firmament tuned contour
while below recessed stars,
thoughts dim into how a home
can acutely reside by cobalt light,
those invisibly aqueous pleas diffused
to cold sense imagined, while closer at hand,
paroxysmal memory indebted to passing
tense terrain, the fluid thought of each
inevitable heart where depthful loss
submerges across the throat, pours
forth back as a figured identity


..........--A. R. Ammons 
..........time will wash
..........clean not a
..........be left in


Finishing Up
--A. R. Ammons

I wonder if I know enough to know what it’s really like
to have been here: have I seen sights enough to give
seeing over: the clouds, I’ve waited with white
October clouds like these this afternoon often before and

taken them in, but white clouds shade other white
ones gray, had I noticed that: and though I’ve
followed the leaves of many falls, have I spent time with
the wire vines left when frost’s red dyes strip the leaves

away: is more missing than was never enough: I’m sure
many of love’s kinds absolve and heal, but were they passing
rapids or welling stirs: I suppose I haven’t done and seen
enough yet to go, and, anyway, it may be way on on the way

before one picks up the track of the sufficient, the
world-round reach, spirit deep, easing and all, not just mind
answering itself but mind and things apprehended at once
as one, all giving all way, not a scrap of question holding back.

First published in the September edition of POETRY. Which was a surprise to me. With some digging, looks to be a quiet notice for the release later this month of  Volume Two Complete Poems (1978 - 2005).


[ Garden Chair, Autumn ; Edward Weston (1941) ]......


The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer. They think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer. 
― Ken Kesey


--Lucille Clifton 
who would believe them winged
who would believe they could be  
beautiful         who would believe
they could fall so in love with mortals 

that they would attach themselves
as scars attach and ride the skin  

sometimes we hear them in our dreams
rattling their skulls         clicking their bony fingers  
envying our crackling hair
our spice filled flesh   

they have heard me beseeching
as I whispered into my own  
cupped hands       enough not me again
enough       but who can distinguish  
one human voice 
amid such choruses of desire


The God Who Loves You
--Carl Dennis

It must be troubling for the god who loves you 
To ponder how much happier you’d be today 
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings 
Driving home from the office, content with your week—
Three fine houses sold to deserving families—
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened 
Had you gone to your second choice for college, 
Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted 
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music 
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion. 
A life thirty points above the life you’re living 
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point 
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you. 
You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments 
So she can save her empathy for the children. 
And would you want this god to compare your wife 
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus? 
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation 
You’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight 
Than the conversation you’re used to.
And think how this loving god would feel 
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife 
Would have pleased her more than you ever will 
Even on your best days, when you really try. 
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives 
You’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him 
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill 
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you 
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene 
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him 
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend 
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight 
And write him about the life you can talk about 
With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed, 
Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.

[via rabbit light]


[ Tomato Plants ; Robert Colquhoun (1942) ]......


I hate endings. Just detest them. Beginnings are definitely the most exciting, middles are perplexing and endings are a disaster. . . The temptation towards resolution, towards wrapping up the package, seems to me a terrible trap. Why not be more honest with the moment? The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning. That’s genius. Somebody told me once that fugue means to flee, so that Bach’s melody lines are like he’s running away...  
.......--Sam Shepard

About twenty years ago, when I was becoming familiar with Shepard as a playwright rather than just a Hollywood actor, I picked up from the library a grainy VHS copy of an American Playhouse production of True West. The performance was from the early 1980's and starred emergent actors, John Malkovich and Gary Sinise. And it is absolutely explosive, Malkovich in particular. Never has there been a more mercurial rapscallion to stagger across the stage. 90 minutes of poignant, ominous hilarity that mercilessly digs in the suburban male psyche. Lunatics you know through family, workplace, watering holes, sports arenas, political stages.... Remastering doesn't exist, a tape version is virtually impossible to find, but (at least for the moment) you can piece ten or so clips together on Youtube.


