Devon, PA.  The Catholic magazine of arts and letters, Dappled Things, is no stranger to the writers of FPR, having published a debate on the free market between John Médaille and Robert T. Miller, last spring.  The most recent issue featured a poem of mine, “Dark Places,” which is part of a sequence of poems that meditate on the proper role of speech and poetry as a commentary on our life in this world or as a means of grasping toward and meditating on the world beyond this one.  I reprint it below, but would like to use the occasion to ask readers to visit the Dappled Things web site and to consider supporting its mission.  We do not have left many venues for new art and literature that do not deem beauty a superstition and art an ideological weapon.  It is to the editors of Dappled Things‘ credit that they launched their venture despite and against the postmodern tide.


 You stare into the azure distances

    That eyes cannot exceed.

    A serious voice bleeds

Through the wall, but you don’t hear what it says.


At night, you fold the paper in your lap

    To solve the crossword; as

    Descending letters pass

Onto the page, you sense a code, perhaps


A whole vocabulary, meant for you

    That you may never speak.

    The bedroom windows creak

As if your mother, three years dead, brings news.


The real repels our words or swallows them.

    All we can do is point

    In agony, anoint

In ecstasy our stuttering intent:


The sky’s bright emptiness reduced to phrases

    Imploding definition;

    Beyond concise confessions,

The coins, carved bones, and blood brought from dark places.


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James Matthew Wilson is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University. An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he has authored dozens of essays, articles, and reviews on subjects ranging from art, ethics, and politics, to meter and poetic form, from the importance of local culture to the nature of truth, goodness, and beauty. Wilson is also a poet and critic of contemporary poetry, whose work appears regularly in such magazines and journals as First Things, Modern Age, The New Criterion, Dappled Things, Measure, The Weekly Standard, Front Porch Republic, The Raintown Review, and The American Conservative. He has published five books, including most recently, a collection of poems, Some Permanent Things and a monograph, The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry (both Wiseblood Books, 2014). Raised in the Great Lakes State, baptised in the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas, seasoned by summers on Lake Wawasee (Indiana), and educated under the Golden Dome, Wilson is scion of a family of Hoosiers dating back to the early nineteenth century, and an offspring of Southside Chicago Poles whose tavern kept the city wet through the Depression (and prohibition) years.  He now lives under the same sentence of reluctant exile as many another native son of the Midwest, but has dug himself in for good on the margins of the Main Line in Pennsylvania with his beautiful wife, dangerous daughter, and saintly sons. For information on Wilson's scholarship and a selection of his published work, click here. See books written and recommended by James Matthew Wilson.