If I were a star I would explode! 
And whatever was the matter 
would not matter.
My strafing of the galaxies
with particles and frequencies
would make me God.
Though I might be misunderstood, 
by default I would be right.

Gavin W Sisk


God Computes

Dear Mr. Sisk:

Regarding your exclamatory remark after learning your two-year-old laptop was not upgradable to Windows 8.1. 
I empathize with your frustration.  Though I invented the cloud, I’ll be damned if I can control it.  (I like saying, “I’ll be damned.”  It gives me funny hiccups.)  But consider this.  I remember turning my back for just a moment (a long time ago from your point of view, which is limited by design) so I could have a strategic planning meeting with my event coordinator, Moses.  From my point of view (which, naturally, is all points), I was only distracted for a moment.  But apparently it was long enough for some trash-talking ape-heads to erect a fake cow to throw prayers at.  That really pissed me off—those prayers were for me.  In fact, I thought hard about this being a really good excuse to use up all that rain left over from the last time I got mad.  Cool heads prevailed in the end (all mine).  I think Moses took it harder than I did.  I know what my editors wrote, but that guy had a really short fuse.  And he never did reassemble those last three commandments–told me ten fit the math better (as if I needed a math lesson).  Nonetheless, Mr Sisk, every time I hear, “Holy cow!” I get pretty riled up.  Just say, “Holy shit!”  I can take that.  Hell, I invented the stuff!

Thank Me,


Yes, backwards my name spells ‘dog’.  But I invented those too.  So I win either way.  If that confuses you, it’s your own damned fault.  One thing I didn’t invent was English.  (When I say that something is your own damned fault, carefully consider the source.)
And yes, I write a lot of asides.  But that’s kind of silly to point out to an omnipresent being, isn’t it?  (Don’t spend too much time on that one.)
Also, get a Mac.


Bless me father,
I might be wrong about this:
all the angels bound to pins,
salvation sewn in scapulars.
I am not worthy to receive him:
your chalices of sweet red blood,
his body, die-cut flat and round.
Say the word and I shall be healed.
Sit, kneel, stand, repeat.  Alleluia.
I say, may the spirit be with you.
Take my song and sign of the cross,
and my heart raised to dusty beams.
Go in peace.  I sing, alleluia!
I don’t want to go to hell.
May the spirit be with me.
I don’t want to die alone.

G W Sisk

A Short Prayer

The star of the movie, A Bronx Tale, is a kid who says early on, “The best thing about being Catholic is you go to confession every week and then you start all over.” It did feel like that when I was his age. I thought the secret to living well and getting into heaven was to go to confession regularly. Barring that, in an emergency a quick Hail Mary would work. Trapped in a crashing plane? No problem! I could fully enunciate the prayer in five seconds.

So what did many Catholic kids like me learn? Grace, apparently, decays rapidly after confession, and the only seconds of our lives that count toward salvation are the last five. We have just that much time to convince God to ignore all the preceding seconds, minutes, hours, and days.

Yes, I know. We should figure out how to make every moment count. Too often, though, we develop bulimia in our souls, stuffing more prayers at a time down our throats than our destinies can digest. Or maybe we’re like the goldfish rising to a pond’s surface to gulp a bubble of air–a gas it cannot respire but which offers temporary equilibrium. Perhaps if fish could pray and tell time, they would be like us, and thus be saved.


Dec. 25, 2012


From an Image of Dunbeath



Impended by November’s damp,
I would brace against a rocky shelf.
In oilcloth, beneath an old sowester–
my back to the wind to guard the ember
of a good cigar; a flask of Highland Park
in a felt pouch hanging from my neck;
a surveyor’s notebook in my left hand
and a stub of a pencil in my right–
I would ask no more from the storm
than synaptic sparks to connect
my words and sensibilities,
perhaps mistaking how what rules the
firmament above writes dreams below.

