Autumn Haiku- 2016

wasting an hour
with thoughts that come and go
patio sparrows

empty stretch of freeway-
silhouette and absence
colors off the sunset

first gold of autumn receding into myself

new moon,
a cat prowls the yard
without a memory

my old school
oh how the leaves drift
long after recess

slow grey over
a clear blue afternoon-
I keep my peace

one last cricket
beside her I walk
a world our own

oak framed steeple
colors hang and speak
their silent presence

election day
cloud layers cover
inalienable blue

raking the yard,
the smell of last year and all
the years before that

green gone
to cinnamon and sepia,
rugged russet


[ House at Dusk ; Léon Spilliaert (1921) ]........


Like the Small Hole by the Path-Side Something Lives in
--Jane Hirshfield

Like the small hole by the path-side something lives in,
in me are lives I do not know the names of,

nor the fates of,
nor the hungers of or what they eat.

They eat of me.
Of small and blemished apples in low fields of me
whose rocky streams and droughts I do not drink.

And in my streets—the narrow ones,
unlabeled on the self-map—
they follow stairs down music ears can’t follow,

and in my tongue borrowed by darkness,
in hours uncounted by the self-clock,
they speak in restless syllables of other losses, other loves.

There too have been the hard extinctions,
missing birds once feasted on and feasting.

There too must be machines
like loud ideas with tungsten bits that grind the day.

A few escape. A mercy.

They leave behind
small holes that something unweighed by the self-scale lives in.


In Praise of Being Peripheral
--Jane Hirshfield 
Without philosophy,
a grey squirrel
very busy. 
Light as a soul
from a painting by Bosch,
its greens
and vermilions stripped off it. 
He climbs a tree
that is equally ahistoric. 
His heart works harder.


How Leonard might solo counterpoint to the angels.

[ Nardis ; Bill Evans Trio (1961)]

b- Scott LaFaro
p- Bill Evans
d- Paul Motian


The Troubadour's Departure, musings from Theo Dorgan at The Irish Times on the passing of Leonard Cohen:

When the long, pale riders come down from the hills,
down from the edge of the forest on their tall horses,
coming easy and slow with all the time in the world,
relaxed and looking about them as they always do,
a cold wind will come on ahead of them,
bending the heavy grasses up through the valley.

This is what happens the day they come for a singer,
always a wind when they come for one of their own.

The old people say, the singers are always at home
the day the riders come steadily up through the valley,
relaxed and looking about them as they always do,
the fair huntress, the three dark brothers.
When they come for a singer, they’re coming to bring him home,
that’s what they say, the old people who know.

Leonard has lately been singing us songs of the road,
this is what happens before they come down from the hills.

The women will bare their breasts down in the harvest,
the men will come in from the hunt, solemn and silent,
the children too will be silent, gathering to the singer,
and the oldest woman among us will sing the farewell.
The tall huntress will lead up the strong black horse,
the saddle crested with silver – stars and a moon.

This is what happens, the day they come for a singer,
they lead up a riderless horse to bring him away.

Gracias, Señora, gracias for the loan of Leonard,
let him speak kindly of us when he goes home.
Gracias, Señora, gracias for the gift of Leonard,
let him speak kindly of this place when he comes home.


Even though he
was built to see
the world this
way, he was also
built to
disregard, to be
free of the way
he was built
to see the world. 
--Leonard Cohen

[via whiskey river/crashingly beautiful]


The law of chaos is the law of ideas,
Of improvisations and seasons of belief. 
Ideas are men. The mass of meaning and
The mass of men are one. Chaos is not 
The mass of meaning. It is three or four
Ideas, or, say, five men or, possibly, six. 
In the end, these philosophic assassins pull
Revolvers and shoot each other. One remains. 
The mass of meaning becomes composed again.
He that remains plays on an instrument 
A good agreement between himself and night,
A chord between the mass of men and himself, 
Far, far beyond the putative canzones
Of love and summer. The assassin sings 
In chaos and his song is a consolation.
It is the music of the mass of meaning. 
And yet it is a singular romance,
This warmth in the blood-world for the pure idea, 
This inability to find a sound,
That clings to the mind like that right sound, that song 
Of the assassin that remains and sings
In the high imagination, triumphantly. 
--from 'Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas'; Wallace Stevens


