No defeat is made up entirely of defeat—since
the world it opens is always a place
........................unsuspected. A
world lost,
..............a world unsuspected,
........................beckons to new places
and no whiteness (lost) is so white as the memory
of whiteness.....



The descent
..............made up of despairs
........................and without accomplishment
realizes a new awakening:
........................which is a reversal
of despair.
..............For what we cannot accomplish, what
is denied to love,
..............what we have lost in the anticipation—
........................a descent follows,
endless and indestructible.....

--fromThe Descent’; William Carlos Williams (1954)


[ Hungry Ghost ; Brad Mehldau & Mark Guiliana, October 2013 ]


When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions- such as merit, such as past, present, and future- our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment.  
-- Peter Matthiessen (1927 - 2014)


It is Born
--Pablo Neruda (trans. Alastair Reid) 
Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning.



I love the handful of the earth you are.
Because of its meadows, vast as a planet,
I have no other star. You are my replica
of the multiplying universe. 
Your wide eyes are the only light I know
from extinguished constellations;
your skin throbs like the streak
of a meteor through rain. 
Your hips were that much of the moon for me;
your deep mouth and its delights, that much sun;
your heart, fiery with its long red rays, 
was that much ardent light, like honey in the shade.
So I pass across your burning form, kissing
you - compact and planetary, my dove, my globe. 
-- Pablo Neruda (trans by Stephen Tapscott)



From a Brian Eno interview/article at The Polymath Perspective:

I think that sex, drugs, art and religion very much overlap with one another and sometimes one becomes another. So I thought, ‘What do all those things have in common?’ The umbrella that they all exist under is this word, ‘surrender’ because they are all forms of transcendence through surrender. They are ways of transcending your individuality and sense of yourself as a totally separate creature in the world. All of those things involve some kind of loosening of this boundary that is around this thing you call ‘yourself’. 
In Gospel music you do it by surrounding yourself in the inner community, so you are no longer you and become a part of ‘us’, and, of course, that’s what happens in sex, if you enjoy it! 
This idea of surrender has become more and more what I’ve been thinking about for the last few years....I consider surrender an active verb, in the sense that you have this spectrum ranging from control to surrender, and the model of post-enlightenment man is that we’ve become better and better at control. If you think of our distant genetic past, most of our time was spent around the surrender end of the spectrum because there wasn’t much we could control. We were at the mercy of weather, creatures, geology, geography and everything else. We had to learn to surrender in a situation because when you are powerless, your option is to go with the flow and learn how to navigate it. That’s what I call active surrender.

[via slow muse]


Courtyard wall of brick
And sun submerged in beer, and streaming in glasses,
The weave of a sleeve, the careful and undulant tile. A quick
Change of the eye and all this calmly passes

Into a day, into magic.
Is there any end to true textures, to true
Integuments; do they ever desist from tacit, tragic
Fading away? Oh maculate, cracked, askew,

Gay-pocked and potsherd world
I voyage, where in every tangible tree
I see afloat among the leaves, all calm and curled,
The Cheshire smile which sets me fearfully free.

--from "Objects"; Richard Wilbur



From a 1977 interview with Richard Wilbur, as found at the Paris Review:

You have said, “I do think that there is nothing more dangerous to the imagination than fantasy.” Many people would equate the two things. Could you elaborate on that? 

To me, the imagination is a faculty that fuses things, takes hold of the physical and ideal worlds and makes them one, provisionally. Fantasy, in my mind, is a poetic or artistic activity that leaves something out—it ignores the concrete and the actual in order to create a purely abstract, unreal realm. If we think of fantasy at its least dignified, non-artistic level, this becomes obvious. Sexual reverie very clearly leaves something out, and that something is the physical object of one's desire.


Air is refreshment's treasury; earth seems
Our history's faulted sink, and spring of love;
And we between these dreamt-of empires move
to coop infinity away from dreams. 
--from "Attention Makes Infinity"; Richard Wilbur



[ Sunrise ; Arthur Dove (1924) ].......


Must lie.....
Still as Stone.....
By the wren bone.....
Wall hearing the moan.....
Of the mother hidden.....
And the shadowed head of  pain.....
Casting tomorrow like a thorn.....
And the midwives of miracle sing.....
Until the turbulent new born.....
Burns me his name and his flame.....
And the winged wall is torn....
By his torrid crown...
And the dark thrown....
From his loin...
To bright...

~ Dylan Thomas.....


This nightflower, the size of a cat's head--
now moist and sentient--
let it hang there in the dark;
bare beauty asking nothing of us,
if we could graft you to us,
so singular and married to instant.
But now rest picked, a trillium
never to repeat yourself. Soon enough
you'll know dead air, brief homage,
a sliver of glass in someone's brain. 
-- from 'A Year's Changes'; Jim Harrison (1968)


[ Equinox ; John Coltrane, 1960 ]....

s- John Coltrane
p- McCoy Tyner
b- Steve Davis
d- Elvin Jones


The Stalin Epigram
-- Osip Mandelstam (trans W. S. Merwin) 
Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can’t hear our words. 
But whenever there’s a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,  
the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight, 
the huge laughing cockroaches
on his top lip, the glitter of his boot-rims. 
Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses
he toys with the tributes of half-men. 
One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.
He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom. 
He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,
One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye. 
He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.
He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home. 



