Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.

Friday, March 21, 2003  

Tales of Disenchantment Department: Some erstwhile human shields have returned from Bagdad with some chilling stories:

A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."
It's stories like this (and there are more) that have helped convince me that the cost of removing Saddam's regime is much less than the cost of leaving him in power.

Liberate Iraq.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:46 PM

Tuesday, March 18, 2003  

Stones and Frost Department: On the farm where I grew up, an annual chore prior to planting was picking rocks. Some of my earliest memories of field work involve my four brothers and I walking along in the black soil, bending over to pick up rocks and toss them into the bucket of the loader tractor. For many years, my dad said he didn't need to buy a rock picker, because he already had five of them.

I always wondered where those blasted rocks kept coming from, year after year. Much later in my life, I learned that they came from Canada. The glaciers of the last ice age swept down, pushing soil and stones along with it. They're buried throughout the soil of eastern North Dakota (outside of the Red River Valley, which is the ancient bed of the long-gone Lake Aggasiz), and each winter's frost helps push them slowly towards the surface to become the bane of farmer's sons.

For me, poetry has been like those stones. I don't make it a habit to try to write poetry, but sometimes something is down there in me and something works at it like the frost works on those stones, and these things show up.

This is one of those things. I wrote this on the eve of Operation Desert Storm. I'm not sure what it was about the events of January 1991 that brought this poem to the surface, but it seems like it's time to bring this one into the light again.


In the arena
unflinching and unafraid
stark naked I stand.

The eye of the storm
building on the horizon
tries to stare me down,

But sound and fury
cannot successfully hide
emptiness within.

Blood and circuses
have left me unsatisfied.
So I stand alone

Here at the center,
the sky an adamant bowl
a world of ashes.

Yet the stars remain.
The storm scars but does not slay.
Unseen hands hold mine

As I come before
an altar of unhewn stone.
Now I lay me down.

January 16, 1991

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 10:12 PM

Monday, March 17, 2003  

For Such A Time Department: Besides being St. Patrick's day, today also marks the beginning of the Jewish festival of Purim, which commemorates the events recounted in the book of Esther.

Read about the festival of Purim here.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:03 PM

St. Patrick's Day Department (again): Another prayer attributed to St. Patrick:

At Tara today in this fateful hour
I place all heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with it whiteness,
And Fire with all the strength it hath,
And Lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness
And the Earth with its starkness;
All these I place
By God's almighty help and grace,
Between myself and the powers of Darkness.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 10:06 AM

St. Patrick's Day Department: St. Patrick's Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet 'Well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun's life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

(Attributed to St. Patrick. More information about this prayer is here.)

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:28 AM

Sunday, March 16, 2003  

Not At All What I Expected Department: I'm Bubs. Who am I to argue with the outcome of these quizzes?

Which Homestar Runner character are you?

this quiz was made by jurjyfrort

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:40 PM
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