[ Skull ; Edgar Degas ]


In the Empire of Light
the water’s completely dry  
floating on a surface of itself
around islands pointed south-southwest  
The wind fills it then
with more of itself  
according to the rules
which cause parallel lines  
to vibrate and cross
less and less  
among the hanging baskets from a rain forest
among the visiting statesmen  
from a rain forest
Here the dancer stops  
to regain her balance
and reelaborate the distance  
from the feet to the head
The risk is a part of the rhythm  
She steps out of
and into balance  
with those who are left
Chalk-marks show them where to stand 
--from 'The Book Against Understanding'; Michael Palmer


I’m not a political poet, in the sense that let’s say Amiri Baraka or Adrienne Rich are, or Allen Ginsberg was. Their poetry is instrumentalist by design; it’s meant to incite direct action. I suppose I’m in the polis and in relation to the polis in a different, if often sympathetic, way. And that illustrates the necessary range of voices, as Wallace Stevens said, between inside and outside, between a poetry that incites to action and a poetry that incites to reflection. But that puts it far too simplistically, since reflection is necessary to responsible intervention. We’re speaking of active reflection, naturally, a form of unmasking, of bringing to light, beyond the means readily at hand, beyond habits of speech and thought. 
--Michael Palmer

[from The Recovery of Language: Michael Palmer in Conversation]


Let Us Ravel the Silence
--Michael Palmer 
Let us ravel the silence,
its pages turning 
It is a hum, after all, of no sound,
a buzz of absent bees, 
a swirl of sky licked by flame
and a waste of sea, 
reeds bending east towards a tentative shore,
scatter song of light’s passage 
across a curving earth
There is a bridge in the bare distance 
It is a bridge between silences,
bridge of steel where once 
the Emperor’s dragon was meant to pass
bearing the palaces of the gods on its back, 
brows furled over blazing eyes,
scales of gold coating the torso 
And always the stones at sea-bottom
like extinguished stars  
The sun here neither rises nor sets
Does chalk emit a breath

"Palmer recomposes the measures of poetic song for our time, often on the ground of gone."


[ The Hare Field ; Ian MacCulloch ]....


The Present
--W. S. Merwin 
As they were leaving the garden
one of the angels bent down to them and whispered 
I am to give you this
as you are leaving the garden 
I do not know what it is
or what it is for
what you will do with it 
you will not be able to keep it
but you will not be able 
to keep anything
yet they both reached at once 
for the present
and when their hands met 
they laughed

[via poetry daily]


Pro Forma
--Yannis Ritsos (trans Martin McKinsey) 
Flowerpots lining the whitewashed stairs.
Two large yellow gourds on the open landing.
That’s all I’m going to tell you, he said. The bicycle
resting up against the sunlit curb. Its rider
was inside eating. The steam from his bowl of wild greens
clouded over the small shaving-mirror on the wall.
The tablecloth was covered with printed roses.
The real rose was indistinguishable from the rest.
This was done on purpose by the rose.


--Yannis Ritsos

In our hands we hold the shadow of our hands.
The night is kind-- the others do not see us holding our shadow.
We reinforce the night. We watch ourselves.
So we think better of others.
The sea still seeks our eyes and we are not there.
A young girl buttons up her love in her breast
and we look away smiling at the great distance.
Perhaps high up, in the starlight, a skylight opens up
that looks out on the sea, the olive trees and the burnt houses--
We listen to the butterfly gyrating in the glass of All Souls' Day,
and the fisherman's daughter grinding serenity in her coffee-grinder.


--Michael Delp 
They burn three-piece suits and wingtips. They burn syllabi and forms, anything they can find to eradicate the academic life, or the life of bankers and corporate demons. They burn maps and directions, no-trespassing signs. They burn all their certificates of merit, awards, any and all bad collections of poetry. As they burn, they sing, and as they sing, they become characters of songs. "Ol' Man River" falls down and out of the air and collapses by the embers, and every song ever written and played by the Grateful Dead rises up out of the dark into a black plume miles high. Together they both grow wings, one insect, the other vulture, and they ride and circle the black swirling vein of debris they have made of their burning. In the morning, bottles empty for hundreds of yards, they rise to step into the new shadows of the legends they have made of themselves.


