2014-10-31



He was a wise man who invented beer. ~Plato.........
[Undertaker; Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, MI].......


Pours cauldron black, tulgey and macabre. Scented of casket resin and slight nettle of late season dark fruit. When slithing over the tongue, forward taste of pitted prune, mildly tinctured licorice, followed by roiling hints of sorghum molasses. Back taste haunts with roasted malts veiled in a veneer of smoke-- think dying coals from a wet log of bur oak on a cold and dreary All Hallows Eve. Finish settles in like fog enshrouding autumn silhouettes of barren honey locusts.


2014-10-30



--Edgar Allen Poe


I
Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone--
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.


       II...
Be silent in that solitude,
...Which is not loneliness- for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
...In life before thee are again
In death around thee- and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.


       III...
The night, tho’ clear, shall frown--
And the stars shall look not down
From their high thrones in the heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given--
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.


       IV...
Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more- like dew-drop from the grass.


       V...
The breeze- the breath of God- is still-
And the mist upon the hill,
Shadow- shadowy- yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token-
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!




2014-10-28




After all, what is every man? A horde of ghosts-- like a Chinese nest of boxes-- oaks that were acorns that were oaks. Death lies behind us, not in front-- in our ancestors, back and back until... 
-- from 'The Return'; Walter de la Mare (1910)






2014-10-26



Two Epitaphs
--Walter de la Mare 
...........I
Ye say we sleep;
But nay, we wake;
Life was that strange and chequered dream
Only for waking’s sake. 
...........II
O passer-by, beware!
Is the day fair?—
Yet unto evening shall the day spin on
And soon thy sun be gone;
Then darkness come,
And this, a narrow home.
Not that I bid thee fear;
Only, when thou at last lie here,
Bethink thee, there shall only be
.....Thyself for company.




2014-10-24



All loves and dreams and sounds and gleams of night
......Made it all music that such minstrels may,
And all they had they gave it of delight;
......But in the full face of the fire of day
What place shall be for any starry light,
......What part of heaven in all the wide sun's way? 
Yet the soul woke not, sleeping by the way,
 .....Watched as a nursling of the large-eyed night,
And sought no strength nor knowledge of the day,
......Nor closer touch conclusive of delight,
Nor mightier joy nor truer than dreamers may,
......Nor more of song than they, nor more of light. 
For who sleeps once and sees the secret light
.....Whereby sleep shows the soul a fairer way
Between the rise and rest of day and night,
......Shall care no more to fare as all men may,
But be his place of pain or of delight,
......There shall he dwell, beholding night as day. 
--from 'Sestina'; Algernon Charles Swinburne




2014-10-22


[ Landscape at Dusk ; Vincent van Gogh (1885) ]......





2014-10-20



One evening when we were lounging in his apartment in a relaxed mood, sniffing a little ether, Charles Baudelaire said to me: “You know, everybody has seen rain falling–most people have, at one time or another, actually noticed it.”

I agreed with a chuckle. He continued: “You know, I think we can be fairly confident that it has been raining, on and off, for a very long time!”

Having said this, he collapsed on the chaise-lounge, in a veritable paroxysme; but as always, there was a tinge, a definite tinge of bitterness in his merriment.

“It would be absurd to imagine,” he said, “that rain could ever have behaved in any way different from that which we observe today…”

After a moment’s crystalline silence our conversation drifted to other topics– the day’s gossip, the inexhaustible genius of Edgar Poe. But when we stood on the fire escape, taking leave, he gazed over my left shoulder into some indefinable distance or abyss and said, almost dreamily: “It is forever washing the substance of the land into the sea.”

            -- Rain ; Anselm Hollo




2014-10-18



Air, to Dream In
--Anselm Hollo 
Leave it, leave it  
..........behind the dark
..........window the owls
..........calling out to each other
..........my voice to you
....................................only heard
..........there in the dark
..........treetops of the sea 
...............red the moon rose
...............cooled off shrunk
...............to a coin in the blue 
alone....it is if it is
a poem for you





2014-10-16


The Great Tree ; Leonard Baskin (1962)].......





