The Term
--William Carlos Williams 
A rumpled sheet
Of brown paper
About the length 
And apparent bulk
Of a man was
Rolling with the  
Wind slowly over
And over in
The street as 
A car drove down
Upon it and
Crushed it to 
The ground. Unlike
A man it rose
Again rolling 
With the wind over
And over to be as
It was before.


--William Carlos Williams 
A stand of people
by an open 
grave underneath
the heavy leaves 
the cut and fill 
for the new road
an old man
on his knees 
reaps a basket-
ful of 
matted grasses for
his goats


Metric Figure
--William Carlos Williams 
There is a bird in the poplars—
It is the sun!
The leaves are little yellow fish
Swimming in the river;
The bird skims above them—
Day is on his wings.
It is he that is making
The great gleam among the poplars.
It is his singing
Outshines the noise
Of leaves clashing in the wind.


[ Golden Autumn ; Isaac Levitan (1895) ]........


The Time Before
--W. S. Merwin

So this is what happened before I was there to see
.......they were walking over the bare stone carrying
their shoes because it was going to be a long way
.......their day was ringing the barrens in a loud wind
and they were taking their seasons with them as animals
.......through the beating light urging on the sheep of autumn
the pigs of winter the lambs of spring the cows of summer
.......all heading the same way along the rough walls of the lanes
so old that they had no beginnings and no memory
.......their voices and the sounds of their feet flew up from them like
flocks of finches and blew away with all the names that they
.......knew for themselves and were continually saying
and all the words that were what they had then and were what they
.......were saying to each other as they went along and as they
greeted each other when they met where the lanes came
.......together and when they told where they were gong

This poem and the two prior are all found in Merwin’s 1996 publication, Vixen. Not necessarily a recommendation I would make to someone who hasn't already read a book or two from Merwin, but it is a book I would recommend to anyone that has and looking for more. A very unique effort from Merwin that I find myself returning to more than any of the others. Difficult, but what makes it so captivating. Creates a world of its own, one that can only be made through the spell of poetry.   


In the Doorway
--W. S. Merwin

From the stones of the door frame cold to the palm
.......that breath of the dark sometimes from the chiselled
surfaces and at others from the places between them
.......that chill and air without season that acrid haunting
that skunk ghost welcoming without welcome faithful without
.......promise echo without echo it was there again
in the stones of the gate now in a new place but its own
.......a place of leaving and returning that breath of belonging
and being distant of rain in box thickets
.......part of it and of sheep in winter and the green stem
of the bee orchis in May that smell of abiding
.......and not staying of a night breeze remembered only
in passing of fox shadow moss in autumn the bitter
.......ivy the smell of the knife blade and of finding again
knowing no more but listening the smell of touching and going
.......of what is gone the smell of touching and not being there


--W. S. Merwin

I could see that there was a kind of distance lighted
......behind the face of that time in its very days
as they appeared to me but I could not think of any
......words that spoke of it truly nor point to anything
except what was there at the moment it was beginning
......to be gone and certainly it could not have been proven
nor held however I might reach toward it touching
......the warm lichens the features of the stones the skin
of the river and I could tell then that it was
......the animals themselves that were the weight and place
of the hour as it happened and that the mass of the cow’s neck
......the flash of the swallow the trout’s flutter were
where it was coming to pass they were bearing the sense of it
......without questions through the speechless cloud of light


[ Song of the Lark ; Jules Breton (1884) ]...........


Not Everything Is Spoken
--Jean Follain 
From evening to morning
in this pure place
the animals pass without thought
the trees tremble
the reflecting pool is stagnant
deserts pursue their mirages.
Those of the human race go by.
Not everything is spoken
the most beautiful woman shouts.

An analysis of a Follain poem, and as representative of his poetry on a whole, is available at The Globe & Mail.


--Jean Follain (trans. Heather McHugh) 
In a shed in the old garden
the separation takes place
amid the rustling of leaves
you have to go far away
to another country
to recover this moment of farewell
leaning on the quiet tree
in the hour of lamplight
just as a child is sent
with no one to confide in
looking for milk in the night.

[via a longhouse birdhouse]


--Jean Follain (trans. W.S. Merwin) 
The cows' hearts beat in the meadow
a man comes to steal their milk
walking in the cool of the dew
he neither loves nor hates
time stops just for him
when the sun is high in the sky
all he can do then is sleep
sloughing off
childhood, maturity, old age.
If he passes it's no use calling:


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


I built my hut near where people live
and yet I hear no traffic noise or sound of wheels.
Could you tell me what is happening?
An aloneness gathers around the soul that is alone.
I pick chrysanthemums underneath the east hedge,
the mountains to the south are clear.
The mountain air at sunset is so wonderful,
and the birds coming home, one after the other.
In all these details there are secret truths;
but when I try to shift to language, it all slops away.

--Tao Yuan-Ming (an approx of trans by Robert Bly,)

[via the beauty we love]

An alternate David Hinton version was posted on this blog November 30, 2013.


