2018-12-15



Holly 
--Seamus Heaney 
It rained when it should have snowed.
When we went to gather holly 
the ditches were swimming, we were wet
to the knees, our hands were all jags 
and water ran up our sleeves.
There should have been berries 
but the sprigs we brought into the house
gleamed like smashed bottle-glass. 
Now here I am, in a room that is decked
with the red-berried, waxy-leafed stuff, 
and I almost forget what it’s like
to be wet to the skin or longing for snow. 
I reach for a book like a doubter
and want it to flare round my hand, 
a black-letter bush, a glittering shield-wall
cutting as holly and ice.



2018-12-13



[ A Mouse with a Peanut ; Albert Anker ]....



2018-12-11




I am doing something I learned early to do, I am
paying attention to small beauties,
whatever I have - as if it were our duty to
find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world. 
      --Sharon Olds


[via whiskey river]


2018-12-09


Winter Words
--Slyvia Plath 
In the pale prologue
of daybreak
tongues of intrigue
cease to speak. 
Moonshine splinters
as birds hush;
transfixed the antlers
in the bush. 
With fur and feather,
buck and cock
softly author
icebound book. 
No chinese painter’s
brown and buff
could quill a quainter
calligraph. 
On stilted legs the
bluejays go
their minor leagues a-
cross the snow, 
inscribing cryptic
anagrams
on their skeptic
search for crumbs. 
Chipmunks enter
stripes of black
in the winter
almanac. 
A scribbling squirrel
makes a blot
of gray apparel,
hides a nut. 
On chastely figured
trees and stones
fate is augured
in bleak lines. 
With shorthand scratches
on white scroll
bark of birches
tells a tale. 
Ice like parchment
shrouds the pond,
marred by misprint
of north wind. 
Windowpane wears
gloss of frost
till dawnlight blurs
and all’s erased.

A poem found in a letter Plath wrote to her mother while attending Smith College (per Faber & Faber).

2018-12-07


Listen. Put on Morning
--W. S. Graham 
Listen. Put on morning.
Waken into falling light.
A man’s imagining
Suddenly may inherit
The handclapping centuries
Of his one minute on earth.
And hear the virgin juries
Talk with his own breath
To the corner boys of his street.
And hear the Black Maria
Searching the town at night.
And hear the playropes caa
The sister Mary in.
And hear Willie and Davie
Among bracken of Narnain
Sing in a mist heavy
With myrtle and listeners.
And hear the higher town
Weep a petition of fears
At the poorhouse close upon
The public heartbeat.
And hear the children tig
And run with my own feet
Into the netting drag
Of a suiciding principle.
Listen. Put on lightbreak.
Waken into miracle.
The audience lies awake
Under the tenements
Under the sugar docks
Under the printed moments.
The centuries turn their locks
And open under the hill
Their inherited books and doors
All gathered to distil
Like happy berry pickers
One voice to talk to us.
Yes listen. It carries away
The second and the years
Till the heart’s in a jacket of snow
And the head’s in a helmet white
And the song sleeps to be wakened
By the morning ear bright.
Listen. Put on morning.
Waken into falling light.

