walked, driving no crate.”

C.S. Lewis makes a striking comment in The Abolition of Man that any generation who feels they are freeing themselves and “defeating” nature with stupid inventions like the automobile are only creating new ways in which man is fettered. Modern Americans have to have a car. Whether they can afford it or not, it is a necessity. This is just another way to be chained to something that our generation had no say in because a future generation thought they were freeing men and defeating nature. They were doing no such thing; they’re intentions, good or ill, only created new beasts that roam this world largely for ill-means. Go drive your car to Boston and back; I will walk outside and touch a tree.


Enough. I am done. So the news about my car blew my own head gasket, and I resolved to finally begin biking. I will get the ugly part out of the way first. Yes, I write with a rather sore neck and tomorrow will be painful. That is it. The rest is happy, joyful bliss. I took off this morning, and not being able to attend my traditional Anglican (not Episcopalian!) Church, for lack of an auto, I headed to the campus of UNLV.

It has been five years since I rode a bike. Five years ago, I was rooming with a buddy in Chattanooga; he is an avid biker (I think he road from Waterloo to Cleveland one time), and I thought, “Hey, this is great, I’ll join.” So I bought a bike from some bro and his son on Craigslist, took it out to the trail by the Tennessee River, rode about two miles and never once got back on the bike.

Well, now I don’t have a car, so I am forced to ride this beast. I bought a Giant Escape (?) bike, got myself a nice basket, named it “Snowmane,” and took it out for a spin this morning. I took off at about 9:00; it was partly cloudy and roughly sixty-five degrees; thus, I wore my K-State hoodie, which I eventually had to discard to display my EMAW shirt.* Those items, with my brown Royal’s cap, I looked as misplaced and Kansas as possible. My course sent me out on Bonanza for less than a block before I took to Pecos for about a mile heading south. Many of the more major streets in Las Vegas are six lanes total, the far right lane will often have a bus in it. Unfortunately, Pecos is one of the streets that does not have a bike-lane, though the city is doing a decent job of creating more, I hear. Anyhow, this was the worst part of the trip because I had to stick to the sidewalk. I nearly drove an old man off into the street today because I’m still figuring things out. From Pecos and Charleston though I cut across through some pretty sketchy neighborhoods. (On my way back I heard a woman yelling and something go “bang” from inside a house. Though it wasn’t the “bang” of a gun, but the “bang” of a door slamming or something hitting a wall.) I thought about driving this at night and scurried my way out of there, hooking up with the bike-lane on Sandhill road and eventually what is known as the I-515 Trail.

The I-515 Trail is, from the little I am on it, a dumpy trail. Fittingly, it rides up against the interstate and is not the quietest of trails due to this. I hear it also attracts a good number of homeless people, but I know this not from experience, for I left it almost immediately for one of the “Wash” Trails.

Las Vegas has a number of disconnected trails for bikes that go along the old washes that I don’t believe are used any more. Your iPhone map will make it look like there is a river; there is a little trickle of water surrounded by concrete that reeks like sewage. But this was by far the most enjoyable part of my trip. I see the usual homeless people, other bikers, and people walking their pets or just walking. The path is wide enough for me to easily avoid them and not endanger their lives. About a quarter of the way in on this trail, I noticed a familiar looking man. Indeed, he noticed me, for he sold me my bike yesterday. I saw him riding both on my way to UNLV and my way back, and I am content to know he saw me using my new bike.

So on one side of the trail is the “Wash” and on the other side is a cinderblock wall with purposeful graffiti that is interesting to look at; typical modern art, that is. I think one person took the “Wash” literally, for she was carrying clothes in her hands as if she was heading down to it. On two occasions I passed busy roads by climbing up a pedestrian bridge. The first is Boulder Highway, also known by its better name Fremont. The second is Desert Inn, named after the old casino that I think does not exist any more. On both of these bridges, I have a pretty spectacular view of the Strip, downtown, and Mt. Charleston in the background. These views made the trip worth it, aching neck and all.