2014-10-14



Wednesday morning last week, in an early morning west window and between the dense crowns of two red maples, I saw the fully turned visage of the blood moon sitting inclusive like a wild Buddha and seemingly bound to the station of human gravity. The lunar ghost we typically recognize in the silver spheres had been replaced with a silent gatherer of all our pulsing reflections- earthen bestiary of sepia, symbiont observer to the wax and wane of life.  Minutes later though.... gone beyond, elsewhere. Replaced with the daily beacons of fragile bedroom lamps and kitchen lights. Continuing stories of hunger, school, work, play; varied life experiences until the elderly slide into personal timelessness. A few days later, I came across the following from Kenneth Rexroth’s poem 'The Lights in the Sky are Stars", in which he describes his family's observation of a blood moon eclipse some 60 years earlier:

A blowing night in late fall,
The moon rises with a nick
In it. All day Mary has
Been talking about the eclipse.
Every once in a while I
Go out and report on the
Progress of the earth's shadow.
When it is passing the half,
Marthe and Mary come out
And we stand on the corner
In the first wisps of chilling
Fog and watch the light go out.
Streamers of fog reach the moon,
But never quite cover it.
We have explained with an orange,
A grapefruit, and a lamp, not
That we expect a four
Year old child to understand -
Just as a sort of ritual
Duty. But we are surprised
'The earth's shadow is like blood,'
She says. I tell her the Indians
Called an eclipse blood on the moon.
'Is it all the blood on the earth
Makes the shadow that color?'
She asks. I do not answer.





2014-10-12



What do I know now,
of myself, of the others?
Blood flows out to the fleeing
Nebulae, and flows back, red
With all the worn space of time.
It is my blood. I cannot
Taste in it as it leaves me
More of myself than on its
Return. I can see in it
Trees of silence and fire. 
--from 'The Reflecting Trees of Being
..and Not Being'; Kenneth Rexroth 



2014-10-10



.............................................Do you think
the dirt disapproves of anything? Nothing rots
underground, the brain seeps autumnal garlands
like those late Sinatra songs where he’s hungover
just enough to sound husky and roughed-up
like a butterfly caught in a downpour.
Yes, the height of civilization is still
guided tours of prisons so surely now
is no time to be serious. Look how frantically
the hearts of these roses beat. Look
at those party-boats in the sky. Yes,
we all come into this world through a wound.
The soft thing tips, monsters arrive
with the light and what a struggle
just to stand up while the clouds break,
crickets quiet, flames come to the tongue
and the thorax is ransacked by bells bells bells. 
--from 'The Death of AndrĂ© Breton'; Dean Young



[via The Massachusetts Review]





2014-10-08



The Annihilation of Nothing
--Thom Gunn 
Nothing remained: Nothing, the wanton name
That nightly I rehearsed till led away
To a dark sleep, or sleep that held one dream. 
In this a huge contagious absence lay,
More space than space, over the cloud and slime,
Defined but by the encroachments of its sway. 
Stripped to indifference at the turns of time,
Whose end I knew, I woke without desire,
And welcomed zero as a paradigm. 
But now it breaks-- images burst with fire
Into the quiet sphere where I have bided,
Showing the landscape holding yet entire: 
The power that I envisaged, that presided
Ultimate in its abstract devastations,
Is merely change, the atoms it divided 
Complete, in ignorance, new combinations.
Only an infinite finitude I see
In those peculiar lovely variations. 
It is despair that nothing cannot be
Flares in the mind and leaves a smoky mark
Of dread.
.............Look upward. Neither firm nor free, 
Purposeless matter hovers in the dark.



2014-10-06




[ If We Wanted To ; Chris Duncan (2005) ]







2014-10-04



Impermanence is not just of philosophical interest. It's very personal. Until we accept and deeply understand in our very being that things change from moment to moment, and never stop even for one instant, only then can we let go. And when we really let go inside, the relief is enormous. Ironically this gives release to a whole new dimension of love. People think that if someone is unattached, they are cold. But this isn't true. Anyone who has met very great spiritual masters who are really unattached is immediately struck by their warmth to all beings, not just to the ones they happen to like or are related to. Non-attachment releases something very profound inside us, because it releases that level of fear. We all have so much fear: fear of losing, fear of change, an inability to just accept.
It's like a dance. And we have to give each being space to dance their dance. Everything is dancing; even the molecules inside the cells are dancing. But we make our lives so heavy. We have these incredibly heavy burdens we carry with us like rocks in a big rucksack. We think that carrying this big heavy rucksack is our security; we think it grounds us. We don't realize the freedom, the lightness of just dropping it off, letting it go. That doesn't mean giving up relationships; it doesn't mean giving up one's profession, or one's family, or one's home. It has nothing to do with that; it's not an external change. It's an internal change. It's a change from holding on tightly to holding very lightly.
 --Tenzin Palmo


[via whiskey river]