2018-11-29


Haiku- Autumn 2018


a few peaceful stars,
a thousand crickets sing
of a place back home


what to do today,
live in these shadows never
lifting from the ground


what do I want,
to bend as wide as the river
filled with today


cottontail rabbit,
dive on through this failing light
burrowed in comfort


golden hour-
just a bunch of leaves falling
and that's about it


halloween evening
smell of raw pumpkin gut
that's not candy


variable wind
over a newly paved lot-
election day


yellow leaflets 
not yet fallen from the Ash-
jazz notes


Black Friday-
I also leave a walking stick
at the trailhead


late November
trees now too in the silence
of a sun declined



2018-11-27


Untitled 
Matter of rain at the window,
for want of a better source
lamenting satisfaction. A door
on how there once was breeze,
where over once sat sunlight. 
..........Past sounds sounding night,
..........from perpetual eventide tuned
..........low to round level fahrenheit.
..........Sum gravity of this circling
..........globed spiral- a ground swell
Breath by the hidden half-moon
in slack wind. Both supposed and
known while only a sense through
sleep to which I am partially awake.
A dream, as it persists foreign to me. 
..........Maple’s cragged silhouette
..........dissolution in slough drowsed
..........down to faceless grey stone,
..........hardened definition staring up
..........at the mild somnia of decades
Autopsy of anticlimactic dust,
lain dust atop enfolded pages,
under a roof where this stirring
is filled with a swirl of old words,
odds that hold fast to being reborn.  
..........Mysteries gradually grow upon
..........meandering emotion towards
..........ghosts, dour elation, sufficient
..........vanishment  when the hour hand
..........of the clock strikes homeward
Direction over and over within
earthen radix of every dark star,
assured rapt finality that lapses
ever along by what’s slowly drawn
out for the benign truth of going. 




2018-11-25


[ Poe Walking High Bridge ; Bernard Rosenmeyer].........


Interesting background for the illustration available at Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct.

2018-11-23




There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you realize that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realize, too, that you have to grow around and between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are. 
.....--Helen MacDonald, H is for Hawk


 [ via dreaming in the deep south ]

2018-11-21





November Night
--Adelaide Crapsey 
Listen. .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.





2018-11-19



November Guest
--Robert Frost 
My sorrow, when she’s here with me,
.....Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
.....She walks the sodden pasture lane. 
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
.....She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted grey
.....Is silver now with clinging mist. 
The desolate, deserted trees,
.....The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
.....And vexes me for reason why. 
Not yesterday I learned to know
.....The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
Bit it were vain to tell her so,
.....And they are better for her praise.


2018-11-17



[ I Guess I'll Have to Forget ; Christian McBride Trio ]


b - Christian McBride
d - Ulysses Owens Jr
p - Christian Sands

2018-11-15



Lighthead’s Guide to the Galaxy
--Terrance Hayes

Ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and children of the state,
I am here because I could never get the hang of Time.
This hour, for example, would be like all the others
were it not for the rain falling through the roof.
I’d better not be too explicit. My night is careless
with itself, troublesome as a woman wearing no bra
in winter. I believe everything is a metaphor for sex.
Lovemaking mimics the act of departure, moonlight
drips from the leaves. You can spend your whole life
doing no more than preparing for life and thinking.
“Is this all there is?” Thus, I am here where poets come
to drink a dark strong poison with tiny shards of ice,
something to loosen my primate tongue and its syllables
of debris. I know all words come from preexisting words
and divide until our pronouncements develop selves.
The small dog barking at the darkness has something to say
about the way we live. I’d rather have what my daddy calls
“skrimp.” He says “discrete” and means the street
just out of sight. Not what you see, but what you perceive:
that’s poetry. Not the noise, but its rhythm; an arrangement
of derangements; I’ll eat you to live: that’s poetry.
I wish I glowed like a brown-skinned pregnant woman.
I wish I could weep the way my teacher did as he read us
Molly Bloom’s soliloquy of yes. When I kiss my wife,
sometimes I taste her caution. But let’s not talk about that.
Maybe Art’s only purpose is to preserve the Self.
Sometimes I play a game in which my primitive craft fires
upon an alien ship whose intention is the destruction
of the earth. Other times I fall in love with a word
like somberness. Or moonlight juicing naked branches.
All species have a notion of emptiness, and yet
the flowers don’t quit opening. I am carrying the whimper
you can hear when the mouth is collapsed, the wisdom
of monkeys. Ask a glass of water why it pities
the rain. Ask the lunatic yard dog why it tolerates the leash.
Brothers and sisters, when you spend your nights
out on a limb, there’s a chance you’ll fall in your sleep.