I eventually had to get off the Wash Trail, but it does a nice job of cutting diagonally toward campus. From here I took Twain and paid homage to my literary friend. Emerson is also nearby, but I have no reason to take, or read, that road or writer. The plan this morning was to take Topaz, but finding out it was a gated-community, I wrapped around to McLeod. I then hopped on Viking, crossed Eastern—the “old road I used to take back when I was a mindless car-driver”—and weaved around to Flamingo, where I gave a glance and a bow to the Bellagio, crossed, and hit up Harmon, which has bike lanes and takes me to UNLV. The majority of the streets I take are either dead and sketchy enough to not need bike lanes or they have bike lanes. This was pure joy, with the wind whipping in my face, bugs hitting my eyes and mouth, feeling either cold or hot but never sweating; I felt like I was seven again, and I loved it.

In total, the trip is a little over seven miles one way. It took me fifty minutes outward, but I cut off ten minutes homeward. There are the obvious noted benefits of riding a bike, the least of which is that you help the environment. But I think, if anything, the bike gives you a different sense of freedom that you simply don’t have with a car. You see and notice things you would have never noticed before. In a car you are primarily trying to stay alive and not kill anyone else; on a bike you are viewing, smelling, feeling, hearing; you replace the racket of the radio with the quiet of the town; you find out that the quiet of the town really isn’t that quiet; you, in some sense, begin to see the town differently; you see it almost as it should be; you see it, and naturally Vegas, not as the Roman Coliseum of autos, but as the large playground of man.

Broom Snow
Written at The Desert Schooner,
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Lord’s Day, October 25, 2015

Painting: "Repairing the Bicycle"
By John Quinton Pringle,
Oil on canvas, 1889

*On my wearing a hoodie in sixty-five degree weather, I must comment that I had resolved not to be like everyone else here and only wear hoodies in fifty-degree weather or colder. I have quickly abolished that resolution. I am a wretch and, worse, a wimp.


Unweeded Garden

            As the days begin to lengthen and shades of green are added to the dull browns of winter, an excitement annually kindles in my spirit. From my earliest days, spring has always pricked my green thumb and inspired attempts to raise assortments of vegetables. When I was a young boy, I would race to my older brother’s garden and implore them to allow my miniature hands to assist them in their endeavors. I especially enjoyed the planting process; I would till the small portion of the garden assigned to me, and enthusiastically place the seeds within the dark soil. The hope and anticipation was tangible in the twinkle of my eyes and the spring in my step.

            Unfortunately, the excitement of planting was soon replaced by the monotony of maintaining the vegetable sprouts. I remember showing an impressive aptitude of neither being seen or heard when my brothers wanted to weed or water the garden. While my disappearing act proved quite useful when my brothers were overseeing the garden, it became a real problem when I became the primary caretaker of the family garden. I remember the compliments from my father and brothers upon my preparations and planting of the garden; these were soon contrasted by the displeasure and disappointment they communicated upon my lack of diligence in maintaining the rows of vegetables.

            After enduring a short reprimand from my father, I remember vividly plodding to the garden, dragging my hoe pathetically behind me. Upon arriving, my disdain morphed into despair. Where rows of sweet corn, beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables had once lined the garden, a convoluted tangle of vegetation lay before my little feet. As I slowly advanced through the foliage, I occasionally glimpsed a vegetable plant among the leaves and stalks of the weeds. After muttering under my breath and looking longingly toward my bike, I began to tackles the arduous task of reclaiming the soil from the army of invading weeds. Soon, I realized how difficult distinguishing between the vegetable plants and weeds could be. Various types of plants reflecting numerous shades of green muddled my mind, and I found myself occasionally destroying stalks of sweet corn or vines of cucumbers. Differentiating the nutritious vegetation from the multitude of botanic imposters was painstaking; it was a lengthy, scorching afternoon.

             As I reflect back on my childhood gardening escapades, I cannot help but notice similar principles in my adult life. Life is very much like an unweeded garden as Shakespeare says through his most famous character, Hamlet. Weeding my personal garden on a regular basis is vital for nutritious vegetation to thrive in my life. The rank weeds of falsehood slither up and entangle with one another between the rows of my marriage, career, and faith. Left unabated, they begin to blur my sense of what is wholesome and good, muddling my mind as the tangle of weeds once did to me as a child. As I unwittingly struck down the stalks of sweet corn concealed within the woven weeds, so also do I unknowingly attack the stalk of morality and the vine of truth in the garden of life.