2014-10-02



“Dead? How can that BE?”
.....a woman sobs as
..........the airplane taxies to the gate; 
flames on water; the whir
.....of a hummingbird behind my eyelids;
..........these are means 
by which we live: joy, grief, delight–
.....straw mushrooms
..........rising into the visible world; 
wisps of rabbitbrush are all
.....that remain of generals’ dreams;
..........a branch of a river rejoins a river; 
flip a house and it’s shelter,
.....flip it again and cabinets
..........open, wine is poured, dogs yap, 
people joke and laugh;
.....sandhill cranes swirl
..........and descend into a cornfield; 
we ampere each other;
.....a bus stops: a child gets off,
..........starts walking on a red-clod road: 
nothing in sight
.....in all directions;
..........a rose flame under our skin, 
hummingbird whirring its wings;
.....a rose flame,
..........nothing in sight, in all directions: 

from ‘The Unfolding Center’; Arthur Sze


[from Sze's 2014 collection, Compass Rose] 







2014-09-30



Think of being a judge or architect
or trombonist, and do not worry whether
thinking so makes it so. I overhear
two men talking in another room; 
I cannot transcribe the conversation
word for word, but know if they are
vexed or depressed, joyful or nostalgic.
An elm leaf floats on a pond. 
Look, a child wants to be a cardiologist
then a cartographer, but wanting so
does not make it so. It is not
a question of copying out the Heart Sutra 
in your own blood on an alabaster wall.
It is not a question of grief or joy.
But as a fetus grows and grows,
as the autumn moon ripens the grapes, 
greed and cruelty and hunger for power
ripen us, enable us to grieve, act,
laugh, shriek, see, see it all as
the water on which the elm leaf floats. 
--from 'Shooting Star'; Arthur Sze




2014-09-28



In the Heart of Time
-- Coral Bracho (trans by K. Pierpoint)

Time lets its subtle depths
half-open. (Doors
shielding one another; pushing open, one to another; the spoors
and traces of the sea.)  This autumn
of kindling wood, drifts of leaves.  At its heart,
forests of pleasure where the light shines through; its ivies, involved:
gold:
light in leaf everywhere:  fire raked and rooted, a metallic flowering,
and the finest moss,
incandescent.


[via poetry translation centre]





2014-09-26



He was a wise man who invented beer. ~Plato..................
[Mosaic Promise; Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI].............





2014-09-24



But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
........The Lady of Shalott? 
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
........Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
........Lady of Shalott." 
--from 'The Lady of Shalott'; Alfred, Lord Tennyson




2014-09-22



Today I am in cobwebs made of light –
Black-haired, fair-brown –
Mankind needs light and clear blue air
And it needs bread and Elbrus snow. 
And there is no one to consult with me,
While I will hardly find one on my own:
Not in the Urals, not in the Crimea –
There are no such transparent, weeping stones. 
Mankind needs a poem mysteriously familiar,
To be awakened by it all his days
And in the sound of it to lave forever –
As in a flaxen curl, a nut-brown wave. 
--Osip Mandelstam  (1937); trans by Ilya Bernstein




2014-09-20



Do not compare: who lives is beyond compare.
Embracing the equality of the plains
I felt somehow caressed and scared,
and the sky's circle was my pain. 
And I addressed my servants the air,
Awaiting tidings from him or service,
And I prepared to sail, and sailed the arc
Of uninitiated journeys. 
Where there is more sky for me, there I am
.....ready to roam,
And clear despair will not release me
From the Voronezh hills, which are still young,
To the all-human hills of Tuscany. 
-- Osip Mandelstam (1937); trans by Ilya Bernstein




2014-09-18


[ The Day Owl ; Leonard Baskin ] ......




Interviewer: What do birds mean for you? The figures of the hawk and the crow—so astonishing. Are you tired to death of explaining them?

Ted Hughes: I don’t know how to explain them. There are certain things that are just impressive, aren’t there? One stone can be impressive and the stones around it aren’t. It’s the same with animals. Some, for some reason, are strangely impressive. They just get into you in a strange way. Certain birds obviously have this extra quality that fascinates your attention. Obviously hawks have always done that for me, as a great many others have—not only impressive in themselves but also in that they’ve accumulated an enormous literature making them even more impressive. And crows too. Crows are the central bird in many mythologies. The crow is at every extreme, lives on every piece of land on earth, the most intelligent bird.





2014-09-16



Owl's Song
--Ted Hughes 
He sang
how the swan blanched forever
How the wolf threw away its telltale heart
And the stars dropped their pretence
The air gave up appearances
Water went deliberately numb
The rock surrendered its last hope
And cold died beyond knowledge 
He sang
How everything had nothing more to lose 
Then sat still with fear 
Seeing the clawtrack of star
Hearing the wingbeat of rock 
And his own singing