2018-11-13



From an interview with Terrance Hayes at Iowa Spring '18, via LitHub:

I think it is my personality that I can pretty much go into any room where people speak English and navigate around that room in terms of engaging with what they’re doing... I’m interested in form; I’m interested in culture. Depending on what space I’m in, depending on what kind of water I’m in, people see me in very different ways. But for myself, I try not to think about it too much.... 
I’m interested in Language School poetics, too. The idea that language in and of itself is a material or communicates sound that is a material—that interests me. I’m a student of poetry, and I feel like everything’s on the table, and I can use it all. I don’t necessarily have to commit to one circle, even though I feel people pulling me, “Be on my team, be on my team!” and I’m not sure if I want to be only in your part of the house. 
Interviewer: Do you think it’s because you had an anomalous path coming into poetry? You come from a small town in South Carolina and went to college because you had a basketball scholarship. You were outside the main academic pipeline and didn’t have a silver spoon. Maybe it’s generational, too. You’re not as fixed in one position. According to the sociology, boomers are more fixed in their positions and more polemical, whereas Generation X is more polyglot and less oppositional: they tend toward what one sociologist calls “the cultural omnivore” and don’t have as strict distinctions among kinds of art. 

That’s a great question. I was born in ’71, and we had multitasking and were in the electronic age. But now there’s digital or social media, which people like my daughter are very aware of. (I’m one of the few people I know of in my cohort that doesn’t do social media. I used to do it, but it was taking up too many of my words.) I do think that the phenomena where you have access to all of that information makes you polyglot. You know a lot of things, but you haven’t spent a whole bunch of time in one area.


And then another, from The Rumpus this past summer:

....I was sitting here thinking what I often think in these interviews… “I hope the poems speak for themselves.” This I do because it’s part of my job. And because I love a good question. I’m enjoying your insights. 
Interviewer: They do speak for themselves. They fit into that William Carlos Williams quote, “I wanted to write a poem / that you would understand. / For what good is it to me / if you can’t understand it? / But you got to try hard —.” These poems reward close reading, and multiple readings, and I hope people sit with this book a long time.






2018-11-11


What It Look Like
--Terrance Hayes 
Dear Ol' Dirty Bastard: I too like it raw,
I don't especially care for Duke Ellington
at a birthday party. I care less and less
about the shapes of shapes because forms
change and nothing is more durable than feeling.
My uncle used the money I gave him
to buy a few vials of what looked like candy
after the party where my grandma sang
in an outfit that was obviously made
for a West African king. My motto is
Never mistake what it is for what it looks like.
My generosity, for example, is mostly a form
of vanity. A bandanna is a useful handkerchief,
but a handkerchief is a useless-ass bandanna.
This only looks like a footnote in my report
concerning the party. Trill stands for what is
truly real though it may be hidden by the houses
just over the hills between us, by the hands
on the bars between us. That picture
of my grandmother with my uncle
when he was a baby is not trill. What it is
is the feeling felt seeing garbagemen drift
along the predawn avenues, a sloppy slow rain
taking its time to the coast. Milquetoast
is not trill, nor is bouillabaisse. Bakku-shan
is Japanese for a woman who is beautiful
only when viewed from behind. Like I was saying,
my motto is Never mistake what it looks like
for what it is
else you end up like that Negro
Othello. (Was Othello a Negro?) Don't you lie
about who you are sometimes and then realize
the lie is true? You are blind to your power, Brother
Bastard, like the king who wanders his kingdom
searching for the king. And that's okay.
No one will tell you you are the king.
No one really wants a king anyway.

2018-11-09



[ Autumn In Madeira ; Jacek Yerka ].........



