so many selves(so many fiends and gods
each greedier than every)is a man
(so easily one in another hides;
yet man can,being all,escape from none) 
so huge a tumult is the simplest wish:
so pitiless a massacre the hope
most innocent(so deep's the mind of flesh
and so awake what waking calls asleep) 
so never is most lonely man alone
(his briefest breathing lives some planet's year,
his longest life's a heartbeat of some sun;
his least unmotion roams the youngest star) 
how should a fool that calls him 'I' presume
to comprehend not numerable whom? 
--E E Cummings


Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast. 
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me. 
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day. 
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time. 
--W H Auden


..........That the absence of the sun
Is not the cause of Night--
.....Forasmuch as this light is
...............So great 

..........It may illuminate the Earth
all over at once..........but
.....That Night is brought on
..............By the 
........Influence of dark Stars--
That ray out darkness upon
.....The Earth, as the sun
..............Does Light. 

..........--José Garcia Villa

( As adapted from The Notebooks
of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, vol 1 )


....What potion should I give the night so she’ll always wonder?
....Her pounding heart’s a rider galloping from the burning wood.

....Maybe my pharmacist is awake the next street over?
....In a crucible of  bone, snake tears mixed with herbs.

....Should I hurry? Call the doctor? A heart like hers is rare.
....And to tell the truth, if it shattered, what would I do?

....--Abraham Sutzkever (trans by Zackary Sholem Berger)

[via poetryfoundation.org]


Forever falling night is a known
Star and country to the legion
Of sleepers whose tongue I toll
To mourn his deluging
Light through sea and soil
And we have come
To know all
Quarters and graves
Of the endless fall.
Now common lazarus
Of the charting sleepers prays
Never to awake and arise
................For the country is the heart’s size

[ from Vision & Prayer; Dylan Thomas ]


When all my five and country senses see,
The fingers will forget green thumbs and mark
How, through the halfmoon's vegetable eye,
Husk of young stars and handfull zodiac,
Love in the frost is pared and wintered by,
The whispering ears will watch love drummed away
Down breeze and shell to a discordant beach,
And, lashed to syllables, the lynx tongue cry
That her fond wounds are mended bitterly.
My nostrils see her breath burn like a bush.  
My one and noble heart has witnesses
In all love's countries, that will grope awake;
And when blind sleep drops on the spying senses,
The heart is sensual, though five eyes break. 
....-- Dylan Thomas


[ Cat in Moonlight  ; Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1900) ]........


Annual parse adjustment
at end of autumn. End weight
when setting down dinner,
doing so when dark outside 
already, daily life continuing,
but with the top third lobbed 
off, handed back down upon
a plate, and in the window, 
transparent reflection, spectral
with night, says, 'here, eat up'.


Dancing in the Dark ; Cannonball Adderley (1958) ]

s - Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
t - Miles Davis
d - Art Blakey,
p - Hank Jones
b - Sam Jones


Carrying On Like a Crow
--Charles Simic 
Are you authorized to speak
For those trees without leaves?
Are you able to explain
What the wind intends to do
With a man’s shirt and a woman’s nightgown
Left on the laundry line?
What do you know about dark clouds?
Ponds full of fallen leaves?
Old-model cars rusting in a driveway?
Who gave you the permission
To look at the beer can in a ditch?
The white cross by the side of the road?
The swing set in the widow's yard?
Ask yourself, if words are enough,
Or if you’d be better off
Flapping your wings from tree to tree
And carrying on like a crow.


My Quarrel with the Infinite
--Charles Simic 
I preferred the fleeting,
Like a memory of a sip of wine
Of noble vintage
On the tongue with eyes closed... 
When you tapped me on the shoulder,
O light, unsayable in your splendor.
A lot of good you did me.
You just made my insomnia last longer. 
I sat rapt at the spectacle,
Secretly ruing the fugitive:
All its provisory, short-lived
Kisses and enchantments. 
Here with the new day breaking,
And a single scarecrow on the horizon
Directing the traffic
Of crows and their shadows.


The Dead
--Don Paterson 
Our business is with fruit and leaf and bloom;  
though they speak with more than just the season's ......tongue--
the colours that they blaze from the dark loam  
all have something of the jealous tang     
of the dead about them. What do we know of their part  
in this, those secret brothers of the harrow,  
invigorators of the soil-- oiling the dirt  
so liberally with their essence, their black marrow?       
But here's the question. Are the flower and fruit  
held out to us in love, or merely thrust  
up at us, their masters, like a fist?    
Or are they the lords, asleep amongst the roots,  
granting to us in their great largesse  
this hybrid thing-- part brute force, part mute kiss?


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.


--Edgar Allen Poe

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!


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)


Two Epitaphs
--Walter de la Mare 
Ye say we sleep;
But nay, we wake;
Life was that strange and chequered dream
Only for waking’s sake. 
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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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 


.............................................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 André Breton'; Dean Young

[via The Massachusetts Review]