--Tao Yuan-Ming (trans. Yang Chi-sing)

The autumn chrysanthemums have the loveliest colors,
Flowers and leaves all moistened with the dew,
I drink this cup of all-forgetful wine,
And so drive all my earthly cares away.
Alone I lift the cup to my lips:
The wine is poured when the cup is empty.
And everything is silent in the setting of the sun;
While the homing birds flock to the woods there is chirping.
Under the east balcony I shout boisterously:
Satisfied now that my humble life can go on.


A Center
--Ha Jin 
Your must hold your quiet center,
where you do what only you can do.
If others call you a maniac or a fool,
just let them wag their tongues.
If some praise your perseverance,
don’t feel too happy about it—
only solitude is your lasting friend. 
You must hold your distant center.
Don't move even if earth and heaven quake.
If others think you are insignificant,
that's because you haven't held on long enough.
As long as you stay put year after year,
eventually you will find a world
beginning to revolve around you. 


The Lost Moon
--Ha Jin
Like you, I too lost my moon.
Wide-eyed, I took a smiling face
to be the source of all light and hope
which led me into a gloomy forest.
Since then, I can no longer see
the wonders in the sky.
However hard I trudge and search,
I cannot find the hills I have climbed. 
Now, there's no difference between day and night
—I spend them on my computer and cell phone.
In fact, I knew long ago that
the smiling face was a mere mirage,
yet I can no longer gaze up at the moon
as my ancestors did
from horseback by the roadside
to relay a word home or to a friend. 
I have landed in a place
my ancestors never heard of—
I need to grow a new backbone.


[ Temporarily ; Nels Cline 4 ]

b- Scott Colley
d- Tom Rainey
g- Julian Lage
g- Nels Cline

original by Carla Bley


Bach Transcribing Vivaldi
--Lisel Mueller

One remembered the sunrise, how clearly it gave
substance and praise to the mountains of the world;
the other imagined twilight, the setting in blood,
and a valley of fallen leaves where a stranger might rest.

One avoided the forest and made his way through fields
where the sky was constant and clouds rang in his ears;
the other cut through the thicket, the thorns and vines
and was not touched, except by the dying of men.

One asked the road to the land of the golden lion
whose eyes never weep, whose lifted hand scepters
the seasons of stars and the grafting of generations;
the other searched from the kingdom of the lamb
with the trembling fleece, whose live unreasoning heart
consumes the mortal treasures of his loves.

Still, at one point of the journey one must have seen
the afternoon dip and drop away into shade
and the other come to a place where the forest cleared
into white and violet patches of stars.


September 9
--Elizabeth Willis 
It’s turneresque in twilight. The word comes at me
with its headlights on, so it’s revelation and not death.
I figure I’m halfway home though I’ve only started.
Nothing is moving but me: I’m a blackbird. The neigh-
bor’s in labor, but so am I, pushing against the road.
Physics tells us nothing is lost, but I’ve been copping
time from death and can’t relent for every job the stars
drop on my back.


VII Mon. September [1742] hath xxx days.
--Benjamin Franklin 
.........The Reverse 
Studious of Ease, and fond of humble Things,
Below the Smiles, below the Frowns of Kings:
Thanks to my Stars, I prize the Sweets of Life,
No sleepless Nights I count, no Days of Strife.
I rest, I wake, I drink, I sometimes love,
I read, I write, I settle, or I rove;
Content to live, content to die unknown,
Lord of myself, accountable to none.


Haiku- Summer 2018

morning fog,
a listening silence surrounds
my thoughts

summer solstice-
dreams I lost years ago
follow me still

the tablecloth lifting
in the breeze
with her laughter

third beer
how I fall back into
unspoken poetry

lawn needing rain,
lawn receiving rain-
the widow's stories

worn out memories-
colors in the wildflowers
rely upon none

one firefly left
for a late August evening-
that's not nostalgia


While It Can 
Precipice with blue sky,
what's in me to host
an imagination brought
from youthful morning
for sparse adulthood, 
to lift beyond a weather
shore's coastal collapse,
the irretrieve freeboot
physics of water, horizon's
thinly washed erosion, 
time always beyond me.
I look to dragon strung
hum of sea cloud dreams
alive on unstoppable wind,
coils of indecisive vapor 
offering toward fictional
peacefulness of air. These
protected intentions,
to place the back sketch
of forgotten memories. 
Those fugacious images,
all that this boundless world
ever newly modeled upon
it's ceaseless brevity
does ever promise. 


[  David Hockney Painting His Pool  ]........


The Lyric
--Tom Clark 
lament, sorrow and wild
joy commingle in 
the lyric—a collective
sigh of relief comes cascading
out of the blue— 
a yearning to submerge
in life like the swimmer
in the pool forgetful 
immersed and quenched—
water trailing scattered
diamonds in a rustling 
voice of resigned subsidence
as though in the same stroke
everyone alive were speaking through you—