From  'Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark' (via Brain Pickings):

Dear John, 
One thing I realize I love about the ‘letter’ as a form is that it’s conversation; — always available. You can just sit down any old morning & have a conversation whether the person’s there or not. You can talk about anything & you don’t have to wait politely for the other person to finish the train of thought. You can have long gaps between passages — days can go by & you might return & pick it up again. And the great difference in all other forms of writing is that it is dependent to a large extent on the other person. It’s not just a solo act. You’re writing in response to or in relationship to someone else — over time. I think that’s the key — over time. We’re very lucky, I figure, to have continued the desire to talk to each other by mail for something like 40 years. But then again, what else were we going to do? It is probably the strongest through-line I’ve maintained in this life... 
Everything else seems to be broken — except, of course, my other writing which has been with me constantly since about 1963. I’ll never forget the elation of finishing my first one-act play. I felt I’d really made something for the first time. Like the way you make a chair or a tale. Something was in the world now that hadn’t been there before.... 
Another beautiful morning here. Dew on the pasture. Horses grazing. It’s a ‘Kentucky Bluegrass’ postcard. Just a hint of fall in the air, the humidity has lifted & it’s like somebody just pulled a big heavy blanket off yr shoulders.


SPEAKER: (flat, monotonous tone)
I'm writing you this today from a very great distance. Everything here is fine. I'm hoping everything there is fine with you. I'm hoping you still miss me as much as you once did. I know that I miss you as much as ever. I'm also hoping this reaches you as soon as possible. 
Something happened today which you might find amusing. I know I found it amusing at the time. A dog came into the hotel and ran around the lobby. Nobody know what to do. Everyone was in a stew. 
Here's hoping this finds you in good health.
All my love,
sharp accent on cymbal
All the best,
sharp accent on cymbal
Warm regards,
ring on bell of cymbal
flat punch, edge of cymbal 
With fond wishes,
let cymbal ring out
flat accent, cymbal
bright ring, cymbal
Your loving husband,
sharp splash, cymbal
Your oldest son,
sharp accent, cymbal
Your faithful servant,
Daniel Eric
sharp crash, cymbal
Mitchell Lewis Scott
very sharp accent, cymbal
Yours as always,
cymbal rings out
soft, bell tone, cymbal
With all my heart,
soft, short tone

--from Tongues; Sam Shepard (1978)


[Vincent van Gogh (1888) ].......


These wonderful things
Were planted on the surface of a round mind that was to become our
....present time.
The mark of things belongs to someone
But if that somebody was wise
Then the whole of things might be different
From what it was thought to be in the beginning, before an angel
....bandaged the field glasses.
Then one could say nothing hear nothing
Of what the great time spoke to its divisors.
All borders between men were closed.
Now all is different without having changed
As though one were to pass through the same street at different times
And nothing that is old can prefer the new.
An enormous merit has been placed on the head of all things
Which, bowing down, arrive near the region of their feet
So that the earth-stone has stared at them in memory at the approach
....of an error.
Still it is not too late for these things to die
Provided that an anemone will grab them and rush them to the wildest
But having plucked oneself, who could live in the sunlight?
And the truth is cold, as a giant's knee
Will seem cold.



A last world moves on the figures;
They are smaller than when we last saw them caring about them.
The sky is a giant rocking horse
And of the other things death is a new office building filled
....with modern furniture,
A wise thing, but which has no purpose for us.

Everything is being blown away;
A little horse trots up with a letter in its mouth, which is read
....with eagerness
As we gallop into the flame.

--from A Last World; John Ashbery


This Room
--John Ashbery 
The room I entered was a dream of this room.
Surely all those feet on the sofa were mine.
The oval portrait
of a dog was me at an early age.
Something shimmers, something is hushed up.  
We had macaroni for lunch every day
except Sunday, when a small quail was induced
to be served to us. Why do I tell you these things?
You are not even here.

PBS had a brief remembrance of John Ashbery when he died a few weeks ago. Included was an interview but I wouldn’t recommend paying a whole lot of attention to it as John Ashbery did not like interviews. From Interview magazine:

ASHBERY: I don't read my poems very much after I've written them besides at a reading. I put them away and then it's on to something else. I mean, I'd love to say yes, and that would be wonderful for this interview, but I'm just not good interview material. And yet, people always want to interview me. And, of course, the interview is a tragic fact of our time.
ASHBERY: In order not to deal with things, people interview them or their creator.
FITZGERALD: The interview's a form for people to avoid encountering the art itself?
ASHBERY: I probably shouldn't be saying this for Interview magazine.

Instead I make the PBS reference for the comments section. EarthSpeak provides a good rundown for everything John Ashbery wasn’t, which is as a good place to start as any for appreciating his poetry. Now why the general public largely expects strict sanctimonious authenticity from poetry, unlike all other art forms where non-utilitarian facets are widely accepted and enjoyed on a daily basis, I’m not too sure. Possibly I can blame the politicians.