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


Autumn Sky
--Charles Simic 
In my great grandmother's time,
All one needed was a broom
To get to see places
And give the geese a chase in the sky.  
The stars know everything,
So we try to read their minds.
As distant as they are,
We choose to whisper in their presence.  
Oh Cynthia,
Take a clock that has lost its hands
For a ride.
Get me a room at Hotel Eternity
Where Time likes to stop now and then.  
Come, lovers of dark corners,
The sky says,
And sit in one of my dark corners.
There are tasty little zeroes
In the peanut dish tonight.


From the nightstand ('Suttree'; Cormac McCarthy):

In an older part of the cemetery he saw some people strolling. Elderly gent with a cane, his wife on his arm. They did not see him. They went on among the tilted stones and rough grass, the wind coming from the woods cold in the sunlight. A stone angel in her weathered marble robes, the downcast eyes. The old people’s voices drift across the lonely space, murmurous above these places of the dead. The lichens on the crumbling stones like a strange green light. The voices fade. Beyond the gentle clash of weeds. He sees them stoop to read some quaint inscription and he pauses by an old vault that a tree has half dismantled with its growing. Inside there is nothing. No bones, dust. How surely are the dead beyond death. Death is what the living carry with them. A state of dread, like some uncanny foretaste of a bitter memory. But the dead do not remember and nothingness is not a curse. Far from it. 
He sat in the dappled light among the stones. A bird sang. Some leaves falling. He sat with his hands palm up on the grass beside him like a stricken puppet and he thought no thoughts at all. 


[ Divining ; Nels Cline Singers ]

gr- Nels Cline
ds- Scott Amendola
bs- Trevor Dunn
pn- Cyro Baptista


It may be that living in an imaginative state is the same as living in a primitive state, one ruled by the whims of obscure gods, gusted with unassailable pleasures and torn open by corpuscular terrors, one right in the middle of the blast furnace of the sacred. But that depends upon a present overwhelming awareness of the unknowable and fabricating the knowable allows for control, survival, progress. We know now where the gazelle lie down so we can sneak up upon them. We know what this seed contains and where these waters lead and the opposite-smell of fire is snow-coming. I am not saying that the triumphs of the rational mind, of the creation of cause-and-effect relation isn’t fundamentally imaginative, nor that the glories of technology aren’t imaginative, but much of that triumph has led to the notion of the imaginary as being something that is false, discarded with maturity because it produces no material result. So after years of condemning and destroying the forest, of our war on twilight and dawn and war on night, we wonder why we’re waking up in a desert. That’s why in art the presence of the imagination has become so disruptive and primitive, engaged often in first-mindedness. The rational intellect, so evolved and rewarded with stunning successes, with footprints on the moon and cures for TB, is now fitting too snugly over our minds like a too-small helmet, and it requires antlers to get through it. Our explanations are so powerful we’re suffering from the anemia of having replaced the world with explanations of the world. We need mystery in our lives, it is the presence of love: we need the beauty of the splash. We’re not just turkey necks used for crab bait, are we? We’re not math either. The imagination is the vital extra, the extravagance of the flower’s throat as well as the poverty of the weathered barn door. It is counterproductive, insurgent, undemocratic, and unknowable, but a true comfort. 

  ........--Dean Young

[via BOMB]


Dear Oblivion, I love
your old song. Let a spinning wheel be
my fireplace, the lit-up nerves of jellyfish
my universe. The greatest indication of truth
is laughter and maybe now I’m ready
to talk to my mother and father. This morning
I have the distinct impression my house
is about to crumble so let rubble be my crown.
Release the hound! What a joke, she’s about
a hundred years old and when you look into
her almost-no-one-home eyes, you come to a river
and when you come to that river, float. 
--from 'How to Glow'; Dean Young

[via slate


Flash Powder
--Dean Young 
Tonight when I look out the hotel window,
the bells inside me are quiet but
they start up again walking through the park
to the statute of the sun stepping on
a giant crab. Sunset wears a crown
like a wound wears a crown.
Even then the gods are at work.
The eyes see something beautiful beyond,
the shells of attending snails twirling
like galaxies made into mathematical formulas
like flames trying to become a rose. It all
makes sense, promise the physicists
piling on more and more dark matter
like in a Lou Reed song. Please please
please, peals the oblongata.
What the fuck with everything.