Poetry: For Michele

April 14, 2011
She would have walked the stage in May and left to walk another way, to forge ahead, but for that absurd lathe and its needless theft. How suddenly all my concerns have shed the fool’s gold gilding their irrelevance. “Prepare for death,” all wise men always said. And yesterday on Grove the elements, the wind »


March 4, 2011
“A straight line first,” my father said, “then turn ,egde eht teem uoy llit og — yaw rehto eht then back again, like oxen. Oxen earn “.gnitfard ydaets yb drawer eud s’elzzum rieht Like bold Bucephalus the lawnmower bellowed, .tips — gag — wehc :aimilub ni suoiditsaf Paternal sunlight left the grass unyellowed; “.won ti »

A Prodigal Winter

March 4, 2011
Much could be made of winter’s first real flurry (the way it breaks a bleakness up, disturbs a desolation lately caked on curbs and evening walkers, streetlights, leafless trees — that morning whiteness breathes a baptized fury), but wonderland dissolves in after-slush: the goo-gray soggy puddle trudge, the freeze of sidewalk spots at random and »

Taylor: Una familia de Armas

February 19, 2010
De Armas. “Of weapons.” My half-Cuban mother’s maiden name. Which is conceivably related, in some murky hereditary way, to the fact that most of my relatives, on her side, appear to be drawn to vocations not incomparable to that of a soldier. They’re lawyers battling for justice, pastors battling for faith, CFOs battling for solvency. »

Taylor: Goodbye, Salinger

February 1, 2010
It was strange to hear that J. D. Salinger had died. I wasn’t sure how sad I was supposed to be. I’d never met the man, never called him up or chewed the fat. Biographically, I knew hardly anything about him. At the same time, I sensed that few human beings had more profoundly shaped »

Taylor: Waking up and finding the light

November 10, 2009
All night, my eyes were downcast, tethered to books and papers and the computer screen. Enervating flatness. By the time my work was done, the night sky was hinting at daylight, and I knew I’d reached the point of no return. I turned to Thoreau. “Morning,” he wrote, “is when I am awake and there »

Taylor: A principal worth the name

October 20, 2009
Last week, a band of courageous Yale students marched around campus and put their chalk to the concrete, advancing new names for those residential colleges whose eponyms either supported slavery or owned slaves themselves. My own college, for instance, officially named after Benjamin Silliman, was renamed Joseph Cinque College after the leader of the Amistad »

Taylor: Working out the passions

October 13, 2009
“Please do not expectorate in the drinking fountain.” This is the genial greeting you receive as you take a drink in the “Ace” Israel Fitness Center in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Typical Yalie multi-tasking — hydrate while beefing up your vocabulary. As it happens, the Oxford English Dictionary has a delightfully vivid definition of “expectorate,” »

Taylor: A worm amid tombstones

September 28, 2009
Black metal spears, their tips pointed skyward, line Grove Street in legions. They form a fence, and behind them are graves. One might wonder, trudging along the sidewalk, what invisible army it is that holds these spears. One might feel grateful that they protect us from the dead. On occasion, though, it is well to »

Taylor: Everyone is the Fat Lady

September 18, 2009
On Sunday, I was lost in the underground. Lost, specifically, in New York City’s subway system, tossed to and fro by the winds of railed mechanical basilisks, on the brink, it seemed, of a nervous breakdown or an existential crisis or a spree at Dunkin’ Donuts. I was Holden Caulfield, a solitary worm squirming through »

Taylor: Stop obsessing, opining

September 2, 2009
Implicitly, a newspaper endorses the idea that news is worthy of your time, just as an opinion page — again, implicitly — endorses the notion that opinions are significant. It stands to reason that every now and then, if only for the sake of ruffling our presuppositional complacency, someone should counter these ideas. I will »

Taylor: The South is better than the North

April 22, 2009
When I asked my 14-year-old brother what I should write this column about, he told me to “write about how much better the South is than the North.” I replied that I could not write in such rigid terms, that I would have to present a balanced and fair-minded assessment of the different strengths and »