St. Sebastian’s Day

St. Sebastian by Raphael, oil on canvas

St. Sebastian (1501-02) – Raphael / Wikimedia Commons

When even the Saints are ready for a change in Chief Executive.

…three years to go…


halloween vignettes

Seven ravens NYPL

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY courtesy:: digital collection

And it’s said that the dead come back to life on Halloween,

the anglicized All Hallows’ Eve.

But do the saints

and the souls

really truly leave?

I try not to get caught by the smoky ropes each October,

the orange plasticky bowls,

tin foil trinkets,

calories we’ve consumed;

regarding the celebration:

Halloween makes me very sad.

Maybe it’s the last night of the true summer,

the beginning of

the holiday trifecta,

darkness, cold, the bus stop at 6:30 each morning.

My first Halloween,

four months in the world,

I was a Jersey devil,

New Jersey’s eponymous monster,

with a red onesie and paper horns,


Four, five, six,

a witch,

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY courtesy:: digital collection

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY courtesy:: digital collection

the powerful kiddo,

curly false violet hair,

a broom,

black Puritan clothes.

We drove around the District,

leafless trees scratching the car,

visiting the Rapps,


old colleagues,

getting candy, pats on the head,

smelling smoke from a paper cigar,

he got lung cancer later.

I was eight,

and found a book in

my Catholic grammar

school’s library

about the traditions of the Celtic occult and Samhain,

the ancient ceremonials

later fading

into a Christian celebration.

ST. JOE’S, photo my own

Still later, still lower,

into a Victorian past time.

At nine I stopped trick-or-treating,

and began to give the candy to neighbors,

sometimes older boys with classmates came,

asked again and again for more candy,

and I’d say no.

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY digital collections

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY courtesy:: digital collections

They’d go behind a tree,

switch costumes,

still no.

And it was cold, and dark and we’d watch the Great Pumpkin,

and then at twelve I was a Heather,

killing only myself,

no candy for anyone that year.

And fifteen,

a scary movie,

walking to the bus

thick-aired All Saints’ Day,

I prayed for myself,


and asked for Thomas Aquinas’ intercessions.

My grandfather died the next February.

I am still mad sometimes.

At seventeen,

I was at the Center,

allergic to

and forced to

eat horrible things.

The party my sister held was my funeral.

blinding (2)

BLINDING, photo my own

A bright friend came over,

and we talked,

giving allergen-free candy to the


So many ice queens,

so few witches,

is that good?

I fell asleep with tea lights refracting into my room,

shrieks from the dancing woods

the glass moon glowing

again in my room.

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY digital collections

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY     courtesy:: digital collections

L. died this year.

I am still sad.

I don’t think I will dress up again,

and the parties are a no,

but I am living

and breathing,

and when I told him about my love of Yeats,

I didn’t mean the cemetery gates thing.

I meant Aengus,


looking for his apple blossomed bride,

 but he didn’t understand.

That was last year, too.

And Halloween is a beautiful tragedy,

but we are stronger this year,

and we are not tragic.

irish culture


favorites · 2015 edition

1) MOVIE:: The Secret of Roan Inish, a 1994 movie about Fiona, a girl who lives in County Donegal with her grandparents, and is searching for her brother, who was washed away to Roan Inish. (Interestingly, the movie was filmed by an American director; however its veracity was far less suspect than that of John Wayne’s A Quiet Man, which isn’t worth linking to here.)

2) BAND:: The Pogues, as they are known in America. An Irish punk-folk band, formed in London, famous for their song “Fairytale of New York“, though “Young Ned of the Hill” is my favorite.

3) BOOK:: The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. Though the author’s only novel takes place in London, the marvelous fruit himself was an Irishman.

4) SONG:: “Beautiful Day”, U2.

5) GIRL’S NAME:: Maeve, after the warrior queen. The name means “Enchantress”.

6) GIRL SAINT:: St. Dymphna!

7) BOY’S NAME:: Malachy, meaning Messenger.

8) BOY SAINT:: St. Brendan, who sailed to Brazil in the Middle Ages, (or so the legend goes).

9) POP ICON::Bono, for his social work.

10) POET:: Yeats!

12) IRISH HISTORICAL FIGURE:: Éamon de Valera (though American by birth) for his political and Irish independence activism.

13) IRISH-AMERICAN:: Caroline Kennedy


15) MY MOST IRISH HABIT:: Crocheting (but I cannot do lace–yet!)

I wish you all a happy evening!

x. Carey

updated/edited: 30 May 2016

Joan d’Arc


Lorde may be the latest pure heroine, and first to phrase it as such, but a look through history displays many other icons, all woman of beauty, power and bravery. And also, martyrs for their cause.

Let’s just hope we don’t follow into the latter category…

Joan of Arc:

Courtesy of Howard David Johnson Galleries

Courtesy of Howard David Johnson Galleries

Joan was a peasant/woman warrior/advocate/martyr in the fifteenth century France.

She was Catholic in a time when it wasn’t a safe religion to profess her faith to,

and yet she saw visions of leading the French to victory over England in the Hundred Years’ War.

So she received an audience with the Dauphin of France and he eventually lent her an army.

She was victorious over the English again and again,

until the Duke of Burgundy (in France),

a traitor to the French,

had her convicted of heresy,

and so she was

burned at the stake

in 1431, at age 19.

She is a brave woman for speaking out,

speaking the truth,

when she had the education of a child,

and very little power

in the Middle Ages,

a time when women were subjected to

droit de signeur

(Look it up if you dare)

and yet she was a woman of God,

of bravery,

of love for her country.

A Pure Heroine in my book.

Signing off,