2018-11-07



Leaves
--Gerald Stern

He was cleaning leaves for one at a time
was what he needed and a minute before the two
brown poodles walked by he looked at the stripped-down trees
from one more point of view and thought they were
part of a system in which the dappled was foreign
for he had arrived at his own conclusion and that was
for him a relief even if he was separated,
even if  his hands were frozen,
even if the wind knocked him down,
even if his cat went into her helpless mode
inside the green and sheltering Japanese yew tree.



2018-11-05



I used to be libertarian. I used to be atheist. I used to want America to be more atheist libertarian. 
All my voting, preaching, discussing and complaining reflected those desires. I'm still libertarian and atheist, and now I'm vegan to (pleather) boot, but none of that matters any more. I no longer care. 
All I want out of America now is kindness. That's all. The past few years have filled too many of our friends and neighbors with hate, and it breaks my heart. Some people started acting hateful, crazy and nasty so that they could win, and then people who disagreed with them acted the same way. They disagree in content but agree wholeheartedly in tone. 
So many of us now agree with the message of hate, and play "ideology" as team sports. The message doesn't matter when the medium is hate. My friends who work on TV, people I love personally, are using a tone and a meanness in their jobs that they never used before. Is hate where the money is? I don't know if fighting fire with fire actually works (who am I, Denis Leary?), but I do know that fighting hate with hate never works. 
It makes me cry. I've read about family members not invited to Thanksgiving because of political disagreements! The Clash sang "anger can be power" and I believed it. Maybe I still believe it, but maybe I don't want power any more. Can't we replace the word "evil" with the word "wrong?" Everyone is wrong sometimes and nobody is evil ever. The America I want is kind to people who are wrong. 
I'm like a dog, I don't hear words anymore, I just hear tone. Anyone whose tone is kind will get my complete support. Libertarian, Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Green . . . anything else you got. I've always been left out of team sports. I don't want to win enough. I'm not part of a team, I'm part of humanity. I want kindness. There's no other team for me. Let's love each other, and then discuss how to run our country together. 
..........--Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller

[via cnn]


 ruff... ruff....

2018-11-03



Dinner Guest
--Tony Hoagland

The dinner guest goes upstairs to use the ladies room,
and after she has washed her hands, just out of curiosity
takes a peek in the medicine cabinet- where among
the Nyquil and Ativan and dental floss she sees
a bottle labeled Male Enhancement Formula,

—and is puzzled for a moment, and then amused.
Is this the funny little thing, she wonders,
that has caused so many wars? so many
murders and exploded buildings?
so many smashed down doors and refugees?

And in a way, of course, she is correct. The need to
engineer an outcome, the desire to
feel confident that what you want to happen
will happen when you want—
as an explanation it explains so much.

Downstairs, re-seated in her chair, the guest
picks up her knife and fork,
but now her appetite is gone.

Outside it’s dark; inside,
the candles lick their yellow tongues,
and at the table, the final course
of big ideas is being served—

the men are saying
that injustice can be eliminated.



2018-11-01


Scotch Tape
--Tony Hoagland 
There’s a radio station at the left end of the dial
where you can listen to 24 hours of genocide war crimes;
how in the south the election was bought cheap 
by men in unmarked uniforms;
how the contaminated medicine was shipped abroad
until babies started being born with deformed spines. 
--And the then the big conspiracies: how the oceans
......are being poisoned;
the toxic waste pumped from one container to the next,
the oil wells drilled like dental work 
down into the jaw-bone of the earth,
and bad news keeps on coming like a river
or a crazy, filthy wave, that breaks against you
......like a shore. 
The evening program is called “The Misery of the World”
The announcer has a voice like stomach acid.
To listen is a moral obligation,
--or is it an act of masochism? 
It broadcasts daily from 8 to 10 p.m.
And I am listening tonight, I am faithfully,
dutifully listening,
moaning a little in frustration. 
while I try to get my fingernail
under the serrated edge of the scotch tape
to unstick it from its small transparent spool 
so I can mend the torn pages
in this second-hand copy of Heraclitus,
where he says that everything is on fire. 