[Photo of Mandelstam after a second arrest, 1938]...

 "Only in Russia is poetry respected, it gets people killed. 
Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common
a motive for murder?"
-- Osip Mandelstam


-- Osip Mandelstam 
She has not yet been born:
she is music and word,
and therefore the un-torn,
fabric of what is stirred. 
Silent the ocean breathes.
Madly day’s glitter roams.
Spray of pale lilac foams,
in a bowl of grey-blue leaves. 
May my lips rehearse
the primordial silence,
like a note of crystal clearness,
sounding, pure from birth! 
Stay as foam Aphrodite – Art –
and return, Word, where music begins:
and, fused with life’s origins,
be ashamed heart, of heart!

[via poetry in translation]


I want to forget every
word I know I want
to forget every word
I know I want no thought
half-lit almost river
speaking her variant
over the shoreline  
..............the alphabet
...........almanacs dream
meat into the crocuses

--from 'Mandelstam Variations'; Ian Dreiblatt

(via conjunctions


From "Intersecting Influences in American Haiku" (Thomas Lynch (2001), as available in full online):

In sum, several relevant correlations between the poetic theory of Japanese haiku poets and the theory of the American transcendentalists can be deduced: 1) a belief in the interfusion of the self with external nature, seeking to resolve the subject/object dichotomy and to return us to an awareness of the true self that we share with all other things; 2) an understanding that in order to achieve such an interfusion we need to attain what might be termed an Edenic condition in which we efface the ego-self and reject preconceptions and received beliefs; 3) a recognition that for most of us such an interfusion occurs in fragmentary moments of perception; 4) an awareness that the present time is the only time, and the present place the only place, to achieve such a perception... (pg 121).

[via NeverEnding Story]


Haiku- Winter 2013/14

empty birch sings
its own white song
before the snow

choral height
grounded at solstice
stardust of Sirius

height of stars
cascading down upon
another morning

weight of winter-
an ice covered lake
black wine beneath

a north wind howl,
donning wool socks
rather than wings

inhabitant ghosts
when outside drafts in
old familiar songs

frigid and clear
the pale pulse
of constant cosmos

vertical thought
spheres in the flight
of a snowy owl

what was it I heard?
not thoughts, the whisp
of Sweden in the forest

and a single sound
with the river

a cold west wind
one syllable real
where sky cleared

chunk of moon sits
boldly incomplete
in clear blue sky

winter memory-
day lit moon held
in a thick of branches

green haiku abound
but those of snow remain
here, in the snow


We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;........
    How restlessly they speed and gleam and quiver,........
Streaking the darkness radiantly! yet soon........
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:—........

Or like forgotten lyres whose dissonant strings........
    Give various response to each varying blast,........
To whose frail frame no second motion brings.............
    One mood or modulation like the last.............

We rest—a dream  has power to poison sleep;.............
    We rise—one wandering thought pollutes the day;.............
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep,........
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:—........

It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,........
    The path of its departure still is free;........
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;........
    Nought may endure but Mutability.........

--Percy Bysshe Shelley........


He was a wise man who invented beer. ~Plato..................
[Double Cream Stout; Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo MI]....................


A Poem- For February 
What can be held in snow drifts,
wind from the ice dammed roofs,
glare of yesterday which tastes
of elements off prior concerns? 
Feline lens reflective in night,
it taught silent advocacy towards
thoughts not meant to finish.
A dilatation behind mirrored air 
which carries past our names,
as pronouns fade into strength
of new decorums spoken over,
and over. A hole in the ground 
filled by the moon has also been
a calendar drafted by the sun.
A warm room, a table inside
with letters of quiet signatures.


Nox Borealis
-- Campbell McGrath

If Socrates drank his portion of hemlock willingly,
if the Appalachians have endured unending ages of erosion,
if the wind can learn to read our minds
and moonlight moonlight as a master pickpocket,
surely we can contend with contentment as our commission.

Deer in a stubble field, small birds dreaming
unimaginable dreams in hollow trees,
even the icicles, darling, even the icicles shame us
with their stoicism, their radiant resolve.

Listen to me now: think of something you love
but not too dearly, so the night will steal from us
only what we can afford to lose.



Reflection (Self-Portrait) ; Lucian Freud, 1985]..........

Wind pushing light all over the place outside. Cold, another wall. Physicists now say the universe is limitless, all theory must be reformulated. Talk which ignores the substantive core of the human body is useless. Recently I picked up a book of anatomy illustrated limb by limb, organ by organ, with color photographs. It's a complex, horrid mass of cells after the living skin is gone. When are you coming up to bed?

-- 'The Physical Universe' ; Robert Gibbons (via Poetrybay)

[ Double Portrait ; Lucian Freud, 1986].......