I'm a teacher at Chapman University in Orange, California. I've also worked as a dramaturg for The Wooden Floor. My poems have appeared in Ploughshares, North American Review and other journals, and I've been nominated for a Best of the Net award for poetry by Lascaux Review. As a grant writer I raised over a million dollars for the social programs of Catholic Charities of the East Bay.
A S Y L U M
The last fatal heat wave in France happened while we were in Paris
for our honeymoon.
We were staying in the apartment near Versailles of a friend of my
wife—there was no air conditioning,
and I remember taking a cold shower in the middle of the afternoon
and lying on the bed naked to cool off.
Newly married, moving to a new continent:
I insisted one afternoon that we walk in the Jardin des Plantes, under
a ferocious sun,
eager to absorb every experience the city could offer to a tourist.
Asylum: the right of a fugitive not to be handed over to those who
would charge him with a crime
as long as he stays in the sanctuary of the church.
When my father began dying he was lying in his bed groaning,
reaching for his aching calf, periodically opening his eyes to their
widest to emit a devastating howl.
Two days later, when he was sedate in the hospital, I took my
daughter to an introductory karate lesson.
The sensi, who was called Profe, taught her some Japanese words
for the floor, for the dojo, for his robe, how to count to ten.
That hour was without fear, watching the two of them from a chair at
the outer margin of the room by the door.
I knew he was not going to leave the hospital.
I was grateful there was somewhere else love beckoned me for a short
time to be.
At the end of my two years in Germany I bought for my father the
collected works of Karl Rahner,
a theologian who influenced him greatly and about whom he often
wrote and spoke.
He had only the first eleven volumes of the full sixteen.
Rahner’s ideas include the concept of anonymous Christianity, the
professed belief that everyone is a child of the Christian God.
To the end of his life, my father was working on theological essays,
mapping out arguments on legal pads, flagging quotes in books.
He was fascinated by goodness—the crusading of William Lloyd
Garrison, of Lucretia Mott.
The belief that there is a certain way to do things because that is
always how they have been done:
the enthusiasm of Profe as he has the students do exercises before the
Counting up to ten, once, twice, and then countless times, only to
The priest at my wife’s confirmation ceremony —
I was her godfather so that we could get married in a Guatemalan
his wit when the metal bowl holding a flame heated up enough to
burn through the straps of its stand
and it collapsed, noisily, dangerously, amidst the congregation that
had gathered on the church steps, —
his comment, which I would translate as, “In such a way has God
A five-year-old girl was killed by an intoxicated driver at an
intersection just on the other side of a freeway overpass near my
I saw the traffic backed up for blocks and the whirring sirens and
looked at the paper that night to find the cause.
Then I read what had happened—a driver running a red at the very
intersection where I had been ticketed for doing the same.
It is a difficult intersection—one doesn’t see the light until one has
passed under the freeway.
What to do? You can’t keep your children always in the house,--
there is no remedy, no solution, if you accept the premise of the
problem of evil.
And if you don’t—yet harder to think what comfort to imagine for the
driver, the mother, the child.
©2014 Brian Glaser