             After being reprimanded by my father, I painstakingly had to remove the weeds from the garden without damaging the vegetable plants; likewise, weeding my life garden can be incredibly meticulous and frustrating. In order to make progress I must first obtain the ability to determine the identity of nourishing botany from water sucking vegetation. Failing to become knowledgeable of the truth will ultimately cause damage to the very morals and values Christians attempt to safeguard. Simply plowing into the problem blindly is a recipe for pain and disappointment.

            Eventually, I reclaimed the garden as a boy and continued to maintain its many rows of vegetables until harvest. Upon removing the weeds, I learned that weeding was much easier when the vegetable plants were easily identified. Never again did I allow the weeds to overrun the garden; never again did I have such a difficult time of removing the weeds. Life can be an unweeded garden, but we must continually maintain the truths of God’s Word by removing the falsehoods that tangle their way into our lives.   


Stuart Busenitz
At a Palatial Country Estate
Originally published on this site, February 17, 2013 

"A Country Garden"
Oil on Canvas, 1892
Thomas James Lloyd 


On the Pleasure of Taking Up One's Pen

Among the sadder and smaller pleasures of this world I count this pleasure: the pleasure of taking up one’s pen.

It has been said by very many people that there is a tangible pleasure in the mere act of writing: in choosing and arranging words. It has been denied by many. It is affirmed and denied in the life of Doctor Johnson, and for my part I would say that it is very true in some rare moods and wholly false in most others. However, of writing and the pleasure in it I am not writing here (with pleasure), but of the pleasure of taking up one’s pen, which is quite another matter.

Note what the action means. You are alone. Even if the room is crowded (as was the smoking-room in the G.W.R. Hotel, at Paddington, only the other day, when I wrote my “Statistical Abstract of Christendom”), even if the room is crowded, you must have made yourself alone to be able to write at all. You must have built up some kind of wall and isolated your mind. You are alone, then; and that is the beginning.

If you consider at what pains men are to be alone: how they climb mountains, enter prisons, profess monastic vows, put on eccentric daily habits, and seclude themselves in the garrets of a great town, you will see that this moment of taking up the pen is not least happy in the fact that then, by a mere association of ideas, the writer is alone.

So much for that. Now not only are you alone, but you are going to “create”.

When people say “create” they flatter themselves. No man can create anything. I knew a man once who drew a horse on a bit of paper to amuse the company and covered it all over with many parallel streaks as he drew. When he had done this, an aged priest (present upon that occasion) said, “You are pleased to draw a zebra.” When the priest said this the man began to curse and to swear, and to protest that he had never seen or heard of a zebra. He said it was all done out of his own head, and he called heaven to witness, and his patron saint (for he was of the Old English Territorial Catholic Families—his patron saint was Aethelstan), and the salvation of his immortal soul he also staked, that he was as innocent of zebras as the babe unborn. But there! He persuaded no one, and the priest scored. It was most evident that the Territorial was crammed full of zebraical knowledge.

All this, then, is a digression, and it must be admitted that there is no such thing as a man’s “creating”. But anyhow, when you take up your pen you do something devilish pleasing: there is a prospect before you. You are going to develop a germ: I don’t know what it is, and I promise you I won’t call it creation—but possibly a god is creating through you, and at least you are making believe at creation. Anyhow, it is a sense of mastery and of origin, and you know that when you have done, something will be added to the world, and little destroyed. For what will you have destroyed or wasted? A certain amount of white paper at a farthing a square yard (and I am not certain it is not pleasanter all diversified and variegated with black wriggles)—a certain amount of ink meant to be spread and dried: made for no other purpose. A certain infinitesimal amount of quill—torn from the silly goose for no purpose whatsoever but to minister to the high needs of Man.

Here you cry “Affectation! Affectation! How do I know that the fellow writes with a quill? A most unlikely habit!” To that I answer you are right. Less assertion, please, and more humility. I will tell you frankly with what I am writing. I am writing with a Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pen. The nib is of pure gold, as was the throne of Charlemagne, in the “Song of Roland.” That throne (I need hardly tell you) was borne into Spain across the cold and awful passes of the Pyrenees by no less than a hundred and twenty mules, and all the Western world adored it, and trembled before it when it was set up at every halt under pine trees, on the upland grasses. For he sat upon it, dreadful and commanding: there weighed upon him two centuries of age; his brows were level with justice and experience, and his beard was so tangled and full, that he was called “bramble-bearded Charlemagne.” You have read how, when he stretched out his hand at evening, the sun stood still till he had found the body of Roland? No? You must read about these things.