2018-10-30


[ Dark Star ; Wilhelm Kotarbinski ]..




2018-10-28


The Domination of Black
--Wallace Stevens 
 At night, by the fire,
 The colors of the bushes
 And of the fallen leaves,
 Repeating themselves,
 Turned in the room,
 Like the leaves themselves
 Turning in the wind.
 Yes: but the color of the heavy hemlocks
 Came striding.
 And I remembered the cry of the peacocks. 
 The colors of their tails
 Were like the leaves themselves
 Turning in the wind,
 In the twilight wind.
 They swept over the room,
 Just as they flew from the boughs of the hemlocks
 Down to the ground.
 I heard them cry—the peacocks.
 Was it a cry against the twilight
 Or against the leaves themselves
 Turning in the wind,
 Turning as the flames
 Turned in the fire,
 Turning as the tails of the peacocks
 Turned in the loud fire,
 Loud as the hemlocks
 Full of the cry of the peacocks?
 Or was it a cry against the hemlocks? 
 Out of the window,
 I saw how the planets gathered
 Like the leaves themselves
 Turning in the wind.
 I saw how the night came,
 Came striding like the color of the heavy hemlocks
 I felt afraid.
 And I remembered the cry of the peacocks.


2018-10-26



I  WAS  BORN  IN  AN  EGG,
SOMEWHERE  BETWEEN  A
DESERT   HOME   AND   THE
INTENTIONAL   MESS OF  A
CITY.   LIGHTS    FLICKERED
THERE  TO   REMIND  US  OF
STREET      WORK,      WHITE
NOISE,    MUSIC,   AND   THE
KAFKAN   BELITTLED ARM.

WALKING         INTO          A
THRESHOLD-FOG     IS    NOT
SOMETHING    YOU     OFTEN
CATCH    YOURSELF    DOING
BUT THE PATERNAL  ANIMAL
INSIDE      IS      ANGRY   AND
DOMINEERING,    ONCE   THE
FORM IS  PLACED  DOWN,  IT
NEARLY    EXPLODES.    TIME
DISTORTS.  THE MACHINE OF
EXISTENCES  LEAKS   OUT   A
BLACK      LIQUID,      ALMOST
SEXUALLY      STYLED.      ALL
AFFECT        IS       THIS--LIKE
FLOWER  WALLPAPER. 

AFTER    EATING   AN ERRATIC
STAR:        THE      MASCULINE
COUPLES,     IN     ORDER    TO
DISCOVERY              ANOTHER
WORLD     WITH    NO    LIGHT.
THE  DARK   STAGE HIDES THE
DARK     SELF.         TOUCHING,
CRYING,       AND        ABUSING
ARE        MELODRAMATICALLY
RENDERED     ESCAPES   FROM
SLEEP      AND      FROM     THE
TOWERING     WIND    OF   THE
FEMININE.  
--LM RIVERA


 [via dream pop press]


2018-10-24



The Surety of a Disembodied Poesy
--LM Rivera

Poetry’s anatomy circumvents transcendency—akin to the skulking hyena and its distorted doppelganger affronted by Rimbaud’s devil. The Book being a body. The Word being an alchemic blood. Language as a house. Poetics as Da­sein. Though, a surrogated uncovering might suspend material declinations. The Body dies—does the Poem? A crisis confronts the Poet. You will expire but will your work? Uncovering may prolong the Form but Form is an historical machine, metamorphosing­unto­death. “And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, we/who never let each other sleep above it.”(1) Immortality of the Name (Achilles­ian)—the amaranthine calling and the “called back” (Dickinson­ian)—are we with myth? Or, is a disembodied poesy also a historicity of incalculable prolongation? The Book transmogrified into Question. The Word being a wing. Language as a home. Poetics as a “handshake.”(2) Poesy as response.

Out of the void a new form will be born in an immense poem.

1 Marina Tsvetaeva
2 Paul Celan