Now, only the willing are fated to receive death as a reward.
Children twist hula-hoops, imagining a door to the outside.
If we tried to leave, would being naked help us?
And what of older, lighter concerns? What of the river?

Children twist hula-hoops, imagining a door to the outside,
when all we think of is how much we can carry with us.
And what of older, lighter concerns? What of the river?
All the behemoths have filed through the maze of time.

When all we think of is how much we can carry with us
small wonder that those at home sit, nervous, by the unlit grate.
All the behemoths have filed through the maze of time.
It remains for us to come to terms with our commonality.

Small wonder that those at home sit nervous by the unlit grate.
It was their choice, after all, that spurred us to feats of the imagination.
It remains for us to come to terms with our commonality
and in so doing deprive time of further hostages.

--from Hotel Lautréamont; John Ashbery (1927 - 2017)


Autumn approaches
and the heart begins to dream– 


Haiku- Summer 2017

an open doorway 
filled full with light
and bird songs

quiet avenue
with the warmth of the sun-
memorial day

across the table
from me sits an empty seat
filled with sunshine

backyard chatter light fading into fireflies

a dragonfly perched
on the tip of a reed-
morning meditation

children swinging
only just so high above
clouds of dust

sunday evening,
through empty yards
a breeze strolls

dog days of august,
the yard out back starts
to tell it's story

morning crickets
for a moment I forget
what day it is


[ Plans We Made For Every Summer ; Justin Santora ].../.....


A Poem- for August 
Through wind I follow the sky.
Few cumulus clouds as well.
Dropouts to absently plod
about the dream pool full 
of an otherwise transparent
evening. Cardinal shadows
for lonesome crows. Such is
the veil weeks after gaugeless 
rain, when bare grass tastes
of recycled stock, pine planks
light as cardboard, barn burner
flint ready to ash. Come a brim 
countryside harvest but this
above, this empty cup, rinses
days from these fields gone
blind from chrome in the sun.


The Woman in Sunshine
--Wallace Stevens 
It is only that this warmth and movement are like
The warmth and movement of a woman. 
It is not that there is any image in the air
Nor the beginning nor end of a form: 
It is empty. But a woman in threadless gold
Burns us with brushings of her dress 
And a dissociated abundance of being,
More definite for what she is— 
Because she is disembodied,
Bearing the odors of the summer fields, 
Confessing the taciturn and yet indifferent,
Invisibly clear, the only love.


[ Territory ; René Magritte (1957) ]......


--Doug Anderson

She sits there on that high hill    just sits there and lets things pass through her until one snags and she fits it into the pattern of this fine mesh of    what    spirit?    But, ah, there’s a cowboy hat and a cherry bomb tattoo and it snags    and what she lets through may, I say, may be caught second time around like that oil pan off an old Hudson or that artificial leg    toward morning she’s collected some radio signals from a dead ship    and a janitor’s song and some folderol from a church picnic with iced tea fried chicken collards and a whole lot of stentorian god-speak with apple pie and ice cream.    I’ll be damned if all those things aren’t moving around in one another’s magnetic fields, some kind of counterpoint that happens each time she breathes    it’s a mobile only no wires    there’s a piece of mirror turning on a spider web and now she’s a    signal beacon    says come on up I’ve got something to read and somehow it all works. Then she pulls this silk thread and it becomes a form.


René Magritte
--Shuzo Takiguchi (trans. Mary Jo Bang; Yuki Tanaka) 
Released silhouettes
flow incessantly like water,
flow between mountains
swiftly like a kaleidoscope.
The solitude of  the North Pole
bustles with human silhouettes.
Endless transmission of  ABC. 
On the shredded shore
a silk hat burns
like a mirror trick,
like a human echo
burns a silk hat endlessly.
Then the flames
were received like ABC. 
On the night of a beautiful lunar eclipse
the silhouettes smiled.


--René Magritte (trans. Jo Levy) 
A few companions had been doing too much talking beside the purple water. The troupe, panic-stricken, ran away, and I found I was incapable of following them. I stepped into the water and the depths turned luminous; faraway ferns could just be seen. The reflections of other dark plants stopped them rising to the surface. Red threads took on all sorts of shapes, caught in the invisible and doubtless powerful currents. A plaster-cast woman advancing caused me to make a gesture which was to take me far.