                 G W Sisk
                 Nov. 2012


Fracting God From The Rubble

Yesterday was September 11, 2011: the tenth anniversary of the infamous attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.  My daughter and I plopped on the couch to watch ten-year-old news coverage of ‘911’.  This was one of those finest hours when the news media documented its own integrity and delivered a classic apologia for their in-depth coverage.  That’s fine, except that this finest hour came without a mea culpa for all their bone-headed mistakes and groundless dissemination of fear.  My father would have had a lot to write about this phenomenon of media attempting to pin hindsight to their desperate and lurching foresight.  Oddly, I didn’t see much hindsight framing the desperate fear and hatred that we Americans always want to believe is beneath us, but which we prove again and again is stuck to our shoes like gum.

I am Christian.  If you poll other Christians you’ll find that half believe humans are inherently evil; half believe they mostly serve themselves; and half believe they naturally serve each other.  We Christians may be no better at estimating human proclivities than we are at estimating the sums of simple fractions.  But that’s a moot point when you recall the evil all we Christians have perpetrated on each other in the name of a God we have in common.

Imagine recess in sixth grade on the playground of Saint Almost Elementary School for Boys.  Imagine also the traditional choosing of sides for dodge ball.  Two of the boys, twin brothers named Bub and Bob, are especially smart, fast, big, friendly, and strong.  Of course Bub and Bob are always the first picks for each team.  If you have Bub or Bob on your side, you cannot lose.  Even if the two popular brothers simply watch the game while leaning against the schoolyard fence, the winning team will glorify one of them for their victory.  Neither Bub nor Bob cares much for bragging rights—nor for condemnations for loosing—and neither team would realize if Bub or Bob switched places.  If there were enough boys on the field to form three teams, either Bub or Bob would certainly be the exclusive captain of each.  This is why the boys at Saint Almost Elementary School almost universally choose philosophy as their first major subject in college.  Years ago, one boy did go on to become a civil engineer; but his career ended abruptly after he designed a bridge with three large arches, but specified only enough concrete for two.  Neither Bub nor Bob were nearby to take the blame.

To the real world: I’m not certain what point to make of the evil that all we Christians have swung like righteous swords through the necks of all those who seemed to be catalyzed by lesser gods, and who would otherwise have righteously swung their swords through our own necks.  Hindsight rarely improves foresight, publicly.  Accurate and meaningful foresight—wisdom—is often not what we want.  There is no good reason for news media to tell us what we don’t care to hear, and what advertisers don’t care to subsidize.  Democracy might be at the root of our principles, but capitalism is at the root of our habits.

My father wrote a short poem that sums up wisdom’s precarious place in all our institutions.  This might be one reason he drank cheap scotch.

Epigram For Bedlam

All men are foolish
As all are brothers;
The wise ones know it
And tell the others:
Who take the wise ones
And hang them up
For heresy.

                 -John P Sisk


Sept. 12, 2011

Smelling Out The Truth of My Genetics

According to Gregor Mendel, the geneticist, we each ought to have received the particulars and peculiarities of our individual noses from persons directly related to us in some previous generation.  I have a ‘Sisk’ nose.  But whose Sisk nose is it?  I finally figured out that I have Uncle Bill’s nose.

My family will point out that Uncle Bill was a missionary priest whose nose genes were likely not directly related to mine.  I think, though, that I’ll keep his nose for the time being, since he is no longer using it and because it functions pretty well.  But what genetic rules explain how it ended up on my face?

I suppose most priests ponder at some point the irrelevance of Mendel’s peas to their genetic situation.  After all, they have sacrificed their genetic potential for a higher, eternal cause.  Did my uncle ever wonder, as he tied the white cord around his brown Franciscan robe, “Who will get my nose?”  I guess it isn’t too much to ask.  And I suppose most priests understand–and even pray–that such rhetorical questions are never purely rhetorical, when asked by someone who should be in close communion with God.

I am less in communion with God than the average priest, but my question about my nose is no more rhetorical.  And I think I’ve discovered a nice Catholic answer that even Sarah Palin could like.  With apologies to Mendel and Nietzsche, I theorize that God, in a gesture of thanks to priests and nuns for their vows of chastity, has reserved a means of trading peas among our pods.  This may sound simplistic.  But we’re talking about God; it doesn’t need to be complicated.

So, I have Uncle Bill’s pea–and it smells.

I mean, I smell with Uncle Bill’s nose.

God knows what I mean.

June 28, 2011