Well then, the pen is of pure gold, a pen that runs straight away like a willing horse, or a jolly little ship; indeed, it is a pen so excellent that it reminds me of my subject: the pleasure of taking up one’s pen.

God bless you, pen! When I was a boy, and they told me work was honourable, useful, cleanly, sanitary, wholesome, and necessary to the mind of man, I paid no more attention to them than if they had told me that public men were usually honest, or that pigs could fly. It seemed to me that they were merely saying silly things they had been told to say. Nor do I doubt to this day that those who told me these things at school were but preaching a dull and careless round. But now I know that the things they told me were true. God bless you, pen of work, pen of drudgery, pen of letters, pen of posings, pen rabid, pen ridiculous, pen glorified. Pray, little pen, be worthy of the love I bear you, and consider how noble I shall make you some day, when you shall live in a glass case with a crowd of tourists round you every day from 10 to 4; pen of justice, pen of the saeva indignatio, pen of majesty and of light. I will write with you some day a considerable poem; it is a compact between you and me. If I cannot make one of my own, then I will write out some other man’s; but you, pen, come what may, shall write out a good poem before you die, if it is only the Allegro.

The pleasure of taking up one’s pen has also this, peculiar among all pleasures, that you have the freedom to lay it down when you will. Not so with love. Not so with victory. Not so with glory.

Had I begun the other way round, I would have called this Work, “The Pleasure of laying down one’s Pen.” But I began it where I began it, and I am going on to end it just where it is going to end.

What other occupation, avocation, dissertation, or intellectual recreation can you cease at will? Not bridge—you go on playing to win. Not public speaking—they ring a bell. Not mere converse—you have to answer everything the other insufficient person says. Not life, for it is wrong to kill one’s self; and as for the natural end of living, that does not come by one’s choice; on the contrary, it is the most capricious of all accidents.

But the pen you lay down when you will. At any moment: without remorse, without anxiety, without dishonour, you are free to do this dignified and final thing (I am just going to do it) . . . You lay it down.

Hilaire Belloc


The Boys in Blue; On Their Eighth-Inning Comeback, October 12, 2015



The Boys in Blue, down in the eighth,
Four runs to catch will take great faith,
Batters bounce up to the plate,
Eager, hungry to change their fate.
Balls fly foul as bats crack and creek,
As past the short stop, balls must sneak,
Like a blacksmith’s hammer, these boys
Work the pitcher while keeping coy.
The man on the mound winds, delivers,
Shooting arrows out his quiver,
More bat-cracking balls shot in play,
Sending the infield in a fray.
Single! Single! two men on base,
Worry covers the pitcher’s face,
Two on—none out—single next,
Load those bases, they will be vexed.
Single! and move those blue runners,
Pinch-run, send in a blue gunner,
One man called home, on three such hits,
Three outs to go, to cause great fits.
Single again! drive that man home,
Quiet that crowd and covered dome,
Now we need two, errors will do,
There’s one, indeed, it brings in two,
The game’s now tied, the blue boys smell blood,
Pouring like a forty-day flood
Their runs upon doubting pagans,
Stealing bases; righteous Fagins.
A strike-out, one down, now a steal,
Open first, leaves no double meal,
The next man walks, bases they load
Rushing not their all-patient mode.
Moments now are quite intense,
The batter doesn’t swing for the fence,
But like our Lord who lowly bowed,
His frame rejected to be wowed,
And gave Himself up on the cross,
A sacrifice, becoming dross,
So this brave blue batter,
Rejected praiseworthy matter,
Cracked that bat, called out on his run,
His comrades cheered, they did not shun,
Their fearless faith, his sacrifice,
Forgave them all their early vice.
That go-ahead, prodigal son,
Their lead-boy came home, his work done.

Broom Snow
The Desert Schooner,
Las Vegas, Nevada
Monday, October 12, 2015

Painting: "DiMaggio Ties Keeler'"
Material Unknown - Date Unknown
Graig Kreindler